YANKEES 20, BRAVES 6
The Yankees came into Atlanta having surrendered first place to the Toronto Blue Jays, missing its top home run hitter and run producer in Mark Teixeira and desperately struggling to score runs. They left having swept the Braves by a combined score of 38-11 in three games.
Jacoby Ellsbury hit a three-run home run and Chase Headley and Stephen Drew added two-run shots off right-hander Julio Teheran while Nathan Eovaldi rolled to his ninth straight victory as New York thrashed Atlanta at Turner Field on Sunday.
Drew, who collected four hits and Headley, who added three, each drove in four runs as the Yankees scored eight runs in 4 1/3 innings against Teheran (9-7).
When the Braves managed to rally for two runs in the third inning and three runs in the sixth against Eovaldi (14-2) to draw to within 8-5 and chase the 25-year-old right-hander from the game, the Yankees put together a nine-run seventh inning against left-hander Ross Detwiler, right-hander Peter Moylan and right-hander Jake Brigham to put the game out of reach.
Pinch-hitter Alex Rodriguez, Brian McCann and Headley each drove in two runs in the inning in which the Yankees sent 14 batters to the plate and pounded out nine hits.
The Yankees added three more runs off Brigham in the eighth inning, capped by an RBI double by rookie relief pitcher Branden Pinder.
Teheran, who entered the game with a 7-1 record and a 2.55 ERA at home this season, was charged with season-high tying eight runs on nine hits and three walks with four strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.
The rookie right-hander Brigham, who was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday, was charged with eight runs on nine hits and four walks with three strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings.
Eovaldi yielded five runs on eight hits and two walks with seven strikeouts to run his career-best winning streak to nine games spanning his past 13 starts. The nine-game winning streak is the best in Major League Baseball this season.
However, Eovaldi needed help from right-hander Adam Warren and Chasen Shreve to get out of the sixth inning. Pinder and right-hander Bryan Mitchell pitched the final three innings to preserve the victory.
Including the 1996 and 1999 World Series, the Yankees have now 17 of the 19 games they have played at Turner Field.
With the victory the Yankees improved to 72-57 and they remain 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East. The Braves, who have now lost 12 of their past 13 games, are 54-76.
- Drew has been batting under .200 for most of the season after batting .162 last season. But he was 4-for-4 with a homer, three singles, two walks, three runs scored and four RBIs. The four-hit game raised his season average to .201.
- Headley was 3-for-3 with a homer, a double, a single, two walks, three runs scored and four RBIs. Headley was 6-for-11 with a home run and seven RBIs in the three-game series. He raised his season average to .277. While most of the team has been struggling in August, Headley is batting .297 for the month.
- After a prolonged slump at the plate, Ellsbury is showing signs of life. He was 2-for-6 with a homer, a single, a walk, two runs scored and three RBIs in the game. Since Aug. 13, Ellsbury is 24-for-69 (.348) with two homers and six RBIs and he has scored 10 runs. That has raised his season average from .260 to .278.
- Eovaldi seems to get bogged down when he gets a big lead, which happens often since the Yankees provide him with more than seven runs a game. Even with a 7-0 lead he ended up allowing the Braves back into the game and left after giving up three straight hits to begin the sixth. He has to do better despite the fact he is 14-2.
With Teixeira still nursing a deep bone bruise on his right leg, manager Joe Girardi is having Rodriguez resume workouts at first base as a potential right-handed option along with rookie Greg Bird, who bats left-handed. Rodriguez has not played in the field since May 23, when he finished a game at first base.
The Yankees will open a three-game series with the last-place Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park starting on Monday.
Right-hander Ivan Nova (5-6, 4.50 ERA) will start the series for the Yankees. Nova is coming off two straight losses and gave up seven runs in a loss to the Houston Astros on Tuesday.
The hapless Red Flops will counter with left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (7-5, 4.39 ERA). Rodriguez gave up two runs on seven hits in six innings in a no-decision last Monday against the Kansas City Royals.
Game-time will be 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.
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.
THIS POST WAS DELAYED
YANKEES 4, NATIONALS 2
From July 5 to the end of the 2013 season, Ivan Nova was 7-4 with a 2.59 ERA in his last 15 starts. That same dominant right-handed pitcher showed up on Monday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Nova (1-0) pitched three hitless shutout innings to set the tone for New York’s Grapefruit League victory over Washington.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound right-hander threw 30 of his 35 pitches for strikes and struck out four in just his second outing of the spring.
