Ivan Nova allowed five earned runs on seven hits through four innings. His evaluation of the night?
“Unbelievable,” he said. “I think I had all I needed today.”
“We just had bad communication in the first inning,” Nova said. “That affected my game too much, but I feel really good today. … I was shaking too much. That slowed my game. We threw a couple bad pitches, like the curveball for a homer and the slider for the other homer. In that situation, you have to move the hitter, and we didn’t do it. Sometimes you want to throw that pitch and he doesn’t call that pitch. You start shaking and you get out of what you want to do. I think that happened out there.”
Nova retired seven of the last eight batters he faced, and really didn’t look too bad giving up a run on two singles in the second inning. It was the first inning that caused him problems, and he said that started when Gustavo Molina called for a curveball with two on against Adam Jones. Nova tried to shake off the pitch, but Molina went back to it and Jones clubbed a three-run homer to center field. Two batters later, Matt Wieters homered on a slider.
“(Molina) didn’t see me,” Nova said. “He called a curveball again and he hit a homer. That’s the game. Sometimes you struggle a little, but I have to step up and call him before I throw the pitch. I didn’t. … I was out of my game right there because I gave up the first home run. After that inning, we picked it up and we finished strong. That’s a good thing. I made that adjustment and that’s something positive that I can take out of the game today.”
Joe Girardi agreed with the assessment and said it’s up to Nova to take charge in those situations. As Girardi put it, “he’s the one with the ball.”
“That’s something you have to learn from,” Girardi said. “When you make a pitch, you’d better have conviction. I don’t care if you have to shake 17 times, you better have conviction.”
• X-rays were negative on Robinson Cano’s left hand. He was hit by a pitch near his pinkie, in that sort of meaty part on the side of the hand. Sounds like the Yankees don’t expect it to be an issue. “We’ll see how he is Tuesday, but I don’t imagine it will be long,” Girardi said.
• Nova has said several times this spring that he’s been happy with his offspeed pitches, and today was no different. “I’ve been doing what I’m supposed to do,” he said. “I’ve been working on my changeup, I’ve been working on my curveball for a first-pitch strike. I was working on my slider and it was good today the last couple of times so you’ve got to be happy.”
• Girardi said this would be a start to really begin evaluating Nova, and he seemed happy overall. “The first two innings he had no rhythm,” Girardi said. “The last two innings he had great rhythm, he was working quick and he looked very good to me. He just couldn’t seem to get in a rhythm his first two innings and then he found it.”
• Raul Ibanez had another hitless game, going 0-for-3 to drop his average to .065. “I got under a couple of balls,” he said. “But I got them into the air, and I think when I’m making outs in the air it’s much better for me personally than when I’m making outs on the ground like I was earlier in the spring. Obviously, you don’t want to make any outs. You want to hit line drives, and you want to hit balls into the gaps, but today I felt better. The last couple of days I’ve felt better.”
• Center field prospect Mason Williams made his first appearance in a big league spring training game. He pinch ran for Mark Teixeira in the sixth inning and was promptly thrown out trying to steal second base. He was caught stealing by Matt Wieters who threw out three different base runners, one of them a pickoff of Dewayne Wise at second.
• Williams got his first big league spring at bat in the eighth and singled on the first pitch he saw. “I’ll remember that until the last day,” Williams said. “It was an awesome experience. I didn’t smile while I was on the bases, but in my head I was smiling a lot.”
• Eduardo Nunez had his hand wrapped after the game but said he feels fine. His timing is a little off, he said, and his hands feel a little heavy from all the extra work he’s been doing lately, but the pain is gone. This was his second game in a row after sitting out almost two weeks.
• George Kontos made his spring debut with a hitless eighth inning. He struckout the last batter he faced.
• Clay Rapada came out of the bullpen to face a lefty with runners at the corners and two outs. He got a groundball to end the inning. Rapada’s looked pretty sharp this spring, and he’s legitimately tough on left-handers.
• He’s pretty far under the radar, but Dewayne Wise is having a nice camp. He went 2-for-2 today to raise his spring average to .474. He also stole a base (though he was picked off another time).
• Brett Gardner got his fourth stolen base of the spring. He also had an outfield assist… Mark Teixeira had his first double… Ronnier Mustelier got a surprise at-bat and singled… Nunez’s infield single was the Yankees other hit… D.J. Mitchell allowed his first run of the spring but also finished with three strikeouts in two innings.
• Hiroki Kuroda was not in camp today. Girardi said he gave him the day off, told him didn’t have to come in.
Associated Press photo
“I’ve just got to keep pitching the way I pitch, and I don’t think it’s going to be any problem,” Nova said. “… You know what, I get more excited. I feel more excited. I know you’ve got to do more and try your best of what you’ve been doing. One way or the other, that’s going to help you. That’s what I feel.”
Even as a rookie who was shipped to the minor leagues last season, Nova always showed considerable confidence. He showed the same thing when I covered him in Triple-A, and to be honest, it initially came across as arrogance. At least, that’s the way I took it when first I covered him, but that’s shifted. Nova believes in himself and trusts himself, and perhaps that’s why he was never particularly worried after a couple of erratic starts earlier this spring.
Tonight, Nova makes his fourth spring start, and so the evaluation period has really kicked into gear.
“It’s the fourth or fifth start, they’re going to get spread out a lot more and start to use all their pitches,” Joe Girardi said. “If you’re having a hard time getting one pitch going in the first couple of innings you’ll have a little more time to get it going.”
Confident or not, Nova approaches this with something to proove.
“I always say that I’m in competition,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I win 20 games, I’m going to be in competition. I feel that way.”
Here’s the lineup Nova is facing tonight:
Endy Chavez LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis DH
Adam Jones CF
Chris Davis 1B
Matt Wieters C
Mark Reynolds 3B
Ryan Flaherty RF
Robert Andino 2B
Associated Press photo
Ivan Nova never seemed especially worried, but after two sloppy starts this spring, the time was right for him to finally have a good one. Tonight he finally found the strike zone and delivered four scoreless innings. He struck out the final two big league hitters he faced, getting Jacoby Ellsbury on an inside fastball and getting Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a slider.
“I just want to have good stuff,” Nova said. “Not only the good stuff, but when you don’t have the best stuff, you’ve got to pitch. That’s something I did today compared to what I did in Toronto the other day. I had the good stuff but I didn’t pitch. I think in Toronto I had (better) stuff than I had today … but I pitched, and that’s the difference.”
Nova has shown good fastball velocity and pretty good offspeed pitches all spring, the problem has been fastball command. Today, he had the command as well. He threw 55 pitches, 35 for strikes, and he consistently worked ahead in the count.
“I was more aggressive, let the hitters hit the ball,” Nova said. “I’ve got eight people behind me. You’ve got to pitch to contact, you’ve got to throw strikes. … I’m a really confident guy. It doesn’t matter if I pitch good or not, you’ve got to keep your head up (and) you’ve got to keep working. I knew that I would pitch good one day. You’ve got to look forward to the next start, and today I’m going to enjoy it, and get it behind me and wait for the next start.”
• Mariano Rivera laughed when asked if he’s ready for the season to begin. “Tomorrow,” he said. Essentially Rivera got four outs today, pitching around an error for a scoreless fifth inning. “You have to work, you know?” he said. “It’s not just go in there and do whatever you want, you have to work on your pitches and work that strike zone.”
• Rivera’s next outing will likely come either Friday or Saturday. At this point, it seems like he might pitch a little more than his usually eight or nine spring innings. “That’s alright as long as we get eight, nine,” Rivera said. “It will be enough.”
• Dave Robertson ran on an eliptical machine today and could do some light jogging on a treadmill tomorrow. Joe Girardi said there’s a chance Robertson could be on a mound by the weekend.
• The plan is for Eduardo Nunez to take the next three days off. Girardi said Nunez should need only a week to 10 days to be ready for the regular season. He wouldn’t need nearly as much time as Dave Robertson. “You would think that you could get him enough playing time,” Girardi said. “The great thing about minor-league games is you can get him 10 at-bats in one day if you wanted to. You can’t have a pitcher throw 10 innings in one day if they’re a one-inning guy. It’s different.”
• George Kontos came through today’s batting practice just fine, in fact, he was happy with his stuff and doesn’t feel like he lost much during his time off. He’s scheduled to get in a game on Friday.
• Asked which bullpen candidates have made a strong impression, Girardi seemed to be thinking along an obvious theme. “Our lefties have thrown the ball pretty decent,” he said. “(Clay) Rapada has thrown the ball pretty well, Juan (Cedeno) has thrown the ball pretty well, Cesar (Cabral) has thrown the ball pretty well. We think we’ve got some options if we decide to take another lefty. Time will tell.”
• Speaking of which: Another hitless inning for Boone Logan who’s looked really sharp this spring. He pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning against Aviles, Pedroia and Ellsbury. The only lefty he faced was Ellsbury, who struck out.
• Another nice outing for David Phelps, who took the loss despite five strikeouts in 2.2 innings. The only run of the game came on a single to right field, where Zoilo Almonte misplayed the ball, after which David Adams made a bad relay throw turning the single into an unearned run. It was a 1-0 Red Sox win because of that play.
• Rapada came in to face one batter, a lefty, and got him to ground out.
• Four hits for the Yankees: Russell Martin, Alex Rodriguez, Corban Joseph and Andruw Jones. All of them were singles.
• Girardi wouldn’t give a specific timetable for Dan Burawa’s return from a torn oblique, but it’s going to be much more than a couple of days. “It could be a while,” Girardi said. “I’m not sure. He hurt his side. I haven’t gotten a timetable. A lot of times ribcage injuries can be tough.”
• Suzyn Waldman was profiled on the Baseball Hall of Fame website. The HOF is celebrating Women’s History Month.
• I’m sure I’ll do a full post on this tomorrow, but the Yankees announced today that individual game tickets will first be made available to the public through a MasterCard pre-on-sale online at yankees.com and yankeesbeisbol.com, and via Ticketmaster phone from March 22 at 10:00 a.m. until March 25 at 10:00 p.m. For those using other accepted methods of payment, the general public on-sale will begin on Tuesday, March 27 at 10:00 a.m. at yankees.com and yankeesbeisbol.com, and via Ticketmaster.
Associated Press photos
Thursday notes: “It’s got to be something” • 03.08.12
Ivan Nova knows the meeting is coming. At some point on Friday, Larry Rothschild is going to pull him in front of a video screen and show him the footage of today’s start in Dunedin.
“I know for sure tomorrow we’re going to talk about it,” Nova said.
Nova’s fastball hit 95 mph. He was happy with his slider and happy with his changeup, but much like his previous start against the Phillies, Nova’s command was unreliable at best. He fell behind often against the Blue Jays, and it was a 2-0 pitch that J.P. Arencibia hit for a home run. Hunter Pence homered on a 3-0 pitch from Nova five days ago.
“I throw, for me, perfect bullpens,” Nova said. “Once I get out there, sometimes, I guess I do too much. I think that’s what happened, maybe. I’ve got to figure it out… Sometimes you can be open too much or too quick. The first inning was really good, I wasn’t pushing my body or anything like that. The second and third inning (were bad). It’s got to be something.”
Nova said he doesn’t feel out of shape, and he’s encouraged that his velocity suggests his arm strength is where it needs to be. He just needs to get his mechanics ironed out. Joe Girardi said he’s still a long way from making a judgment about Nova.
“These guys are just getting ready to compete and getting their arm strength,” Girardi said. “We saw some velocity out of him today. We saw some 95s today. They’re still going through all of that.”
• The Yankees were on the verge of a second consecutive shutout when Colin Curtis hit a solo home run in the ninth inning to leave the Yankees with a 6-1 loss. Ramiro Pena was the only Yankee with two hit, and other than the Curtis home run, Pena’s double was the team’s only extra-base hit. Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira, Brandon Laird, Justin Maxwell and Doug Bernier each singled in the game.
• David Phelps let one of Nova’s runners scored on a passed ball by Francisco Cervelli, but otherwise, Phelps pitched 2.1 innings allowing one hit, two walks and a strikeout. I didn’t think he was especially sharp, but he settled in a little bit.
• If he’s going to have a chance of making this team — and the Yankees seem to be giving him a legitimate look — Cesar Cabral is going to have to retire lefties. Giving up a home run to lefty Travis Snider didn’t exactly help his cause this afternoon. It also didn’t help that lefty Eric Thames singled off him later in the inning.
• Raul Ibanez looked fine in right field. He only had two chances to make a play and one of those was a ground ball. The other was a fly ball near the foul line, and Ibanez made a running catch for the out. Not the hardest play in the world, but he made it with no problem. “You have to take balls, and see more balls hit out there,” Ibanez said. “Today was a great thing to be able to go out there, spend a little time out there, and catch one. Angle off the bat is good.”
• Dellin Betances and Dan Burawa each pitched around some trouble to leave runners on base and pitch scoreless seventh and eighth innings. It was a better-than-last-time appearance for Betances.
• As you can imagine, everyone was pretty focused on Dave Robertson after the game. Most conversations centered on his injured foot, but Girardi really didn’t have many answers. “There’s always something in every camp,” Girardi said. “It seems like there’s something freaky that happens.”
Associated Press photos
Ivan Nova is going through the process, and he’s willing to go through the process. That doesn’t mean he has to like the process.
“I just want to get ready as quick as possible,” he said after today’s two-inning spring debut. “I don’t want to start the season trying to be ready. I want to get ready here as quick as possible so I can be ready to go from the beginning of the year. Today, I came to work on a couple of my pitches, especially my changeup. I threw a couple good ones, a couple swing-and-miss ones. That’s the good thing. When you come and you want to work on a pitch and you throw a couple and get a couple swing-and-miss, that’s good. We have to keep working.”
Joe Girardi said Nova had “three pretty good pitches” today, and he specifically mentioned the changeup as a good one. His only blemish was a two-run home run by Hunter Pence. It was a home run setup by an error, and it came on a 3-0 pitch that Nova was just trying to get over the plate, not expecting Pence to swing.
Curtis Granderson admitted that the wind helped his homer get over the fence. Nova said that wind was a non-factor in Pence’s shot.
“He got a really good swing,” Nova said. “I don’t know about wind, but he got really good contact. When I heard the contact, I said, ‘That ball is gone.’”
It was the only hit Nova allowed. He struck out two and threw away a pickoff, but ultimately, not a bad first outing. It was the next step in the process.
“I’m fighting for a spot right now,” Nova said. “I’m going to keep working like that and pitch like that, like I’m fighting for a spot. I can get a really good result based on that.”
Associated Press photo
Pregame notes: “It’s just too early” • 03.03.12
Joe Girardi said this week that Ivan Nova is not guaranteed a rotation spot. So can he start earning his spot today in Clearwater?
“It’s just too early,” Girardi said. “I want to see Nova go out and throw strikes.”
Girardi said he told the pitchers early this spring that their first few outings are strictly preparation. He told them to get ready, stay healthy and prove themselves in the last few weeks of the spring schedule. Nova has two innings today, and it’s more about getting his work in than making an impression.
• Raul Ibanez has his second straight start at DH, and oddly enough, each start has come against a left-handed starter (the Phillies are starting Cole Hamels today). Girardi said he doesn’t get “caught up” in lefty-righty matchups this early in spring training. Even though Ibanez was signed to hit against right-handers, Girardi just wants him to get some at-bats right now.
• Andruw Jones, who isn’t making today’s trip and didn’t get an at-bat yesterday, will start in the outfield tomorrow. Of course, that’s going to be against a right-handed starter.
• Phil Hughes just finished throwing live batting practice — or a sim game, whatever you want to call it — and now Adam Miller is doing the same. Colin Curtis and Francisco Cervelli are the hitters. Larry Rothschild and Triple-A pitching coach Scott Aldred are watching.
• CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda are throwing sides today in Tampa.
• The position players not making the trip will stay behind to go through regular drills. There’s a specific note that Jones and Curtis will get some work in left field. The hitting groups in Tampa:
Group 1: Robinson Cano, Francisco Cervelli, Derek Jeter, Andruw Jones
Group 2: Colin Curtis, Gustavo Molina, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira
• Tomorrow, Adam Warren, Graham Stoneburner and Brett Marshall are each throwing bullpens. Hiroki Kuroda will throw a sim game to Brandon Laird and Zoilo Almonte.
• Today’s available pitchers: Ivan Nova, David Phelps, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Cesar Cabral, Michael O’Connor, Chase Whitley, D.J. Mitchell, Juan Cedeno and Clay Rapada. Only the first six are actually expected to pitch.
