Nova shuts down Braves as Yanks win fourth straight

Soriano unavailable due to blister, should be good for tomorrow
Poll: Internally Replacing Brett Gardner

Different league, different rules, same result. The Yankees played their first 2012 interleague game in an NL park on Monday, shutting out the Braves for their fourth win in a row. New York has now won seven of eight, nine of eleven, and 14 of 18 to tie the Rays atop the AL East with a 35-25 record.

(Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Two Outs
Rookie right-hander Randall Delgado has been a five-and-fly guy for Atlanta this year, so the goal for the Yankees was to get his pitch count up. Although Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson made two outs on seven pitches in the first, they were able to extend the inning and score a run when Alex Rodriguez scorched a double over Martin Prado‘s head in left and Robinson Cano drove him in with a single to center. Delgado’s shot at a quick inning went kaput with the two-out mini-rally, something I always enjoy seeing. Anytime you can score a run with two outs and the bases empty, it has to demoralize the other team to a certain extent.

Two Strikes
One thing I enjoy just as much as two-out rallies is two-strike hits. The AL as a whole is hitting .178/.246/.278 in two-strike counts this year — the Yankees were at .178/.259/.328 coming into this game — so it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do. Delgado got ahead of Raul Ibanez with three straight fastballs to lead off the second before hanging a 1-2 curveball, which Raul launched to right for his first homer since the final game of the Reds’ series. That was 19 games ago. The Yankees were up two-zip following the two-out and two-strike scores.

Seven Scoreless
This was a solid but very weird start for Ivan Nova, who put the leadoff man on-base in five of seven innings … but only allowed one runner to reach second base all night. That was when he balked Prado to second with two outs in the fourth. He just made pitches when he needed to and was able to pitch around danger all evening. Nova only got seven ground balls out of 14 balls in play, but he struck out six and got some pretty stellar defense behind him (more on that in a second). I thought he may have had another inning in him after finishing the seventh at 102 pitches, but with the three-run lead Joe Girardi understandably pinch-hit in the eighth to try to increase the lead. After allowing at least two runs in each of his first ten starts, Nova’s allowed one run total in his last two. Well done, kid.

(AP Photo/Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Curtis Compton)

Flash The Leather
As I said, Nova got a little help defensively. He made a nice stab on an Andrelton Simmons line drive in the third, and was able to get rid of it in time to double the runner off first. Nick Swisher make a leaping catch at the wall to rob Brian McCann of some kind of extra-base hit with no outs in the fourth, then Cano made a nice play from his knees on a hard-hit Freddie Freeman grounder to end that inning. I don’t know if McCann’s ball would have left the yard but it was close. At the very least it was going to be off the top of wall for a run-scoring double. McCann smashed a line drive right at Mark Teixeira at first in the ninth, capping off the kind of night the Yankees usually have with runners in scoring position. Lots of hard hit balls but everything seemed to be right at someone.

Mix & Match
With Rafael Soriano unavailable due to a minor blister problem, Girardi emptied out his bullpen and used four pitchers to get the final six outs. Cody Eppley got the first out of the eighth, raising his season ground ball rate to a whopping 67.5%. Clay Rapada then came in to retire the next two batters, including the lefty mashing Matt Diaz with a three-pitch strikeout. Can’t say I expected that. Cory Wade (one out) and Boone Logan (two outs) wrapped things up in a perfect ninth. Freddy Garcia was warming up in the ninth and I have to say it would have been pretty wild to see him replace Logan to record the final out. The Braves came into the game as the seventh highest scoring team in baseball at 4.80 runs per game, but the Yankees didn’t let him get a single runner to third base. The pitching has been excellent of late and it continued on Monday.

(Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Leftovers
Nova became the first Yankees’ hurler to pick up a hit since Andy Pettitte singled off Dan Haren on June 22nd, 2010. He slapped an opposite field single to right off Delgado with two outs in the second. I’m pretty sure it would have been a double for most players but there was no reason for the starting pitcher to push it.

Here’s an interesting one: Ibanez became the first 40-year-old player in franchise history to hit at least ten homers in a season with his second inning blast. That was is hard to believe so I had to Play Index it and yep, it’s true. Apparently all of the all-time greats were either retired or just flat out ineffective by age 40. Crazy, isn’t it?

The Yankees did strand eleven men on base and went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, though they only grounded into two double plays. I swear it felt like six. They scored their third run when Delgado uncorked a wild pitch with two outs and the bases loaded in the third. One of these days they’ll go 15-for-16 with runners in scoring position and it’ll be glorious.

I gotta say, I was surprised by how many Yankees fans were in attendance. It sounded like a typical crowd in Baltimore with “Let’s Go Yan-Kees!” chants and everything.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

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


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

Same two teams on Tuesday night for Game Two of this three-game interleague series. CC Sabathia gets the ball against fellow southpaw Mike Minor.

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Soriano unavailable due to blister, should be good for tomorrow
Poll: Internally Replacing Brett Gardner
  • mustang

    mustang says:
    May 22, 2012 at 12:31 am
    I think they have reached bottom I have no factual analysis to back this up, but I think they are going to turn it around soon.?I do enjoy some of our proud and faithful jumping ship with 120 games left to go.?So here they stand on May 22, 2012 5.5 games back our repost this WHEN they are in first place.
    REPLY
    Robinson Tilapia says: ?May 22, 2012 at 8:32 am ?Tonight feels like a much better matchup, even with Hughes on the mound. Yes, there will be signs of life soon. No, it actually isn’t as bad as it seems. Yes, it certainly does feel like complete rotten ass right now.?REPLY

    BTW- For all you ship jumpers this happen in less then 30 days!!!!!!

    • mustang

      http://riveraveblues.com/2012/.....-kc-68893/

      Here is the thread although we all know the normal themes:

      Cashman should be fired…….

      The team is old………

      If Montero were here they wouldn’t have these problems……

      The thread is a lot more entertaining now.
      Its over….doom…..death….kill your first born…..run for the hills….

      • Bunt Gardner

        Ha! I had forgotten about that thread. A lot of names you never see on the site these days.

        • Havok9120

          I tried to read through it to enjoy it.

          It didn’t work.

      • forensic

        The team is old………

        Well, whether they’re playing well or playing terribly, it’s not like this is really debatable. According to BR, their offense is easily the oldest in baseball, more than 1.5 years older than Philly overall and 2.5 years older than Boston in just the AL. Their pitchers are tied with LA for the oldest in the AL (both almost 2 years older than the next oldest) and only a little over .5 years younger than the Mets who are the oldest in MLB.

        • Havok9120

          Its more a question of whether or not its serious detriment (which that thread’s posts on the topic make “clear” it is) or not.

          • mustang

            Bingo.

      • Esteban

        Some real gems, including one saying they were too many games back in the division to make the difference up.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      ….and they’ll still try and tell us it isn’t worth cheering for now, won’t they?

      • mustang

        Yes sir they will.

  • Adam Parker

    Was at the game tonight. I almost think we out numbered the Braves fans.
    It seemed the Yanks had control the whole time; never felt close to me even though there were runners on. Nova pitched one hell of a game.

    • mustang

      “I almost think we out numbered the Braves fans.”

      I’m going to game on Wednesday and usually have a hard time getting good seats for Yankees away game especially interleague not the case with the Braves. They really have a bad fan base.

      • Adam Parker

        Aye it was sad. There were plenty of “let’s go Yankees” cheers and rarely were they shouted down.

        • BK2ATL

          The Braves fans are “polite” Southerners. After almost 20 yrs down here, it is what it is. I’m just thankful that I can get great seats when the Yanks come to town. LOL!!!

      • PeteyNice

        Not to really defend Braves fans, but three points.

        – We were just here three years ago.
        – Their collapse at the end of last season really killed their fans. Their attendance is down.
        – They do that variable pricing nonsense and the Yankees are naturally at the highest level.

        That said, seeing all the Yankee fans here impresses me more than Baltimore. There it is Tri State area folks down for a day trip/weekend. Here, the fans live in Johns Creek, not Jersey. Atlanta is a huge transplant city. When the Knicks come tot town Philips Arena really is the Garden.

