Today was all about the Nova. Our very own SuperNova. Ivan Nova threw his second complete shutout game and third shutout game he started. All 9 innings of Nova being Nova and throwing 108 pitches (73 strikes). He gave up 6 hits, 1 walk, and no runs, and struck out 7 San Francisco batters. All 42, people were on their feet celebrating Nova’s complete game and final out.
And backing his SuperNova-ness was the Yankee offense. In the 3rd, Reynolds and Ryan hit back-to-back singles, and Stewart walks to load the bases with no outs. So when Ichiro Suzuki hits a sacrifice fly, all runners advance and Reynolds scores. Then Alex Rodriguez grounds out, but Ryan still scores and Stewart advances to 3rd. So Robinson Cano’s single easily scores Stewart. And suddenly, the Yankees are up 3-0. To tack on a little cushion for Nova, Eduardo Nunez hits just his 2nd home run of the season, also scoring Granderson — a 2-run homer into the left field seats. And just in case that 5-0 lead wasn’t enough, Alfonso Soriano plants a home run in his sweet spot (the left field seats) in the 6th.
So Nova walks away with his win in this afternoon’s 6-0 shutout of last year’s World Series champions.
I’ve been spending much of this weekend, in light of recent announcements, reminiscing about the old days. The days when it was assumed the Yankees would be in the postseason, the days of the last dynasty and the Core Four and 5 World Series rings. The days that made the Yankees relevant again. And I guess I realized I’d been in denial for the last season, praying somehow miraculously that the veterans, the “experienced” players, would somehow just be those young, strong, bold players they were in their 20s. And I’m guessing with a string of injuries, I’m not alone in that wish, especially from within the Yankees’ own clubhouse and front office.
But today, we glimpse the future of Yankee pitching. Nova is in his 20s, young, strong, bold, and clearly on the way to be something special on the Yankee rotation. He was “disciplined” in a way earlier this year, sent down to the minors to clean up his form that had become sloppy and less consistent. But when he came back, he didn’t falter. He came back that fierce competitor that the Yankees look for in their team. He wanted to do nothing but win and be the best Nova he could be. Sound familiar? Probably because that’s the Yankee mentality, something all the guys from the “old guard” have said at one time. Nova is a true Yankee.
And that gives me hope for the future of the team.
I guess I’m also reminiscing a bit to the more recent past — Spring Training. The Yankees aren’t going to lose their grit, their drive, their motivation because the veterans are moving on. Because there’s a whole crop of guys in their farm system chomping at the bit waiting for their chance to do something, to contribute to the club’s legacy, to find their own niche in the history of the pinstripes.
No, Yankee fans, there is hope because that will to win and be the best comes with donning the pinstripes and playing on the same field with legends around you and legends memorialized just over the center field wall. It becomes ingrained in the DNA of every player, that they’re part of something bigger, a mere season of a storied history. And that makes me hope.