• Today’s second string: C Gary Sanchez, 1B Jorge Vazquez, 2B Corban Joseph, SS Ramiro Pena, 3B Brandon Laird, LF Chris Dickerson, CF Dewayne Wise, RF Cole Garner, DH Justin Maxwell
UPDATE, 10:52 a.m.: The Phillies are going with Jimmy Rollins plus some outfield regulars.
Jimmy Rollins SS
Shane Victorino CF
Hunter Pence RF
Jim Thome DH
Ty Wigginton 3B
John Mayberry Jr. 1B
Domonic Brown LF
Erik Kratz C
Michael Martinez 2B
Tuesday notes: Granderson defers to Cano • 02.28.12
Curtis Granderson was a legitimate MVP candidate last year. He hit 41 homers and led the league in both RBIs and runs, yet he’s far from the biggest name in the Yankees clubhouse. How does it feel to have a year like that, and still be overshadowed?
“The good thing about this team, I don’t think there’s one guy that has to be the guy,” Granderson said. “If there is, if I’m pointing to him, I’m looking at Cano as that guy. It seems like he’s always the guy coming up with the big hit or big play for the last two seasons that I’ve been here.”
Robinson Cano seems all but locked into the No. 3 spot in the order, and despite his power last season, Granderson said he still doesn’t consider himself a true middle-of-the-order hitter.
“I remember being in Little League,” he said. “We had our first game one year, and I remember looking at the lineup. I think I batted first or second. One kid — he was a little bit bigger and just all-around, at the time, better — he batted third. I remember asking someone, how come he’s batting third? Why am I batting first? They said, the best hitter has to bat third. From that day — I was probably 8, 9, 10 years old – I remembered that. It’s not necessarily the guy with the most home runs. It’s your best all-around hitter.”
• Speaking of Thursday, the Yankees will have a team outing that afternoon. They’ll have a short workout in the morning, then the team will go to an undisclosed event at an undisclosed location. “We’ve done a real good job of keeping this one hush-hush,” Girardi said.
• Ivan Nova will likely throw one more bullpen before starting Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener. Today he threw batting practice for the second time this spring. “It looks like he has a plan,” Girardi said. “He knows exactly what he wants to do. Sometimes when you’re fighting like he was last year to try to prove himself, that he could pitch at this level — was he going to go with us, was he not going to go with us — I think with the experience that he got last year, I think he understands what it takes. And what he needs to work on. And what his approach is.”
• Joba Chamberlain said he’s scheduled to throw another 15-20 fastballs off a full mound on Friday. He’s not sure when he’ll be throwing breaking balls, but he’s hopeful it’s not too far in the future.
• Chamberlain knows that the Yankees don’t expect him back until June, but he’s still hoping to beat that expectation and get back sooner. He has a best-case scenario in mind. “I’m just going to do a Mo,” he said. “I know the answer, but I’m not going to tell you guys. Yeah, I have it in mind. I know the work that I put in. Like I said, three to four months can be realistic. But also on the other hand, it can be realistic on the front side of things. For all the work that I put in, I know there’s more coming up still.”
• Speaking of Rivera, here’s David Aardsma when asked whether he’s hoping to take Rivera’s job next season: “Nah, I’m focused on being healthy, and that’s all I’m worried about. Whatever those circumstances are, when we get there we get there. He’s the greatest closer of all time, man. He can ride out on whatever horse he wants to whenever he wants to.”
• Girardi was asked about catching prospect Gary Sanchez, the youngest player in camp: “He’s made some minor adjustments (defensively), and I’ve been pleased with his work ethic. He’s got some thunder in his bat, you can see. He swings the bat with authority. He’s got an outstanding arm. For Gary, he needs to play. This kid needs to play a lot of games so he understands the trade back there.”
• Kyle Higashioka hurt his shoulder during a workout today. “He could be out for a few days,” Girardi said.
• Bill Hall got quite a bit of time at shortstop during drills today. Really, it’s hard to imagine the Yankees are too concerned with his ability to play there, but I guess it’s possible it could come into play if Eduardo Nunez is hurt.
• Random observation of the day: When lefty Clay Rapada throws batting practice, the protective L screen is flipped as if a right-hander is throwing. The L screen is made with an opening for a pitcher to throw the ball, but the opening is too high for Rapada’s sidearm delivery. Instead, he just throws around the screen, keeping his left arm straight out to the side.
