Nova's Three-hitter Leapfrogs Yanks Past O's • Latino Sports

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Nova’s Three-hitter Leapfrogs Yanks Past O’s

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Yankee Stadium, the Bronx- It was a smile of relief that Ivan Nova showcased in the New York Yankees clubhouse Saturday afternoon after his three-hit, complete game shutout propelled the Yankees to a 2-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

With a record of 72-63, the victory helped the Pinstripes move a half game above Baltimore in the race for a wild card playoff spot, and Nova’s pitching was near perfect to get the Yankees there.

“Wasn’t anything I didn’t like,” said an impressed Yankees’ skipper Joe Girardi on why he kept Nova in for the ninth inning instead of opting to go with his closer in Mariano Rivera.”I liked what he did to the middle of their order all day. The big key has been his fastball down and in the zone…it has made the difference.”

In nine innings, Nova gave up just three hits, struck out five, and did not walk a batter until the eighth inning. Despite hitting two batters, Nova tossed the second complete game of his career, both of them coming against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium.

The game was not without its scares for Nova.

The first instance came against Orioles’ left-fielder Nate McLouth in the top of the ninth inning, as McLouth’s hit was knocked down by Nova’s glove. After bating the ball down, Nova lost his visual on it, and after spinning around, his throw to first base was too late to get the out.

At this point many thought Girardi might go to Rivera with the home run threat of Chris Davis batting next in the Orioles’ order.

“If he walks him [speaking of McLouth], it might be different, but it was a ground-ball,” said Girardi in explaining why he kept Nova on the hill.

For his part, Davis did not disappoint with a chance to deliver the dramatic goods, whopping a high, fly-ball to the warning track in right-field. When Ichiro Suzuki ran out of real estate, he calmly put his glove up and made the catch for the second out. Adam Jones would line out to Derek Jeter to end the game.

“Anytime that guy [Davis] hits the ball up in the air, everyone holds their breath,” said Yankees’ catcher Chris Stewart.

Ichiro never held his breath though. He knew from the very beginning that it going to hit his leather the entire time. “I was just having fun, I’m a professional,” joked Ichiro through a translator. “It’s good to get things exciting. I think humans want things to go from a bad place to a good place.”

Asked if he was using his best poker face to make Nova feel nervous about the catch, Ichiro nodded his head saying, “Absolutely. I can feel very bad [about tricking Nova in the moment], but then I feel very good after.”

The Yankees gave Nova a run to play with in the bottom of the first inning. It began with a lead-off double down the right-field line for center-fielder Brett Gardner. Gardner scored from third on an RBI-double [88] by second baseman Robinson Cano that plopped down into the right-field corner for a 1-0 Yankees lead.

“I don’t want to pitch 1-0, but I stayed focused,” said Nova.

Nova would get a little breathing room in the bottom of the eighth inning. With reliever Troy Patton in for starter Scott Feldman, the Yankees would double their lead to 2-0 after Cano smashed his 25th homer of the season past the Modell’s sign in the right-field bleachers.

The hit is Cano’s 202nd career home run, tying him with Bill Dickey for 15th all-time on the Yankees home run list.

Feldman [4-4] pitched admirably for the Orioles, going seven innings for one earned run off six hits with five strikeouts, and is now 3-4 in seven career starts against the Yankees.

The Orioles best scoring opportunity occurred in the top of the second inning, when Jones who got on base after being hit by a pitch, advanced as far as third base. Baltimore would hit into one of their two double-plays, with J.J. Hardy popping up to end the inning to keep Nova’s first career shutout intact.

About Oren Vourman

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