For worse and then better, CC Sabathia started and ended last night’ game with a bang. Just two pitches in, Atlanta center fielder Michael Bourn smacked a ball to left center and motored his way to a leadoff triple. Just two pitches later, Martin Prado grounded out to third and the Braves took a 1-0 lead before the Yankees had a turn at bat. Including last night, Sabathia has given up 13 runs in 14 first innings this year. After the Bourn triple, Sabathia retired nine of the next ten Braves he faced and didn’t run into trouble again until the fourth inning when he found himself in trouble again. After walking Brian McCann to start the inning, Dan Uggla singled. Matt Diaz followed and CC got just what he needed: a grounder and a double play to effectively end the threat, which was completely snuffed out when Chipper Jones grounded out to third to end the fourth. In the fifth, the Braves added a run after a Jason Heyward leadoff with single to left and a deflected infield hit by shortstop Andrelton Simmons; Heyward was singled home by new thorn-in-the-side, Michael Bourn and the Yanks were down 2-0, though it felt like may more. Why? Well that’s because Atlanta lefty Mike Minor hadn’t allowed a base runner to that point.
That all changed in the fifth, however, when Alex Rodriguez, despite being down 0-2, singled to center field and started a rally for the Yanks. Rodriguez advanced to second on a wild pitch and then Robinson Cano drew a walk. After a strikeout by Andruw Jones, Russell Martin hit a sharp liner down the left field line that hopped into the stands. A-Rod scored and Cano was held up at third. Left fielder Jayson Nix walked and the bases were loaded for that vaunted hitter, Chris Stewart. Stewart flew out in foul territory, so the bases loaded, 2-outs at bat fell to Derek Jeter. Like most Yankees, Jeter came into last night struggling with the bases loaded: .222/.362/.222 (11 PA). But last night, Jeter was able to poke a ball through the middle of the diamond, scoring Cano and Nix to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead which they would only add to thanks to Sabathia’s brilliance; after getting the lead, Sabathia allowed just one hit (a David Ross single in the seventh) and zero walks while striking out six, including the last two of the game. The Yankees added three more runs (a Mark Teixeira solo homer to left; another RBI single by Derek Jeter, and a solo homer to center by Robinson Cano), giving them a 6-2 victory.
–Jeter’s three RBI tied his season high (4/15 vs. Anaheim)
–Last night was Sabathia’s third double-digit strikeout game of the year (6/7 vs. TB; 5/10 vs. TB)
–A-Rod’s run in the fifth (1860) moved him into 11th place on the all-time list, passing Mel Ott; Tris Speaker (1882) is next.