Game 129: NYY vs. ATL — Sweeping the ATL

The Yankees are still a game and a half behind Toronto, but that’s partly because Toronto seems to be inhabited by the ghosts of the 1992-1993 teams with recent scores almost as ridiculous as the ones this weekend in the Yankees-Braves games.

Nathan Eovaldi was on the mound to start today’s finale against the Braves, and he threw some Nasty Nate stuff once again, though the Braves were pretty good about pushing up his pitch count, his lone weakness it seems. Eovaldi threw 103 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 8 hits, 5 runs, and 2 walks, striking out 7 Atlanta batters. In the 3rd, with 2 outs, consecutive walks became a problem for the Yankees when they scored on consecutive singles to get the Braves on the board.

Then in the 6th, two runners in scoring position with a single and double scored on a long single and forced Eovaldi out of the game. Adam Warren came on in relief and wasn’t exactly as sharp as Warren is generally known to be. His first batter hit a fly out, but the runner at 1st ended up on 2nd with a missed catch error by an infielder in the relay back to the mound. That runner then scored on a single. Another single and a force out put runners on the corners and the Yankees called on reliever Chasen Shreve to get Warren out of trouble. Despite a walk to load the bases, Shreve got the final out without another runner crossing the plate.

Branden Pinder was next out of the bullpen who allowed a lead-off solo home in the 7th but kept the Braves from adding anything further in his 7th and 8th innings, earning 3 nice strikeouts along the way. Bryan Mitchell closed out the game for the Yankees with a beautiful 9-pitch 9th inning, throwing up zeros on his stats — no runs, no walks, no hits, and no strikeouts, just a simple 1-2-3 inning to deliver the win to Eovaldi.

Now, how does a team that scored 6 runs off a pretty decent pitching staff today still lose their game? By their pitching staff giving up way more runs to the other team. The poor Braves starter was pushed out of the game in the 5th inning after a whopping 103 pitches. But the Yankees just seemed to find that missing spark of the offense this weekend, and today was no exception.

In the 2nd inning, with 2 runners on base and 2 outs, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a 3-run home run into the right field seats to start the Yankees run-rally today. In the 3rd, with 2 outs, Bird walked and then scored on Chase Headley’s 2-run home run. Then Gregorius walked and scored on Stephen Drew’s 2-run home run. And suddenly, the Yankees were up 7-0 in the 3rd inning.

Going into the 5th inning, the Yankees led 7-2 and loaded the bases with singles by Bird, Headley, and Gregorius. The Braves were done with their starter at this point and opened the bullpen. A walk to Drew walked in Bird to add to the Yankees’ lead before two line drives ended the bases loaded jam for the Braves.

The biggest inning for run-scoring today was the 7th with 9 runs. The Braves sent in a new pitcher twice during this inning, but any of their position players with pitching experience might have been better choices. For pitcher #1 of the inning, with 1 out, they loaded the bases with a walk, hit-by-pitch, and a single. Then pitcher #2 didn’t help matters, Alex Rodriguez singled and scored Headley and Gregorius, leaving Drew at 3rd. After another out, Brett Gardner’s single scored Drew and Beltran’s single loaded the bases again. Brian McCann’s single scored Young (pinch-running for Rodriguez) and Gardner, Greg Bird’s double scored Beltran, and Headley’s double scored McCann and Bird. Then with after walking Gregorius, Drew’s single scored Headley.

Oh, but that wasn’t the end of it. The Yankees came back in the 8th to add more to their double-digit lead. Bases loaded and 1 out once again set up Bird’s sacrifice fly that scored Ellsbury. Then reliever Branden Pinder came up to bat and hit his first major league hit (and major league RBI) — an RBI double to score Gardner. Didi Gregorius’ single scored McCann to cap off the Yankees’ scoring today.

The Yankees garnered 21 hits and 9 walks off Braves’ pitching. The Braves didn’t do that bad on their side of things (12 hits and 6 walks), and if this were any other game, the Braves might just be on the winning side of things.

Final score in Atlanta: 20-6, Yankees sweep the Braves 3-0. They also outscored the Braves by quite a big number — 38 Yankee runs to 11 Atlanta runs.

One final note: our condolences and prayers continue to be with the family and friends of longtime Braves fan Greg “Ace” Murrey, who passed away last night after his fall from the upper decks. The Braves lowered their stadium flags to half-mast and took a moment of silence before the game today to honor his memory.

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Again, I just want to remind people that while going to games is always an assumed risk, which is why you see signs warning you to stay alert for balls and bats that may fly into the stands. But tragedies like these are preventable by being alert and making wise decisions. Stay safe out there, people! Somebody wants you to come home safe tonight.

Go Yankees!

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