Entering this series against the Braves, the Yankees had scored 14 runs in the previous seven games combined. They exceeded that total twice during their three-game set in Atlanta, finishing off the finale this afternoon in remarkable fashion with a 20-6 rout. If this was the last time the Yankees play in Turner Field, they certainly went out in style.
It did not take the Yankees long to wear down Braves starter Julio Teheran. Although they wasted two singles in the first, they rebounded in the second when they put runners on first and second for Jacoby Ellsbury. The leadoff man crushed his seventh homer of the season deep into the right field bleachers, putting the Yankees up by a score of 3-0. The next inning, Teheran walked Greg Bird, and then surrendered a two-run bomb to Chase Headley. Seeing how much that strategy worked, Teheran promptly walked Didi Gregorius and allowed another huge home run, this time to Stephen Drew. The four-run inning pushed the Yankees' lead to 7-0, and it looked like the rest of the game would just be a formality.
However, to the Braves' lineup's credit, they made the affair a close game again. Nathan Eovaldi was not particularly sharp today, and Atlanta slowly chipped away at the seven-run deficit. Back-to-back two-out walks in the bottom of the third came back to hurt Eovaldi on consecutive RBI singles, and while a bases loaded walk to Drew in the top of the fifth gave him a six-run lead again, the Yankees' pitching made it very scary in the sixth. Eovaldi was running on fumes and allowed three straight hits before Joe Girardi removed him. Adam Warren entered and induced a flyout, but Jonny Gomes slapped an RBI single to make it 8-5.
One Nick Markakis single later, the tying run was suddenly at the plate in the form of old friend Nick Swisher. Warren recovered to get Swisher to hit a grounder toward Drew, which he made a nice play on to get the force. Chasen Shreve relieved Warren with the dangerous Freddie Freeman on deck, who was quite capable of tying it up at eight runs apiece. He pitched Freeman carefully and ended up walking him, bringing up another lefty with some pop, A.J. Pierzynski. Fortunately, Pierzynski could only ground out softly to Bird at first, ending the threat.
Noticing that eight runs might not be quite enough to silence the Braves, the Yankees adopted an interesting strategy in the top of the seventh with Ross Detwiler on the mound: Score eight runs. Again. Let the accompanying box score excerpt and GIF tell the story:
Just for kicks, the Yankees decided to improve on their strategy by tacking on an extra run beyond eight that inning. When the dust settled, it was 17-6 and the game was pretty much over.
The final few innings involved Branden Pinder walking too many people in mop-up work, though he did end up throwing two frames of one-run ball. In another rally during the eighth against a clearly fatigued Jake Brigham, he even chipped in an RBI double, the first hit by a Yankees reliever in 15 years. The three runs scored in the eighth gave the Yankees a cool 20 on the day, their second 20-run game of the season. Not bad.
The figures from the box score look ridiculous. Drew went a perfect 4-for-4 with two walks to end the day with his batting average over .200 for the first time since June 2014. Headley was 3-for-3 with two walks, Gregorius was 2-for-3 with two walks, and every non-pitcher starter had a multi-hit game except for Brian McCann. The Yankees' 21 hits included 15 singles, three doubles, and three homers, and they went 12-for-21 with runners in scoring position.
Hopefully, the good vibes from the sweep of the Braves continue into the Yankees' next series. They will face another downtrodden team, the last place Red Sox, in a three-game showdown at Fenway Park beginning tomorrow night at 7:10. The Blue Jays swept their series against a bad team in the Tigers, so to keep pace, the Yankees need to keep walloping the cellar dwellers.
Scoring 38 runs in three games seemed to work, so perhaps Girardi should advise that they do it again! It's what smart managers do to win ballgames.