Ivan Nova tossed six strong innings, and the Yankee offense took down James Shields in a 5-3 win over the Rays Saturday afternoon. Nova, who has become a fixture in the rotation over the past year, made a strong impression on his return to starting after missing about a month with a shoulder injury: he gave up only two hits in his first five innings of work, mixing his strong fastball sitting in the low to mid 90’s with a devastating slider and curve. After Desmond Jenning’s first-pitch single, Nova didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning. He struck out 8 on the afternoon, reminding Yankee fans of the poise he showed last year in important games.
Nova’s counterpart, Tampa Bay’s James Shields, didn’t fare as well–he gave up four earned runs in six and one-thirds innings, surrendering most of the damage on back-to-back home runs by Curtis Granderson (two runs) and Eduardo Nunez in the second inning. Ironically (at least for this writer, as I chose to mention this in my preview), Granderson came in batting .107 (6-for-56 with 14 K’s) against Shields.
The win lets the Yankees open up a half-game lead on the Baltimore Orioles atop the AL East; the O’s play later tonight (9:05 PM EST) against the Oakland Athletics.
Bullets and commentary after the jump.
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