Results tagged ‘ Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award ’
Watching the Yankees come back for a 4-3 victory Wednesday night over the Diamondbacks brought to mind the 2001 World Series.
No, the Yankees’ late-inning heroics in this game came nowhere near matching those remarkable Series Games 4 and 5 when two-run, ninth-inning home runs by Tino Martinez one night and Scott Brosius the next saved the Bombers from oblivion and headed them in the direction of miraculous, extra-inning victories. True, Arizona prevailed by winning the next two games in Phoenix to cop the World Series, but those final two games at Yankee Stadium that year were a tremendous memory.
These are much different teams today and the venue was merely an inter-league series not one for a championship. There was one constant, of course, and that was Mariano Rivera, the only player from that World Series who was on the field Wednesday night (Andy Pettitte was in the Yankees dugout and Matt Williams on the Diamondbacks’ coaching lines, however).
Unlike that Game 7 of the 2001 World Series that still haunts him, Rivera notched the save Wednesday night in preserving the lead that Travis Hafner’s pinch home run in the eighth inning off righthander David Hernandez gave the Yankees and CC Sabathia on an otherwise frustrating night.
Sabathia did not have his best stuff, except what was in his head and heart. The lefthander gave up two first-inning runs on an opposite-field homer by Paul Goldschmidt. After a leadoff triple in the fifth by Josh Wilson, who scored on a sacrifice fly by A.J. Pollock, Sabathia allowed only one base runner and no more runs through the eighth.
D-backs lefthander Wade Miley gave the Yankees fits for six innings, limiting them to two hits, one walk and a hit batter. Miley, who finished second to Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper for the National League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award last year, got two outs in the seventh inning as well, book-ending a single by Ben Francisco, his first hit with the Yankees.
A double down the left field line by Brennan Boesch served to unsettle Miley, who proceeded to walk the 8-9 hitters, Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix, the latter forcing in a run. Brett Gardner, who is starting to heat up, got the Yankees even with a two-run single off lefthander Tony Sipp.
Hernandez retired the first two Yankees hitters in the eighth, but Hafner, batting for Francisco, clocked the first pitch he saw into the right field bleachers for his fourth home run. It was up to Mo to get the final three outs in the ninth for what became an exhilarating victory.
Despite a noted lack in velocity, Sabathia had a sound outing to improve to 3-1. He threw 31 pitches in the first inning but only 77 pitches over his remaining seven. CC is 11-2 with a 2.83 ERA over his past 16 inter-league starts covering 111 1/3 innings and is 10-1 with a 2.97 ERA in 16 career starts and 106 innings against NL West opponents.
After stumbling out of the game with a 1-4 record, the Yankees have won seven of their past eight games, thanks in large part to the rotation that has pitched to a 2.58 ERA in 52 1/3 innings during that span. Yankees hitters are batting a combined .309 with 17 doubles and 14 home runs and have outscored the opposition, 51-19, during that stretch.
Rivera recorded his 70th career save in inter-league competition in 77 opportunities, extending his major-league record. Mo has converted each of his last 28 regular-season save chances at home against the NL dating to June 14, 2001 without allowing a run in any of those games.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi had a surprise announcement before the Yankees’ final series of the regular season Monday night against the Red Sox. The statistics sheet listed Ivan Nova as the Yankees’ starter for Tuesday night’s game, but Girardi informed the press that David Phelps will make the start instead.
The move was not based on an injury. There is nothing wrong with Nova physically. There has been a great deal wrong with Nova’s pitching, especially in the second half. In truth, Nova has not been the pitcher he was in 2011 when he was a certifiable American League/Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award candidate.
Nova’s earned run average has been below 4.00 only once since April 20. It climbed to 5.02 after his latest outing, a 6-0 loss last Thursday night at Toronto when Nova gave up four earned runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings. It continued a downward slide by the righthander, who has allowed 194 hits in 170 1/3 innings.
Since returning from a right rotator cuff injury, Nova is 1-1 with a 6.23 ERA and 15 hits allowed in 13 innings. He is 2-5 with a 7.05 ERA and 75 hits allowed in 60 innings in the second half.
