Nova, Granderson Outshine Halos’ Rookie

GAME 115

YANKEES 9, ANGELS 3

Redemption.

That is a word that can apply to both Ivan Nova and Curtis Granderson. Nova is the rookie who was sent down to the minors and who is trying desperately to stay. Granderson is the veteran who had a horrible initial season with the Yankees but is making everyone forget because of his sterling 2011 season.

Both Nova and Granderson played key roles Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium as New York raced to an early and lead and coasted to victory over Los Angeles.

Nova (11-4) pitched his third consecutive solid game with six strong innings and Granderson provided the bulk of the offense with a pair of home runs and four RBIs as the Yankees defeated a pitcher making his major-league debut against them for the first time since July, 2004.

Nova, 24, gave up three runs on five hits and three walks over six-plus innings to take the lead in victories among all rookie major-league pitchers. In his three starts since he was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Nova is 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA. With Manager Joe Girardi looking to remove one starter from what is a six-man rotation at the moment, Nova is staking a claim for one of those five spots.

Granderson and the Yankees opened the scoring early on 23-year-old Garrett Richards, who was called up from Double-A Arkansas to make his debut. But jitters and a sellout crowd of 46,967 may have played a part as he walked Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter to begin the game. Two outs later, Granderson connected with a fastball from the right-hander and he deposited it into the bleachers in right-centerfield for his 30th home run of the season, which ties his career high set with the Detroit Tigers in 2009.

Richards then appeared to settle down for two innings. But the Yankees added a pair of runs in the fourth when Robison Cano opened the frame with a triple and Nick Swisher drove him in with a single. Eric Chavez then followed with a double off the wall in right-center to score Swisher.

Granderson added a run in the fifth with a one-out solo home run off Richards again, this time it landed in the second deck down the right-field line. Granderson now has has a career-high 31 home runs and 91 RBIs on the season.

Richards (0-1) pitched five innings, giving up six runs on six hits and two walks and he struck out two.

Nova was touched for a solo home run off the bat of Peter Bourjos in the fifth and he was chased in the seventh after he gave up a walk to Torii Hunter, a single to Mark Trumbo, an RBI single to Vernon Wells that scored Hunter and a walk to Alberto Callaspo to load the bases. Before the sixth inning, Nova had recorded 14 of his 18 outs on ground balls.

Rafael Soriano was summoned from the bullpen to replace Nova. He did allow Trumbo to score but the Yankees gladly gave up the run to complete a Jeter to Teixeira double play. Soriano then retired Jeff Mathis on a flyout to end the threat.

The Yankees meanwhile tacked three more runs on the board off reliever Joel Pineiro. Cano struck the big blow in the seventh with his 19th home run of the season, a two-run lined shot to the opposite field in left-center.

With the victory, the Yankees improved their season record to 70-45. They also gained a full game on the first-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East as the Minnesota Twins defeated Jon Lester and his teammates 5-2 at Target Field. The Yankees now trail by 1 1/2 games. The Angels, meanwhile, fell to 64-53.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Nova was unable to locate his slider at all. So he was forced to rely on his sinking fastball and curveball exclusively. Catcher Russell Martin said Nova’s stuff was the worst he has had since he was recalled but the decision to scrap the slider showed how much Nova has matured as a pitcher in a short time. His effort means Girardi must decide to trim a starter from between Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett.
  • Granderson showcased his unbelievable revival season to a national TV audience on ESPN. Though most pundits believe Adrian Gonzalez of the Red Sox is the front-runner for the A.L. MVP award, Granderson is giving the first baseman a run for his money with his magnificent season. To have 31 homers, 91 RBIs, a major-league-leading 104 runs scored and a .275 average with 22 stolen bases in early August is not too shabby.
  • Cano is beginning to rediscover his home run stroke. He has three home runs in his last seven games and he is 10-for-28 (.357) with seven RBIs over that span. Five of his 10 hits have been for extra bases. Cano is batting .343 in August and has raised his average to .299.
  • Soriano is proving his arm is sound after returning from two months on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation. In his five appearances, Soriano has not given up a hit or a run in his five innings of work. He also has not walked a batter and struck out five. His presence deepens the bullpen and takes some pressure off David Roberston and Mariano Rivera.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

There is not much to criticize tonight. Nova pitched well, the offense got untracked early and there were some exceptional defensive plays that helped the Yankees maintain their lead. Breaking their three-game losing streak was very much needed.

BOMBER BANTER

Alex Rodriguez will get back into action on Friday as the designated hitter at a minor-league game in Tampa, FL. Rodriguez, who is recovering from right knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, will either play for the Class A Advanced Yankees or the Gulf Coast League Yankees and then play third base in a game on Saturday. The Yankees hope to activate Rodriguez on their road trip to Kansas City that begins on Monday.  . . .  For the third consecutive game, Chavez was inserted as the designated hitter against a right-handed starter instead of Jorge Posada. With Andruw Jones drawing the DH duties against left-handers, it appears Posada, who is hitting .167 in August after hitting .217 in July, is without a defined role on the team.  . . .  Despite blowing his fifth save of the season on Sunday and losing his second game of the season on Monday, the Yankees are not concerned about Rivera. Despite the back-to-back setbacks, Rivera is 1-2 with a 2.23 ERA and 29 saves in his 46 appearances.

ON DECK

The Yankees will try to win the rubber game of theie three-game home series against the Angels on Thursday.

Bartolo Colon (8-6, 3.33 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Though Colon lasted only 4 2/3 innings on Friday against the Red Sox, he gave up only two runs on six hits in a game the Yankees won 3-2. Colon beat the Angels on June 5 in Anaheim, giving up three runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. He is 7-5 with a 3.25 ERA against them since 2001.

Colon will be opposed by Angels rookie right-hander Tyler Chatwood (6-8, 4.10 ERA). Chatwood has given up 11 runs over 11 2/3 innings in his last two starts. He has just one win since June 25. He has never faced the Yankees before.

Game-time will be at 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be televised by the YES Network.

 

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