Kuroda dominates A’s, Yanks win fifth straight

Source: FanGraphs

For the first time this season, the Yankees have won five games in a row. They finished up a three-game sweep of the Athletics with a 2-0 win on Sunday and are now just two back of first place in the AL East in the loss column. Let’s recap…

  • My Kuroda: Bartolo Colon threw a complete game shutout in Oakland on Memorial Day last season, and Hiroki Kuroda nearly matched him on Sunday. He threw eight shutout innings (104 pitches) on Memorial Day eve, allowing just four singles and one walk. Things got a little hairy with men on corners and one out in the seven, but Kuroda escaped the jam (strikeout, fly out) and didn’t face another stressful situation all afternoon. I know the Athletics can’t hit, but a great start is a great start. Go Hiroki.
  • Andruw & Tex: The Yankees only needed one run but got two. Andruw Jones launched a mammoth homer to left-center on the first pitch of the second inning, then Mark Teixeira doubled in Curtis Granderson from first for an insurance run in the seventh. It was Teixeira’s second double of the afternoon and his seventh extra-base hit in the last six games. He’s suddenly hitting .254/.312/.467 on the season, and that ain’t half bad.
  • RISPFAIL: Despite the win, the Yankees went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and couldn’t push a run across despite having the bases loaded with one out in the first. Five of the first eight hitters they sent to the plate reached base, but just five of the final 29 reached after that. Everyone in the starting lineup had exactly one hit except for Teixeira (two doubles), Robinson Cano (a walk), and Chris Stewart (nothing). Granderson drew a walk in addition to his single.
  • Leftovers: Rafael Soriano struck out two in a scoreless ninth for the save, but we’re still awaiting that first 1-2-3 inning of the season … Teixeira turned a sweet 3-6 double play following a leadoff single in the fifth … Andruw was left in to face a righty in the late innings, so it’s not just Raul Ibanez being left in to face lefties. Both platoon DHs are being left in the game to face pitchers of the same hand in the late innings. In a two-run game, I think you’ve got to give Raul a chance to run into one in that spot.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the advanced stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are headed down to Anaheim for a three-game set with the Angels starting Monday night, when Phil Hughes matches up against Jered Weaver.

Mitchell strikes out nine in extra-innings loss

Triple-A Empire State (1-0 win over Buffalo)
LF Kevin Russo, 2B Matt Antonelli & 3B Brandon Laird: all 0-4, 1 K
1B Steve Pearce: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB — there’s the only run of the afternoon
DH Jack Cust: 0-2, 2 BB, 1 K — 53.7% of his plate appearances this year have ended in a walk, strikeout, or homer
CF Colin Curtis: 0-3, 2 K
C Frankie Cervelli: 0-2, 1 BB, 1 SB
RF Cole Garner & SS Ramiro Pena: both 1-3 — Garner doubled … Pena struck out twice
RHP Ramon Ortiz: 6.2 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 8/2 GB/FB — 65 of 83 pitches were strikes (78.3%) … two runs and one walk allowed in his last 21.2 IP
LHP Juan Cedeno: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — nine of his dozen pitches were strikes
RHP Kevin Whelan: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 15 pitches, nine strikes

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Sunday Night Open Thread

Eat your heart out, Joe Maddon. Vanderbilt pulled off the rare triple-steal against Florida yesterday, and it was basically a straight steal of home with the trail runners advancing as everyone stood around in surprise. One-run lead, bases loaded with two outs in the ninth … that’s a gutsy call. Really gutsy. Hard to see a big league team ever attempting that given the risk, both in terms of outcome and injury.

Anyway, here’s your open thread for the evening. The Nationals and Braves are the ESPN Sunday Night game with a primo pitching matchup: Gio Gonzalez vs. Brandon Beachy. There’s also some NBA playoff action going on as well. You folks know what to do here, so have at it.

