- Wallace Matthews, ESPNNewYork.com
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What it means: That the hot streak Joe Girardi has been predicting is officially here. With their 3-0 win over the Braves -- an NL game in every way but T.O.G. (3:01), the Yankees have now won four in a row and 14 of their last 18 to go a season-high 10 games over .500 and pull into a flat-footed tie atop the AL East with the idle Tampa Bay Rays.
Super duper: Second straight terrific outing for Ivan Nova, who follows up his eight inning, one-run gem against the Rays with seven shutout innings against the Braves. Nova put the lead runner on in five of the seven innings, but clamped down thereafter; only one runner reached second base, and that was on a balk. Two of the five hits he allowed were infield rollers.
Can Gardner do that? Raul Ibanez can't run like Brett Gardner, or play the outfield like him, or create chaos on the basepaths. But when he hits the ball, he hurts it. His second-inning HR, No. 10 of the season, was a crush-job into the right-field seats. Believe it or not, no 40-year-old had ever hit as many as 10 HRs in a season for the Yankees.
Nick with the pick: Nick Swisher elevated his body, and his game, to snag what might have been a two-run HR off the bat of Brian McCann in the fourth inning. Swisher's glove hit the top of the right-field wall on the way down, which means the ball likely would have at least hit the approximately foot-wide edge, a la Russell Martin's HR at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, and who can say for sure where it would have come down?
I-vant the ball: Nova came into the game with four major-league at-bats, and four strikeouts. But he laced into a fastball clocked at 94 mph from Randall Delgado and lined it into right in the first inning for his first big league hit. And naturally, they collected the ball for him and tossed it into the Yankees dugout.
Take a balk: Through the first five innings, the Braves had just five singles, two of them infield hits, two of the five baserunners had been erased by double plays, and they had gotten only one runner as far as second base -- on a balk by Nova with two out in the fourth.
Bourn ready: As good as Swisher's play in the fourth was, Braves centerfielder Michael Bourn practically matched it with a diving catch of Ibanez's drive into the left-center gap in the seventh. Bourn didn't steal a home run, but with two runners on and none out, he at least kept alive the illusion that Atlanta was still in the game.
Same old song: Yet again, the Yankees were punch-less in clutch situations: 1-for-8 w/RISP, 0-for-3 with bases loaded. And yet, they won the game. So what's it all mean?
No reason to be Sori: In a save situation, the Yankees cobbled together the ninth inning between Cory Wade , who got the first out, and Boone Logan, who got the last two. I'm assuming Rafael Soriano is OK and was being rested after working two days in a row. Obviously, Girardi will have some 'splainin' to do.
What's coming: A column on a team hitting its stride -- without really hitting all that much. Plus, various blog items from the postgame clubhouse.
Tomorrow is another day: So wrote Atlanta native Margaret Mitchell in "Gone with the Wind,'' and so it shall be. CC Sabathia (7-3, 3.69) faces LHP Mike Minor (3-4, 6.57), first pitch at 7:10 p.m.
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