I really like Ian Kennedy. I think I got to know him pretty well down in Scranton, and I think he’s a much better guy — and much more humble guy — than he’s sometimes portrayed here in New York. That said, I fully understand why he developed such a reputation, and I fully understand why every reporter in the Yankees clubhouse thought about Kennedy tonight.
Ivan Nova lost a five-run lead tonight. He gave up seven two-out runs in the second inning, allowed a season-high nine runs overall, and was knocked around for his worst start of the season. Joe Girardi explained that Nova had “no fastball command, inconsistent slider, inconsistent curveball.” But to hear Nova tell the story, it was as if he were a part of a different game.
“Bad luck,” he said. “I had a bad day. It was a tough day for me. I threw a lot of good sliders, I threw some good curveballs, I broke two bats and they got base hits. It’s not a good day. … I felt really good and I threw strikes but I gave up 10 hits, nine runs. That’s part of the game. I just have to turn the page.”
The moment was a little too familiar, uncomfortably similar to Kennedy’s postgame interview in 2008 after he allowed nine hits through two innings and seemed to think it was no big deal. That moment stained Kennedy’s reputation the rest of his time with the Yankees.
“I had a bad day,” Nova said. “But I don’t feel that way. I felt really good in that (second) inning, too. I just got hit.”
Nova seemed focused on the fact he threw strikes, walking only one batter after walking six in his previous start. But that’s ignoring the fact he was leading 5-0 with two outs in the second inning, and didn’t get that final out of that inning until the Orioles were leading 7-5.
“He worked his tail end off after he gave up two singles in a row in the second inning to get two outs and two strikes,” Girardi said. “Then threw a slider that didn’t break, and it just kind of snowballed after that. … That’s something that he’s really been good at this year — not letting things unravel. Tonight it did for whatever reason. He just didn’t really have good stuff tonight. As I said, he had no fastball command, his breaking balls were inconsistent. You’d see him throw one good one. You saw him throw a put-away slider to Betemit to strike him out in that inning, and then he throws one that backs up to Reynolds when he’s up 0-2. I can’t tell you why it happens. He’s been really good in those situations. He gets runners on, but the positive thing is when runners have been on he’s been really good for most of the year.
“But he wasn’t tonight.”
• The Yankees have now lost nine of their past 12, and they have their second four-game losing streak in the past two weeks. “We’re not playing well, there’s no doubt about it,” Girardi said. “We’ve been through streaks before where we haven’t played well, and we’ve bounced back. That’s all we need to do.”
• Thing is, if Nova had taken the blame for his outing, most of the stories in tomorrow’s paper might have gone out of their way to point out that the Yankees offense did absolutely nothing after that five-run first. They had six hits in that inning, then five hits the rest of the game.
• What did Orioles starter Chris Tillman do to turn his night around? “Really started mixing his pitches in,” Nick Swisher said. “Really changing speeds, working his ball in and out. I think, there in the first inning, he was in the middle of the plate a lot. And obviously, if you’ve got a guy in the middle of the plate, you’re going to have some success.”
• Remember that first inning, though? That was a lot of fun, wasn’t it? The Yankees batted around in the first and matched their most first-inning runs of the season (it was the third time they scored five in the first). The Yankees have scored 85 first-inning runs this season, more than any other team.
• Robinson Cano hit his 23rd homer in the first inning. The Yankees have now hit a home run in 19 straight games, their second-longest streak at the current Yankee Stadium.
• Ichiro Suzuki has a hit in each of his eight games with the Yankees.
• Derek Jeter went 3-for-5, his 11th game of the season with at least 11 hits, one shy for his total for last season. He is now 6-for-12 in his career against Tillman.
• Nova became the first Yankees starter to allowed nine runs in a start a the current Yankee Stadium. The last time a Yankees starter allowed nine runs at home was Andy Pettitte exactly four years ago (July 31, 2008 against the Angels).
• Joba Chamberlain got to the stadium before the game and played catch in right field while fans went crazy at the sight of him. “I was literally pulling into the parking lot (in Trenton) and Stevie called,” Chamberlain said. “He goes, ‘You might want to turn around.’ My heart started beating fast. I didn’t really look at anything. I had to go to the bathroom really bad, so I had to stop and use the restroom, then turn around and come back.”
• Swisher said his sore hip flexor felt nearly 100 percent today. “It was nice tonight to get out there and move around a little bit (in the field),” he said. “On that swinging bunt I had late in the game, I tried to jump it into that extra gear and it wasn’t quite there yet. But it’s good to know that I’m working towards that. I feel good over there at first base. I’m able to do that with Tex out for a few games, which helps out a lot. And hopefully when he comes back I’ll go back to the outfield.”
• Final word goes to Girardi: “When I look at the games, we’ve been in every game. Tonight was probably the most difficult one just because you get a 5-0 lead with a guy who’s been pretty good for you all year long, and then he gives up seven in the second. That’s tough, but we’ve been in every game, and we’ve pitched pretty well and we’ve played pretty well.”
Associated Press photos