Like General Sherman, the Yankees marched down to Atlanta looking for victory. They would try to continue their recent stretch of strong play, and an excellent run of success by the starting pitching. Ivan Nova took the hill for the Yankees, looking to replicate the strong form that he showed in his 8-inning 1-run victory over the Rays. He matched up against Braves youngster Randall Delgado, part of the next wave of Braves pitching prospects.
The Yankee offense went to work against the 22 year-old Delgado from the get-go. After a groundout by Derek Jeter and a strikeout by Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez crushed a double over Martin Prado’s head in left. Robinson Cano promptly lined a single to center, scoring Rodriguez and putting the Yankees on the board first. After an easy bottom of the 1st, the Yankees added another run in the 2nd on a solo home run by Raul Ibanez, his 10th of the season.
In the 3rd, a walk to Rodriguez and a double by Cano put runners on 2nd and 3rd, and a walk to Mark Teixeira loaded the bases. A wild pitch by Delgado scored Rodriguez, giving the Yankees a 3-0 advantage. A walk to Nick Swisher loaded the bases again, but Russell Martin was unable to take advantage, popping out to 1st to end the rally.
Meanwhile, Nova was cruising, scattering 2 hits in the 1st 3 innings and inducing the Braves to hit into 2 double plays. In the 4th, a leadoff single by Prado and a balk put a runner in scoring position for the Braves. Brian McCann hit a deep fly to right, but a leaping catch by Nick Swisher robbed McCann and kept the shutout intact. Nova then struck out Dan Uggla and got Freddie Freeman to ground out to end the threat. Nova proceeded to cruise through the 5th and 6th without much trouble.
The Yankees looked to add on in the top of the 7th with the middle of the order up. Cano reached on a Chipper Jones error and Teixeira singled, bringing up Ibanez, who lined to center. Swisher walked, loading the bases with one out, and sending yesterday’s hero Russell Martin to the plate. Martin was slightly less heroic today, grounding into a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat, and continue the Yankees’ poor performance with the bases loaded. Nova meanwhile, worked around a leadoff walk to Dan Uggla in the bottom of the 7th to keep the Braves scoreless.
The 8th and 9th saw Joe Girardi employ his patented mix-and-match technique to make up for the short bullpen (since Rafael Soriano was not available after pitching 2 games in a row). Cody Eppley recorded the 1st out in the 8th on a groundout (of course), and Clay Rapada retired the next two hitters on a strikeout and a grounder to 2nd. In the 9th, Cory Wade recorded the 1st out by striking out Martin Prado, before giving way to Boone Logan. Logan, facing the dangerous McCann, retired him on a hard line drive to Teixeira (McCann seems to have offended the BABIP gods). Dan Uggla represented the last hope for the Braves, but he was no match for the mighty slider of Boone Logan, waving at an 0-2 offering to end the game, and preserve another Yankee win.
It was another great outing by a Yankee starter, as Nova went 7 scoreless, giving up 5 hits and just 1 walks while striking out 6. He had good command of his fastball today (hitting 93-94 with regularity) and was fooling Atlanta hitters with the slider. He wasn’t as effective at keeping the ball on the ground as he was in his last outing (6 GO:5 FO), but he was able to keep the ball in the park and get the big double play or strikeout when he needed it. The Braves were never able to mount a major threat against Nova, and never had more than 1 runner on base at a time (and nobody advanced past 2nd base).
On the offensive side, the performance was less impressive, but got the job done. Robinson Cano was the offensive star with 2 hits, and Raul Ibanez’s homer in the 2nd was a timely contribution. The Yankees did strand a ton of runners tonight, with Martin (8 LOB) and Ibanez (5) the biggest offenders, but the strong pitching of Ivan Nova made that inconsequential. It is still frustrating to watch the Yankees struggle in those situations, and sooner or later you would think things will turn around.
With the win, the Yankees move into a 1st-place tie with the Rays, who were idle today. The Yanks will go back to work tomorrow in Atlanta, as CC Sabathia takes the hill. As impressive as the Yankee starters have been of late, CC has not been quite at his peak form. Hopefully the strong outings from his rotation-mates will get him motivated to pitch another gem tomorrow.
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TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees