The Yankees recalled David Phelps from Triple-A Empire State following today’s game, the team announced. D.J. Mitchell has been sent down to Triple-A in a corresponding move. Phelps has been dealing of late — 31 strikeouts in his last 21 innings — and was scheduled to start tomorrow, so he’s good for some serious length out of the bullpen. I suppose there’s a chance he’ll start instead of Freddy Garcia tomorrow night, but I wouldn’t count on it.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement has changed the amateur draft drastically, and starting next year there will be two new rounds — six picks each, one after the first round and one after the second — added with extra selections for teams deemed small-market and/or low-revenue. Getting Blanked explains the entire system, so check that out. I highly recommend it.
The actually lottery was held today and as you’d expect, the Yankees were not eligible for an extra pick(s). MLBTR has the full results. These 12 picks and the associated draft pool money can be traded but not during the offseason, only between now and the end of the season and between Opening Day next year and I guess draft day. Doesn’t make sense to me either, but this is a thing now.
The six-game homestand to open the second half has been a success so far, pretty much like every homestand or road trip these days. The Yankees will wrap up their three-game set against the Blue Jays this afternoon and hopefully finish off the sweep before heading out west for a seven-game trip through Oakland and Seattle. The weather in the Bronx isn’t supposed to be great, so there’s a chance we may have a rain delay at some point. Here’s the starting nine…
RHP Hiroki Kuroda
This afternoon’s game starts at 1:05pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
Update: We’re in a no-rain rain delay at the moment. No word on a start time, but stay tuned.
Update Part Two: The game is scheduled to start at 1:50pm ET.
Update Part Three: And they’re underway.
The Yankees won their 56th game in 90 tries last night, extending their lead in the division yet another game. They’re a full ten games (!) ahead of both the Rays and Orioles in the loss column, eleven games ahead of the Red Sox, and twelve ahead of the Blue Jays. Only one other division leader (the Rangers) have even a five-game lead in the loss column. The Yankees aren’t just ahead of the pack, they’ve started to lap the field.
It’s been more than two full seasons since New York had a double-digit lead in the AL East, since the garbage time games in late-September of 2009. They never led by more than eight games last season or more than six games the season before. This is still mid-July and we’re talking about a ten-game lead here. If the Yankees play just .500 ball the rest of the way their closest competitor will have to play .638 ball just to tie. That’s a 103-win pace over a full season. Even our best case preseason expectations didn’t call for a cushion this size, at least not this early in the season.
With that big lead comes some pretty sweet fringe benefits. Joe Girardi can lift CC Sabathia with 87 pitches in his first start off the DL even though it’s only a three-run game without thinking twice. He can rest his regulars a little more liberally — both full days off and half-days as the DH — without worrying about the hit on the offense and defense. Guys with nagging injuries can be given that extra day, key relievers don’t necessarily have to work three days in a row, all of the stuff that a tight race sometimes forces you to do can be avoided. It’s an advantage no other team has at the moment, the ability to just breath easy and not treat every game situation as life and death.
Now of course the division and a playoff spot are hardly in the bag. The Yankees still have 72 games left to play and a whole lot of those games — 42 of 72 to be exact — will be played against the division rivals. The Red Sox may be eleven games out, but the two teams still have a dozen head-to-head matchups left. Winning the AL East became extremely important thanks to the new playoff system and the race isn’t over yet. Far from it. That said, we should be very happy the Yankees are the ones being chased and not the ones who have to do the chasing over the next 10-12 weeks.
We’ve reached the point of the season where the games start to blend into each other and both the wins and losses become so nondescript that you forget they ever happened. Tuesday night’s win over the Blue Jays was about as generic as it gets, but hey, at the end of the day they all count the same in the standings.
Welcome Back, CC
Based on the way CC Sabathia pitched in this game, the Yankees should look into sending all of their starters on a 15-day vacation in mid-July. The big man was in control all night long, limiting Toronto to just four hits and one walk — his only three-ball count of the night — in six shutout innings. He struck out six and in atypical Sabathia fashion, recorded nine outs in the air compared to just three on the ground. Just one runner made it as far as third base against him, only three as far as second. That’ll do.
Joe Girardi played it conservatively in Sabathia’s first start off the DL, yanking his ace after just 87 pitches with a three-run lead. On a normal night, he probably gets eight full innings out of the lefty based on the way things were going. There’s no reason to push it at this point of the season and with a division lead this big, so there’s no reason to complain about the quick hook. The important thing is that Sabathia is back off the DL and he showed no ill effects from the groin strain. The big guy was dealin’.