Phelps, on the other hand, has been the more reliable performer. The rookie righthander is 4-4 with a 3.34 ERA for the season, including 3-1 with a 3.57 ERA and 41 hits allowed in 53 innings in the second half. As a starter, Phelps is 2-2 with a 3.81 ERA with 46 hits allowed, 21 walks and 50 strikeouts in 52 innings. Opponents are batting .240 in the second half against Phelps and .309 against Nova.
What this move essentially means is that Nova is out of the Yankees’ rotation for the rest of the year. The regular season ends after Wednesday’s schedule of games, unless there is a playoff for the AL East title, which the Yankees hope to avoid by running the table against the Red Sox while the Orioles lose at least one of the three games to the Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The Yankees caught a few breaks toward that end Monday night. Mark Teixeira returned to their lineup after missing the past 20 games and 30 of the past 31 because of a left calf strain. Boston was without its table setters, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, a couple of flat-out Yankee killers. Pedroia apparently has a hand injury. No one seems to know what is wrong with Ellsbury, who missed six games last week with no explanation.
Considering what the American League East standings look like, the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry could use a little boost. It got it Friday night with Ichiro Suzuki’s first game at Yankee Stadium wearing the pinstripes. The sellout crowd of 49,571 responded to every move the hit maker made during the game, another sound drubbing of Boston, 10-3. The Yankees are 6-1 this year against the Red Sox, who are last in the division and trail the Bombers by 11 1/2 games.
“Usually when I came here [with the Mariners], the fans were all over me the whole game,” Ichiro said. “But the fans tonight were awesome. They cheered for me all night. I hope that continues.”
Right from the start, Suzuki enjoyed the fans’ reaction. The Bleacher Creatures’ roll call did present a problem in his mind, but he was able to doff his cap in response.
“I wanted to take my hat off and acknowledge them,” he said. “But I was worried that if I tipped my cap while a ball was hit to me and I couldn’t catch it that those cheers would turn to boos.”
Suzuki’s contributions were modest, but they were there. He had one hit in four at-bats, a single in the fourth inning before Russell Martin homered. Ichiro was also on base in the eighth after hitting into a fielder’s choice and scored another run on Curtis Granderson’s grand slam. Raul Ibanez also homered in the first inning with a runner on first base.
That was the difference in the game. Both sides hit three home runs, but the trio socked by the Sox off Phil Hughes were all with the bases empty – Dustin Pedroia in the first, Carl Crawford in the third and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the fourth.
“You can usually live with those,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of the solo home runs.
The long ball has haunted Hughes all season. He gave up home runs in each of his first 12 starts of the season, but that pace slowed. The three home runs Hughes allowed Friday night equaled the total the righthander had allowed over his previous five starts. For the season, Hughes has given up 25 home runs in 121 1/3 innings.
All those home runs might have given Suzuki the idea that perhaps he, too, might take advantage of the Stadium’s cozy dimensions in right field. Anyone who has witnessed Ichiro taking batting practice is aware he can go deep, but just like Wade Boggs he has been fearful that he might ruin his stroke by trying to hit home runs.
Suzuki has a great respect for the game. He has been to the National Baseball Hall of Fame four times. When I contacted him in my role with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in 2001 to notify him that he was voted the AL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award winner, he answered the call from an office in the Cooperstown, N.Y., museum while on a visit there.
So it was hardly a surprise to hear him talk about one of baseball’s greatest rivalries.
“For a long time, the Yankees organization expects to win, and the players are accustomed to winning,” Suzuki said. “That is the mentality here. To have played my first game here with them against the Red Sox was special. There is an expression in Japan that on nights like this you grab your cheek to see if it is real and that you are not dreaming.”
In the United States, we pinch ourselves in the same situation. The cultures came together for Ichiro Suzuki Friday night.
Sheesh! I cannot leave this team for a minute. I was in Cooperstown, N.Y., the past four days for the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, and the Yankees end up losing each day to the Athletics by one run. What a stunner.
