Jun
13

Granderson’s late homer helps Yanks finish off sweep of Braves

By

It wasn’t the longest game of the season, it only felt like it. The Yankees finished off a three-game sweep of the Braves with a 3-2 win on Wednesday, their sixth straight win.

(Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Quick Strike
There are few things in baseball I appreciate more than when the Yankees score in the first inning on the road. Just something about taking the lead before the other team gets to hit is comforting. Derek Jeter led off the game with a line drove double into the right-field gap and came around to score on Alex Rodriguez‘s single back up the middle two batters later. Just like that, a dozen pitches into Tim Hudson’s night, the Yankees had a much appreciated one-zip lead.

REUTERS/Tami Chappell

Kuroda Hangs On
This was not one of Hiroki Kuroda‘s finer starts, and you know that because the game took for-frickin’-ever. Kuroda is one of the slowest workers in baseball when men are on-base — PitchFX says he averages 22.6 seconds between pitches, 19th slowest among 115 qualified starters — and the Braves were threatening every inning. Hiroki stranded a man on first in the first, the bases loaded in the second, a man on second in the third, and men on second and third in the fourth before finally making a mistake in the fifth. Brian McCann clobbered a two-run homer to right after Martin Prado reached on a leadoff broken bat blooper, turning New York’s one-run lead into a one-run deficit.

Kuroda struck out a season-high eight, including strikeouts to escape jams in the first, third, and fourth innings. Sixteen of his 18 outs were recorded on the infield, including the first 13 in a row. He also threw a season high 110 pitches and was pitching in the rain basically all night. It was an ugly outing in the sense that Kuroda labored all night, but two runs in six innings is a result you’ll take every five days no questions asked.

Answer Back
McCann’s homer gave the Braves the lead for all of two batters. The Yankees answered right back in the sixth thanks to another Jeter leadoff hit, this one a flare single to right. Curtis Granderson followed up with his third homer of the month, a big fly ball that hung in the air for quite some time before sneaking around the right field foul pole and landing a few row backs. It was a 1-1 pitch after Jeter singled on a 1-0 pitch, so in reality Atlanta’s lead lasted for five defensive pitches. The Yankees have been doing a great job of responding and not letting games get away from them lately and is part of the reason why they’ve been so successful.

Ground Ball Machine
Cody Eppley might not have a place in the bullpen come Friday because David Robertson is set to be activated off the disabled list, and if does get sent down to Triple-A, he sure went out with a bang. Charged with working the eighth inning with a one-run lead because the primary setup guys have been worked hard of late, Eppley pitched around two singles — one an infield job from Michael Bourn — and a sacrifice bunt by coaxing a rally-killing and inning-ending double play ball from Prado, a play that would have tied the game had it not been turned perfectly. All four batters Eppley faced hit the ball on the ground, raising his season ground ball rate to a staggering 70.5%. That’s what he does, that sinker from the low arm slot isn’t easy to hit in the air. Bravo kid, I hope you stick around beyond Friday.

Two hands, Curtis. (REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

Leftovers
Every bullpen move Joe Girardi makes these days works like a charm. Obviously Eppley was the headliner in relief, but Boone Logan navigated a scoreless seventh while Rafael Soriano did his thing and shut the door in the ninth. The Braves had a runner on-base in literally every inning, but the relief corps followed Kuroda’s lead and kept pitching around danger. Atlanta went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position, and one of the two was Bourn’s infield single. It’s nice to be on the other end of the RISPFAIL for once, eh?

Outside of the first and sixth innings, the Yankees did a whole lotta nothing offensively. Hudson retired 13 of 15 between A-Rod‘s first inning knock and Jeter’s leadoff single in the sixth, and the Atlanta bullpen allowed just two unintentional baserunners in three innings. One of those two came when Nick Swisher reached base on a wild pitch following a strikeout. Jeter was the only guy in the lineup with two hits while Granderson, A-Rod, Mark Teixeira, Swisher, and Dewayne Wise had one each. The Yankees struck out 14 times and didn’t draw a single unintentional walk. Hudson’s eight strikeouts were a season-high.

Bit of a curious decision to send the runner when Russell Martin had a full count with one out in the second — Martin struck out and Swisher was thrown out at second to end the inning — only because the pitcher was on deck and you’d prefer to clear that spot in the order. Then again, Hudson’s an extreme ground ball pitcher and Russ is a double play candidate, so it makes some sense. That’s NL baseball for ya.

As I said, the Yankees have now won six straight games. They’ve also won nine of ten, 11 of 13, and 16 of 20. R.A. Dickey and the Mets completely wrecked the Rays though the Orioles topped the Pirates, so the Bombers remain in sole possession of first place in the AL East by one game.

And just for the record, at three hours and 36 minutes, this was the fifth longest nine-inning game of the season and seventh longest overall.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some advanced stats, and ESPN the updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees are off on Thursday and will open a three-game series in Washington against the Nationals on Friday night. Phil Hughes gets the ball against Gio Gonzalez. If you’re going to be in the nation’s capitol this weekend, you should come to our meet-up on Saturday.

