(Courtesy of the AP)
The Yankees rode back into town on the turnaround high of their 4-game road sweep in Minnesota, and they came home to find the Baltimore Orioles waiting for them. The O's would be the first opponent in a critical 10-game stretch before the All Star break and the Yankees would face them a week after getting swept out of their place with Ivan Nova on the mound in place of the originally scheduled and banged up Hiroki Kuroda. Nova proved to be more than up to the task of stepping in for Hirok and he pitched the Yanks to their 5th straight win with a little walk-off help from Vernon Wells.
- Ivan had his stuff working from the start last night, but looked primed to crumble after he started the top of the 2nd by hitting Chris Davis and giving up a 2-run HR to Matt Wieters 3 pitches later. The Yanks were in a 2-0 hole early and they needed the whole game to climb out.
- They got 1 back in the bottom of the 4th on a nice little 2-out rally. Wells singled, Lyle Overbay walked, and shortstop of the week Luis Cruz came through with another RBI hit.
- Nova was, in all honesty, brilliant after the Wieters homer. He retired the next 12 batters in a row, including striking out the side in the 5th, and he erased the 1 hit he did allow in the 6th on a double play ball.
- The offense blew a prime chance in the bottom of the 5th, loading the bases with 1 out on an intentional walk to Robinson Cano and then failing to drive a run across.
- Nova was undeterred by the lack of run support on his way to the best start of his career. He allowed just 1 baserunner (walk) in the final 3 frames and racked up 4 more strikeouts. He was absolutely electric.
- And it paid off in the bottom of the 9th. David Adams singled to start the inning, Brett Gardner reached on an error, and they moved up on a sac bunt. After another intentional walk to Cano, the Yanks were in a repeat situation of the 5th. This time Travis Hafner drew a 4-pitch walk from Jim Johnson to force in the tying run and Wells followed up with a walk-off single to win it.
- Nova: 9 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 11 K. Just a dominant outing for Nova outside of the handful of pitches he threw to start the 2nd. He was running both his 2 and 4-seam fastballs into the mid-90s consistently and locating them both for strikes, and his curveball was devastating. That pitch has really been working for him since he got back to the show and it was on full display last night. It will be interesting to see what they do with Nova now, but it's hard to say he hasn't earned more playing time.
- Wells: 2-5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 3 LOB. Third straight multi-hit game for Vern. He's started to come around again after looking completely shot at the end of June.
- Joe: Made a couple of questionable bunting decisions last night, both with Ichiro. I guess I can live with the one in the 9th inning when you're playing for the tie before the win, but I will never understand bunting in the 1st inning of a game, especially when your lightning fast leadoff hitter is already in scoring position with a double. Ichiro has also been swinging a hot bat lately, why not let him swing away?
Second game's this afternoon. Andy Pettitte vs. Chris Tillman is the pitching matchup.