Heathcott does it all in Charleston win

Lots of notes, so let bullet point…

  • 1B Kyle Roller (8th round) has signed, ditto RHP Connor Mullee (24). LHP Trevor Johnson (22) is expected to stay in school.
  • For what it’s worth, Paul O’Neill said during tonight’s broadcast that his nephew Mike (42nd rounder) is probably going to follow through on his commitment to Michigan. He apparently injured his shoulder right before the draft and needs surgery. It was a nepotism pick anyway.
  • The Yankees will follow the progress of these players during the summer before deciding whether or not to offer a deal (all courtesy of Robert Pimpsner’s Twitter feed): RHP Dan Burawa (12), LHP Cameron Hobson (37th), OF Mike Gerber (40), and LHP Kyle Hunter (43).
  • LHP Evan Rutckyj (16) has signed with a Florida junior college, which slightly increases his negotiating leverage since he can just re-enter the draft next year. He’s reportedly looking for a first round pay day.
  • Absolutely zero Yankee draft picks are still playing in the NCAA Division I postseason, in case you’re curios. No College World Series section in DotF this summer. Lame.
  • Joel Sherman heard the Yanks were “talking about trying to re-sign” Chris Garcia, presumably to a minor league deal. He’ll be out until next spring after having his second Tommy John surgery in April.

Triple-A Scranton (9-5 loss to Charlotte) got beat by an old buddy
Reid Gorecki, CF, Reegie Corona, 2B & David Winfree, RF: all 1 for 5 – Gorecki scored a run, K’ed & committed a fielding error … Winfree doubled, drove in a run, scored another & K’ed
Eduardo Nunez, SS & Chad Huffman, 1B: both 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B – Huffman drove in two & K’ed
Juan Miranda, DH: 2 for 4, 1 BB – hasn’t played the field since leaving a game after being hit by a pitch a few weeks ago
Jesus Montero, C: 2 for 4, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 PB – five for his last 17 (.294) … last three hits have been doubles … progress, people
Greg Golson, LF: 1 for 4, 2 K
Zach McAllister: 2.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 2-4 GB/FB – 31 of 53 pitches were strikes (58.5%) … first game back from a minor triceps issue, so he gets a mulligan
Jason Hirsh: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 3-7 GB/FB –46 of 66 pitches were strikes (69.7%)
Royce Ring: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1-1 GB/FB – 13 of his 19 pitches were strikes (68.4%)

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Injury updates on A-Rod, Posada, Gardner

Update by Mike (9:51pm): Brian Cashman confirmed that A-Rod will not play before Tuesday.

Just a few injury updates:

  • Mark Feinsand reports that A-Rod has tendinitis of the hip flexor. Girardi thinks it’s good news that it’s not a muscular issue. A-Rod is day-to-day. He could pinch hit tonight, but Girardi would like to avoid that. The Yanks have an off-day on Monday as well, so they could use Sunday to give him two days off in a row, including three off in four days.
  • Via Chad Jennings, Tony Pena led Jorge Posada in some more catching drills today. I can see him back behind the plate Tuesday against Philly, but that’s just a guess.
  • Also from Jennings, Gardner will take BP of some sort today. He is not in tonight’s lineup.

Game 61: Houston, you have a problem

"Aw dang, I really miss New York y'all." (Photo Credit: Pat Sullivan, AP)

The Astros are bad, like really really bad. As a team they’re hitting .237-.290-.339, which is like having nine Randy Winn’s in the lineup. It’s that bad. Houston’s rotation is sneaky good, but it’s just not enough to overcome that putrid lineup. I’m sure former ‘Stro Andy Pettitte is glad he decided to come back to the Yankees when he did.

Here’s the tonight’s lineup…

Jeter, SS
Granderson, CF
Teixeira, 1B
Cano, 2B
Swisher, RF
Posada, DH
Cervelli, C
Pena, 3B
Russo, LF

And on the mound, Andrew Pettitte.

Make sure you check out all the injury updates from earlier in case you missed them. The game starts at 7:05pm ET, and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

NoMaas interviews Mark Newman

The gang over at NoMaas scored an interview with Mark Newman, the Yankees’ Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations and a 22-year veteran of the organization. The discussed a wide range of farm system related topics, from the organizational hierarchy to the team’s plans for Slade Heathcott and J.R Murphy to the draft. There’s a ton, and I really mean a ton of great info in there, so it get my highest level or recommendation. Hit it up, yo.

A no-hitter most strange seven years later

Photo credit: Osamu Honda/AP

Once upon a time, the best team in the American League — the team destined for a first place finish, a classic ALCS and, unfortunately, a disappointing World Series loss — found itself no-hit by a motley bunch of Houston Astros. Now, these Astros were no schlubs. After all, they entered the game 36-28, in first in NL Central, just half a game worse than the Yanks. Plus, as Dallas Braden and countless others have shown, no-hitters can come from the unlikeliest of unlikely pitchers. But this nine-inning effort was unique in that it took six pitchers, each throwing harder than the last.

