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Postgame notes: Nova in a slump of his own

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes on May 19, 2012 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Career-high 12 strikeouts? Ivan Nova wasn’t impressed.

“It doesn’t matter if I get a strikeout or not,” he said. “I used to pitch with a lot of ground balls. This year I haven’t. I guess I’ve just got to go back and do exactly the same thing as last year, getting my ground balls and a strikeout when you need it.”

Last season, a little more than 52 percent of the balls hit off Nova were grounders. This year, it’s a little more than 45 percent. Obviously he had swing-and-miss stuff today, but when the Reds hit him, they drove the ball. No hit was bigger than Joey Votto’s three-run homer in the fifth when Nova left a slider in the middle of the plate. Nova’s allowed six home runs in his past four starts, and he’s allowed 10 for the season. He gave up 13 all of last year.

Recent production from the offense has generated most of the coverage this week — for obvious reasons — but Nova is also trending the wrong way lately.

“I’m just falling behind hitters,” he said. “When you’re falling behind, you have to go to the middle, and when you make a mistake, they hit it hard. Especially when you’re walking guys. They are really good hitters. The last couple of times, like the other day in Baltimore, I gave up two homers with two changeups. It’s something we’ve got to do, go back to work and try to find a way to make the right pitch.”

Russell Martin said the difference between Nova last year and Nova this year isn’t all that noticeable from behind the plate.

“There’s not much of a difference between last year and this year,” Martin said. “The difference is maybe the fastball being up a little bit more. I don’t really see much of a difference between him last year and this year. Same velocity. I think maybe he’s a bit more consistent with his offspeed pitches, but it’s the same Nova.”

• Before Nick Swisher’s RBI single in the ninth inning, the Yankees were hitless in their previous 22 at-bats with runners in scoring position. The topic has pretty much been exhausted at this point, but Swisher and Jayson Nix began to change the story in the ninth inning. One more hit and the Yankees would have at least forced extra innings. “We just didn’t get the last hit that we needed to try to put them away,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s good that we were able to come back, but it’s frustrating that you get so close and you lose.”

• With the tying run in scoring position, the Yankees had their batting average leader and home run leader coming to the plate, but Derek Jeter grounded to third and Curtis Granderson grounded to first. “Anytime there’s guys in scoring position you want to get the job done,” said Russell Martin, who struck out in the ninth. “Really, you don’t think about numbers when you’re up there hitting. You try to get a good pitch. As of late we haven’t been getting the job done. It just takes one day for that to change. We’ve got great hitters on this team all through the lineup so I don’t think it’s going to stay this way for too much longer.”

• David Phelps was kicking himself for throwing that ball away in the eighth. He’d just made a great diving catch and knew right away that he’d messed up by trying to rush the throw to first. He didn’t get his body set — he kind of sidearmed the ball with his chest pointing directly at the bag — and Nick Swisher never had a chance to catch it. The error helped the Reds score an insurance run that mattered in the end.

• Nova said his ankle felt fine all night. “No problem,” he said.

• After Phelps struck out the side in the ninth, the Yankees finished with 15 strikeouts, tying a season-high for the team.

• Nova is the first Yankee since Don Brennan in 1933 to have at least 12 strikeouts while also allowing at least five earned runs.

• Jeter extended his hitting streak to eight games. He also has an eight-game interleague hitting streak.

• This was the eighth three-hit game of Jayson Nix career. He has two homers in his past 12 at-bats. Before that, he’d gone 45 at-bats without a home run in the big leagues.

• Clay Rapada got the Yankees first pickoff of the season.

• Girardi said pregame that Brett Gardner would see the team doctor today. Turns out, he’s not seeing him until tomorrow. Gardner doesn’t know what test he’ll have done — he’s supposed to see the doctor at the Stadium, but he said he could be sent for an MRI at the hospital — but Gardner is hoping that he’ll be given the green light to begin swinging a bat within a day or two. He hasn’t picked up a bat since coming out of that Triple-A game almost two weeks ago.

