By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, AUGUST 31- Unlike the previous evening’s 8-5 slugfest won by the Yankees, the Saturday matinee between the Yanks and Orioles was an old fashioned pitching duel.
After New York scored on a run in the first on doubles by Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano, the starting pitchers, Scott Feldman and Ivan Nova, hooked up in a duel that prevented another run from scoring through the seventh inning.
Feldman left the game after seven innings having yielded only one run, six hits, one walk and two hit batsmen. It was the second straight start in which Feldman gave up a run in the first and kept his opponent scoreless thereafter. The right-hander has yielded only one earned run in three of his last four starts.
After the contest, Feldman explained his thoughts regarding his success on the mound, “Just felt like mechanically things were a little better today. I’ve been kind of fighting them for the past couple and command was better as a result of that.”
Nova’s performance was as impressive as he’s had in the majors. It was his first complete game shutout. His previous complete game this season [on July 5] also took place in Yankee Stadium and was against the Orioles.
Other similarities between the two games against Baltimore were that in both Nova gave up three hits and walked one. The pitch count was also quite similar, on July 5, he threw 102 pitches with 70 being strikes and on Saturday, 67 of Nova’s 104 pitches were strikes.
Both managers were impressed, but not surprised by how well the 26 year-old performed. Buck Showalter of the Orioles commented, “The guy ]Nova] got a 2.9 something ERA in the American League East. We knew it was going to be challenging today and Scotty matched him for the most part.”
Yankee skipper Joe Girardi explained the specifics of and reasons for Nova’s improvement, “His stuff was really good. He kept them off balance. To me, the key was his fastball down in the zone. His fastball is better than when he won all those games. (15 straight wins from 6/10/11-4/27/12). His curveball is sharp and has a lot of depth.”
Girardi credits Nova’s desire to improve while he was sent down to the minors, “He went and picked himself up. He figured out what he had to do to be successful.”
Robinson Cano led off the eighth with a homer to right off lefty reliever Troy Patton. The homer was his 25th of the season and 202nd in Yankees pinstripes. He drove in both Yankees runs.
Of the home run, Girardi remarked, “It gave us a little breathing room.”
An experienced infielder playing behind Nova at short, Derek Jeter, explained what he saw during the game, “He [Nova] was spectacular. You couldn’t ask for him to do anything more. Baltimore’s a great team and he was able to shut them down, which is exactly what we needed at his point.”
The victory moved New York .5 games ahead of Baltimore in the A.L. East standings. Both clubs need to win regularly to have a chance for post-season play.
Oriole shortstop J.J. Hardie commented on his team, “We don’t have long. We don’t have a whole lot left. The back’s kind of up against the wall. We need to start playing good baseball.”
Even though the Yanks won the last two with the Birds, Girardi knows they can’t let down, “We have to keep winning. You can’t rest on what you’ve done.”