Ivan Nova pitched eight strong innings, allowing only one run on four hits and one walk. Using a strong fastball that reached up to 95 miles per hour, he was able to be aggressive in the strike zone and pitch ahead in counts. Pitching to contact and recording twelve groundouts, Nova was able to throw a lot of quick innings, requiring more than twelve pitches in an inning only twice.
The strong effort from Nova capped off a very impressive turn in the rotation for the Yankees. In addition to eight innings and zero runs for Nova, here is the last time out for the other members of the rotation:
Andy Pettitte (6/5 vs. Rays): 7 IP - 0 ER
Phil Hughes (6/3 at Tigers): 9 IP - 1 ER
Hiroki Kuroda (6/2 at Tigers): 7 IP - 2 ER
CC Sabathia (6/1 at Tigers): 7 IP - 3 ER
With starting pitching like that, the Yankees are going to have a lot of success.
With such a limited pitch count, Nova was given the opportunity to complete the game in the ninth inning. After giving up his first run on back to back triples to lead off the frame, he was pulled for Rafael Soriano. Soriano was able to secure the last three outs, nailing down the victory. I love that Nova -- who had been locked in and showing no sign of tiring before the ninth -- was given the opportunity to close out the game with Soriano behind him if he ran into trouble. Leaving in the starting pitcher gives you a guy on the mound that you know has been pitching well with the full bullpen still available. If you go to the closer to start the inning and he doesn't have it, you don't get to bring Nova back.
Does it count as a 1-2-3 inning for Rafael Soriano if he inherits and strands a baserunner? I think it probably should. More good pitching from Not Mariano Rivera.
With Nova's economical outing and a good start from Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb, the game lasted only two hours and thirty-three minutes, tying for the third fastest game of the season. The only faster games were May 18th against the Reds (2:24, 8 IP - 0 ER from Pettitte) and April 30th against the Orioles (2:22, 7 IP - 1 ER from Kuroda).
The Yankees got solo home runs from Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano as well as an eighth inning rally from the hitting/running Ibanez/Wise hybrid, Nick Swisher, and Eric Chavez. After Nova made things interesting in the ninth, the eighth inning insurance runs made the last few outs a lot more comfortable than they would have been.
The Yankees will go for the sweep tomorrow behind CC Sabathia. He will be opposed by David Price.