• According to Elias, this is the 10th straight season that the Yankees have had a stretch of at least 20 hitless at-bats with a runner in scoring position.

Associated Press photos

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22 Responses to “Postgame notes: Nova in a slump of his own”

  1. NYY fan in NH May 19th, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Don’t know what to say about this team. Are they just a .500 team? That’s not gonna get them to the playoffs. Guys making alot of money underachieving. Pitching is up and down. This team is getting old right in front of our eyes. It’s pretty disappointing to watch these guys. AL East is alot better this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t the Yanks year.

  2. mick May 19th, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Leave Nova alone.
    He’s a gamer.

  3. raymagnetic May 19th, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    “• According to Elias, this is the 10th straight season that the Yankees have had a stretch of at least 20 hitless at-bats with a runner in scoring position.”

    I’m shocked, cause for the past week and a half I’ve read post after post after post about how horrible the offense is. Surely this couldn’t have have the past 10 years IN A ROW.

  4. blake May 19th, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    I think the pitching will potentially be good enough to win if the offense were as good as a typical Yankee offense has been…..its just that this team’s offense isnt on that level….its good but its not good enough to carry their pitchihg like it has in the past…..so either the pitching is going to have to becoke dominant to compensate …..or they need more offense…..

  5. jacksquat May 19th, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    TheBigOut May 19th, 2012 at 5:02 pm
    Swisher just said he isnt concerned about RISP that we are a HR team

    Is that written anywhere. Usually the beat writers put something like that in their tweets, but I don’t see it anywhere.

  6. luis May 19th, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Hello everyone,

    Blake,

    I agree in the long run our pitching should be fine, CC is CC, then you have a very good group of number 2 and 3 in Kuroda, Pettitte, Hughes and Nova. The BP should be fine even with the loss of Rivera, we just need Drob as soon as posible to beef it up again. Right now is a little thin, even though they have done a very good job considering the losses of those two mentioned.

    The problem is the offense as you very well point out. It has become too one dimensional, even though i was glad to see a hit and run play today, that’s something that has become the exception and not the rule. They are pretty much waiting for the bomb and they move station to station on the base paths. They have lost their patient approach, to the point that some pitchers that wouldn’t go past the 5th inning before, are making it to the 7th and even the 8th inning.

    Their situational hitting approach is a mess, as their stats show clearly ( 4 for 70 if i am not mistaken in RISP in the last week, and for the season those numbers are not very good either. Especially the middle of the order). Cano is starting to heat up, but i am afraid that is not enough. The offense looks old, or should i say that they are looking their age.

  7. TheStraw May 19th, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    The stagnant offense is not helped by a stagnant running game. There is no manufacturing of runs. No stolen bases without Gardner and Nunez. No sacrifice bunts. No suicide squeezes. No safety squeezes. Very few hit and runs. There is nothing to she up the opposing pitcher or defense. That is on the coching staff, a bit. They need to get more creative to kick start the offense.

  8. tucker May 19th, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    One thing that is different about this offense – the team doesn’t work the count. Other teams’ starters are routinely reaching the 6th or 7th with fewer than 100 pitches thrown. So this team does not feast off middle relievers, like past Yanks’ teams have done.

    Swisher, Jeter, Granderson, Cano — a lot of guys up there hacking and not working the count. I realize Jeter always has hit that way, but the team needs a balance. Gardner will help when he returns, but for now, the team is not making the opposing starters work enough.

  9. blake May 19th, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    We will see how they look when they get Garner back and everyone healthy…..but they have lost in the playoffs the last year IMO primarily because the offense just wasnt good enough to overcome the lack of a dominant rotation.

    The Yankees rotation is….its not great…..and now their lineup is good not great as well…..they are still a good team…..but Im used to the Yanks not being satisfied with mediocrity

  10. luis May 19th, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    blake May 19th, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    We will see how they look when they get Garner back and everyone healthy…..but they have lost in the playoffs the last year IMO primarily because the offense just wasnt good enough to overcome the lack of a dominant rotation.