Categories : Game Stories

88 Comments»

  1. Rey22 says:

    Hope they keep it up, Washington has been on a roll too. At least we’re not facing Strasburg (which would have been an awesome matchup to see, but skipping him does give us a better chance to win)

  2. Tony says:

    Why wasn’t Wade used in the 8th? I watched on ESPN and they didn’t have any answer for it

  3. JGS says:

    How does Fangraphs calculate that “pace” feature? According to them, CC is one of the 18 guys slower than Kuroda. I’m not buying it.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      It’s the time between pitches within an at-bat. Includes foul balls, not only pitches that were taken.

      • Havok9120 says:

        So its not the time between pitches thrown? That seems….kinda useless.

        • Mike Axisa says:

          … that’s exactly what it is, the time between pitches not counting the last pitch of one at-bat to the first pitch of the next.

          • Havok9120 says:

            Ohhhhhhhh. I thought you were saying it was the time between pitches taken/put in play. Which didn’t make any sense to me. Sorry about that.

            • Tom says:

              They do eliminate other things.

              Anytime there is a pickoff throw to first I believe that next pitch is also excluded from the pace calculation. Not sure about simple stepoffs or bluffs to first.

              I’m also not sure about stolen bases, but I think that would also be excluded.

              Then there’s also things like a catcher going to the mound during an AB (I’m guessing that next pitch is excluded) and stuff like a broken bat on a foul ball (I assume this is infrequent enough where it doesn’t really matter much)

        • YankeesJunkie says:

          No, that is what he is saying it does include the time between pitches when there is a foul ball as well as pitch taken.

          • Nhat says:

            Mike, do you have any stats for other Japanese pitchers? I think that all Japanese pitchers are slow because of small ball in Japan.

  4. JScott says:

    No sac bunt in Eppley’s inning. Jack Wilson (Yeah, that was him. That was Wilson. And he was fast; fast on the draw) was sent up to bunt and failed twice. They took the bunt off and Wilson topped a slow roller to 3rd which had the same effect as a bunt. But…not a bunt.

  5. Hall and Nokes says:

    Just got back. That game was, like, long and stuff. Basically, it was a 1-run game from the fourth batter on. Or the last 3:30 of the game, if you prefer it that way. Outside of playoff games, I can’t remember too many games that were on a knife’s edge for that long.

  6. YankeesJunkie says:

    Developing story: Cain has a perfecto and 11 Ks against the Astros after six.

  7. Kramerica Industries says:

    Matt Cain Alert:

    24 up, 24 down.

  8. Sanchez’s no-no was 3 years ago…god I feel old.

  9. Havok9120 says:

    So, I know everyone is talking about the 8 perfect innings….but who saw the guy out in the Bay with the jetpack?

    That’s pretty freakin’ awesome.

  10. YankeesJunkie says:

    Damn!!!

  11. Perfection for Matt Cain. Very nice play to end it too.

  12. Havok9120 says:

    Done. Two perfect games this season.

    Fantastic.

    • Kramerica Industries says:

      Psh.

      There were three* in 2010, all by June 3. This is weaksauce by comparison.

      *screw it, you guys already know this

  13. Kramerica Industries says:

    And a perfect game!!

  14. I’m a mushy son of a bitch, so that moment with him and his wife was awesome :)

  15. The Troll says:

    By Pitch Scores Matt Cain now has the first, second, and eighteenth best pitching performances of the year. He’s good.

    • The Troll says:

      And the Giants have a pretty nice offense too. Damn, I had no idea they were such a legitimate team. I enjoy seeing former NY teams do well for some reason. Maybe it’s because California sucks and I rather they still be in a state that doesn’t reek of unemployment, laziness, and weed.

      • Havok9120 says:

        Erm. Yeah. New York state.

        Yeah.

      • G says:

        But no stereotyping or anything… That’s just blatant ignorance. By the same logic I could say all New Yorkers are trashy loud mouths with bad accents. Having lived in both California and New York I can say both are entirely false.

        • The Troll says:

          I live in California. I’m surrounded by these people. But, yeah, okay . . . I guess my objective observations don’t mean anything . . . Thanks G.

          • The Troll says:

            I could blast off an entirely separate list of stereotypes for Southern California, however, if that’ll make you any less defensive.

        • Deep Thoughts says:

          Dude, his handle literally is The Troll. WTF are you doing taking the bait?

          • The Troll says:

            Those were some Deep Thoughts, bro. Ha, ironic . . . Your handle has nothing to do with your statement. So strange . . .

      • Pat D says:

        The Giants have the 8th fewest amount of runs scored in the league, and that’s after scoring 10 runs tonight. So I’m not sure how legit they are.

        Then again, Sandoval missed time, so who knows. But I don’t know that Melky and Pagan keep up their good starts either.

        • Havok9120 says:

          Well, I know almost nothing about the Giants, so there’s that.

          That said, I’m sort of comparing the Giants to the April Yankees in terms of offense. They have Melky hitting out of his freaking mind, and one or two others in the lineup hitting as well at any given time. But unless someone steps up when Melky cools off (as he must)….

