Tagged: Atlanta Braves

A-Rod, Yankees Have Lowe Down on Braves


Alex Rodriguez did not look like he needed any rest Thursday night.
But if it were up Braves manager Bobby Cox and starting pitcher Derek Lowe, the Yankee third baseman could of had the courtesy to rest just this one day for their sake. 
A much perkier A-Rod rapped out three hits, including a solo home run, and drove in four runs as the New York Yankees outscored the Atlanta Braves 11-7 at Turner Field.
The A-Rod home run in the first inning was his 563rd of his career and tied him with another enigmatic Yankees icon, Reggie Jackson, for 11th place on the all-time home run list. The blast to centerfield off Lowe also gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
Rodriguez added to that lead in the second inning with a solid single to center to drive in Derek Jeter, who had reached on an infield single. That gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead and the Yankees never relinquished that lead the rest of the evening, though Andy Pettitte and some Yankee defenders sure came close to doing it.
A-Rod also made Cox and the Braves pay dearly for a bit of strategy Cox employed in the seventh inning. After the Yankees took a 8-1, the Braves had rallied back to 8-6 in the fourth. The Yankees then appeared to be getting their newly rejuvenated offense going again.
After one out, Jeter again reached on a single. Johnny Damon then drew a walk. With Mark Teixeira at the plate with a 1-0 count, Jeter and Damon executed a double-steal off reliever Boone Logan. Cox then ordered his lefty to intentionally walk Teixeira to load the bases.
Cox then summoned righty Peter Moylan to face the right-hand hitting Rodriguez. 
Rodriguez lined a 2-2 pitch into right field to score Jeter and Damon to give the Yankees a more comfortable four-run margin. 

“I felt some good signs,” Rodriguez told MLB.com. “It’s been a while, but I’m really driving the ball in batting practice. Being able to do that in the game tonight was a good sign.”

The Yankees, who were held scoreless in the first 14 innings of the series against the Braves, broke out to score eight runs in the final four innings Wednesday night and followed that up with eight runs in the first four frames Thursday night.

Those eight runs (six earned) chased Lowe (7-6), who lasted just two batters into the fourth inning. He gave up 11 hits and three walks.

However, staked to a big 8-1 lead, Pettitte could not make it out of the fourth inning himself. But he also was victimized by two pop flies in the outfield that were not caught.

Garrett Anderson led off the inning with a fly ball to shallow center. Jeter lost it and Gardner was playing deep and could not catch it. After a Jeff Francouer double, Casey Kotchman doubled in both runners. 

After a Nate McLouth flyout, Martin Prado sent a fly into shallow center that Gardner got to but it ticked off his glove for an error. Two batters later, Yunel Escobar drove in two runs with a sharp line single to right.

All of a sudden Pettitte’s 8-1 cushion became 8-6. Manager Joe Girardi was forced to pull the plug on his evening by summoning Alfredo Aceves. Aceves (5-1) not only struck Anderson to end the inning, he also pitched two more innings of scoreless relief to earn the victory.

“It’s a big league ballgame, and to have an 8-1 lead and go three innings, it’s not what you’re looking for,” Pettitte said to MLB.com. “You’ve got to get out of the inning. You just figure you can get out of the inning without having the manager come out there to pull you out of the game.”

“He should have been out of that fourth inning probably giving up one run,” Girardi said to MLB.com. “It’s unfortunate, because we would have liked to see him a little bit longer tonight. He battled and threw good pitches. We just didn’t play very good defense behind him.”

Despite an 11-6 lead in the ninth inning, mop-up reliever David Robertson still required help to get out of the ninth. He surrendered a home run to Brian McCann, his second of the series and the eighth of the season. After a strikeout, Anderson then roped a single to right. Robertson then recorded another strikeout but Gregor Blanco followed with an infield single.

Girardi, taking no chances, summoned All-Star closer Mariano Rivera to get the last out. He got Diony Hernandez to fly out to center on six pitches for his 17th save of the season and the 499th of his career. He is second to Trevor Hoffman on the all-time saves list.

“It’s not how you necessarily want to win a game, but I thought our guys did a nice job,” Girardi said.

Besides the good night from A-Rod the Yankees got a great night from Jeter. He went 4-for-5 with four runs scored. Damon was 3-for-4 with 4 RBIs. Even Cody Ranson, just off the disabled list and pressed into his first start since April 24,had a two-run single in the fourth inning.

“A team like that, you have to give them credit,” Atlanta’s Jeff Francoeur told MLB.com. “They’re not going to be held hitless for a long time. They broke their bats out and didn’t stop. With a team like this, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them reel off six or seven in a row if they’re swinging like that.”

That would not be a bad thing in Girardi’s mind. The Yankees were fortunate in that the American League-leading Boston Red Sox lost to the Washington Nationals 9-3. The Yankees are in second place four games back. 

In addition, the Toronto Blue Jays lost to the Cincinnati Reds 7-5. The Jays began the day in a virtual tie with the Yankees in second place but now are a game in back.

The Yankees are back home on Friday but they actually are technically on the “road” tonight. They will face the New York Mets in the Citi Field portion of the Subway Series. The Yankees won two of three in the new Yankee Stadium from June 12 through June 14.

The Yankees will start CC Sabathia (6-4, 3.71), who left his previous start in Miami with tendinitis in his left bicep. Sabathia since threw a short bullpen session and pronounced himself healthy enough to make the start. Sabathia will be opposed by Mets right Mike Pelfrey (5-2, 4.74 ERA).

Gametime is 7:10 p.m. EDT.

NOTES . . . The Yankees officially bid goodbye to righthand reliever Jose Veras. The Yankees sent Veras, 28, to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for cash considerations. Veras struggled all season with his command. He was 3-1 with a 5.96 ERA. He walked 14 and fanned 18 batters in 25 2/3 innings. Though obviously blessed with a great arm, Veras vexed Yankees management with his inconsistency and wildness. Yankee fans had been booing him most of the season . . . The Yankees beat the Braves Thursday night without two starters in the lineup. Outfielder Melky Cabrera did enter the game as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning but has been bothered by a fever. Second baseman Robinson Cano was replaced by Ransom because he of a sore left wrist. Both problems are minor and both players are day-to-day.

Ump Ends Yanks Slump


Thanks to a blown call by first base umpire Bill Welke on Tuesday night, the slumbering bats of the New York Yankees were finally awoken.
That was bad news for the Atlanta Braves, who would up on the wrong end of an 8-4 score at Turner Field.
The Yankees were tending to their usual business in the top of the sixth inning. That business was recording out after out with nary a baserunner — something they have become quite good at in dropping nine of their past 13 games.
In this one they even went three up and three down in five consecutive innings despite the fact they had knocked — literally —  the Braves starting pitcher out after three innings. No matter, the relief pitcher with the ERA of 5.91 would keep them hitless for two more innings.
Enter Brett Gardner. He actually coaxed a walk out of Braves reliever Kris Medlen, who came on after Yankees starting pitcher Joba Chamberlain lined a shot off Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami’s neck in the third inning.
Gardner was safe on Medlen’s first pickoff attempt and actually — as replays clearly showed afterward — he was safe on his second. But Welke called Gardner out, much to his dismay. Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided that the Yankees have so few baserunners that he should defend the ones that actually are safe.
Welke promptly dismissed Mr. Girardi from the game. But while Girardi might have been angry about the misfortune of the bad call and his team’s plight, he had to be happy of what happened after that.
In the next four innings the Yankees scored eight runs on 10 hits as the Yankees stunned the Braves. The Braves had no idea the passive, flailing hitters of the Yankees could turn so quickly and bite.
“If they’re going to score eight runs after I get ejected, I’ll take the lineup card out tomorrow,” Girardi said to MLB.com, grinning.
No sooner had Girardi left the field tossing out expletives than Francisco Cervelli touched Medlen for his first major-league home run that just cleared the wall in left-center. In one at-bat the Yankees had ended the no-hitter, broke up the shutout and tied the score.
“It’s good for us — they threw the manager out, so we have to do something for him,” Cervelli told MLB.com.
Yankees fans must now send a sincere thank you to Welke for calling Gardner out.
After Chamberlain hit a soft liner to second baseman Kelly Johnson for the first out, the Captain, Derek Jeter, jump-started the offense again with a single. Johnny Damon followed with a bloop single to center. Medlen then decided to walk Mark Teixeira in order to pitch to the ice cold Alex Rodriguez with the bases loaded.
Rodriguez, who seemingly is 0-for-June and whose average had dipped to .207 at the start of the game, made Medlen and the Braves pay for that decision. Down in the count 0-2, A-Rod singled to right-center to plate two runs.
“It was big for me, and it was big for the team,” Rodriguez said to MLB.com. “We needed to break through there  . . . The important thing was that we came to play and we came to win for nine innings.”
The Yankees pop-gun offense finally may have its howitzer back.
Chamberlain (4-2) took it from there, going 6 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits, no walks and two runs — one of those unearned. In his last start, he also gave up three runs in a game against the Washington Nationals. But he lost the game 3-0 because the Yankees could not score.
Other than giving up a solo home run to Jeff Francouer to open the fifth inning and high throw on a bunt by Johnson in the seventh inning that led to two runs, Chamberlain dominated the Braves with his fastball and hammered them with his slider.
“Every outing, no matter good or bad, you’ve got to take a lot from each of them,” Chamberlain told MLB.com. “My last few, I’ve been able to take my aggressiveness as far as being able to throw my fastball. That makes my other pitches that much better.”
Mariano Rivera rescued a rusty and shaky Brian Bruney (one hit, two walks and a run in two-thirds of an inning) to strike out all four men in faced to notch his 16th save of the season and the 498th of his career.
Rivera even got a rare chance to bat in the top of the ninth inning with the bases loaded and two out. He also nearly put some real icing on the cake with line shot that Nate McLouth caught in center field to end the inning.
Damon led the Yankees offense with three hits and an RBI. Teixeira added two hits and an RBI and Nick Swisher homered (13th of the season) and drove in two runs.
“Sometimes it just takes one guy getting a hit with runners in scoring position to change what your club is doing,” Girardi said.
Kawakami, who was perfect through three innings, suffered only a bruise on the left side of his neck, the Braves said after the game. They could only wonder what Kawakami might have done had he been able to stay in the game.
But the Yankees are not giving this victory back. This is the first time since they chased Johan Santana with nine runs in three-plus innings in a 15-0 rout of the New York Mets on June 14 that the Yankees had scored 8 runs in a game. 
In the seven games after that 15-0 game, the Yankees scored a total of just 18 runs and were shut out twice. Seemingly every Yankee hitter was in a slump and no Yankee was able to get a hit with runners in scoring position.
In fact in Tuesday night’s 4-0 loss to the Braves, the Yankees stranded 10 baserunners over five innings, leaving the bases loaded twice.
Thanks to Welke’s bad call that angered Girardi enough to get ejected, those sleeping bats appear to have awoken.  Good thing too.
The Boston Red Sox had won their game to maintain their 5-game lead over the Yankees. The Blue Jays also won. A Yankee loss would have allowed the Blue Jays to take second place. Instead, the Yankees remain in a virtual tie with Toronto.
In the rubber match between the Yankees and Braves Thursday night, the Yankees will send veteran lefty Andy Pettitte (7-3, 4.26 ERA) to face former Boston Red Sox sinkerballer Derek Lowe (7-5, 4.09 ERA). Lowe’s start will break a string of nine consecutive pitchers who the Yankees faced for the first time. The Yankees lost six of those games.
Gametime is 7:10 p.m. EDT.
NOTES . . . Before the game the Yankees reinstated infielder Cody Ransom from the disabled list and designated veteran infielder Angel Berroa for assignment. Ransom started 15 games for Yankees at third base to replace A-Rod, who was recovering from a hip injury. But Ransom su
ffered a serious right quadriceps injury running the bases at Fenway Park on April 24. Ransom struggled in his bid to fill in for A-Rod, hitting just .180. Ransom, who is capable of playing second, third and shortstop will fill in off the bench at all three positions, Girardi said. Berroa. the 2003 American League Rookie of the Year, batted .136 in 21 games with the Yankees after being called up from Triple A to replace Ransom . . . General Manager Brian Cashman actually flew from New York to join the team at Turner Field. He had a closed-door meeting with Girardi. Cashman said he is in Atlanta to help get the Yankees “back on track.” Cashman told MLB.com: “We’re struggling right now, mostly with the bats. It’s not going to last, I promise you that. We’re too good for it to last. The last three weeks of poor play is mostly to do with our offense. We’ve got to get our offense going. We’re pitching real well, but unfortunately, we’re letting that good pitching go to waste.” Cashman also gave a vote of confidence in Girardi and batting coach Kevin Long. “I’m not here to send any messages other than that we’re here to fix problems,” Cashman said.

