Ivan Nova strikes out ten as the Yankees sweep the White Sox; Boston loses, falling into a tie for first place

This arm doesn't belong in Scranton.

It’s hard to pick up a four game sweep in baseball. It’s harder still to do it on the road. But that’s exactly what the Yankees did Thursday night, beating the White Sox 7-2 in Chicago, their third consecutive decisive win in the series. The Yankees have now won seven consecutive games for the second time this season, and head to Fenway playing some of the best baseball we’ve seen all year.

For a while this one had the makings of a pitcher’s duel. Philip Humber was doing a decent job of keeping the Yankees off balance. His only mistake was a rocket home run to left field off the bat of Robinson Cano. It was 1-1 until the sixth inning when the Yankees took a 2-1 lead on a Curtis Granderson ground out. The Bombers didn’t begin to put day light between themselve on the White Sox until the seventh, when they added two more runs. The game looked pretty much in hand in the ninth when Russell Martin added a towering, three run home run, probably so Mariano Rivera could rest before heading to Boston. Hector Noesi pitched the ninth for the Yankees to close things out.

Much of the talk heading up to this start was how Ivan Nova would do, knowing that if he pitched badly he may find himself headed back to Scranton. The answer is brilliantly. Nova had arguably the best start of his career. He lasted 7.2 innings on an economical 102 pitches, striking out a career high ten, walking none, allowing just one run on six hits. The run, by the way, was a fluke. Nova himself botched a pitch out that allowed Alejando De Aza to move to second before coming around to score later that innings.

The biggest addition tonight was Nova’s change up. Brooks Baseball says he threw nine of them, seven for strikes, five for swinging strikes. Michael Kay mentioned that Nova was using his slider in the booth, but Brooks didn’t see that. It did, however, see a mix of four seam fastballs, two seam fastballs, curves, change ups and cutters. Nova mixed all the pitches to effect, and Joe Girardi correctly said to Kim Jones that making a rotation decision just became that much harder. (Quick update: Nova just said in the post game that he was using his slider; I’m just happy he was mixing his pitches.)

The Yankees are in an enviable position with six starters, one that will exist until something happens, which it always does. For my part I vote they rest A.J. Burnett, not for the rest of the season, but for his next start. Hughes and Nova earned their spots. A.J. didn’t. Leverage the extra starter to give Burnett some extra time to work on whatever it is that makes him pitch badly. Don’t reward failure and punish success.

The Yankees get Boston tomorrow, with Bartolo Colon facing off against Jon Lester. Boston lost, so the Yankees are now in a tie for first place with the Red Sox. The only blemish on the Yankees’ stellar season is that ugly 1-8 record against Boston. Hopefully they can make that a memory this weekend.

16 thoughts on “Ivan Nova strikes out ten as the Yankees sweep the White Sox; Boston loses, falling into a tie for first place

  1. Although he gave up a homer to Adam Dunn, I think you can’t overlook the work that Noesi is doing with his time in the majors. I think he’s very underrated.

    • yeah, but he doesn’t need any hype. The team knows, Joe knows, and Brian. He’ll do better if he can stay focused, keep learning his trade, not be distracted by attention. As long as he keeps pitching without problems, no news is good news.

      • I am just hoping that they give him a shot of the rotation next year I still like his stuff and command better at the MLB level than I do for Nova.

        • “I am just hoping that they give him a shot of the rotation next year.”

          I assume that Noesi will get a shot to be a starter at some point next year but may not be in the mix coming out of spring training.

          “I still like his stuff and command better at the MLB level than I do for Nova.”

          At the beginning of the year, I would’ve agreed with you. But having watched Nova’s last three starts (interrupted by a month in Scranton), I’d argue that this is no longer the case. Nova’s secondary stuff seems to have gotten much better over the past month and has moved past Noesi in my mind. In reality, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone; Nova’s got a couple hundred innings experience on Noesi at this point.

          • I think Noesi has ended up doing an exemplary job in the pen considering his sporadic use so as long as he is starting next year, even if in the minors I will be delighted.

            As for the whole Nova versus Noesi debate, I think Nova has done a lot this year and probably has surpassed Nova at least for now. However, Noesi still has better command and strike out stuff than Nova so I will still project Noesi over Nova, but at this point it appears both can be valuable to a ball club which is fantastic.

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  3. Did Ivan Nova play on alot of winning teams in the minor leagues? I know a few of the Yankees’s minor league affiliates have been in the playoffs and win a few championships. It seems these “middle to backend” rotation guys in Nova, and Noesi, and reliever David Robertson seem confident when they are on the mound. If they were on playoff teams in the minors, with Nova pitching a few innnings for the Yankees last season as well that could explain the poise and confidence that they display on the mound.

    Ivan Nova is making it a difficult choice for the Yankee organization. The problem with the roster now is that this “six man rotation” is using up a roster spot that needs to be used for a bench player.

  4. Except it hasn’t been one start. Burnett has been bad for some time.

    I’ll even go so far as to concede the point, because you and I are on the same wave length. I’m fine with having Burnett and Hughes duke it out one more round, but what I don’t abide is punishing Nova for pitching well and turning a blind eye to A.J.’s ineptitude.

    • That’s all I’m really saying here: Burnett and Hughes have both been inconsistent. Because of their inconsistency, I’d never jump to make a snap decision based on the most recent evidence of something good and, given that, greater evaluation is needed.

      Nova can stay in the rotation. We agree that he’s earning his spot.

  5. “For my part I vote they rest A.J. Burnett, not for the rest of the season, but for his next start. Hughes and Nova earned their spots. A.J. didn’t…Don’t reward failure and punish success.”

    Is one good turn through the rotation enough to justify this statement? I just don’t understand how people can be making decisions on the rotation based on one good start by Phil Hughes.

    I’m fine with saying that Nova’s been the best among the three, even with his month-long hiatus in Triple-A. But between Burnett and Hughes, it’s not really even a question as to which has been less bad (because neither has been anything more than adequate at times this year). Burnett has out-pitched Hughes in 2011, even if their most recent starts on Tuesday and Wednesday are mirror opposites of eachother.

    I’m fine with Burnett and Hughes competing for the final spot in the rotation but let’s actually have them compete instead of declaring a winner after just one start.

  6. Micheal Kay was right (never thought I’d say those words), the strikeout pitch Nova was using was his version of a slider. Remember it’s the pitch he was toying with in ST, he uses a modified cutter grip that happens to make the pitch behave more like a slider.

    you guys did a story about it before

    • I thought it was a slider as well, but I didn’t want to say that without evidence. I went to Brooks Baseball to get that evidence but it wasn’t there.

      Whatever it was, it was working. Nova’s fastball tends to be up in the zone with a little late movement. The slider he was using last night broke down and away on righties. That’s a viscious combo.

      • I agree with you, that is a vicious little bastard, if Nova continues to refine and command it, its going to be elite weapon and can probably be the finisher that he needs to become more than his ceiling.