Saturday Links: Castro, A-Rod, Draft, Ibanez, Heredia

Starlin ... and Manny! (Presswire)
Starlin … and Manny! (Presswire)

The Yankees and Red Sox continue their three-game series later tonight. So, until then, here are some spare links I had lying around to hold you over.

Start the Starlin Castro rumor mill

According to Jon Heyman, several executive are speculating the Yankees will pursue Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro due to his connection to Jim Hendry, currently a special assistant with New York who was the Cubs GM when the team signed (and called up) Castro. Just to be clear, Heyman is passing along speculation, not a hard rumor that the Yankees are pursuing Castro.

Anyway, I wanted the Yankees to acquire Castro in the offseason to play shortstop, so of course he is hitting .249/.282/.323 (63 wRC+) on the season. (Reminder: Don’t ever listen to me. I’m awful.) Castro is still only 25 though, and he did hit .292/.339/.438 (115 wRC+) just last year, so it’s not like there’s nothing to like here. There’s about $43M left on his contract through 2019 with a club option for 2020.

Castro is seen as a change of scenery guy — the Cubs surely want to put Addison Russell at short — but he’s not a shortstop, his defense is terrible, so maybe the Yankees look at him for second base. If so, the move would probably wait until the offseason. I doubt they’d throw him to the wolves defensively and make him learn second on the fly a la Stephen Drew last year. Either way, my guess is we’ll hear lots more about the Yankees and Castro in the coming weeks and months.

The real cost of A-Rod‘s 3,000th hit ball

Last week, the Yankees agreed to donate $150,000 to Pitch In For Baseball in exchange for Alex Rodriguez‘s 3,000th hit baseball. Noted ballhawk Zack Hample caught the ball and leveraged it into a big fat donation for a charity he supports. Good for him. Of course, there’s much more to this story. Hample told Shawn Anderson the Yanks gave him a ton of other stuff in exchange for the ball as well:

“The Yankees have given me all the things they initially offered, such as meeting A-Rod, doing a press conference at Yankee Stadium, being interviewed live during the game on TV and the radio, and receiving signed memorabilia and free tickets, including tickets to this year’s Home Run Derby and All-Star Game in Cincinnati.” Hample told The Hall exclusively. “I will also have opportunities to write for Yankees Magazine, get a special behind-the-scenes tour to the most restricted areas of the stadium that no one in the public gets to see, get to meet the players, and more. There are certain things I’ve been asked not to talk about, so I need to respect that.”

Geez, that was one mighty valuable baseball, huh? Give Hample props for holding out for the donation rather than taking all that cool free stuff and running. That’s probably what I would have done.

2015 Draft signing updates

Morris. (Indiana Daily Student)
Morris. (Indiana Daily Student)

The signing deadline for the 2015 draft is next Friday, and the Yankees recently signed both UC Santa Barbara C/RHP Paddy O’Brien (24th round) and Indiana RHP Christian Morris (33rd). Morris announced his signing on Twitter while O’Brien is currently listed on the Rookie GCL Yanks2 roster. No word on their bonuses but I assume they didn’t receive more than the $100,000 slot for picks after the tenth round. O’Brien was a catcher in college who the Yankees are apparently going to try on the mound because he has a strong arm.

By my count the Yankees have signed 33 of their 41 draft picks, which is an unusually large number. Teams usually sign something like 25-30 picks each year. The Yankees will make it 34 of 41 when they sign UCLA RHP James Kaprielian (1st) next week — Jim Callis backed up Heyman’s recent report and says Kaprielian will get an overslot bonus in the $3M range — which I’m confident will happen. The Yankees have a bit more than $3M to spend before getting hit with penalties and there’s nowhere else to spend it — the late-round overslot candidates probably aren’t going to sign at this point — so that money either goes to Kaprielian or Hal Steinbrenner.

Rangers sign Andy Ibanez

Earlier this week the Rangers signed free agent Cuban infielder Andy Ibanez to a minor league contract worth $1.6M, reports Jeff Wilson and Jesse Sanchez. Ibanez, 21, was cleared to sign way back in February but took his sweet time picking a team. The Yankees had him in Tampa for a private workout in May and were reportedly interested, though they were unable to offer him anything more than $300,000 once the 2014-15 international signing period ended a few weeks ago. Ibanez is a light hitting second baseman who was expected to get upwards of $15M, though it sounds like teams didn’t value him that highly. You have to think he would have topped $1.6M easily if clubs felt he was as good as the public scouting reports.

