Game Thread: Yankees at Red Sox, September 15th

A colleague of mine and I agreed on Friday that this was the most important series of the Yankee season. The Bombers had clawed their way to within one game of a Wild Card berth and they were taking their hot play into Fenway, to face the first place Red Sox, a team that has owned just about the entire American League in 2013. Two of three wins were essential, we agreed. We meant two of three wins for the Yankees. That's not how things have turned out. The Yankee beatings at the hands of the Red Sox have continued, while Tampa Bay has righted the ship against the Twins. The Yankees now sit three games out of the playoffs, with time moving against them. There are must wins, and then there are must wins, the ones that aren't vapid comments but true difference making games. This is the later. The Yankees can't afford to fall much more than three games behind the Rays at this point in the season. Ivan Nova takes the mound for the Yankees. The BoSox counter with Clay Buchholz. Use this as your game thread. Enjoy!

Yankees beat Rays 3-2 in extra innings, avoid sweep in Tampa

The Yankees are probably going to have to win about twenty more games this year if they want to make a run for a Wild Card spot. That's a tall order for any team, particularly one that has struggled to score runs as much as the Bombers have this year. Dropping the first two games of a three game set in Tampa this weekend didn't help the cause. Fortunately the Yankees managed to turn things around in the final game of the series.

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Game Thread: Sunday August 25th, Yankees at Rays

The Yankees have dropped the first two games in a must-win series. So much for the team's five game winning streak. That's the bad news. To the extent there is good news, the team has fallen from 3.5 games out of a wild card slot to 4.5 games out. Damage has been done, but its manageable. The best way for the Bombers to begin managing that damage is by winning today. The Yankees will send Ivan Nova to the mound today, while the Rays will counter with Alex Cobb. Is it just me or do the Rays have an endless supply of young pitchers who excel at blanking the Yankees? Nova needs to pitch well, obviously, but the real ingredient to winning today is the offense. Enjoy!

More Of The Same, Both Good And Bad, From Nova Yesterday

Nova vs TB It was slightly fitting that Ivan Nova got the start yesterday on Old Timer's Day.  Like a lot of the Yankee old timers, he's become a rare sight on the field and in the dugout at Yankee Stadium.  We'd seen Nova only twice in the last 2 months before yesterday, both times as a relief pitcher, and hadn't seen Nova start a game since April 26th.  While it might look like Nova turned in a sound outing yesterday - 2 of the 3 ER charged to him scored on a single off Boone Logan - the overall performance and means used to get there was actually not that different from what we've become accustomed to getting from Nova.  The all too familiar results bring up more questions about what the future holds for Nova in a Yankee uniform.

For every good thing Ivan did out on the mound yesterday, there was something negative to take away from it.  He struck out 7 batters in 6.2 innings, 4.2 technically since he didn't K anybody in his first or last innings of work, but he also walked 3 and hit 2.  He dominated with his curveball, using it to generate the majority of his 17 swinging strikes out of 68, but had to go to it so much because his fastball command was typically shaky and the Tampa hitters made him pay for every mistake he made with it.  He made big pitches to get out of the 1st and 6th innings on double plays, but then hit the final 2 batters he faced in the 7th with 2 outs to put the eventual game-losing runs on base.  At the end of the day, Nova allowed 12 baserunners in 6.2 innings and that's just too many.  For the most part he did a good job limiting damage, but as is usually the case with Ivan things could have been much worse.

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Rays score only three runs, but that was good enough to beat Yanks 3-1

The Yankees can't score runs. The team got seven hits on the day, but Brett Gardner and Zoilo Almonte got three and two of those respectively, which meant that the rest of the team wasn't in a position to knock them in. Gardner scored the sole Yankee run on the day, as Rays starter Chris Archer pitched six innings of one run ball.

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When Do You Have Too Much Starting Pitching?

