Tagged: Jesse Crain

Nova Dazzles Chisox As Yanks Claim Tie For 1st

GAME 110


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.


Tex’s 2-Run Shot Puts Yanks On Target Over Twins – Again


For the Minnesota Twins it was a different venue but the result was just the same.
The script also was the the same. 
For the defending champion New York Yankees it was a script they have been following all season long.
Mark Teixeira’s two-run home run with one out in the seventh inning off Jesse Crain (0-1) broke a 4-4 tie and the Yankees bullpen denied the Twins a comeback at their new Target Field to take home-field advantage away in the opener of their AL division series.
The Yankees have now defeated the Twins in 10 of 12 division series games dating back to 2003 and seven in row dating back to 2004. 
Much was made of this series favoring the Twins in their new palacial ballpark that was built to replace the old Metrodome. Much was also made of the fact the fact that the Yankees came into the series reeling with a poor September record and troubles with their starting pitching.
Wednesday night’s contest was labeled a must-win for the Yankees. If that was the case, well, they have done it. Now it will be the media’s turn to try to invent some more pressure to put on the visitors before Game 2.
The Twins were feeling pretty cocky and confident with ace left-hander Francisco Liriano on the mound with a 3-0 lead beginning the sixth inning.
They had built that lead off of the Yankees’ Cy Young candidate CC Sabathia (1-0) on the power of Michael Cuddyer and the legs of Orlando Hudson.
Sabathia misfired on a 1-2 pitch to Jim Thome with one out in the second inning and hit him on the right shoulder with a fastball. Falling behind Cuddyer 2-0, Sabathia tried another fastball and Cuddyer was waiting for it.
The first baseman sent the pitch to straightway center-field, over the wall and into the trees that line the batter’s eye to give the Central Division champions an early 2-0 lead.
The Twins added a run in the third when Hudson led off the inning with a solid single. Hudson then turned in a pretty good imitation of former Yankee Johnny Damon in Game 5 of the 2010 World Series.
As Joe Mauer hit a slow roller to Teixeira that ended up being a diving attempt for the bag between the two of them, Hudson saw that although Texeira had recorded the out, he was in no position to throw him out and he scampered safely to third.
On the very next pitch, Jorge Posada was unable to glove a strike thrown to Delmon Young. The ball rolled away from Posada and Hudson came in racing in with the Twins’ third score of the night.
But Liriano finally showed he was human in the sixth. After pitching five shutout innings in which the lefty had given up only two hits, two walks and struck out five, the wheels fell off his bandwagon after he fanned Nick Swisher to begin the frame.
Teixeira, who entered this series with a .220 average with only three home runs and 12 RBIs since injuring his right thumb on Aug. 27 and breaking his right little toe on Aug. 31, blasted a 0-1 fastball down the left-field line for a double. 
After Liraino uncorked a wild pitch, he ended up walking Alex Rodriguez, putting runners at first and third. 
Robinson Cano, the team’s 2010 Most Valuable Player, then laced a 0-1 fastball past Cuddyer into right-field to plate Teixeira with the Yankees’ first tally. 
After Marcus Thames struck out, Posada — seemingly determined to make up for the costly passed ball — laced a line-drive into right-center to score Rodriguez. Curtis Granderson then followed with the death blow to Liriano’s night.
In past years, Granderson would be an easy out for Liriano or just about any left-hander. But after some retooling of his swing by hitting coach Kevin Long, this is not your father’s Curtis Granderson. This one can hit lefties and he did.
Granderson blasted a high majestic rainbow off the large scoreboard wall in deep center for a triple that scored both Cano and Posada and the Yankees had claimed the lead from the Twins as they have in every game the Yankees have beaten the Twins over the years.
Liriano glumly ended his evening sulking on every step he made to the Twins’ dugout.
Surprisingly, Sabathia did not pitch well most of the night. He had been touched for the three runs on four hits and a hit batter and he struck out only three in five innings. But it looked as if Sabathia was on one of his famous rolls after Hudson’s leadoff single in the third.
