YANKEES 15, BRAVES 4
Former Major-League outfielder and Braves television analyst Joe Simpson said on FOX Sports South before Friday’s game that the New York Yankees had the worst batting average of all Major-League teams in the month of August so maybe the Atlanta Braves were catching their opponents at just the right time.
After Friday’s game at Turner Field it is fairly obvious that he was way off base.
Didi Gregarious hit a three-run home run and drove in a career-high six runs and Brian McCann returned to Atlanta for the first time since he left the team as a free agent after the 2013 season to a hit a three run homer of his own as New York pummeled Atlanta.
Gregorius’s seventh home run of the season capped a five-run first inning against right-hander Williams Perez (4-5) and all five runs scored after Perez had retired the first two batters he faced.
Chase Headley added a bases-loaded two-run double in the first inning for the Yankees, who added another four runs after two were out in the second inning to chase Perez after only 1 2/3 innings.
He left with the bases loaded and left-hander Ross Detwiler came in to face rookie Greg Bird and Headley. He walked both to force in runs and Gregorius followed with a two-run single to left.
Perez retired just five of the 13 batters he faced and he was charged with eight runs on five hits and three walks in 1 2/3 innings as his ERA ballooned to 5.56.
“We needed that,” Gregorius told reporters. “Offensively, we’ve struggled the last couple days, but we’ve been working, and trying to get everything going. Today that’s what happened.”
Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (10-6) was the beneficiary of the nine runs in the first two innings as he rolled to victory after yielding three runs on five hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in seven innings.
McCann, who is a native Georgian and played with the Braves for nine seasons, capped his homecoming with a three-run homer as part of a four-run eighth off right-hander Andrew McKirahan. It was his 23rd home run of the season and he ended the night 1-for-2 with three walks, three runs scored, a sacrifice fly and four RBIs.
“It was great. I’ve been saying it all day,” McCann told reporters. “I was really excited to come back here and play in front of these fans. It meant a whole lot to me.”
The Braves used reserve outfielder Jonny Gomes to pitch the ninth inning and he was greeted by Chris Young’s 14th home run of the season. McCann added a two-out sacrifice fly that scored Jacoby Ellsbury to cap the scoring.
With the victory the Yankees improved to 70-57 and they remain 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East. The Braves, who are just playing out the string of a miserable season, are now 54-74.
- Gregorius was 4-for-5 with a homer, three singles, a run scored and six RBIs. After hitting .206 and .232 in the first two months of season, Gregorius has gotten steadily better at the plate and he is also played spectacular defense after a shaky start. Gregorius has raised his season average to .260 and he has seven homers and 40 RBIs.
- McCann is certainly comfortable at Turner Field and he showed his former team just what they have been missing the past two seasons. To show how much respect the fans have for him, most of the 35,546 in attendance cheered him when he was announced. McCann is batting .247 with 23 homers and 79 RBIs on the season. The 79 RBIs ties with injured first baseman Mark Teixeira for the team lead.
- Headley ended his day 2-for-4 with two ground-rule doubles, two runs scored and three RBIs. Since the All-Star break Headley is batting a team-best .329 with two homers and 27 RBIs. He has raised his season average to .277 and he has 10 homers and 57 RBIs.
With Teixiera hurt and designated hitter Alex Rodriguez unable to play in a National League ballpark it is refreshing for the Yankees to score 15 runs and pound out 16 hits. That takes a lot of pressure of the starting pitchers, who have had to pitch more carefully because the Yankees were not scoring runs. Let’s hope the August slump is finally over.
Teixeira, 35, is frustrated because the deep bone bruise on his right leg is not improving but he was assured on Friday that the bone is not fractured and it only requires more rest. Teixeira fouled a ball off his right leg on Aug. 17 and he was able to return to the lineup on Tuesday. However, he had to be removed from the game on Wednesday after not being able to run after he had pinch-hit.
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