August 14, 2023 | 10:43 pm
ATLANTA — The Yankees reached the third and final leg of their road trip Monday, hoping to bounce back from a late collapse Sunday against the Marlins.
But beyond their own self-inflicted problems, it proved difficult for the Yankees to find much bounce when they ran into the brick wall that was the Braves’ lineup.
Clarke Schmidt got off to his worst start in three months, getting bombarded by a relentless offensive attack as the Yankees lost their third straight game, 11-3, to the juggernaut Braves at Truist Park.
After making 14 straight starts in which he gave up three runs or fewer, Schmidt struck out Monday for eight runs on nine hits in just 2 ¹/3 innings.
The loss dropped the Yankees (60-59) to 5 ½ games out of the final AL wild-card spot and just one game over .500 for the first time since going 18-17 on May 7.
With two games left in the series — in which they are slated to start the struggling Luis Severino and either Randy Vasquez or an opener ahead of him — the Yankees are in danger of leaving here below .500 for the first time all season.
The Braves (76-42), who returned to town early Monday morning after beating the Mets for 40 runs in a four-game weekend series, pounded out 15 hits in their first crack at the plate, sinking another nine in New York.
The Yankees actually had a pair of early leads against lefty Max Fried before the game got away.
They loaded the bases with one out in the first inning, but only scratched out a run on Harrison Bader’s RBI groundout.
Then, after Austin Riley’s tying run in the bottom of the game on an opposite fielder, the Yankees regained the lead in the top of the second when Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled to score Oswaldo Cabrera to make it 2-1. .
From there, things unfolded in a hurry.
Schmidt took the lead off in the bottom of the second before walking Marcell Ozuna. Eddie Rosario doubled down the left field line to put runners on second and third before Schmidt recorded a groundout by Orlando Arcia.
He then took an 0-2 lead against No. 9 hitter Nicky Lopez before blocking him with a cutter that Lopez ripped for a single down the third-base line and a 3-2 lead.
After Ronald Acuña Jr. walked, Michael Harris II followed with a single to left that put the Braves up 4-2 before Schmidt exited the inning.
But the wheels came off in the third inning as the Braves continued to send wave after wave at Schmidt.
With runners on second and third and one out, Rosario lined a single to right field that scored both runs to make it 6-2.
Giancarlo Stanton threw home without much of a chance to catch the runner, allowing Rosario to take second.
Arcia followed with a single up the middle that scored Rosario after Kyle Higashioka couldn’t cleanly handle the throw from Harrison Bader, which also allowed Arcia to advance to second.
Lopez then had the Braves’ fourth straight hit, another single up the middle that pushed the lead to 8-2 and knocked Schmidt out of the game.
The Yankees’ mistakes on Monday weren’t just limited to pitching.
After six runs with two outs in the top of the sixth, Bader was inexplicably singled off first base by Fried to end the inning.
After Ian Hamilton went 2 ²/3 scoreless in mop-up duty, Albert Abreu was tagged for three runs in three innings, including a two-run shot off Rosario in the eighth.
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