    =========================

    This might have been the case if the Yankees had gone further in the PS…But to be honest, i think that the offense was the mayor culprit for not going further in the PS, the pitching did it’s job. The same things that ailed that team are present right now, but with one slight difference, they are one year older.

  11. Tar May 19th, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Straw

    You and me are on the same page.

  12. blake May 19th, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Its not all about Teixera…..but the team was designed around him being an elite all around hitter…..he was supposed to be the guy along with Cano to take up the slack when Alex aged…….they rely on Alex too much…..I still think he can be really good but he shouldnt be asked to be the focal point of the offense at 37 no matter how much hes being paid…Cank is their best player and hitter now…..but if Tex cant be the guy they thought they were getting then they need to try and replace that projected production …

    Again….relative to most teams the offense is fine…..but the Yankees arent most teams…..and if we start measuring them against the average then we lose a bit of what the Yankees are in the first place…..

    You can call it being spoiled or whatever….but anytime people get used to excellence thats what they come to expect…

  13. Tar May 19th, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Cank?

    Is that something dentists try to prevent?

    :D

  14. Carlo May 19th, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Will Middlebrooks has as many home runs in 3+ weeks as alex rodriguez has this year. Jared Saltalamachia is more productive offensively then Mark Teixiera. Seriously…..remind me how anyone is defending this team/offense?

  15. TheStraw May 19th, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Tar-

    Other teams seem to be doing it a lot, especially against us…..our guys just sit on the bases and wait for something o happen at the plate.

  16. blake May 19th, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    “Is that something dentists try to prevent?”

    That amongst other things ;)

  17. luis May 19th, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Straw and Tar,

    You are both on point in that this offense needs Gardner and Nunez in there. They would add a new dimension of play to the offense. But you still need good situational hitting and patient at bats. And most of all, someone that can complement Cano in the middle of the order. This is my view is the missing piece.

  18. luis May 19th, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    *This in my view is the missing piece*

  19. Tar May 19th, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Straw

    Like you said more pressure on the opposing defense. Which at the same time it takes pressure of the offense having to hit HR’s all the time.

    It does seems kind of strange to think Gardner is the answer by himself though. I really like the dynamic that GGBG and Nunez bring when they are both in the line-up together. Right now Joe’s hands are somewhat tied, but that should change soon.

  20. blake May 19th, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    I think the offense will get on a roll at some point and be ok when they get 100%…..but how good it will be largely depends on Tex and Arod…..

    Gardner will help but ultimately they need the big guns to help Cano and Granderson out if they are going to be as good as they can be….

    If its looking like Tex isnt one of those guys anymore…..and age wont allow Alex to be…..then the Yankees have to start looking at how they can replace that production and push them into more complimentary roles……just the way it is.

  21. Tar May 19th, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Luis

    I agree about the situational hitting.

    As for the Cano Protection, I think that has to come from within. Alex, Grandy, Swish and Tex are the candidates. One of them has to step up and go on an extended hot streak.

    Joe has to stop being scared about bunching lefties and righties together as well. Play the hot hand and stop worrying about what kind of reliever may or may not come in. It’s more important to take the lead than worry about late in the gam possibilities.

  22. luis May 19th, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Tar,

    I agree that Joe has to stop mixing lefty and righty and just go with the hot hand, whomever that may be. My concern is pretty much what Blake has expressed. I don’t think you can count Tex to be a force in the middle of the lineup anymore (at least left handed) and Arod just doesn’t have it anymore.

    I don’t know if you saw the ball Alex hit to right-center field today. Two years ago that ball was a no doubter. He no longer has the explosiveness in his hips that allowed him to generate the power.

    As long as Cano has no protection, he is going to be pitched around. Let’s hope that I am wrong on this and Alex finds his power stroke and Tex has a way to contribute from the left side.

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