Ivan Nova showed something in this 9-3 win over the Angels. He showed up without his good slider and still was charged with just three runs and five hits over six-plus. Both Nova and Joe Girardi took that as an indication of growth.
“I thought he used his fastball really effectively and got a lot of ground-ball outs and guys played good defense behind him,” Girardi said. “When you don’t have your good stuff and you can do that, that’s a sign of maturing.”
It’s going to be rather hard to take Nova out of the rotation again, considering he leads all major-league rookies with 11 wins. That total also ranks him second on the staff behind CC Sabathia.
Nova is 11-4 with a 3.85 ERA, and he’s 7-0 with a 3.10 ERA over his last eight starts.
“We’ve seen him grow leaps and bounds from what he was last year and how he’s evolved and the way he’s taken ownership of his career and just went out and pitched really well,” Girardi said. “You talk about tough scenarios, the rumors that Phil Hughes is coming back from his injury; pitching in the American League East, a tough division. He’s responded very well.”
Nova kept a good attitude when he was sent to the minors July 3 to make room for Hughes.
“I think he took it as a challenge that this is the last time you’re going to send me down,” Girardi said.
And this 24-year-old pitcher indeed doesn’t want to see Scranton/Wilkes-Barre again. Nothing personal from Nova for those of you reading in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.
“You never want to go back down,” Nova said. “When I got back here, that’s one of the first things I said, ‘I don’t want to go back down.’ It’s not good to have to take a bus eight, nine hours. You’ve got to leave everything you have in the game so you can stay here and don’t go back down.”
*Rafael Soriano has been brilliant since he returned from the DL July 29. Nova left him a bases-loaded, no-out mess in the seventh and Soriano cleaned most of it up in four pitches, allowing just one runner to cross on a double-play grounder and then getting a fly ball. Soriano is now perfect in five innings with five Ks since coming back. Soriano in the seventh, David Robertson in the eighth and Mariano Rivera in the ninth sure looks good on paper.
Girardi on Soriano: “I think he’s really back to himself.”
*Curtis Granderson had his third multihomer game of the season and 10th of his career. His 31 homers are a career-high, surpassing the 30 he sent up for the Tigers in 2009.
“It’s one of those things where I’m happy that I was able to get to that point, but it definitely wasn’t a goal by any means,” Granderson said. “I didn’t go in saying I want to hit ‘x’ amount of home runs. It’s just one of the things when given the opportunity, if I have a pitch to drive, I just want to drive it. If it gets out of the ballpark, great. If not, we’ve got extra bases and we could run from there.”
Granderson and Mark Teixeira (32 homers) are the only teammates in the majors now with at least 30 homers. This was the Yankees’ 115th game. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the only Yankees teammates to get to 30 homers in less team games were Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris in 1961 and Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Actually, Ruth and Gehrig did it three times.
*The Yankees beat Garrett Richards, a significant achievement since they hadn’t won a game against a team with a starting pitching making his major-league debut since May 1, 2004. This snapped a six-game losing streak against those teams.
“I hadn’t realized that,” Girardi said. “In the past, we’ve struggled against guys we haven’t seen a lot of. This year, we’ve been a little different.”
*In the series finale this afternoon, the starters will be Bartolo Colon and Tyler Chatwood.