Mar 19, 2014; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Ivan Nova (47) throws a pitch in the first inning of the spring training exhibition game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees Thump Braves, Nova Looks Sharp


The Yankees’ bats continued putting up runs at a pretty good clip, a day after handing it to the Boston Red Sox, they returned to action Wednesday by traveling to take on the Atlanta Braves. Ivan Nova got the start for the Bombers, looking to bounce back after a rocky start his last time out.

After a lead-off walk to Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran drove him in on a 1-out single to make it 1-0 Yankees before the Braves even came to bat. All was quiet on both sides after the initial scoring until the top of the fourth inning, when the Yankees struck again. Brian Roberts singled, followed by a walk to Kelly Johnson. Adonis Garcia increased the Bombers lead with a 2-run double off Braves’ starter David Hale, who only went 4.1 innings, giving up three earned runs.

Ivan Nova looked reminiscent of last year’s second half results, absolutely dominating the Braves lineup, tossing 6.1 scoreless frames, allowing only two hits, no walks, while striking out five. In today’s Braves lineup were regulars Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton, Justin Upton, Freddie Freeman, Dan Uggla, Chris Johnson, and Andrelton Simmons. This provided a solid test for Nova, who is slated to be either the #3 or #4 starter to begin the season, depending on whether or not Joe Girardi wants to pitch Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka on back-to-back days.

The scoring continued for the Yankees in their half of the seventh, as both Beltran and McCann drove in runs off Braves reliever Luis Vasquez, one of which was unearned with McCann reaching on an error by Freeman and making the score 5-0 Bombers. Bullpen hopeful Danny Barawa relieved Nova in the seventh, and gave up a double to Justin Upton, it was the second extra-base hit of the day for the Braves, as pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit also struck a double off Nova in the fifth. After a passed ball by McCann, Uggla grounded out to end the Braves’ threat in the seventh.

After Burawa worked out of trouble in the seventh, he was relieved in the bottom of the eighth by Shane Greene. After allowing a 1-out double to Jordan Schafer, and getting Braves’ prospect Christian Bethancourt to fly out, Greene was lifted for lefty Cesar Cabral. Cabral promptly retired Todd Cunningham on a fly ball to Zoilo Almonte to end the eighth.

After getting back-to-back walks from Yangervis Solarte and Austin Romine to start the final inning, John Ryan Murphy struck out swinging, and Casey Stevenson drew a walk to load the bases. The Yankees got a sixth run after Dean Anna drew a four-pitch walk, scoring Solarte from third. A fourth walk of the inning to Zelous Wheeler brought Romine home, along with the final Yankees’ run of the day. The game entered the bottom of the ninth, 7-0 Yankees. Dellin Betances replaced Cabral with one out in the ninth. Betances ran into a little bit of trouble, retiring his first batter before issuing a walk and then a sharp base hit to Philip Gosselin. Betances avoided any further damage with a game-ending fly out to Elmer Reyes.

Notes:

A day after beating up on the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees travel to Ft. Myers on Thursday for the two team’s second match up in three days. David Phelps (0-0, 2.63 ERA) will take on Clay Buchholz (2-1, 1.13 ERA) in a 7:05 p.m. ET game. Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury will remain in Tampa nursing a right calf strain and is hopeful of returning to the lineup when the Yankees return home on Friday to host the Pittsburgh Pirates. Phelps will most likely begin the season in the bullpen, as fellow 5th starter competitor Michael Pineda has been practically unhittable the entire spring. The attendance at today’s game was 10,413.

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