Results tagged ‘ Ivan Nova ’

Walks as good as hits? Not always

About the only good thing to say about Ivan Nova’s performance Tuesday in a 14-5 loss to the Orioles was that he kept the line moving in a string of walkless innings by Yankees starting pitchers. Nova may not have walked anybody, but the Orioles did not lack for base runners against the righthander.

Baltimore touched up Nova for 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings and scored seven runs. The first inning was an ill omen as the Orioles jumped out to a 3-0 lead on singles by Nick Markakis and Delmon Young, a sacrifice fly by Chris Davis and bomb of a two-run home run to center field by Adam Jones.

A successful pickoff play at second base seemed to get Nova out of a jam in the second until he gave up an RBI double to 9-hole hitter Jonathan Schoop, who is filling in for disabled third baseman Manny Machado. The Orioles stung Nova for three more runs and four more hits in the third before he was removed.

Yankees starters have gone an entire turn in the rotation — five starts — without allowing a walk, a stretch of 29 innings in which they have totaled 26 strikeouts. It is the longest such streak since a six-game period from Sept. 5-10, 2002, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Orioles did not have much use for bases on balls Tuesday as they sprayed 20 hits, including home runs by Jones, Young and Matt Wieters. The Yankees had their share of hits as well — 13 in all, including home runs by Alfonso Soriano and Kelly Johnson — but they got only one hit in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Nova’s start was far from ideal on a day when the Yankees’ bullpen was lean. Vidal Nuno had to take one for the team (7 earned runs and 8 hits in 3 1/3 innings) after Nova’s departure. He has not displayed his best stuff in both his starts. There was no sinking action on his fastball nor hard break on his curve.

On the plus side for the Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury had a double and two singles and is hitting .414 in 29 at-bats. Rookie Yangervis Solarte continues to impress. Two more doubles raised his batting average to a team-high .438. Elias reports that he is the first player since 1900 with at least six doubles through his first seven career games. Soriano also showed signs that he is coming out of his slump with a homer and a double.

Yanks keep playing ‘Who’s on first?’

With Mark Teixeira on the disabled list because of a strained right hamstring, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has to look elsewhere for a first baseman. The Yankees do not have a pure first baseman as a back-up to Teixeira. Girardi had used Kelly Johnson there for two games, the fourth and fifth at the position for Johnson in his major-league career.

Eyebrows were raised a bit in the Yankees’ clubhouse Tuesday when the lineup showed Francisco Cervelli at first base. Yes, that Francisco Cervelli, the Yankees’ back-up catcher. Cervelli had a good spring training with the bat so Girardi wants to find ways to get him in the lineup. With the Yankees having called up Austin Romine, another catcher, from Triple A Scranton, Cervelli can be used while still having the safety net of a back-up catcher available.

Cervelli, who has been taking grounders at the corner infield spots during batting practice, was realistic about his new role. He told Suzyn Waldman on her WFAN Radio pre-game show that he thought about calling Don Mattingly to get his permission to play the position the current Dodgers manager manned so well in his playing days with the Yankees.

Cervelli was tested in the second inning when Ryan Flaherty bunted to the right side for a single that gave the Orioles runners on first and second with none out. Cervelli did his job fielding the ball, but neither pitcher Ivan Nova nor second baseman Brian Roberts rushed to cover first base. Nova and Flaherty atoned for the situation by collaborating on a pickoff of Steve Lombardozzi at second base on the next play.

The Yanks have been utilizing players in various roles in the early going. The Elias Sports Bureau reports that for the first time in franchise history the Yanks did not have a player start the first six games of the season. The previous team to have that situation were the Tigers in 1980.

Bottom of lineup helps Yanks finish on top

The Yankees’ scuffling offense got a lift from the bottom of the lineup Thursday night as two players who rode the bench previously made the most noise in getting the team its first victory of the 2014 season.

Rookie Yangervis Solarte had a dream of a game in his first major-league start as he collected his first hit, run and run batted in from the 9-hole. A switch-hitter, Solarte got the start at third base against Astros lefthander Brett Oberholtzer as he is being used in a platoon with lefty-swinging Kelly Johnson, who started the first two games.

