Yankees Daily Briefing 06/19/11

CC Sabathia, despite a 2-1 record, has an ERA of 4.43 in June, an ERA that has increased every month this season. Although the Yankees have won the majority of his starts, Sabathia will, if possible, find himself under even more pressure to perform up to the "ace" label while Bartolo Colon remains sidelined with a hamstring injury. Sabathia will take the mound for the Yankees on Sunday; they'll face Randy Wells (1-1, 5.63) as they try to win the rubber game of the weekend series with the Cubs.

1) Minor league results were mixed for the Yankees' affiliates.

Dante Bichette Jr. has officially signed with the Yankees. He'll start with the Gulf Coast League Yankees (rookie), who start their season on Monday.

Triple-A Scranton won in a combined one-hit shutout, 4-0, over Columbus.

Jesus Montero had one hit in four at bats. Andrew Brackman pitched two innings of scoreless and hitless relief; he walked one and struck out three.

Double-A Trenton lost 7-4 to Binghamton.

High-A Tampa is off for the All-Star Break. Rob Lyerly was Tampa's representative at the game; he enjoyed a two hit night, including a double, and played the first four innings.

Low-A Charleston lost to Hickory, 5-3.

J.R. Murphy had two hits in four at bats, both doubles, and walked once, while Gary Sanchez had one double among three hits in four at bats. Sanchez also stole a base.

Staten Island beat Brooklyn, 3-2. Cito Culver went hitless in four at bats. Culver talked to Christopher O'Brien about his experiences at Staten Island.

2) Wallace Matthews writes that Russell Martin is showing his toughness with the Yankees. Martin successfully kept Carlos Pena from scoring in the sixth inning in Saturday's game, and was apparently not hurt during the play.

Much attention has been placed on catchers this season after Buster Posey's season-ending injury, but as Martin himself said, Saturday's play was a clean hit. Martin started the season on a hot streak, proving himself exceptionally valuable, although a recent back injury meant him missing a number of games this month. Still, his performance has kept Francisco Cervelli from having to start, and it's allowed Montero to catch every day in Triple-A, more useful for Montero's development in the long run than spending most of his time on the bench with the Yankees.

3) Steve S. at The Yankee Analysts writes about Brett Gardner's ability to hit in the clutch. Despite the All-Star caliber seasons from Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson, it's Gardner who leads the Yankees in batting average with runners in scoring position.

That said, as Steve argues, the stat doesn't necessarily mean much -- hitting with runners in scoring position is often a stat where luck is heavily involved; as Steve notes, last season Gardner batted just .233 in such spots. Only the Red Sox have scored more runs than the Yankees this season, so Gardner's numbers with runners in scoring position are probably more reflective of the team's ability to hit as a whole. After all, for Gardner to hit with runners in scoring position, it's his teammates who must first be able to reach base.