Huge nights for Montero, Black, and Trenton’s offense

Jesus Montero comes in as the sixth hottest prospect in the minors in this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. D.J. Mitchell got some love In The Team Photo. Make sure you read Montero’s blurb, great little paragraph in there about player development and stuff. Also make sure you check out Rebecca’s photos from last night’s Double-A Trenton game. She’s got some great video of Manny Banuelos.

This is the last weekend of the minor league season, in case you forgot. Everyone plays their final game on Monday except for High-A Tampa and Short Season Staten Island, who wrap up on Sunday. Triple-A Scranton and Double-A Trenton have already clinched playoff spots, and Tampa should do the same this weekend barring a Metsian collapse. Everyone else is done.

Triple-A Scranton (10-4 win over Pawtucket)
Reid Gorecki, RF: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 3B – six of his last ten hits have gone for extra bases (four doubles, two triples)
Eric Bruntlett, SS: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 E (throwing)
Jesus Montero, C: 3 for 5, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI – he also hit a ball to the warning track … the homer was an absolute bomb … he’s the ninth player in team history, and the first catcher, to have a 20 homer season … go look at his season stat line in The Montero Watch in the sidebar, this guy was flirting with a .600 OPS in May, he’s been ridiculous over the last three months
Juan Miranda, 1B: 3 for 5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI – had homered in each of the last two games, but he only managed a double this time around
Jorge Vazquez, DH: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 K
Colin Curtis, CF: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB – threw a runner out at second … Montero gets all the attention, but Lil’ CC is 12 for his last 32 (.375) with four doubles and two homers
Chad Huffman, LF: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI
Brandon Laird, 3B: 1 for 4, 1 2B
Robby Hammock, 2B: 0 for 4, 1 K
D.J. Mitchell: 5 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 WP, 1 Balk, 3-4 GB/FB – 59 of 92 pitches were strikes (64.1%) … he’s allowed 43 more baserunners than last season in just 10.1 more IP
Zack Segovia: 2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 0-2 GB/FB – 22 of 32 pitches were strikes (68.8%)
Royce Ring: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – a dozen of his 18 pitches were strikes
Amaury Sanit: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2-1 GB/FB – eight of ten pitches were strikes

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Open Thread: Se7en

Brett had a little uniform malfunction today. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Seven, seven wins in a row. Ah ah ah. [/The Count]

The Yankees took care of business and knocked the magic number for a playoff spot down to 20 by clubbing Brandon Morrow this afternoon, but the Red Sox game was already postponed due to Hurricane Earl, so it won’t go any lower tonight. The magic number for the division title is 27, and could be 26 if the Orioles take care of business against the Rays this evening. Let’s not get greedy though, the Yanks control their own destiny and that’s all we could ask for.

Anyway, here’s tonight’s open thread. The Mets have already played, but depending on where you live, either the Reds-Cardinals or Braves-Marlins will be on the MLB Network. I’m not sure, but chances are there’s some college football on somewhere as well. It’s Friday though, I recommend going out and doing something you won’t remember in the morning. Talk about whatever, just be cool.

Tickets available for tomorrow’s game

A reader has two tickets available for tomorrow’s game against the Blue Jays. They’re located in Section 233B, Row 16, Seats 9-10, which is the second deck in the leftfield corner under the Audi Club. Face value is $50 per ticket ($100 for the pair), but the seller is willing to take the best offer.

It’s a day game (1:05pm ET start) that features Javy Vazquez and Marc Rzepczynski. Email me if interested and I’ll put you in contact with the seller.

Yanks winning the Jay-Z/Eminem ticket prices battle

When the Yankees hit the road next week, Yankee Stadium won’t remain empty. Instead, on Monday, September 13 and Tuesday, September 14, Jay-Z and Eminem will bring their concert to the stadium. Hip hop fans are eagerly anticipating these shows, and many Yankee fans will get to see Jay-Z perform “Empire State of Mind” in the Bronx again. Who doesn’t love the de facto 2009 playoffs anthem?

So far, the reviews out of Detroit have been strong. B.o.B. is opening up for the co-headliners, and last night, Dr. Dre, Drake, 50 Cent, and Young Jeezy made guest appearances. Of course, RAB Tickets and TiqIQ have some seats for those still looking to grab a spot at the show.

As the graph above shows, the ticket prices in New York, a city not facing a foreclosure crisis and economic death, are far outpacing those in Detroit, and the secondary market is insane right now as well. For the Sept. 13 show, tickets in the 400 section behind home plate are averaging $267 while tickets in the 300s sections for the Sept. 14 show are going for an average of $245. Tuesday, it seems, is the best bet.