One night after getting his first sip of big-league play with a pinch-hit appearance and an inning in the field Wednesday night, Solarte went 3-for-3 with a walk Thursday night to help the Yankees toward a much-needed W. A 26-year-old veteran of eight minor-league seasons, Solare doubled and singled twice, scored two runs and drove in one.

His RBI was a bit of a gimme from the Astros on miscommunication in the infield as his pop between the mound fell among three fielders in the seventh inning. With two out, Ichiro Suzuki was running hard from second base and scored, which got Solarte into the RBI column.

Ichiro’s start in right field was something of a hunch for manager Joe Girardi and by doing so may have caused a dilemma. Suzuki had a double and a single and scored two runs. He has been relegated to bench player in a crowded outfield, but with Alfonso Soriano 0-for-12 to start the season perhaps Ichiro can work himself back into the mix.

Suzuki and Solare combined for five of the Yankees’ seven hits and all four runs. At the top of the order, Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter each had a two-out RBI hit. The middle of the order continued its chilly ways except for a sacrifice fly by Carlos Beltran, who was the designated hitter to open the spot for Ichiro and give Soriano some time in left field.

The Yankees matched the improved offense with sound defense. The infield turned four double plays behind starter Ivan Nova, who overcame five walks, two hit batters and a wild pitch over 5 2/3 innings to notch the winning decision. Nova was inconsistent, but he made key pitches when he needed them.

Adam Warren and Sean Kelley were impressive in relief stints before David Robertson began his new role as closer following the retirement of the best in the business, Mariano Rivera. It was a performance that would have made Mo proud. D-Rob retired the side in order with one strikeout to finish off a bullpen effort in which it retired the last 11 Houston batters in a row.

Yankees finally get a lead

The first inning continues to be a problem for the Yankees. For the third straight game, the Astros got on the board their first time up. Houston has outscored the Yankees, 6-0, in the first innings of the three games combined.

That the Astros got only one run in the opening frame Thursday night was actually a break for the Yankees considering Houston had four players reach base that inning against Ivan Nova. The righthander got into immediate trouble by loading the bags with none out on two singles and a hit batter.

Houston made the least of the situation by pushing only one run across on a fielder’s choice. After reloading the bases with a walk, Nova worked out of the jam by getting Marc Krauss to ground into an inning-ending double play.

The Yankees’ lineup had a slightly different look with catcher Brian McCann, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and third baseman Kelly Johnson getting the night off against a lefthander, Brett Obertholtzer. Two of the new players in the lineup, Ichiro Suzuki and Yangervis Solarte, helped construct a rally in the second inning that resulted in the Yankees getting their first lead of the season in 21 innings.

Suzuki started in right field with Carlos Beltran shifting to the designated hitter role. Alfonso Soriano, who was the DH in the first two games, played left field with Brett Gardner moving to center. Francisco Cervelli was behind the plate. Solarte got his first major-league start at third base where he is currently in a platoon with Johnson.

Ichiro got the Yankees started with a single to left. Solarte followed with a single to center for his first big-league hit that sent Suzuki to third. Gardner, back in the leadoff spot, tied the score with a ground single to right, ending a Yankees’ streak of 12 at-bats without a hit with runners in scoring position.

Derek Jeter walked on a full count to load the bases. Beltran put the Yankees ahead with a sacrifice fly to center. Now it was up to Nova to protect it.

Nova makes scoreboard watching easy

There was not too much scoreboard watching for the Yankees Saturday. The only game other than theirs against the Giants in the afternoon that involved the clubs ahead of them in the wild-card hunt was the Orioles at St. Pete where the Rays won, 5-1. The Indians, Rangers and Royals were all scheduled at night.

So the best scoreboard watching for the Yankees was their own as inning by inning Ivan Nova kept tossing zeroes at the distant cousins from San Francisco. The righthander, who has been the Yankees’ best starting pitcher in the second half, finished up with a six-hit shutout, his second complete-game blanking of the season. This one, a 6-0 final, was clutch because of the timing when the Yankees simply have to win every game they play.

