There isn't a day that goes by this season where I don't think, "Boy, we sure could use Andy Pettitte out there." Confession- not every day, but you get the gist. Last night, delivering pitches from the opposite side of the mound, Nova did his best Pettitte imitation. The rookie right-hander induced 16 ground ball outs and got a pair of home runs from Curtis Granderson to beat the Texas Rangers 4-1. The win snapped the Yankees three game losing streak, their longest of the season.
Nova pitched into the 8th inning for the first time in his Major League career before a walk and a Mark Teixeira error gave the Rangers an opportunity to rally. Nova was charged with one unearned run after an inherited runner scored off of Rafael Soriano, but Mariano Rivera cruised through the 9th inning for his 12th save.
Much to Michael Kay's joy, Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano had all three assists in an inning (as did Texas' Adrian Beltre) to "tie a record held by many" and the Yankees flashed their leather, particuarly Alex Rodriguez and Teixeira, in support of Nova, who allowed just two hits.
The Yankee gave Nova a pair of runs to work with when they got on the board in the 1st inning, something that has become a bit of a regular occurrence this season. Derek Jeter started things off with a solid single off left-hander Matt Harrison and Granderson followed with a blast to right-center for a quick 2-0 lead.
An inning later, Jorge Posada and Russell Martin drew lead off walks, which lead to a lot of Twitter anger directed at Joe Girardi. The reason? The bunt. Particularly when it comes to Brett Gardner bunting. In a word, Gardner is a horrible bunter (okay, that's two words). Gardner's bunt was decent - at the third baseman like it should be. But the Rangers had the wheel play on and speedy shortstop Elvis Andrus easily beat Posada to third to force out the Yankees slowest runner.
The Yankees got a big break though when Harrison then fielded Jeter's infield bouncer and threw it into right field to score Martin from second base for a 3-0 lead. The Yankees had a chance to break the game open when Granderson walked to load the bases, but Harrison retired Teixeira and Rodriguez to get out of further trouble.
Meanwhile, Nova mowed down the Rangers with precise proficiency. He allowed a single to David Murphy in the 2nd inning and a Chris Davis base knock in the 6th, which was erased by a double play. Granderson added to the Yankees tally with another home run, this one of the solo variety, off of Ryan Tucker. The centerfielder's 10th home run didn't come last season until July 26.
The Yankees think they may have Eric Chavez back in four weeks. Kim Jones reported on YES that Chavez's broken foot bone was in actuality an old injury that got irritated. For now, Chavez is in a walking boot and will be for probably a couple of weeks.