Cuban OF Guillermo Heredia cleared to sign

According to Ben Badler and Jesse Sanchez, 24-year-old Cuban outfielder Guillermo Heredia has been unblocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control and declared a free agent by MLB, so he can sign with any team at any time. Heredia is not subject to the international spending restrictions because of his age, so the Yankees and any other team can offer him any amount.

Listed at 5-foot-11 and 180 lbs., Heredia is considered a good defensive center fielder with speed and a strong arm. Badler (subs. req’d) ranked him as the 11th best prospect in Cuba last August and said he has “similarities to a righthanded-hitting version of Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley,” which isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement these days. Heredia will work out for scouts soon.

Big Mike, Boston errors help Yanks to 5-1 win over Red Sox

A+ win, would watch again. The Yankees beat the Red Sox by the score of 5-1 on Friday night, taking the series opener and guaranteeing they will go into the All-Star break in sole possession of first place in the AL East. They haven’t done that since 2012. The Yankees have won three straight and six of their last eight games.

All-Star. (Jim Rogash/Getty)
All-Star. (Jim Rogash/Getty)

A Blast & Three Gifts
One of my very favorite things in baseball is seeing the Yankees score in the first inning on the road. Score before the other team even has a chance to bat. I dunno, just love it when that happen. Not an All-Star Alex Rodriguez gave the Yankees a first inning run when he turned around a bad Clay Buchholz changeup for a solo homer over the Green Monster. It almost left the damn ballpark. Stayed in the building and landed in the last row instead. Quick 1-0 lead.

The three-run fourth inning rally was a combination of good work and gifts from the Red Sox. A lot happened in that inning, so let’s recap it with annotated play-by-play:

Yankees Red Sox 071015

(1) Didi Gregorius turned a sweet double play to end the bottom of the third — he flipped it with his glove to Stephen Drew at second — and it was the kind of play that shows just how far Didi has come this year. He was a mess in April. A total mess. Now he looks so much more comfortable on the field and isn’t trying to impress everyone with every play. His offense has ticked up as well, partly because he’s done a better job of going the other way, and sure enough his fourth-inning double split the left-center field gap. Beautiful piece of hitting. Brian McCann couldn’t score from first but an average runner probably would have.

(2) In the grand scheme of things, the big story of the inning was Buchholz exiting the game with an injury two pitches into the Drew at-bat. He called the catcher out to the mound, the trainers came out, and Buchholz walked off the field without much argument or throwing a test pitch. Right to the clubhouse. The Red Sox later announced Buchholz exited with elbow tightness and is going for an MRI, which is no bueno.

Robbie Ross Jr. came out of the bullpen and got Drew to hit a chopper to first base that Mike Napoli bobbled, allowing Drew to to reach base safely and the run to score. Wait, no. McCann didn’t score. He held up at third for some reason. So while having the bases loaded after the error was great, the run should have scored. That seemed ominous. It looked like the Yankees were going to blow the run-scoring chance and end up with nothing, especially after Cole Figueroa popped up for the second out as the next batter. (To his credit, Figueroa worked one hell of an at-bat.)

(3) The inning should have been over on Jacoby Ellsbury‘s ground ball to second. McCann should have been stranded at third, but no, All-Star Brock Holt bobbled the ball and Ellsbury beat the throw to first. (Holt might have been better off throwing home to get the force on McCann, hardy har har.) McCann scored to make it 2-0 good guys and the inning continued when it should have ended.

(4) Brett Gardner did what both Drew and Ellsbury did — hit a ground ball to the right side of the infield. And, like Drew and Ellsbury, Gardner reached base. Napoli knock the ball down, flipped to Ross covering first, and Gardner was able to slide in safely just before Ross got to the bag. That was one of those rare plays were sliding into first base might have helped Gardner. If he goes in standing up, Ross probably tags him in the chest. Gardner slid under the possible tag and got his hand in safely to drive in another run and extend the inning.

(5) Man, this game was so close to being 8-0. A-Rod followed Gardner’s ground ball with a bases-loaded walk to make it 4-0 Yankees, then Mark Teixeira swung at the first pitch, and it was a meatball. Teixeira juuust missed it. I don’t know if it hit off the end of the bat or in near the label, but it certainly wasn’t the sweet spot, and Teixeira popped out into shallow left to end the inning. Swinging at the first pitch after a bases loaded walk is always annoying, but Teixeira swung at a very homerable pitch. Just didn’t get good wood on it. So it goes. The inning should have been over with no runs on the board following Ellsbury ground ball. Instead, three runs scored, all unearned.

