But after Minor suddenly stumbled through a decisive three-run fifth inning and their offense continued to squander far too many opportunities, the Braves found themselves heading toward a 6-2 loss to the Yankees on Monday.
This has been a maddening stretch for the Braves, who won eight of nine games after enduring an eight-game losing streak in late May. But they have lost seven of the last eight games that have followed, including each of the four played against the Yankees, who have won 10 in a row for the first time since 2005.
The Braves snapped the 20-inning scoreless streak they carried into the game and saw Minor allow the Yankees to produce just one baserunner through the first four innings. But just when it looked like they might halt their recent woes, CC Sabathia killed multiple scoring threats and Derek Jeter produced an impressive two-out, fifth-inning at-bat that gave the Yankees a lead they would not squander.
Sabathia allowed two runs and seven hits on the way to notching the 34th complete game of his career. The big left-hander was aided by the extended struggles of a Braves offense that has hit .122 (5-for-41) with runners in scoring position in the past seven games.
Minor held the Yankees hitless until Alex Rodriguez began the bottom of the fifth inning with a single to center. Robinson Cano followed with a walk, and two batters later, Russell Martin put the hosts on the board with a ground-rule double down the left-field line. Jeter capped the inning’s scoring with a two-run single that he chopped through the middle of the infield with two outs.
Former Braves first baseman Mark Teixeira gave the Yankees a two-run lead when he opened the bottom of the sixth with the 15th home run Minor has surrendered this year. The Braves left-hander was charged with four earned runs and four hits while totaling 99 pitches in 5 2/3 innings.
After totaling 50 pitches and issuing just one walk through the first four innings, Minor needed 38 pitches to complete the fifth inning. Rodriguez’s second-inning leadoff walk accounted for the only baserunner the Yankees had produced entering the fifth.
It did not take the Braves long to snap the scoreless streak that had dated back to Friday’s three-run sixth inning against the Orioles. Michael Bourn began the game with a triple to the left-center-field gap and Martin Prado followed with a run-producing groundout.
Sabathia would not encounter any further trouble until the fourth inning began with a Brian McCann walk and Dan Uggla single. Matt Diaz then silenced the threat by grounding into a double play.
The Braves added another run when Sabathia surrendered singles to three of the first four batters he faced in the top of the fifth inning. After Bourn delivered his RBI single, the Yankees left-hander got Prado and McCann to produce weak grounders.