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Nova Wins 13th Straight As Yankees Down Birds

GAME 4

YANKEES 6, ORIOLES 2

Monday’s New York versus Baltimore pitching matchup of 25-year-olds was marked by some very stark contrasts.

The Yankees starter was a right-hander who spent six years in the minors before a breakthrough 2011 season and he entered the 2012 season having won 12 consecutive games. The Orioles starter was a left-hander who was rushed to the majors a bit too soon and he paid for it by ending his 2011 season having lost nine consecutive games.

The result was Ivan Nova of the Yankees scattered 10 hits over seven innings in winning his 13th straight game and Brian Matusz (0-1) of the O’s gave up four runs on six hits and four walks in four innings as New York got back on track and defeated Baltimore at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Derek Jeter sparked the offense with four hits, including an RBI double in the fourth, and executed a perfect sacrifice bunt in the sixth and a textbook hit-and-run single in the eighth. Andruw Jones added a solo home run in the sixth inning as the Yankees broke a 0-3 start with an 11-hit attack to win their first game of the season.

The Yankees avoided starting the season 0-4 for the first time since 1973.

The Yankees also extended a streak of 18 consecutive victories in games in which Nova has started.

Though Nova gave up a lot of hits, he got tough with runners on base. The Orioles were 6-for-11 (.545) with the bases empty and were 3-for-15 with runners on against Nova. They also were 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

The Yankees are now 1-3 on the young season while the Orioles fell to 3-1.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Nova pitched with steely confidence on Monday and did not allow the pressure of having base-runners on in every inning except the first get to him. He also struck out seven batters by liberally using his breaking pitches. Nova is on a mission to show his 16-4 record was not a fluke or only a product of a lot of run support. He is off to a good start after a spring in which he recorded a 8.06 ERA.
  • Jeter, like most of the Yankees, loves hitting in Camden Yards and it showed with his 4-for-4 night. Showing his ability to use all fields, Jeter had a single to left, a single to center, a single to right-center (on a hit-and-run play) and a double to the right-field corner. Jeter raised his average from .231 to .412 in one night.
  • Manager Joe Girardi started Jones in left in place of Brett Gardner for the second straight game against a left-hander and Jones delivered a home run to left off Orioles right-hander Darren O’Day’s first pitch of the sixth inning. Jones now has 421 career home runs.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Whatever book the Yankees have on how to pitch Matt Wieters they are going to need to revise it in a hurry. Wieters was 4-for-4, including a solo home run in the second inning, a double and two singles. The Yankees previously had some success in getting Wieters out but it looks like 25-year-old catcher is becoming the good hitter he was predicted to be when he was in the minors.
  • The Yankees have a way of making things more difficult on themselves even in victory. The Orioles recorded three double plays on Monday and two of them came with the bases loaded. The third one came on a strange double-steal play in the third inning. With Jeter on second and Robinson Cano on first and Alex Rodriguez up with a 3-2 count, Girardi sent both runners. Rodriguez struck out and Wieters threw out Jeter at third easily.
  • The No. 2, 3 and 4 hitters in the lineup – Nick Swisher, Cano and Rodriguez – were a combined 1-for-11 and left a total of 14 runners on base. As a result, though Jeter was 4-for-4, he scored only one run and that was driven in by Mark Teixeira in the first inning on a two-out single.

BOMBER BANTER

While the game was going on the Yankees also were monitoring Andy Pettitte’s start for Class-A Tampa in a Florida State League game on the road against Clearwater. Pettitte gave up one run on two hits and struck out two in 3 innings of work. Pettitte, who threw 26 of 32 pitches for strikes, said he felt good about his outing. The 39-year-old left-hander, who hopes to be ready to pitch in the major leagues in May, will make his next start for Tampa on Sunday.  . . .  Yankees catcher Russell Martin and Orioles second baseman Robert Andino ended up in a heated discussion after Monday’s game. Martin apparently was upset with what he believed was Andino relaying pitch location from second base to the last two batters in the ninth with Mariano Rivera on the mound. Andino took exception to Martin’s accusation and he had to be restrained by Orioles first base coach Wayne Kirby. Girardi summed it all up later by saying “Boys will be boys.”

ON DECK

The Yankees continue their series with the Orioles with their fifth game of a six-game season-opening road trip on Tuesday.

Freddy Garcia, 35, will make his 2012 debut after a 12-8 season and 3.82 ERA in 2011. Garcia was 2-0 with a 4.35 ERA in four starts against the Orioles last season.

He will be opposed by 26-year-old left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, who will be making his major-league debut after spending four seasons pitching for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan. Chen, a native of Taiwan, was 2-2 with a 3.60 ERA in five spring starts for the Orioles.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by MY9.

 

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