(Jim Rogash/Getty)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

The Big Mike
It definitely wasn’t the prettiest outing for Michael Pineda — the Red Sox had runners on base against Pineda in every inning but the sixth — but the end result was one run in 6.2 innings, and dammit, I’ll take that every day of the week. The one run came on a Mookie Betts home run, and Pineda might as well have put that pitch on a tee. Cement mixer slider right out over the plate. Deserved to be crushed.

Otherwise, Big Mike relied heavily on his fastball in big spots because his slider wasn’t working too well. Example: the homer. Pineda threw 30 cut fastballs and got five swings and misses, which is a pretty good rate. He also got some big outs with his changeup. What a world. Remember when Pineda had no changeup? He would have been lost in this game without it. Pineda struck out six, of course walked none, and threw 68 of his 89 pitches for strikes (76%). That includes 12 swings and misses. It’s remarkable to see a guy this big, have such power stuff, and yet throw so many strikes. Big Mike’s special.

Save Situation
The year of the sub-100 pitch count continued. Pineda made a throwing error in the seventh to put a runner at second — Alejandro De Aza laid down a bunt and Pineda threw it wide of first — which effectively ended his night. Joe Girardi has rarely let his starters go 100+ pitches this year, so in came Justin Wilson to face Betts with two outs. I’m sure the fact Betts took Pineda deep in his previous at-bat contributed to Girardi’s decision. Either way, Wilson struck out Betts to end the inning. Wilson’s been awesome of late.

The Yankees scored a tack-on run in the top of the eighth, though that didn’t stop Girardi from going to his two end-game relievers. Dellin Betances struck out two in a perfect eighth before Andrew Miller pitched around a leadoff error in a scoreless ninth. I know it’s easy to think “it’s not a save situation so don’t use Betances and Miller,” but I didn’t see it that way. The Red Sox can score runs in a hurry, especially in that ballpark, so nail down the win when you can. Betances faced the 2-3-4 hitters, for example. Foot on the throat.

(Jim Rogash/Getty)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

Leftovers
Jacoby Ellsbury came up with a big two-out RBI single in the eighth to score an always appreciated insurance run. Ross shut the Yankees down after that messy fourth inning, and it felt like they were going to regret not tacking on more runs. The first two batters of the inning reached base, but Drew bunted into a force out at third and Figueroa popped up, then Ellsbury picked them up with a single.

Wilson, Betances, and Miller combined to face eight hitters, and they stuck out five of them. They combined for nine swings-and-misses out of 22 total swings by the Red Sox. That’s bonkers. Boston hit one ball out of the infield after the sixth inning, and that was a lazy fly ball to center off the bat of David Ortiz. Nice job by the bullpen of not making this interesting.

Everyone in the starting lineup had a hit except for Figueroa, though A-Rod was the only guy with two hits. He had a soft opposite field bloop single in addition to the homer. His two hits couldn’t be any more different. Chris Young came off the bench late for defense and drew a walk in his only plate appearance.

And finally, Ross threw 69 pitches out of the bullpen for Boston, so I think he’s going to be sent down for a fresh arm tomorrow. Getting into their bullpen early was great in the first game of the series — sucks Buchholz got hurt, never want to see someone get injured — though it won’t matter if they bring up someone new. Whatevs.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here, my friends, are the box score, video highlights, and up to the minute standings. Also check out out Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Now here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams on Saturday night — yes, Saturday night, not afternoon, grumble grumble — when Ivan Nova and Eduardo Rodriguez toe the slab in the penultimate game of the first half. Rob Refsnyder will be called up to join the team for that game. Fun!

DotF: Park extends hitting streak on a night of walk-offs

Some news and notes to pass along:

  • Both C Gary Sanchez (8th) and 2B Rob Refsnyder (12th) made this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. The write-up says Sanchez has “made strides this year (with) his intangibles. Those around him say the 21-year-old backstop has become more willing to listen and learn than in years past … (he has) has improved incrementally as a receiver.”
  • Check out this puff piece on RHP Luis Severino by Maria Guardado. “You certainly like to see everybody get better, but he would be competitive up (in MLB right now), I believe,” said Triple-A Scranton pitching coach Scott Aldred. “I think he can be a middle of the rotation starter, maybe higher. Just depends on how well his command comes along.”
  • Had two Josh Norris tweets bookmarked that I never passed along. One, a scout said RHP Domingo Acevedo was sitting 95-97 mph and touching 99 in a recent start. Goodness. Also, Norris asked a rival Double-A Eastern League manager to name the best hitter and pitcher in the league this year, and he said OF Aaron Judge and Severino. Neat.

