(Swishalicious at the wall. Courtesy of The AP)
After dispatching of the Mets in relatively easy fashion, the Yankees moved south to take on their NY little brother's NL East brethren in Atlanta. The Braves, and their fans, are used to getting their asses handed to them by the Yankees, and Ivan Nova and company were looking to keep that trend, as well as their winning streak, going. They'd be without the DH for the first time this year, but with the way the rotation has been going lately, that wouldn't be a problem.
- The offense wasted no time in getting to Atlanta starter Randall Delgado. With 2 outs in the top of the 1st, Alex Rodriguez doubled and was driven in by a Robinson Cano single. A hit with RISP AND with 2 outs?! People watching on TV must have thought they were dreaming.
- Whether it was nerves or just general lack of pitching talent, Delgado was not sharp early, and the patented Yankee patience beat him to the tune of 5 hits and 3 walks in the first 3 innings.
- The Bombers tacked a run on in the 2nd when Raul Ibanez led off the inning with his 10th HR of the year, and another in the 3rd when Delgado threw a wild pitch with the bases loaded. He had real trouble navigating through the heart of the Yankee order, and at 3-0 it looked like the rout was on.
- Nova was effective if not spectacular in the early innings last night. He allowed just 4 hits through 4 innings, 2 of them on the infield, and 0 runs, but he wasn't generating a lot of groundballs, and it took some solid D behind him to keep the Braves off the board (see Nick Swisher's leaping catch at the wall in the 4th).
- That rout I mentioned before? Never materialized. The RISP Fail came back in a big way and kept the game closer than it should have been. The Yanks put 2 on in the 5th, 2 on in the 6th, and loaded the bases in the 7th only to come up empty every time. Back-to-back inning-ending DPs in the 6th and 7th killed those rallies.
- The final 3 innings for Nova were much better than the first 4, as he got 7 of his last 9 outs either on the ground or via the K and didn't allow a runner past first base. The lead baserunner got on in 5 of the 7 innings he pitched, but Nova worked around trouble every time.
- With Rafael Soriano unavailable, it was bullpen by committee last night, and the team of Cody Eppley, Clay Rapada, Cory Wade, and Boone Logan worked 2 scoreless frames with 3 strikeouts to close out the win for Nova.
- Nova: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K. Not as many groundballs as you want to see, especially after the totals he racked up in his previous 2 outings, and he did give up some solid contact early, but when Nova is on he has the ability to work out of trouble and that's what he did last night. 1 ER in 15 IP is damn good no matter how you do it, and when you do it without your best fastball command, that's the sign of good pitching.
- Ibanez: 1-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K. While I keep waiting for another colossal fuck-up in the field to give me another great .gif opportunity, he just keeps pounding right-handed pitching.
- Russell Martin: 0-4, 8 LOB. I know he's on a hot streak right now, but when you're the only guy in the lineup who doesn't get on base (including Nova), and you leave that many ducks on the pond, you're pretty much the only choice for this spot.
Game 2 of the series is tonight and the Yankees are looking to take sole possession of first place with their 5th straight win. CC Sabathia will take the mound, looking to keep up with the rest of his white hot rotation mates and looking to find the command on his 4-seamer.