The Yankees backed Nova with a four-run second-inning uprising off Nationals left-hander Ross Detwiler (0-1), keyed by RBI hits by Kelly Johnson, Ichiro Suzuki and Corban Joseph as the Yankees claimed their fourth straight exhibition victory.
Brian Roberts and Francisco Cervelli opened the frame with back-to-back singles. Johnson then followed with a bloop double to left that scored Roberts.
Suzuki extended the rally when Nationals shortstop Zach Walters fielded his slow roller and threw wildly to first, allowing both Cervelli and Johnson to score.
After Zoilo Almonte laced a double to right, Joseph plated Suzuki with the final run of the inning with a solid single to right.
New closer David Robertson made his first appearance of the spring in relief of Nova in the fourth and pitched around hitting Danny Espinosa with his second pitch by retiring Tyler Moore on a double-play grounder and getting Scott Hairston on a flyout to left.
The Nationals scored their two runs on a solo home run by Walters off right-hander Shawn Kelley in the fifth and on a fielding error in the sixth by Derek Jeter on a ground ball off the bat of Espinosa that allowed Eury Perez to score with right-hander Danny Burawa on the mound.
Right-hander Jim Miller pitched a perfect ninth inning to get credit for a save.
The Yankees are 4-2 in early spring play while the Nationals fell to 3-1.
- I have said for a very long time and it does bear repeating that Nova IS the Yankee starter with the best overall stuff. His mid-90s fastball and crackling curveball were on full display on Monday. When Nova commands his pitches he is as nasty and dominant as any pitcher the Yankees have. After suffering through a horrible 2012 season in which he was 12-8 with a 5.02 ERA and sustaining an early bout of forearm tendinitis last season, Nova has been everything the Yankees had hoped he would be when he was 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA in his rookie season. If he pitches this season as he did on Monday he could have a very good record in 2014.
- Johnson, 32, is settling in nicely with the Yankees as the team’s primary third baseman this season. Johnson averaged 24 home runs and 61 RBIs from 2010 through 2012. Last season with the Tampa Bay Rays, Johnson hit 16 home runs and drove in 52 runs in only 118 games. The Yankees think the lefty swinging Johnson can produce as much for the Yankees while Alex Rodriguez sits out his season-long suspension.
- Cervelli, 28, went 2-for-3 with a single, a double and run scored. Cervelli is 4-for-7 (.571) in early spring action and it seems he is determined not to lose the backup catching spot to Austin Romine or John Ryan Murphy this spring. One thing in Cervelli’s favor is that he is out of options and the team would lose him if he did not win the job.
- The infield defense this spring has not been as crisp as it could be. Of course, with Gold Glove first baseman Mark Teixeira yet to play in a game and with the free-agent loss of Robinson Cano at second that is to be expected. The main offenders have been Joseph and Addison Maruszak. Maruszak has committed three errors and Joseph has committed two, including one at first base on Monday. The Yankees committed a franchise-record low of errors last season. It would be nice of they get close to that again in 2014.
- There is nothing to be alarmed about yet, but Jeter is 0-for-7 in the three games he has played this spring. I would be alarmed if it stretched into another week or so. But the good news is the Yankee captain is moving without discomfort or a limp due to his surgically repaired left ankle.
The Yankees had football legend Joe Namath throw out the first pitch for Monday’s game. Namath, the 70-year-old former great of the New York Jets and a Hall of Fame quarterback, wore a Yankee jersey with his iconic No. 12 as he escorted manager Joe Girardi to exchange the lineup card at home plate and he spent the rest of the day next to Girardi in the Yankees’ dugout as a “co-manager.” . . . Teixeira took some swings on Monday against left-hander Manny Banuelos and right-hander Jose Campos. Teixeira reported no issues with his surgically repaired right wrist. He hopes to take some more swings on Tuesday leading up to his first game action either Thursday or Friday. . . . Andy Pettitte was in camp on Monday as a special guest instructor but he made a point to insist that he not going to come out of retirement this time.
The Yankees will play there first night game of the spring at home playing host to the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday.
Right-hander David Phelps will make his second start of the spring for the Yankees. Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran will start in the outfield and Jeter will also be in the lineup as the designated hitter.
The Orioles will counter with left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, who was 7-7 with a 4.07 ERA in 23 starts with the O’s last season.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EST and the game will be broadcast live nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.