Okay, let’s settle down. Not even the Yankees could have stayed as sizzling as they have been in recent weeks. Credit Oakland with some first-rate pitching and defense against the Yankees, who continue to have trouble hitting with runners in scoring position that caught up with them against the A’s.
Now it is off to Seattle where they will welcome a new teammate. Ichiro Suzuki will walk from the home clubhouse to the visitors’ quarters at Safeco Field. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman pulled off the deal for one of the game’s hitting machines at the cost of only two 25-year-old pitchers, D. J. Mitchell and Danny Farquar.
With Brett Gardner out for the remainder of the season and Nick Swisher out of the lineup in recent days with a strained left hip flexor, the Yankees were in need of outfield help. They have designated DeWayne Wise for assignment to make room for Ichiro, who burst on the American scene in 2001 by winning both the American League Most Valuable Player and Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Awards, a feat accomplished by only one other player, Red Sox center fielder Fred Lynn in 1975.
The question of the day, naturally, is how much does Ichiro have left at the age of 38? He was a magnificent player in his first 10 seasons in the majors as the first Japanese-born position player. He piled up one 200-plus hit season after another. That streak ended last year when he fell under .300 (.272) and 200 hits (184) for the first time. In 95 games and 402 at-bats this year, Ichiro has 105 hits and is batting .261.
The hope, of course, is that Suzuki will be rejuvenated by getting onto to a contender and that he will be helped by making hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium his home over pitcher-friendly Safeco.
Howard Lincoln, the Mariners’ chief executive officer, said late Monday afternoon that Suzuki had recently requested a trade.
“On behalf of our ownership group and everyone in the Seattle Mariners organization, I thank Ichiro for the great career he has had here in Seattle,” Armstrong said in a statement. “Several weeks ago, Ichiro Suzuki, through his long time agent, Tony Attanasio, approached [team president] Chuck Armstrong and me to ask that the Mariners consider trading him. Ichiro knows that the club is building for the future. He felt that what was best for the team was to be traded to another club and give our younger players an opportunity to develop.
“Ichiro will be missed. He owns a long list of Major League Baseball and Mariners club records, has earned many prestigious awards, and in my opinion, he will someday be a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. I know that I speak for all of Ichiro’s fans, here in the Pacific Northwest, around this country and also throughout Japan, in wishing him and his wife Yumiko the very best as he continues his baseball career with the Yankees.”
Suzuki is a .322 career hitter in the U.S. with 2,533 hits, including 295 doubles, 79 triples and 99 home runs. He has scored 1,176 runs and driven in 633. Ichiro has a .366 career on-base average with 513 walks, plus 438 stolen bases. Since his American debut 11 years ago, he has 330 more hits than any player.
Ichiro will become the sixth Japan-born player in Yankees franchise history, joining Hideki Irabu (1997-99), Hideki Matsui (2003-09), Kei Igawa (2007-08), Hiroki Kuroda (2012) and Ryota Igarashi (2012).
Suzuki has won two AL batting titles (.350 in 2001, .372 in 2004) and has led or tied for the major-league lead in hits seven times (2001, ’04, ‘06-10), which is tied with Ty Cobb and Pete Rose for the most such seasons. Ichiro is the only player to do it in five consecutive years. He finished first or second in his every season from 2001 to 2010 and placed ninth in 2011.
In 2004, Suzuki totaled 262 hits to set the all-time modern era (since 1900) single-season hits record. Along with his 242 hits in 2001 and 238 hits in 2007, Ichiro owns three of the top 20 single-season hits totals in major-league history. He had at least 200 hits in 10 straight seasons from 2001 through 2010, tying Rose for the most 200-hit seasons in a major-league career.
Suzuki’s 2,533 career hits in the States are the most by any player through his first 12 seasons. At the conclusion of all but one of his 12 seasons, Ichiro has held the distinction of having more hits to start a career than any other major leaguer. The lone exception occurred after his third season, when only Lloyd Waner (678) had more hits than Suzuki’s 662 (according to data at http://www.baseball-reference.com).