Triple-A Scranton (5-4 loss to Buffalo, walk-off style) old pal Melky Mesa hit the walk-off two-run homer for Buffalo

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • 2B Jose Pirela: 0-4, 1 K
  • LF Ramon Flores: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K — threw a runner out at second
  • DH Aaron Judge: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB
  • 1B Greg Bird: 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
  • C Austin Romine: 1-4, 2 RBI
  • RF Tyler Austin: 0-4, 3 K — grounded into a double play in his other at-bat, so his brutal year continues
  • RHP Esmil Rogers: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 1 HB, 5/1 GB/FB — 56 of 93 pitches were strikes (60%)
  • RHP Wilking Rodriguez: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 15 of 28 pitches were strikes (54%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 18 of 28 pitches were strikes (64%) … served up the walk-off homer to Melky2.0

[Read more…]

Yankees will call up Rob Refsnyder on Saturday

(MiLB.com)
(MiLB.com)

10:30pm: Joe Girardi confirmed Refsnyder will indeed be called up and in the lineup the next two days following tonight’s game. “Refsnyder will be here. We will see two lefties and he will be here tomorrow. He’s making strides on defense and we will see,” said the skipper.

7:23pm: According to Jack Curry, the Yankees will call up second base prospect Rob Refsnyder tomorrow. He is not in tonight’s Triple-A Scranton lineup, not that we have any reason to doubt Curry’s reporting. The Yankees will have to make both a 25-man and 40-man roster move to accommodate Refsnyder.

Refsnyder, 24, is hitting .290/.387/.413 (136 wRC+) with seven home runs, 44 walks, and 44 strikeouts in 81 games with the RailRiders this season. He’s been better of late too, putting up a .299/.413/.445 (155 wRC+) batting line with 23 walks and 14 strikeouts in 37 games since June 1st.

The Yankees are facing lefties the next two games (Eduardo Rodriguez, who Refsnyder faced in Triple-A earlier this year, and Wade Miley), so Refsnyder figures to step right into the starting lineup. Stephen Drew has not hit a lick all season (72 wRC+) but does have value defensively. Refsnyder doesn’t. It’ll be interesting to see if this is a platoon situation or if Refsnyder gets the job outright.

Chase Headley‘s calf issue is clearing up and he could return to the lineup tomorrow, in which case Cole Figueroa would be the obvious roster casualty. Gregorio Petit is the other candidate. Either way, this move was a long-time coming. Second base has been a black hole all year.

Game 86: Big Mike in Boston

BIG MIKE IS HERE

I’m bringing back the Big Mike moniker. After being downgraded to Midsize Mike two starts ago, Michael Pineda has allowed just three runs (two earned) in 16 total innings, striking out 18 and walking one. That’s the good stuff right there. You were missed, Big Mike.

Pineda and the Yankees are in Boston to start a three-game series against the Red Sox tonight. The BoSox are still in last place but they have been playing well of late, and the last thing the Yankees need is another team in the AL East race. New York has a nice three-game lead in the division and a chance to run away with this thing. Let the running away start now. Here is the Sawx’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Garrett Jones
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. 3B Cole Figueroa
    RHP Michael Pineda

It’s a little cloudy at Fenway Park but otherwise the weather is nice. Good night for a game. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 7pm ET and you’ll be able to watch live on WPIX locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Carlos Beltran (oblique) is scheduled to play in minor league rehab games next week, then return to the Yankees immediately after the All-Star break … Chase Headley (calf) went through a workout this afternoon and everything felt fine. The team is giving him one extra day to rest though.

7/10 to 7/12 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

It’s the final series of the first half, and, of course, it’s up in the Boston. The last series before the break always seems to be a tough one. The Yankees are 4-2 against the Red Sox this season, including 3-0 at Fenway Park. They swept a series up there back in April, when Alex Rodriguez hit his unmarketable 660th career home run to tie Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time list. You remember that, right? Of course you do.

What Have The Red Sox Done Lately?

The BoSox had an off-day yesterday and are playing much better than they were earlier in the season. They swept two games from the Marlins earlier this week, and have won four straight and eight of their last ten games overall. That has them all the way up to … 41-45 with a -39 run differential. The Red Sox are 5.5 games behind the Yankees and still in last place in the AL East.

Offense & Defense

At 4.23 runs per game with a team 97 wRC+, the Red Sox have had a below-average offense overall this season, just as everyone expected back in Spring Training. The Sawx are averaging 5.50 runs per game during their recent 8-2 stretch, however. 2B Dustin Pedroia (hamstring), OF Daniel Nava (thumb), C Christian Vazquez (elbow), and C Blake Swihart (foot) are all on the DL right now and aren’t expected back this weekend.

All-Star. (Presswire)
All-Star. (Presswire)

Manager John Farrell’s lineup is still headlined by DH David Ortiz (103 wRC+), who has been better of late but clearly is no longer the hitter he was in his prime. Nowadays CF Mookie Betts (112 wRC+) and SS Xander Bogaerts (107 wRC+) are leading the offense with All-Star UTIL Brock Holt (123 wRC+) chipping in as well. OF Hanley Ramirez (119 wRC+) and 3B Pablo Sandoval (92 wRC+) have been up and down all year.

1B Mike Napoli (80 wRC+) has been so bad this year that Ortiz has played first base a handful of times recently. Seriously. OF Alejandro De Aza (108 wRC+) and OF Shane Victorino (103 wRC+) are currently platooning in right field, and C Ryan Hanigan (107 wRC+) is the regular backstop. C Sandy Leon (15 wRC+), IF Deven Marrero (-100 wRC+ in extremely limited time), and IF Travis Shaw (43 wRC+) fill out the bench.

The Red Sox are an okay defensive club with some major weak spots. Hanley is legitimately the worst defensive outfielder in baseball and Sandoval seems to have lost quite a bit of range this year. He handles stuff hit to him, but anything requiring a few steps in either direction has been an issue. Betts is good in center and De Aza is good in right (Victorino not so much these days), and Bogaerts is much improved at short. Holt is a fine fill-in for Pedroia and Hanigan can’t throw anyone out (21% caught stealing rate), but he is one hell of a pitch-framer. Whoever they play at first is no bueno.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. BOS) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (vs. NYY)
Buchholz, 30, has really turned around his season the last few weeks and is currently sitting on a 3.27 ERA (2.54 FIP) in 17 starts and 110 innings. His strikeout (23.0%), walk (5.1%), ground ball (49.4%), and home run (0.41 HR/9) rates are all better than the league average. Buchholz has a reverse platoon split this season (.310 wOBA vs. 268 wOBA in favor righties) which doesn’t match up with the rest of his career. Low-90s two and four-seamers and an upper-80s cutter set up his upper-70s curveball and low-80s changeup, both of which are legit swing-and-miss pitches on their best days. The Yankees annihilated Buchholz back in April, scoring ten runs (nine earned) in 3.1 innings. It was a bloodbath.

Saturday (7pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. BOS) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (No vs. NYY)
The Red Sox called up the 22-year-old Rodriguez a few weeks ago and he has a 3.69 ERA (3.12 FIP) in eight starts and 46.1 innings so far as a big leaguer. His strikeout (22.9%) and walk (7.8%) rates are close to league average and his ground ball (41.9%) and homer (0.58 HR/9) rates don’t really match up. One or the other figures to climb going forward, especially considering his home ballpark. Righties (.278 wOBA) have had a little more success against him than lefties (.266 wOBA). Rodriguez is a three-pitch pitcher and he uses mid-90s four-seamer a ton, more than 70% of the time. Mid-80s changeup and sliders are his other two offerings. The Yankees haven’t faced Rodriguez yet this year. They’re going in blind.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Sunday (1:30pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. BOS) vs. LHP Wade Miley (vs. NYY)
Miley, 28, has turned things around a bit, though not to the extent of Buchholz. He has a 4.50 ERA (3.90 FIP) in 17 starts and 96 innings, and does it mostly by getting grounders (48.7%). His homer rate (0.75 HR/9) is fine but both his strikeout (17.0%) and walk (8.9%) rates are below the league average. Miley has had much more success against left-handed batters (.254 wOBA) than right-handed batters (.354 wOBA) this season, which has been the case his entire career. Low-90s two and four-seamers are Miley’s main offerings, which he uses to set up mid-80s sliders and low-80s changeups. He tends to throw the two-seamer more than the four-seamer. The Yankees have already seen Miley twice this year, scoring two runs in 5.1 innings back in early-April and three runs in seven innings in late-April.

