(Courtesy of the AP)
I'm smart enough now to not be at all concerned about starting the season 0-2, but it's not like I would have been happy to see the Yanks open the season getting swept by a team that lost 111 games last season. In that sense, last night's start was the first big test for Ivan Nova in 2014. He was the starting pitcher tasked with preventing the sweep and he was supported by an offense that had produced 3 runs in 18 innings and was without its leadoff hitter, cleanup hitter, and starting third baseman.
- Nova, like those before him, didn't get off to a good start. 2 sharp singles and a HBP and it was bases loaded, nobody out in the top of the 1st. A force play scored a run, a walk loaded the bases again, and in what turned out to be a HYYUUUUUUUUGE play, Nova escaped the inning on 4-6-3 a double play.
- Interestingly enough, it was Ellsbury and Johnson's replacements who got the rally started in the top of the 3rd. Ichiro and Yangervis Solarte singled with 1 out, then came around to score on a Brett Gardner single and a Carlos Beltran sac fly to give the Yankees their first lead of 2014.
- Nova breezed through the next 3 innings, mainly on the strength of some well-timed double plays to end the 3rd and 4th, but then hit the skids again in the 5th when he gave up another run. A 4th double play ball of the night kept it at only 1.
- The offense managed to keep tacking on with a Derek Jeter RBI single in the 5th and what was scored as an RBI single for Solarte on an infield pop-up that the Astros decided not to field.
-The 4-2 lead they built held up thanks to some stellar bullpen work behind Nova. Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley didn't allow a baserunner and struck out 4 in 2.1 IP and D-Rob went 1-2-3 for his first save of the year.
- Solarte: 3-3, 1 2B, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB. Have a day, Yangervis! Started it with a first career Major League start and an autographed lineup card, ended it with a damn fine day at the plate.
- Ichiro: 2-4, 1 2B, 2 R, 1 K, 1 LOB. Guess Joe knew exactly what he was doing with these moves.
- Nova: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 1 K. He managed to work through the night only allowing 2 runs, but Nova was far from sharp. He didn't command his curveball well at all and couldn't throw his fastball for strikes on the corners. The 1 K tells the truer story of Nova's night than the 2 runs do.
Francisco Cervelli: 0-4, 3 K. Tough first start of the season after a piping hot ST.
The Yanks will look to get back to .500 tonight as they move on to Toronto for a 3-game weekend series. Masahiro Tanaka makes his MLB debut tonight against Dustin McGowan.