(Courtesy of the AP)
Just as they did in their last series against Arizona, the Yankees found themselves with a chance to take an unexpected sweep against the Blue Jays yesterday. They also found themselves with Ivan Nova on the mound, which hasn't exactly been a recipe for success in the last year plus. Nova's questionable back-of-the-rotation mate Phil Hughes got things moving in a positive direction in his last start, and the Yankees would have loved nothing more than to see Nova follow suit. It didn't happen, and once again neither did the sweep.
- It was business as usual for Nova in the first 2 innings: inconsistent fastball command, leadoff runners on, ill-timed walks, and cheap runs scored of sacrifice hits as a result.
- The Yanks got a run back in the top of the 3rd in the most unlikely of ways, a Chris Stewart leadoff home run. Moments like that are rare, like seeing a unicorn in a field of 4-leaf clovers, and this one made it a 2-1 game.
- Nova worked in and out of trouble without allowing any more damage through the 5th inning. He was actually in line for the win after the Yanks got 2 runs in the 5th on a pair of bases loaded walks and another in the 6th on a Brett Gardner sac fly to knock out Toronto starter Josh Johnson, but then the bottom of the 6th happened.
- Nova gave up a leadoff walk and a double to put 2 on with nobody out to end his day, then watched as Boone Logan and David Phelps combined to give up 4 more runs to give the lead back. It was truly putrid work from both of those two, and fitting that Nova got the extra runs tacked onto his ledger.
- Joe stuck with Phelps for the next inning and he gave up a 2-run HR to J.P. Arencibia that basically sealed the deal. A poor starting effort by Nova and an equally poor job of relief work behind him.
- Stewart: 2-3, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 LOB. Just when it looks like Cervelli is getting a stranglehold on the starting catching job, TCS comes out and has a big game like this. Hey, if each of these guys are feeling the pressure to perform, I'm cool with it. Whatever it takes to get production from the position.
- Logan & Phelps: Combined 3+ IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K. Hard to say that either of these guys "relieved" Nova in the 6th inning. Logan continues to be spotty in his ability to get lefties out, and Phelps was bad for the second straight outing. They had a lead, they gave it back, and they gave it back quickly.
- Travis Hafner & Ichiro: Combined 0-8, 1 BB, 3 K, 10 LOB. Hafner was a black hole in the middle of the order despite numerous RISP situations, and Ichiro just looks cooked.
The Yanks keep it in the division when they travel to Tampa to start a 3-game series against the Rays on Monday night. A big-time lefty pitching matchup is set with CC Sabathia and Matt Moore squaring off.