Northport, Fla., May 5, 2023; Yankees 10, Atlanta 6 — Early, it looked to be a tough day for the Yankees in their game visiting the Braves at CoolToday Park Sunday afternoon, as the superb trio at the top of the home team’s lineup pounded new Yankee starter Carlos Rodon for five quick runs. Down 1-0 to an Oswaldo Cabrera home run to right in the top of the first, table setter Ronald Acuna Jr. started the first and third innings with well-struck shots, for an infield single, then a double, both down the third baseline. First baseman Greg Olson drove him in both times with a home run and hard single, and third sacker Austin Riley followed the latter with a two-run home run to left.
Although Rodon retired the rest of the order to finish the first and second innings, Braves batters reached him for a single and walk following Riley’s home run, so he left the game having thrown 47 pitches, without having retired any of the five batters he faced in the third. But that was when the first of three good things happened for the Bombers. Righty Albert Abreu and the promising southpaw Matt Krook came on and set down 15 of 16 through the seventh inning. With a quick double play, Abreu got five of six on ground balls, then Krook struck out four while allowing a single through three more frames.
The second “good” thing was some momentary sloppy play by Atlanta in the top of the sixth. Not only did center fielder Eli White mishandle Billy McKinney’s leadoff single for an extra base, but when catcher Sean Murphy missed badly trying to catch Billy too far off second on a ball that briefly got away at the plate, White charged and bobbled the overthrow, and McKinney scored the second Yankee run on a single and, count ‘em, three errors. It actually seemed a big moment when the home team got that run back in the eighth, on a misplayed White triple off the center field wall, and second baseman Jamie Westbrook couldn’t handle a Cade Bunnell hot shot and White crossed.
The third good thing occurred right way. Why the sixth Atlanta run seemed a big one became clear in the ninth, when the first of three Braves righties, Alan Rangel, walked two and Westbrook homered to left to narrow the Braves’ lead to 6-5. What has to be admitted here is that what became a 29-minute half inning had Rangel, Nolan Kingham, and Jake Elliott combine to throw 63 pitches and walk five batters. Appalling numbers, I know, but in the same way the top three in the Atlanta lineup got this game off to a lopsided start, eight of the nine players that replaced the Yankee starters put up great at bats, and produced huge hits to blow this one up.
Following Westbrook’s blast, a fly out to center restored order briefly, but Carlos Narvaez, who hit a two-run walkoff days ago, walked; and Andres Chaparro, a grand slam hitter on Thursday, singled. The Yankee-fan-heavy crowd was feeling it now, and Jasson “the Martian” Dominguez did not disappoint. The kid has been hyped to the max, including Brian Cashman’s refusal to include him in trade talks in the offseason. He had hit a laser to left center against the Phillies in a losing cause last Saturday, but the ensuing shot on a 2-2 count this time was more a of a “scrape the sky” majestic blast to right; the right fielder never even turned around.
Up 8-6, the Yankee youth didn’t blink. Everson Pereira doubled to right center, and Wilmer Difo collected the frame’s fourth free pass. Pedal to the medal Yankee ball, and the kids pulled off a double steal on a 1-2 pitch to third baseman Jesus Bastidos. The young third sacker, who already had fans feeling good as he had flagged down two shots at the hot corner to this point, closed the scoring by singling to right center on the next pitch.
So Atlanta’s uber three produced five quick and loud runs to just two for the visitors. But New York’s “electric eight” (left fielder Michael Hermosillo played well, but did not reach in the ninth-inning explosion) turned the math on its head. A strange and tortured equation, perhaps, but in this case,
8 > 3 + 5