Ivan Nova struck out five and allowed only three hits as the New York Yankees shut out the Baltimore Orioles 2-0 Saturday afternoon. Nova’s complete game jumped the Yankees over the Orioles in the American League Wild Card race.
Nova was ecstatic that his hard work and determination have brought him to this point. “Unbelievable. It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I feel really good because I’m giving my team a chance to win every time I go out there.”
The Yankees wasted no time in giving Nova the only run he would need as Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano both doubled in the first inning to make it 1-0. From there, Nova and Orioles’ starter Scott Feldman hung zeroes on the scoreboard until Feldman’s departure after seven innings. Manager Joe Girardi was pleased with the performance of his new-found ace.
“There wasn’t anything I didn’t like. Everything that I kept seeing was positive, positive, positive,” Girardi said. “I liked what he had done in the middle of their order all day.”
In the eighth, Robinson Cano drilled his 25th home run into the right field stands to give Nova an insurance run. So, with the score 2-0, Girardi was faced with a tough decision. Should he leave Nova in for the ninth to go for the complete game or should he call on Mariano Rivera?
He decided to stick with Nova. Nate McLouth smashed a pitch back at Nova. Nova whirled around to find the ball. His off balance throw to first was wide of the bag, allowing McLouth to reach first safely. Chris Davis followed with a drive that left Yankees’ fans holding their breath. Ichiro Suzuki inched closer and closer to the right field wall as he waited for the ball to come down. Finally, he caught it just two feet away from the wall.
Nova got the final out to give the Yankees the victory. The win, combined with Cleveland’s loss to Detroit, leaves the Yankees behind only Oakland and Tampa Bay in the Wild Card race. They now sit only 3.5 games back.