Saturday, September 21, 2013

Nova Tosses a Gem

The Yankees needed a strong outing from Ivan Nova since the bullpen will likely be in use by the seventh inning with Andy Pettitte on the mound tomorrow for his final home start. Nova went the distance as he threw nine scoreless innings for the second time this year and the second time in his young career. The Yankees have something special in Ivan Nova. The pitcher has gone through his trials and tribulations and has come out stronger in the second half of 2013. Nova was a shell of his rookie self last season when he had an ERA north of 5 and couldn't get past the sixth inning in any of his starts. After three straight rocky starts for Nova where he still was able to keep his team in the game, the right handed pitcher showed his team why he was the American League pitcher of the month in August. In today's start against the slumping Giants, Nova allowed six hits in nine innings. He walked one batter which came in the eighth inning and struck out seven. The Giants couldn't get a runner past second base and never really mounted a significant rally against the Yankees starting pitcher. Nova's heavy sinker was causing the Giants hitters to pound the ball into the ground for groundball outs and Nova was fooling the Giants with his big looping curveball which was causing batters to swing and miss all afternoon. The Giants only made five outs in the air and the despite Nova's decreased velocity he was able to adjust and get his third complete game of the year and second shutout. Days like these make you think that the Yankees may have a future ace in waiting.

The offense certainly backed Nova as they scored six runs. Five of the runs were scored off starter Ryan Vogelsong. Three of the runs were scored in the third when the Yankees played ABC baseball on a sac fly, a ground ball and a single by Cano with a runner on third with two outs in the inning to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead. In the next inning Eduardo Nunez showed his power stroke as he hit a two-run shot to left field which gave the Yankees a 5-0 lead. The score would hold until the sixth when Alfonso Soriano led off the inning with a home run of his own, swinging at the first pitch. Soriano's thumb looks like it is improving with his recent power surge. Soriano now has 34 homers on the year and 17th with the Yankees. Soriano had the same number of homers in 93 games with the Cubs. It has taken him 52 games to get as many home runs with the Yankees. He also has one less RBI with New York as he did with Chicago.

Tomorrow should be a special day for the Yankees as they will honor Mariano Rivera with a special ceremony at 12:15. It will also be Andy Pettitte's final regular season home start and you can bet that he will be honored along with Rivera. I will be at the game tomorrow, so I'm hoping that I can remember watching Pettitte's last home start with a win and save by Mariano Rivera.

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