There's a saying in baseball that you can never have too much starting pitching. It's hard to disagree with that statement. Pitchers are highly volatile players when it comes to both performance and health. Ballparks, defense, opponents, and a number of small sample size factors can easily trick the most attentive analyst into thinking a pitcher is more or less effective than they actually are. The rate of injury for pitchers also far outweighs that of position players, and this season pitchers are clocking in around 50% more days on the DL. startersIn general, it's good to have excess pitching, but the Yankees are in a circumstance that puts even more emphasis on their young arms. As the rotation stands, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte have been their two most reliable pitchers after CC Sabathia. Kuroda, 38 years old, and Pettitte, 41 years old, just happen to be two of the oldest pitchers in baseball, meanwhile the team's ace, Sabathia, is fresh off elbow surgery. Though he's producing with the same consistency after 9 starts, he's showing a significant drop in velocity. That's not to say their starting pitching has been anywhere near bad or inconsistent, their team pitching WAR currently ranks 5th in baseball, but if anyone needs a "plan B", it's this team.

The Yankees have had some unfortunate luck when it comes to injuries, but the bulk of time missed has come from position players. Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova are the only two starters sitting on the DL, and in comparison to the rest of the league, their days on the disabled list for pitchers ranks only slightly above average. With these two guys missing time, the Yankees have finally allowed their second string starters to see some starts, and we've witnessed some very strong performances from unexpected places.

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What Nova Needs To Work On

Nova vs TOR

(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

With his 15-day DL stint winding down and the make-up doubleheader against Cleveland scheduled for Monday, the prevailing thought is that Ivan Nova will be activated to pitch one of those games.  Joe didn't fully commit to it before last Tuesday night's game, acknowledging that the team would first want to make sure Nova came through today's yesterday's ExST outing without issue before making the decision.  Assuming the reports from that outing all come back positive, however, the combination of timing and situation makes too much sense for it not to happen.

Nova wasn't pitching particularly well prior to hitting the DL.  Joe's short leash was a clear indication that he had lost confidence in Nova, and rumblings had already started about the security of Ivan's rotation spot.  A return to pitch in a situation of need like a doubleheader is not a guarantee that Nova will get his rotation spot back, especially if he pitches poorly, but assuming he will be back and David Phelps is heading back to the bullpen here's what Nova needs to do to nail down that spot.

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Thoughts On Nova's Injury

Nova Injury

Despite coming away with a 4-game sweep of the Blue Jays, this past weekend was another costly one for the Yankees.  In the span of just a few innings and probably less than an hour of real time, they lost both halves of their starting battery on Friday night, losing Francisco Cervelli to a fractured right hand and Ivan Nova to what was officially diagnosed as right triceps inflammation.  I already spent some time on Saturday discussing Cervelli's injury and its implications, and I do believe that will be the greater loss for the Yankees , but there's plenty to consider with respect to Nova's injury as well.  Now that we know exactly what the injury is and that he won't be spending any time under a knife to deal with it, this seems like a good time to discuss.

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Blue Jays hand Yankees a victory that Yankee bullpen hands right back

Josh Johnson and the Blue Jays handed this game to the Yankees in the fifth inning. With the Blue Jays leading 2-1, the Yankees loaded the bases on three hits by Chris Stewart, Robinson Cano and Vernon Wells. Johnson managed to get Travis Haffner out, but after that he completely lost the strike zone. Johnson issued bases loaded walks to Lyle Overbay and Eduardo Nunez, handing the Yankees a 3-2 lead. The Yankees expanded that lead the next inning when Brett Gardner scored Jayson Nix on a sacrifice fly. Suddenly the Yankees were up by two heading into the final innings with a possible sweep on their hands.

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Game Thread: Yankees at Blue Jays, Sunday April 21

The Yankees and the Blue Jays have gone in opposite directions so far this year. Coming into the season the Yankees were projected to struggle due to injuries and austerity, while the new look Jays were supposed to thrive. So far the Yankees are off to a strong start, while the Blue Jays are currently in dead last. But the baseball season can change from one game to the next. Today the Yankees put Ivan Nova on the mound while the Jays counter with one of their new players, Josh Johnson. Once upon a time Johnson was a rising Ace with Florida. He was also made of glass. This season he's off to a poor start (so you know he'll give the Jays eight strong innings). Nova, meanwhile, has also struggled. My gut says this will turn out to be a pitcher's duel, but if I'm wrong it could be a 10-8 ball game. Use this as your game thread. Enjoy!

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