On paper, the original pitching match-up looked every bit the lopsided affair this game would turn out to be. Astros’ ace Roy Oswalt would face off against the Yanks’ Jeff Weaver in one of those painfully unexciting Interleague games that have come to dominate the mid-June schedule. Weaver, as was his pinstriped wont, had nothing from the start, and Oswalt had everthing. The Astros took a 1-0 lead after a Craig Biggio leadoff double, a flyball and a wild pitch, and Oswalt struck out Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi.

And then the Yanks caught a break. Oswalt left the game with a groin injury, and the Yanks could feast on 8 innings of bullpen work. Even with Jeff Weaver on the mound, the Yanks had 24 outs against pitchers not as good as Oswalt.

The break, it turned out, was anything but. Peter Munro took over for Oswalt and was effectively wild. He walked three — the only three Yanks to reach base — and struck out two in 2.2 innings of work. Kirk Saarloos took the ball for 1.1 hitless innings, and then the Astros brought the heat.

Over the final four innings of the game, the Yanks had to face Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner, each throwing harder than the last. The trio combined for eight strike outs over the final 12 outs of the game, and the game ended when Hideki Matsui grounded out to first. No runs, no hits.

Overall, the Astros’ pitching line was one for ages. 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 13 K. What made it confounding, though, was the sheer number of pitchers the Astros used. Houston seemed even more confused than New York. “I kind of expected him to hug me,” Billy Wagner said after the game, referring to first baseman Jeff Bagwell. “It was kind of a weird situation.”

Weird indeed. The 2003 Astros became the first team to use six pitchers in a single no-hitter, and the Yanks, who hadn’t been on the wrong end of a no-hitter in decades over a span of 6980 games, found themselves in the record books for all the wrong reasons. Sometimes, you lose, and sometimes, you lose historically.

Tonight, the Astros return to the scene of the crime seven years and one new stadium later. Lidge, Dotel, and Wagner have moved on to greener pastures, and while Oswalt has stayed with Houston through thick and thin, the Astros are engaged in a race to the bottom with the Orioles. One team will be crowned worst in baseball four months for now.

For now, the Astros and Yanks will just have to look back on that odd June 11 no-hitter and laugh. “Whatever kind of history it was,” said then-manager Joe Torre at the time, “it was terrible. It was one of the worst games I’ve ever been involved with.”

The expectations of playing losing teams

A little less than three weeks ago, things didn’t seem so rosy for the Yankees. They were battling injuries to a few key players, and weren’t getting elite production from their elite players. After dropping two of three from the Mets the Yanks had something of a cold streak going, 5-9 in a two-week span that began with their trip to Detroit. The starting pitching, which propped up the offense in April, had a bad turn or two through the rotation, and it showed on the scoreboard and in the standings.

Yet there was a bit of hope ahead. The Yanks had an off-day after the Sunday night loss to the Mets, after which they’d travel to Minnesota for a mini three-game road trip. After three games against the first-place Twins, they’d have a string of games that had the potential to boost them back into gear. First four against last-place Cleveland. Then three against last-place Baltimore. The only tough series in that stretch came against Toronto, after which the Yankees would have last-place Baltimore again followed by second-to-last-place Houston.

So far the stretch has gone pretty well. The Yanks, by virtue of their pitching staff, took two of three from Minnesota before taking three of four from Cleveland. They swept Baltimore, so even though they lost two of three to Toronto it didn’t hurt so badly. They had still averaged only one loss per series. In the Baltimore series they maintained that pace. Since May 25 the Yanks are 11-5, with three games against Houston before they face a string of decently tough National League teams (excepting the Diamondbacks). They then get Seattle, Toronto, Oakland, and then Seattle again before the All-Star Break.

This is what the Yanks had hoped for. They played a tough schedule early in the year and despite injuries they weathered it. The Rays might have played better, but the Yanks still find themselves just two games out, which is still a good position right now. If they can make an interleague run like they have in years past, they’ll be in an even better position when they head into the break.

Yes, the Yankees were supposed to do this. They were supposed to steamroll the poor teams. I don’t think that takes anything away from the accomplishment, though. If the Yankees were going to underachieve they’d probably have lost more than one game per series, on average, during this stretch. They’d probably have dropped one of those one-run games in Minnesota. They might have gotten swept in Toronto. Those would be the marks of underachieving teams. The Yanks are just doing what they’re supposed to, and it’s been a joy to watch.

If the Yanks can keep that pace and take two of three from the Astros, they’ll head into the off-day having won 13 of their last 19, a 110-win pace for a full season, just to put it into some context. This has come during a time when they’ve seen Mark Teixeira go hot and cold, and during which A-Rod has hit .288/.317/.475. I guess they picked a good time to struggle. Their teammates can pick them up against the weaker teams. If they start to rebound during the interleague stretch, we’ll see even better things from this Yankees squad.