Yanks outhomered as 4 solos not good enough
Wednesday seemed to be ideal for the Yankees. Everyone knows how hot it was. Temperatures soared in the 90s throughout the game, the kind of day when the ball carries very well, making the dimensions at Yankee Stadium even more comfortable than normal for power hitters. The Yankees lead the major leagues in home runs. What could have been better?
The Braves even did the Yankees a favor by giving Chipper Jones a day off. Chipper’s only time out of the dugout was in a pre-game ceremony when Derek Jeter and Andruw Jones on behalf of the Yankees presented him with a trophy case in which he could put third base from the game as a parting gift in his farewell season. Of course, the Yankees would like to see Chipper play more games at the Stadium because that would mean they would be in the World Series.
It was a nice gesture by the Yankees, but the Braves returned the favor by outslugging them in a 10-5 home run derby. It was the first losing series for the Yankees since May 28-30 when they dropped two of three to the Angels at Anaheim. The Braves also took two out of three from the Yankees and unlike the first two games beat the Bombers at their own game Wednesday.
Atlanta hit five home runs to the Yankees’ four. Each starting pitcher, the Yanks’ Phil Hughes and the Braves’ Tommy Hanson, was touched for four, which marked the first time in franchise history that two pitchers allowed four home runs apiece in the same game. The nine combined homers were the most in a game at the current Yankee Stadium and tied the franchise mark for any home game (the fifth time).
It was a distressing day for Hughes, who has allowed 19 home runs in 14 starts totaling 78 1/3 innings. His previous start June 15 at Washington was the only game in which Hughes did not give up a home run. The righthander had location issues, made little use of his changeup and relied on a fastball that he could not get down in the zone.
Freddie Freeman started the onslaught with a two-run shot in a three-run first inning. Martin Prado found the seats in the third. Jason Heyward hit the first of his two home runs in the fourth, and backup catcher David Ross whacked a 0-2 pitch for a homer in the fifth.
Despite all that, the Yankees kept themselves in position for a comeback by teeing off regularly against Hanson – by Derek Jeter in the first, Eric Chavez in the fifth and back-to-back jobs by Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano in the sixth that got them within 6-4 with plenty of sundry daylight left.
Curtis Granderson’s run-scoring single with one out in the seventh made it a one-run game and got the potential tying run to third base, but Rodriguez grounded into a double play to end the threat. It was the first of two double-play situations that hurt the Yankees. The other came in the eighth when their failure to turn two gave the Braves a huge opening.
Mark Teixeira was not in the starting lineup to rest his sore left heel, which he hurt Tuesday night by getting hit there with a hard ground ball. Eric Chavez started at first base in his place.
In the eighth, the Braves had runners on first and third with two out when Freeman hit a hard grounder to Chavez, who made a back-handed stop but bobbled it momentarily losing the chance to go to second base for what might have been an inning-ending DP. Chavez was able to get only the out at first base as a run scored.
That gave Heyward an at-bat, which resulted in a two-run home run off Boone Logan, who had a 13-appearance streak of unscored upon relief ended. The Braves added a tack-on run in the ninth off Freddy Garcia. That 10th run allowed marked a season high for the Yankees, who became the last team in the majors to give up a double-figure run total in a game this year.
Hughes’ exit after 4 1/3 innings stopped a stretch of 19 consecutive games in which a Yankees starter pitched at least six innings. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the had been the longest such streak in the majors this season and the franchise’s longest since 1981 (also 19).
Jeter’s homer was his fourth of the season leading off a game and 28th of his career, extending his club record. It was also Jeet’s ninth career homer on a game’s first pitch and second this year (the other was June 3 at Detroit off Justin Verlander). The Captain is one shy of the most leadoff homers he has had in one season. He had five in 2005.
Rodriguez’s home run was career No. 640 and gave him his 1,925th career run batted in as he passed Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx into sixth place on the all-time list.
On the plus side for the Yankees was the relief outing of Clay Rapada, who struck out the four batters he faced. The lefthander has held opposing hitters hitless in the past 20 at-bats against him.