Saturday, August 31, 2013

As the New York Yankees attempt to make a run at the postseason, they've needed their starting pitchers to set up, as guys like CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda has been doing to opposite of helping the Yanks win games lately.

Coming off Friday night's 8-5 win, all they needed was another good effort from Ivan Nova to help sling them by the Baltimore Orioles in the Wild Card standings.

They got everything they could have asked for and more from Nova, as he pitched one of his best outings of the year, tossing a complete game, three-hit shutout, the first of his career, in the Yankees 2-0 victory over the O's Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

"Unbelievable. It's unbelievable," Nova said. "I feel really good, because I'm giving my team a chance to win every time I go out there."

If you're a fan of offense, then this game wasn't for you, as both teams didn't have much to do with the bats, because of great pitching by both Nova and Baltimore's starter Scott Feldman.

With only two runs being scored in the game, it was a pitchers duel all the way. And the only player doing the damage on offense with the Yankees all-star second baseman, Robinson Cano. Cano put the Yanks on the board in the first with an RBI double to right field.

Then it wasn't until later in the game, with the Yankees still holding a 1-0 lead, needing insurance runs badly, Cano launched a solo homerun to right field, his 25th of the season, to put the Yanks up 2-0 in the 8th. As the calendar turns to September, Cano will be leaving behind his .370 August batting average.

"You could see early in the season everything was away and they made me chase pitches," Cano said. "Now it's a big difference. [Alfonso] Soriano has, what, 12 home runs and [35] RBIs [as a Yankee]? That's the last guy you want to face."

While it might not have seemed like much, two runs of support was all Nova needed, giving up just two hits, while walking only one and striking out five O's hitters. He was dominating from the start, putting hitters away with ease all afternoon long.

"He has a power curve. Didn't make many mistakes up with it at all. Stayed in the strike zone a long time, then left the strike zone," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "It's very easy to sit in the dugout or the stands and say, 'Why aren't we doing [more]?' The guy's got a 2.9-something ERA in the American League East. It's impressive."

Entering the 9th inning with 89 pitches, Nate McLouth opened the inning with an infield single off Nova's glove, but he was able to bound back and retire the next three hitters -- Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Adam Jones -- to finish off the victory.

One of the closest call in the game with Davis' flyout to right-field in the 9th. Davis, the Major League's homerun leader, lifted a flyball to the warning track in right. As Ichiro went back for the ball, he forced the entire stadium to hold it's breath as he made it seems like the ball was going to get out.

"Anytime a guy gets a ball in the air, you always hold your breath. Especially here, in that part of the park, anything can go out," catcher Chris Stewart said. "He didn't get enough of it, the ball stayed in the yard, and that's a big play for us."

When asked after the game if he knew that he was going to catch Davis' flyball, Ichiro responded in English, saying, "Absolutely."

"I was just having fun," Ichiro said. "The result is the most important. If you look like you're going to get it and it goes over the fence, obviously the fans wouldn't be excited about it. But if the fans thought 'Oh, no,' then you make the play -- humans want to come from a bad place to a good place."

With the win, the Yankees move ahead of the Orioles in the Wild Card standings, trailing now only the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland Athletics for the moment, sitting four-games behind Tampa with still 27 games left to play.


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