Mid-90s sinker and a sharp-breaking curveball, that’s what Ivan Nova featured tonight. He was damn good, striking out 11 and throwing a complete game, the first of his career. He gave up a couple of runs in the 2nd inning when he hit a batter and then Matt Weiters hit an opposite field home run that bounced off the top of the wall.
But it looked as if Nova’s best would not be good enough. The Yankees left a pair of runners on base in the 4th and then had the bases loaded with 1 out in the 5th but Travis Hafner popped out to shallow center (after being ahead 3-0 and 3-1), and Vernon Wells popped out to Chris Davis at first base.
They trailed 2-1 and the bottom of the 9th went like this…
Jim Johnson to David Adams: Fastball, low for a ball. Fastball, high, fouled off, 1-1. Another fastball, middle middle, and Adams punches it to right field for a base hit.
Brett Gardner (double and then three strike outs for the game): Bunt, and a poor one. Got it in the air, toward second. Johnson got there in plenty of time, with time to go to second. But he muffs it and everybody is safe.
Ichiro: Bunts, right in front of the plate. Weiters fields it with his bare hand and throws to first for the out. Runners advance.
Robbie Cano: Intentionally walked.
Travis Hafner: (With a repeat of the 5th inning when Cano was walked to face Pronk.) Sinker, low in the dirt, nice block by Weiters, 1-0. Sinker low and outside, 2-0. Fastball high and outside, 3-0. And we’ve been here before. Fastball high, ball four. And the game is tied.
Vernon Wells (outfield comes in, infield comes in): Fastball inside, 1-0. Fastball tails inside, 2-0. Sinker, for a strike, 2-1. Johnson set, Wells calls time out. Breaking ball, the first one he’s thrown all inning and Wells fouls it off. Fastball, sharp ground ball, Manny Machado dives but it’s through the left side. Gardner scores, doesn’t slow down and sprints to first to congratulate Wells.
Final Score: Yanks 3, Orioles 2.
[Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II/Associated Press]