Sunday, August 21, 2011

Yankees notes as they finish up a strong road trip

The Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins today by the score of 3-0.  Here are some postgame  notes with some help from the Lohud Yankees Blog. 

The Yankees had already stranded the bases loaded twice. Mark Teixeira had committed his first error since May 6, and by the time Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher let a fly ball drop between them, it seemed this might not be the Yankees day. The Twins had runners at second and third with no outs against rookie Ivan Nova.  This is where he shows how much he has really grown as a pitcher. 

“When you look at that inning, you try to tell yourself, ‘It’s okay to give them one, let’s try not to give them two,’” Joe Girardi said. “‘Don’t give them a multiple (run) inning, and we can come back.’ He made it even better. He didn’t give them any. It was an outstanding job of pitching and an outstanding job by Russ. The game plan they executed today was great.”

 Whatever the pecking order, this was clearly one of Nova’s finest starts of the season. It was the first time he allowed no runs, and it was his fifth win in as many starts since coming back from Triple-A.

“The big leagues is the big leagues,” he said. “Nobody wants to be in the minors. I came a long way from my hometown to be here, and now that I’ve got the opportunity to be here, I don’t want to lose it. You’ve got to stay here in the big leagues and try to do your job every time.”  You have to love the attitude, he is all about winning also and he shows such enthusiasm on the mound. 

It was that fifth inning that defined Nova today. He’d already pitched around an error in the third inning and induced a double play in the fourth. With runners at second and third in the fifth, he got back-to-back strikeouts before Drew Butera rolled over a routine grounder. All three outs came on a slider, the pitch that’s turned Nova from a promising but inconsistent rookie into a reliable and occasionally dominant starter.

“It’s not like the beginning,” Nova said. “I was throwing only fastball, curve. I wasn’t throwing my changeup either. And now we’ve really got all my pitches going. It’s a lot different. I think the hitter doesn’t know what pitch you’re going to.”

Here’s Nova. He’s now 13-4 with the most wins for a Yankees rookie since reliever Ron Davis won 14 in 1979. He has the most wins for a Yankees starter since Doc Medich in 1973.

 It was Granderson’s third career inside-the-park home run, but Granderson initially said this was his second. Someone had to remind him that he had an earlier one against the Angels (the one he remembered was against the Yankees). The last Yankee to have an inside-the-park homer was Derek Jeter last season.

Mark Teixeira’s third-inning error was his first since May 6, snapping a streak of 87 consecutive games without an error, the longest single-season streak of his career.

Oh yeah, Teixeira also homered in the game.

 Speaking of defensive mistakes, both Granderson and Swisher said their misplayed ball in the fifth was a matter of bad communication. Granderson ranged well into right field, and Swisher didn’t hear him calling the ball until the very end (that’s when he tried to stop). Granderson knew he was supposed to take charge, but he also knew he’d come well into Swisher’s area and he worried Swisher hadn’t heard him, so he tried to stop as well. “Guys were busting Curtis and I a little,” Swisher said. “And I said, ‘What are you taking about? You should thank us.’ After that, Nova got filthy.”

 Derek Jeter had another hit and is now three away from Rod Carew for 22nd on baseball’s all-time hits list. Jeter also drew a walk, and he’s now 16 away from being the sixth Yankee to reach 1,000 walks in his career.

Alex Rodriguez reported no soreness after the game and said he was happy with the way he felt. Girardi acknowledged that Rodriguez’s timing might have been off at the plate, but he made a great play on an early bunt.  You can't judge too much one one game, having him back can't be a bad thing, the timing will come and he will start hitting again and the Yankees hope for some power. 

Rodriguez on the bunt play: “That was a good test just because he runs so well. It was a bang-bang play. That’s a play that I’m going to have to make, so it was good to make it.”

 Rodriguez expects other teams to try to bunt on him for a while until he’s proven that knee is 100 percent. “It’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s not going to stop now. For the next two weeks, I’m going to have to make that play over and over again.”

 Mariano Rivera got his 33rd save.

 Robinson Cano matched his season-high with a 13-game hitting streak. He hasn’t done that since April. His double led to the Yankees first run in the sixth inning.

 Freddy Garcia is scheduled to throw 65 pitches or four innings for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tomorrow. Right now, Garcia and Nova are lined up to start that doubleheader in Baltimore.

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