Despite two home runs by the New York Yankees, the Bombers were unable to secure the first unofficial win at SunTrust Park. 

  • New York Yankees: 5 (24-9)
  • Atlanta Braves: 8 (9-22)
  • Grapefruit League, FINAL, Box Score
  • SunTrust Park, Atlanta, GA
Despite a pair of home runs, the New York Yankees fell to the Atlanta Braves in the first exhibition game at the brand-new SunTrust Park by a score of 8-5.

New York christened the Braves’ new home by getting on the board first in the third inning. Greg Bird turned on a pitch by starting pitcher Bartolo Colon with Gary Sanchez on second for the first unofficial home run at the new park.

That lead would not last long, unfortunately, as Yankees’ starter Michael Pineda left a hanging slider up in the zone to Freddie Freeman with Ender Inciarte and Dansby Swanson on base. As one would expect, that didn’t end well for Pineda as Freeman launched a three-run shot to right-center.

New York would take the lead back three innings later on a two-run double by Dustin Fowler off of Jose Ramirez. The 22-year-old Georgia-native just missed a home run to right field but it nevertheless scored both Mike Ford and Aaron Hicks to re-take the lead.

The Braves were relentless, however, and put up a five-spot in the bottom of the sixth inning sparked by a huge error by third baseman Miguel Andujar on a Kurt Suzuki ground ball. Two runs scored as a result, and Jace Peterson‘s bases-clearing double on a shallow fly ball just two batters later gave Atlanta an 8-4 lead.

Chris Carter homered for the second time this spring in the seventh off Ian Krol to make it 8-5, but the Braves’ wouldn’t be relinquished.

Overall, Yankees’ pitchers (Michael Pineda, Aroldis Chapman, Tommy Layne, Dellin Betances, Jonathan Holder, Bryan Mitchell, Chasen Shreve and Ben Heller) combined for nine strikeouts while surrendering eight runs (three earned).

Betances, despite pitching to just two batters, took the loss thanks to two unearned runs while left-hander Eric O’Flaherty registered the win.

Frequent Guests: 

It’s just something about the New York Yankees that opposing teams love enough to constantly have them open up new ballparks.

Here’s the list of new parks since 1960 that featured the Yankees as the visiting team in its first exhibition game (via YES Network):

  • Astrodome (Houston Astros): April 9, 1965
  • Coors Field (Colorado Rockies): March 29, 1995
  • Turner Field (Atlanta Braves): March 29, 1997
  • Enron Field (Houston Astros): March 30, 2000
  • Pac-Bell Park (San Francisco Giants): April 1, 2000
  • Marlins Park (Miami Marlins): April 1, 2012

With Friday’s contest in the books, SunTrust Park is the seventh major league baseball stadium that the Yankees helped open.

Home Sweet Home: 

Before all the youngsters report to camp, manager Joe Girardi made sure to have some of the Georgia boys come down and play near their homes.

“We brought three guys here from the Atlanta area to make sure they can play in front of their families and this ballpark,” Girardi said during his in-game interview with the YES Network.

Clint Frazier, Dustin Fowler and Rashad Crawford were the three players named by the skipper. Frazier was drafted out of Loganville High School in Loganville, Georgia, Fowler was drafted out of West Laurens High School in Dexter, Georgia and Crawford was drafted out of Mundy’s Mill High School in Clayton, Georgia.

What Sophomore Slump? 

Gary Sanchez, coming off what was a historic rise to stardom in 2016, came into Friday night’s contest with a .347/.407/.735 with five home runs and 36 total bases in 18 spring training games.

On Friday, he went 2-for-2 with a line drive single in the first, a double in the third and a run scored off of Colon.

Just Fly Away: 

Following a Gary Sanchez double with two outs in the top of the third inning, Greg Bird kept his wings flapping by smashing his eighth home run of the spring by turning on an inside pitch from Bartolo Colon.

Not only did it give the Yankees a 2-0 lead, but it was the first home run at the Braves’ new home, SunTrust Park.

What’s Next? 

Opening Day is next folks. The Yankees will head back to Tampa and open up the 2017 Major League Baseball season against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Chris Archer will get the start for the Rays and Masahiro Tanaka will get his third consecutive Opening Day start for New York. He will become just the fifth starter since 1982 to start three straight Opening Days joining CC Sabathia, Roger Clemens, Jimmy Key and Ron Guidry.