Apparently, this one doesn’t go to 11. The worst thing about winning streaks is that eventually, they come to an end. The best thing about baseball, though, is that the day after a loss, you’ve got a chance to start a new one right away. The Yankees’ ten game winning streak was stopped last night, thanks to a 4-3 loss at the hands of the Braves. Hiroki Kuroda wasn’t sharp, but he wasn’t disastrous either, as he allowed four runs in seven innings, striking out six. However, he did walk three and back-to-back run scoring innings by the Braves (top 3, top 4) were the downfall for Hirok.
With the Yankees up 2-0 (thanks to a Nick Swisher two-run double) in the top of the third, right fielder Jason Heyward smoked a ball over Curtis Granderson‘s head for a triple. On the very next pitch, shortstop Andrelton Simmons grounded out to short and Heyward scored to put the Braves on the board. Kuroda was fine the rest of the inning, but the fourth was a bit of a roller coaster. Martin Prado singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, then found himself on third thanks to a long fly ball from Brian McCann. With the powerful Dan Uggla at the plate, things looked dicey, but Kuroda was able to strike Uggla out (as he did two other times) and the inning was about to be saved. Freddie Freeman, however, had other plans; despite falling down 0-2, he was able to work a walk. Chipper Jones followed Freeman with a double that scored Prado to tie the score and moved Freeman to third. Another two out walk, this one to Heyward, followed and then another RBI single from Simmons put the Braves ahead 3-2. It would’ve been 4-2 (Jones crossed the plate on the play) if not for a heads up play by Granderson, who threw Heyward out at third before Jones scored.
Two Atlanta errors in the fourth allowed the Yankees to tie the game at three and they had a chance to take the lead. On a Swisher single in the bottom of the fifth, Mark Teixeira was thrown out at home by Heyward, and this would prove costly, thanks to a bit of bad luck in the sixth. Brian McCann doubled to lead off the inning and with one out (thanks to another Uggla strikeout), he moved to third on a grounder by Freddie Freeman. Once again, Kuroda looked poised to get out of the inning. However, he walked Chipper Jones to extend the inning. Heyward followed and hit a sharp grounder at Mark Teixeira, but the ball bounded off Tex’s foot towards the middle of the diamond and the Braves took the lead. We’ve seen Tex make that play too many times to count, so it was disappointing, despite the difficulty, to see that play result in anything but an out. Neither team would score again, though the Yankees had a shot.
Facing Johnny Venters in the seventh, the Yankees put the first two runners on (Granderson singled and Alex Rodriguez walked). With the tying and go ahead runs on, Robinson Cano pulled a grounder that moved the runners over to second and third for Tex. He hit a grounder to third and, of course, the Yankees had the contact play on. Chipper Jones easily threw out Granderson at home and Venters disposed of Raul Ibanez via strikeout and the Yankees’ threat was done. I must digress for a second: Why do teams run the contact play all the time? It’s mind boggling. Perhaps it’s confirmation bias, but it seems to work roughly 0% of the time.
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