Rapid Reaction: Yankees 6, Braves 4
June, 12, 2012
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com
Recap | Box score | Photos
What it means: That for the first time since April 21, the Yankees have first place in the AL East all to themselves, thanks to Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher and their old buddies the Mets, who beat Tampa Bay tonight.
The big story, of course, is the history-making grand slam hit by A-Rod in the eighth inning, but once the glow of that wears off, the Yankees -- winners of five in a row and 15 of their last 19 -- will wake up Wednesday morning and see themselves atop the standings again.
Slam Rod: Whatever you think of him, Rodriguez certainly does have a flair for the dramatic, and his eighth-inning, bases-loaded at-bat was going to be the story of the game regardless of the outcome. The fact that he made the most of it, rocketing Jonny Venters' 3-2 fastball into the lower left-field seats to tie both the game and Lou Gehrig, only cements his reputation as one of the most riveting figures in sports history.
And, oh yeah, Swisher goes deep, too: If ever there was such a thing as an anti-climactic game-winning HR, Swisher hit it two batters after A-Rod's historic blast, with Robinson Cano aboard to prvide the margin of victory. On any other night, Swish is the story. Tonight, he's a sidebar.
Ace low: Once again, CC Sabathia got off to a rocky start but settled down. CC got hit hard for much of the game but only in the first inning did the Braves do any damage, scoring three runs on Matt Diaz's bases-clearing double. And as he has all season, Sabathia gave the Yankees length on a night when the bullpen was short, working seven innings. But he allowed a season-high 10 hits, five of them doubles, and dug a hole that the Yankees needed some historic heroics to dig out of.
Blister all better: Rafael Soriano, sidelined on Monday with a blister on his index finger, had recovered sufficiently to close the game, retiring the Braves 2-3-4 hitters 1-2-3 in the ninth.
Major headache: Braves lefty Mike Minor handled the Yankees, a team he had never faced, allowing just five hits, two by Derek Jeter, and only two runners to reach second base in 7 1/3 strong innings. Minor had allowed a league-high 14 HRs coming in, but the Yankees never came close to taking him out of The Ted tonight.
The Binder Rules, Part II: With runners on second and third and one out in the seventh, Joe Girardi chose to have Sabathia walk Dan Uggla to load the bases for the left-handed hitting Jason Heyward. The verdict: a lukewarm win, because although the Yankees needed an outstanding play by Cano to retire Heyward at first, CC held the Braves to just one run in the inning.
Derek Nix: Jeter borrowed a page out of the Jayson Nix playbook in the third inning when, after Uggla had doubled, he fired to third to get the lead runner on Diaz's grounder to short. Uggla might have been safe had he not overslid the bag, but the heads-up play wound up saving a run when Chipper Jones followed with a single.
What's coming: What do you think I oughta write about tonight? Let me see ...
Tomorrow: Yankees go for the sweep, sending out Hiroki Kuroda (5-6, 3.46), in his first start since pitching seven one-hit innings against the Mets (and getting tagged on the left foot by a line drive) against RHP Tim Hudson (4-2, 3.83), first pitch at 7:10 p.m.