Today is completely Ivan Nova’s day. When every other pitcher in the rotation seems to be hitting a slump, it’s the young Dominican to the rescue.
Seriously, Nova was so ridiculously amazing today that he pitched a full game, all 9 innings in just 104 pitches. No bullpen needed today, something they could use, but also something I think they as fellow pitchers could really appreciate. Nova only allowed 3 hits and 1 walk to the Baltimore Orioles, striking out 5 of their batters. But there was no score for the Birds today. Nova was clearly on his game.
Not that the Yankees were able to really launch an all-out offense today. Instead, they bookended the game with their runs. In the 1st inning, Gardner doubles and jogs home on Robinson Cano’s double. And for extra insurance, it’s Cano again who slices his 25th home run of the season into the right field bleachers to cap the score at 2-0 in the 8th inning.
To back up Nova, the defense once again showed off their fluidity. In both the 2nd and 8th, the Yankees turned two (a double play) with their ever impressive infield — Derek Jeter, Cano, and Lyle Overbay. And while Jeter himself didn’t have a productive day at the plate (going 0-for-4 with 2 GIDPs), his defense continues to be strong, making diving, leaping, and ridiculous fielding plays, often as part of these double plays. And on the other corner of the diamond was Mark Reynolds (in for Alex Rodriguez, who is out with flu-like symptoms); Reynolds continues to endear himself to the Yankee fan base after years of playing against them with his former team (and today’s opponent the Orioles) with his own set of defensive and offensive skills.
It’s not a terrible way to end August — on a winning streak into September. I’m also curious how the September call-ups will impact the end of the season. With all the extra back-up arriving, I can see how it will be good for the Yankees should they get into any jams they experienced through the middle of the season. There are two more games the AAA Scranton team will play for their season, and unlike last year’s team (who came in 1st in their division last year), the RailRiders are finishing under .500 and 5th out of 6 teams. And the team will be depleted of a good portion of their regulars for the sake of the September call-ups, but it’s not like they’ll be in the minor league play offs and need the reinforcements.
The more the Yankees win, the more comfortable I know everyone is about the possibility of the postseason. It feels odd that we’re not talking about the potential of a divisional title or perhaps that we’re already chalking up a lost year for the sake of “coming back stronger next year”. With the Yankees, it’s usually all or nothing. On the other hand, they have won the Wild Card 4 years in the last 20, but each year of that accomplishment (1995, 1997, 2007, and 2010), they failed to win the AL Pennant, let alone the Series. It’s very rare for a team to grab the Wild Card and then go on to win the Series (only done by the 1997 Marlins, 2002 Angels, 2004 Red Sox, and 2011 Cardinals).
I guess it’s still too early to talk about postseason. I mean, we haven’t even hit September yet. Maybe I can rely on the old cliché — it’s still a long season, and we still have a long way to go yet. And just maybe that’s comforting enough for me. At least for now.