Braves Deliver Knockout Blow


If Tuesday night’s game between the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field were akin to a boxing match, the Braves would have staggered all over the ring but still won the fight on a lucky punch.

Braves rookie phenom Tommy Hanson entered the contest with a 2-0 record and a respectable 4.06 ERA in three starts. But he also has had to pitch around a bushel of baserunners. In 17 2/3 innings he had allowed 28 batters to reach base.
Against the Yankees, the 22-year-old righty exhibited that previous form. In 5 1/3 innings, Hanson (3-0) gave up four hits, five walks, hit a batter and allowed two stolen bases. He also was a victim of an error that put another runner on base.
However, after all those jabs that rocked Hanson back on his heels, the Yankees never landed the knockout blow for which they were looking. They ended up stranding 10 runners from the second inning to the sixth.
In the second inning, Robinson Cano was hit with a pitch. After two were out, Hanson walked Melky Cabrera. Seeing Yankee starter Chien-Ming Wang on the on-deck circle, the rookie hurler decided to walk Brett Gardner to load the bases.
Wang grounded the first pitch weakly back to Hanson and the threat was over.
In the third inning, Derek Jeter led off with a double to left-center. After Nick Swisher failed to advance Jeter with another weak tapper to Hanson, Mark Teixeira walked. Hanson then struck Alex Rodriguez and retired Robinson Cano of easy fly to left.
Yet another great escape for Houdini — errrrr a . . . Hanson.
In the fourth, the Yankees got another chance when Cabrera doubled to right-center with one out. Gardner then hit a grounder to shortstop Yunel Escobar’s right. Escobar would have had no chance to get the speedy Gardner at first but he had Cabrera dead to rights advancing to third.
However, the throw ticked off Chipper Jones’ glove for an error and the Yankees were in business with runners at first and third and just one out. But Wang was up and the Yankees elected to sacrifice Gardner to second. Hanson helped the Yankees further by walking Jeter.
The inning ended, though, when Nick Swisher hit a routine grounder to Escobar. Yet another threat averted.
In the sixth inning, Gardner singled with one out. Pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui drew a walk. Braves manager Bobby Cox, who seemingly had enough of the Hanson high-wire act, then went to his bullpen for Peter Moylan, who had been struggling this season with an ERA of 4.73.
Jeter then grounded a 1-1 pitch right to Escobar and the slick-fielding shortstop turned a double play that ended the fourth threat. From there the Braves cruised like cruiserweights.
“We’re trying,” catcher Jorge Posada told MLB.com. “Offensively, we’re not clicking. We hit some balls hard at people, and when we seem to get a rally going, we’re not executing.”
The Braves offense really consisted of one lucky inning where they scored three runs after two were out. Chien-Ming Wang, who entered the game 0-5 with a 12.30 ERA, actually pitched well enough to have won the game with some support.
After striking out Hanson swinging and Nate McLouth looking, Escobar hit a shot just past A-Rod at third. Escobar then attempted to steal second. But Posada inexplicably tried to gun him down with a throw from his knees that sailed over Jeter’s head into centerfield. Escobar moved to third. (Posada also dampened the Yankees cause on offense with four strikeouts in the game — all swinging).
Wang pitched carefully and eventually walked Chipper Jones. Unfortunately for Wang two pitches cost him the game. Brian McCann hit an outside sinker to plate one run and Garrett Anderson scored two more when he golfed a sinker to right center.
“I thought he made some good pitches to McCann and he hit the ball the opposite way, and he made a good pitch to Anderson that found the gap,” Posada told MLB.com of Wang. “Other than those two pitches, that was the ballgame.”
The Braves added an “oh, by the way” run in the eighth on a home run by McCann off reliever David Robertson. And, you guessed it, the homer came with two out.
The loss was the Yankees ninth in their past 13 games. On June 8 the Yankees were leading the American League East. They now trail the Red Sox by 5 games and are in a virtual tie with the Toronto Blue Jays in second place.
MLB.com reported that Hanson was the seventh straight pitcher the Yankees faced for the first time, and it is a span they have fared 2-5 over, including 1-4 in the past five.