Meanwhile, baseball remains on everyone’s minds this weekend, and the Blue Jays, while a popular draw, aren’t burning down the house. Tickets for this series are going for below the season average of $95, but the Saturday and Sunday games, when sunny weather and cooler temperatures sweep through the area in the wake of Hurricane Earl, aren’t exactly cheap. As always, RAB Tickets has all the best seats for this weekend’s games.

Tickets available for Monday’s game

A reader is trying to unload a pair of tickets for Monday’s game against the Orioles. They’re bleacher seats, in row nine of Section 238. That’s one section over from the restaurant and directly behind the visitor’s bullpen. Face value is $12, so it’s $24 for the pair. Remember, it’s a day game with a 1:05pm ET start. A.J. Burnett will square off against Jake Arrieta.

If you’re interested, email me and I’ll put you in touch with the seller.

Update: These tickets have been claimed.

Game 135: Stay hot

The Yankees kicked off their longest homestand of the season in style, pummeling the A’s in all four games the two teams played. Things get a little tougher today, when the Blue Jays come to town for the first of six times the two clubs will meet this month. Jose Bautista will surely try to hit his homers, but the Yanks can’t let him or his theatrics bother them, they simply need to win. They’ve won six straight and don’t have time to waste on a fourth place team.

Brandon Morrow will be making his final start of the season for the Jays today; they’re shutting him down to control his innings. We still have nightmares about how he’s dominated the Yanks this season, but it’s worth noting that he’s got a rather massive home/road split. He’s pitched in the Bronx twice already this season, giving up five runs in six innings and then again in five-and-a-third innings. Fingers are crossed.

Here’s the lineup, with the Cap’n getting a regular day off…

Gardner, LF
Granderson, CF
Teixeira, 1B
Cano, 2B
Posada, C
Berkman, DH
Kearns, RF
Pena, 3B
Nunez, SS

And on the bump, it’s the rookie Ivan Nova.

It’s a bit overcast in the Tri-State Area and there’s a chance of rain during the game, but as far as we know they plan on starting this one on time.

What purpose September baseball?

As the East Coast awakens this morning to news of a hurricane making its way up the coast, nothing in the American League East can rival that storm for excitement. The Yankees and Rays are locked in a pennant race that almost doesn’t matter, and while October might be more exciting with the top teams involved, the suspense of a race where the second place team goes home empty is gone.

Right now, the Yankees are in the driver’s seat. They’re 84-50, 34 games above .500 for the first time this year, and the Rays are nipping at their heels, 82-51. Even though Tampa Bay’s schedule remains easier, the Yankees, according to Cool Standings, have an edge in the race for the AL East crown. The Red Sox remain eight games out, and although their schedule gives them a slight opportunity to get back in it, they’re nearly dead.

But it all doesn’t matter. Because of baseball’s grand experiment, both Tampa Bay and the Yankees, division rivals to the end, have a better than 98-percent shot at October. If either team misses the playoffs right now, it will be due to a nearly historic collapse. Outside of the New York Mets, teams just don’t easily relinquish eight-game leads on playoff spots with 28 left to play.

For baseball purists, this 1990s development still rankles the soul, and in his column in the Wall Street Journal today, Jason Gay bemoans the division race that isn’t. “Feel the passion!” he writes. “Aren’t you just riveted by back-and-forth Yanks-Rays suspense? Either the Yankees will begin the playoffs at home or—hold on, just wait for it—the Rays will.”

What bothers Gay most is how the Wild Card — admittedly, as he says, a positive development for the game — has robbed baseball of what should be an exciting story line. “It’s hard not to feel a little cheated,” he said. “The two best teams in baseball—with amazingly paradoxical story lines and operating philosophies—have been playing each other razor-close for weeks (they recently spent eight days tied for first, a record this late in the season) and meet seven more times this month. Had this been the 1950’s, it’d be the kind of race they’d write show tunes about. Or books you buy in airports. But it’s not. It’s not a meaningless September in the Bronx. It’s just not as meaningful.”

It’s not as meaningless because the two teams are playing for something. As I noted earlier this week, home field advantage remains up in the air, and it’s tough to understate the importance of that advantage in the playoffs. In five of the past six seasons, the AL team with home-field advantage won the championship series and advanced to the World Series.

The problem though with playing for home-field advantage is that it’s an obtuse goal that doesn’t play well in marketing campaigns. Come see the Rays and the Yanks duke it out for home-field advantage! Come watch a potential playoff preview three weeks before the games truly count! The draw just isn’t there.

For the Yankees, September is important because the club has to get healthy. They have to align their rotation; they have to secure that playoff spot. There will be no Bucky Dent moments here, no situation where two teams win over 100 games and one goes home, no winner-takes-all moments. It’s just a September to get ready, not one to remember.