‘Road Warrior’ Nova Hurls Yanks Into Tie For First

GAME 60

YANKEES 3, BRAVES 0

In the Mad Max film “The Road Warrior,” Mel Gibson (Max) protects a band of survivors in post-apocalyptic Australia. If they did a current version, they would need to cast Ivan Nova as Max because his pitching on the road has protected a Yankee roster ravaged by injuries.

Nova twirled seven shutout innings en route to 11th career road victory with no defeats in 14 starts as New York stormed into Turner Field and blanked Atlanta for their ninth victory in their last 11 games.

Nova (8-2) gave up just five hits – all of them singles – and one walk and struck out six to tie Matt Harrison of Texas, David Price of Tampa Bay and Chris Sale of Chicago for the American League lead in victories. Nova’s victory also lifted the surging Yankees into a tie with the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the American League East.

The Yankees offense, meanwhile, was able to score single runs in the first three innings off Braves right-hander Randall Delgado (4-6).

With two out in the first inning, Alex Rodriguez smacked a line-drive double over the head of left-fielder Martin Prado and to the wall. Robinson Cano followed with a single up the middle to score Rodriguez.

They added a run in the second inning on a leadoff home run into the right-field bleachers off the bat of Raul Ibanez, his 10th of the season.

In the third inning, the Yankees loaded the bases on Delgado with one out on a walk to Rodriguez, a double by Cano and a four-pitch walk to Mark Teixeira. The Yankees have had trouble all season scoring runs with the bases loaded but this time they received some help from Delgado.

With two out and Nick Swisher at the plate, Delgado bounced a change-up into the dirt past Braves catcher Brain McCann and Rodriguez scored from third standing up.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, they were unable to take advantage of the eight hits and seven walks they earned off Braves pitching. They were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and they left 11 runners on base.

Instead, Nova leaned on the Yankees’ defense to keep the Braves off the board.

Swisher made a sensational leaping catch at the wall in right-field to rob McCann of a potential two-run home run in the fourth inning. Cano then ended the fourth with a deft stab of a scorched one-hopper off the bat of Freddie Freeman. The Yankees also turned in a pair of double plays, including one by Nova in which he snared a liner off the bat of Andrelton Simmons and doubled up Jason Heyward at first.

The Yankees’ bullpen – minus a resting Rafael Soriano – shut down the Braves the last two innings as manager Joe Girardi played mix-and-match with righties Cody Eppley and Cory Wade and lefties Clay Rapada and Boone Logan. They retired all six batters they faced and they did not allow a ball out of the infield.

With the interleague victory, the Yankees ran their major-league-best record to 162-109 for a .596 winning percentage. The Yankees are also 7-2 at Turner Field.

The Yankees season record improves to 35-25. The Braves drop to 34-27.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Nova’s seven shutout innings lowered his ERA to 4.64. In his last two starts, Nova is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA having given up one run on nine hits and two walks and fanning 11 over 15 innings of work. His career record is now 24-6. Despite the talk about his early-season ERA, the home runs he has given up and the run support he gets, there can be no denying this 25-year-old right-hander has a brilliant career ahead of him.
  • Cano extended his hitting streak to nine games and he is 11-for-33 (.333) in that span with three home runs and seven RBIs. His 2-for-4 night brought his season average back to .300.
  • Rodriguez’s base-running was crucial to the Yankees scoring a third run off Delgado. He was on first when Cano laced a ball into left-center. Rodriguez chose to challenge the arm of Braves center-fielder Michael Bourn and he slid into third just ahead of the tag of Chipper Jones. He then scored on Delgado’s wild pitch.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • I am going to keep harping on the poor performance of Yankee hitters with runners in scoring position because it will cost them dearly in close games against good teams and in the playoffs.
  • Russell Martin popped out with the bases loaded in the fourth and he hit into an inning-ending double play in the seventh with the bags full. He ended up leaving a total of eight base-runners in going 0-for-4. Martin was yesterday’s big hero, but on Monday he did not deliver when he had chances to break the game open. Of course, he was not alone.
  • Ibanez struck out with one out and runners at second and third in the third inning. Not making contact in that situation is an absolute no-no.

BOMBER BANTER

Reliever David Robertson will make one more rehab appearance on Tuesday at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and he could rejoin the team this weekend in Washington when the Yankees face the Nationals. Robertson has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 15 with a left oblique strain.  . . .  Despite sporting a bruise on his left hand he sustained on Sunday by bare-handing a hard-hit ball, left-hander Andy Pettitte said he will be able to pitch in his next start on Saturday against the Nationals.  . . .  The Yankees will not know if Brett Gardner’s troublesome right elbow will need surgery until after he is examined by a specialist on Thursday for a second opinion. Dr. James Andrews examined Gardner’s right elbow on Monday but is it unclear if surgery would be necessary until Dr. Timothy Kremchek has a chance to examine Gardner on Thursday. Gardner has played in only nine games this season and on two occasions just before being activated Gardner has felt recurring pain in the elbow.

ON DECK

The Yankees will look to take the series and extend their winning streak to five games against the Braves on Tuesday.

Left-hander CC Sabathia (7-3, 3.69 ERA) gets the call for the Yankees. Sabathia is coming off a loss to the Rays in which he gave up five runs in seven innings. He is 1-1 with a 3.24 ERA in two career starts against the Braves.

The Braves are throwing a lefty of their own in Mike Minor (3-4, 6.57 ERA). Minor held the Marlins to one run on four hits over five innings to earn his first victory since April 19. Minor has never pitched against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by MY9.

 

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