The Yankees' potent offense has been handled the past few days by Oakland pitching, and they've scored fewer than three runs in consecutive games for the first time since May 20-21. The trend isn't looking great either--after scoring three runs on Thursday, they scored two runs on Friday, and just one run last night (at least the close game made for a fun WPA graph). Fortunately, with CC Sabathia heading to the mount this afternoon against Bartolo Colon, they won't likely need many runs to salvage the last game of this four-game series with the Athletics. They haven't been swept in a four-game series at all since May 22-25 of the 2003 season.Both the three-run scoring streak and Robinson Cano's hitting streak have ended during this series. Please don't let that non-sweep streaks end as well.
That being said, Phil Hughes turned in a pretty terrific performance last night against Oakland and took the loss anyway. Hughes threw 7.2 innings of four-hit ball with two strikeouts and only two walks. Unfortunately two of those hits were solo homers- a tape-measure shot to left field by Yoenis Cespedes (458 feet whee!) and a go-ahead blast to right-center by Brandon Inge. Cespedes has just been killing Yankees pitching in this series (.700/.750/1.300 in three games), and pretty much all American League arms since the All-Star Break. Cespedes is working on a nine-game hitting streak in which he is hitting .576 with four homers, per LoHud. Though injuries have somewhat shortened his season, Cespedes has been nothing but impressive in his rookie campaign. In a world without Mike Trout, he would be a major contender for AL Rookie of the Year. Alas.
Yesterday, SBN's Rob Neyer asked the question "Are these Athletics for real?". They have now gone 13-2 in July and vaulted themselves to the top of the Wild Card hunt and 6.5 games back of the division-leading Rangers, who have plenty of games left against over-.500 teams, too. Neyer determined that their luck in one-run games has to change eventually and that it will be hard for the young pitching staff they have to carry the lowest ERA in the league. I recall the 2005 Washington Nationals, who really impressed everyone halfway through the season in their first year in Washington by leading the NL East for awhile, but their luck in one-run games began to turn and they ended the season at exactly .500, 81-81. That's around where I expect this Oakland team to end up, but we'll see. They are still "medium shots" to make the playoffs, according to Neyer. With two Wild Cards now, I can't really disagree with that assessment.
"It's About the Money (Stupid)" examined the "Goliath Syndrome" that fans of teams like Oakland have against the Yankees. It's a very good read, and it also links a good criticism of Tampa Bay's similar complaints and the problems with that argument.
Steve Sciacco of "The Yankee Analysts" thinks that the Yankees might have an inside track on perhaps landing Arizona outfielder Justin Upton since GM Kevin Towers worked for the Yanks in 2010. Joel Sherman recently spoke to both Towers and Yankees GM Brian Cashman about it, and from these discussions, he proposed a package of Upton for Mason Williams, Eduardo Nunez, and David Phelps. Like Sciacco, I think that is an extremely light package for Upton, though if that would actually get it done, Cashman needs to do that trade yesterday. In reality, it would take more, and Sciacco proposes a trade centered around Hughes instead of Williams if the Yankees can get any kind of assurance that Andy Pettitte or Hiroki Kuroda of a 2013 return. Thoughts? I don't think that package is very good for Arizona either, although I'm certain Hughes could pitch well the NL West like Ian Kennedy did after leaving New York.
In celebration of Barry Larkin and Ron Santo's induction to the Hall of Fame today, do you want to check out the upcoming chaos that is the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot? Rob Neyer again has you covered. Returning to the ballot are "Knows how to win" Jack Morris, the "Apparently guilty by association" Jeff Bagwell, "Love me some Saves" Lee Smith, "Played in the wrong era" Tim Raines, and "DH is not a position even though it is" Edgar Martinez among others, including former Yankees Don Mattingly and Bernie Williams. Joining the ballot are Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Kenny Lofton, Curt Schilling, and the joint dumpster fire of controversy of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa. Feel the awkwardness approaching and the propping up of soap boxes.