Oh what a difference a couple of days make. On Monday, the Yankees beat the Orioles 2-1 to pull within half a game of Baltimore for second place in the AL East. Since then, Baltimore has outscored New York 12-1 on the strength of strong pitching performances by Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta. Buck Showalter’s club won easily on Wednesday evening, despite a close game early, moving to 16-9 on the season.
Ivan Nova, with his 15-game winning streak on the line, worked out of several jams in his second start against Baltimore. Keeping his team in the game through six innings with far from his best stuff, Nova finally imploded in the seventh inning, allowing five runs in six and a third frames.
It could have been worse. Nova allowed five baserunners in the first two innings but worked out of trouble. After a strong third, he led off the fourth inning by surrendering a solo home run to Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, Wieters’ seventh of the season. Nova worked out of trouble in the fifth but allowed a second run on a base hit to left field in the sixth, with runners on first and third. Nick Markakis took Nova deep for a solo shot in the seventh, giving Baltimore a three-run lead. Matt Wieters almost took Nova deep again, doubling off the center field wall to extend the Orioles lead to 4-0. Clay Rapada came in and struck out the first batter he faced but an RBI single by Nick Johnson gave Baltimore yet another run.
All told Nova allowed nine hits, four walks, five runs, and two home runs in six and a third innings, striking out three. After striking out 20 and walking just 2 through his first three outings, Nova has walked seven in his past two starts. He’s also surrendered six home runs on the season, nearly half his full season total from 2011.
Jake Arrieta, meanwhile, pitched brilliantly. Through eight innings Arrieta struck out nine, walked none, and allowed just five hits. The sophomore righty did now allow a base runner to reach second base and only Alex Rodriguez reached base twice off him. Arrieta was replaced in the ninth inning by closer Jim Johnson, who entered with a five run lead. Johnson pitched a perfect ninth and the Orioles won by a score of five to nothing. Arrieta won. Nova took the loss, his first since last June, snapping his winning streak one short of Roger Clemens‘ Yankees record of 16.
In further bad news for the Yankees, Eric Chavez left the game after hitting his head going for a ground ball down the third base line and feeling woozy in his following at bat. The oft-injured third baseman was replaced by Eduardo Nunez and it was revealed later in the game that Chavez is suffering from whiplash and a possible concussion. Chavez is hitting .290 on the season with three home runs.
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