Before tonight’s game, Joe Girardi was asked how many things have to go right for a team to win 10 games in a row. He answered quickly, and with a laugh.
“A lot,” he said.
Tonight the Yankees let the go-ahead run score on a groundball that ricocheted off the left heel of their Gold Glove first baseman. They had two runners thrown out at the plate, once on a terrific throw by Jason Heyward and once on a hard-hit ball right to Chipper Jones. Their starting pitcher, who had allowed a total of four runs in his past 28 starts, allowed four of them in seven innings tonight.
“(The Braves) came up big when they needed to,” Mark Teixeira said. “When you win 10 in a row, you have breaks go your way. Today none of the breaks went our way. One of those loses, and we’ll just try to start another streak.”
Obviously this loss wasn’t all about rotten luck. The Yankees were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position (and all the guys not named Nick Swisher were 0-for-9). Their final 31 batters combined for two hits. They were hitless their final turn through the order. This wasn’t a very good game for the Yankees, but frankly, they’ve found ways to win this sort of games these past few weeks.
“You still feel that you’re going to find a way to win a game, because that’s what we’ve been doing,” Girardi said. “This is a tough loss. We had some opportunities, and we just weren’t able to come through. We’ve been playing well and we still played a pretty decent game tonight. I don’t like any (loses), but we’ve been playing well and we’ll try to start a new streak tomorrow.”
• Strange play to drive in the winning run. With runners at the corners in the sixth, Teixeira was holding the runner, which meant he was playing in near the grass. Heyward smoked a groundball that went just under Teixeira’s glove, off his left heel and toward second base for an infield single. “That was maybe the hardest ball I’ve ever had hit at me,” Teixeira said. “But I thought I could get a glove on it. It stayed down and hit me right in the heel. It’s a little sore so hopefully not too bad.”
• Teixeira said he has no doubt he’ll be able to play tomorrow. “That’s one of those things that when you sit down and rest it’s going to get real sore and tight on you,” he said. “So I just kept moving and felt OK the rest of the game.”
• Teixeira was out at the plate on Swisher’s fifth-inning single and Curtis Granderson was out at the plate on Teixeira’s seventh-inning bouncer to third base. Girardi said he “absolutely” agreed with the decisions to try to score on those plays.
• Hard for Granderson to try to do anything but go home on that ball in the seventh, but sending Teixeira in the fifth was a calculated risk. “I know Swish hit it hard and I know Heyward’s got a really good arm, one of the best outfield arms in baseball,” Teixeira said. “We were just hoping in that situation that he made a poor throw and he didn’t. He made a great throw.”
• Swisher’s take on that play: “It’s a little more shallow here than it is most places, so as a right fielder you can afford to play a little shallower and catch that ball a little earlier and you’ve got to give him credit. He threw a bullet, a strike, right on target.”
• Kuroda allowed his most runs since May 16 in Toronto. This was his fifth career loss against Atlanta, matching his most against any opponent (he’s also lost five times against the Mets, Diamondbacks and Rockies). “I really didn’t want to give up that last run,” Kuroda said. “If I kept it within three runs, I knew the offense was going to do its job. I really regret giving up that run.”
• Kuroda’s biggest problem was the two-run fourth inning when he walked two batters and gave up three hits. If not for Granderson throwing out Heyward at third base, at least one more run would have scored. “I think I was trying to be too perfect with all my pitches,” Kuroda said. “I was really being aggressive in the first three innings. In that inning, I wasn’t being aggressive.”
• The Yankees are now 1-13 in games when they don’t hit a home run this season. This was the year’s first game at Yankee Stadium in which neither team went deep.
• Before tonight, the Yankees had won eight straight games that were decided by three runs or less.
• Raul Ibanez snapped an 0-for-15 with his second-inning double. … Nick Swisher now leads the Yankees with 42 RBI this season and is three hits away from 1,000 for his career. He’s hit left-handed for 36 of those RBI. … According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yankees streak of 19 straight starts of at least six innings is the longest such streak in the Majors this season and the franchise’s longest such streak since 1981.
• Two last words, because they’re two different ways of looking at tonight.
Russell Martin: “Every loss is irritating to me, but it’s even more frustrating when you have opportunities and you don’t come through. That’s part of the game. Baseball is a frustrating game, so I’m used to it.”
Swisher: “We just kind of ran out of innings, pretty much. We feel like we’re playing good ball right now. That’s alright. I guess you could say it’s a little easier to shrug this one off, but no one likes losing.”
Associated Press photo