Hard not to be impressed by Ivan Nova tonight. Making his first major league start against a dangerous lineup, Nova was tested in every which way: He got out of that bases-loaded jam in the first. Never pitched with more than a one-run lead or deficit. Bounced back to retire eight in a row after Jose Bautista’s home run in the third, then he didn’t back down when Bautista shouted at him in the sixth.
So does the kid get another start?
“That’s to early to talk about,” Joe Girardi said.
The game itself was decided in the eighth when Dave Robertson gave up Bautista’s second home run of the night. Robertson wasn’t paying attention as Bautista took his time getting around the bases, then pumped his fist as he stepped on home plate.
“I was more upset that I cost us the game on that home run,” Robertson said. “I don’t really care how he ran around the bases.”
The larger impact of tonight might have been Nova. He gave the Yankees something to think about as they move into September. That first inning might have rattled most rookies, but Nova stuck around to throw strikes and bounce back from the only mistake that cost him.
“When you first come into the big leagues, you think it’s something big,” Nova said. “You don’t think it’s the same baseball that you’ve been playing in Triple-A. After that (first inning) I thought, it is.”
A few Yankee takes on that Bautista vs. Nova incident in the sixth.
Nova: “I wasn’t on purpose. I just threw the ball. I’ve got to pitch.”
Girardi: “I don’t want any of our pitchers to back down. You go at hitters and you make hitters uncomfortable. People have been doing this for years. That’s baseball… It was handled fine. They gave warnings but I don’t think our guy is trying to hit him. But we don’t want him to be comfortable.”
Mark Teixeira: “It wasn’t in. It was a ball right down the middle to the backstop. I guess I don’t know what that’s all about.”
Here’s Girardi talking after the game.
• Robertson hadn’t allowed a run since July 2, a span of 19 scoreless outings. “It doesn’t make it easier,” he said. “I don’t want to cause us to lose the ballgame no matter what.”
• The first Baustista home run was a breaking ball that Nova left over the plate. The second was a fastball that Robertson wanted off the plate away but ran to the middle.
• Brandon Morrow has faced the Yankees twice in Toronto this season, and he’s been outstanding both times. He’s faced them twice in New York, and they’ve handled him pretty well. “He was tough,” Teixeira said. “He didn’t give us much to hit at all. You have to live with those nights sometimes.”
• Robinson Cano went 1-for-2 and is now hitting .396 when batting cleanup.
• The Yankees have lost five of their past seven games at Rogers Centre.
• Say what you will about Bautista’s sudden surge of home runs. I know it creates plenty of suspicion. I’m not one to get caught up in it, but for whatever it’s worth, here’s Girardi’s response when asked whether we should wonder about Bautista’s suddenly gaudy numbers: “I don’t have any suspicions. It’s a guy that’s playing every day. Sometimes when a guy gets a chance to play every day in one spot, they figure it out.”
Associated Press photos of Robertson, Nova and Bautista, and Swisher