Friday, August 2, 2013

AB4AR "Best Of The Month" Awards: July 2013

July 2013 was basically a tale of 2 mini-seasons separated by the All Star break.  The Yankees went 9-5 pre-ASB in a stretch that started off with 6 straight wins, and then just 5-7 after the break in a key stretch of games that left them doing little more than treading water in the playoff race.  Still, 14-12 overall is a better month than June and they aren't completely buried yet.  A trade deadline addition and the return of a few key veterans has the lineup looking better as we move into August.  Here's a look back at the highlights of the last month.

Player of The Month- Robinson Cano

It was fueled mainly by a hot streak in the early part of the month, but Cano was still head and shoulders better than the rest of his teammates last month.  He led all regulars with a .315/.409/.500 batting line (.384 wOBA), and he was also tops in R (12), RBI (22), HR (4), H (29), BB (16), and fWAR (1.0).  Cano struggled through June but got himself back on track with a very good month in July.  If he stays healthy, he should be primed for a strong final 2 months.

Pitcher of The Month- Hiroki Kuroda

The only reason Cano wasn't team MVP of the month was because Hirok was absolutely lights out on the mound.  I touched on that from a big picture perspective yesterday, but the numbers from July are even better.  5 starts, 3-0 record, 33.0 IP, 25 H, 6 BB, 2 ER, 24 K.  That's good for a 0.55 ERA for the month (2.23 FIP) and a "no contest" for who the best pitcher was in July.  Shout outs to Ivan Nova and D-Rob for very excellent months in their own right.  They just couldn't compete with dominance like this.

Play of The Month- Chris Stewart turns an inning-ending double play in the bottom of the 8th on a foul out behind the plate to kill a potential rally and hold the lead against Bahhston (7/20)

After leading 4-0 through 6+ innings and having Hirok be absolutely on point against the Fraud Sawx, the Yankees watched them put 2 on the board in the 7th against Kuroda and then get a 1-out base hit off David Robertson in the 9th.  It felt like it was time for a Boston comeback and the stadium certainly wanted it.  D-Rob got ahead of Dustin Pedroia 0-2 before Pedroia popped a pitch up behind the plate.  Stewart ranged about as fair back as a catcher can and still have room to make a play and caught the ball semi-falling into the stands right off of the third base side of the screen.  He then whirled around, almost in one motion, and fired a strike to second base to nail Daniel Nava trying to advance and end the inning.  It was an absolutely spectacular play, a great combination of athleticism and instincts, and it sucked the life right out of Fenway Park.  Just beautiful.

Game of The Month (Individual)- Robinson Cano slugs the team to victory in the first game of the month against the Twins (7/1)

He stumbled and bumbled his way to the finish of June, then started to turn things around right at the end of the month.  At the beginning of July, Cano went from "heating up" to "on fire" in the span of a few games and it started with this one.  3-4 with 2 HR, 1 2B, 4 R scored, and 3 RBI.  He homered in his first 2 ABs of the game to keep the Yankees close, then started the rally late that turned a close game into a laugher.  When Cano hits, the team seems to follow him.  This was one of those days where that's exactly what happened.

Game of The Month (Team)- 5-4 victory on the road against Texas on a 2-run, 9th inning comeback rally against Joe Nathan (7/23)

The 3-2 win over the O's on the 5th was a very close second, but at the end of the day beating Joe Nathan trumps beating Jim Johnson every day and twice on Sunday.  The Yanks led this game 3-0 before a combination of a bad error by Brent Lillibridge, a bad decision by Joe, and some poor pitching by Phil Hughes turned it into a 4-3 deficit.  The Ranger bullpen held the lead until the 9th, when Nathan melted down against some of the weakest hitters in the Yankee lineup and they went back up 5-4.  Mo showing him how it was done with a strikeout-strikeout-groundout bottom of the 9th for the save was salt in the wound.

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