Game 47: The Drive for Five

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Yankees have won four straight for the third time this season but they’ve yet to win five in a row. All that stands in their way is a soft-tossing rookie left-hander they’ve never faced before. Might as well be Sandy Koufax in his prime, amirite? Here’s the lineup…

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

Today’s game starts a little after 4pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Russell Martin Update: Martin is out with a stiff neck but it’s nothing serious. It shouldn’t keep him out more than a day or two.

2012 Draft: Shadowing the Sickels’ Mock Draft

My first rounder. (Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian)

Every year over at Minor League Ball, John Sickels hosts a community mock draft. I acted as the Yankees mock scouting director way back in 2007 and while that was fun, it was incredibly time consuming. For the last few years I’ve just shadowed their mock draft, meaning I’ve gone back after the fact to look at who I would taken with each of the Yankees’ selection. This isn’t any kind of serious analysis or projection, it’s just for fun.

They used to do the first five rounds but have since knocked it down to three for what I assume are time-related reasons. Seriously, it sucks up the entire afternoon. The mock was conducted yesterday, so here are the links — first, sandwich, second, third — and here are my selections…

First Round (#30 overall)
Mock Draft: RHP Shane Watson, California HS
My Pick: 3B Carson Kelly, Oregon HS

Kelly is a big personal fave and I reached for him based on consensus rankings and the mock draft — he went 57th overall to the Reds. I really like him though. Here’s my write-up. Watson is one of the better prep pitchers in the class and a true back-half of the first round talent. He’ll sit anywhere from 90-96 with the fastball and can snap off nasty curveball every so often. Like most high schoolers, he’s working on a changeup and you’re dreaming on him adding velocity as he fills out. It’s worth noting that the Yankees have been connected to Florida HS SS Addison Russell in various mock drafts and he was still on the board for this pick.

Second Round (#89 overall)
Mock Draft: C Dane Phillips, Oklahoma City University
My Pick: RHP Duane Underwood, Georgia HS

This is the compensation pick the Yankees received after failing to sign second rounder Sam Stafford last season and I feel like I got a steal. Underwood’s a borderline first round talent and there’s a chance he’ll go in the back-half of the first round next week, so nabbing him nearly 100 picks in is a coup in my eyes. Between him and Kelly, I feel like I’ve got two top 30-35 talents. I wrote Underwood up last week, so check that out for more info. Phillips has climbed up draft boards as the spring has progressed because he’s crushing weak competition, though his ability to remain behind the plate is uncertain. A team would really have to believe in the glove to take him this high. Here’s my write-up on Phillips.

Second Round (#94 overall)
Mock Draft: OF Preston Beck, UT-Arlington
My Pick: LHP Alex Young, Illinois HS

Although the franchise’s history is littered with quality left-handers, the Yankees have done a pretty poor job of carrying on the tradition in recent years. Young has already shown three pitches — low-90s fastball, curveball, changeup — and has lots of room to grow in his 6-foot-3, 190 lb. frame. He has a strong commitment to TCU and is expected to be a tough sign, but with more than $500k in slot money to work with, I’m not going down without a fight. Young is the kind of kid that will come out of school in three years as a first round pick, assuming his coach doesn’t shred his arm first. Beck’s a solid selection; a corner outfielder with a strong left-handed bat and defensive skills. He had hip surgery last summer and there is some question about his power potential, so he’s a ‘tweener risk.

Third Round (#124 overall)
Mock Draft: Young
My Pick: RHP Zack Quintana, Nevada HS

Well, I jumped the gun on Young a bit. I like him though and didn’t want to miss out, plus we’re talking about a difference of $130k in slot money. Anyway, Quintana is an undersized kid that runs his fastball up to 95 with a power breaking ball and a changeup that is advanced for a high schooler. He strikes me as very undervalued because of his size (5-foot-11, 180 lbs. or so) in a draft class that is light on quality prep arms. I also considered Tennessee HS SS A.J. Simcox with this pick, a true shortstop who has grown up around the game because his father has coached at Tennessee for nearly two decades. He’s raw but has exciting power-speed potential.