    • Adam Parker

      You didn’t mention Bourne robbing Ibanez of a potential two run double. One of the best catches I’ve ever seen live.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    Another thing for Nova, 107 pitches but only 60 strikes. Not enough strikes, but a marked improvement over his previous starts. I’d caution against putting too much stock into this little streak though, much like a team isn’t as bad as they look as they’re losing they’re not as good as they look when they’re winning.

    • mustang

      Kill joy.

    • Havok9120

      I….I don’t really know what to say. I mean, we tie for first place, the pitching has been awesome for going on three weeks, offense has at least LOOKED better even when the numbers don’t back it up….and that’s all you’ve got? 14 of 18 and that’s the most positive thing you feel?

      I get being objective and I get arguing process is more predictive than results, but SURELY you must feel better about the team than this post makes it sound? I’m not arguing or mocking or accusing you of being a troll (you’re not at all), I’m honestly asking.

      • mustang

        Some people get a Porsche with a playboy bunny inside for Christmas and bitch about the gas mileage and the fake boobs.

        WHATEVER!!!!

        • forensic

          Heh, this reminds of one of those stereotypical ‘New York Jewish Princess’ girls from my High School whose parents bought her a car for her birthday and she bitched because it wasn’t a convertible…

      • Jimmy McNulty

        Lets be honest here, They’re 8-2 in their last ten. That’s .800 ball, they’re not that good. 95 wins would be a miraculous season considering they’ve lost Gardner and Robertson for extended periods of time and Rivera and Pineda for the season. 95 wins is a .587 team (incidentally their winning percentage now). They’re not as good as the 8-2 last ten suggests. Fact. Much like they weren’t as bad as the rough patch in mid may, nor will they be as bad as the future rough patches they will hit suggest either.

        As far as the offense goes, I’ve never put too much stock into the whole “RISP fail” thing but Gardner needs to come back soon so Dwayne Wise and Jason Nix stop getting regular playing time post-haste.

        • Havok9120

          Oh no, they aren’t 8-2 long term. NO team is 8-2 long term. But that’s kind of my point here, since they play in a league/division and not in a vacuum.

          Again, I’m really, really not criticizing here at all. Your views don’t affect me in any meaningful way and its just a game. That post just sounded really….well, determinedly unoptimistic in combination with other posts. Not pessimistic per se, just like you aren’t at all enjoying a (very good and rather extended) winning streak, which is just odd to hear from a baseball fan since those are really all we can look forward to over the course of a 6 month regular season.

          • newguy

            well said. If you’re not going to enjoy winning streaks why watch?

          • Jimmy McNulty

            Who said I’m not enjoying the win streak? I’m just saying that when thinking about this remember when they were struggling to stay over .500 in mid May, likewise remember this the next time they go through a tight wind.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          “They’re not as good as the 8-2 last ten suggests. Fact.”

          Well that just settles it, doesn’t it?

          No one’s claiming shit, McNulty. Stop taking Greg’s parade-peeing pills, sit back, and enjoy what you’ve got.

          Agree completely on your second paragraph. I hate the seven-man lineup, when it happens. Can Dwayne Wise shoot a better jumper than DeWayne Wise, though?

        • Deep Thoughts

          DERPFAIL

    • BK2ATL

      0 runs allowed. How does that figure into your analysis???

      • Jimmy McNulty

        …but a marked improvement over his previous starts

        That’s how. Not perfect but he’s headed in the right direction

    • RetroRob

      Right. It’s the collective. Winning streaks, losing streaks, and the in between. Add it all up, and the Yankees are in first place. That’s all you need to know.

  • mustang

    “Ibanez became the first 40-year-old player in franchise history to hit at least ten homers in a season with his second inning blast.’

    He is still blocking the younger AAA players.

    DAMN HIM!!!!!

    • Havok9120

      So is Pettitte. Phelps could do this in his sleep.

      • forensic

        I was all for Ibanez when they decided to dump Montero.

        Obviously Pettitte was a different story and he’s vastly outperformed my expectations of him. Hopefully it sticks all year (probably not quite to this level, but close maybe) and I’m wrong. But, I still would’ve liked to see another kid on the roster in place of one of the Garcia/Kuroda/Pettitte general age group, though I have been pleased that Phelps has at least been allowed to travel with the club still (not that he’s pitched in forever though).

