Braves end Yankees' win streak at 10
Winning, as the saying goes, is the best deodorant, and a 10-game winning streak effectively covered the unpleasantness of the Yankees' continuing problem of hitting with runners in scoring position.
Not Tuesday night.
Although Hiroki Kuroda didn't pitch to the high standards he and the rest of the rotation have set this month, a 4-3 loss to the Braves that ended the Yankees' 10-game streak had far more to do with the hits they didn't get rather than the ones given up.
"Every loss is irritating to me,'' catcher Russell Martin said, "but even more frustrating when you have opportunities and don't come through.''
The Yankees (41-26), going for their first 11-game streak since 1985 and only their second in the last 50 years, stranded nine men on base and went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
But now, a deep breath.
It's difficult to hammer a team that lost for the first time in 11 games and "dropped'' to 27-13 in its last 40.
"We've been playing really good baseball lately,'' Teixeira said. "We're not going to fret too much over one game.''
Said Martin: "You're not going to win every game the rest of the year. Hopefully, we can start another streak tomorrow.''
The Braves (36-32) won for only the second time in their last nine games. They took the lead for good in the top of the sixth when Jason Heyward brought in Brian McCann with a one-hop scorcher that caromed off Teixeira's left heel. An inch or so higher, and Teixeira could have been looking at a serious injury.
"The doctors told me I got very lucky,'' said Teixeira, who was examined after the game. "That's maybe the hardest-hit ball I've ever had hit at me.''
Kuroda (6-7, 3.57) was 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his previous four starts. He didn't have the quality stuff that led to those numbers, but he wasn't bad. He allowed four runs and six hits in seven innings, running the Yankees' streak of having a starter go at least six innings to 19 games, the franchise's longest such stretch since 1981.
The Yankees' rotation came into last night 12-1 with a 1.97 ERA in June.
"I think I was trying to be too perfect with my pitches,'' Kuroda said through his translator. "I just didn't execute my pitches.''
Tim Hudson (5-3, 3.88) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings of a 3-2 loss to the Yankees last week in Atlanta. This time he allowed three runs (two earned) and four hits in five innings. He walked five and struck out five. Four Braves relievers gave up only one hit in the final four innings. Craig Kimbrel earned his 20th save with a nine-pitch ninth.
The Yankees had plenty of chances before that, with scoring chances going by the wayside in the fifth and seventh, when they had runners thrown out at home.
In the fifth, with Teixeira on second, Nick Swisher, whose two-run double in the second made it 2-0, delivered a two-out single to right. Heyward charged and fired a one-hopper to McCann, who tagged the sliding Teixeira's left arm well before he touched the plate.
"An outstanding throw,'' Joe Girardi said.
In the seventh, with runners on second and third and one out, Granderson was thrown out at home on Teixeira's bouncer to Chipper Jones at third.
"When you win 10 in a row, some breaks go your way,'' Teixeira said. "Tonight none of the breaks went our way.''
Girardi called it a "tough loss,'' but like his players, he moved on.
"We had some opportunities and we weren't able to come through,'' he said. "But we've been playing well. We still played a pretty decent game. You just try to start a new streak tomorrow.''