“If we play like we did today, there is no reason why we can’t win all seven games we have left,” Alfonso Soriano said.

Soriano ranks right up there with Nova as the most important Yankees post the All-Star Game. Sori smacked out another home run Saturday. That gives him 17 in 52 games with the Yankees, the same total he had in 93 games with the Cubs. He also raised his RBI total to 101 in becoming only the fifth player in history to drive in 50 or more runs each for two different clubs in the same season. The others were Matt Holliday with the Athletics and Cardinals in 2009, Manny Ramirez with the Red Sox and Dodgers in 2008, Carlos Beltran with the Royals and Astros in 2004 and David Justice with the Indians and Yankees in 2000.

Similar to what Justice did for the Yanks 13 years ago; Soriano has re-ignited the team’s offense with 50 RBI in 52 games and 36 RBI in 26 games at Yankee Stadium.

“He has been special since he got here,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I think it is because he is excited to be here. He had fond memories of being here before and enjoyed it so much.”

Soriano’s 34th home run of the season overall was icing on the cake Saturday. The way Nova was pitching the three runs he got in the fourth were plenty sufficient. They came essentially from the bottom third of the order against Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong on singles by Mark Reynolds and Brendan Ryan and a walk to Chris Stewart that loaded the bases. A sacrifice fly by Ichiro Suzuki, an infield out by Alex Rodriguez and a two-out single by Robinson Cano scored all the runners. Eduardo Nunez contributed a two-run homer in the fourth, two innings before Soriano connected.

In the meantime, Nova (9-5) held the Giants to six hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in an efficient, 108-pitch effort. Nova had been the American League Pitcher of the Month for August but was 0-1 with a 7.07 ERA in his first three starts in September before Saturday’s gem. He had better command of his breaking ball and a good sinker that resulted in 14 groundouts. Splendid defense up the middle by Ryan at shortstop made this the kind of day to get ground balls.

So the Yankees pulled even with Baltimore again in the wild-card standings and would pay close attention to the night games to see where they stand heading into Sunday, which will be a special day for Mariano Rivera and they hope for the rest of the team as well.

A ground-gaining night for the Yankees

The Yankees finally had a good night Tuesday in their wild-card chase. They won and all the teams in front of them lost. They beat one of them, the Orioles, 7-5, while the Rays and Indians both were defeated. The Yanks are now two games out of the second wild card spot and a half-game behind Baltimore and Cleveland.

It was not a totally pleasant night, however. A team that has kept the medical staff working overtime since Opening Day had more bumps and bruises to report. Alex Rodriguez, who had two doubles and one RBI, came out of the game in the eighth inning because of tightness in his left hamstring. The Yankees are hoping it is not serious and that A-Rod be able at least to be the designated hitter Wednesday night.

Ivan Nova, who has pitched well despite dealing with a nagging right triceps, was lifted after six innings and 79 pitches and the Yankees trailing, 4-3. Again, the Yanks have their fingers crossed that he won’t have to come out of the rotation. Catcher Austin Romine took a nasty foul ball off his mask in the eighth inning and may have a concussion.

Before the game, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that Boone Logan has not responded to a cortisone injection and that the club will send the reliever’s medical records to Dr. James Andrews, the noted orthopedist in Pensacola, Fla., which may not be a good sign.

The Yankees’ acquisition late Tuesday night of slick-fielding shortstop Brendan Ryan from the Mariners for a player to be named could be an indication that Derek Jeter may be unavailable for an even longer period than originally anticipated.

The state of the Yankees’ bullpen with David Robertson ailing (right shoulder) is such that Mariano Rivera was called on for a four-out save. He retired all four batters he faced for his 42nd save this season and career No. 650.

It was an impressive, comeback victory for the Yankees, who were behind, 4-1, through five innings. Solo home runs by Alfonso Soriano and Mark Reynolds in the sixth made it a one-run game, and the Yankee exploded ahead with a four-run eighth. Soriano and Reynolds did some more damage that inning against Orioles reliever Kevin Gausman.

