The New York Yankees knew going in that scoring runs off Justin Verlander was going to be tough. They were going to need a strong effort from Ivan Nova in order to stick with the Tigers’ ace. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Nova could only hold on through the fourth inning.
Nova allowed the first two runs of the game on solo homers by Prince Fielder in the second inning and by Miguel Cabrera in the fourth inning. But, the Yankees tied it up on the top half of the fifth on back-to-back RBI-singles by Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano. The runs were more or less a gift from Verlander who dropped a toss when covering first base which would have been the third out of the inning.
After that Verlander went in one direction, the one where Cy Young award winners go and Nova went in another, where struggling players end up. Verlander tossed 132 pitches, a regular season high, and struck out a season-high 14 batters.
Nova immediately coughed up three runs in the bottom half of the fifth surrendering five straight singles, the last two scoring runs and then allowed a sacrifice fly for a third run. After getting the first out in the sixth inning, Nova gave up three more singles and was finally removed. Joba Chamberlain came on and allowed the first batter he faced to single putting the Tigers up by the final margin of 7-2.
All seven runs were earned and charged to Nova. He has given up a total of 16 runs in his last two starts and 21 hits. His ERA has skyrocketed to 4.81. It was at 3.92 after his last win on July 8th against the Boston Red Sox. That game is a distant memory as Nova has allowed at least six runs in three of his last five starts since then.
Chamberlain made it through 1 2/3 innings in his second appearance allowing two hits and striking out one. David Phelps pitched an inning of scoreless relief, walking one and striking out one. In ten innings since his most recent return, Phelps has been sensational. He has not allowed a run and given up only two hits and two walks, while striking out 14 batters.
The Yankees (63-45) saw their lead in the American League East drop to 5 1/2 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles. The Tigers (59-50) have won five straight and hold the top spot in the AL Wild Card chase.
Tonight at Comerica Park the Yankees look to Phil Hughes to right the ship. Hughes (11-8, 3.96 ERA) has been outstanding since his last start in Detroit on June 3. He had one blip against the Atlanta Braves where he allowed six runs on four homers, but he’s won seven out of eleven starts, with one no-decision since he turned his season around.
Detroit sends Rick Porcello (8-6, 4.65 ERA) to the hill looking to extend the Tigers’ win streak. Porcello beat the Yankees in his last outing against them allowing one run over six innings.