There was a sense the Braves’ Monday misfortunes might continue after Brian McCann flied out a step in front of the center-field wall in the first inning, then had a potential two-run homer taken away on a leaping catch at the right-field wall with a runner on in the fourth.
When New York’s Nick Swisher made that catch with his glove at the top of the wall in the fourth the Yankees had already scored all of their runs in a 3-0 win to open an interleague series at Turner Field, the second loss in a row for the Braves since their six-game winning streak.
The Braves seriously don’t like Mondays: Their record fell to an inexplicable 0-9 on the first day of the week, and they’ve totaled just 14 runs in those nine games. They are 34-18 on all other days.
Thousands of Yankee fans in a crowd of 42,669 cheered as the Yankees scored a run in each of the first three innings against rookie Randall Delgado (4-6), who allowed five hits and six walks and was replaced after laboring through five innings in 110 pitches (58 strikes). The pitch count matched his career high.
“I talked to the young man after he came out of the game, and he looked [over] excited,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of the 22-year-old. “He was coming out of his delivery. First time facing the New York Yankees and 40,000-plus in the stands, I think he got a little amped up for today’s game. It’s something he can learn from.
“But in all honestly, he made some pitches. They had the bases loaded twice and he got out of it just giving up one run. That’s a good stepping stone.”
Ivan Nova (8-2) pitched seven strong innings for the Yankees, who’ve gone 9-2 with a 2.37 ERA in their past 11 games. The big right-hander allowed five hits (all singles) and one walk with six strikeouts, and the only runner the Braves advanced past first base all night came on a fourth-inning balk.
Still, the Braves, and particularly McCann, had reason not to feel as if they’d been dominated.
“I felt great tonight, I just didn’t have much to show for it,” said McCann, who also lined out to first baseman Mark Teixiera in the ninth inning. “Hopefully that’s a sign of good things to come. Today is probably the best I’ve felt in a while. Just got to keep going.”
McCann’s average fell to .234, including 7-for-44 (.159) in his past 13 games.
“It hasn’t been the way I wanted to start the season,” he said. “I’m two months in and when you’re not doing the things you’re capable of doing it’s kind of frustrating but got to keep grinding. It’s a long season. I’m going to turn it around.”
Gonzalez said, “You felt like you were in the game the whole night. We hit some balls, some rockets at people. Mac – Swisher robbed him of a home run, and he hit another rocket to Teixeira in the ninth inning…. They made some defensive plays and we hit some balls hard right at people.”
The Braves failed to move a runner to second after leadoff singles in the first, third and fifth innings, or after a Dan Uggla’s leadoff walk in the seventh. Martin Prado followed Michael Bourn’s leadoff single in the first inning by grounding into a double play.
After Jason Heyward’s leadoff single in the fifth, rookie Andrelton Simmons lined out to Nova, who threw to first to double up Heyward.
After Uggla’s walk in the seventh, Freddie Freeman struck out, Chipper Jones popped out and Jason Heyward grounded out to second base. The last nine Braves batters went down in order.
Delgado had five strikeout including Raul Ibanez with the bases loaded in the third inning, after Ibanez homered in the second inning. But after striking out Ibanez in the third, Delgado threw a wild pitch to Swisher, allowing Alex Rodriguez to score. The Yankees had loaded the bases on two walks and a Robinson Cano double.
Asked if got a bit too amped up, Delgado said, “You could say that. I think sometimes I gave them too much credit with the strike zone, trying to be too perfect on the corner, like I have [in some previous starts]. That was the problem.”
In the first inning, Rodriguez hit a two-out line-drive double off the left-field wall and scored on a Cano single.
Delgado’s first major league start was six days shy of the one-year anniversary of his major league debut, a start against a brutally tough Texas lineup. This Yankees lineup might be even better, with a rejuvenated Derek Jeter leading off and with every other batter except the pitcher coming in with at least eight homers.
“We were talking about that,” Gonzalez said. “And we were looking at the age. We had a 22-year-old on the mound, 22 at short [Simmons], Freeman’s 22, Heyward . And I think their youngest guy was Nova, who’s 25.”
The homer by Ibanez made it 29 RBIs in his past 36 games against the Braves for the former Phillies outfielder, who has 14 hits, four homers and 14 RBIs in his past nine games against Atlanta.
“I left a curveball up,” Delgado said. “Against those professional hitters I don’t want to make a mistake, and I think that’s what happened.”
Nova also got into the offensive act with a two-out single in the second inning, the pitcher’s first major league hit after going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. It was the second day in a row the Braves allowed a hit against an American League pitcher, after Toronto reliever Carlos Villanueva singled against Livan Hernandez on Sunday.
Cano had a .143 average with runners in scoring position – fourth-lowest in the American League — before his first-inning RBI single.