Nova Extinguishes Flames To Shut Out Twins

GAME 125

YANKEES 3, TWINS 0

For five innings the Twins and Yankees seemed to be not getting the whole ABC offense thing of (A) get them on, (B) get them over and (C) get them in. They each did OK on the A and B part but neither could pull the trigger on C.

Fortunately, for the Yankees, the Twins never did get it and the Yankees found a way to win utilizing some timely offense and geting great pitching from rookie right-hander Ivan Nova and their bullpen.

New York managed to shut out Minnesota at their home in Target Field on Sunday in front of a sellout crowd of 41,242 and a national television audience watching on TBS.

Nova (13-4) held the Twins hitless through three innings until Joe Mauer stroked a lined single to right with one out in the fourth. He was promptly erased in a double play.

But over the next three innings, the Twins kept mounting threats against Nova only to be stymied.

In the fifth, the Twins got a leadoff single from Jim Thome and Danny Valencia lofted a fly ball that dropped between and rolled past Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher for a double. Using his wicked slider, Nova was able to strike out Rene Tosoni and Matt Tolbert and Drew Butera rolled out to end the threat.

In the sixth, Mauer smashed a two-out single and Jason Kubel drew a walk. However, Nova shut the Twins down by striking out slugger Jim Thome.

In the seventh, Valencia opened the inning with a single to center. But Nova retired the next three batters on flyball outs.

The Yankees, meanwhile, could not seem to get a big hit when they needed it off starter Nick Blackburn or reliever Anthony Swarzak.

In the first inning, Jeter led off with an infield single and reached second on a passed ball by Butera. Curtis Granderson then drew a walk. However, Mark Teixeira rolled into a double play and Alex Rodriguez, playing in his first game since before the All-Star break due to right knee surgery, bounced out to short.

In he next inning, with one out Blackburn walked Nick Swisher, Russell Martin and Brett Gardner in succession to load the bases. On the final pitch to Gardner ,Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and the Twins’ trainer sprinted to the mound and Blackburn left the game with what was termed a lateral forearm strain.

Swarzak entered the game and promptly struck out Eduardo Nunez and Jeter lined out to end that threat.

The Yankees then did not get a hit or walk off Swarzak over the next two innings but they did load the bases with two out in the fifth off left-handed reliever Phil Dumatrait. However, Dumatrait was able to get Rodriguez to pop up weakly to end that threat.

Through five innings, the Yankees were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and they had left seven runners on base, including two innings in which they left the bases loaded.

But the Twins ran out of miracles in the sixth. Robinson Cano lashed an opposite-field double to start the inning. Swisher hit a long fly ball to left that Tosoni caught but Cano was able to tag up and reach third. Cano then scored on a sacrifice line drive smash to center by Russell Martin, his fourth RBI in the three games he played in the series.

The Yankees padded the lead in the next inning by using some fast legs and powerful wrists.

Facing reliever Jose Mijares with one out, Granderson stroked a lined shot off the very top of the wall in right-center and the ball rolled back towards the infield between center-fielder Ben Revere and right-fielder Jason Kubel. By the time Revere got on his horse to retrieve the ball and relayed a throw to Trevor Plouffe, Granderson was heading for home plate. Granderson beat the throw from Plouffe and the tag of Butera for an inside-the-park home run. It was Granderson 35th home run of the season and the third inside-the-park home run of his career.

Teixeira followed with his 34th home run of the season. This one was the traditional over-the-fence kind that landed in the left-field bleachers.

The Yankees protected that 3-0 margin with Nova and bullpen. Nova pitched seven innings and gave up only five hits and one walk and he fanned five batters for his ninth victory in his last 10 starts. He is 9-0 with a 3.48 ERA in those starts. Since his demotion to Triple-A in July, Nova is 5-0 with a 3.55 ERA.

David Robertson continued the Twins’ offensive frustration in the eighth. Robertson gave up singles to Revere and Mauer (Mauer’s third hit of the game) sandwiched by a strikeout. After fanning Kubel for the second out, Robertson walked Thome to load the bases. However, Robertson, who is called “Houdini” by his teammates because of how he escapes bases-loaded jams, got Valencia to hit a routine fly ball that Swisher caught in medium right to end yet another threat.

The Twins left nine runners on and they were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on the day.

Mariano Rivera was called upon to close out the game out and he did that by pitching a perfect ninth. He fanned the last two batters to collect his 33rd save in 38 chances and No. 592 in his career.

