New York Yankees face Atlanta Braves in Top MLB Series Opener

The New York Yankees (40-25, 19-12 home) have finally hit their stride on the season, claiming the top spot in the AL East division, and have now tied the longest winning streak so far this year at 9 straight victories. With a chance to make it 10 straight today at home while host the Atlanta Braves (35-31, 20-14 away), the Yankees have to like their chances with their ace pitcher taking the mound in the form of C.C. Sabathia (8-3, 3.70 ERA). In a favorable match-up against Matt Minor (3-4, 6.01 ERA), get ready for another big night in the Bronx as the Yankees and Braves get set to duel tonight at 7:00 PM ET, for the top MLB match-up in Interleague play to start off the new week.

The New York Yankees have simply dominated teams over the course of their longest winning streak since 2009, taking advantage of their Interleague schedule by running through the previously red-hot Washington Nationals, sweeping the Atlanta Braves at home in the series prior, and taking down the New York city rivals’ the New York Mets just over a week ago. What has been truly impressive about the Yankees’ run, is how their starting pitching has finally meshed into place, helping the Yankees to stay in every game over the last 9 by keeping opposing teams from getting out of the gates early. Only twice during the last 9 games has the Yankees rotation allowed more than 3 runs, and six games have seen the Yanks’ opponents held to 2 or less runs scored. That bodes very well for a New York team that mostly has relied on their bats to be the difference maker in games, and for any opposing team it has to be a scary sign of things to come, as a New York team that can have confidence in its pitching will undoubtedly have less pressure on the batting order, and more free reign to swing away throughout each at-bat. Posting a 1.88 ERA during the current win streak, the Yankees’ rotation may look to keep close to that red-hot number with C.C. Sabathia on the hill at home tonight, who comes prepare for a bounce-back performance off a shaky night the last time out vs. Atlanta. Sabathia would become the AL’s second 9-game winner on the season thus far, matching teammate Ivan Nova, who won 5 straight starts with the last coming just yesterday in the series conclusion with the Washington Nationals.

If the Atlanta Braves wish to get back on track after losing their last 2 games and 6 out of the last 7, they are going to need to rely on a quality effort from Matt Minor, who despite having an awful 6.01 ERA on the season, has been strong in his last two outings. Minor, who many had already imagined would be taking a reassignment trip after six straight starts giving up 4 or more runs. However, Minor has managed to turn around his form in the near-term, allowing just 1 run in each of his last two outings, including a solid performance last week against the Yankees in which he went 7 1/3 innings and gave up just 1 run on 5 hits. Unfortunately for the Braves that effort still wasn’t enough, as the Yankees managed to pile on a 6-spot on the Braves in the 8th inning, tagging Johnny Venters for 4 runs on 3 hits (an A-Rod Grand Slam did all the damage in one swing) to crush any chances of the Braves getting back into that series. While Atlanta will need Minor to be on his game once again this evening, they also can’t expect to win with pitching alone, needing a surge from some of their slumping bats on the road tonight, who have been shutout in two consecutive ballgames.

One major offensive key to Atlanta finding a way to steal a game from the surging Yankees is to get Dan Uggla out of his slump and producing again. Uggla is hitless in his last 4 games, and is just 3-for-29 in his last 10 games overall. Despite the struggles recently, Uggla still is the most productive offensive contributor for the Braves with 11 homers and 41 RBI on the season, and Atlanta desperately needs him to come alive tonight. He’s only faced C.C. Sabathia 5 times in his career, but has been productive going 1-for-2 with 3 walks and a double. Another couple of hitters who could be in for success tonight are Matt Diaz, who has managed to go 6-for-12 lifetime vs. Sabathia, and Brian McCann, who will be rested and ready to get back in the order after seeing an uptick in form at the plate (6-for-18, 2 homers in his last 4 starts). Though McCann hasn’t had huge success against Sabathia (2-for-7 lifetime), he still could be a major factor if he can reach his 4th multi-hit game in 5 starts. Without the Braves getting a boost from their best hitters however, there is little doubt that New York will be able to run away with tonight’s game on the back of great pitching from Sabathia, and a confident batting order that is certainly ready to give it another go against Mike Minor.

For the Yankees on the offensive end, simply sticking to the game plan and chipping away at starting pitching seems to be working just fine as long as the Yankees’ starters keep holding opponents down. Curtis Granderson continues to be a force, knocking out his 21st home run of the season last night to pair with Robinson Cano’s solo shot, both of which help Ivan Nova to earn his 5th straight win in a row. Mark Teixeira is also showing a bit of a resurgence, with 3 doubles in his last two games, going 3-for-4 last night at Washington. Also look out for Derek Jeter to continue his run of solid form, as he went 5-for-14 against Atlanta during last week’s series, has produced at least one run in his last 5 games, and is on an eight-game hitting streak. Lastly, even though Nick Swisher has been hurting with a quad injury, he’s still managed to have 3 multi-hit games in his last 4 starts, and seeing the ball well at the plate he may be one to watch for in tonight’s showdown with the Braves. With the Yankees so deep in their batting order, it’s tough to say who will step up and be the star in Game 1 of this Interleague series, but based upon recent record, there’s no question that someone amongst this group of hitters will come up big as the Yankees chase down a very rare 10-game winning streak.

Betting Lines for the New York Yankees vs. Atlanta Braves at TopBet Sportsbook.

The Yankees, fresh off 9-straight wins and looking for #10, come in as -200 favorites to win straight up on the money line behind C.C. Sabathia tonight. Looking for just their 2nd win in 8 games, the visiting Braves will have +170 odds backing them to pick up a road victory behind Mike Minor.

Against the spread, New York must cover 1.5 runs to earn spread pickers a win at -105 odds. For Atlanta, they’ll get 1.5 runs to play with, at lower -115 odds.

For the over/under on total runs, the line has been boosted up for Game 1 of this series, with 9 runs the mark to beat or stay under. Just one game of the 3-game series last week between Atlanta and New York went over this mark, while the other two showings found 5 or less runs at stake. This could be a risky bet to make especially if Minor reverts to his poor run of form, but banking on the Braves’ bats to keep struggling in the face of Sabathia, who will be gunning for an improved effort against Atlanta, may be the best idea for wagering on this game.

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