After 14 months of injury, surgery, recovery, healing, rehab, more rehab, progress, rehab assignments, and prayer, Ivan Nova is back. And boy, is he back. Nova got a well-earned win today in his 2015 debut in the last game of the mid-week series against the Phillies. He threw 92 pitches (was going to be capped at 95-100 pitches anyway) in 6.2 innings, gave up just 3 hits and 2 walks, striking out 1 batter, and kept the Phillies scoreless. It was rather nice to watch, as the Yankees’ defense pulled together behind him to give him a really nice debut.
Bryan Mitchell came on in relief in the 7th inning to get a strikeout before getting a nice 1-2-3 8th inning. Then Diego Moreno came in for the 9th. Moreno’s outing was a mixed bag. On the one hand, the Yankees didn’t need to keep that tight of a leash on him, giving him quite a bit of room for error. On the other hand, he wasn’t as sharp as they were hoping. A lead-off double scored on an RBI single, and then that runner moved to 3rd on a double before scoring on a groundout. Despite allowing 3 hits, 2 runs, and a walk, Moreno got out of the 9th with a big exhale and gave the Yankees the win for the series finale.
Now, about that run-support…
The Yankees started their offensive charge in the 2nd inning. The bases quickly loaded with Young’s single, Murphy’s walk, and Gregorius’ bunt single. And then Jose Pirela put the ball into play, the Phillies’ 3rd baseman threw the ball home to get the out there, but the ball bounced weird to the catcher and got away from him so that Young and Murphy could both score; Gregorius and Pirela ended up at 3rd and 2nd, respectively. Basically, this play was a pretty good example of how the Phillies have been most of the year and why it was very odd that they won the last two games.
In the 4th, Gregorius doubled (mainly due to the ball dropping on an infielder who couldn’t find it in the sun) and Pirela walked. Then Brett Gardner singled home Gregorius, and Chase Headley’s double scored Pirela. Mark Teixeira hit a 1-out single to score Gardner. And the Yankees kept growing their lead as the Phillies just made a lot of sloppy defensive choices. (Okay, I should give the starting pitcher credit here. He really did a pretty nice job, but he wasn’t really given much of a defense to work with and keep grounders in the infield.)
On into the 6th inning, the Phillies’ starter now out of the game, the Yankees were able to find more holes in the Phillies’ defense and in their bullpen. Headley led-off with the single and later scored on Chris Young’s 2-out single. In the 7th, (with another reliever on the mound), Gregorius on base with a walk, Jose Pirela’s deep double scored Gregorius before back-to-back walks to Gardner and Headley loaded the bases (still no outs). A nice single by Alex Rodriguez scored both Pirela and Gardner. A wild pitch to Teixeira moved Headley and Rodriguez into scoring position so that Headley scored on Teixeira’s single. Then that reliever finally got his 3 outs to get out of the inning.
Comparing Yankees vs. Phillies offense — Yankees got 15 hits, 10 runs, and 6 walks to the Phillies’ 6 hits, 2 runs, and 3 walks. But to give credit to the pitching staff — the Phillies got the Yankees to strikeout 7 times to the 3 strikeouts issued to the Phillies.
Final score from the Bronx: 10-2 Yankees, Phillies win the series 2-1.
And in roster moves (I could seriously write an entire blog on just roster moves this season): Nova was activated from the 60-day DL, placed back on the active 25-man roster. Brendan Ryan was placed on the 15-day DL, retroactive to Monday, with “right thoracic strain” (upper back pain). Reliever Jose De Paula was designated for assignment to make room for Nova back on the 40-man. And after the game, Diego Moreno and Branden Pinder were both optioned back to AAA Scranton.