Powered by homers, Nova blanks Twins

Austin's huge day leads SI to even huge-er win
Fan Confidence Poll: August 22nd, 2011

Curtis Granderson awaits the pitch he would turn into his 35th home run of the season. (Photo by Benjamin Kabak)

Jim Thome had just singled when a fly ball floated into the gap between center and right at Target Field. As Curtis Granderson rushed over to make the catch, he waved off Nick Swisher, but Swisher, who wasn’t expecting Granderson to be there, didn’t hear the outfield captain making the call. The two pulled up short, and the ball fall into the space between for a double for Danny Valencia. The lumbering Thome ended up at third, and the Twins had a threat.

After the game, Swisher and Granderson owned up to their miscommunication. Granderson said he wasn’t aggressive enough in waving off Swisher, and Swisher pulled up when he could. Still, after a win, the Yankee outfielders were in good spirits. “Guys were busting Curtis and I a little, and I said, ‘What are you taking about? You should thank us.’ After that, Nova got filthy,” Swisher said.

That filthiness is of course what everyone was talking about, and just a day after A.J. Burnett‘s 1.2-inning blowup against the Twins, the rookie Ivan Nova led the Yanks to a 3-0 victory. After that Valencia double, he struck out Rene Tosoni and Matt Tolbert and induced a ground ball to Mark Teixeira off the bat of Drew Butera to end the Twins’ threat. Four innings later, the Yanks could close the books on a series win in Minneapolis and a 5-2 road trip. First place, you’d be so nice to come home to.

Before Ivan emerged, the story of the day seemed to be another episode of RISP Fail. The Yanks left Jeter on third in the first, and Nick Blackburn walked the bases loaded in the second. With one out, he departed with an injury, and Anthony Swarzak struck out Eduardo Nuñez while Derek Jeter flew out to end the inning. Then in the fifth against Phil Dumatrait, the Yanks again loaded the bases before Alex Rodriguez, playing in his first game back from knee surgery, popped out to Joe Mauer at first. Eight base runners, seven left on, one erased by a double play.

The team broke free in the sixth as Robinson Cano doubled, moved to third on a Swisher fly ball and scored on a Russell Martin sac fly. The fireworks, though, began in the 7th. Curtis Granderson hit a rocket to right center than bounded off the giant scoreboard. He motored around second, and Target Field saw Rob Thompson waving him home. A headfirst dive gave Granderson his 35th home run of the season, and it was an inside-the-parker to boot. “It was good until everyone wanted to talk,” Granderson said later. “As we’re coming in, everyone was asking about it, and I couldn’t really talk too much.”

Mark Teixeira followed with a laser shot down the left field line. The Yankees had their three runs, and Nova, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera would not need more. While Robertson walked a tight-rope in the eighth, Mariano barely broke a sweat.

The accolades though belong to Nova. He threw seven innings, gave up five hits and walked one while picking up five strike outs. He’s 13-4 with a 3.97, and while he was sent down to AAA just a few weeks ago, it’s nearly inconceivable that the Yanks would jettison him from the starting rotation after the Baltimore series. As the Yanks pack up from Minneapolis and return home for a set against the Oakland A’s, I’m left wondering how the odd man out can be anyone but A.J. Today, Nova made the 2011 Twins look like the 2011 Twins, and the Yanks’ flight home was, I’m sure, a happy one.

Austin's huge day leads SI to even huge-er win
Fan Confidence Poll: August 22nd, 2011
  • https://twitter.com/TheRealJeromeS Jerome S.

    Sad how even when the story is about Nova it’s still really about Burnett :/

    • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

      That objective pipe is some powerful shit.

      • Jim S

        Where did this meme come from?

        • boogie down

          I believe I recall reading that someone said Cashman told writers to “smoke the objective pipe” when evaluating Burnett’s performance.

          If the beginning of that sentence gives anyone a vision of Robert McCloskey, I apologize.

    • Januz

      Burnett has become Igawa, you simply cannot wait until the end of the 2013 Season, until you take his Contract off the books. I honestly would release him instead of having his sorry ass retard development of some of the young pitching coming in the future. ex: Having Nova in the Minors for a month because of roster space.

      • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

        Since Igawa got sent down to the minor leagues I couldn’t really care less if he’s in the organization because he’s not fucking up the big league team. I’d compare Burnett to Pavano in a way because Pavano was still being count on going into every season, unlike Igawa who the Yankees obviously don’t count on. That’s why Axisa calls Igawa “The Ghost of Kei Igawa” on his DoTF pieces.

