The Yankees got it done in a variety of ways on Wednesday night, taking down the Braves 6-3. They hit a couple home runs, played some small ball, relied on aggressive baserunning and consistently got out of jams on the mound in a satisfying victory.
Both teams wasted quality chances in the first inning. Dansby Swanson singled on Masahiro Tanaka’s first pitch, but never progressed further than first base. Aaron Hicks’s great leaping catch near the wall had a lot to do with that, robbing noted Yankees killer Travis d’Arnaud of extra bases. Then, the Yankees loaded the bases in the bottom half on a Luke Voit double and two walks, but a Mike Ford groundout got Huascar Ynoa out of the inning unscathed.
Tanaka couldn’t escape trouble in the second inning, though. After a Nick Markakis single, Johan Camargo crushed a two-run home run into the second deck in right field, giving the Braves a 2-0 lead. Tanaka’s fastball had been a sneaky weapon for him early on this year, but the Braves weren’t fooled by it at all, putting five of his first nine heaters in play, including the dinger.
However, Ynoa also ran into trouble into the second. Gary Sánchez took him deep, absolutely crushing a hanging changeup 387 feet into left on a swing that looked like the Sánchez of old. Then, a masked Clint Frazier joined the party in his first at-bat of the season and took Ynoa even deeper, 410 feet into the visitor’s bullpen. It was the Yankees’ first back-to-back (and belly-to-belly!) home runs of the season, and got the Bombers right back into the game. The next two Yankees also reached, chasing Ynoa, but Tyler Matzek got out of the inning holding the 2-2 score.
The Braves threatened to take the lead right back in the next half inning by loading the bases, but Tanaka worked out of it. He didn’t have his best stuff this time around, but we’ve seen Tanaka grind his way through starts before while keeping the damage in control. This was one of those outings. Tanaka only lasted four innings, giving up two runs and striking out three, before giving way to Jonathan Loáisiga in the fifth after 66 pitches.
The Yankees got to Matzek in the fourth, and eventually pushed him out of the inning early. DJ LeMahieu opened the frame with another one of his patented singles to right, and Aaron Hicks drove him in with a deep double off the center field wall. The play at the plate was close, but LeMahieu slid in ahead of the tag and made it 3-2 Yankees. Then, Gleyber Torres got off the schneid with a two-out single, scoring Hicks easily, and the Yankees had doubled their lead.
Josh Tomlin came in next, and the Yankees just kept on hitting. Frazier continued his stellar 2020 debut with a one-out double, leaving him a triple shy of the cycle. He later scored on a LeMahieu bloop into right, which was also his third hit of the night (he’s currently batting .431!) and made it 5-2. LeMahieu then showed his baseball IQ by swiping second on an 0-2, two-out pitch that was likely to be bounced, and scored on the next pitch when Luke Voit kept the small-ball party going with an RBI single of his own. After so much reliance on the home-run ball this year (which isn’t a bad thing), it was refreshing to see the Yankees get their insurance runs with some baseball fundamentals.
The rest of the bullpen usage went about as expected – Loáisiga ran into trouble in his third inning, but Chad Green bailed him out by setting down the heart of the Braves order. Luis Avilán and Jonathan Holder were nothing special, but Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton shut the door in the 6-3 win. It would be nice if the Yankees could have avoided using six relievers in this game, but they only ended up allowing one collective run in five innings. Britton earned his league-leading seventh save with the tying run at the plate, and the Yankees took their second straight contest in a quick two-game sweep of the Braves.
The Yankees have another day off tomorrow, their second in four days, before opening a four-game series vs. Boston on Friday.