There were points on Wednesday night when it felt like the game between the Yankees and Braves would never end.
It felt that way during some of the extended breaks given to the grounds crew as they repaired the infield in between innings because of the steady rain that fell all night. And it felt that way because Hiroki Kuroda takes about five minutes between pitches with runners on base.
Kuroda put plenty of runners on base in his six innings of work on Wednesday. He allowed nine hits and two walks, which meant a lot of traffic on the basepaths and a lot of time for those watching the game to think about anything other than baseball while waiting for Kuroda's next pitch.
You can't argue with patience when it comes with eight strikeouts and just two runs allowed, however. Kuroda dodged the raindrops and the baserunners well enough to give the Yankees their third chance in four games to win it with a heroic home run.
It was Curtis Granderson this time. Granderson connected for a two-run home run off Tim Hudson to make the score 3-2 Yankees in the sixth inning, a score that would hold up thanks to another strong night for Joe Girardi's bullpen.
Boone Logan pitched a scoreless seventh and then Cody Eppley, a pitcher who was claimed off the scrap heap to fill out the Triple-A bullpen at the end of spring training, got himself into and out of trouble in the eighth. Eppley allowed two hits, putting runners on the corners, but the sinker specialist got the double play ball he needed and escaped the inning unscathed.
Rafael Soriano closed things out in the ninth, making for an unlikely but effective three innings of work for a team that has its two best relievers on the disabled list. It's been that way all along, a pleasant surprise for a team that thought it had seen a strength go to a weakness.
The work of the pen has been lost a bit thanks to the upticks in starting pitching and timely power, but it has been no less important to the team's run of success. Wednesday night made six straight wins, a 1996-esque sweep of the Braves in Atlanta and 16 wins in their last 20 games.
Those are things worth waiting for, even if the wait is extended and takes place in a driving rainstorm.
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