The young Al Downing was filthy

The 1963 New York Yankees won 104 games that season and finished over ten games in front of its nearest American League rival. And it wasn’t the offense that propelled them that season. Mickey Mantle only played 65 games due to injury and Roger Maris‘ run of greatness with the Yankees had ended as he only played 90 games himself. It was the pitching that propelled that team. Along with Whitey Ford and Jim Bouton having their best career years, a 22-year-old Al Downing was mowing down hitters at a league-leading rate.

Alphonso Downing, a kid from Trenton, was only twenty when he was signed by the Yankees in 1961. Assigned to the A-level Binghampton Triplets, he proceeded to go 9-1 for that New York State club with a 1.84 ERA. The success led the Yankees to give him a cup of coffee on that powerhouse 1961 Yankees team and in a handful of games, proceeded to strike out twelve batters per nine innings.…

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Are The Yankees Trying To Avoid Paying Brian Roberts?

Roberts E vs TEX

In case you were wondering, yes. That was a play he should have made. Courtesy of Getty Images

This was supposed to be a post asking how much longer the Yankees could afford to keep trotting Brian Roberts out as their everyday second baseman.  It was supposed to be posted on Tuesday, but Mike Axisa beat me to the punch and said everything I was going to say so I scrapped the idea.  That’s blog life.  It happens.  But then I was struck with a new Roberts-centric idea based on what’s transpired over the last few days.  Buried in Mike’s post was this point about Roberts’ contract that I had totally forgotten about:

Roberts is about to start making some decent bucks through bonuses — he has already banked $350,000 in incentives and is two plate appearances away from another $250,0000 — so there is a financial incentive to make a change as well. The Yankees would pay Refsnyder through the end of the season less than the bonus they’d owe Roberts if he gets those next two plate appearances.

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Yankeemetrics: July 28-30 (Brett Gardner Show)

Brett Gardner had a lot to celebrate during the series against Texas. (Photo: Larry W. Smith/EPA)

Brett Gardner had a lot to celebrate during this series against Texas. (Photo: Larry W. Smith/EPA)

Gardy Owns Yu
There are a lot of things you can’t predict about baseball. One of them is the fact that, after Monday’s loss to the Rangers, no player in baseball has hit more home runs against Yu Darvish during his career than Brett Gardner.

Gardner homered twice against the Japanese ace, his third and fourth career homers off Darvish in 11 at-bats. Two other players have hit four longballs vs Darvish: Brandon Moss (in 23 at-bats) and Mike Trout (34 at-bats). The only other player to go deep twice against Darvish in a single game was Matt Dominguez last year.

Derek Jeter had three hits, giving him 3,420 in his career to pass Carl Yastrzemski (3,419) for sole possession of seventh place on the all-time hits list. He also stole a base, putting him in an even more exclusive club.

He is just the second Yankee in the last 100 years with at least three hits and a stolen base in a game at age 40 or older, joining a 41-year-old Bert Campaneris in 1983 against the Twins.…

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Game 107 Quick Recap: TEX 3 NYY 2

Gardner K vs TEX

“Son of a biscuit!! Fiddlesticks!!” Courtesy of Getty Images

How quickly things have gotten back to normal in Yankeeland, eh?  Last night’s series finale in Texas was straight out of page 1 of the “Stereotypical 2014 Yankee Loss” catalog.  The offense did a whole lot of nothing and had its runs generated by the 2 guys at the top of the order who are supposed to be the table setters, the starting pitching fell victim to 1 bad inning and ended up turning in an outing that wasn’t quite good enough to win and just bad enough to lose, and of course there was some bad infield defense that contributed to the aforementioned big inning.

Hiroki Kuroda got the start and pitched a pretty typical Kuroda start for this season.  His final line was 7 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 1 BB,4 K, and his inability to keep his stuff down in the zone led to him getting hit big in the 1st, when he gave up hits to 4 of the first 5 batters he faced and 5 in all that accounted for all 3 Texas runs.  …

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Game 107: Kuroda v. Lewis

While you’re waiting for the game to begin, head on over here and leave us a question for our next podcast – we’ll be recording tomorrow evening, post-deadline.

