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|N.Y. Yankees (82-63) «||0||3||0||0||1||0||0||1||x||5||8||0|
NEW YORK -- Some critical reinforcements are still on the way for the Yankees. With the AL East race up for grabs, New York would be thrilled if those players are as sharp as Ivan Nova when they get back.
"Even though he hadn't pitched a lot, you could see where his endurance level was, where his velocity was, the deception on his pitches," Granderson said. "He did an excellent job for us."
Evan Longoria homered for the third-place Rays, who fell four games behind New York with 17 to play.
"We don't have a lot of time," Longoria said.
One day after Yankees ace CC Sabathia lost his third straight decision, Nova outpitched James Shields and gave New York's rotation a nice boost. David Robertson worked a perfect eighth and Rafael Soriano got three outs for his 39th save in 42 attempts.
With two on in the ninth, Soriano fanned pinch-hitter Elliot Johnson for the final out -- assuring the Yankees (82-63) their 20th consecutive winning season.
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Asked what he liked about Nova's performance, Yankees manager Joe Girardi replied: "Everything."
"We've seen him do it before. We really didn't expect to get him into the seventh," Girardi said. "I was extremely impressed with his stuff today and his command and what he did out there."
Nova (12-7) missed a little more than three weeks with inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Making his first start since Aug. 21, he was charged with two runs and four hits in six-plus innings.
"He's good, man," Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena said. "That's one of the best curveballs in the game right now."
Nova struck out eight and walked two, improving to 5-1 in eight career starts against the Rays with his second win overall since the All-Star break.
"I was just hoping that coming off of whatever was bothering him, it would continue to be a problem, and it was not," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He likes our uniform, I know that. He's very comfortable when he sees our uniform."
The 25-year-old right-hander was lifted after Jeff Keppinger's leadoff single in the seventh on his 85th pitch. He pointed toward the stands, tapped his chest and doffed his cap as he walked off the field to a grateful ovation from the crowd of 46,856.
"I was getting crazy the last couple of days because I didn't pitch," Nova said. "I was waiting for this moment."
Nova's fine outing marked the latest of what the Yankees hope will be several helpful September additions.
Rodriguez came back Sept. 3 from a broken hand and Andy Pettitte is set to pitch Tuesday against Toronto in his return from a broken ankle that's sidelined him since June 28. First baseman Mark Teixeira is trying to recover from a calf injury, but he's still sore and there's no timetable for him to get back in the batting cage, Girardi said.
Even speedy outfielder Brett Gardner (elbow surgery) is getting close to coming off the disabled list, if only to provide a potential pinch-runner.
Rodriguez added an RBI single in the eighth off Jake McGee after center fielder B.J. Upton misplayed Robinson Cano's deep liner into a double. Before that, McGee had retired 22 consecutive batters, 13 on strikeouts.
Raul Ibanez drew a leadoff walk in the second and Granderson sent his 39th homer into the lower seats in right field. Prior to that swing, Granderson was 6 for 56 (.107) against Shields.
Nunez, who made a costly error at shortstop late in Friday night's 6-4 loss to the Rays, followed with a long drive to left for his first major league homer since Sept. 21 last season -- also off Shields. That made Nunez 7 for 14 with two home runs against the right-hander.
Girardi gave Nunez a little pep talk after his error.
"He does some amazing things," said Granderson, who called Nunez one of the fastest players in the league. "The things that he can do right now, he's one of those valuable assets that we definitely need."
Coming off a two-hit shutout Sunday against Texas, Shields (14-9) allowed four runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings. "Big Game James" has been anything but that at Yankee Stadium, where he is 0-6 in his last seven starts.
Maddon, however, said his hitters need to help. He likened Tampa Bay's recurring woes on offense to a country-western song.
