Saturday, July 6, 2013

Another Walk-Off Win

There were two heroes tonight, and the most important was not Vernon Wells, who got the walk-off single in the ninth to score Gardner, but it was Nova who provided the Yankees with a complete game effort. Ivan Nova was the forgotten man in the Yankees system. After a poor 2012 and a bad start to the 2013 year, Ivan landed on the disabled list then was placed in AAA before coming up to pitch in the bullpen as a long relief man. The Yankees liked what they saw from Nova and he became a spot starter for them, making starts for injured pitchers already in the rotation or making a start because everyone else was pushed back one day. Tonight, in place of Kuroda, Nova was as dominant as he has looked over the last year and a half. He struck out an amazing eleven batters in his nine innings of work and besides Matt Wieters hitting a home run that barely made it out in the second inning, Nova shut down the Orioles potent offense. The Orioles were only able to scratch out three hits against Nova in nine innings. Through the majority of the game they held a slim lead as Ivan Nova kept the deficit at one run for his offense to come back into the game. Luis Cruz was able to drive in the Yankees' first run in the fourth inning but other than that hit, the Yankees were shooting blanks with runners in scoring position until the ninth inning rally off closer Jim Johnson.

Jim Johnson's blown save was the his sixth of the season and second against the Yankees. His first blown save versus the Yankees came in Baltimore in May when Travis Hafner hit a home run in the ninth to tie the game. Tonight, the inning began innocently with a base hit by a struggling David Adams followed by an error by Johnson on a ground ball from Brett Gardner. Ichiro bunted both runners into scoring position. Buck Showalter was not going to let Robinson Cano beat him, so as any other manager would do in that situation, he had Johnson walk Cano to face Travis Hafner as a potential double play candidate. However, Johnson lost the strike zone with Hafner at the plate and walked him to force David Adams in from third base. Another forgotten man in the personality of Vernon Wells came through with a ground ball that snuck through the 5.5 hole to score Brett Gardner, winning the game for the Yankees and gaining yet another game in the standings on the Baltimore Orioles.

The game featured many forgotten men coming through in big moments, beginning with Ivan Nova and ending with Nova and Wells. Baseball is perhaps the most unpredictable sport because anyone can get a hit at any moment, regardless of his past or current state of play. Vernon Wells came through on the offensive side while Ivan Nova showed the Yankees that he is still the pitcher who won sixteen games in his rookie campaign.

Tomorrow afternoon, Chris Tillman will pitch against the Yankees for the second time in less than a week after earning a dominant win against the Bombers in Baltimore. Andy Pettitte will be on the mound for the Yankees. Pettitte is due to make a quality start as his last few have been disappointing which lowered his season record at 5-6 with a somewhat inflated ERA.

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