Rodriguez got the Yankees started with a double. He tweaked the hammy while sliding into the plate and scoring on a single by Robinson Cano. Soriano followed with his second home run of the game, his 15th this year for the Yankees and 32nd overall this season. Sori leads the majors in multi-homer games with seven, four of which have come in his seven weeks with the Yankees. Doubles by Curtis Granderson and Reynolds marked five straight hits for the Yanks that inning and produced another run.

Nova, who entered the game with a 2-0 record and 1.52 ERA against the Orioles this year, gave up Chris Davis’ 49th home run of the season, a two-run shot, in Baltimore’s four-run fifth, an inning that was extended because of a throwing error by shortstop Eduardo Nunez.

Adam Warren (2-2), who ended up with the winning decision, pitched a perfect seventh. Shawn Kelley hurt himself with two wild pitches that helped the Orioles to a run in the eighth before Mo came on the scene to restore order. As he told everybody last Sunday, “I’ll be there.”

Tattered pen can’t prevent Bosox onslaught

Now you know why it was so important for the Yankees to get quality starts from Ivan Nova and Andy Pettitte in the first two games of the four-game series against the Red Sox. The Yankees were relying on the back end of the bullpen to get them through the third game. After Nova had his briefest outing (four innings) Thursday night and Pettitte turned an 8-3 lead over to the bullpen Friday night with the relievers blowing both games, the Yankees had to turn to a trio of late-season Triple A call-ups to navigate through one of the toughest lineups in the league.

The result naturally was disastrous. David Huff, who had pitched well in relief since Aug. 16 (two earned runs in 16 innings) termed his 3 1/3-inning outing Saturday “terrible.” No one would dispute it. He hit just about every bat in the Boston order and allowed nine earned runs and eight hits, including two home runs. Jim Miller, summoned after Scranton’s season was over, could not stem the tide as the Red Sox dusted him off for three runs and three hits, one a home run, in 1 1/3 innings. Only Brett Marshall, who entered the game with the Yankees down 12-3 in the fifth, was the one bright light with 4 1/3 serviceable innings in which he yielded one run and three hits.

The Yankees’ offense put up a good fight in the 13-9 loss. Their 12 hits were spread among nine players. They cut the deficit to three runs at one point. The problem was that point was the eighth inning. When Mike Napoli took Marshall deep in the ninth, somehow it seemed to shut the door. Napoli, who has feasted off Yankees pitching all year (.404, four doubles, seven home runs, 23 RBI in 12 games and 57 at-bats), is 7-for-12 (.583) with a double, three homers and eight RBI in this series.

The Red Sox came to town after slugging eight home runs in one game and have continued the power surge with eight homers in the series. Boston starter John Lackey, who has had the worst run support for an American League starting pitcher this year, could not seem to handle the burst of offense but ended up with the victory despite giving up seven runs in 5 1/3 innings.

The Yankees knew coming in that the bullpen is in tatters. David Robertson will be out another several days because of right shoulder tendinitis. Boone Logan has an inflamed left biceps that will shelve him for at least three days, and Shawn Kelley has been unavailable due to a strained right triceps.

On top of that, the Yankees lost shortstop Derek Jeter for who knows how long. Manager Joe Girardi pulled the captain when he saw him running tentatively on his left leg. Jeter also had trouble planting his surgical left ankle in the sixth and threw the ball past first baseman Lyle Overbay on an infield single by Jonny Gomes. DJ was sent for a CT scan, which the Yankees said was negative. Nevertheless, they sent the results to Charlotte, N.C., surgeon Dr. Robert Anderson, who performed the operation on Jeter’s ankle last October.

Let’s be honest, the Yankees were going to have a tough time trying to catch the first-place Red Sox in the AL East. The Bombers were eight games behind when the series began, but their spirits were high as they hoped to do their rivals some damage. The Red Sox have pushed the Yankees 11 games back in historic if somewhat dubious fashion. The Elias Sports Bureau reported that this is the first time in franchise history that the Yankees lost three games in a row when they scored at least seven runs in each game.

