Ivan Nova was better last night. He wasn’t perfect, but he was good. After an awful first inning — and after the bullpen started to stir in the fourth — Nova still pitched in the seventh inning and gave the Yankees a chance.
“It’s really encouraging,” Joe Girardi said. “We saw him use his slider, we saw him use his changeup, (and) we saw him throw more strikes tonight. He walked two guys in six innings, and that’s good.”
Nova is the only Yankees starter really under a microscope these days. The other four have done more than enough. One bad outing from one of those four has to be more or less excused as a bad day in a solid season. Nova’s in a different situation. He’s young and still learning, and in the past few weeks, he’s gone through some real growing pains. Last night, he seemed to actually grow up a little bit.
“When he got guys on base, I think that’s when he’s gotten in trouble in the past,” Derek Jeter said. “But today it didn’t seem to affect him.”
That’s a confidence issue, and when Nova has struggled, he hasn’t pitched with much confidence. He hasn’t been aggressive, hasn’t thrown strikes, and hasn’t been willing to turn to his third and fourth pitches. Last night, he did those things, and he did those things even after being knocked around in a two-run first inning.
“I think I was just throwing strikes,” he said. “What happened in the first inning stayed in the first inning. I can’t do nothing about that. Just got to keep my head up and be aggressive and throw strikes.”
Last night wasn’t perfect, but it’s not fair to expect perfection. Nova is going to have to do some learning on the job this season, and last night he seemed to do that. He wasn’t as good as Jered Weaver, but he gave the Yankees a chance to beat Jered Weaver. And that’s something.
Associated Press photo