I always liked Atlanta. I have a cousin and his family that live in Atlanta. I love driving through the city seeing the bridges and the lights. I even thought about going to school in the city. But in the summers, it earns the title “Hot-lanta” quite easily. But still, it’s a nice city. And after tonight’s game, I like the city even more.
Masahiro Tanaka got the start tonight in the weekend against the Braves at Turner Field just south of downtown Atlanta. And while it wasn’t his best outing of the season, Tanaka actually threw a pretty good game and certainly earned his 10th win of the season — 100 pitches in 7 innings, 5 hits, 1 walk, 3 runs, and 7 strikeouts. In the 1st, Tanaka had trouble instantly — a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a walk and then scored on another single. As the first out of the inning, a sacrifice fly scored another run. A 1-out solo home run in the 3rd added the 3rd run to the Braves’ score tonight. But really, Tanaka kept things under control.
Justin Wilson came on in the 8th to keep the Braves in place and threw 19 pitches through 1 walk and 2 outs. Bryan Mitchell, back just today from the DL, finished off the inning and kept the Braves from scoring. Mitchell came back in the 9th, a 1-out walk moved to 2nd on a passed ball and then scored on a single. And that would be it for the Braves.
The ironic part of tonight’s game, for me at least, was that the Braves were a threat and a Yankees’ rival in the 1990s because of their absolute nasty pitching staff. Well, this is definitely not the Braves from the 1990s. I hope their pitching was having an off-night or their being 3rd in the NL East makes no sense. But I suppose it could explain why they’re 17 games behind the Mets and 11.5 behind the Nationals, and 10 games under .500 (at .422). By all respects, they should be a better team.
But they aren’t. And for one night (and hopefully for the series), it works out in the Yankees’ favor during a time when the Yankees really need a boost. After a quick 2-outs to lead-off the game, the Yankees started hitting (or walking) and didn’t look back. Beltran singles and then the bases were loaded with McCann and Bird’s walk. Chase Headley’s ground-rule double scored Beltran and McCann. And then Didi Gregorius’ 3-run home run scored Bird and Headley as well.
Then in the 2nd, again with 2 outs, the bases were loaded as Gardner and Beltran singled and McCann walked (again). The Braves decided that was it for their starter, after 55 pitches in just 1.2 unproductive innings (for them). The new reliever walked Bird to walk in Gardner and then walked Headley to walk in Beltran. Yes, consecutive walked-in walks. Gregorius’ single scored McCann and Bird. And the Yankees had quite the healthy lead over the Braves right in the 2nd inning.
The Braves’ pitchers struggled through the 4th inning but kept the Yankees from adding to their score. In the 5th, the Yankees faced the best pitcher of the evening from the Braves’ staff. The next reliever also did a good job against the 6th and 7th innings. It would be the only time in the game when the Braves felt they were actually in control of the game. Though to be fair, the Yankees weren’t really making much headway on their end, and the Braves weren’t hitting much at that point against Tanaka.
But it was the pitcher in the 8th inning that sparked the Yankees’ offense once again. Ellsbury led-off with a single but then got out at 2nd on Gardner’s force out. Gardner moved to 3rd on Beltran’s double. And Brian McCann hit his 92nd home run at Turner Field (McCann spent his career with the Braves prior to his time with the Yankees), his 23rd of the season, a 3-run shot to push the lead above and beyond for the Yankees. Headley hit a 2-out ground-rule double and then scored on Gregorius’ single. Yes, Gregorius is responsible for 6 of the Yankees’ runs tonight, the first shortstop in Yankee history to play a game with 4 hits and 6 RBIs in a single game.
Then in the 9th, Chris Young led-off with a solo home run to left field. Then Murphy doubled, moved to 3rd on Gardner’s double, and scored on McCann’s sacrifice fly. I should clarify that the Braves sent in their first position player to pitch in 30 years for the 9th inning to save the rest of their bullpen for the weekend. To remind you, the Yankees have sent in two position players to pitch this year so far (Garrett Jones and Brendan Ryan).
The Yankees’ pitchers gave up 7 hits and 3 walks and struck out 9 Atlanta batters, while the Braves’ pitchers gave up 16 hits and 8 walks and struck out just 6 batters. This is definitely not the Braves of the 1990s.
Not that I’m complaining.
Final score: 15-4
The Revolving Door with a Limp (roster news with an injury report): Mark Teixeira is still unable to play today. That nasty bone bruise still shows swelling and inflammation around it, making it difficult to run. Doctors with the Brave saw it today, confirming that the bruise isn’t ideal but it isn’t any more than just a bone bruise and the painfulness is from the muscles surround it and not the actual injury. The Yankees activated Bryan Mitchell from the 7-day DL after taking a line drive to the face and watching for a concussion. Mitchell pitched tonight’s game, and it was good seeing him back on the mound again. After clearing waivers, Chris Capuano is a Yankee again, though taking the outright option to AAA Scranton. He is joined by his “Boy Wonder” as the Yankees optioned Nick Goody back to AAA Scranton. Dustin Ackley (remember him?) is working his way back into pinstripes with a rehab assignment with AAA Scranton for the time being.
It should be noted that come September 1st, the roster swells to include players from the 40-man roster. Expect to see names Refsnyder, Rumbelow, Goody, Capuano, Lindgren, Pirela, and Heathcott, among others. Though the Yankees do not expect to call-up the big name in their farm system, Aaron Judge, for reasons they’re not disclosing. Maybe he’s not ready? Maybe he’s nursing an injury? Maybe he’s got a big family obligation? Who knows? The focus should be on getting the Yankees through the push and into the postseason. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway.