(Courtesy of the AP)
Alfonso Soriano or no Alfonso Soriano, the lineup supporting Ivan Nova this afternoon didn't look any better than it has in weeks past. There still wasn't any real support behind Robinson Cano, there wasn't power or patience to be found anywhere, and the bottom third was a fallout zone with Chris Stewart getting the start over a heating up Austin Romine. The effort by the front office to make this team better isn't there, it hasn't been there since the season started, and that lack of effort was on display again today as the Yankees got completely outclassed by a rookie starting pitcher.
- Nova could best be described as inconsistently dominant through 5 innings. He put 2 runners on in the 1st and worked around it by retiring 7 in a row, then did the same to lead off the 4th before striking out the side swinging on curveballs. He didn't allow any runs either.
- Tampa starter Chris Archer matched him zero for zero, and did it on an unfathomably impressive 49 pitches through 5 innings. The Yankees were aggressive but didn't manage a single hit off him until a Lyle Overbay single in the 5th.
- Walking the tighrope finally came back to bite Nova in the 6th, when a 2-out walk put 2 runners on. Kelly Johnson singled home a run to put Tampa up 1 before Nova got another K to end the inning.
- Brett Gardner hit a 2-out ground rule double to left for a spark of offensive life in the bottom of the 6th, but Ichiro waved at a 2-strike fastball to strand him. It's really getting pathetic at this point.
- Joe squeezed another inning out of Nova in the 7th then turned it over to the bullpen to keep the game at 1 run. David Robertson and Shawn Kelley (next year's closer-setup man tandem??) did just that with 2 scoreless frames and 4 strikeouts.
- Didn't matter. Archer finished things off himself in the bottom of the 9th - in 1-2-3 order - to secure the complete game 2-hit shutout and do it under 100 pitches.