          And, unlike the Yankees, there aren’t a lot of guys on the Giants whose careers lead you to believe they’re capable of stepping up to that extent.

      • MannyGeee says:

        The more ‘poticially correct’ way to go about this is that California as a Basketball state, and by & large baseball is second tier there (save for Dodger Blue)

  16. Kramerica Industries says:

    At about the same time Cain finished a perfect game, Erick Aybar (!) hit a go-ahead home run in the 9th inning against the Dodgers.

    You tell me which one is less likely to happen in a baseball game. The answer is pretty obvious.

  17. Kramerica Industries says:

    Lets not forget that Mike A. loves himself some Matt Cain. His old blog proves it:

    http://ingeorgewetrust.blogspot.com/

  18. Dino Velvet says:

    6 perfect games in the last 3 years, when you include Galarraga’s game (2012-2009).

    but before that, only 8 perfect games in prior 40 years (2009-1969).

    something has changed, but what

    • eephus_pitch says:

      Humber’s game was a cheat. He walked the last batter, but the umps gave him a freebie.
      I think no-nos and perfectos are basically flukes. Look at how many marginal pitchers have thrown them, while Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux have never tossed one.
      Armando Galarraga isn’t even in the big leagues anymore. Jonathan Sanchez is 10 games below .500 for his career. Eric Milton threw a no-no.
      Hell, Kenny Rogers threw a perfecto and that guy was afraid to throw the ball over the plate. A.J. Burnett threw a no-no (granted it was with 8 walks, but still).
      I think it’s random.

      • I agree with you to an extent, it is a lot of luck. But it does take the ability to pitch…

        • eephus_pitch says:

          Oh, sure. And there are certainly guys who go out there with no-hit stuff every game. Pedro in the late ’90s, for one.
          But for such a supposedly remarkable accomplishment, a lot of marginal pitchers have thrown no-hitters and perfectos. The fact that Chris Bosio threw a no-hitter but Greg Maddux never did, that makes a pretty good case that they’re just kind of random.
          I liken it to the 4 homerun game. For every Josh Hamilton, Willie Mays, or Lou Gehrig, there’s Mike Cameron, Mark Whiten, and Shawn Green.

          • Pat D says:

            The fact that Chris Bosio threw a no-hitter in the Kingdome is pretty impressive/fluky, too. Same with Nomo’s in Coors Field.

            • eephus_pitch says:

              Nomo was pretty damn good for a while there. Though pitching a no-hitter in Coors (back in the days before the humidor, no less) is still quite an amazing feat.

  19. David N says:

    In non-Cain news, I will be pretty pissed if it’s Eppley that goes down to make room for Robertson. He’s definitely got some usefulness in him.

  20. Bavarian Yankee says:

    sweeping the Braves is pretty sweet.

    in other news: Cain pitches the 1332486th perfect game in the last 5 years. At least that’s what it feels like to me. There have been lots of perfect games and no hitters lately.

  21. Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan says:

    There’s really no reason that we should ever lose another game this year. If we do it’s probably because that fat non-ace CC Fat Bastard is pitching. Go Yanks!

  22. jjyank says:

    Wow, no idea Cain pitched a perfect game until I read the comments here. I try to avoid ESPN and I don’t pay for cable, so wow, very cool. Congrats to him. Agreed with the commenters above that said it feels like the 100th perfect game/no hitter in recent years. I wonder what has caused the “years of the pitchers”? Perhaps the end of the steroid era? Though pitchers (*cough*rogerclemens*cough) could take them too, so I dunno. Who knows.

    Anyways, great win for the Yanks last night. It was a stressful one, but a win is a win. And you gotta feel good about a team that’s 16-4 in the last 20 games and just completed back-to-back sweeps.

    I’ll be at the game Friday, so Hughes better pitch well. This is probably my only game of the year, so I’m counting in you Phil!

  23. Robinson Tilapia says:

    You don’t remember every game your team wins, and you probably won’t remember this one in a few weeks other that the 10th man on the field for the Braves, the grounds crew. What matters is that the team won, Cody Eppley earned his status in Monument Park, and we are finally getting the Hiroki Kuroda we signed up for.

    Hooray for Matt Cain. Definitely have a soft spot for the Giants simply because I have a ton of friends from the area and the stadium is amazing.

    • MannyGeee says:

      “man on the field for the Braves, the grounds crew.”

      Grandy took care of this, like tex took care of Maddens shift. ‘Fuck yo Grounds Crew. Hit it over them’

  24. MannyGeee says:

    as a sidebar, do you think Kuroda’s had an impacted ass-full of minimal run support? betcha he would like to be on the recieving end of 6 runs of support like CC had.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      What Kuroda does with his personal life is his business. Matsui’s porn collection already fell under “Japanese player TMI.”

  25. forensic says:

    Terrific series. But, I have to say I hope they change whatever their scouting report on McCann was because if he hits in the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium like he did in Atlanta this series we may be seeing 5 or 6 homers for him.

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