It has been clear for some time that the Yankees’ only path to the postseason is through a wild-card berth. Thanks to a current bumpy stretch by the Rays, the Yanks remain in contention there, but their losses to Boston have allowed the Orioles, Indians and even the Royals to encroach their space.

Considering the state of the bullpen, Hiroki Kuroda will have to be awfully good Sunday to avoid an embarrassing sweep at Yankee Stadium to the Red Sox.

It’s a different month for Nova

Ivan Nova was the American League Pitcher of the Month for August. He is off to a rocky start in contention for AL Pitcher of the Month for September.

The righthander, who was 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA last month, made it through only four innings Thursday night and left the game trailing due to Will Middlebrooks’ home run into the second deck in left field that unlocked a 2-2 score.

So much for all that excitement that was forecast about the Yankees-Red Sox showdown. It was snore, snore for a couple of innings. Things got lively in the third inning, however, as Yankee Stadium began to rock ‘n roll like the good, old Yankees-Red Sox days.

Boston broke the silence in the top of the inning with two runs off Nova, who had trouble keeping his fastball down in the strike zone or getting his curveball over. Ryan Lavarnway and Middlebrooks reached him for singles, and Jacoby Ellsbury put the Red Sox on the board with a double over the fence to right-center.

The Yankees kept the infield back and conceded another run when Shane Victorino grounded out. Dustin Pedroia did, too, but after walking David Ortiz intentionally Nova walked Daniel Nava quite unintentionally on four pitches to load the bases. Nova went to a full count on Mike Napoli before getting him on a called third strike.

After the top half of that inning awoke Red Sox fans, it was Yankees fans’ turn in the bottom half against Jake Peavy, who had lost all four of his previous starts against the Bombers. Ichiro Suzuki got the Yankees’ first hit on a single to center and then promptly stole second base. Chris Stewart made the second out on a popup, but Brett Gardner kept the inning alive with a bunt single.

Peavy got himself in trouble with a walk to Derek Jeter that filled the bases for hot-hitting Robinson Cano, who whacked the first pitch off the wall in right field for a two-run double that tied the score. The Red Sox put one of those exaggerated shifts on Alfonso Soriano, who hit into it and flied out to left field.

Nova’s brief outing was a decided disappointment. The Yankees had been counting on him to continue his hot hand and get them off to a good start in the four-game set against the Red Sox. Nova had pitched into the seventh inning and higher in 11 of his previous 12 starts but ran his pitch count up to nearly 100 (96) through the fourth.

Preston Claiborne, recently recalled from Triple A Scranton, did not help matter when he faced five batters in the fifth inning and got none of them out. Shane Victorino started Claiborne off with a home run to left. Pedroia and Ortiz followed with singles before Nava walked to fill the bases. An infield single by Napoli and an infield out brought in two more runs.

An august August for Nova

The Yankees would love for Ivan Nova to duplicate his August success in September. He will get his first start of this month Thursday night opposite Boston’s Jake Peavy in the opener of a four-game series against the Red Sox.

Last month was indeed august for Nova. The righthander had a 4-0 record with a 2.08 ERA and was a very deserving winner of the American League Pitcher of the Month Award, the first for a Yankees hurler since CC Sabathia in July 2011. Nova has been a key ingredient in the Yankees’ turnaround in recent weeks.

Among league leaders for August, Nova was first in ERA, tied for first in victories and starts (six) and tied for third in innings pitched (43 1/3) in which he walked 12 batters and struck out 31. Opponents batted .250 against him with only one home run – the fewest allowed per nine innings in the AL during the month.

Nova began his honored month with seven shutout innings at San Diego in a game the Yankees won, 3-0. He held the Padres to four hits with eight strikeouts. In his next start Aug. 9 against the Tigers at Yankee Stadium, Nova limited Detroit to one run on eight hits with seven strikeouts in eight innings but got a no-decision in a 4-3, 10-inning victory.

In defeating the Angels, 11-3, at the Stadium Aug. 14, Nova became the first Yankees pitcher to throw at least seven innings and allow three or fewer earned runs over seven consecutive starts – a run that began July 5 – since Sabathia in 2011 and the first Yankees righthander to do it since David Cone in 1998.