* * *

I’m a high school prospect guy as you can tell. I’ve always felt that getting players under professional instruction as soon as possible is the best thing for their development because bad habits are easy to develop in college, where winning is the priority. Not development and growth. Had the mock draft continued for another round or two, I probably would have looked for a college relief arm or two to not only balance things out, but to also save some draft pool money to use elsewhere and perhaps get decent value relative to round.

Teixeira homers twice, Yanks win fourth straight

Source: FanGraphs

Can the Yankees play the Athletics all the time? Must be nice to be in the AL West, huh? The Yankees won their fourth straight with a 9-2 drubbing of Oakland on Saturday, giving them 26 runs in their last four games. They’d scored 25 runs in their previous nine games combined (two wins, seven losses). Let’s recap…

  • Tex Power: With two homers (one to right, one to left-center) and two singles (one through the teeth of the shift), Mark Teixeira is now the proud owner of a 104 wRC+. It took 46 games, but he’s finally producing at a rate better than the league average. Tex has hit three homers in the first two games of the series and four in his last ten games. Welcome to 2012, buddy. We’ve missed you.
  • CC Power: It wasn’t CC Sabathia‘s best outing — two runs in the first three innings, including a solo homer by lefty Josh Reddick — but he settled down well and retired 11 of the final 12 men he faced on just 40 pitches (3.33 P/PA) after throwing 69 pitches to the first 18 batters (3.83 P/PA). His fastball command was off again and I can’t help but wonder if it’s related to the weight loss, like it’s throwing off his delivery or something. Sabathia had a similar issue last season before packing on a few pounds during the summer. That said, I’ll take two runs in seven innings all season.
  • Misc. Power: Robinson Cano hit his second homer in as many games, third in four games, and fourth in eight games. He doubled and singled as well. Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, and Eric Chavez all had two hits apiece though Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez could only muster one walk each. Raul Ibanez didn’t reach base at all. The Yankees couldn’t do anything wrong offensively, they pushed runs across with singles and a sacrifice fly then blew it open late with the long ball. Should make everyone happy.
  • Leftovers: Wasn’t a fan of Chris Stewart’s third inning bunt (surprise, surprise), but Jeter managed to single through the drawn in infield so it didn’t really matter … Cory Wade struck out two in a perfect eighth inning while Cody Eppley walked one in an otherwise uneventful ninth … the Yankees scored runs in six of nine innings, roughing up former teammate Bartolo Colon for six runs in his six innings … Granderson got caught stealing for the third time in four chances this year (what’s up with that?).

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees will look to complete the sweep on Sunday afternoon behind Hiroki Kuroda. Soft-tossing left-hander they’ve never seen before Tom Milone stands in their way.

Homers rule the day in the minors

Voting for the Triple-A All-Star Game is now open. 1B Steve Pearce, DH Jack Cust, RHP Kevin Whelan, and LHP Juan Cedeno are all legit All-Star candidates and deserve your vote.

Triple-A Empire State (8-7 loss to Buffalo)
CF Kevin Russo, LF Ronnie Mustelier & 3B Brandon Laird: all 1-5, 1 K — Laird doubled and scored a run
SS Matt Antonelli: 2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K — only his 22nd career game at short
1B Steve Pearce: 2-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
DH Jack Cust: 3-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 K — three homers in the last two games and four in the last six
RF Cole Garner & 2B Ramiro Pena: both 2-4, 1 K — Garner doubled and drove in a run … Ramiro scored a run
C Gus Molina: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K — picked a runner off second with a snap throw
RHP D.J. Mitchell: 6 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 8/1 GB/FB — 60 of 104 pitches were strikes (57.7%) … hooray for strikeouts and grounders, boo for runs and walks
LHP Justin Thomas: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K — seven of his 12 pitches were strikes
RHP Manny Delcarmen: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 16 of 27 pitches were strikes (59.3%) … blew the one-run lead in the eighth

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