By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 22- On Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, Ivan Nova pitched a six hit, complete game shutout against the San Francisco Giants. Earlier this summer, Nova hurled two complete games, both against Baltimore. His previous shutout, a three-hit masterpiece, was hurled on August 31.
In his latest outing, Nova did not permit more than one man to reach base in any one inning. He threw more strikes, 73, than in any game he pitched this season. His command of the strike zone, which limited his pitch count to 108, was a major reason he could complete the game.
Both managers found much to admire in his performance. Giants skipper Bruce Bochy praised Nova with the following words, “Their guy [Nova] did pitch well, he’s been throwing the ball well and he did again today. He’s got a good fastball with command of it and a breaking ball.”
Joe Girardi was, of course, overjoyed with Nova’s performance, “Outstanding sinker, outstanding curve today. He was ahead of the hitters. He has a lot more confidence in his stuff.” The manager was looking to give his overworked bullpen some rest. For this reason, he admitted, “That’s why we sent him out there in the ninth.”
Between Nova’s two shutouts, the 26-year old surrendered 11 earned runs in 17 innings during the three starts. Speaking with reporters after the game, Nova explained that he was watching videos of his most recent games and saw that he was tipping a variety of his pitches. He believes this knowledge allowed him to be much more effective on Saturday.
Each of the first three batters in the Yankees order drove in a run in the third inning. After the seven, eight and nine batters reached base,Ichiro hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Mark Reynolds, Alex Rodriguez grounded to short to score Brendan Ryan and Robinson Cano singled to plate Chris Stewart.
Eduardo Nuñez homered to left in the fourth. The home run also scored Curtis Granderson, who was on first with a single.
Alfonso Soriano led off the sixth with his 17th homer and 50th RBI was a Yankee this year to score the final run of the game. The 50th RBI added to 51 as a Chicago Cub tied him with four other players as the only ones who have driven in at least 50 runs with two different teams in the same season.
Girardi said of Soriano, “He’s provided a lot of punch in our lineup. He’s provided a lot of protection for Robbie [Cano}. He believes Soriano’s success has come because “He’s excited to be here.”
Soriano expressed a different explanation for his great hitting with the Yankees, “We have a lot of good players in the lineup that makes it more easy for me. That gives me more concentration.”
The Yanks hope to sweep the three game set on Sunday afternoon. Andy Pettitte (10-10) will be making his final career start at Yankee Stadium. The undefeated Yusmeiro Petit (4-0) will be on the mound for the Giants in his first start against the Yankees. The game will be preceded by a lengthy and emotional salute to Mariano Rivera, who will retire at the conclusion of the 2013 season.