Ichiro has made 1,790 starts as an outfielder (1,525 in right field and 265 in center field) and has a career fielding percentage of .992 with just 33 errors in 4,181 total chances. He has won 10 Gold Gloves for fielding. The Yankees now have two of the six outfielders to have won 10 or more Gold Gloves. The other is 10-time Gold Glove winner Andruw Jones. Willie Mays and Robertp Clemente won 12 each, and Al Kaline and Junior Griffey 10 apiece.
Prior to playing in the majors, Suzuki spent nine seasons (1992-2000) with the Orix Blue Wave in Japan’s Pacific League was named the league’s MVP three times (1994-96). He hit .353 and led the Pacific League in batting average for seven straight years (1994-2000).
It is as impressive a resume as a player can have. The question remains, how much is left in that tank? We shall find out.
Mariano Rivera did not get the chance for a record-tying 601st save because the Yankees could not grab a lead in extra innings before the Mariners won it, 2-1, in the 12th on a home run by Rodriguez off Cory Wade, who suffered his first loss in six decisions with the Yankees. Wade had pitched the Yankees out of a jam in the 11th. Yankees pitchers limited Seattle to two hits in 24 at-bats (.083) with runners in scoring position, so it would take a solo home run for the M’s to win.Ivan Nova’s personal, 11-game winning streak remained intact Wednesday night at Seattle, but for the second straight start the rookie righthander did not extend it. Nova was hung with another no-decision and had only himself to blame.
The only run Nova gave up was on a two-out, two-strike wild pitch in the fourth inning that allowed Mike Carp to score from third base. Nova had a problem really with only one batter, shortstop Luis Rodriguez, who is struggling to hit .180 in nearly 100 at-bats but nailed Nova twice for doubles to the gap in right-center, the second of which threatened to put the pitcher in a position to suffer a losing decision.
David Robertson bailed out Nova at that point with yet another impressive rescue mission. Rodriguez doubled leading off the eighth and was sacrificed to third. After Nova walked Ichiro Suzuki intentionally, Robertson entered the game and retired Kyle Seager on a fly to left that was too shallow for Rodriguez to attempt to score. Robertson then caught impressive rookie Dustin Ackley looking at a called third strike to keep the score 1-1.
The Yankees had tied the score in the seventh on the only mistake by Mariners starter Jason Vargas, who was working on a two-hit shutout. The lefthander lost that and the lead when Nick Swisher slammed his 23rd home run to left. The Yankees had only two other hits off Vargas, who walked one batter and struck out six.
Nova stayed at 15-4 with a 7 1/3-inning stint in which he allowed five hits and four walks with five strikeouts in lowering his ERA to 3.81. But his Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award candidacy has taken a hit with his failure to win either of his past two starts.
Derek Jeter’s ground single to left field in the sixth inning Wednesday night at Seattle was his 150th hit of the season. It marked his 16th consecutive season of 150 or more hits, which tied him with Pete Rose for the second longest such streak. The only player in history to get 150 or more hits in more consecutive seasons was Henry Aaron with 17.
Mariano Rivera did not get the chance for a record-tying 601st save because the Yankees could not grab a lead in extra innings before the Mariners won it, 2-1, in the 12th on a home run by Rodriguez off Cory Wade, who suffered his first loss in six decisions with the Yankees. Wade had pitched the Yankees out of a jam in the 11th. Yankees pitchers limited Seattle to two hits in 24 at-bats (.083) with runners in scoring position in the series, so it would take a solo home run for the M’s to win.
CC Sabathia didn’t become a 20-game winner Saturday night, but he kept the Yankees in the game for six innings by limiting the Angels to one run despite allowing eight hits, four walks and a hit batter.
It was not vintage Sabathia except when there were runners on base. The Angels left 11 runners on over his six innings. Sabathia worked out of bases-loaded jams in the first and sixth innings. Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award candidate Mark Trumbo gave CC fits with three hits, but he didn’t drive in any runs or score any.
The Angels got to CC in the second inning after two were out on successive doubles by Jeff Mathis and Maicer Izturis. Sabathia didn’t have a single 1-2-3 inning in his 119-pitch effort. He was at both his best and worst in the sixth. He gave up a leadoff double and then hit a batter who was up there trying to sacrifice.
After an actual sacrifice by Mathis, Izturis was walked intentionally to load the bases. Sabathia got ground balls to third baseman Eric Chavez from the next two batters to get out of trouble and leave the game with the Yankees still behind by only 1-0. It wasn’t a pretty outing, but it was a brave one from the staff ace who did not have his best stuff.
That deficit was short-lived, however, as the Angels climbed all over Hector Noesi in the seventh to spread their lead to 5-0 on the way to a 6-0 final. A hit batter and walk got the inning going, and unlike Sabathia Noesi could not stop the bleeding. Plate protecting on 0-2, Mike Trout hit a duck-snort single to right for one run. A long sacrifice fly by Erick Aybar got the second run home, and Mathis, who went into the game batting .176, smoked a two-run home run to left.
It was another case of the Yankees’ secondary relief crops failing to keep them close on a night when Rafael Soriano and David Robertson were unavailable out of the pen because of extended use lately.
But the real culprits were Yankees hitters. After two games in which they were held in check by the Orioles’ bullpen, the Yankees were stymied by an Angels’ starter for the second consecutive game. They had a chance to get Sabathia an early lead when Derek Jeter led off the game with a double, but he was stranded.
Dan Haren followed the brilliant start Friday night by Jered Weaver with a gem of his own. After a leadoff single in the second by Jesus Montero, Haren got 19 straight outs before Chavez broke the string with a one-out single in the eighth. Jorge Posada, back behind the plate when Russell Martin came out of the game with a bruised right thumb, singled to put runners on first and third.
The rally ended embarrassingly as Eduardo Nunez stopped running after he hit a liner to Aybar. The shortstop dropped the ball but recovered quickly to start a double play while Nunez stood and watched. Since stepping off the plane in Anaheim, Calif., the Yankees have totaled one run and seven hits in 18 innings.
Haren went the distance for the fourth time this year and notched his third shutout. While the Yankees have lost four games in a row, they have maintained a 2 ½-game lead over Boston in the American League East because the Red Sox have also lost four straight.
In the meantime, the Rays have moved to four games of the Red Sox in the loss column for the AL wild card. It is also heating up in the AL West as the Angels trail the Rangers by one game in the loss column and 1 ½ in the standings.
There seemed to have been a fade in the effectiveness of Bartolo Colon once the dog days of August arrived. There was a time when August was Colon’s month. Prior to this season, he was 27-11 in the month and still had the fourth highest winning percentage in August of any active pitcher heading into Tuesday night’s game.
Perhaps it was inevitable that things would change this year. After all, Colon is 38 years old and pitching with a surgically-repaired right shoulder that after a year of relative inactivity has logged more than 130 innings. He didn’t win again Tuesday night, but he pitched better than the numbers would indicate (6 1/3 innings, 8 hits, 5 earned runs, 5 strikeouts, 2 home runs).
What was so good about all that? Well, both home runs were solos because he did not walk a batter, which is always a plus, and two of the runs scored after he left the game in the seventh as Boone Logan gave up a double to pinch hitter Scott Sizemore. That does not absolve Colon, who still must prove he belongs in the rotation once the Yankees get to September.
He was rolling along there for a while and looking very much like the Yankees’ No. 2 starter behind American League Cy Young Award candidate CC Sabathia. But in his four starts since his last victory July 30, Colon is 0-2 with a 5.73 ERA in 22 innings in which he has allowed 26 hits, including six home runs.
I have felt for a while that the Yankees might have been better served with Colon pitching out of the bullpen to keep his innings from getting out of hand and to have him throw as hard as he can (which can get up to 97 mph) over short doses. Colon stepped up big time, however, when Phil Hughes stumbled out of the gate and had to go on the disabled list with arm fatigue.
When Hughes returned two months later, Colon was a stalwart in the rotation, and the Yankees chose to option Ivan Nova to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. After a month away, Nova has come back to pitch himself into the AL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year conversation, so the rotation has gotten mighty crowded.
The Yankees will stay in a six-man rotation through Saturday’s dual-admission doubleheader at Camden Yards. After that, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has a decision to make in slicing his rotation down to five. My vote would be to use Colon out of the pen. It would not be a demotion in any way.
Considering the recent troubles of A.J. Burnett, a good long man in the pen is a priority. Colon was willing to work as a reliever when he signed with the Yankees. He is happy enough to be back in the major leagues that I believe he would accept this assignment willingly and would greatly improve the makeup of the staff.
Ivan Nova just might be running away with the American League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award if he had not had to spend most of the month of July in the minor leagues because of the Yankees’ pitching logjam. Nova ran his winless streak to 10 starts with Sunday’s 3-0 victory over the Twins that completed a 5-2 trip for the Yanks, who are proving to be true road warriors.
The righthander’s 13 victories in 17 decisions are the most for rookie pitchers, and seven shutout innings brought his ERA below 4.00 at 3.97. This was a scoreless game for five innings. Nova was most impressive in working out of tight situations.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Twins had runners on second and third with none out as the result of a single by Jim Thome and a double by Danny Valencia on a ball that fell between center fielder Curtis Granderson and right fielder Nick Swisher on a mix-up of coverage. Nova met the challenge by striking out Rene Tusoni and Matt Tolbert and getting Drew Butera on a grounder to first base. Minnesota had runners on first and second with two out in the sixth, but Nova stranded them with a strikeout of Thome on a nasty slider.
Nova’s victory total is the most for a Yankees rookie pitcher since reliever Ron Davis was 14-2 in 1979 and most for a Yankees rookie starter since Doc Medich was 14-9 in 1973. Neither was a Rookie of the Year winner, but Nova is a firm candidate this year. His competition comes from fellow starting pitchers Jeremy Hellickson of the Rays and Michael Pineda of the Mariners, reliever Jordan Walden and first baseman Mark Trumbo, both of the Angels. Nova has not lost since June 3 at Anaheim. In 10 starts since, he is 9-0 with a 3.59 ERA.
On a day when the Yankees were hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position, they used their legs to get Nova some runs. After leading off the sixth inning with a double, Robinson Cano sped to third after a flyout to left by Swisher and was able to score on Russell Martin’s fly ball to center.
The next inning, Granderson ran out every base of his 35th home run, the third inside-the-parker of his career and the first in the two-year-old Target Field. Granderson showed what can happen when a player runs hard. He could have cruised into third with a triple but he never let up so that when the Twins botched the relay he saw third base coach Rob Thompson’s green light and beat the play to the plate.
Mark Teixeira followed with a more conventional home run on a liner into the left field stands. His 34th kept Tex one behind the team leader, Granderson, who tied the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista for the league lead.
The Yankees are doing an excellent job of navigating their way through an August schedule that has them on the road nearly three-quarters of the time. They are 10-4 away from Yankee Stadium this month and 37-24 for the year.
The Royals are to Ivan Nova what the Red Sox are to CC Sabathia. One slight difference is that Nova has at least one victory over Kansas City while CC is 0-4 against Boston. Nova’s victory came Tuesday night despite what was a very shaky outing for the rookie righthander. His teammates twice erased two-run deficits only for Nova to allow the Royals to stay close.
KC made it a one-run game in the sixth and had the potential tying run at second base with one out when Yankees manager Joe Girardi went to the bullpen. Effective relief work by Boone Logan and a dazzling play at first base by Mark Teixeira kept Nova in position to run his personal winning streak to eight games.
Nova was battered for seven runs and nine hits with two wild pitches in 5 1/3 innings. He lost a 3-2 lead and nearly squandered an 8-5 advantage as well before Logan and Teixeira did their jobs in the sixth. Nova leads the American League in run support for a starting pitcher, and the Yankees were well on his side again this time. Robinson Cano drove in four runs, three on a water-splashing drive into the Kauffman Stadium fountains to climax a 12-pitch at-bat against Royals lefthander Danny Duffy that ended the rookie’s night in the fourth inning.
The Yankees pushed Duffy to 90 pitches in three innings plus five batters but had to sweat a bit when Nova gave back two runs in the sixth. After Logan, Girardi went to his 7-8-9-inning team of Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera to close it out and thrust the Yankees into first place in the AL East by a half-game over the Red Sox, who split a doubleheader against the Rays. The four relievers combined to retire the last 11 batters of the game.
Although his ERA took a beating and bloated to 4.21, Nova improved his record to 12-4 in becoming the first Yankees rookie pitcher to win a dozen games since Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez was also 12-4 in 1998. Nova has emerged as a Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award candidate despite having pitched most of July at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as he got caught in a numbers crunch when Phil Hughes was activated off the disabled list.
Nova’s worst outing of the season was May 12 against the Royals at Yankee Stadium when he allowed eight runs (four earned) and 10 hits in three innings of an 11-5 loss. Nova is 1-1 with an 11.88 ERA in 8 1/3 innings against the Royals and 11-3 with a 3.62 ERA in 117 2/3 innings against everybody else. Kansas City’s young lineup has had no trouble making solid contact off Nova. They struck for two runs after two were out in the first inning and hit for the cycle in a three-run third. Nova couldn’t even toy with Jeff Francoeur, one of the game’s notorious free swingers, who had a double and two singles and knocked in two runs.
One of the most positive signs for the Yankees this year is how they have fared against starting pitchers opposing them for the first time in a career. Last year, the Yankees were 5-9 in those situations. Tuesday night’s victory over Duffy made the Yankees 14-4 in such cases this year, including the past nine occasions and 12 of 13.
Joining Cano in another Yankees hit parade were Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez and Brett Gardner with two hits apiece. Jeter and Russell Martin had two RBI apiece, and Cano, Gardner, Teixeira and Curtis Granderson each scored two runs in a well-balanced attack.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi had said before Wednesday night’s game that Ivan Nova was not pitching for his spot in the rotation. “He has been one of our best five guys,” Girardi said. “The last three months, especially, he has been really, really good for us.”
So there you have it. Nova is one of the five best starters, so he is going nowhere but to his next start. Girardi is going with a six-man rotation these days but will return to a five-man shortly, so one of the pitchers will be the odd man out, but it won’t be Nova.
After being basically guaranteed a spot in the Yankees’ crowded rotation, Nova went out and pitched another beauty. A home run by Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos was the only smear on Nova’s record until the seventh inning when he gave up two singles and two walks without retiring a batter.
Rafael Soriano did a nice job cleaning up Nova’s mess and leaving him in position for a winning decision, which has been a regular occurrence for the righthander who has not lost since June 3. Nova is riding a personal seven-game winning streak during which he has pitched to a 3.10 ERA in 52 1/3 innings and pushed his season mark to 11-4 with a 3.85 ERA that is sure to attract some attention to voters for the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award in the American League.
Nova did not strike out a batter in the 9-3 victory over the Angels but essentially gave Yankees outfielders the night off. Of the 18 outs Nova registered, 16 came in the infield. The busiest fielder was Mark Teixeira, who had 12 putouts and one assist at first base. Nova had two putouts and two assists himself.
The Yankees beat a pitcher making his major league debut for the first time in seven starts since 2004 in treating Angels rookie Garrett Richards harshly. Curtis Granderson connected off him twice for home runs. Robinson Cano got three-quarters of the cycle, falling a single short. His 19th home run of the season, off Joel Pineiro, also scored Granderson, who had walked and has now touched the plate 104 times this season.
It all combined for the Yankees to end a three-game losing streak and push the Angels back to seven games back in the wild-card race with a shot at picking up ground in the AL East against the Red Sox.