Ivan Nova was throwing a gem, but the Yankees were down a run in the seventh inning when Luis Cruz told him they would win. At some point in the ninth, Nova recounted, Alberto Gonzalez “told me that I’m not losing the game.” “I was positive the whole night,” Nova said, “and I knew we were going to win at some point.” The point came in the ninth inning, when Vernon Wells drove home the winning run to cap the Yankees’ two-run rally for a 3-2 triumph against the Orioles in The Bronx last night. Wells’ single to left came against Jim Johnson, yet another blowup for the Orioles closer who memorably cost Baltimore two games against the Yankees in last year’s ALDS, including Raul Ibanez’s game-tying homer in Game 3. The surging Yankees have won five straight — and this one wasn’t against the lowly Twins. The Orioles, who swept a series in Baltimore last week, were on the verge of taking their sixth straight game from the Yankees until the ninth-inning eruption. In firing his first career complete game, Nova was brilliant. The 26-year-old righty, whose fastball reached 96 mph, racked up 11 strikeouts, a team-high this season. Nova issued one walk and hit one batter, surrendered just three hits (Matt Wieters’ two-run homer causing the only damage) and needed a scant 102 pitches for nine innings. “That’s the best I’ve ever seen him,” catcher Chris Stewart said. Nova started in place of the ailing Hiroki Kuroda, and his emergence (2.73 ERA in his last four outings) has awarded the Yankees the luxury of six starters. Manager Joe Girardi said Nova will “probably start again.” Kuroda, dealing with a hip flexor muscle injury, threw a successful bullpen session yesterday, and Girardi said if Kuroda feels OK today the Yankees will re-insert him into the rotation. Barring another injury, the Yankees have six starters. Asked about a six-man rotation, Girardi did not dismiss it. “I’m not sure exactly how we’ll do [things],” he said. Nova’s curveball was particularly wicked. In the fifth inning, he used it to take down Ryan Flaherty and Brian Roberts. In the sixth, he victimized Nick Markakis. In the seventh, Chris Davis chased Nova’s curve to go down swinging.
Nova’s complete game propel Yankees past O’s
New York Post | Jul 6