From that point on, Sabathia had retired 11 in a row with two out in the bottom of the sixth. Then the unthinkable happened to the Yankee ace.
He walked Jim Thome and Cuddyer followed with a line drive that Brett Gardner dove for and caught in his glove. However, the ball rolled out of his glove as Gardner hit the turf for a double. Sabathia then chose to pitch around Jason Kubel by walking him to load the bases so Sabathia could face rookie Danny Valencia, who he had struck out twice in his previous at-bats.
However, sometimes well-thought plans can go awry.
Sabathia threw the third baseman four consecutive balls to allow the Twins to tie the game without having to exert any real effort. The Yankees were stunned. The Twins were even more stunned.
Sabathia escaped further trouble by fanning J.J. Hardy to end the inning.
Fortunately for the Sabathia and the Yankees, Crain was in a giving mood in the seventh. Swisher nicked him for a ground single to center with one out. Teixeira then fought Crain to a 3-2 count and launched a hanging slider high and deep into the fall Minneapolis atmosphere and it curled just inside the right-field foul pole for a two-run home run.
For the 10th time in 12 postseason games against the Yankees, the Twins were the recipients of a fatal dagger. 
The Twins did manage to try to make it interesting by putting two runners on base in the bottom of the seventh with two out. However, David Robertson put down that uprising by striking out Thome on a nasty curveball that disappeared into the dirt as Thome flailed helplessly over it.
In the eighth inning, the Twins tried again to mount a comeback. Kubel drew a walk off Kerry Wood and Valencia followed with a slow roller on which Rodriguez could not make a play. While Wood retired Hardy on a grounder to Cano, pinch-runners Jason Repko and Matt Tolbert each advanced a base.
Manager Joe Girardi summoned Mariano Rivera to close out the inning. And, as he has done so many times before in 15 postseasons past, Rivera did just that. He retired Denard Span on an infield grounder to Jeter.
Rivera then returned in the ninth to record his 40th postseason save. He retired Hudson and Mauer easily to start the inning. But he ran into a bit of a problem with Delmon Young, but believe the TV replays when I say it was not really a problem at all.
Young laced a sinking liner into right-field. Greg Golson, inserted into the lineup that inning as a defensive replacement, caught the ball just before it hit the ground for what appeared to be the third out.
However, right-field umpire Chris Guccione blinked at the wrong time because he claimed Golson trapped the ball and he awarded first base to Young. Girardi went out to argue and t
he umpires huddled with crew chief and home-plate umpire Jerry Crawford.
I guess all six umpires must have blinked at the same time because Crawford upheld Guccione’s call.
With Thome representing the potential tying run at the plate, visions of the poor calls that beset the Yankees-Twins 2010 ALDS popped into the heads of the 42,302 standing-room only crowd at Target Field.
But, lucky for Guccione and the other umpires, Thome popped out weakly to Rodriguez to end the game. So Rivera not only recorded his first ever “four-out” ninth-inning save, he also saved the rear ends of some pretty myopic umpires.
That nervous exhale you are now hearing is that of commissioner Bud Selig.
The whimpers and cries you are hearing are those of the Twins and what could have been but was not to be.
The Yankees will start Game 2 with veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte (11-3, 3.28 ERA), who is the winningest postseason pitcher in baseball history. Though he struggled in his last two starts coming back from a strained groin, Pettitte sports an 11-1 record in his last 15 starts against the Twins.
The “must-win” Twins will be using right-hander Carl Pavano (17-11, 3.75 ERA), who collected $40 million from the Yankees by nursing four full years worth of injuries. This also is a rematch of Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS when Pavano pitched very well but Pettitte pitched better and the Yankees swept the series.
Could the same script play out on Thursday? If it does, the Twins might need to nurse some pretty serious self-inflicted injuries of their own.
Game-time will be 6:07 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by TBS.