• As expected, Andy Pettitte did throw batting practice today, but he wasn’t on the main field. Pettitte threw BP in one of the indoor cages. The only hitters I saw him throw to were Jorge Vazquez and Zoilo Almonte.
Associated Press photos
Moving forward: The rotation • 10.10.11
Brian Cashman calls it the “key the kingdom,” and the game treats it as such. Starting pitching is the highest commodity in baseball these days, and the Yankees have made it a priority ever since the winter of 2008 when they signed CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, essentially setting the stage for the 2009 World Series.
It was a priority again last season, and it will be a priority again this winter.
That priority starts with Sabathia. If he opts out, as he’s expected to do, the Yankees will lose their ace. The top starter on the free agent market is C.J. Wilson, who’s been awfully good these past two years in Texas, but that’s the extent of his rotation experience. Sabathia is a proven commodity, even with his so-so last two months of the regular season.
Beyond Sabathia, the Yankees have Ivan Nova, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes returning. They also have Hector Noesi and a series of young, minor league starters who could compete for spots.
Otherwise, the Yankees have to choose their targets and decide who rounds out the group.
Freddy Garcia opened some eyes this season, and he could be worth a return trip the Bronx. Bartolo Colon’s second half should raise some red flags, but he certainly gave the Yankees more than they could have expected. It’s probably safe to say Brian Gordon’s time has come and gone.
Is Wilson just the guy to bring some left-handed balance, and a reliable No. 2 behind Sabathia? Is someone like Edwin Jackson worth a middle-rotation spot? Is someone like Rich Harden worth the health risk? Is there a pitcher on the trade market who’s worth dangling Jesus Montero?
Moving forward means answering those questions, but first things first, it means resolving the Sabathia issue and giving the team a legitimate No. 1.
Associated Press photo
ALDS Game 5: Yankees vs. Tigers • 10.06.11
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada DH
Russell Martin C
Brett Gardner LF
RHP Ivan Nova (16-4, 3.70)
Nova vs. Tigers
Austin Jackson CF
Ramon Santiago 2B
Delmon Young LF
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Victor Martinez DH
Don Kelly RF
Jhonny Peralta SS
Alex Avila C
Wilson Betemit 3B
RHP Doug Fister (11-13, 2.83)
Fister vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 8:07., TBS
WEATHER: It’s starting to get cold, but at least it looks like they’ll play. Only the slightest chance of rain tonight.
UMPIRES: HP Ted Barrett, 1B Bill Welke, 2B Tony Randazzo, 3B Eric Cooper, LF Gerry Davis, RF Dan Iassogna
WINNER TAKE ALL: The Yankees are playing an ALDS Game 5 for the seventh time, their first since their 2005 series loss and the Angels. This is the ninth time the Yankees have played a deciding Game 5 in a best-of-five format (also 1976 and 1977 in the ALCS).
CAPTAIN CLUTCH: Derek Jeter has played in seven winner-take-all postseason games, hitting safely in each one and combining to go 10-for-29 (.345) with four runs, two doubles, a home run and four RBI.
FIRST TIMER? According to Elias, Ivan Nova will be only the second rookie pitcher to make his first postseason start in a winner-take-all game, joining the Phillies’ Marty Bystrom in the 1980 NLCS Game 5 at Houston. Bystrom (5.1IP, 7H, 2R, 1ER, 2BB, 1K) did not record a decision in the 8-7, 10-inning Phillies victory. Don’t forget, Nova technically was not the starting pitcher in Game 1.
GO WITH GARDY: Brett Gardner has gone 4-for-7 (.571) with runners on base during this division series, including 2-for-2 with four RBI with runners in scoring position and two outs.
UPDATE, 8:07 p.m.: Pitches No. 6 and 7 from Nova are solo home runs, one by Don Kelly and one by Delmon Young, who now has three in the series.
UPDATE, 8:24 p.m.: Leadoff double in the top of the second, but Nova’s one out away from leaving that runner stranded. First time through the order, three Tigers have hit the ball hard.
UPDATE, 8:29 p.m.: Nova strikes out pesky utility man Ramon Santiago to leave Ordonez stranded at third. Nova has three strikeouts through two innings.