        • nyyankfan7

          But at least with Pavano we only had to see his sorry ass on the mound like a dozen times in 4 years. We are forced to suffer through Burnett once every five days.

  • Januz

    Talk about sometimes the best trades are the ones you never make. Cashman saying NO to Nova in a package for Jimenez. With two of the killer “B”s, Marshall, Bryan Mitchell, and others, the pitching looks good going forward.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Ubaldo has taken the ball four times for the Indians and three have been awful outings. That’s a good non-trade so far for the Yanks.

      • JT

        Because Ubaldo is pitching in Cleveland, you don’t hear much about his struggles… just imagine all headlines if the Yankees did pull the trigger on that trade.

      • Jimmy McNulty

        They’re making him worse by giving him starters over more capable pitchers and pretending like he’ll work himself out of it.

      • Dropped third superstar

        I wouldn’t even put it past brackman to still put it together next season…. He has all the tools, he has got to work it into that tall frame.

        And the pitching does look good everyone of those guys looks like they can be serviceable pitchers and betances could be an ace type.

        • Jorge

          Brackman could absolutely put it back together. It’s just that, the longer he doesn’t, the less likely it is that he will.

          I’d give him until the very last second of that contract. Hell, I’d even bring him back on a minor league deal after that. No rest until you’re older than Aaron Small was. ;)

    • Charles

      Yeah and those are the players we’ve heard of, who knows who else the Rockies asked for

  • Jimmy McNulty

    Not an awful roadtrip for the Yankees. Lost some games that they shouldn’t have, and AJ Burnett pitched his way out of the rotation (if this team had any balls) but other than that it was awesome. Alex came back, Hughes and Nova pitched well and everyone seemed to hit.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      Not an awful roadtrip for the Yankees.

      Wow, you’re a tough grader.

      5-2 is a .714 winning percentage, which, if applied to 162 games, equals 115 wins.

      Not awful indeed.

  • JonS

    How can Girardi even think about keeping Burnett in the rotation? He’s like a big league version of Brackman. Yea, we know he has “stuff”, but what does it matter if you can’t use it?

    • Januz

      He is not Brackman, he is Oliver Perez, all the ability in the world, but because of head issues, he will never be better than a .500 pitcher. I can tell you that without Game 2 in the World Series, he would be the WORST Free Agent signing in Yankees History (Igawa & Whitson included).

      • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

        AJ’s really testing that whole “flags fly forever” deal. It’s not a very good contract, 2009 World Series or not.

        • Januz

          I agree that the contract is awful. When I mention a name like Whitson, when discussing Burnett (My All-Time most despised NYY Player)it speaks volumes about what a pathetic pitcher he is.

      • nsalem

        I think AJ deserves to lose his spot in the rotation but I think comparisons to Brackman, Perez and Igawa are unfair. Brackman and Igawa never performed well on the major league level and Perez lost all velocity and was not conducting himself in a professional manner.. Yesterdays incident aside this is not the case with AJ. Since we need the six man rotation for one more time around I hope he gets his start next Saturday and then placed in the long man role and given the opportunity to find himself in the bullpen.
        Maybe if he gets to step back from this awhile an improvement will come. He has had stretches over the last month or two where he has been effective for a few innings at a time. The Yankee’s have been relatively healthy this year, but you never know what misfortune may lay around the corner. Injuries sometimes come in bunches. Our options are limited. He probably can’t be traded and releasing him especially when we are 9 days away from an expanded rosters is not a fiscally sound solution. If it turns out he is through as a starter he should at the very least be given a shot out of the pen.

        • CMP

          They might as well try him in the pen.

          If he gains 2-3 MPH letting it all hang out for 1 inning , maybe he can be something more than the totally useless piece of shit he’s been for the last 2 years. .

          • Januz

            I do think they will need him for the Baltimore Series, but after the season, you might as well simply release him. You have guys like Starters like Banuelos, and even bullpen arms like Stoneburner that room needs to be made for. The idea of trading him for Dunn might be even worse. I do not want to see a Dunn taking up a DH or even a bench slot. They will need that spot for Arod, or (If he is on the team) Jeter.

            • http://riveraveblues.com Matt Warden

              I totally get sending him to the bullpen, but releasing him altogether seems myopic to me. The team will be paying for him regardless of where he’s playing — at least a move to the bullpen may result in some value added.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        I don’t think the Oliver Perez comparison is fair at all. Perez was completely useless to the Mets, he wasn’t even a Triple-A caliber pitcher the last two years. Burnett is better than that. He’s more like Zambrano than anything, minus the psychotic outbursts.

      • bottom line

        Many worse than AJ. Steve Kemp, Omar Moreno, Pavano. Remember that Giambi has a couple of horrible years on that huge contract. Burnett was pretty good in 2009, good for a month or two last year and merely mediocre (not very good but a decent fifth starter) this year until his most recent meltdowns. Obviously not a great signing. But far from the worst. AJ does not belong in the rotation but he doesn’t deserve all the abuse he’s gotten.

    • David

      But…but…Game 2 of the 2009 World Series!!

  • Stuckey

    Damn shame Nova can never-ever-ever be more than a back-of-the-rotation guy.

    • http://procrastinationperfected.tumblr.com/ BigDavey88

      Yeah. Young pitchers can’t improve.

      Only stupid people think that.

      /half kidding’d

    • http://johnsterling.blogspot.com/ Xstar7

      Yeah you’re right, with a record like 13-4, this guy is going to be an ace. AN ACE!!!1!1!1!!

  • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

    It’s kinda funny to think about it now, but who would have thought at the beginning of the year that the rotation we all want mid-August is:

    Colon/Hughes-I’m not going to say one is #3 and one is #4

  • http://deleted Total Dominication

    Uhhhhh. Jered Weaver just did what??????? For what contract??????????????????

    • Chen Meng Wang

      Wow, if he had just waited two more years to get paid he probably still would have gotten 5-7 years but at more like 19-21 per as apposed to 17.

      • http://johnsterling.blogspot.com/ Xstar7

        He should have asked for Carl Crawford money.


      • whozat

        Unless he blew something out in one of those two years.

        There’s something to be said for assuring yourself of the payday

    • Januz

      I am glad Weaver is staying in Anaheim. There are certain types of guys (Such as laid back LA personalities like his brother, or Haren), who simply do not belong in NY, Boston, Philly, Pittsburgh, etc (The next example of this might be Cole. If he sucks, the Pirate fans will roast him alive). Weaver would probably have been 15-13 with a 4.5 ERA in Pinstripes.

      • http://deleted Total Dominication


      • whozat

        Well, his flyball tendencies would probably have pushed his ERA up, and I’m sure you would have told yourself it was due to his “head” issues.

      • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

        Clearly the “Weaver” that “would probably have been 15-13 with a 4.5 ERA in Pinstripes” is Jeff Weaver.

      • FIPster Doofus

        People just love making shit up.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Especially Januz.

      • Jim S

        Umm, no. If Cole sucks the Pirates fans will have the same reaction they’ve had for the last 15 years, indifference.

      • jsbrendog


      • https://twitter.com/TheRealJeromeS Jerome S.

        Oh my God this shit is funny…

  • Tipsie

    We have lived in Minnesota for 11 years, and my ten year old son (NYY freak, like dad) and I were lucky enough to attend three of the four games this series. Bummer that we missed more of Phil’s resurgence (and Martin’s 2 HR) Friday. Silver lining to Saturday, as I told my sulking kid, down 7-0 after two innings: it’s worth it if AJ’s out of the rotation. Observations from a great Sunday game (after all of the early RISP fail): Nova’s slider was filthy; he touched 94 in his last inning (7th); Martin is darn tough blocking balls (and looks tired); and Granderson’s ITPHR came after looking really bad against LHP for two days – he’s been unreal. A well deserved Monday off! Go Yankees!

    • Mykey

      Since you only get a chance to watch the Yanks when they come into your home town, it’s a good thing they typically own the Twins. Glad you had a good time.

  • CMP

    Jered Weaver got a 5/$85 million extension today which brings his salary up to Burnett’s level.

    With 5.2 WAR so far, Weaver in 2011 should easily surpass AJ’s total of 5.7 for 2009, 2010 and 2011.

  • Avi

    I would trade Burnett for Adam Dunn after the season. Burnett will have 2 years and $33M left on his contract, Dunn 3 years and $44M. I’d want Chicago to make the money even which they might do, but even if they don’t, I’d strongly consider making the trade and taking on the extra year and $11M. I think between the two contracts the Yankees have a better chance of getting a good return on Dunn’s contract than they do on Burnett’s. I like Dunn’s chances of walking a lot and hitting 30-40 homers in YS3 better than I do Burnett’s chances of returning to effectiveness and staying healthy.

    • mbonzo

      White Sox have a lot of pitching as it is, but Kenny Williams is crazy.

    • http://twitter.com/Carlosologist_7 Carlosologist

      I laughed. Even the insane Kenny Williams wouldn’t do that trade.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      That only makes it worse. You’d be clogging the DH spot for another three years, blocking Montero and giving the team nowhere to stash A-Rod and Jeter down the line.

      • David, Jr.

        This. Exactly. A slow DH type is not what we need.

        If they were going to trade him, I could see it being for perhaps Derrick Lowe or Jake Peavy, although I didn’t take the time to look up the $$ on those two. I would feel far more comfortable with either of those two starting a playoff game than AJ “Batting Practice” Burnett.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      I think between the two contracts the Yankees have a better chance of getting a good return on Dunn’s contract than they do on Burnett’s.

      I agree.

      I’m still not doing the trade, though, because it’s easier to hide/live with Burnett’s non-elite production in one of the five rotation spots than it is to hide/live with Dunn’s non-elite production in one of the two 1B/DH spots.

  • Jonathan

    To this day the crazy part about AJ Burnett to me is that almost no one disliked the contract because they thought he wouldn’t perform well. Everyone just thought he’d be dominant but still miss a bunch of time. If you went back to before the 2009 series and said that AJ has been basically totally healthy but has been a complete disaster so far it’d be tough to believe. I still have visions of him pumping 98 with that filthy curve against us. Where the hell did that go?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      To this day the crazy part about AJ Burnett to me is that almost no one disliked the contract because they thought he wouldn’t perform well.

      (clears throat, adjusts tie)

      • https://twitter.com/TheRealJeromeS Jerome S.

        Yeah, really. Even when healthy, he only had one really stand-out year.

      • smurfy

        dare I say, moreover doth anyome care, but AJ loooked terrific, and he still is stylish, if bearing a devil may care savoir faire, si’l vous plait?

        • smurfy

          Dennis Eckrsley – or a new pitch otherwise called gotcha!

          Hey, $16.5 mm impresses me.

    • Yank The Frank

      I agree. When he was with Toronto he would kill the Yanks and Red Sox. He was known as a bulldog now he’s a poodle. I thought it was a great pick up at the time and have been trying to defend him ever since. Those days are over.

  • first time lawng time

    Why don’t they just put AJ in the bullpen? The five best pitchers as of late have been CC, Colon, Nova, Hughes, and Garcia. I think putting him in the bullpen could help him out a bit. Maybe fix his mechanics? I mean, I think it would be more beneficial in the long run to take him out of the rotation to get his stuff together. That’s just what if do if I were Girardi.

    • Prof. Plum

      I’m concerned that Bartolo is running out of steam. Over his last 8 starts, his WHIP is 1.7 and his SO/BB ratio is 1.8. Plus, he’s given up 4 home runs over his past 15 innings, spanning 3 starts.

  • first time lawng time

    Also, how about that David Robertson with the bases loaded? No lie, I’m starting to think that guy enjoys getting into jams.

    • steve (different one)

      He does, but that jam wasn’t really his fault. A-rod booted Mauer’s (hard) grounder, and that “check” swing to Thome was bs. He swung.

  • mt

    The AJ comparison becomes so hard to ignore when the young strugging pitcher getting his stuff back (Hughes) and the young improving pitcher (Nova) both dominate the Twins’ admittedly AAAA line-up while Burnett was giving up absolute rockets.

    I cannot wait until September to see how they deal with AJ – maybe Colon will develop an “injury” or they will reduce his workload to avoid the issue.

    Think of this – AJ Burnett is having one of the worst two seasons back to back of any Yankee starter allowed to make this many starts (his ERA is down this year but offense in general is down, too) but to my knowledge he has never been pulled or even put on the sidelines to work stuff out or be in bullpen for, say, even two weeks. Versus treatment of Hughes, Nova, and even Vasquez last year (not to mention Igawa). It is my understanding that even Garcia wanted to pitch in Oakland series but Yanks insisted on AAA start to make sure he is recovered from his cut. But no, AJ must start every five days, come hell or high water.

    Why does AJ get the ball come hell or high water? It cannot be the contract, right? (I just smoked the objective pipe).

    We are to believe that he is so mentally fragile that he cannot take a demotion to bullpen but somehow mentally strong enough now to turn it around and succeed again as starter when he has a target on his back and is in fact a laughing stock (the Beavis and Butthead hair makes it worse)? The way witers and fans talk about him – it is like he is a dog.

    Sorry for vent but Nova’s performance yesterday really spoke volumes about Burnett.

    • noseeum

      He’s never been pulled because he’s never been hurt, and he’s got no options left. The only option is the bullpen, and considering their position in the standings, the Yanks have been able to keep that decision at bay for a very long time.

      My guess is they don’t want to move him to the pen to “work things out” and get back to the rotation. They will move him after telling him he won’t be starting in the playoffs. If he wants a roster spot he’ll have to earn it in the pen in September.

      But really there’s no sense doing that until are sure you are ready to roll with Hughes and Nova in the playoffs. Despite the horror show, I think they’ve made the right call in delaying Burnett’s demotion.

    • steve (different one)

      Comparing AJ to Nova is a red herring. If AJ had options, maybe they would send him down, but that’s not an option in real life. And with Hughes and Javy, there was something clearly PHYSICALLY wrong with them.

      This is really the first time in AJ’s tenure that they’ve had 5 superior options, so I don’t think the situations are analogous. He kept getting the ball because who was going to displace him, Chad Gaudin? I think he gets demoted in September, and there is no way he’s starting in October, but we cvan’t compare him to a rookie, who by all evidence, really improved as a direct result of his demotion.

    • Dan

      I think the Yanks will need to give Colon more rest down the stretch, so maybe he will go to the bullpen and serve as the long man to come in for a couple innings after each AJ blowup every 5 days. Colon looks much more tired and he should be protected more than AJ as Colon is likely going to be needed as one of the starters in the playoff rotation.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Nunez with the strong and increasingly accurate arm.

    Arod should have been given an error at 3B but glad he didn’t hurt his hand. His timing still looks a bit off at the plate but I think he is going to be huge down the stretch with all the time off.

  • Kilgore Trout

    AJ Burnett’s start in Baltimore should be his last for the season unless it’s a garbage start towards the end of September. Playoff rotation-


    Freddy going on the DL took him out as well as the continued good pitching from Hughes and Nova. If Colon wears down, Freddy is our #5. Noesi emergency starter and on the playoff roster. AJ Burnett left off the playoff roster.

  • Bronx Byte

    Burnett is as good as he’ll ever get. Lots of pitchers have come and gone that had so-called good stuff or potential.
    He’s content with being as he is. There isn’t a pitching coach alive that can get through to his thick skull.
    Stop the bleeding now and quit using him.

  • Javierkei Pavagawa

    Dream rotation:

    AJ Burnett
    Carl Pavano
    Jeff Weaver
    Javy Vazquez

    with Igawa long relief

  • Javierkei Pavagawa

    2012 question

    If Yankees keep Colon next year,

    will CC + Bartolo + Joba be > or < 900 lbs of pitching might?

  • Javierkei Pavagawa

    I’ll take AJ 82.5/5 yrs over:

    1) Lackey 82.5/5
    2) Carl Crawford 142/7
    3) Dice K 102/6
    4) JD Drew 70/5

    • Monteroisdinero

      Werth too.

    • LiterallyFigurative

      Interesting how the Boy Wonder never gets any flack from ESPN for those deals. Hmmmm I wonder why?

      • Javierkei Pavagawa

        The Red Sox “made a big splash” during this past off season, while the Yankees missed out. The Yankees sure could have used Crawford because he would have been a major upgrade over Brett Gardner.

        • LiterallyFigurative

          What are Crawford’s #’s? Especially compared to Gardner’s?

    • Prof. Plum

      Jury is still out on Crawford.

      • Javierkei Pavagawa

        If he can be his old self he’s worth 90/5 tops. That’s if.

        He’s good they say because of his defense and speed, both of which will suffer as he ages.

        2016 he will be a $20-mil-a-year old Mike Cameron, although Mike Cameron hit more home runs, had a higher OBP, and played center field.

    • Jorge

      Only because AJ’s deal is close to 3/5 done at this point, while those first two aren’t near their halfway point. While I don’t have the stats in front of me or anything, I might be more confident the final two years of Lackey’s contract than I’d be of AJs. That’s not saying a whole lot, though.

      And, yes, Theo’s an f’ing tool.

  • Javierkei Pavagawa

    Yes him too.

  • MannyB ace2be

    AJ for CY

  • DZ

    Worst Part is, AJ not only will be on the playoff roster, but will start game 3 or 4. Girardi is just afraid to man up at this point, everyone knows the right thing to do is put him the pen for now, but Girardi is not going to do a single thing.

    • http://twitter.com/AnaMariana42 Ana

      Because he totally didn’t cut him from the rotation last postseason, right? That didn’t happen?

      Wait, it totally did.

  • Bavarian Yankee

    no doubt that AJ is the odd man out right now and I can’t see that changing until the postseason. In fact it’s even hard to see him on the postseason roster at all.

    It’s a shame, I really like AJ as a pitcher and a person. His numbers even look surprisingly good (good H/9 and K/9 is also okay) but as long as he can’t command his pitches and gives up too many homers he just can’t be part of the rotation. I really hope he can work things out until next season starts because I really like that guy.