New York Yankees Texas Rangers
Brett Gardner, LF Shin-Soo Choo, DH
Derek Jeter, SS Elvis Andrus, SS
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Alex Rios, RF
Mark Teixeira, 1B Adrian Beltre, 3B
Carlos Beltran, DH Jim Adduci, LF
Chase Headley, 3B J.P. Arencibia, 1B
Francisco Cervelli, C Leonys Martin, CF
Zoilo Almonte, RF Robinson Chirinos, C
Brendan Ryan, 2B Rougned Odor, 2B
Hiroki Kuroda, SP Colby Lewis, SP
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Quick hit: Happy trails, Eric Chavez!

Eric Chavez announced his retirement from baseball today.

Chavez, who played 17 seasons, spent the majority of those years as an Oakland Athletic. Chavez was a member of the Yankees in 2011 and 2012 and batted .274/.338/.445/.783 in 171 games.

Good luck to Chavez. Maybe he can become a broadcaster or a coach!

Click here to see one of his best moments in pinstripes. Poor Cody Eppley.

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Trade Talk: Hamels, Anderson, Kennedy, Benoit, Masterson, Danks

It feels like things are getting quieter and quieter on the Yankee front as the deadline draws closer.  Here are today’s rumors:

- Via Jon Heyman, the Phillies have been asking for “packages of multiple top prospects” from teams expressing interest in Cole Hamels, including the Yankees.  The feeling is that he’s not going anywhere and no specific prospects have been mentioned by name.

- Lefty Brett Anderson is the newest name on the wire as a potential rotation option for the Yanks, although Ken Rosenthal says Colorado is not interested in trading him and are looking to sign him long-term.

- Ian Kennedy is apparently still on the radar, but Chad Jennings reported earlier today that the talks between the Yanks and Padres were “medium”.  Because MLB trade talks and hot sauce flavors are the same thing, you see.

- While we’re on the Padres, righty reliever Joaquin Benoit‘s name has come up today as a target.  …

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What to Watch For: Kuroda vs Rangers

Hiroki Kuroda dominated the Rangers in Arlington last July. Can he do it again tonight? (Photo: Brandon Wade/AP)

Hiroki Kuroda dominated the Rangers in Arlington last July. Can he do it again tongiht? (Photo: Brandon Wade/AP)

July’s Finest
Hiroki Kuroda had a rough April, finishing the month with a 5.28 ERA. But since then he has posted a lower ERA in each successive month, including a 3.27 ERA in July entering his final start of the month.

It should be no surprise that Kuroda is pitching at his best in July – he is 7-1 with a 2.50 ERA in 15 starts during the month in his Yankee career.

That ERA is the fourth-best by any Yankee in July over the last 100 years, and his win percentage is the second-best, behind only Dennis Rasmussen‘s 11-1 record in the mid-1980s (min. 15 starts).

Left Out
The key to his success this July has been his ability to keep lefties off the basepaths. Opposite-handed batters are hitting just .197/.239/.273 against him this month, compared to a .272/.315/.433 line in the first three months of the season.…

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Quick Hit: “Owning” a Hitter

Yesterday, I ventured into the depths of Baseball-Reference to see which pitchers the Yankees hitters have “owned” over the course of their careers. Today, I will use the same parameters (minimum of 10 PA) to see which hitters the Yankees pitchers have most thoroughly dominated. Unfortunately, Messrs Tanaka and Betances have not faced a single batter ten times in their careers.

Chris Capuano – .000/.000/.000, 1 K in 10 PA v. Shawn Green
Shawn Kelley – .182/.182/.182, 4 K in 11 PA v. Adam Jones
Hiroki Kuroda – .000/.077/.000, 2 K in 13 PA v. Gerardo Parra
Brandon McCarthy – .000/.067/.000, 5 K in 15 PA v. Jedd Gyorko
Ivan Nova – .000/.100/.000, 4 K in 10 PA v. Adrian Gonzalez
David Phelps – .000/.111/.000, 1 K in 10 PA v. Desmond Jennings
Michael Pineda – .091/.167/.091, 4 K in 12 PA v. Jose Bautista
David Robertson – .000/.000/.000, 3 K in 11 PA v. Colby Rasmus
CC Sabathia – .000/.000/.000, 6 K in 11 PA v.…

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