The Yankees looked like they had things going in the right direction again after a road series victory over the Jays and a sweep of Minnesota to kick off a 10-game homestand. That forward momentum hit a speed bump last night, as the Indians came into town, got to Ivan Nova early, and held on late for a 1-run win.
Nova was not at his best last night. Command was the issue again and he didn't really have any consistent feel for his fastballs or his curveball. He couldn't drop his sinker down in the zone for strikes, he was missing off the corners with his 4-seamer, and he threw a lot of flat curveballs that caught too much of the plate. Cleveland got to him for a run in the 2nd on a leadoff walk and a double, another run in the 3rd on a pair of singles, and another in the 4th on a 2-out walk, single, single rally. Nova bookended that with scoreless 1st and 5th innings, but he threw a lot of pitches to get those 15 outs and Joe made the call to end his day at 5.
The Yankee offense should have feasted on Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin, especially with the short porch in right field and his home run tendencies. Instead they got 1 hit off him in the first 3 innings, 1 run off him in 7 innings, and didn't put a runner on base against him after a Didi Gregorius walk in the 5th. The one run came courtesy of Alex Rodriguez in the bottom of the 4th. He got a hanging 83 MPH cutter on the second pitch of the inning and bashed it out into deep left field for a solo home run. Other than that, the Yankee lineup had squat to show for themselves against a guy with a 4.86 career ERA.
Adam Warren replaced Nova to start the 6th inning and he turned in a solid 2 scoreless innings. It'd still be nice to see him pitch more in close lead games. The returning Chris Capuano was up next and he tossed 2 scoreless innings as well. Nova wasn't particularly sharp or efficient, but he didn't give up a ton of powerful hits. And the bullpen was very good behind him. The late innings had all the makings of a clutch comeback.
Which the Yankees finally got around to starting in the bottom of the 9th. A-Rod singled to start the rally and stole second base (!!!) to put himself into scoring position for Brian McCann. McCann struck out looking on a ball right down the middle, but the called strike 2 in the at-bat was absurd and that brought out Joe from the dugout to get his 2 cents in with home plate umpire Dan Iassogna. He wasn't happy with Iassogna's strike zone all night and he let him know about it, naturally getting ejected in the process.
After the delay, Carlos Beltran came through with a ribbie single to right to score A-Rod and put the tying run on base. Greg Bird drew a walk, pushing pinch runner Chris Young into scoring position, but the rally flamed out right there. Chase Headley grounded out to advance the runners and Didi Gregorius flew out to left for the final out. Didn't have enough comeback in them, not that they would have needed it if they didn't score 1 run against Josh Tomlin.
- Solid night for A-Rod though. 2-4, the homer, 2 runs scored. With Teix still out and on the mend, it would be really nice if A-Rod started to heat up again.
- Didi was 0-4 with 2 K and he's quietly slowed way down offensively. He's 1-21 in his last 6 games and has just 4 hits in his last 9.
- In his previous start against Toronto, Nova got 16 outs on the ground. Last night he got 4. That's the telltale sign right there. Couldn't hit his spots on the corners, couldn't keep the ball down.
- As badly misused as he is, Warren has been terrific lately. He's thrown 9.2 scoreless innings with 9 strikeouts in his last 8 appearances and he hasn't allowed a run in August.