Nova and Yankees Bullpen Dominate in 4-1 Win Over Oakland
Ivan Nova was in top form for his third straight start since rejoining the Yankees rotation, leading the team to a 4-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics Thursday. In his 16.1 innings as a starter in 2016, he has allowed just three earned runs, largely thanks to a 67.3% ground ball percentage. He’s thrown his sinker a career high 62.6% in 2016, and his new approach has been getting results. The only damage he allowed Thursday night was a solo shot to Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick. Otherwise Nova cruised through his six innings of work, throwing just 62 pitches and inducing ground balls from 12 of the 20 batters he faced.
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The Yankees’ lineup gave Nova just enough to work with Thursday. Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran were the primary offensive catalysts, going a combined 4-10 with two walks and scoring three of the team’s four runs. In the third, Gardner scored from first on Beltran’s double. The Yankees blew the chance to blow the game wide open in the sixth inning when they managed to score just one run on four hits thanks to base-running blunders by Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius. A double by Aaron Hicks got in New York’s lone run of the inning. Carlos Beltran gave the Yankees some breathing room in the ninth with a two-run blast to right field off of Fernando Rodriguez.
As strong as Nova looked through six, Joe Girardi was taking no chances with his 2-1 lead. For the second straight night he went to his bullpen security blanket of Betances-Miller-Chapman to close out the win. It’s hard to argue with the results, although Eovaldi and Nova both capable of pitching considerably deeper into their respective starts given their pitch counts and success. The problem now is that none of the team’s bullpen trio will be available for Friday night’s game because of Girardi’s reluctance to have his relievers appear in three straight games.
- Mark Texieira was given the night off after going 0-5 with three Ks against the Diamondbacks Wednesday. In the past two weeks, Tex has a miserable .175/.195/.250 batting line in 41 PAs. Dustin Ackley started at first base in his place.
- Alex Rodriguez tested his injured hamstring with some running Thursday and felt no discomfort. The plan is still for him to rejoin the lineup either Saturday or Sunday against Oakland, assuming there are no setbacks.
The Yankees continue their four-game weekend series against the Athletics Friday night at 9:35 pm ET in Oakland. CC Sabathia will make his return to the rotation after missing two weeks with a left groin strain, facing off against Oakland’s ace Sonny Gray. The big lefty had been one of New York’s most consistent starters in 2016 before the injury, with a 3.81 ERA in five starts.