The Yankees extended their streak of three or more runs to 41 consecutive games with one swing of a bat in the second inning, a three-run homer by Andruw Jones. It was his fifth homer in his last five starts dating back to before the All-Star break. The 41 straight games with 3+ runs is the second longest single-season streak in baseball history, one week short of the record set by the 1994 Indians. With the trip through Oakland and Seattle coming up, they’ll earn the record if they do indeed set it.
Brett Cecil settled down after surrendering the homer and it wasn’t until the seventh inning that New York was able to tack on some insurance runs. Chris Stewart had the most Chris Stewart double ever, a hard chopper that third baseman Brett Lawrie missed and left fielder Rajai Davis misplayed. That dude made some sacrifice to the BABIP gods, let me tell you. Derek Jeter slashed a double to right to plate Stewart and eventually Alex Rodriguez plated a run with a fielder’s choice. They scored runs on homers, on regular old base hits, and on outs. Everyone should be happy.
I don’t want to make a big stink out of it, but it’s pretty annoying that Rafael Soriano had to enter the game — his fourth appearance in five days following the All-Star break — after the Yankees had a six-run lead with five outs to go. Chad Qualls allowed three of the five right-handed batters he faced to reach base and then Clay Rapada had a brain cramp fielding a grounder, looking at second before throwing to first. The hesitation allowed Anthony Gose to beat out the throw for his first career hit, setting up the save situation. C’mon guys, you’re better than that.
A-Rod hit three balls right on the screws, maybe four if you’re generous, and had nothing to show for it other than that RBI fielder’s choice. Have to imagine nights like that are frustrating. Robinson Cano extended his career-best hitting streak to 20 games with a second inning single, making him the first Yankee to have a hit streak that long since Jeter back in early-2007. Jayson Nix had three hits, including a double and a push bunt. He also got caught trying to steal third with no outs in the third, which was pretty dumb on his part.
The rest of the offense didn’t do anything remarkable, hence the “generic” crack earlier. Jeter had a singled and a double, Curtis Granderson a single, and Mark Teixeira a double. Nick Swisher drew a pair of walks, his 12th and 13th walks in his last eight (!) games. He drew just 26 walks in his first 74 games. The double pushed Stewart’s slugging percentage up over .300 (.303 to be exact), so hooray for that.
With the win, Sabathia became the first pitcher since Tom Seaver to win at least ten games in each of his first 12 seasons as a big leaguer. Pitcher wins don’t tell us anything about how well a pitcher actually performed, but over long periods of time they do speak to durability and stuff like that. You do have to hang around long enough to rack up all those wins after all, which is why the 300 mark is so hallowed. Congrats to Sabathia, pitchers love their wins.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the advanced stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Orioles
are currently losing lost, but the Rays won and Red Sox lost. The Yankees are a full ten games up in the division and eleven up on their biggest historic rival.
Hiroki Kuroda will look to finish up the sweep against Ricky Romero on Wednesday afternoon, a getaway day before the Yankees head out to the West Coast for a seven-game trip. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to head up to the Bronx to catch the matinee.
C Greg Bird has resumed has resumed swinging and bat and throwing according to his Twitter feed. He’s been sidelined by a back strain even though he was never officially placed on the DL. Rookie Ball rosters are flexible like that.
Triple-A Scranton (5-4 loss to Charlotte)
CF Chris Dickerson: 3-5, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K — six hits in his last 11 at-bats (.545) with a double, two triples, and a homer
3B Kevin Russo: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 K
2B Corban Joseph, DH Jack Cust, C Gus Molina & SS Ramiro Pena: all 0-4 — CoJo struck out once, Gus twice, Cust thrice … CoJo and Pena each committed a fielding error
1B Brandon Laird: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
LF Kosuke Fukudome: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K
RF Cole Garner: 3-4, 1 R, 1 K — a homer last night, three knocks tonight
RHP Adam Warren: 5.2 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 6/4 GB/FB — 62 of 100 pitches were strikes
LHP Justin Thomas: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HB, 3/1 GB/FB — 26 of 39 pitches were strikes (67%)
RHP Ryota Igarashi: 1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K — 19 of 28 pitches were strikes (68%)
LHP Juan Cedeno: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K – nine pitches, six strikes
The Yankees have had awful lot of injuries to high-profile pitchers this season, including long-term injuries to Michael Pineda, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte. CC Sabathia‘s groin strain was, thankfully, not as severe and he’ll return to the rotation tonight after missing just two starts. The timing worked out well for the team because the All-Star break probably saved them like two starts from a non-Sabathia guy. With a chance to push the division lead to double-digits (!), here is your lineup…
LHP CC Sabathia
Tonight’s game is scheduled to start a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on My9. Enjoy.