Braves end the Yanks' winning streak at 10

797302.jpg

Braves end the Yanks' winning streak at 10

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Chipper Jones and the Atlanta Braves eventually caught the ball, and the New York Yankees. Jones atoned for a costly error by cutting down the potential tying run at the plate and the Braves held on to end the Yankees' 10-game winning streak with a 4-3 victory Tuesday night. "Sometimes you're going to whiff on some balls," the All-Star third baseman said. "But you've got to have a hockey goalie mentality down there. You've got to flush it or you're going to get the next one down your throat." The Yankees were trying to match their longest winning string in nearly a half-century. Instead, the Braves threw out two runners at home and won for only the second time in nine games -- their skid included four losses to the Yankees. "They pitched really well and had some really good defense. That's kind of what we've been doing," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. Jason Heyward singled home the go-ahead run in the sixth inning off Hiroki Kuroda (6-7). Heyward also tripled and scored, and nailed Mark Teixeira at home with a strong throw from right field. "We wouldn't have gotten there if it wasn't for Jason Heyward," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. Rookie Andrelton Simmons drove in two runs and Jones delivered an RBI double for the slumping Braves. Down by a run, the Yankees threatened in the seventh. Curtis Granderson opened with a single off Jonny Venters, Alex Rodriguez walked and the runners moved up on a groundout. Teixeira followed with a sharp grounder and Granderson broke home, but Jones made a strong throw and catcher Brian McCann applied the tag. Raul Ibanez then struck out. "You play third base, you know you're going to have the lowest-fielding percentage in the infield," Jones said. "You get some rockets, some balls with topspin. The big thing on that play was the pick. Once I picked it, I could make the throw and Mac set a nice target." The Yankees' recent run was built entirely against NL teams. Only once since 1965 had the Yankees won 11 in a row, and that was in 1985. The team's record winning streak was 19 in 1947. "None of the breaks kind of went our way tonight," Teixeira said. Tim Hudson (5-3) labored through five innings and four relievers preserved the lead. Craig Kimbrel closed for his NL-leading 20th save. The Braves were hurt by missing mitts more than missing bats in the early innings. In the second, center fielder Michael Bourn got twisted around trying to track down Nick Swisher's deep drive. Bourn tapped his glove, then saw the ball glance off the tip as he ran into the padded wall on a two-run double. Swisher was sidelined the past two games with a bruised left quadriceps. In the fourth, Ibanez hit a grounder that first baseman Freddie Freeman misplayed for an error. With two outs and two on, Jones let Russell Martin's low liner skip off his glove for an error that scored a run and made it 3-all. As the crowd cheered, the 40-year-old Jones looked down at the ground, took off his mitt and scuffed the dirt. "I could've made that play," he said. Jones grounded an RBI double in the top of the fourth, a day after the scuffling star said he needed to do more at the plate. Later in the inning, Simmons hit a bases-loaded single that scored a run, but Heyward was nailed at third base for the third out an instant before Jones slid home. Heyward threw out Teixeira in the fifth. In the sixth, Heyward victimized Teixeira again, hitting a hard grounder that nailed the first baseman in the left foot for an RBI single with two outs that put Atlanta ahead 4-3. NOTES: Freeman (injured finger) was back after missing five starts. ... Ibanez doubled to end an 0-for-15 slide. ... Yankees starters have pitched at least six innings in 19 straight games. ... Yankees RHP Michael Pineda, out for the season with a tear in his shoulder, has been with the team for a few days. He hopes to resume throwing in September and aiming to ready for spring training next year. ... Yankees RHP David Aardsma struck out two and walked one in one inning of a Gulf Coast League game. It was the reliever's first outing since elbow-ligament replacement surgery last July. ... The Braves and the Nationals will make up their June 1 rainout as part of a day-night doubleheader on July 21 in Washington. ... Rene Meulensteen, first team coach of soccer power Manchester United, watched the Yankees take batting practice. He recently gave a clinic in Kalamazoo, Mich., where Derek Jeter grew up. "Tall, runs well, good with the eyes. Might've been a good player in our sport," he said.

Patriots DT Branch wins appeal of four-game suspension

Patriots DT Branch wins appeal of four-game suspension

FOXBORO -- Alan Branch knew he had a good case, otherwise he wouldn't have appealed. It was just a question of when that appeal might be heard. 

As of Wednesday, the Patriots defensive tackle hadnt heard anything as it related to the appeal of his four-game suspension. But by Saturday morning, according to Field Yates of ESPN, Branch had won the appeal and been cleared of the league's ban. 

Branch's agent later confirmed the news on Twitter.

Word of Branch's punishment, which stemmed from what was reported as a positive marijuana test, became public when reported by ESPN on Nov. 21. Per the league's substance abuse policy, appeal hearings are typically scheduled for the fourth Tuesday after a player has been informed of his penalty. The policy notes that it is possible for appeals to be heard on another date should the two sides be able to work out different schedule, but Branch was not optimistic that would be the case earlier this week. 

Good news came quickly, though. 

Had Branch been forced to miss any time, it would have docked the Patriots arguably their top interior defensive lineman. Branch has started every game, and he leads all Patriots defensive tackles with 457 snaps played. 

The Patriots recently waived running back DJ Foster and signed defensive tackle Darius Kilgo, seemingly as a way to build some depth on the roster if Branch had been suspended. 

By having his four-game suspension wiped away not only are the Patriots saved from having to deal without one of their top players in the trenches, but Branch saved himself a relatively hefty financial penalty.

A four-game ban would have cost him nearly $300,000 in base salary as well as four game-day bonuses adding to $100,000. He also stood to lose as much as $750,000 in season-long playing-time incentives. In all, had the suspension stood, it could have cost him about $1.1 million. Patriots salary-cap expert Miguel Benzan goes into more detail about the potential financial impact of Branch's suspension here

Thankfully for Branch, he doesn't have to worry about that any longer. With this situation in the rear view, he can now focus on helping the Patriots win games during the stretch run of the regular season and into the playoffs.