The short season leagues kick off this week in the Minors, bringing the Yankee farm system up to full song for the 2013 season. In case you missed it, Stacey Gotsulias took a trip to Media Day for the Staten Island Yankees and got to talk to some of their coaches about the upcoming season and I highly recommend you check that out as a way to get up to speed on what's in store for that club this year. After the jump, there's a quick primer on what and who you should be looking at on the field.
The Yankees picked up a win yesterday afternoon, salvaging a small piece of pride from this West Coast trip and giving themselves something to build on for the next homestand. As was the case during their recent losing streak, they won in rather frustrating fashion, getting out early and coasting through 8 innings before watching their bullpen aces almost give away a 6-run lead in the 9th. Had they lost that game we'd be looking at a threat level red meltdown this morning, so it was nice to avoid that. It's also nice to know that, despite the brutal offensive performance and continued injury problems, the Yanks come home just 2 games back in the loss column in the AL East and tied for the 2nd Wild Card spot.
The "just tread water until the regulars come back" plan has fallen apart rapidly with the return trips to the DL for C-Grand and Kevin Youkilis and Teix's latest setback with his wrist, and now the Yanks are looking at Francisco Cervelli as the new earliest guy back sometime after the All Star Break. They're going to have to keep trying to find a way to win with the roster as presently constructed, which will be no small task if the last few weeks are any indication. Here are a few things that need to happen to keep them competitive and in the hunt.
There was a time when CC Sabathia on the mound during a tough stretch meant things were going to start to turn around. With the struggles he's had this season, that's no longer nearly the certainty it used to be and that was bad news for the Yankees coming into the game. Their offense has been laughably bad in the last week plus and there was no reason to have confidence in the lineup's ability to pick up CC should he not have his A-game. Luckily for them he did, and luckily for him he actually got some run support for a change.
- Another opportunity was squandered in the top of the 1st after a Brett Gardner leadoff double and Ichiro walk were stranded by the 3-5 hitters. No excuse for Robinson Cano not putting a ball in play and bringing in at least 1 run.
- Gardner was in the middle of another leadoff rally in the 3rd and this time the Yanks came through on a big 2-out, 3-run homer by Travis Hafner, just his 3rd since May 20th. Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, and Jayson Nix all followed up with hits and the Yanks had a 5-0 lead for CC.
- He made the lead stand up and then some through 5 innings. His 4-seamer had great life and he worked from ahead in the count consistently to generate a lot of groundball outs.
- The offense went quiet for a while after the 3rd, but they scratched out an extra insurance run in the top of the 8th. Cano doubled to start the inning, moved to third on a Hafner groundout, and scored on a Wells sac fly to make it 6-0.
- CC continued his excellence through the 8th before running out of gas in the bottom of the 9th. Excellent outing for him, just what the team needed at a time like this and the type of stopper start we're used to seeing from him.
- Joe went to his bullpen aces after CC and they damn near gagged the game away. D-Rob gave up a hit and a walk to load the bases before leaving and by the time Mo closed out the game it was 6-5 with the bases still loaded. Even when they win these days they do it sloppily, but it's better than losing again.