Updated: July 19, 2008, 5:25 PM ET

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Noah k. Murray/US Presswire

Typically a second-half hitter, big Richie Sexson is now hitting in a much better lineup in New York.

Yankees' offense bringing Sexy back
In his first at-bat in pinstripes, Richie Sexson singled to center off Oakland's Greg Smith, driving in Bobby Abreu. "It felt good," said Sexson. And that's how the second half of the season started for the Yankees. Robinson Cano hit a three-run homer. Alex Rodriguez hit a home run. Mike Mussina pitched six solid innings to win his 12th game of the season. Perhaps the start of yet another second-half surge for the Yankees?

Take Cano, for example. The second baseman is hitting only .246 this season, but for his career he's a .334 second-half hitter. And that fits right in with the way the Yankees have performed over the past several seasons. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 2001 to find a season when the pinstripes didn't record at least 44 second-half wins; if they win that many this season, they will finish with 94 wins. Last year, the Yankees' surge was especially dramatic. They went into the All-Star break hitting .280 as a team with 89 home runs, and after the break they hit .300 with 112 home runs, winning 51 times.

Sexson, if his career numbers are any indication, should fit in just fine. His career first-half splits, compiled over more than a decade of play, show that Sexson is a .244 hitter and averages one home run every 19.7 at-bats. In the second half, Sexson improves to .284 with a home run every 16.6 at-bats. The Yankees can expect some power from the right side of the plate against left-handed pitching -- and then some. It's true he may have been hitting only .218 with just 30 RBIs when Seattle cut him loose, but in New York he will be asked to do only his small share, and not carry the team on his shoulders.

If history has taught us anything, it's that when it comes to the Bronx Bombers, it's not how they start the season, but how they finish it. And while Richie Sexson might not be a difference-maker, we see no reason he can't ride the surge. Sexson and his new teammates will help your fantasy team's offensive bottom line as they head toward September and another inevitable playoff appearance.

Past editions: 7/18: Blanton to Philly | 7/14: Burnett next big rental? | 7/13: K-Rod's saves

Box Score Bits
CC Sabathia has rediscovered his Cy Young form in Milwaukee. Sabathia threw a four-hitter Friday to improve to 3-0 with the Brewers. He retired 17 straight batters at one point against San Francisco, and only an Aaron Rowand home run in the eighth ruined the otherwise spotless performance. Sabathia struck out 10 Giants and didn't walk anyone, going the distance. … Luke Scott limped into the All-Star break on a 1-for-21 slump but promised his manager that he'd get hot in the second half. So far, so good. Scott hit two home runs Friday and now has 16 for the season. … Despite allowing only two balls out of the infield, John Maine gave up four runs in the fifth inning and the Reds snapped the Mets' 10-game winning streak. Jay Bruce hit his seventh home run in the game, and Bronson Arroyo went eight solid innings, allowing only two earned runs. … Jamie Moyer continued his mastery of the Marlins, beating Florida for the 10th time in 10 career starts against them. His lifetime ERA against the Marlins is 1.34, and Moyer has beaten the team three times since June 1. The teams will play six more games in September, so be ready to plug Moyer in for spot starts. … A.J. Burnett pitched well in what could be a showcase game, but the only blemish, a two-run home run by Ben Zobrist in the seventh inning, was the difference as Burnett took the 2-1 loss. Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi said, however, before the game that he doesn't see Burnett going anywhere. … The Braves finally won a one-run game, outslugging the Nationals, 7-6. Tim Hudson got the win but hardly looked good in the process, allowing five runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings. "I really didn't have a good feeling where the ball was going," Hudson said. "My location wasn't very good." Still, a win is a win. … Hunter Pence picked up where he left off before the All-Star break, driving in the winning run with a double off Bob Howry in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday. He is now hitting .333 in his last eight games. … Francisco Liriano is stuck in Triple-A, and it doesn't look like any Twins pitcher is willing to offer a spot in the rotation. At least Glen Perkins isn't. Perkins pitched six shutout innings and allowed only three hits against the Rangers, who ended a game without having a runner cross the plate for the first time since August 19 of last season. … The White Sox put Zack Greinke out of his misery quickly; the first eight hitters of the game reached base safely, and Chicago went on to win 9-5 over the Royals. Just goes to show how different pitchers can be start to start -- eight days ago, Greinke held the White Sox to one run and six hits over seven innings. On Friday, it was three innings, seven runs and 11 hits. Yuck! … Greg Maddux was ineffective in St. Louis, allowing six runs in four innings, his shortest outing of the year. Maddux is now 0-5 in his past 13 starts since May 16, though the Padres have won six of his starts over that span. … Nomar Garciaparra went 3-for-4 with two home runs, the first time he has homered twice in a game since August 2002 when he was still with Boston. … Garret Anderson, a lifetime .300 hitter against Boston, went 4-for-4 and drove in five runs to help John Lackey improve to 7-2 on the year. … With rumors of a trade with Arizona swirling about, Raul Ibanez had three hits, including a grand slam. Ibanez is Seattle's RBI leader with 59. … Detroit hit into three double plays and went 4-for-15 as a team with runners in scoring position. Only Ivan Rodriguez had what you would call a successful night, going 4-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs.


