The Royals sure seem to have Ivan Nova‘s number.
Kansas City — responsible for Nova’s shortest and arguably worst outing of the year back in May — beat Nova up for a second straight time, dropping seven earned runs (a season-high for Nova) on nine hits over 5.1 innings on the young righthander. Those nine hits against Nova included three doubles, a triple and a home run. Nova did manage two 1-2-3 innings, but he couldn’t hold on to the lead after the Yankees battled back to jump on top 3-2 in the third. With the way the Royals were seemingly pummeling Nova at will it’s rather amazing he even lasted as long as he did, and doubly amazing that he was able to get a win. As Jason Collette of DRaysBay noted on Twitter, Nova joined Jo-Jo Reyes as the only starters in 2011 to give up 7-plus runs in less than 6 innings and pick up a win. In a semi-amusing twist of fate, Reyes of course did it against the Yankees last month.
Thankfully Nova’s struggles came on a night when Kansas City’s own rookie hurler — flamethrowing lefty Danny Duffy — had plenty of problems of his own. After being staked to a 5-3 lead, Duffy opened the fourth by allowing the first four men he faced to reach base, in the process allowing the Yankees to tie the game. That this sequence included possibly the most ill-advised bunt of all-time* — and that’s saying a lot given certain members of this team’s propensity for insanely awful bunts — and what may have been a missed called strike three on Mark Teixeira (though apparently it was just barely outside, per Brooks) obviously doesn’t do anything to assuage Duffy’s outing, but it’s worth noting that two of those batters probably should’ve been retired. This set up a beastly confrontation between Duffy and Robinson Cano, and by the time Cano was through with Duffy 12 pitches later, the ball had been absolutely creamolished into the right field seats and the Yankees were back on top 8-5.
Duffy’s final line was 3+ innings, 8 earned runs, 8 hits, 2 walks and 3 strikeouts, and in beating Duffy the Yankees actually improved their record against the dreaded Guys-They’ve-Never-Seen to 14-4 on the season (compared with 5-9 last year), and so it’s with a bit of sadness that it appears I’ll finally have to retire that particular meme, which means I no longer have anything to blog about.
Despite being staked to a newfound three-run lead, Nova continued to not have anything, and let the Royals get all the way to within 8-7. Thankfully Boone Logan came in and shut the door, and Derek Jeter added a crucial insurance run in the 7th, plating a Brett Gardner two-out triple. After yet another perfect inning from David Robertson, Mariano Rivera came on and closed things out, preserving the Yankees’ 9-7 victory. Oh, and the win coupled with Boston’s loss in the nightcap of their doubleheader thrust the Yankees back into first place by half a game. Not bad.
So the Yankees and Royals have played two games in Kauffman Stadium, and neither have been particularly pretty, but thankfully the Yankees have come out on top twice. After the KC massacre back in May, sweeping the Royals at home would be a most satisfying rejoinder.
* I mean seriously, what on EARTH was Curtis Granderson, owner of a .273/.367/.578 line, not to mention THE HIGHEST SLUGGING PERCENTAGE ON THE TEAM, thinking when he squared to bunt with A RUNNER IN SCORING POSITION AND NO OUTS IN THE FOURTH INNING? That the bunt didn’t come back to bite the Yankees is a true testament to sheer dumb luck, and the Yankees are outrageously lucky that rookie Salvador Perez opted to go to third and that Jeter JUST slid under the tag. That inning almost certainly has a remarkably different feel to it if Granderson was thrown out like he should have been.
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