video thumbnail

NYY@ATL: Granderson drives a two-run shot to right

ATLANTA -- The Yankees concluded a three-game sweep of the Braves on Wednesday night with a 3-2 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 48,938 at what amounted to Yankee Stadium South: Turner Field.

Hiroki Kuroda pitched six innings of two-run, nine-hit ball for the win, evening his record to 6-6, and Curtis Granderson provided the big blow -- a two-run homer in the sixth off Tim Hudson that offset a two-run blast the previous half-inning by Brian McCann.

"You could definitely hear them out there tonight," manager Joe Girardi said about the Yankees fans in the crowd. "We're really fortunate. Our fans go everywhere and we have fans everywhere. They support us, and that's a nice thing. They made a lot of noise out there, I can tell you that."

Played in an intermittent downpour, the game was the Yankees' sixth straight win, each victory of the Interleague variety against National League East clubs. Having swept the Mets and Braves, the Yankees will move on to Nationals Park this weekend to open a three-game series against Washington on Friday night.

Overall, the Yanks have won 11 of their last 13, and they maintained the AL's best record at 37-25. The Yankees lead the second-place Orioles by one game and the third-place Rays by two in the AL East.

The combined crowd of 133,059 at Turner Field for the three games this week had a decided Yankees flavor. Sans the famous "Tomahawk Chop," Yankees fans have vocally been almost the equal of their Braves counterparts. On Tuesday night, the 23rd career grand slam hit by Alex Rodriguez -- which tied the score and pulled the third baseman even with Lou Gehrig atop the all-time list -- was caught in the left-field seats by a Yankees fan.

And when Granderson followed Derek Jeter's leadoff single in the top of the sixth inning with his 18th homer of the season -- hit well into the right-field stands -- the din in favor of the Yankees was nearly deafening.

"They've been loud all three games," Granderson said. "I feel like the Yankees fans do a great job of traveling, and in this series they didn't disappoint. They came out. I'm sure a lot of people in this area -- and around the country -- are big Yankees fans, whether it be by relocating or simply how they grew up."

The attitude was shared by some of the players, as well as the fans. Nick Swisher, who followed the Rodriguez slam on Tuesday night with a go-ahead two-run homer, was stomping around the postgame clubhouse humming the melodious "Tomahawk Chop."

"I'm chopping it up, man," Swisher said. "The fans were awesome. I don't want to take anything away from them, but they're like that everywhere we go."

In some places, though, the fans are definitely more vociferous than others. The celebration on Wednesday night by Yankees fans started early. Jeter opened the game with a double and scored on A-Rod's single. That 1-0 lead held into fifth inning, when Martin Prado singled and McCann hit his homer, giving the Braves a short-lived 2-1 lead.

Hudson, whose start had been pushed back by three days because of bone spurs in his left foot, lasted six innings and threw 100 pitches. He walked none, allowed six hits and whiffed eight.

"We got the big hit to take the lead, and they came right back to hit one of Huddy's few mistakes tonight," lamented Braves third baseman Chipper Jones.  

The Braves had more than enough chances against Kuroda, who apparently followed the recent dictum of Yankees starting pitchers: bend, but don't break. Kuroda threw 110 pitches and squirmed out of numerous jams. He had eight strikeouts.

The Braves had runners on base in each of his innings, and they had the bases loaded with one out in the second but didn't score. Atlanta stranded a runner on third with two outs in third inning and left runners on second and third with two outs the next frame.

Even after McCann homered, Jason Heyward doubled with two outs but remained planted on second.

"It seemed like every time Kuroda needed to make a pitch or get a strikeout, he got it," Jones said. "We just couldn't break through with the big hit."   

It was the same circumstances as relievers Boone Logan, Cody Eppley and Rafael Soriano pitched into and out of trouble in the last three innings to nail down the win. The Yankees never had a clean inning, as the Braves stranded 13 baserunners.

For Kuroda, it was professional win No. 150, 47 of which have come in the Major Leagues since he came to the U.S., signing with the Dodgers before the 2008 season. This is his first season with the Yankees.

"It's a great milestone," Kuroda said, continuing a week of personal Yankees landmarks. "When I first started as a professional pitcher, I never thought I would get here. But I'm just happy I did."

It was all certainly sweet music to the ears of southern Yankees fans at Turner Field this week.

MLB.com Comments