        Now people are talking about Pettitte possibly coming back again next year with how he’s doing now. That would’ve changed my stance a bit in that it wouldn’t have just been a couple month thing and would have a little impact on the future, but that’s still yet to be determined.

        • Havok9120

          The only trouble is, none of the young guys have been stellar at their assigned levels. Phelps’ compatriots in AAA have been…underwhelming at best and he himself has struggled more than his base stats would indicate. He’s markedly better than Garcia (or Colon, for those of you who leaned that way), but it’d be hard to take him over even a significantly regressed Pettitte or a Kuroda. And he’s been the best of the young bunch by a good margin unless I’m misremembering DotF.

          I mean, do we really want to replace Garcia with one of the AAA starters? The upgrade would be real (if not huge), but any chance at pitching regularly would be out the window. Maybe a short-relief guy but even then he gets lost in the shuffle, and I’m not sure we want to Noesi two guys in one year. And none of the AAA guys (or Phelps) was or is going to give us what Kuroda/Pettitte has so far or what they seem likely to give going forward.

          Not really arguing here, just a stream of thoughts.

          • forensic

            Correct, they haven’t been stellar, but this is based on what was known 3-4 months ago, not hindsight. It’s not overly fair to take something that someone was basing on 4 months ago knowledge and judging it with current knowledge.

            And really, if I had the choice I’d replace Garcia with a position player. Not sure who, maybe a Branyan/Cust type, more likely someone like a Nunez who can really steal you a base when you need it (not overly sold on Wise) and has extreme versatility (whether he’s good there is a question, but he can play many positions if an injury pops up) in emergency situations.

            • Havok9120

              All fair enough points. We disagreed then on what results were expected, so its not as if we should be in agreement now. :P

              And yeah, I’d switch out Garcia for a position player as well, at least for now. That, however, is most unlikely to happen, more’s the pity.

          • Kosmo

            Rapada is temporarily out of my doghouse.
            With Nova I always have my fingers crossed, let´s hope this is the real Chevy Nova with the mag wheels , dual carbs and 4 on the floor.

            • Havok9120

              Yeah, much as I would like a better option than Rapada (or even a different option), I must say having two lefties out of the pen has been useful, especially when Logan keeps showing he’s more of an all-purpose guy now (keep it up, man).

              The fact that Rapada has temporarily stopped totally sucking is certainly nice.

              • forensic

                Logan’s continued emergence vs. righties is really the only reason Rapada’s presence on the roster is still tolerable. If there were two of them pigeon-holed, it’s be even more an absurd waste of roster spots.

            • forensic

              Geez, I shouldn’t even admit this but the Chevy Nova thing reminded me of terrible jokes from my High School Spanish teacher.

              That’s now two 15ish year old flashbacks to High School in one night. I think I probably need to go to bed and reboot the old coconut or something, that’s pretty pitiful.

              • Kosmo

                relajarse y descanor un poco.

                • forensic

                  something and something a little.

                  Like I said, it’s been 15ish years…

                  • Kosmo

                    relax and get a little rest

          • MannyGeee

            (or Colon, for those of you who leaned that way)

            #nohomo

    • Robinson Tilapia

      …..which is amazing, since I swore we actually killed him back in March.

      Everyone goes down for the Count.

  • wilcymoore27

    So Jeter and A-Rod can both vie to break Ibanez’ home run record when they turn 40.

    • forensic

      I was going to say this same thing about A-Rod, but no way I see Jeter still reaching double digits in a couple years.

      • Havok9120

        Indeed.

  • pat

    That one felt routine. A few more like this and they might get a little bit of sway. You can almost feel a bit of a chemistry building. Random dudes start getting important outs, a couple big plays in the field, a few timely hits. To me it’s palpable. Maybe Nova and Hughes start to challenge each other? Maybe a little bit of that Kevin Long VooDoo is starting to take root in Russel the Muscle? I dunno, I could be talking out my ass or I could just be sippin too much if the ‘quil, but something might be brewing.

