Pitching & homers winning combination for Yanks
The combination of quality pitching and the long ball continued to be a winning formula for the Yankees as they won a 3-2 squeaker from the Braves Wednesday night to complete their second straight inter-league series sweep. The Yankees are 7-2 in inter-league play this year and have a three-game set this weekend in Washington, D.C. How good are the Yankees going? They don’t have to deal with the Nationals’ Steven Strasburg, who won Wednesday to go to 8-1 and will not pitch again until Monday, by which time the Yankees will be back in the Bronx.
Hiroki Kuroda kept telling everybody that there was no lingering problem with his left ankle, which was smashed by a Scott Hairston liner in his previous start, and he showed that he was right. He gave the Yankees six solid innings with eight strikeouts. His only hiccup was yielding a two-run home run to Brian McCann in the fifth that gave Atlanta the lead briefly – very briefly.
The next inning, Curtis Granderson negated McCann’s blow with a two-run shot of his own off losing pitcher Tim Hudson. That was the 19th home run of the season for the center fielder that had 41 jacks last year yet still keeps saying that he is not a home run hitter.
Kuroda was at his best pitching with runners on base. Over the first four innings, the Braves stranded seven base runners – five in scoring position – as they managed one hit in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position, and that was a weird bunt single that loaded the bases with the pitcher due up next. Atlanta left ducks on the pound throughout the night, with 13 left on base as the Bravos had 2-for-13 (.154) with runners in scoring position.
Kuroda took the mound with a 1-0 lead, thanks to an RBI single by Tuesday night hero Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees are 17-0 in games when A-Rod drives in at least one run. Over the course of the 3-hour, 36-minute game, no more than one run separated the clubs, so the pitchers were under circumstances throughout.
Boone Logan walked two batters in the seventh inning but worked out of the jam by getting Jason Heyward on a fielder’s choice and Eric Hinske on a fly to center. The Braves got two singles off Cody Eppley with one down in the eighth, but he shut the door by getting Martin Prado to ground into a double play.
Atlanta got the potential tying run on base in the ninth off Rafael Soriano on Chipper Jones’ two-out single, but the righthander earned his 11th save by retiring Heyward on an infield pop.
During the Subway Series, managers Joe Girardi of the Yankees and Terry Collins of the Mets both said they would be fans of the other team once they were finished playing the other because of how the schedule fell this week. Collins was delighted to see the Yankees sweep the National League East rival Braves while Girardi loved the Mets beating up on his American League East rival Rays the past two nights.
Because of that, the Yankees remained in first place for two straight days for the first time this season. It is a good feeling.