Ivan Nova’s ERA actually dropped last night. He wasn’t particularly sharp, but he limited the damage in a nine-hit, two-run outing that included four doubles and a triple.
“Me and Freddy (Garcia) were talking after I had a man on third with one out,” Nova said. “He told me, ‘Why don’t you throw 94-95 earlier in the inning, to the first hitter in the inning? Why do you wait until you have men on base to throw hard?’ That’s something I have to think about, figure out why I do that. I think I’m trying to throw hard every time, but I have to figure out why I only do it when I have men on base.”
Nova’s pitched well the past two years, and he has a knack for winning games. But this season he leads the major leagues in extra-base hits allowed. He’s had nights when he’s struck out batters in bunches, but he’s also had times when his mistakes are hit hard.
“Is there a reason why, when he misses, he gets hit harder than some others?” Joe Girardi said. “I can’t really tell you why that’s happening. But when he does make a mistake -– he made a mistake to Reddick with a slider, and he made a mistake to Coco Crisp with a slider -– when you don’t get it low enough to left handers, they can do some damage.”
Girardi pointed to the slider last night, but Nova seemed to blame the fastball just as much.
“I make mistakes,” he said. “My fastball against lefties, inside, is coming back to the middle of the plate. When I try to go away with a righty and it’s still coming back to the middle of the plate, that’s hard to do. I’ve got to keep working and I’m trying to at least throw straight or throw what I want to throw.”
Let there be no doubt, Nova has been a big boost for this pitching staff. He’s been a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter who occasionally has a truly dominant performance. He wins games and, on nights like last night, he gives his team a chance. But he doesn’t always make it easy on himself.
“You don’t want that to be a common theme,” Russell Martin said. “That happens every time he’s out there, but it’s nice to see a guy when he does get in trouble, to pitch out of it. You want him to have more stress-free innings than what he’s had, but he kept us in the game well, made some pitches when he needed to. That’s what I’m going to remember.”
Associated Press photo