The six-game winning streak was nice while it lasted but it came to an end tonight versus the Blue Jays. Ivan Nova turned in a nice start but obviously, it often takes more than just a nice start to get a team win. Chasen Shreve and Nick Goody allowed four runs combined while hitters not named Austin Romine, Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius failed to collect a single hit.
Ivan the Not Terrible
Remember when Ivan Nova just didn’t look like a competent ML pitcher? He just turned in three decent/solid starts in a row. Many, including I, wondered how he’d do replacing Luis Severino in the rotation. Right now, I don’t know if I’d remove him easily.
Nova wasn’t without mistakes tonight but he struck out 8 in 6.2 IP, which is a good amount for someone who came into the game with 4.45 K/9 rate. His fastball had that old bite with good velocity while his curve was just flat out nasty. More of this, please. As frustrating inconsistent he’s been in his career, his upside can be tantalizing.
I told you he wasn’t without mistakes, right? In the fourth, with a runner on, he induced a soft grounder from Devon Travis to third. It seemed like Headley had a chance to grab it and throw the runner out but he bobbled it, extending the inning. The next batter, Ryan Goins, squared one up for a 2-RBI double to give Toronto a 2-1 lead. Sure, working with an extra out is not easy but he has to be able to get out of the inning unscathed, especially against the light-hitting No. 9 hitter.
In the sixth, Nova gave up a solo HR to Russell Martin for a 3-1 Jays lead. That, by the way, was the first homer of the season for the former Yankee catcher. Prior to tonight, Martin only had one XBH (a double) this season and he goes on to hit two dingers against Yankee pitchers, because of course. Another earned run was charged to Nova in the seventh when Shreve let the inherited runner score on a Michael Saunders HR.
Several Occurrences of Offense
The Yankees scored a run in the third. Headley led off with a single and Didi followed it up with a bunt hit. A passed ball advanced both runners to scoring position and Aaron Hicks earned a four-pitch walk to load the bases with no out. I mentioned that Yankees “scored a run” right? I did mean that they only scored one run in the situation. Jacoby Ellsbury flew out softly to left, not advancing the runner to home. Brett Gardner hit into an RBI fielder’s choice to give Yankees a 1-0 lead and Carlos Beltran flew out to end the inning.
Flash forward to seventh inning, with Marco Estrada’s pitch count up and Yankees trailing 7-1, Headley and Gregorius hit back-to-back solo homers to close the gap. Both of the dingers came on changeups that hung up in the zone but still, it’s the big league hitters’ job to punish mistakes. The Yankees continued their barrage of solo home runs in the ninth with an Austin Romine bomb off of Chad Girodo (an 80-grade Guido name btw) but of course, they were not enough to overcome the lead that Toronto had.
Not Keeping It Close
Speaking of the Toronto lead, they were amplified by two big HRs off of Chasen Shreve. In the seventh, Girardi pulled Nova out after an Edwin Encarnacion HBP and put the lefty in. Shreve hung a very mediocre slider in the middle of the zone and Saunders didn’t miss any of it, 5-1 Jays. Shreve allowed a full-count double to Smoak and followed it up by giving up a dinger to Martin (his second of the night and season!) to let the game out of control. After tonight, he has pitched 19 innings and allowed seven (!) home runs. That’s a 3.32 HR/9 rate, which is pretty awful. You wonder what happened to this guy after dominating for most of 2015. Relief pitchers can be quite volatile like that.
Nick Goody came into relief with two outs in the eighth. He gave up consecutive walks to Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson to begin his outing. Encarnacion grounded an RBI single to left to make it 8-3 Jays. Not a banner performance for a young guy who’s trying to stick to the roster. Two non-elite relievers had middling performances today and it was that kind of night for the Yankees.
Box Score, Highlights, WPA, Standings
The Yankees are going to face the Jays tomorrow in a 4 pm matchup of lefties – J.A. Happ versus C.C. Sabathia. Will they extend the losing streak or start a new winning one? We’ll see.