Nova capped it off with his first career complete-game shutout, a 2-0 three-hitter against the Orioles on the last day of the month. He walked one batter, hit two and struck out five.

Nova does just what the skipper ordered

In assessing the explosive offense after Friday night’s 8-5 victory, Yankees manager Joe Girardi added, “And let’s get the pitchers right, too. We have to click on all cylinders, basically. One night, we might score eight runs. The next night, we may not. And that’s when the pitchers have got to pick up the hitters.”

Give the skipper a swami turban.

Ivan Nova’s three-hit, complete-game shutout Saturday was just the kind of performance the manager had talked about. For a while there, it looked as if the Yankees’ run in the first inning on doubles by Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano off Scott Feldman was all they would get before Cano made the score 2-0 with a home run into the right field bleachers off lefthander Troy Patton in the eighth.

Nova was certainly uplifted by Cano’s 25th homer of the year. He hoped Girard would let him go out for the ninth inning and not be tempted to bring in Mariano Rivera. The second run helped.

“I told the guys I don’t want a 1-0 game; get me another run,” Nova said. “I’m happy that Joe gave me the opportunity.”

Nova earned the chance to finish this one out. He walked one batter and hit two but allowed only three hits. The third was a leadoff single in the ninth inning by Nate McLouth on a chopper to the mound that Nova knocked down but could not recover in time to throw him out. And Girardi still stayed with Nova.

“If it had been a walk, it might have been different,” Girardi said. “But he got a ground ball. And what we needed after that was another ground ball.”

Nova did not get another grounder, however. McLouth getting on added drama to the situation because the third hitter due up that inning was the major-league home run leader, Chris Davis. One swing could have tied the score. After Manny Machado flied out to left, Davis had the Yankee Stadium crowd gasping when he hit a towering fly ball to right field.

That was when it was discovered that Ichiro Suzuki is pretty good at playing possum, which I though was strictly an American trait. Ichiro did not move at first, an indication that the ball was behind him and in the seats. Then after a tantalizingly long moment, he held his glove up over his head and made the catch on the warning track. Suzuki knew he was playing with the crowd.

“Humans want to come from a bad place to a good place,” he said. “Of course, you have to make the play.”

Unlike many of the 42,836 in attendance, Nova didn’t think the ball was going out. The look on Davis’ face told him that, a look that said, “I didn’t get it.” Catcher Chris Stewart said Davis hit the ball off the end of his bat, another good sign of the sinking movement on Nova’s fastball.

There was still another dangerous hitter to go, but Adam Jones’ line drive ended up in the glove of shortstop Derek Jeter.

“He picked up the hitters and the bullpen,” Girardi said of Nova, who won his fourth consecutive start in improving his record to 8-4 with a 2.88 ERA.

With CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda showing signs of fatigue and Phil Hughes winless in nearly two months, Nova has been the rotation’s savior in the second half. The Yankees will go for the series sweep Sunday afternoon behind Andy Pettitte, who is also on a winning streak with three straight victories.

“The key to me for Nova is that he is keeping his fastball down in the zone,” Girardi said. “He has a good curve, but it is even better because he can keep hitters off balance with that fastball down in the zone.”

Girardi also gave Nova credit for “finding himself” during his time in the minor leagues last year and this following his 16-victory season in 2011. Nova agreed.

“I went to Tampa where I worked to do the things I needed to do to prove what kind of pitcher I can be,” Nova said.

It comes down to maturity. Nova was a pretty green kid when he surprised people in 2011. The league catches up to young pitchers if they are not careful, and Nova took his lumps. Saturday, he showed what kind of pitcher he can be.

It was an uplifting day for the Yankees, who jumped over Baltimore into third place in the American League East after a 47-game period since July 7 in fourth place and also positioned themselves ahead of Cleveland in the wild-card chase where they still trail Tampa Bay and Oakland, but as Girardi pointed out, “It sure beats four or five” teams ahead of them.

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