Consistency has become a real buzz word with these Yankees. I suppose that’s the case every year, but it seems especially true with this group. For the past two weeks, it’s been used to talk about the lineup, but the Yankees are still searching for it in the rotation as well.
Ivan Nova is no exception.
For a while there, Nova looked like the same guy the Yankees remember from last season, and even his last time out, Nova was able to use his big slider to finish with a career-high 12 strikeouts. Those strikeouts, though, came with five runs through six innings, and Nova has allowed at least five runs in four of his past five starts. There was one gem in the middle, but Nova’s been erratic.
“It’s location with him,” Joe Girardi said. “He gets up in the zone, he gets behind in the count, and then his fastball gets hit when it’s up in the zone. He had an awesome slider the other day and used it extremely well, but when he gets behind, he gets hurt.”
Nova hasn’t been in the league long enough to have much of a track record against anyone, but he’s never faced that Athletics, and today’s Oakland lineup has a total of five career at-bats against him (two by Josh Reddick, three by Seth Smith). The Yankees meanwhile, have won their past six games at the Coliseum and 10 of their past 11.
“I just think we’ve played well when we’ve played them,” Girardi said. “We’ve played pretty well out here as well. We’ve got to have that continue because you want to get on a roll, and that’s one thing that’s been hard for us to do this year.”
• Dave Robertson played catch yesterday and felt alright today. The Yankees plan to have him play catch again on Monday. “I think there’s some stiffness there,” Girardi said. “He’s had inactivity and hasn’t used that area in probably about 15 days. We have to be a little bit cautious in the beginning to make sure nothing’s there.”
• The Yankees still plan to have Brett Gardner begin swinging a bat on Monday.
• Girardi said it’s not likely either Robertson or Gardner will be back with the team before they get home a week from Monday. Robertson has said he’d like to be back by next weekend’s series in Detroit, but Girardi said he’s “not sure that’s going to happen.”
• Nova’s hamstring was a little tight after his last start, but Girardi said it didn’t affect any of the work he did between starts. Girardi considers it a complete non-issue. Nova came to the Coliseum yesterday to play catch.
• Good news on Manny Banuelos. Girardi said test on Banuelos’ sore left elbow showed no ligament damage — just like tests on Jose Campos’ elbow — so it doesn’t look like this is a Tommy John issue, just a sore elbow. Hard to know much more than that.
• Oakland carries four left-handed relievers, and Girardi said that’s why Mark Teixiera was moved back into the No. 5 spot in the lineup. That leaves the Yankees with a right-handed or switch hitter between each of their left-handed hitters. “Clubs that have four left-handers, you really have to be careful how you construct your lineup,” Girardi said. “Could I change it? Yeah, but right now it’s what we’re going to do.”
• Obviously Girardi could put Nick Swisher fifth instead of Teixeira and have the same split-the-lefties result, but Swisher is hitting just .211/.295/.342 after left-handers this season. Teixeira is hitting .220/.259/.400 against them. Neither one has been a particularly good option this season. Ibanez, by the way, is hitting .200/.250/.267 against lefties.
• Yesterday’s off day gave Teixeira yet another day to rest, but he doesn’t seem much different than he was a week ago. “I still hear him cough every once in a while,” Girardi said. “It’s not all the way gone. I wish it was, but it’s not.”
Associated Press photos