By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, JULY 11- A combination of power hitting and an outstanding pitching performance by starter Ivan Nova gave the Yankees an 8-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday evening. The win ended New York’s three-game losing streak .
Ivan Nova pitched his second consecutive sterling start in July. Nova pitched his first complete game five days earlier, a game won by the Yankees, 3-2. He fell short by one inning of becoming the first Yankees hurler by pitch back-to-back complete games since Jack McDowell in 1995.
The 26 year-old kept the Royals scoreless during the first seven frames. He gave up two singles in the first and two singles in the fifth. The only run scored off Nova came in the eighth. After Nova retired the first two batters, Alcides Escobar drew a walk. The only Royals run was driven in by a double by Eric Hosmer.
Nova was lifted at the end of eight, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi commented on that decision, “We probably could have left him in for the ninth.” Despite missing nearly a month while on the DL with inflammation of the right triceps and nearly another month while in the minors, Girardi spoke of his long-time faith in Nova’s pitching, “I’ve always had high expectations. I’ve always believed in Ivan. He was out of whack in the second half last year. Getting him on track was very important."
Nova had a simple explanation for his five hit and one run performance in eight innings, “I’m throwing strikes with all of my pitches.” Girardi believes the last two starts “should build his [Nova’s] confidence.”
The Bronx Bombers have not lived up to that nickname as of late. Before Wednesday’s contest, the Yankees had homered in only 10 of their past 30 contests. The team’s record in homerless contests this year is only 13-26. The mark when they hit the long ball is 36-16.
Seven of the eight Yankee runs came via home runs. In the third, with Luis Cruz (walk) and Brett Gardner (hit by pitch) on base, Robinson Cano hit his 21st home run of the season. Next week, Cano will be starting at second base in his fourth straight All-Star Game and captain the American League Home Run Derby squad.
The damage was completed in the sixth frame. Cano led off with a single. Pinch hitter Vernon Wells followed with a single. The bases were filled after Zoilo Almonte walked. Lyle Overbay took a full count pitch deep for his first Grand Slam since 2006. Overbay commented after the contest, “I was a little aggressive. I was lucky.” Of his unexpected amount of playing time, Overbay remarked, “It’s been fun. I’m just enjoying it.”
The Yankees raised their record to 29-1 when scoring at least five runs.
The final game of the four game set will be a Thursday matinee in which Andy Pettitte (6-6) and Ervin Santana (5-5) will be the starting pitchers.
Will Derek Jeter return soon? Rumors were heard in and out of Yankee stadium on Wednesday that there is a strong possibility that Jeter will return to the club for Friday night’s contest at Yankee Stadium. When asked after Wednesday’s game, Girardi said, “We evaluate him every day. Let’s just see.”