For four innings, last night seemed to be the high point of Ivan Nova’s already eye-opening debut. He had allowed a two-out single to Carl Crawford in the first inning, but hadn’t allowed another hit leading into the fifth inning. That’s when his night unraveled in a big way.
“We like the kid’s stuff and we like his poise and the way he’s throwing the ball,” Joe Girardi said. “I know he ended up giving up six in that inning, but we still like the way he’s throwing the ball.”
Nova said the fifth inning was about focus. He gave up a lead-off home run to Carlos Pena and tried to be too fine the rest of the inning. The result, to use his words, was “bad location, bad pitch selection.” At the end of the day, though, you take the good with the bad and there was still a lot to like about those first four innings.
“(It was) positive,” Nova said. “I was pitching good. It was one inning. Everybody has one bad inning. That was a long one, six runs.”
Nova has made five major league starts. As a general rule — and this was very much the case last night — he’s been terrific through the first four innings, but he’s had trouble in the fifth. Here are the numbers.
First inning: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 5 K — 1.80 ERA
Second inning: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 3 K — 0.00 ERA
Third inning: 5 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 2 K — 3.60 ERA
Fourth inning: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 4 K — 3.60 ERA
Fifth inning: 4.1 IP, 11 H, 3 BB, 4 K — 18.69 ERA
Sixth inning: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 0 K — 0.00 ERA
There’s enough good coming from those first four innings to make Nova an intriguing starter down the stretch. Girardi has not announced a rotation beyond tonight’s game, but with Andy Pettitte due back in the next few days, the Yankees have seven options for five spots. In reality, the decision might come down to three candidates — Nova, Javier Vazquez and Dustin Moseley — for one spot.
“We’ll continue to evaluate,” Girardi said. “We’ll evaluate this weekend what we’re going to do.”
Associated Press photo