Before I get to how the Yankees won the game in the ninth inning (I’ll give you a hint it rhymes with balk cough mingle) I’d like to talk about tonight’s starter, and winner, Ivan Nova.
Nova was penciled in for a spot start in the place of Hiroki Kuroda who injured his hip flexor and all he did was go out there, pitch a complete game and keep the Yankees in a position to come back and win the game. He gave up two runs on three hits – the big blow being a two-run home run by Matt Wieters – he walked only one batter and he struck out 11. He threw 102 pitches and 70 of them were for strikes.
Nova puts the Yankees in an interesting predicament. They don’t want to put him on the shelf when he’s pitching this well but Joe Girardi said in his postgame press conference that they’re probably not going to go to a six-man rotation. Of course, everything depends on Kuroda and how he feels tomorrow. He had a bullpen session today, felt good after he finished and the Yankees will make a decision tomorrow. If he feels good, they’ll slot him back into the rotation, if not, Nova will probably stay in Kuroda’s spot.
After Wieters’ home run in the second, the Yankees came back and scored a run in the fourth thanks to an RBI single by Luis Cruz. Vernon Wells, who was on second, scored just under the tag of Wieters.
The Yankees had a chance to do more damage in the fifth with the bases loaded and one out but Travis Hafner hit a fly ball to shallow center that wasn’t deep enough to score David Adams from third and Wells popped up into foul territory to end the inning.
Bottom of the ninth, after Nova pitched a hitless top of the frame, Jim Johnson came in for the Orioles and luckily for the Yankees, things didn’t go well for him. After making an error, he walked in the tying run with the bases loaded for his sixth blown save of 2013. Wells stepped up to the plate and on a 2-2 count, with a drawn-in infield, Wells slapped a single past Manny Machado at third to score Brett Gardner and win the game.
Wells has picked things up in the past three days, he’s 6-12 with an extra base hit and four RBI – he finished 2-5 tonight. In his previous four games, he was 2-12 with one RBI. Tonight’s game-winning hit was the only time all season that Wells has had an RBI in the ninth inning.