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Today is July 14, 2010.  There’s no baseball being played anywhere.  So I’m going to take this opportunity to do my mid-season Yankee rankings.  Overall, I don’t think Yankee fans could be much happier with the team.  The Yankees lead the entire league with a 56-32 record, two games ahead of Tampa for best in the AL and four games ahead of the NL-leading Atlanta Braves.

Most Valuable Player – Robinson Cano

Hands down the Yankees MVP this season, Cano has been almost unstoppable at the plate and has played superbly on defense as well.  He earned his second all-star appearance this season and his first ever appearance as a starter.  Cano leads the Yankees in batting average, runs scored, doubles and slugging percentage.  He is second in on-base percentage and homers, and third in RBI.  He also boasts a team low 40 strikeouts out of all Yankees with at least 200 at-bats.

Most Improved Player – Nick Swisher

Swish is one of my favorite Yankees and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.  The attitude and passion that Swisher brings to the game is unmatched.  His fun-loving personality is a big reason for the Yankee’s success the past season and a half.  Swisher has improved his eye at the plate, putting in a lot of work with hitting coach Kevin Long.  Last season, Swish hit .249 with 29 homers, 124 hits 82 RBI, scored 84 runs and had a .371 on-base percentage in 498 at-bats.  Midway through this season, in 315 at-bats, he is hitting, .296, with 94 hits, 15 homers, 49 RBI and has scored 55 runs due to his extra hits.  His OBP is .377.

Biggest Disappointment – AJ Burnett

The sad thing is Burnett is exactly what everyone has criticized him for in the past – being inconsistent.  Only two years removed from an 18-10 season for the Blue Jays, Burnett is performing below his salary at 7-7 with a 4.70 ERA.  He is arguably the Yankees weakest starting pitcher right now, especially considering his win on July 7 in Oakland was his first since May 30th.  He was 0-5 in five starts with an 11.35 ERA in June.  The sad thing is Burnett started the season 4-0 with an ERA under 2.40, then was 6-2 with a 3.28 ERA before things went very downhill.  The Yankees will need his veteran presence on the mound in the second half, especially since Phil Hughes will face innings limits later this season.  Burnett needs to find a way to turn his season around.

Biggest Surprise – Phil Hughes

In spring training, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain had to compete for the fifth spot in the Yankees starting rotation.  Hughes had a successful spring while Joba struggled, earning Hughes the nod.  Hughes dominated for the Yankees from the beginning.  He started his season 5-0 with a 1.38 record, taking advantage of massive run support from the Yankee offense.  Hughes is one of the top ten pitchers in the American League this season, boasting an 11-2 record with a 3.65 ERA, earning him a spot on the All-Star team.  However, he will face inning limits later on this season, requiring the Yankees to get someone else to finish the season after he hits the limits.  No word on his post season availability.

Grades

Offense: A The team is 2nd in runs scored and RBI, 5th in hits and 7th in batting average.

Starting Pitching:          A- Sabathia & Co. are 1st in wins, 7th in ERA(2nd in AL only) and 10th in strikeouts.  By the way, Andy Pettitte is 11-2 with a team leading 2.70 ERA.  He could end up having the best season of his career at age 38.

Relief Pitching:              B- Joba and David Robertson are the go-to guys in the pen’ but their ERA’s are 5.79 and 5.46,          respectively.  The bullpen has also only lost 10 games, a little better than average.  But the Bombers still have the best closer of all time, Mariano Rivera.

Coaching:                        A Joe Girardi appears to have a good thing going with the Yankees right now and a great support staff, including pitching coach Dave Eiland and hitting coach Kevin Long.  Whatever they’re doing, it’s working.  The Yankees are in first place, enough said.

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Swisher, Gardner and Winn (l-r) celebrate 14-3 win over Red Sox

In five plate appearances today, Mark Teixeira joined Lou Gehrig as the only Yankees to hit three home runs against the Boston Red Sox. Tex and Francisco Cervelli drove in five runs each as New York clinched another series with a 14-3 win Saturday.

Teixeira hit solo homers in the fifth and seventh, then hit a two-run shot far over the left field wall in the eighth.

After another poor April showing, Tex is batting .393 in his last seven games (11 for 28) to raise his batting average to .207 (23 for 111).

Cervelli made his fourth straight start in place of catcher Jorge Posada, who said before the game his strained right calf muscle feels much better.

Cervelli singled in a run that tied the score 3-all in the third, hit a two-run single in the fourth that put the Yankees ahead 6-3 then capped a four-run eighth that made it 12-3.

Alfredo Aceves relieved CC Sabathia with two outs in the bottom of the fifth after a rain delay of 1 hour, 14 minutes. Clay Buchholz allowed six runs in five innings for Boston. Sabathia was decent enough, with the exception of making a boneheaded retaliation play when he beaned Dustin Pedroia on the backside and the next batter, Victor Martinez sent a 3-2 pitch over the Green Monster to give the Sox a 3-2 lead. If not for that play against Pedroia, the Yankees would probably have won the game 14-1.

The Yankees took a 2-0 lead in the second. Ramiro Pena led off with a double, Derek Jeter walked and both advanced on Brett Gardner’s sacrifice. Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez followed with RBI singles.

With the score 3-all in the fifth, Teixeira homered. Then the Yankees loaded the bases on a walk to Rodriguez, a single by Robinson Cano and a walk to Randy Winn before Cervelli singled home two runs.

