The Braves batted in the bottom of the first inning when the subway emerged from the ground at Dyckman Street. In the top of the inning, the Yanks had put two runners on base but Alex Rodriguez popped out and Robinson Cano grounded out. I was on my way home from the gym and tuned in to John Sterling on the radio. By the time the train reached 231st Street the Braves had loaded the bases and Sterling proved to be so inept–botching several calls–that I angrily switched to the Braves station. Just in time for a bases clearing double.
That was the major damage against C.C. Sabathia, who pitched well enough. The Braves added an insurance run in the seventh and the Yanks didn’t do much of anything against Mike Minor, who was excellent.
A one-out single by Derek Jeter in the eighth chased Minor from the game and Curtis Granderson slapped a base hit to left field against Jonny Venters who then walked Teixeira. Bases loaded for Rodriguez, hitless on the night and hapless this season with the bases loaded. If there were any Yankee fans confident in Rodriguez to come through with a big hit I’d like to know who they were.
The first pitch, a 95 mph fastball, was low and in the dirt. The next pitch, a slider, had a sharp break but fell well short of the plate. Two-and-zero, bases loaded, and still no confidence, right? Double play, right? The next pitch, another fastball, another one in the dirt. Venters threw a fastball over the plate for a strike and then Rodriguez had a decent pitch to hit but was late and fouled it out of play. This is what we’ve been talking about for weeks, Rodriguez fouling off fat, juicy pitches. The next fastball was inside and Rodriguez fouled it off his left foot.
The crowd, a noisy combination of home town fans and invading Yankee fans, made itself known.
And then he got another fastball. Rodriguez was ready, turned on it and hit a line drive to left field. It was a pea and looked to be a sure double. But it was high enough to clear the fence, good for a grand slam. A kid in the front row made like he was going to catch the ball, then wisely turned to the side at the last moment when he recognized how fast the ball was moving. The boy caught the ball in his hat. Smart kid.
The game was tied as Rodriguez also tied the Iron Horse for the most grand slam’s in major league history. We knew it was going to happen sometime.
Go fuggin’ figure.
Robbie Cano looped a single to center field and after a pitching change and ball one, Nick Swisher pounded a home run over the 390 foot mark in right center field.
Clay Rapada, who the wife calls “Ramapo” worked around a one-out walk in the eighth and held the Braves down.
“Why do you call him ‘Ramapo’?” I asked.
“Because that’s what I called him that time the other week, remember? I don’t remember why I came up with it but I did and it’s sticking.”
The wife knows.
In the ninth, Rafael Soriano faced the two-three-four batters. Martin Prado hit an 0-2 pitch, with “plenty of overspin,” according to Kenny Singleton on the YES broadcast, between short and third. Rodriguez took a few steps to his left, fielded the ball on a high hop and threw Prado out at first. Prado returned to the dugout and banged his helmet. Brian McCann was next, fell behind, and whiffed on an 84 mph breaking ball. Sharp, over the plate, nasty.
Soriano bent over before he pitched, as if he was bowing to the hitter. It reminded me of the bit that Mike Mussina used to do but Soriano faced home plate.
Dan Uggla, 5-11 lifetime against Soriano, popped the first pitch foul then took two pitches for balls before ripping a fastball foul. The crowd stood and cheered–oh, those Yankee fans. Some of the crowd booed too I suppose but they could not be heard. The next pitch was another crisp breaking ball. Uggla swung over it and the Braves, who had runners on base in every inning but one, will have a long night as they try to figure out how this one got away.
Final Score: Yanks 6, Braves 4.
For the Bombers, that’s another series in the plus column. Some nice wins, this one, the second two games against the Mets, and guess who sits alone in first place?