The Yankees needed Ivan Nova to step up yesterday against the White Sox, and while that might have been too much to ask from a 23-year-old making just his second big league start, that's exactly what he did. Over 5.2 innings, Nova held Chicago to one run on five hits, walked one, and struck out seven to lead the Yankees to a hard fought 2-1 win.
With a mix of fastballs, change ups, and curves, Nova kept White Sox hitters guessing all day. The youngster seems to have the mound presence, confidence, and toughness of a seasoned vet, mix that with some pretty good stuff and there's a good reason Yankees fans are excited about the rookie. His fastball had the same surprising velocity as his first start, topping out at 97.1 MPH and averaging 94.2. His curveball was even better this time around, as he had much better command of it. In his first start against the Jays he threw 18 curves, but just 6 for strikes (33%), yesterday he threw 24, 13 for strikes (54%). And while two sources (MLB.com and Brooks Baseball) said he threw just one changeup, knowing he has it makes him that much tougher on hitters. Overall, it was just a great start and one the Yankees obviously needed. It was also Nova's first career big league win.
Gavin Floyd was also very good, but a few mistakes in the early innings cost him. Facing the red-hot Marcus Thames to start the 2nd, he left a 2-2 cutter up in the zone and Thames launched it into the seats in left for a home run, his 5th in five games.
An inning later, Francisco Cervelli began what would end up being a 4-for-4 day, with a lead off double. Brett Gardner followed with a single and the Yankees were up 2-0. It would be their last run of the game. They had base runners throughout the game and had their chances to score, but went 2-for-10 with RISP and left 9 men on base.
Chicago got a run back in the bottom of the 5th--Nova's only rocky inning of the game. With two out, Gordon Beckham doubled, Juan Pierre followed with singled, and the lead was cut in half.
Nova would leave the game after with two out and a runner on first in the sixth and was replaced by Boone Logan. Chicago would eventually load the bases with a single off Logan and a walk off his replacement, Kerry Wood, but Wood got Mark Teahen to ground out to first and escaped the jam.
Wood and Joba Chamberlain took care of the 7th and 8th, and Mo took care of the 9th to finish off the big win. Instead of coming back to the Bronx in 2nd place after a 2-4 trip, they went 3-3 and remain tied for first (Tampa beat Boston).
The open a four-game set with the Athletics tonight in the Bronx. Dustin Moseley will face Trevor Cahill in the opener. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. and the game will be on YES.