    • MannyGeee

      maybe its playing 6 of their last 10 against AAAA and 3 more against a floundering Rays team.

      but no, lets go with the voodoo theory…

      • Jim Is Bored

        So who do you want us to beat to prove that we’re good? Besides the Rangers and I guess CWS, who the heck else is out there? If we beat the Nats will you complain about AAAA again despite their ridiculous pitching?

        We can only beat the teams we play. Enjoy it. And calling the Rays floundering is just weird.

        • Kosmo

          If the competition is this crappy then it should be a cake walk 95-100 win season.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    But..but..Ibanez is washed up!

    /WhySpringTrainingIsOverratedForVeterans’d

    • MannyGeee

      /WhySpringTrainingIsOverratedForVeterans’d

      Fat Bart disagrees.

  • forensic

    Hope no one got in McCann’s way on his way home tonight. How he wasn’t 3-4 with a double and two homers with how the balls looked after he hit I don’t know.

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    I think the Dodgers grossly overpaid to,resign Ethier at $17 million per year for years 30-36. He’s already horrible in RF.

    I can easily see them give Cole Hamels a Sabathia like contract this fall.

    • Kosmo

      Ethier rakes and he´s an OK RF.

    • MannyGeee

      new management, they’ve got money to burn. Cole will def get a Godfather offer this winter, and I bet they throw another big contract out there too to a position player.

      • MannyGeee

        errr, new ownership. my bad

  • Kosmo

    Andruw Jones and Justin Maxwell at this point in the season:
    Jones:
    82 ABs 19 runs 6 HR 13 RBI 11 BB 30 SO .232 AVE .319 OBA .462 SLG .
    Maxwell:
    93 ABs 22 runs 6 HR 18 RBI 11 BB 34 SO .237 AVE .327 OBA .476 SLG.

    remarkably similar.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Honestly? Good for Maxwell. Getting opportunities he wouldn’t have gotten on the Yanks.

      • Kosmo

        Honestly? I´m just pointing out an oddity. To be honest I´m not a fan of either.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Wasn’t knocking you for the comparison.

  • Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan

    A-Rod’s double was just his sixth (6th!) on the season. I know he’s been designated to a ‘singles hitter’, but damn, just six doubles?

    • MannyGeee

      please, no more.. this makes me sad.

  • The Scheister of Doom

    I went to this game and there were roughly 13 raindrops throughout the entire game, despite a rather grim weather forecast. Swishers catch was sweet, the ATL had a lot of Yanks fans in the house and most importantly the Yanks won! The two or three times they loaded the bases and did zero thereafter was frustrating but a win is a win. In unrelated news, I bid on an autographed A-Rod ball that I won and now sits proudly on my mantle.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Love me some good Yankee pitching, and they just keep delivering. Wouldn’t have expected this even a month ago. Let’s keep it rolling tonight.

  • mike

    The most interesting part is that besides Cano and Martin, the offense feels very ordinary for the past two weeks (with small flashes by Tex and Gradnerson)and their questionable starters and pen are anchoring this run.

    Hopefully the offense will soon start to click, and the potential staggered return of Gardner/Joba/Aardsma throughout the summer will just provide the Yanks with more depth and flexability

    • The Guns of Navarone

      Dude, the Yankees defense is terrible. Cano is having a good season, Tex is always solid, A-Rod is passable (thank God), but the team as a whole is one of the worst in baseball in just about every fielding metric. They don’t make many errors (relatively) and that’s really their saving grace.

  • OMG! Bagels!

    I remember when I first started traveling for business (late 90s) and was gone almost all summer and had to see the Yankees if they were in the same city I was in or a side jaunt to see them would be worth it before I headed home (happened more often than I thought).

    The first time I went to an opposing team’s ballpark I expected to boo’d for wearing my Yankee gear. I was pleasantly surprised to see a line of mostly Yankee fans as I walked up to the gate. I’ve also had the pleasure of sitting in an almost-all Yankee fan section of an opposing team. Very random but such fun.

  • Wow

    I was at the game. There were so many Yankee fans ther, the stadium clubhouse might as well have started selling Yankees merchandise. They probably would have made more money that way.

    Great game. Mad fun. Seeing those defensive plays live was pretty sick.

    Oh, and Clay Rapada’s delivery looks even more painful in person.

  • captain kiwi

    going to the game tonight. stoked!