Spring Game 35: NYY vs. ATL — New digs, unearned runs, & hope

Well, I’m sure the Braves are happy to start their time in SunTrust Park on a win. The Yankees held a 14-2 record (including playoffs) at Turner Field (the best in the majors against the Braves, actually), so perhaps tonight’s special game to inaugurate the Braves’ new stadium is a sign of things to come for them.

The Yankees certainly had a bit of a struggle in just a few moments that made all the difference in tonight’s game. Michael Pineda got the start, going 5 innings and getting 6 solid strikeouts in the process. Pineda’s struggle happened in the 3rd inning. With 2 outs and 2 runners on base, a big 3-run home run got the Braves on the board in a big way.

In the 6th, Chapman and Layne each took a batter, and then Dellin Betances came on. But he gave up consecutive singles and struggled to get out of the inning. So it was on to Jonathan Holder, who also found that 3rd out elusive. He walked his first batter, and the next one reached on a sloppy fielding error to score a run. Another walk scored another run before a solid double cleared the bases to add 3 more runs for the Braves. Then finally, Holder got the final batter to fly out to get out of the inning.

None of the Braves’ runs scored in the 6th inning were considered “earned” because of the error, but all of them counted for their win. Which is unfortunate as Mitchell, Shreve, and Heller split the 7th and 8th innings and all three had flawless outings.

But it wasn’t like the Yankees were silent on their end of things. In the 3rd, the Yankees actually struck first. Sanchez hit a 2-out double, followed by Greg Bird hitting a big 2-run home run (the first one in SunTrust Park, to add to that bit of trivia for you baseball nerds).

In the 6th, with 2 runners on base (and no outs), Dustin Fowler’s double scored both. But then despite loading the bases with a single and hit-by-pitch, the Braves pulled it together to keep the Yankees from taking advantage of that opportunity with some pretty good defense. Chris Carter capped off the Yankees’ scoring with a 1-out solo home run in the 7th.

Final score: 8-5 Braves

While it may have been a good sign for the Braves, it’s not exactly a great sign for the Yankees as they head back to Tampa for Sunday’s opener against the Rays. But then again, now everything is wiped clean and everyone starts again at zeroes. It’s always an odd moment when everyone’s batting average and ERA and stats are all the same, and everyone starts on equal footing.

For a brief moment in time, it’s still anyone’s game. And every team has a 1-in-30 chance of being the World Champions this season. Anything is possible. Seriously, even the Brewers’ fan I talked to tonight has a chance that she’ll be rooting for them in October. I mean, I wouldn’t personally place my own money on such a chance, but like I said, anything is possible.

And because of that, I’m willing to put my heart behind the pinstripes. Now and always. And I’m ready for a great season once again.

Go Yankees!

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