Mood Music: Can't Stop by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Every time I say to myself, "Ok, I've seen the best of Ivan Nova," he rolls out another performance like tonight.
He needed only 102 pitches to roll through 7.2 innings, racking up a career high 10 Ks on the way, thanks to a one run, no walk performance.
By that point, the Yankees had plated 4 runs. Phil Humber was pretty good: 6.1 innings, 7 baserunners. Robbie Cano went deep in the second, but after that the Yankees played small ball (I know how excited that makes some people, so we might as well celebrate it). In the 6th, Gritty Gutty Brett Gardner led off with a double, moving to third on a Jeterian Sac Fly and scoring on a Grandyman Can Groundout.
In the 7th, Cano singled and Swisher walked, and Jorge Posada hit a one out RBI single to chase Humber from the game. Jesse Crain was not man enough to stop pinch runner Eduardo Nunez from stealing second, nor was he able to stop Russell the Muscle from driving a ball deep to center field for a sac fly (what? you thought he might get a hit?). You hear that Crain, I'm calling you out. And then the Yankees scored 3 runs in the 9th while I wasn't paying attention.
But enough about the offense. Let's talk about Ivan Nova.
He Colon'd the White Sox, mixing his 2-seamer and 4-seamer beautifully, while occasionally mixing in a breaking ball. In his first 3 innings of work, he threw 5 curves and 1 change. In the top of the 5th, AJ Pierzynski saw 2 curves and a change up during a 4 pitch AB, while Adam Dunn saw 2 curves in a 3 pitch AB in the 7th. No one else saw 2 breaking balls in a single at bat.
That's working off the fastball. That's great pitching. At the start of the season, I was disappointed Nova was in the rotation, and now I find myself upset at the idea of him out of it. When did I become a Nova fan? I don't know how I'd handle the Yankees' rotation down the stretch, but we have too much starting pitching for the first time since 2003. What a wonderful problem to have.
With Boston losing the Indians (and the Rays still 10 games back), the Yankees find themselves tied for the lead in the AL East and for the best record in the American League (only Philly has been better). After sweeping the White Sox, the Yankees head to Boston for a showdown.
Play of the Game: Posada's RBI single sealed the deal.
Comment of the Game: long time listener