YANKEES 8, BLUE JAYS 2
During the course of the 2013 season the nickname Bronx Bombers did not fit at all. This spring training training it looks like the moniker definitely applies.
Eduardo Nunez, Carlos Beltran and John Ryan Murphy each connected for home runs on Sunday as New York pounded Toronto at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin, FL.
Nunez unloaded for a two-run homer to left-field off right-hander Todd Redmond and Beltran followed with his first home run as a Yankee and of the spring to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead.
Murphy’s blast came in the eighth inning off right-hander Neil Wagner after leadoff singles by Antoan Richardson and Yangervis Solarte that extended the Yankees to their final 8-2 margin.
Minor-league right-hander Bryan Mitchell (1-0) gave up two hits, no walks and struck out three batters in his two innings of relief to get credit for the victory. Redmond (1-1) was saddled with the loss.
The Yankees have now won their past three Grapefruit League contests and are 3-2. The Blue Jays have the same record.
- There is no doubt that the catching position currently is the strongest position on the Yankee roster and Murphy’s three-run blast on Sunday added to the group’s impressive spring. Brian McCann, Francisco Cervelli, Kevin Romine, Gary Sanchez, Francisco Arcia and Murphy are a combined 12-for-32 (.375) at the plate with three homers and eight RBIs. Perennial All-Star McCann, obviously, will be the starter. But a real competition has erupted between Cervelli, Romine and Murphy for the backup spot. Sanchez and Arcia are heading back for minor-league seasoning.
- Nunez’s home run proved to be the game-winner and it came at a good time for the 26-year-old infielder. Nunez is battling to be part of a platoon at third base with Kelly Johnson. The problem for Nunez is his shaky fielding and the fact that 27-year-old Dean Anna is playing like he does not want to go back to the minor leagues. Anna played third base on Sunday while Nunez played short and Anna went 1-for-2 with an RBI single in the second inning. Anna is hitting .375 in the early going and he has been impressive in the field.
- Solarte, 26, and Adonis Garcia, 28, also have been impressive this spring. Solarte, who can play second, short and third, added another two hits in two at-bats on Sunday and he is 6-for-7 (.857) with two home runs and five RBIs. Garcia, who can play third base and the outfield, was 3-for-4 with two runs scored on Sunday and he is 5-for-8 (.625) with two RBIs. Neither seems to have a shot to make the Opening Day roster, of course. But they are opening a lot of eyes with their play.
Nunez and Corban Joseph committed errors and the pitchers gave up 10 hits but that would really be nitpicking. There is not much to complain about when the team gets three big home runs and wins by six.
Fresh off his much ballyhooed major-league debut on Saturday, Masahiro Tanaka learned from manager Joe Girardi on Sunday that he will make his next start on Thursday against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, FL. Tanaka, 25, threw two scoreless innings against the Phils, yielding two hits, no walks and striking out three. . . . Mark Teixiera will make his first start of the spring on Thursday or Friday, Girardi told reporters on Sunday. The 34-year-old first baseman is coming off surgery to repair his right wrist and he is working back into the lineup slowly. . . . Meanwhile, outfielder/designated hitter Alfonso Soriano probably will not make his spring debut until early next week due to a very bad case of the flu. Soriano was scheduled to play on Sunday but he told trainers he was still feeling dizzy and weak. . . . The long awaited spring debut of right-hander Michael Pineda is scheduled for Friday. Pineda, 25, pitched two innings of a simulated game in Tampa, FL, on Sunday. Girardi plans to use Pineda for three innings in relief of Hiroki Kuroda against the Detroit Tigers at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Pineda is in the four-man mix for the last spot available in the Yankees’ rotation. He has not pitched in the major leagues since 2011, having missed two full seasons recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum.
The Yankees return home to Tampa to play a contest on Monday against the Washington Nationals.
Right-hander Ivan Nova will make his second appearance of the spring while shortstop Derek Jeter, outfielder Brett Gardner, second baseman Brian Roberts and McCann are all expected to start.
The Nationals will counter with 27-year-old left-hander Ross Detwiler, who was 2-7 with 4.04 ERA in 13 starts with the Nationals last season. He is battling right-hander Tanner Roark, who also is slated to pitch on Monday, for the No. 5 spot in the team’s rotation.
Game-time will 1:05 p.m. EST and the game will be broadcast live nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.