Playing a division rival in a tight race for a playoff spot? No problem, hand the ball to your ace. With CC Sabathia struggling and Hiroki Kuroda hitting a wall, Ivan Nova grabbed hold of the staff ace moniker with a brilliant performance in Saturday’s huge win over the Orioles. Let’s recap the 2-0 victory:
- SuperDuperNova: By Game Score (85), Nova’s three-hit shutout of the O’s was the best start by a Yankee since Sabathia last September (this game). All three hits were singles, and he also walked one and hit two batters with pitches. Nova got ten (!) swings and misses out of 38 curveballs while striking out five and getting eleven ground ball outs. Other than Chris Davis’ fly out in the ninth — Ichiro Suzuki admitted to trolling fans by acting like it was a homer — none of the eleven fly balls were scary. Nova was dominant against a very good offense. He was marvelous. What a turn around for him.
- Don’tcha Know: Nova needed to be great because the offense didn’t give him much room to work with. First inning doubles into the right field corner by Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano gave the Yankees an early 1-0 lead, and the score stayed that way until Cano plated an insurance run with a monster solo homer leading off the eighth. Two runs, that was it. Once again, Robbie was the man who made it happen.
- Leftovers: Really rough day for Derek Jeter, who went 0-for-4 and grounded into rally-killing double plays in the fifth and seventh innings … Cano, Gardner, and Lyle Overbay had two hits apiece while the other six hitters in the lineup went a combined 1-for-19. The one was a Curtis Granderson bloop double … Mark Reynolds drew the only walk.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Regardless of who wins tonight’s Rays-Athletics game, the Yankees will be four games back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. They jumped over the Orioles and into third place (by percentage points) in the AL East with the win and there are now no teams between New York and that second wildcard spot. That’s huge. Cool Standings gives them a 13.6% chance to make the postseason at the moment. Andy Pettitte will look to complete the sweep on Sunday afternoon against fellow southpaw Wei-Yin Chen. RAB Tickets can help get you in the door if you want to watch live.