Joe Girardi ponders Ivan Nova's fate, though it shouldn't take long for The Binder to help make a decision. (Image: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE)

Left Wondering: Yankees' bats go cold in Toronto; lead down to one

The New York Yankees lost the opportunity to pull further ahead in the American League East last night as Brandon Morrow stifled the Bombers offense and Ivan Nova was once again ineffective.

The Yankees (90-66) had a chance go two full games in front of the Orioles just by winning as Baltimore was idle last night. However with the loss, the Yanks’ magic number to win the division remains at 6, but with the Oakland A’s defeat the Bombers’ number to reach the postseason is down to 3.

Nova couldn’t stick with Morrow for more than two innings as the Blue Jays right-hander turned in one of his better efforts since returning from the disabled list. Morrow went seven scoreless innings allowing four hits and three walks while striking out three. The Yankees were unable to push a run across against two relievers and were subsequently shutout. Only Robinson Cano (3-for-4) and Russell Martin (2-for-4) were able to get hits for the Yankees.

Nova was touched for a two-run home run in the third inning by Brett Lawrie after a one-out walk to Anthony Gose. In the bottom of the fifth Gose led off with a single and moved to second on a fielder’s choice by Lawrie. Colby Rasmus singled and Edwin Encarnacion then delivered a two-run double to the right field wall giving the Jays a 4-0 lead. Nova retired one more batter before being lifted with lefty-hitting Adam Lind coming to the plate. Nova’s final line was four runs on six hits and two walks with four strikeouts.

Nova’s next start would be 10/2 but if the Yankees have not sealed the AL East crown at that point it would be difficult for manager Joe Girardi to hand him the ball in a crucial game. Nova has all but eliminated himself from starting a postseason game with his latest effort. It’s entirely possible that Nova is left off a playoff roster entirely. Girardi was not willing to look that far in advance when asked after last night’s game.

“I don’t know. I can’t think about that,” Girardi said. “I wish I could worry about that now, but I can’t. I’ve got to worry about tomorrow’s game, and then we’ll go from there.”

Today’s game features Hiroki Kuroda (14-11, 3.34 ERA) who is looking to halt a six-game streak of allowing three or more runs and hasn’t pitched through the seventh inning in his last four starts. He faces righty Chad Jenkins (0-2, 4.24) who will be making just his second Major League start.

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