Heathcott & Ravel return in short season openers

Triple-A Empire State (9-2 loss to Louisville)
CF Chris Dickerson: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 BB, 2 K — seven doubles in nine games since coming off the DL
2B Corban Joseph: 1-5, 1 2B, 1 K —
LF Ronnie Mustelier: 0-3, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
DH Jack Cust: 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
1B Russell Branyan & C Gus Molina: both 1-4, 1 2B — Branyan struck out and committed a fielding error
3B Kevin Russo: 0-4, 2 K
RF Colin Curtis: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI
SS Ramiro Pena: 2-4 — 13 hits in his last 32 at-bats (.406)
RHP John Maine: 2.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 2/3 GB/FB — 36 of 66 pitches were strikes (64.5%)
RHP Nelson Figueroa: 3.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 4/5 GB/FB — 46 of 76 pitches were strikes (60.5%)
RHP Jason Bulger: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 3/0 GB/FB — 16 of 25 pitches were strikes (64%)

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Josh Norris’ state of the system series

Josh Norris put together a series of posts on the four full season minor league affiliates, complete with quotes from scouts about various players in the Yankees’ farm system. “He’s an absolute front-line catcher with plus power,” said one of those scouts about Gary Sanchez, who is rocking Low-A Charleston for the second straight year. Not everyone drew a rave review, however. Here are the links for Triple-A Empire State, Double-A Trenton, High-A Tampa, and Low-A Charleston.

Norris also posted interviews with Short Season Staten Island manager Justin Pope and VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman. Pope spoke about his team for the summer — their season starts tonight — while Newman spoke more about the lower levels of the farm system in general. Make sure you check out the two interviews as well as the four state of the system posts, they’re all well worth your time.

Game 66: Shooting for double-digits

(Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

It’s been seven years since the Yankees last won ten straight games, but they have a chance to match that tonight with CC Sabathia on the mound. Sabathia has actually been the team’s worst starter during his pitching dominated stretch but it’s not like he’s been bad — 3.54 ERA and 2.76 FIP in 28 innings across four starts during his 19-4 stretch. He held the Braves to one run over his final six innings after allowing three in the first last week, so hopefully that strong finish carries right over into tonight. Here’s the lineup…

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

LHP CC Sabathia

Tonight’s game starts a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and ESPN nationally.

Clemens acquitted on all perjury counts

After two attempts at a trial and eight weeks of testimony, a federal jury needed just 11 hours to decide that two-time Yankee pitcher was not guilty on all counts of perjury. Clemens had been under prosecution for lying to Congress in 2008 when he claimed he never took steroids or HGH injections during his playing days. The acquittal, a nice victory for Clemens and his lawyers, was hardly surprising concerning the reports from the courtroom.

Clemens, whose name will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time later this year, could have faced up to 10 years in prison for perjuring himself. Instead, the D.C. jury found that none of Clemens’ 13 statements under the microscope were untrue beyond a reasonable doubt. It seems likely that this is a case in which the difference between innocent and not guilty is a big one, and it ends a chapter of poor decision-making by government prosecutors.

David Aardsma to begin minor league rehab stint tomorrow

David Aardsma confirmed on Twitter that he will begin a minor league rehab stint with the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League Yankees tomorrow. Over the weekend we heard that the right-hander was likely to return to game action this weekend. Aardsma has not pitched in a game since September 2010 after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip last January and Tommy John surgery last July. He’ll officially start his 30-day rehab clock tomorrow and be on pace for a mid-July return.

Remembering two notable Yanks’ winning streaks

With a victory over Washington yesterday afternoon the Yankees swept their third straight series, extending their winning streak to nine games. After an uninspiring start to the season, this is just the jolt that they needed. They now come home with the best winning percentage in the AL, and the second best win percentage in the majors. The best part: the streak is still going.

The current win streak harkens back just three years to 2009, when the Yankees also got off to a relatively poor start. After losing a pair of two-game series to Boston and Tampa Bay, the Yanks sat at 13-15. They got the ball rolling the next game, when Alex Rodriguez hit a three-run homer on his first swing of the season and CC Sabathia shut out the Orioles. They won that series, but then lost the first game against Toronto. After that, however, they started to turn around the season.

Against Toronto, Minnesota, and Baltimore they rattled off nine straight wins, improving to 24-17. After the losses to Boston and Tampa Bay they were 5.5 games back in the East. Two weeks later, after the nine-game streak, they were just 1.5 games back in the East and had moved a whopping four games ahead of Tampa Bay. There were fits and starts after that, but that win streak got them moving in the right direction. A seven-game streak in late June turned them around for good.

Yet that might not have been the most season-altering streak in recent memory. In 2005 the Yankees got off to their now infamous 11-19 start. They were nine games back in the East at that point, but things would turn around quickly. Tino Martinez fueled the ensuing 10-game winning streak, going 12 for 38 with a double and eight home runs on his way to 19 RBI. The Yankees went from nine back in the East to five back. Though it took two months for them to finally reach first place, it’s the win streak that got them moving.

The Yankees started this current streak in quite a different position. They were already 31-25 before it started, and were just a half game back in the AL East. That’s because they rattled off a five-game win streak in late May, after dropping to .500 against Kansas City. So while the streak is only at nine, it’s really 19 of 23. The best part about this stretch is that during it they’ve played just three teams below .500: Kansas City, Oakland, and Detroit. The entire nine-game streak has been against teams above .500.

In 2005 and 2009, the Yankees absolutely needed those streaks. In 2005 they were at a low point and needed an immediate turnaround. In 2009 the expectations were so high that the constant losses to Boston stung that much more. During those streaks they made up lost ground and got themselves back in the picture. This year is a bit different. They had started playing well before the streak, and this surge sent them to to the top. If the aftereffect is anything like those years, though, we can expect dominance from here on out.

Gammons: Yankees bid $25-30M for Jorge Soler

Via Peter Gammons, the Yankees bid $25-30M for 20-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler. The Braves and White Sox also made similar offers, though Soler wound up signing a nine-year, $30M contract with the Cubs early last week.

I always underestimate free agent contracts but even $25M for what amounts to a Single-A prospect seems rather … excessive. It is just money, but we’re not talking about a player capable of stepping right in to help the big league club. The Yankees clearly liked Soler and made an aggressive bid, but as we heard the day he signed, Chicago was prepared to one-up any offer to make sure they got him.