UPDATE, 8:34 p.m.: Sharp double by Teixeira, who’s been needing to drive the ball this series and finally did with a hard-hit ball to the right-center gap.
UPDATE, 8:39 p.m.: That’s a quick hook. Nova retired the last three batters he faced in the second inning, but here’s Phil Hughes out of the Yankees bullpen.
UPDATE, 8:41 p.m.: So Nova pitched 6.1 innings as a reliever this series, and only two innings as a starer. That’s normal.
UPDATE, 9:03 p.m.: The crowd here thought Cano had a two-run double, but Jackson tracked it down for the final out of the third innings, leaving Granderson and Gardner stranded at first and second. It’s still 2-0 Tigers.
UPDATE, 9:09 p.m.: Playing matchups in the fourth inning. Hughes looked alright to me, but here’s Boone Logan to face Alex Avila, who doesn’t have a hit this series.
UPDATE, 9:12 p.m.: Well, that didn’t work. Avila just singled to right, and now Cory Wade is getting loose.
UPDATE, 9:16 p.m.: CC Sabathia now warming in the bullpen. Maybe try to get two innings out of him to get into the seventh? I’m not sure. We’re well into uncharted water here.
UPDATE, 9:31 p.m.: Gardner up with two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth. No sign of Eric Chavez to pinch hit.
UPDATE, 9:36 p.m.: Pretty good at-bat, and Gardner’s been terrific this series, but he just popped up in foul territory to end the fourth. CC is coming in to pitch the fifth. It’s his first career relief appearance, regular season or postseason.
UPDATE, 9:46 p.m.: The Yankees just announced that Nova left the game with a tight right forearm.
UPDATE, 9:52 p.m.: Victor Martinez makes the Yankees pay for intentionally walking Cabrera. His two-out single scored Austin Jackson — the run was going to score with or without Granderson bobbling the ball — and gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead. Now the Tigers have shifted Kelly to right field and brought Brandon Inge to play third.
UPDATE, 9:58 p.m.: Cano’s eighth postseason home run has the Yankees on the board, 3-1, in the bottom of the fifth.
UPDATE, 10:50 p.m.: Bases loaded for Rodriguez. This is a chance for the heart of the order to make up for a lost series.
UPDATE, 10:56 p.m.: Rodriguez goes down swinging, now it’s Teixeira’s turn.
UPDATE, 11:03 p.m.: Teixeira drew a walk for his first RBI of the series, but Swisher went down swinging and the Yankees still trail 3-2 heading into the eighth.
Ivan Nova’s first start of the year came on April 4, the day after the Yankees season-opening series against the Tigers. His sixth and seventh starts of the year came immediately before and immediately after a four-game series in Detroit.
In other words, before Game 1 of the division series, the Tigers only look at Nova came in May of 2010, when Nova pitched two innings of relief at Comerica Park in his big league debut.
“I think anytime you see a pitcher for the first time you’re really not sure,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I think we really got out of the strike zone a little more in this series than I had hoped we would. Hopefully now that we’ve seen him we’ll have a little better idea the second time around. I think that usually holds true. So we’ll see how that plays out. But he’s good.”
He started getting in trouble in Game 1 when the heart of the Tigers order faced him a third time. Two singles and a walk against his last three hitters that night might have been fatigue, it might have been a small bump in the road, and it might have been a sign that the Tigers were starting to figure him out.
“They were real aggressive,” Nova said. “They don’t see me before. It was different. I know, like, they saw me the other day (and) they got another mindset. It’s going to be a good day. I know more (about) the hitters now, and I got late chance to make a mistake. I’m waiting to see tomorrow how they come.”
Good pitching, though, is supposed to beat good hitting. And when Nova’s at the top of his game, he’s pretty tough for anyone to hit.
“A pitcher is who he is,” Joe Girardi said. “I don’t think you abandon who you are because a team is seeing you again. You go through that all the time when you are playing your own division. Everybody knows what he’s got. The bottom line is, he has to make his pitches. He’s got to use them all. He’s got to pitch inside. He’s got to get a breaking ball going and use both sides of the plate and elevate and throw down in the zone. But I don’t think you have to abandon what you did the time before. If you make your pitches, most of the time you’re going to get people out.”
Associated Press photos