NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 20: Ivan Nova #47 of the New York Yankees tips his cap as he leaves the game in the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 20, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Nova wasn't perfect, and he got a bit lucky in the first few innings, but he was great at what he does best: getting ground ball outs. He was also efficient, throwing 67 of his 103 pitches for strikes (65%).
Nova got into some trouble in the seventh, but escaped it in classic Houdini fashion. With the bases loaded and no one out, Nova got Desmond Jennings to pop out to shallow left field and then forced B.J. Upton to ground into an inning ending, rally killing, double play.
His final line: 7 2/3 IP, 6 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts, 10-4 GO/AO.
Is there really more to say about Nova? It seems as if he turns in outings like this every time he takes the mound. The Yankees are 13-3 in his last 16 starts. The rookie has gotten better and better as the season has progressed, and Yankees fans should be excited.
As for the offense tonight, look no further than team MVP Curtis Granderson. The man drove in four runs, three of which came on a bases clearing double in the second. His other RBI, a single, knocked in Brett Gardner during the 5th inning.
Think about that for a second. Every starter reached base at least twice tonight, which is fantastic. But they only scored five runs? On the night, the Yankees left 18 men on base and went just 5-for-20 with runners in scoring position. They left the bases loaded on three separate occassions. Hopefully, that's just a strange outlier.
At least Nova pitched well, and that's no outlier. I could get used to watching him tip his cap.
Play of the Game: Granderson's bases clearing double (14.1%).