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Standing Out

SLICK RICK
Rick Ankiel, Cardinals
Um, guess last year wasn't a fluke after all. Ankiel continued his season-long offensive onslaught with a 3-for-4 night, including his seventh homer this month and 22nd of the season.

JAR OF CLAY
Clay Buchholz, Red Sox
Buchholz was unable to bring his Triple-A success back to the majors. For the second time since returning, Buchholz was knocked around, this time by the Angels, allowing eight runs (four earned) in 4 2/3 innings. Ouch!
News and Notes

Cincinnati's Ryan Freel, who has been out of action since June 4, is scheduled to have surgery Wednesday to repair a torn tendon at the base of his right hamstring. There is no timetable set for his return. … A pitching platoon in the starting rotation? That's what Brewers manager Ned Yost is planning, with Seth McClung set to pitch only in road starts and Dave Bush to take the mound at Miller Park. That means McClung is up for Monday's game in St. Louis. … Shaun Marcum's elbow is doing well, and he is expected to be activated from the disabled list for Tuesday's game in Baltimore. … Dmitri Young is a diabetic, and he was unable to get his blood sugar under control in time for Friday's game, so manager Manny Acta held him out. … The flu bug played havoc with several teams Friday. Andruw Jones left the Dodgers' game in the fifth inning, and both Ray Durham and Rich Aurilia of the Giants were late scratches for their scheduled game. The flu tends to travel around a clubhouse, so don't be surprised to hear some of their teammates sitting out Saturday. … That pesky virus is also playing havoc with the Seattle rotation. The Mariners have moved Miguel Batista's start to Saturday, pushing back Jarrod Washburn to Sunday so the lefty can have an extra day to recover from his bout with the flu. … Jose Guillen of the Royals didn't take to the lack of activity the All-Star break provided. Back spasms caused him to sit out Friday's contest. … Nick Punto could be headed to the disabled list if a cortisone shot intended to help a strained left finger doesn't do the trick. Manager Ron Gardenhire says Punto will sit out the next two games regardless. … The Rockies pushed back Aaron Cook's next start to Sunday due to his pitching three innings in Tuesday's All-Star game. … The relief pitcher carousel continues to turn, with the White Sox welcoming back Bobby Jenks and Tampa Bay bringing Al Reyes back to their bullpen. The Dodgers made it official and placed Takashi Saito on the 15-day disabled list, though he likely will be out a minimum of six weeks.
Transactions

• Texas activated Hank Blalock from the 15-day disabled list. He went 0-for-2 with a walk against the Twins in his first action since April 25. The Rangers also called up highly touted catching prospect Taylor Teagarden, who went 0-for-3 in his debut. Teagarden, who might have to give up a trip to the Olympics if he stays in Texas, was brought up to replace Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who suffered a groin injury prior to the All-Star break.

• Cleveland brought Asdrubal Cabrera back to the bigs from Triple-A Buffalo and has plans to use him. Manager Eric Wedge says Cabrera will play regularly at second base, and also some at shortstop to spell Jhonny Peralta. The 22-year-old was hitting .360 in Buffalo after starting the season with a .184 average for the Indians.

Wily Mo Pena needs surgery on his left shoulder, so the Washington Nationals had no choice but to place the outfielder on the 15-day disabled list. The team did get catcher Johnny Estrada back from injury. Estrada went hitless against Atlanta in his return.

• Oakland activated Bobby Crosby from the 15-day disabled list. Crosby went 1-for-4 against the Yankees in his return. Infielder Gregorio Petit was sent down to Triple-A Sacramento to make room for him.

• Arizona placed Justin Upton on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained left oblique. The outfielder is hitting only .242 in 83 games this season.

On The Farm

David Ortiz homered for the second time in as many nights, hitting a three-run blast for Triple-A Pawtucket. Although he says he's feeling good, Ortiz is not going to rush things and will stick to his plan to play four games in Pawtucket, followed by three more at Double-A Portland. "It's only been a few days and I haven't played for the last six weeks. I'm going to make sure everything is fine," Big Papi said.

• Everything also looks good for J.J. Putz. The Seattle closer threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings in a rehab outing for Triple-A Tacoma and was optimistic about returning to the Mariners this weekend. "I didn't feel like I needed this one, but they obviously wanted me to get one more and make sure everything was sound," Putz said. "Hopefully this will be enough."