Tex & Russ help Yanks open second half with win

Source: FanGraphs

Nothing quite like a thrilling late-inning comeback to kick off the second half, eh? The best part is that the Yankees were carried by two guys who they really need to step up their game down the stretch. Let’s recap…

  • HR-iroki: Hiroki Kuroda had his moments, but that back-breaking three-run homer by Mark Trumbo in the seventh really took the shine off his outing. He seemed to be behind hitters all night — I was surprised to see that he threw a first-pitch strike to 14 of 30 hitters faced, thought it would be less — and when you miss your spot against a dude like Trumbo, he’ll hit the ball over the visitor’s bullpen and into the left field bleachers. Hiroki’s been picking teammates up all season despite their lack of run support, so they owed him one.
  • On the Mark: The All-Star break did Mark Teixeira some good, as he drove in five runs thanks to a two-run homer (off C.J. Wilson) and a three-run homer (off Scott Downs). That second homer was the big one; it tied the game in the eighth off a guy who had allowed one earned run all year and had not allowed a homer since last August. It was a terrible pitch, a hanging curveball that screamed “Hit Me!,” and Tex sure did hit it. Here’s to a huge second half, Tex.
  • Russ Bus: You can’t overstate how awful Russell Martin was in the first half, but he opened the second half with arguably his best all-around game of the season. He threw out two attempted base-stealers as well as another runner trying to advance to second on a ball in the dirt (to end the game!), and also had the game-winning knock. It was just a little excuse-me single that stayed inside the right field foul line, but those are the types of hits he wasn’t getting in the first half. Martin always seems to play better with ample rest, so hopefully he comes out swinging the bat these next few weeks after the four days off.
  • Leftovers: Holy RISPFAIL were they bad in those spots (2-for-11), most notably stranding Curtis Granderson on third after a leadoff triple in the sixth … Robinson Cano extended his hit streak to 16 games with a single … Derek Jeter (single and double) and Teixeira (two homers) were the only Yankees with multiple knocks, but Granderson (triple and walk), Nick Swisher (double and two walks), and Martin (single and walk) reached base multiple times as well … Rafael Soriano nailed down the save but allowed his first hit since the near-disaster against the Indians, when he almost walked in the tying run (a span of five appearances) … Chad Qualls got the win because Swisher was nice enough to rob Trumbo’s near-homer to end the eighth, love how that works.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. The Orioles lost, so the Yankees now have an eight game lead (!) in the division. The Rays and Red Sox are nine and ten games back, respectively. That just blows my mind. I don’t remember the last time any team had a lead that big in this division at this point of the season. The Yankees will look to expand that lead on Saturday afternoon, when Freddy Garcia and Jerome Williams square off in the middle game of this three-game set.

Romine returns in GCL win

RHP David Phelps got some love in the “Man Among Boys” portion of this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. He struck out 11 in a Double-A start earlier this week. Also, I missed this the other day, but RHP Jose Campos (elbow) was just cleared to begin his throwing program. LHP Manny Banuelos (elbow) started his a few days ago.

  • Double-A Trenton (loss): 2B David Adams walked and singled to continue his hot streak while DH Rob Segedin had a trio of hits, all singles. SS Yadil Mujica also had a pair of knocks. LHP Vidal Nuno got roughed up a bit, surrendering three runs in 5.2 innings. His ERA shot all the way up to 1.57. RHP Graham Stoneburner really gave it up in his bullpen debut, allowing five runs (three earned) in just one-third of an inning.
  • High-A Tampa (win): CF Mason Williams and C Gary Sanchez both drew a walk, LF Ramon Flores had three hits (single, double, triple), and DH Slade Heathcott did not reach base. 1B Kyle Roller had three knocks including a solo homer. RHP Shane Greene allowed two runs in 5.2 innings, but he walked as many as he struck out (six). RHP Tommy Kahnle struck out three in 2.1 perfect innings of relief. Kiley McDaniel was at the game and said both guys were throwing serious gas.
  • Low-A Charleston (loss): Not much happened on offense, just singles from SS Ali Castillo, RF Eduardo Sosa, CF Ben Gamel, 2B Casey Stevenson, 3B Dante Bichette Jr., and DH Kelvin DeLeon. RHP Will Oliver allowed a pair of runs in five innings of work in an otherwise uninteresting game. RF Rob Refsnyder left the game after a play at the plate, so hopefully he’s just a little banged up and nothing more.
  • Short Season Staten Island (loss): 1B Matt Snyder hit a solo homer, just the team’s second non-Saxon Butler homer of the season. C Isaias Tejeda doubled as well. LHP Tim Flight got hammered (five runs, five outs) but RHP Derek Varnadore picked him up with 3.1 perfect frames.
  • Rookie GCL Yankees (win): Biggest news of the day is the return of Austin Romine, who went 0-for-2 with an RBI ground out while catching the first three innings. It was his season debut after starting year on the DL with a back problem. As for the rest of the offense, we had two hits from DH Chris Breen (single, double), two hits from RF Yeicok Calderon (singles), two hits from SS Austin Aune (single, triple), and two hits from 3B Miguel Andujar (singles). RHP Joey Maher allowed two runs in four innings before RHP Cesar Vargas followed up with four scoreless of his own.