Bullpen Status
The bullpen, specifically the middle relief, can be a bit of a headache for Farrell. At least the late innings. Boston’s bullpen has a 3.93 ERA (4.32 FIP) overall, which has them in the bottom five of the league. RHP Koji Uehara (2.53 ERA/2.27 FIP) closes and RHP Junichi Tazawa (2.45/2.67) is his primary setup man. LHP Tommy Layne (3.46/3.77) is the go-to late-inning matchup lefty.

RHP Matt Barnes (5.24/5.54), LHP Craig Breslow (4.15/5.59), RHP Alexi Ogando (3.32/4.92), and LHP Robbie Ross Jr. (4.13/4.84) are the rest of the relievers. Baseball is a different game than it was 10-15 years ago, but the old school approach of “wear down the starter and get to the shaky middle relief” strategy will work against this Red Sox club. Their bullpen is fresh thanks to yesterday’s off-day. Check out our Bullpen Workload page and Over The Monster for the status of the Yankees’ bullpen and the latest on the Red Sox, respectively.

Yankeemetrics: Hey now, you’re an All-Star (July 7-9)

(Getty)
(Getty)

No relief in the Bronx
A rock-solid, lock-down bullpen has been one of the few constants in what has mostly been a very streaky 2015 season for the Yankees. But Tuesday night followed a different script. Chasen Shreve and Dellin Betances each allowed a solo homer — a game-tying shot in the sixth inning and a tie-breaking blast in the 10th inning — as the Yankees suffered another painful loss in the series opener against the A’s.

For Betances, it was the seventh homer he’s allowed in his career and the first time he’s given up a home run in back-to-back appearances. Before surrendering Steven Souza’s longball on Sunday afternoon, Betances hadn’t been taken deep since August 13 last season. Then bam, wham, two in a row.

Lawrie’s go-ahead homer came on an 0-2 breaking ball, a situation that normally would be a near-automatic out for Betances. Before Tuesday, hitters were 1-for-39 with 31 strikeouts after going down 0-2 against the Yankees right-hander.

This loss was another one of the “you can’t predict baseball” variety. The A’s entered this game 0-6 in extra innings and 6-21 in one-run games this season, both of which were the worst marks in baseball. So, of course, they won a one-run game in the 10th inning against the Yankees.

Tex marks the spot
Mark Teixeira was a one-man highlight reel in Wednesday’s 5-4 win over the A’s, hitting two homers and making several fantastic defensive plays that likely saved the game for the Yankees.

He’s now got 17 homers against the A’s as a Yankee; since the A’s franchise moved to Oakland in 1968, the only Yankees with more homers against them are Roy White (18) and Tino Martinez (18). As of Thursday morning, Teixiera had been credited with 18 “out of zone” plays, the most among all AL first baseman this season.

CC Sabathia was not dominant but pitched well enough (5 1/3 IP, 2 R, 7 H) to earn his 95th win in pinstripes. That ties Ray Caldwell — who pitched for the Yankees from 1910-18 — for 17th place on the franchise all-time wins list. It was also his 212th career win, passing Billy Pierce for sole possession of 23rd place among left-handers in major-league history.

Andrew Miller allowed two runs in the ninth inning but still got the final three outs to seal the win. He’s now 18-for-18 in save opportunities, matching the second-longest streak to being a season in Yankee history. The only longer streak came in 2008, when Mariano converted his first 28 saves.

Gardy goes yardy
The Yankees won their final home game before the All-Star break, 6-2 over the A’s, thanks to an ace-like performance from Masahiro Tanaka on Thursday afternoon. Tanaka got into trouble in the second inning but then retired 18 of the final 19 batters he faced — the only guy to reach in that span was Billy Butler on a wild pitch/strikeout.

Both of the hits Tanaka allowed came off his fastball; the A’s went 0-for-19 with six strikeouts in at-bats ending in an off-speed pitch, including 0-for-11 against his splitter. Filthy. He now has three career games of at least seven innings pitched and two-or-fewer hits allowed. Since he joined the team last season, the rest of the Yankee pitchers have combined for one such game (Michael Pineda).

Tanaka shared the spotlight with Brett Gardner, who went 3-for-5, including his 10th homer of the season, and found out that he was named to his first All-Star Game (replacing the injured Alex Gordon). Gardner is just the fifth Yankee to hit at least 10 homers, 20 doubles and steal 15 bases before the All-Star break. The others? Johnny Damon (2006), Raul Mondesi (2003), Alfonso Soriano (2002) and Rickey Henderson (1986).