Rookie pitcher Ivan Nova made his first career major league start, and was pretty solid in his five-plus innings of work. Two poor pitches led to two long balls off the bat of Jose Bautista, though, and it was those two home runs that ended up costing the Yankees, who suffered a disappointing 3-2 loss.
AP Photo

Initial Reaction:

Making his first career start in the Majors, Ivan Nova didn’t get off to a great start. Nova loaded the bases with a single, a double, and a four-pitch walk. With a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom-half of the first, Nova looked to be giving away the Yanks’ lead right away. Next up, cleanup man Vernon Wells hit a fly ball to left that Brett Gardner lined up perfectly. Gardner caught the ball, with his momentum going towards home plate, and launched a strike to Frankie Cervelli that beat Fred Lewis by about two steps. Nova had new life took advantage of his opportunity to escape the jam by striking out Adam Lind on a 97 mph fastball (!) to end the inning.

The only other trouble he faced was Bautista’s two-run home run, off a hanging curveball that was begging to be crushed, following a single with some help from the umps. A groundball hit to Eduardo Nunez made him range to his left, and his throw forced Mark Teixeira to reach to his left. Teix kept his foot on the bag, but the umps ruled he was in fact pulled off first base. Teixeira was adamant in arguing that he stayed on the bag, and if Teix gets fired up over a call like he did, he knows he’s right. Which he was. Other than that, Nova was good, retiring nine of the last ten batters he faced. He certainly earned another start.

As for the bats, the Yankees didn’t too often. Their first run came in the first inning with two outs, after Nick Swisher walked and Robbie Cano brought Swish home with a double two batters later. Their second run came home almost exactly the same way: Cano worked a walk in front of Jorge Posada‘s double in the sixth inning, again with two away.

In the eighth, Jose Bautista did some more damage with another moonshot. Bautista struggles mightily on pitches on the outer-half of the plate, and David Robertson started the at-bat with a fastball on the outside corner for a strike. The Yanks plan was to stay away from the big bat, and Cervelli called for the same exact pitch. But Robertson completely missed his spot. The pitch came back in to the inner-half of the strike zone, right into Bautista’s wheelhouse. He obliged and launched his second moonshot of the game, giving the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead. Bautista took nearly 30 seconds to make his way around the bases, then came out for a lengthy curtain call.

Some tempers flared in the bottom of the sixth. A few innings after Bautista did his bat-flip after his first home run, Nova threw a fastball high and not really far in, which Bautista didn’t like one bit. He walked towards the mound and barked some, Nova refused to back down and barked back. Both benches and bullpens emptied, but nothing came about. Something to definitely keep an eye on the rest of the season, especially after Bautista’s David Ortiz-esque trot in the 8th inning and especially since these two teams have eight games left against each other. Watch out for some Chin Music

Positives From The Game:

Nova earning another start with his solid if unspectacular outing: two runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings, walking one, and striking out three.

Cano has been hitting clean up lately, and has responded very well. He went 1 for 2 tonight with a double, one RBI, one run scored, and two walks.

Negatives From The Game:

Well-read columnist Matt Vereb mentioned in his series preview the importance of slowing down the Jays’ power, specifically Jose Bautista. Welp, it did the Yanks in tonight.

The Yanks managed to have just 3 at-bats with runners in scoring position, and they went 0 for 3 in those spots.

The Umps. Curtis Granderson’s strikeout in the ninth was total BS, and Teixeria definitely stayed on the bag. I guess that’s just the human element of the game.

Not a biggie, but pulling Nova after the benches cleared and with just 73 pitches on the night made me think Girardi was a little too quick in pulling the kid. He may have wanted to get the rookie out of there before emotions took over a bit too much, but the bullpen has been worked a lot recently and it seemed a bit unnecessary.

Curtis Granderson didn’t have the greatest night at the plate, striking out in each of his three official at-bats. But, his final strikeout was one of the worst calls I’ve seen all year (Thanks to NoMaas).

Interesting Facts:

Form ESPN Stats and Information: Jose Bautista entered the season averaging a home run every 29.73 at-bats. If he’d maintained that pace through today (438 AB), he would have 14.7 HR (so say, 14-15 HR). He has 40 this season.

As I mentioned above, Cano has been great in the 4-spot. He is hitting .423 with four home runs and 14 RBI in his last seven games.

What’s Next?:

Your favourites, the Yankees, and Blue Jays take centre stage in Toronto for game two. First pitch a little after 7 p.m.

Probables: Dustin Moseley (3-2, 4.76 ERA) vs. Marc Rzepczynski – pronounced “zep-CHIN-ski” – (1-1, 4.76 ERA)

Let’s Go Yankees