Triple-A Empire State‘s game was postponed, I believe due to a power outage and not the weather. Don’t quote me on that though. Either way, I’m not sure when they will make this one up, but it won’t be this weekend.

Game 86: Back in the swing of things

Andruw will get a chance to continue his assault on LHP tonight. (REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)

The All-Star break is over and while I’m sure we all enjoyed a few days away from baseball, it’s time for the season to continue. The Yankees head into the second half with the best record in baseball and a seven-game lead in the division, not to mention eight games on the Rays and ten on the Red Sox. I don’t think we could have asked for much more. The Angels have the best record in baseball since Mike Trout was recalled (42-24) and they’re always a pain to play. Here’s the starting lineup…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
RF Nick Swisher
LF Andruw Jones
C Russell Martin
DH Jayson Nix

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

Tonight’s game starts a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on My9 locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

CC Sabathia Update: Sabathia (groin) threw 30 pitches in a simulated game today and felt fine. He will throw a bullpen session on Sunday and come off the disabled list to start against the Blue Jays on Tuesday. There won’t be any restrictions, he’s good to go.

Brett Gardner Update: Gardner (elbow) took batting practice today and he’ll do so again tomorrow. Assuming that goes well, he’ll play in a simulated game on Sunday.

2012 Draft: Yankees sign 26th rounder Charlie Haslup, 36th rounder Dalton Smith

Via Kendall Rogers, the Yankees have signed 26th round pick Charlie Haslup. No word on his bonus. A big — listed at 6-foot-4  and 200 lbs. — right-hander out of Maryland, Haslup misses bats with a low-90s fastball and a mid-80s slider. He’s an intriguing relief prospect, pretty much all you can ask for this late in the draft.

In other news, the Yankees have also signed 36th rounder Dalton Smith according to K. Levine-Flandrup. No word on his bonus either. Smith is a high school catcher out of California that offers some power and athleticism behind the plate. The Yankees had a little more than $615k worth of draft pool money leftover and I’m sure some of it went to these two. There is no indication that they signed either OF Vincent Jackson (23rd round) or OF Ty Moore (25th round) prior to the 5pm ET deadline. You can keep track of the team’s draft picks at Baseball America.

Yankees sign Kosuke Fukudome to minor league deal

Via Marc Carig, the Yankees have signed outfielder Kosuke Fukudome to a minor league contract. He’ll report to the traveling circus inTriple-A Empire State.

Fukudome, 35, posted a measly 33 wRC+ in a whopping 55 plate appearances for the White Sox earlier this season. He’s been essentially a league average hitter during his five-year MLB career (98 wRC+), with most of his offensive value coming from his walk rate (13.5%) and on-base ability (.359 OBP). Fukudome, a lefty hitter, is a capable corner outfielder defensively and is a decent piece to have stashed away in Triple-A in case Brett Gardner has another setback or something.

2012 Draft: Yankees sign 24th rounder Jose Mesa Jr.

Twenty-fourth round pick Jose Mesa Jr. has officially signed with the Yankees according to his Twitter feed. The team still has $615,910 worth of draft pool space to work with after signing first rounder Ty Hensley to below slot deal last night, and I suspect Mesa will get some of it.

A high school right-hander out of Florida, Mesa is the son of the long-time big league closer. He’s already maxed out physically — listed at 6-foot-4 and 225 lbs. — and lives off a power fastball that he can cut in on lefties and bore in on righties. The bloodlines are a plus as well. You can see all of the team’s picks at Baseball America and keep tabs on the draft pool situation with our Draft Pool page. The deadline to sign picks is 5pm ET today.

The RAB Radio Show: July 13th, 2012

After taking three of four at Fenway the Yankees had some downtime this week during the All-Star break. Still, there are plenty of goings on.

The Yankees did sign first rounder Ty Hensley. Mike and I talk about all the different implications of his shoulder injury and signing below slot. Given the changes to the draft system this year it’s interesting to compare this situation to what might have happened a year ago.

We have plenty of questions, too, including a bit of speculation (thanks, Peter Gammons!) involving Cliff Lee.

Podcast run time 1:01:54

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Intro music: “Die Hard” courtesy of reader Alex Kresovich. Thanks to Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic.