Nova makes it nine straight with win over Nats

Father's Day Open Thread
Fan Confidence Poll: June 18th, 2012

For the first time since 2009, the Yankees have won nine straight games. For the first time since 1998, the Yankees have swept three straight three-game series. The hottest team in the game beat the Nationals by the score of 4-1 on Sunday, a fantastic Father’s Day gift if you ask me … even though I’m not a father.

So crushed. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Not A Homerun Hitter

If you ask Curtis Granderson if he’s a homerun hitter, he’ll tell you no. They just come he says, and yet Curtis leads all of baseball with 62 homers since Opening Day of last season. That 62nd homer broke a one-all tie in the fifth inning on Sunday, a sweet little hanging changeup in a 1-1 count that landed in the home bullpen down the right field line. Granderson is on the exact same long ball pace — 21 homers in the team’s first 65 games — as last year, which I find to be downright amazing. He’s not a homerun hitter though, just ask him.

No Hits

The Yankees went 0-for-12 (!) with runners in scoring position but they managed to score two non-homer runs anyway. Mark Teixeira plated Derek Jeter with a sacrifice fly in the first, though getting just one run out of a bases loaded, one-out situation always feels like a disappointment. Teixeira came across to score the team’s fourth run on a wild pitch in the seventh after doubling and moving to third on a ground out. I had no idea he was even on third. There were a bunch of pitching changes and whatnot and I had lost track of the baserunner. As you can imagine, I was quite surprised when I initially thought Tex was about to score from second on a wild pitch.

Tip that cap. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Second Half Nova

After racking up just 14 quality starts in their first 50 games, the Yankees have gotten 14 quality starts in their last 15 games. Quality starts aren’t the best way to evaluate pitching, but I definitely consider them winnable games for a team with an offense and bullpen like the Bombers have. Ivan Nova was the latest starter to toss a gem, holding the Nationals to just one run — a second inning solo homer by Adam LaRoche — in 7.2 innings on Sunday. He struck out four, got ten ground balls against just five fly balls, and recorded 18 of his 23 outs on the infield overall. With men on the corners with one out and the score tied in the fourth, Nova coaxed a big inning-ending double play out of Danny Espinosa. He also had a four-pitch inning against Washington’s 3-4-5 hitters.

The beginning of the season was a little rough, but Ivan has really started to settle in these last few weeks and looks a lot like the pitcher we saw in the second half of last summer. His strikeout rate has started to come down a bit while the ground ball rate has climbed upward, a result of him getting his fastball down in the zone. He was leaving it up earlier in the year and hitters were just tattooing him for extra-base hits. Nova seems to have corrected that problem to a certain extent and has really stepped up to solidify what has been a powerhouse rotation in recent weeks.

Leftovers

Jersey untucked. (Greg Fiume/Getty)

Rafael Soriano fired a perfect ninth inning — his second true 1-2-3 inning of the season — to record his 13th save of the campaign. He’s the first non-Mariano Rivera pitcher to save that many games in a single season for New York since John Wetteland in 1996. Steve Karsay had been the previous leader with a dozen in 2002.

Between the end of Saturday’s game and the start of Sunday’s, Robinson Cano drew walks in four consecutive plate appearances. Three of them were intentional, but I can’t imagine the four straight walks thing has happened many times in his career, if at all. Robbie came into the series with a 7.5% walk rate and left with a 9.3% walk rate because Washington wanted nothing to do with him at the plate. Judging by his opposite field solo homer in the seventh, they had the right idea.

Alex Rodriguez and Raul Ibanez combined for an ugly 0-for-10, but every other non-pitcher in the starting lineup combined to go 10-for-23 with five walks. Granderson, Cano, Teixeira, and Chris Stewart (!) all had multiple hits, including at least one for extra bases. Andruw Jones went hitless in three at-bats but did draw two walks, one to start a rally by leading off an inning — RISPFAIL snuffed it out — and another while Teixeira’s scored on the wild pitch.

I don’t want to make a big stink about it, but I didn’t like the call to sacrifice bunt with Nova in the sixth. The Yankees had men on the corners and none out, let him swing the bat. It was a one-run game at the time and you’ve got three chances to get that run in, don’t forfeit one. The Yankees didn’t score after Nova got the bunt down — Jeter flew out to medium center field and Granderson grounded out — but it really didn’t matter given the final score. Just irked me at the time.

As I said earlier, the Yankees have now won their last nine games. They’ve also won 12 of their last 13, 14 of their last 16, and 19 of their last 23. New York has had the best record in the AL for a few days now but had the Dodgers not managed their ninth inning comeback against the White Sox, the Yankees also would have had the best record in baseball (by winning percentage).

One final note: big ups to the Nats and the Mets. Washington swept the Red Sox (in Fenway!) then got swept by the Yankees. The Mets got swept by the Yankees and then swept the Rays (in Tampa!). That’s some mighty fine work by those two clubs and I just want to let them know it was appreciated.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the advanced stats, and ESPN the updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

The Yankees return home after a massively successful six-game road trip and will welcome the Braves to the Bronx for three games starting Monday evening. It’ll be a rematch of last Tuesday’s starters, southpaws CC Sabathia and Mike Minor. If you want to head up to the Stadium to catch the game, check out RAB Tickets.

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Father's Day Open Thread
Fan Confidence Poll: June 18th, 2012
  • Paul VuvuZuvella

    I’m giddy. Truly giddy.

  • forensic

    Can’t wait till the end of the month when they get to win their 21st straight game to set the AL record against the White Sox and we get to hear Hawk have to announce it.

    And then the next week they can win their 27th straight to set the MLB record in Fenway.

    That’ll be a nice little week there.

    • MannyGeee

      *fingers crossed*

  • forensic

    That situation with the Nova bunt is the same inning that Jones had his terrible baserunning read/play and didn’t score on the flyball by Jeter. Thankfully both plays didn’t come back to bite them.

    • JoeyA

      Money Ball 2: Money Strikes Back

  • Jonathan

    I agree with not bunting Nova as well and I’m generally not that against bunts when you’re playing for one run. I was also extremely disappointed about Andruw’s effort on the Jeter fly ball afterwards. As any baseball player can attest (and honestly who better than Andruw to know this) when your weight is taking you that far towards a foul line and you don’t get to plant and throw, it is extremely hard to make both an accurate and strong throw. Andruw didn’t even really attempt. He took a couple of halfass steps off the bag, then sprinted a couple more with no intention of going, then went back. He wasn’t even in the “set” position to go off 3rd base. He just stood there basically. Hindsight is obviously 20/20 but the effort and knowledge of how hard it is to make that throw coupled with our difficulty scoring runs would have made for a prime effort to go. The only argument I can see for staying is having Curtis up next. But that went out the door when he half assed it off 3rd.

    • Kel

      I am glad a long winning streak allows us to get back to the most important thing we can do as fans. Nitpick.

      • Jonathan

        I was thinking that myself as i wrote it. I think not having a legitimate SS or CFer plus no Gardner is a giant part of our trouble scoring runs. Jeter and Granderson are getting very tired and Grandy has totally quit running on the basepaths. Then when you take Gardy out and replace him with Chavez/Jones/Ibanez that’s obviously a huge drop in speed. Without Nunez/Gardner and a rested Jeter/Grandy we really don’t have any speed. It’s a lot harder to score Teixeira from 2nd than Gardner…obviously. Add in bad luck and I can only imagine what this team would be like at full strength. Add in Joba/Rivera/Pineda/Gardner and just dream. We’re already a powerhouse without a 5 WAR outfielder, a great bullpen arm, the best reliever of all time and a phenom with limitless potential (pre injury).

        I was thinking…say Pineda had a less significant injury and was coming off the DL tomorrow….who on earth leaves the rotation? Do you go 6 deep? The guys with the worst numbers have seemed to figure it out and another turn through the rotation like this and we may have 5 starters with a sub 4 ERA more than halfway through June.

        • MannyGeee

          RE: Pineda-

          fantastic question… I would imagine odd man out would have been either Hughes or Nova, but bith have been throwing very well as of late. I wonder if Petitte would have come back if Pineda had an oblique strain instead of this more serious injury (just from the ‘there’s no room’ standpoint)…

          Hirok! to tha pen

          • Robinson Tilapia

            What if the odd man out would have been……..Pineda? ;)

            • Cris Pengiucci

              Right now, the one with the worst recent history seems to be CC … Who’d have thunk it?

              • Robinson Tilapia

                Meh. It happens. He’s not winning on style points. He’s still doing what he needs to do.

      • vicki

        streak or slump, feast or famine, andruw jones cannot be bothered to run. and i reject outright any criticism suggesting i’m less a fan nor remotely less happy about recent success, just because andruw jones’s improbable face annoys the fuckoutta me.

        • MannyGeee

          less smiling, more running!!!

  • Dino Velvet

    Man, the AL East is such a beast.

    As good as 40-25 is, they’d be 47-18 if they were in the NL East.

    • forensic

      That’s a little unrealistic.

      You really think they’d lose 18 games by this point? They haven’t even gotten to play the Marlins and Phillies.

    • Havok9120

      Heck, screw the NL. Just switch us with the Rangers or Angles in the alignment and watch us win 105 games/year.

    • MannyGeee

      40-18? in the NL East I am not positive this team loses 18 games all season.

  • Tony

    There’s a great chance for the Yankees to win 10 straight with CC going against the worst pitcher in baseball tomorrow. I can’t imagine Minor will dominate the Yankees 2 times in a row and CC will break out of his “slump” sooner or later. Hopefully its tomorrow

    • Havok9120

      The baseball gods will smite us for this comment. Just you wait…

    • MannyGeee

      *trap game*

    • Dropped Third

      Apperciate the jynx there pal…

    • Frank

      Have you been watching CC lately? He’s the worst starter of the staff. The streak ends today.

  • pistol pete

    Nova’s awesome, 9 and 2 this year and 25 and 6 since 2011 and get this how about 12 and 0 in his last 15 road starts. He’s cheap, under control, and a very good young arm. He’s one of my favorite Yankees. I hope he’s quieted all the ERA and trade rumor bloggers.

    • MannyGeee

      yeah… all is quiet under the bridge until he get hit hard in his next start at Arlington…

  • http://Riveraveblues.com Okyankee24

    Really Mike? How sure are you about not being a father, dad?

    • Pat D

      I can’t believe this post is still here.

  • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

    They’ve been pitching great. The best part about this run is that there is SO much room for improvement. Let’s hope the Natties rebound nicely for their series with the Rays, the Bravos bats stay chilly for at least 3 more days, and the Yankees stay focused and don’t get as cocky and put-cart-before-the-horse mindset as some of the fairweather commenters on here.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

      Well room for improvement on offense, yes. But it’s pretty clear that the only direction the SP can go is down. They have been performing marvelously, but at an unsustainably remarkable rate.

  • pistol pete

    Yanks pitching has been ridiculous. Pettitte has completely settled the starting rotation, Kuroda is getting it together, Hughes and Nova have been very good, and believe it or not CC could actually and probably will get better. Soriano is one of the most valuable Yankees this year and a bullpen of nobodys have been great. That said the Yanks have some hitting and fielding holes to fill. They need a right handed outfielder. Gardner looks lost for a long time and Ibanez is wearing down now hitting just 239. Swish is now hurt and there will be too much pressure on Jones and Ibanez to fill in. Need to look for an outfielder salary dump for the second half. Any ideas.

    • Kel

      Gardner is not lost for a long time. He’ll be back around the all-star break.

      • forensic

        The Gardner thing is interesting, just in the abstract. I don’t think he’ll be back until August since I think they be absurdly cautious with him.

        But, to my main thought, if they knew in the 2nd week of the season that he would be out for 4 months, would they have tried to make a deal then? I doubt they would have and I doubt there would’ve been much available that would’ve made a deal worth it, but you wonder if things would’ve been handled differently. Would Dickerson have been up instead of Wise (don’t remember when Dickerson got hurt, if it’s after this then maybe he doesn’t get hurt)? Does Nunez start getting more work in the OF earlier and thus not struggle as much on the IF (since he’s not there as much)?

        Some moderately-interesting scenarios to play out on a Sunday night…

    • Ted Nelson

      Lot of assumptions about Gardner and Swisher there. They son’t often give you a cortisone shot so you can sit out do the year. I’d call that an indication that they believe Gardner will be back this season. Swisher isn’t supposed to miss much time.

    • Hummingbird S.

      I think this has been going unnoticed so far but we might need a OF who can hit lefties because Jones is simply not getting it done this year.

      • Ted Nelson

        It’s unnoticed because the sample size isn’t relevant. Going into tonight it was 67 PA. That’s 13 games.

        He’s made up for it against RHP… Pretty unlikel his splits suddenly swapped, and more likely just a function of small samples.

    • forensic

      Why would it be hard to believe that Sabathia could get better? He’s been by far the worst starter during the last month or so, certainly during this over 3 weeks or so.

      He’s due for his typical summer beast-mode run of 10-12 starts any time now.

  • Evan3457

    Yanks actually had 33 QS in 64 games before today (source: BRef. Now it’s 34 of 65.

    • Brian S.

      MOAR

    • vicki

      i laugh at your sample size joke.

      but REALLY. FOURTEEN QUALITY STARTS IN FIFTEEN GAMES.

      reeally.

  • Ted Nelson

    I’m willing to bet that Nova had a better shot at Kin or GIDP there than doing something productive… Not even including the other unproductive outs he could have made. I don’t see how that wasn’t absolutely the right call.

    • forensic

      Though a DP would’ve scored a run, I agree that the odds of a K were massively higher than him doing anything else and I would also lean slightly toward the bunt for that reason.

      It’s also not his fault that Jones made a terrible baserunning play on the next batter and thus they didn’t score.

      • Ted Nelson

        True about the DP… Can’t remember if the IF was in, corners in, or not at all.

    • bpdelia

      Yup. Agreed. I hate bunts but that one was fine. Basically most pitchers k or hit weak grounders. Take the extra tug in scoring position. I have zero problem with that or bunting a tying or go ahead run to third late with a weak hotter. Heterodox bunting posses me off though.

  • Brian S.

    We can’t get shut down by Minor again. That would be the dumbest thing ever.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Guys like Minor are highly regarded for a reason. We shouldn’t be shocked when they actually begin to show that promise every now and then.

  • Get Phelps Up (formerly Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat)

    Wins are stupid, but it’s pretty cool that Nova leads the AL with 9.

    • forensic

      See, I don’t get this.

      Wins aren’t necessarily indicative of how somehow has pitched or how someone will pitch. But, they aren’t stupid and it’s awesome that he’s up there. He’s been lights out the last 5ish (certainly 3) starts, and has either pitched well enough or at least lasted long enough to get more wins than any other pitcher in the AL.

      No, that certainly doesn’t mean he’s the best pitcher in the league, but it definitely should count for something.

      • Havok9120

        I think the “wins are stupid thing” comes up so much because of how people (often important people) tend to use the stat. They aren’t AT ALL a predictive stat, or even a stat that tells you how a pitcher’s season has gone. But people generally use it as if it is. The hate of the Win as a stat is often reactionary because of that. Its not just, but this is the internet.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Agreed.

          Wins aren’t stupid. They just don’t tell the full picture.

          I think it’s badass to lead the league the wins, personally.

          • Cris Pengiucci

            10 wins before the ASB and he gets chosen to pitch in that game?

          • mike

            They do indicate that on a certain day, the winning pitcher held the opposing team to less runs during his time on the mound (or officially still on the mound) than his team scored, and for a starter it means he pitched thru a good portion of the game.

            There is only moderate correlation to statistical success of a pitcher and his win total, and people are always making excuses when the stats/wins do not match up – but i’ll gladly take a starting staff with all high win totals rather than a staff of moderate win totals and excellent stats, as that means the team was more successful than not.

            Wins, i think, are helpful in evaluating a starter (especially since the team which is most successful has the most wins) but for relievers it is a poor tool.

            • Ted Nelson

              It means the team was more successful, but says nothing about the Ps. So, why bother recording that stat? Why not just look at team Ws?

      • Pasqua

        Alan Embree got a “win” a couple of years ago in Colorado without even throwing a single pitch. (Pick-off to end the inning, walk-off in the bottom of inning.)

        If wins is not a stupid stat, it is most certainly the closest thing to it.

        • .zip file

          For relief pitchers, wins are a terrible stat, especially for those who blow a lead, only to have the team pick him up in the next inning.

        • Ted Nelson

          Agreed, Wins as an individual stat are stupid. If Nova pitched the exact same way, got less run support, left some tie games late that the team won, and had 5 “wins” right now… his season would be going exactly the same way.

    • forensic

      Really not trying to pick on you or your post in particular, so sorry for that, but the line of thinking aggravates me.

      Yankees starters have won 17 of the team’s last 23 games. Are they all stupid?

      • forensic

        Sorry, meant to add, if your starter, or even your relievers, win a game then it’s impossible for the team to lose that game. I don’t think that’s stupid at all.

        • Get Phelps Up (formerly Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat)

          Problem with wins is they don’t tell the whole story. I mean, Nova got a win for that game in Anaheim where he gave up 5 runs and coughed up a 5-0 lead and he won like 6 games in April and May despite an ERA well over 5. And there are plenty of instances where a reliever gets one out and ends up with a win, or even worse, a closer blows a save and then his team rallies to walk-off and he gets a win for a blown save.

          • forensic

            I agree, and that’s why they’re not necessarily indicative of what an individual has done or will do.

            But if you have 5 starters who each win 20 games, that’s not stupid. That means that automatically your team has at least 100 wins. It doesn’t mean you necessarily have great starters, but you certainly have a pretty damn good team and that’s not stupid at all. Judging each starter individually on their total isn’t a great evaluation, but if I told you that you could have a team with 5 starters each with 20 wins, would you turn it down because ‘wins are stupid’?

            • Get Phelps Up (formerly Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat)

              Well, yeah wins are good for evaluating a teams success because, if a pitcher wins then the team wins, but they aren’t good for evaluating a pitcher because they depend on so many things.

            • .zip file

              Wins are cool for someone like myself, who grew up in the early 70’s and loved seeing lots of wins (and ERAs under 3) on the back of a pitchers baseball card. Yes, they don’t really tell you anything about how a pitcher pitched, but they are kind of a nostalgic stat for me.

            • sangreal

              You already have the standings for that. What does assigning a win to a particular pitcher (who may or may not have contributed to the win) add to the conversation?

              • .zip file

                It doesn’t really add to the conversation, but a lot of wins benefits the pitcher and his agent when negotiating his next contract.

            • Ted Nelson

              “I agree, and that’s why they’re not necessarily indicative of what an individual has done or will do.”

              Right… so it’s stupid to use the stat to describe anything about the individual. It’s a team stat. You agree it’s stupid, you’re just being a pain.

            • Ted Nelson

              “It doesn’t mean you necessarily have great starters, but you certainly have a pretty damn good team and that’s not stupid at all.”

              Right, team wins are not stupid. Individual P wins are. You are confusing the two.

        • Ted Nelson

          The individual stat is stupid. Not the team stat. Come on…

  • Kevin

    Much has been made of our RISP problems and us relying on the long ball.
    Cold hard truth is even during our 09 run,come postseason time both of those were an issue.
    We used the long ball for most of our comebacks and our RISP..yuck.
    We won in 09 for the same reason we’re on a roll lately,our pitching has held up until we get that one clutch hit or home run.
    Stil a valid issue. In game 5 of the ALDS,one base hit would have sent us to the next round.

  • Kiko Jones

    Mets, Braves, Nats…any bristles left on the broom??!! First time they sweep three series in a row since ’98; first 9-game winning streak since ’09; Soriano now has the most saves in a season (13) of any Yankee except Mo since 1997; The Grandy Man had the game-winning HR, his 21st of the season. Oh, and yeah, Super Nova kicked ass (7.2 IN, 1 R, 7 H, 4 SO, 1 BB), has won his last 5 starts, is the first 9-game winner in the AL, and is the first Yankee to win 12 consecutive road games since Rudy May did it in the ’70s. The Yankees are now 40-25 on the season, 15 games over .500 despite deplorable hitting with RISP. Let’s hope it can only get better. Sweet.

    • vicki

      damn, you put it that way.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Rudy F’ing May.

  • Midland TX

    Cano barehand rifle arm HOLY CRAP. Like it ain’t no thing.

  • Monterowasnotdinero

    I actually didn’t mind Nova bunting the second time. He can’t hit and would have K’ed leaving Jeets for a gidp situation.

    The Yankees rightfully respected Harper’s arm but he should still have come home on a ball to right center.

  • Brian in NH

    thorough thrashing of the NL east over the past week. I feel like the Yankees have always owned the Braves more than any other franchise except maybe the Twins. I just remember those WS wins agains ATL back in the 90’s. it was sweet betting them each time.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      +1.

  • MannyGeee

    Also of note from this weekend’s series:

    “Amanda Comak @acomak 20h
    Hearing ?#nats? have designated Brad Lidge for assignment. Nothing official from team yet.”

    So Tex did that…

  • .zip file

    “His strikeout rate has started to come down a bit while the ground ball rate has climbed upward”.

    I like this version of Nova better. He’s much better this way than when he was striking out a ton of guys, but getting hit hard with pitches up in the zone. Pitching 7-2/3 innings with only 97 pitches? Very efficient and with few hard hit balls. I’ll sign up for this every time out.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Of course, this team’s not good enough to go on a long winning streak, can barely win two in a row, and will remain around .500 forever.

    Someday, those folks will get to know the New York Yankees.

    How sweet it is right now. Thanks to my two favorite teams for great victories on Father’s Day. Let’s go for 10!

    • Esteban

      For as long as there is sports, there will be fans that overreact and lose perspective.

  • 28 this year

    What I like most about Nova is that he can be a groundball pitcher and a strikeout guy. He may not get 10 strikeouts a game but when he needs one, he has the weapons to get it. I think in another year or two, he could really be a consistent borderline ace because he has the weapons.

  • Jim Is Bored

    It’s amazing how at some points during the season you expect to see a loss when you check the scores at the end of the day, and then there are times like this where even when we’re losing in the 7th/8th, there’s no doubt we’re going to win.

    Go Yanks!

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    Many HR hitters don’t consider themselves to be. “I’m just trying to drive the ball etc etc”

    How much longer does Grandy NOT bat 3rd, 4th or 5th?

    Does it matter?

    • Cris Pengiucci

      On just about any other team, he would be batting right in the heart of the order. However, this is the Yankees. And right now, it’s working, so I don’t care.

      • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

        True but 21 HR’s and 40 rbi’s is underwhelming in combination. He’s almost on pace for a Barry Bonds performance.

  • Steve (different one)

    You know things are going well when the biggest gripe is about bunting with your pitcher.

    I know he hit a single last week, but he got a cookie because the bases were empty and there were 2 outs. I’m pretty sure if EJax throws his nastiest stuff with a man on 3B and 1 out, Nova is striking out on 3 pitches.

  • http://www.hogwild.net/ HogWild

    Soriano! For all the griping about overpaying for a set-up man, his true value is just this: closer insurance policy. Without Soriano, the Yankees might be blowing 9th inning leads like crazy. Nobody else on the team is proven in that role.

    I don’t like watching pitchers hit BUT… seeing Nova’s bunting batting stance was pure comedy. He looked like Bugs Bunny waving his rear at the fans. haha

    http://www.twitter.com/hogwild