"Between your dog and your pick-up, we came up short again," he said.
|Ivan Nova is sharp in his return from a shoulder injury, striking out eight and allowing just four hits over six innings. (US Presswire)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Tampa Bay Rays|
|Desmond Jennings, LF||4||0||1||0||0||3||1||.251|
|Ben Zobrist, SS||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.262|
|Evan Longoria, DH||4||1||1||1||0||1||1||.280|
|B.J. Upton, CF||4||0||0||0||0||2||0||.248|
|Jeff Keppinger, 3B-1B||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.324|
|Matt Joyce, RF||1||0||1||0||1||0||0||.253|
|a- Ben Francisco, PH-RF||2||1||1||0||0||0||1||.246|
|Ryan Roberts, 2B||4||1||1||0||0||1||3||.242|
|Carlos Pena, 1B||1||0||0||0||1||1||0||.193|
|b- Chris Gimenez, PH||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.232|
|c- Sam Fuld, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||.279|
|Jose Lobaton, C||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.229|
|d- Stephen Vogt, PH||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.000|
|Jose Molina, C||2||0||0||0||0||0||2||.202|
|e- Luke Scott, PH||1||0||1||2||0||0||0||.218|
|Sean Rodriguez, PR-3B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.215|
|f- Elliot Johnson, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||.244|
|a-hit into fielder's choice-bunting for Joyce in the 7th|
|b-announced for Pena in the 7th|
|c-grounded out for Gimenez in the 7th|
|d-walked for Lobaton in the 9th|
|e-singled for Molina in the 7th|
|f-struck out for S. Rodriguez in the 9th|
|2B - Matt Joyce (17, Nova), Ryan Roberts (17, Logan)|
|HR - Evan Longoria (12, Nova)|
|RBI - Evan Longoria (41), Luke Scott 2 (49)|
|2-OUT RBI - Evan Longoria (22), Luke Scott 2 (23)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Zobrist-Roberts-Pena|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|James Shields (L,14-9)||6.1||6||4||4||1||4||2||3.77|
|WP - Kyle Farnsworth (2)|
|Pitches-Strikes - James Shields 103-66, Kyle Farnsworth 19-10, Jake McGee 18-13|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - James Shields 12-2|
|Batters Faced - James Shields 25, Kyle Farnsworth 3, Jake McGee 5|
|New York Yankees|
|Ichiro Suzuki, LF-RF||4||1||1||0||0||1||1||.269|
|Derek Jeter, DH||4||0||1||1||0||0||0||.323|
|Robinson Cano, 2B||4||1||2||0||0||1||1||.300|
|Alex Rodriguez, 3B||4||0||2||1||0||0||1||.278|
|Raul Ibanez, RF||2||1||0||0||1||0||1||.224|
|a- Nick Swisher, PH-1B||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.256|
|Eric Chavez, 1B||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.283|
|b- Andruw Jones, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.199|
|Chris Dickerson, LF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.250|
|Curtis Granderson, CF||3||1||1||2||0||0||0||.234|
|Eduardo Nunez, SS||3||1||1||1||0||1||0||.308|
|Chris Stewart, C||2||0||0||0||1||2||0||.244|
|a-fouled out for Ibanez in the 8th|
|b-flied out for Chavez in the 8th|
|2B - Robinson Cano (40, McGee)|
|HR - Curtis Granderson (39, Shields), Eduardo Nunez (1, Shields)|
|RBI - Derek Jeter (54), Alex Rodriguez (53), Curtis Granderson 2 (92), Eduardo Nunez (7)|
|2-OUT RBI - Derek Jeter (22)|
|SB - Ichiro Suzuki (21, 2nd base off Shields/Molina)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|DP - Rodriguez-Cano-Chavez|
|New York Yankees|
|Ivan Nova (W,12-7)||6||4||2||2||2||8||1||4.85|
|Boone Logan (H,21)||0.1||1||1||1||0||0||0||4.01|
|Joba Chamberlain (H,3)||0.2||1||0||0||0||1||0||6.00|
|David Robertson (H,27)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||2.73|
|Rafael Soriano (S,39)||1||1||0||0||1||1||0||2.10|
|Pitches-Strikes - Ivan Nova 85-53, Boone Logan 4-3, Joba Chamberlain 10-8, David Robertson 8-7, Rafael Soriano 20-11|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ivan Nova 5-4, Boone Logan 1-0, Joba Chamberlain 1-0, David Robertson 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Ivan Nova 23, Boone Logan 2, Joba Chamberlain 3, David Robertson 3, Rafael Soriano 5|
|Attendance - 46856|
|Game Time - 2:54|
|Temperature - 72|
|Umpires - Home - Gary Darling, First Base - Paul Emmel, Second Base - Jerry Meals, Third Base - Scott Barry|