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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 7/11/19

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Masahiro Tanaka agrees that the ball doesn’t feel right; Yanks not satisfied with division lead; Gary Sanchez showing why he was an All-Star; Jim Bouton passes away at age 80.

MLB: All Star Game-National League at American League Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Brendan Kuty | NJ.com: A lot has been made about the state of the baseball throughout MLB. Home run spikes and intricate tests that reveal clear alterations have called for a lot of questions towards commissioner Rob Manfred, who said that MLB in no way deliberately changed the makeup of the ball. Masahiro Tanaka said before his All-Star appearance that the ball “doesn’t feel right,” that the seams are lower and harder to grip. It certainly doesn’t seem like this discussion will quiet down any time soon.

Erik Boland | Newsday: The Yankees will return from the break with a 6.5 game lead in the AL East despite a well-documented plethora of injuries to key contributors. Despite their unlikely shorthanded surge to the top, they are not resting on their laurels. Aaron Boone and Aaron Judge each discussed how the Yanks won’t be satisfied until their magic number in the AL East is down to zero.

Ken Davidoff | NY Post: Gary Sanchez started the All-Star Game behind the plate for the American League and chipped in a rocket double down the left field line. It was just another landmark in one of the best comeback stories in the league so far, and Sanchez credits his turnaround to improved health, increased plate discipline and extra defensive work. Given his season so far, it’s hard to argue against the fact that Sanchez was battling injury for much of last season.

Brian Niemietz and Larry McShane | Daily News: In tragic news, former Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton passed away on Wednesday at the age of 80, after battling a brain disease linked to dementia. The knuckleballer pitched seven seasons in pinstripes, compiling a 3.36 ERA. His most notable work came away from the mound, where he wrote the groundbreaking book ‘Ball Four,’ which shined a light into major league clubhouses like no book ever had before.