Aceves left the game in the sixth with a stiff lower back after throwing a strike on the first pitch to Jeremy Hermida. Boone Logan came in and struck him out. As Jane Heller said on her Twitter account, at least the Yanks only lost one player to an injury today.

AJ Burnett takes the mound against Jon Lester in the third match of the series. The Yankees have a 4-1 season record against the Sox and the Beantowners don’t look like they have any fight in them.

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Today I witnessed the best pitching performance I have seen from the Yankees ace. Too bad it was cut short.

CC Sabathia kept a no-hit bid going for 7 2/3 innings Saturday, losing the closest call of his career on a sharp single by former batterymate Kelly Shoppach in the New York Yankees’ 10-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Shoppach’s hit on a 1-0 pitch off the big lefty fell cleanly in front of left fielder Brett Gardner.

Joe Girardi immediately came out of the dugout to remove Sabathia, who walked two and struck out five. The left-hander threw 69 of his 111 pitches for strikes and benefited from spectacular defensive plays by Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano.

David Robertson pitched the final 1 1/3 innings to complete a combined two-hitter. Ben Zobrist doubled off the reliever with two outs in the ninth.

Cano hit a two-run homer off Tampa starter Wade Davis in the fourth inning, and the Yankees scored two more in the fifth on Derek Jeter’s run-scoring single and Teixeira’s RBI double. After going 0-17 for the first time in his career, Tex got three straight hits in his final three AB in the game.

Every Yankee starter got a hit except Nick Johnson, although he reached base on a walk. Tex led all Yankees with three hits in four plate appearances, followed by Brett Gardner with 2 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs. Curtis Granderson went 2 for 3 with two walks and one RBI. In his first game this season, catcher Francisco Cervelli earned a two-run double in the 8th inning.

The Yankees loaded the base in the top of the 9th and Gardner generated a walk to bring home Ramiro Pena, who had pinch run for Alex Rodriguez.

The Yankees go for the rubber match on Sunday afternoon, sending AJ Burnett to the mound for a 1:40pm start against Jamie Shields and the Tampa Bay Rays.

(AP photo by Mike Carlson)

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When trying to find a ticket seller for baseball tickets, try VividSeats.com. They’re a leading seller of sports event tickets and have reasonable prices for some of the biggest games this year. They offer cheap Yankees tickets throughout the season and you can view the full schedule and seating charts.

The Yankees opened the 2010 season on a good note, hitting back to back home runs to give them a 2-0 lead, which they squandered in the 7th inning and lost to the Boston Red Sox tonight in Fenway Park, 9-7.

CC Sabathia pitched 5.1 innings in his start and his counterpart Josh Beckett struggled, allowing five runs, eight hits, and only struck out one in 4.2 innings. Sabathia had six hits, five runs and four strikeouts.

Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson hit back to back home runs in the second inning, for the first Opening Day back-to-back jacks since 1983. Posada went 3 for 4 on the evening, with two RBIs. That home run was Granderson’s only hit. Robinson Cano came up big tonight, getting two hard-hit balls, going 2 for 5 with one RBI. Everyone in the Yankees’ lineup except Nick Johnson and Mark Teixeira had hits. Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner were the only other Yankees to get multiple hits. Jeter went 2 for 5 and Gardner hit .500 with one RBI.

There was one brilliant play in the fourth inning when a double-steal happened when Jeter dashed for second base and Gardner sped home and stole home from third base. That was a payback for Jacoby Ellsbury stealing home last year. Brilliant play by the Yankees there.

While CC Sabathia did not earn the decision tonight, he was good for the first five innings, but outfield mental errors by Brett Gardner gave the Red Sox an opportunity to tie the game. It was Gardner’s first game in left field, but he definitely acted that way, not making good jumps on the ball and at one point missing the cut off man and throwing it past Jorge Posada at catcher.

Granderson, however, made an excellent back-to-wall catch in the second inning and he may be a nice asset for the Yankees in centerfield. Only the rest of the season will tell if he’s a good fit than he was in Comerica Park.

The Yankees’ bullpen imploded after Sabathia exited. David Robertson entered the game and allowed a hit, but it was Chan Ho Park, formerly of the Phillies, that allowed three runs, giving the Red Sox the advantage. Park earned the loss for the Yankees tonight. Joba Chamberlain entered in the 8th inning and wasn’t effective allowing two hits and walking one while throwing 33 pitches for 1.1 innings.

Yes, the Yankees may have lost tonight, but keep in mind the Yankees lost eight straight to open the season against the Red Sox, but look at who won the World Series last year.

Both teams are off tomorrow, and the second game is on Tuesday and it features AJ Burnett vs. Jon Lester.

Newly signed pitcher Chan Ho Park joined the Yankees Spring Training Workouts on Sunday after agreeing to a contract with the World Series Champs last week.  You might remember Park threw 3+ scoreless innings against the Yankees in the World Series as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

I missed this story since I was on vacation in Puerto Rico last week and I commend the Yankee brass on this move.  Acquiring Park at a measly $1.2 Million with a possible $300k in bonuses is a steal for a guy who has playoff experience and should be a nice setup man for Mariano Rivera.

To make room for Park, the Yankees designated Edwar Ramirez for assignment.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see another team pick him up – so adios Edwar!

Also on Sunday, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes threw their second batting practices of the spring and CC Sabathia threw his first.  According to the AP, Joba and Hughes will throw their first spring training game on Friday against Tampa Bay.  Sabathia will take his first start on Thursday.  No word on when the other three starting pitchers will get their first starts/appearances.

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