Fans like to call Ivan Nova “SuperNova” when things are going well. But keep in mind that, in fact, a nova is a cataclysmic nuclear explosion that triggers runaway nuclear fusion. To be fair, Nova’s start wasn’t all that bad, but I was reminded of that definition in the fifth inning tonight.
Given Phil Hughes’ trip to the DL, a solid start from Ivan Nova would have been nice and reassuring tonight. As it was, he did keep the Yankees more or less in the game, but it wasn’t pretty and it ended unfortunately. Nova pitched into the fifth inning and was charged with 5 runs on 4 hits and, more disconcerting, 5 walks (a career high). That’s no way to live, and the Yankees lost 5-3.
Nova’s trouble started in the second, with a double, a single, and a run-scoring groundout, and continued in the third, with an RBI Michael Young double. But despite the walks and general air of impending runs, the real trouble didn’t come until the fifth. It was a sad story, and it went like this:
- Mitch Moreland walks.
- Julio Borbon hit by pitch. Mitch Moreland to 2nd.
- Coaching visit to mound.
- With Ian Kinsler batting, wild pitch by Ivan Nova, Mitch Moreland to 3rd. Julio Borbon to 2nd.
- Ian Kinsler grounds out softly, shortstop Derek Jeter to first baseman Mark Teixeira. Mitch Moreland scores.
- Elvis Andrus walks.
- Michael Young singles on a ground ball to left fielder Andruw Jones. Julio Borbon scores. Elvis Andrus to 2nd.
That was, as you might imagine, that. Joe Girardi trotted out, retrieved Nova and beckoned David Robertson. If there was a silver lining to tonight’s game for the Yankees, it was that the bullpen was strong again, freezing the Rangers at 5 runs. David Robertson, Boone Logan (obligatory beard link), and then three quite impressive perfect innings from newest Yankee Lance Pendleton in his major league debut. That’s how you make a good first impression.
Rangers starter Matt Harrison doesn’t have a spectacular track record — it was one of those “this guy? You can’t hit this guy?” nights — but he’s off to a fine start this season, now 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings. He did give the Yankees a few fat pitches, but not too many, and displayed an irritating tendency to wipe out base runners with double plays (New York hit into six tonight).
As for New York’s scoring, it started in the third, when Nick Swisher, Thursday night’s hero, singled home Curtis Granderson. Granderson, who is looking good these days, came through again in the 8th inning with a solo homer (off a lefty in case you were wondering), and in the ninth, Alex Rodriguez doubled and came home on an Eric Chavez pinch-hit single. Not a terrible night by any means, and not in fact a cataclysmic runaway nuclear explosion, just one of those games.
The Yankees could really use some length tomorrow from Freddy Garcia. In related news, I could really use a free trip to Barbados.
One very nice thing: MLB may not do all that it could on Jackie Robinson Day (as Jay Jaffe notes at BP today and has noted before), but many of the players spoke on the subject today with real feeling and eloquence, not just canned PR lines. It’s moving to see how much Robinson still means to the guys who play the game, and how much very real respect they have for him.