With the victory, the Yankees’ record improved to 77-48 and they also maintained their half-game lead over the Boston Red Sox in the American League East. The Twins lost three of the four games in the series and fell to 55-71 on the season.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Martin had a good series offensively and defensively. He was 4-for-10 with two home runs and four RBIs. He was 1-for-2 on Sunday with walk, a single and his sac fly scored what was the eventual winning run. Martin also played exceptional defense behind the plate. He called good games for Hughes and Nova, deterred the Twins on the bases and blocked balls in the dirt that saved runs from scoring. Martin stopped two balls in the dirt for Nova with a runner on third in the fifth inning on Sunday. Martin won a Gold Glove in the National League with the Dodgers in 2007.
  • Granderson’s fast feet set him apart from the other candidates for A.L. Most Valuable Player and he showed that skill off on Sunday with his inside-the-park home run. That home run ties him with Toronto’s Jose Bautista for the major-league lead in homers. Despite going 0-for-4 on Saturday, Granderson was 6-for-16 (.375) in the series with a home run and three RBIs. Granderson is tied with Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder for the major-league lead in RBIs with 98.
  • Teixiera’s home run was his second in the series and he also pulled into second place in the American League to Granderson in RBIs with 95. Cano is fourth with 87. Teixiera was 5-for-12 (.417) in the series with two home runs and six RBIs.
  • Nova is pitching far beyond what anyone expected from a 24-year-old rookie. To be sure, Nova has received a lot of run support in his starts. But on Sunday he proved he could win games without it. He pitched five innings of a scoreless game, an inning with a one-run cushion and one with a 3-0 lead. Four of his five strikeouts in the game came with runners in scoring position. That tells you all you need to know about Nova. He is very quietly pitching himself into position to start in the playoffs.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • In four previous times in which he played his first game coming off the disabled list, Rodriguez had homered in the game. On three occasions, it came in his first at-bat. But that did not happen on Sunday. A-Rod was 0-for-5 and he committed a misplay in the field, though it was not scored an error. To his credit he did make a great play in scooping a bunt attempt by Revere and barely nipping him at first in the sixth inning.
  • Teixeira’s double play grounder in the first and Nunez’ strikeout with the bases loaded in the second really set the early tone in the game. It truly looked as if the Yankees would not score a run because they kept shooting themselves in the foot. They did finish the game 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and they left 10 runners on base.
  • It is amazing how Robertson is able to load the bases and escape without giving up a run. However, there is nothing wrong with 1-2-3 innings. As it is, Robertson threw 27 pitches in the inning. It is a good thing the Yankees do not play on Monday because Robertson likely would be unavailable to pitch.

BOMBER BANTER

Manager Joe Girardi try to play down the incident between A.J. Burnett and himself that occurred when Burnett was removed from Saturday’s game after only 1 2/3 innings. Burnett shouted an obscenity at Girardi as he left the mound and later Girardi and Burnett both disappeared down the dugout tunnel. Girardi insisted there was no riff and he did hear Burnett say anything after he left the mound. He also said the two did not cross paths in the clubhouse. But Burnett appears to be on very thin ice of being the odd sixth man in what will be a five-man rotation. Burnett gave up seven runs on five hits and three walks in his short stint on Saturday. In addition, Burnett has won only one of his his last nine starts dating back to July 4. In those outings, Burnett is 1-4 with a 6.93 ERA. He was 10-15 with a career-high 5.26 ERA in 2010. To say that the Yankees made a mistake giving Burnett an $82 million contract in 2009 is an understatement.  . . .  When the Yankees activated Rodriguez from the disabled list they sent down left-hander Aaron Laffey to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Laffey made his debut with the Yankees on Saturday and gave up two runs on five hits in three innings.

ON DECK

Off winning three out of four from the Twins and posting a 5-2 road trip, the Yankees will get a day off on Monday. They will host the Oakland Athletics in a three-game series at Yankee Stadium starting on Tuesday.

The Yankees will open the series with right-hander Bartolo Colon (8-7, 3.54 ERA). Colon lost his first start since July 19 as he allowed five runs on seven hits and two walks in five innings against Kansas City. He is 0-1 with a 5.17 ERA in August. He is 8-4 with a 2.80 ERA against Oakland in his career . Two of those wins came in his two starts against them season, including a May 30 complete-game, four-hit shutout in Oakland.

The A’s will counter with Brandon McCarthy (6-6, 3.74 ERA). McCarthy gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks in five innings in a victory against Baltimore in his last start. He is 1-0 with a 7.36 ERA lifetime against the Yankees He has not faced them this season.

Game-time will be at 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by MY9.

 

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