Friday, September 2, 2011

Nova Pitches Yankees Into First Place

Ivan Nova
started out Friday night's game against the Toronto Blue Jays with a lead off walk followed by a pair of singles. A sacrifice fly later and the Yankees were down 2-0. But Brett Gardner made two fine catches to end the inning and Nova only allowed one hit over the next six innings as the Yankees rallied for a 3-2 win. The victory combined with Boston's loss to Texas moved the Yankees into sole possession of first place in the AL East.

Nova became the first Yankees rookie pitcher to win 15 games since Stan Bahnsen won 17 in his freshman campaign in 1968. (Hopefully the Yankees won't foolishly trade him away as they did Bahnsen for the lowly Rich McKinney.)

Gardner not only made the big plays on defense, but also smacked a 2-run home run off of Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow to tie the game at 2-2 in the 3rd. The Yankees took the lead for good in the fifth after Morrow retired the first two hitters. Derek Jeter singled and Curtis Granderson drew a free pass. Robinson Cano, as he has done all season, delivered in the clutch with an RBI single for the 3-2 lead.

Nova cruised through the 7th on 97 pitches before Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera closed out the win. Rivera picked up his 37th save with a 1-2-3 9th inning.

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