The Yankees (72-57) wrapped up a 3-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves with their 20-6 win on Sunday afternoon. In the three game series at Turner Field against the Braves, who have scored the fewest runs in all of baseball, the Yankees scored 38 runs and Atlanta scored only 11 runs. Even though the Yankees were facing one of the worst teams in the league, this was a much needed offensive outburst for the Bronx Bombers because they had only scored 16 runs in their previous six games.
In Sunday’s win, three 2-out homers gave the Yankees their first seven runs of the game. Jacoby Ellsbury’s three-run homer in the second inning scored Stephen Drew and Nathan Eovaldi, Chase Headley homered to center to score Greg Bird in the third and then Drew hit a homer that scored Didi Gregorius later in the inning.
Eovaldi had his worst start in his last 10 as he allowed five runs in five innings pitched but did record seven strikeouts and won his 14th game of the season. There had been only one game in his previous nine starts that he had given up more than three earned runs, so he was due for a start that was not up to par. Part of the reason that he has 14 runs and only two losses is that Drew Hutchison is the only pitcher in the American League who has had more run support than him this season, but Eovaldi has had much better command of his pitches, in particular his splitter, since allowing eight runs in less than an inning to the Marlins on June 16.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 38-11 margin that the Yankees outscored the Braves during this series is the largest margin in any series this season. Bird scored on a bases loaded walk in the fifth and then the Yankees sealed the win in the seventh inning as they scored nine runs. In the seventh, the Yankees batted around as Headley scored twice in the inning. The Yankees had eight hits in the inning, six different players drove in one or more runs and it took the Braves three different pitchers to get out of the inning.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Bird, Headley, Gregorius and Drew all had multi-hit games for the Yankees. Drew, who was 4-4 with three runs scored, four RBIs and a homer, finished the game with his average above .200 (.201) for the first time all season. The Yankees did what they needed to do in sweeping the rebuilding Braves, but they were unfortunately not able to gain any ground in the AL East because the Toronto Blue Jays also swept their weekend series. The Yankees trail the Blue Jays by 1.5 games heading into their series opener on Monday at Fenway Park against the Red Sox.
“It’s been a while since we swung the bats like this, so hopefully we can set the tone for September,” Alex Rodriguez said.
The Yankees will still not have Mark Teixeira‘s bat in the lineup during this series because he has been sent back to New York for further testing on his injured right leg. Teixeira, who leads the Yankees with his 31 homers, has not played in 10 of the team’s last 12 games after fouling a ball of his leg on August 17. Bird is the team’s first baseman with Teixeira out of the lineup and he has a .255 average, a .339 on-base percentage, two homers and 10 RBIs in his 16 games played.
CC Sabathia, who went on the 15-day disabled list on August 24 with a sore arthritic right knee, threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Monday. Yankees GM Brian Cashman said today in Boston that he sees Sabathia as a starter when he returns.
Ivan Nova will start tonight’s game against the last place Red Sox. Boston is 10 games below .500 and 14 games behind the Blue Jays in the AL East. However, the Red Sox have won three of their last four games.
Nova allowed seven runs in four innings in his previous start, which means that he will need to have better command of his pitches tonight than he did against the Astros. Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka will start the second and third games of the series.