NEW YORK — It wasn't how the Yankees drew it up, but they'll certainly take it.
Loading the bases in the bottom of the eighth with no outs, manager Aaron Boone called upon Clint Frazier to pinch-hit for Brett Gardner in a tied game. As it turns out, the outfielder didn't need to swing his bat to put New York in front.
Braves right-hander Nate Jones spiked an 0-1 slider in the dirt, squeaking past Travis d'Arnaud behind the plate. As the ball trickled toward the backstop, Aaron Hicks was able to score standing up from third base, giving the Yankees a one-run lead.
Three batters later, Jones lost Mike Ford, walking in a second run and giving the Yankees more than enough insurance to close it out. After a scoreless ninth from closer Aroldis Chapman, New York had snapped its five-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory.
Although New York never broke it open, and overall continued to struggle at the plate, Boone said he noticed his position players putting together better at-bats throughout against a quality opposing starter.
"I thought we had some really good winning at-bats there in the eighth inning to grab the lead," he said. "I thought especially as the game wore on, I thought there were some real stronger at-bats against [Charlie] Morton, who I thought was on his game tonight."
The Yankees had just five hits on the night, but battled it out for the victory. With how this club has started the season, with their worst record through 15 games since 1997, these kind of wins taste a little sweeter.
"Look, it's obviously been a tough week for us, a long week for us, but to be able to win a tough game, I think there is a lot of satisfaction in that a lot of people in that room tonight in varying ways had a hand in that victory and that was good to see," Boone said.
New York was able to keep Atlanta's high-octane lineup at bay in large part due to Jameson Taillon, putting together his best outing in pinstripes.
Taillon gave New York five strong innings of one-run ball, striking out five and allowing just four hits. Back-to-back doubles in the third—from Guillermo Heredia and Ehire Adrianza—gave the Braves an early advantage.
"I thought the stuff was really good tonight. I thought it was crisp," Taillon said. "Other than [the mistake pitches in the third], I was in pretty, pretty good control."
Taillon's night came to an end after the right-hander had thrown just 80 pitches. Although Taillon agreed that he was feeling good with his pitch count, he hasn't pitched past the fifth yet this season, ramping up after his second Tommy John surgery (and zero innings in 2020).
With reigning National League Most Valuable Player Freddie Freeman lurking to start the sixth frame, Taillon was more than happy to hand the ball off to Lucas Luetge, a lefty out of the bullpen.
The Yankees tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning on a Gio Urshela solo shot, soaring 437 feet to straightaway center field. That was the only damage the Bombers' bats could muster off Morton, though, who tossed six innings and struck out six.
After Taillon, five Yankees relievers combined to throw four scoreless innings, allowing just two hits over the final 12 outs of the game. Chapman registered his second save of the young season, striking out two batters for the 14th outing in a row.
With the win, the Yankees' record jumps up to 6-10. New York plays one more game against the Braves at Yankee Stadium before hitting the road on Thursday. Tuesday's victory doesn't absolve this club from the struggles they've had recently, but it's a step in the right direction.
Besides, as Boone reiterated after the win, this group knows that it's going to be just fine, regardless of what they're record says in mid-April.
"The resolve in that room and the confidence in that room, even though we've taken it on the chin here a little bit hasn't changed," Boone said. "These guys know they're going to be a beast, and they're going to be a problem and we're going to get there and hopefully sooner rather than later. But it's definitely nice to win a hard-fought well-played game."
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