YANKEES 7, WHITE SOX 2
For a team still labeled as a team without quality starting pitching, how odd is it that the New York Yankees can claim to have the best No. 6 starter in baseball?
The 24-year-old rookie right-hander without a starting spot, Ivan Nova, sparkled and shined brighter than ever under the lights of U.S. Cellular Field on Thursday to make a bold statement that he does not want to sent back to the minors again. It would be a crime if he was.
Nova (10-4) gave up only one run on six hits and no walks and struck out a career high 10 as New York completed a four-game road sweep over Chicago for their seventh straight victory and claimed a share of first place in the American League East with the Boston Red Sox.
Since his recall on July 30, Nova has given up three runs on 12 hits and one walk and struck out 16 in 14 2/3 innings over his two starts. Recalled initially to fill in as a starter for a makeup doubleheader game on Saturday, Nova pitched so well against the Orioles last week he was given another start against the White Sox. Now that he has pitched brilliantly again, what will the Yankees do?
Manager Joe Girardi calls it a good problem to have but it is a problem just the same.
While Nova was dazzling the Chisox hitters, the Yankee offense got untracked early against White Sox starter Philip Humber (8-8).
With one out in the second inning, Robinson Cano hit a Humber fastball on a line down the left-field line and into the White Sox bullpen for his 18th home run and his second in two games.
The White Sox got a little help from Nova to score a run in the third to tie the game. After Alejandro De Aza reached on an infield single, the Yankees called for a pitchout as De Aza attempted to steal second. However, Nova threw high and to the left of catcher Russell Martin and it allowed De Aza to reach second safely.
Brent Morel singled to advance De Aza to third and De Aaza scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Juan Pierre.
The Yankees ended up taking the lead for good in the sixth on the bat and legs of Brett Gardner.
Gardner doubled to right to lead off the inning. Derek Jeter put down a sacrifice bunt to advance him to third. Curtis Granderson hit a one-hop smash right at Adam Dunn at first. Dunn stepped on the bag and fired immediately to home to catch a sliding Gardner, but Gardner slid into home plate just before A.J. Pierzynski applied the tag.
The Yankees tacked on two more runs and chased Humber in the seventh. Cano singled and Nick Swisher drew a walk. One out later, Jorge Posada singled to right to score Cano and advance Swisher to third. After right-hander Jesse Crain replaced Humber, Martin lofted a deep sac fly to center to score Swisher easily.
The Yankees turned the game into a rout by jumping on former teammate Brian Bruney for three runs in the ninth. Swisher and Eric Chavez started the inning with singles. One out later, Martin connected for a tape-measure three-run home run into left-center. Martin ended up with four RBIs and it was his first multiple RBI game since June 29 against the Brewers at Yankee Stadium.
David Roberston completed the eighth inning for Nova and Hector Noesi finished up in the ninth, though he was touched for a solo home run by Dunn.
While the Yankees were winning in the Windy City, former Red Sox starter Justin Masterson and the Cleveland Indians were beating the Red Sox at Fenway Park, 7-3. By virtue of the Yankee victory and the Red Sox loss the two teams are now in a tie for the lead in the A.L. East with identical 68-42 records.
That will set the stage for the weekend series in Boston when the Yankees will take on the Red Sox in a pivotal three-game weekend series.
The White Sox loss was their sixth in a row and they are 52-58 and fading fast in the A.L. Central.
- Nova is 10-4 with a 3.81 ERA in 18 starts. He is the only rookie starter in the majors who is six games over .500 on the season and the Yankees are 13-5 in games in which he has started. His last loss was on June 3 against the Angels. How can you send this kid to the bullpen or the minor leagues? The answer is you can’t. Nova has become a much better pitcher because he is using his slider more effectively. That has made his fastball and curve less predictable. Nova also is showing unwavering confidence.
- Martin’s home run and four RBIs are an encouraging sign. He hit .292 in April but injuries sent him reeling at the plate. He batted .200 in May, .185 in June and .200 in July. It is early but he is batting .273 in August and showing signs of breaking out of his long slump. In his last 11 games he is 12-for-41 (.293) with two home runs and seven RBIs.
- Cano is on a tear of his own. In his last nine games he is 14-for-32 (.438) with two home runs and 13 RBIs. His recent streak has raised his season average to .301, the first time he has been at the .300 mark since July 14. He now has 18 home runs and 75 RBIs on the season.
- Chavez, who was 2-for-4 on Thursday, is proving to be a very valuable replacement for Alex Rodriguez at third base. In the seven games he has started since coming off the 60-day disabled list on July 26, he is 9-for-28 (.321) with a homer and six RBIs. More importantly, Chavez is playing Gold Glove-quality defense. When Rodriguez returns, Chavez and Eduardo Nunez will make up part of a very good bench heading into the playoffs.
Why carp about the team when it ties a season high with its seventh victory in a row and they claimed a share of first place in the East? Nova was just sensational.
Nova’s great pitching has left Girardi uncommitted about what the Yankees will do with him. The Yankees only have three bench players (Nunez, Chavez and Francisco Cervelli) heading into Boston. The Yankees would like to add outfielder Chris Dickerson to the roster. But that would mean they would have send a pitcher to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes-Barre. It could be Nova or it could be Noesi. Beyond that, will Nova get another start next week? Girardi is not going to say for now. . . . Rodriguez worked out for 33 minutes at the Yankees’ minor-league complex in Tampa, Fl, on Thursday and he reported no problems. It was the first field workout for Rodriguez since he was placed on the 15-day DL after undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee. It is unclear how long Rodriguez will need before he is activated.
Well, this is the big one. The series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park will determine who is first place to begin next week.
The Yankees will start 38-year-old right-hander Bartolo Colon (8-6, 3.30 ERA). Colon gave up two runs on five hits in five innings on Sunday in a victory against the Orioles. He is 7-8 with a 3.89 ERA in his career against the Red Sox.
The Red Sox will counter with left-hander Jon Lester (11-4, 3.17 ERA). Lester gave up only two runs on four hits over eight innings over the White Sox on Sunday. He is 8-1 with a 3.56 ERA against the Yankees in his career.
Game-time will be 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.
trade Bruney for him. Hoffman, a former hockey player, brings that tough mentality with him to the diamond. Hoffmann, 25, split most of this season between Triple-A Albuquerque and Double-A Chattanooga, batting .291 (104-for-358) with 69 runs, 23 doubles, five triples, 10 home runs, 64 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, 54 walks and a .390 on-base percentage. If Hoffman fails to make the roster the Yankees will have to offer him back to the Nationals for $25,000. So Gardner will have a major fight on his hands.
eliever this season.
“Everybody here was counting on me, and everybody let me know they appreciated it,” Bruney told MlB.com. “I would have loved to look up and give a thank you, but honestly, I had tears in my eyes and I couldn’t. That’s been my moment in baseball right now. It was an awesome feeling.”
4th save but he had to endure some shaky play in the field.
hing a bit better, the bullpen started losing less games and keeping the Yankees in more games. After a May 7 game in which Rivera lost a tied game to the Tampa Bay Rays in the ninth inning on a Carlos Pena home run, through June 6, the Yankees bullpen only lost a total of four games.