“We need to get hits — there’s really no secret formula,” Jeter said to MLB.com. “We’ve just got to get guys on base and score some runs, especially early, to help out our pitching staff.”

The Yankees will try to regroup Wednesday night when they send Joba Chamberlain (3-2, 3.89 ERA) against Braves rookie righty Kenshin Kawakami (4-6, 4.42 ERA). Kawakami, 33, is 3-2 with a 3.35 ERA in his past nine starts.

He also will be the eighth straight pitcher the Yankees have not faced before. 

In his last start Chamberlain gave up three runs in six innings against the Nationals but lost the game because the Yankees failed to score a run for him in a 3-0 defeat. Sound familiar? In their past seven games the Yankees have scored 18 runs and are 2-5. Two of the losses were shutouts.
Manager Joe Girardi hinted Tuesday night that there might be some lineup changes Wednesday in an attempt to shake the Yankees out of their offensive funk. At this point any spark for this lifeless bunch would help.
Gametime is 7:10 p.m. EDT.
NOTES . . . MLB rejected the Yankees protest of Sunday’s 6-5 loss to the Florida Marlins. Girardi and the Yankees had filed a protest after Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez had intended a double switch in the top of the eighth inning. However, when pitcher Leo Nunez entered the game leftfielder Chris Coghlan remained in the game. Girardi contended that the Marlins should lose the use of Nunez but the umpires only forced new leftfielder Alejandro de Aza out of the game and allowed Gonzalez to replace him with Jeremy Hermida. The umpires also allowed Nunez’s 0-1 count to Jeter to stand. Girardi said he
was puzzled by the ruling. MLB never has shown much backbone in supporting team protests over the years so it really was no surprise . . . Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira has regained his lead over his Red Sox counterpart Kevin Youkilis in the voting for the 2009 All-Star Game. In the last vote totals announced last week, Youkilis led Teixeira by just 1,315 votes. In the current balloting Teixeira now has 35,632 more votes than Youkilis . . . Jeter leads in the voting at shortstop with a considerable lead over the Rays’ Jason Bartlett and Rangers rookie Elvis Andrus. Jeter leads all AL vote-getters with more than 2.5 million votes. The voting ends on July 2 . . . A.J. Burnett, who was suspended by Major League Baseball for six games for a June 2 incident, dropped his appeal in exchange for a reduction of the suspension to five games. He began serving the suspension Sunday. Burnett was accused of throwing at the head of Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz after Rangers starter Vicente Padilla had hit two Yankees with inside fastballs. Home plate umpire Doug Eddings warned both benches but did not eject Burnett. MLB issued the suspension a day later but surprisingly did not suspend Padilla. Because of an off day for the Yankees on Monday, Burnett will pitch Saturday against the Mets in Citi Field and there will be no disruption in the rotation this week. Burnett’s start scheduled originally for Friday will go to CC Sabathia, who will still pitch on regular rest . . . Sabathia, who left his start in the second inning on Sunday with left biceps tendinitis will throw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday. If he feels healthy he will pitch Friday against the Mets. Sabathia told reporters that he feels fine and he expects to be able to make the start  . . . Outfielder Johnny Damon did not start a second straight game with a sore right calf. Damon has pinch-hit in the late innings in the past two games and reached both times on walks. But he was immediately replaced by pinch-runners on both occasions. Damon injured his calf on a play Saturday where he misplayed a line drive into an error. Damon hopes to start Wednesday night but is listed as day-to-day.