With the 9-7 win over the struggling Kansas City Royals, on Tuesday, the Yankees were able to pick up their third win in a row, after losing four out of six games to the Red Sox and Angels. Also, this win was even more important, since the Red Sox split their double-header with Rays, this wins puts the Yankees back into sole possession of first place in the AL East.
Ivan Nova was able to pick up his 12th win of the season but he has the offense to thank and not consistently hitting his spots, while being dominating like he often has in the past during his second season in the majors. With this win by Nova, he trails only CC Sebathia who has 16, for the team lead. He pitched flawlessly in the second, fourth and fifth innings but pitched more like A.J. Burnett in the first, third and sixth. This was by far Nova’s worst start of the season, and it is very likely that he will be able to bounce back in his next start because in five out of his last six starts he had allowed less than four runs.
Former Yankee Melky Cabrera continued his hot hitting against his former team, blasting a home run off of Nova in the third. Jeff Francoeur, who used to play for the Mets, and is often either in a slump or hitting for power, was almost able to lead the Royals to victory with three RBI. One of the best prospects in the league, first-baseman Eric Hosmer, added one RBI. However, all of that offense by the Royals could not give them their 51st victory because their starting pitcher, Danny Duffy, gave up even more runs (8) than Nova (7).
The first three innings did not appear promising for the Yankees because they were losing 5-3, and had the bases loaded twice in the first three innings but only scored three runs. It always seemed like the offense would have a big inning in them. Then, in the fourth inning, the outburst finally came off of the rookie left-hander making his first start against the Yankees. Robinson Cano hit a three-run homer in the inning, to deep center, which was his 21st home run and 85th RBI of the season. (Alex Rodriguez, who went on the disabled list as a result of knee surgery, should return on Thursday. This will augment their already powerful offense.)
Derek Jeter also was also able to pick up two hits, and drive in two runs while picking up a hit in his fifth straight game. A sign that he has truly turned the corner is that in four out of those five games he had multiple hit games. The Royals have a young team so he was likely the idol of many of their players growing up.
Another player that was able to come up in a clutch situation was Russell Martin, who hit a single to left in the third during the Yankees second inning with the bases loaded, which drove in Mark Teixeira and Cano. Overall the Yankees left 10 runners on base in the game but Martin was able to drive those two in with two outs, which means he is able to come through in pressurized situations.
A difference between the game on Tuesday and the game on Monday is that Joe Girardi to Nova out a few batters too late but on Monday he took Burnett out at the right time. However, the Yankees offense was luckily able to bail him out and the bullpen pitched perfectly after Nova was taken out of the game with one out in the fifth.
The bullpen quartet of Boone Logan, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera did not allow a hit or walk in 3.2 innings of work. With his two strikeouts in the past two games Robertson has now donated $200 more to his High Socks for Hope foundation to help the tornado victims in Alabama. Soriano continued his dominance since coming off of the disabled list, since now in eight appearances he has only allowed two hits and one run. He has also lowered his ERA from 5.40 to 4.03 and has successfully reverted back to the All-Star pitcher he was last season for Tampa Bay after his horrible start to the season.
This trio of Soriano, Robertson and Rivera is turning into a very formidable one, which will be an asset when the playoffs come. It seems like it just took Soriano a while to get used to pitching in New York but now after those eight appearances he has joined Robertson and Rivera as consistently reliable options.
The Royals are a team of the future and not of the present, with a farm system ranked near the top of baseball, so hopefully the Yankees can take advantage by sweeping the series so that they can stay in first place. They will be facing Bruce Chen tonight, who is a 34 and has a 4.15 ERA, but is likely one of the Royals top two starters. Bartolo Colon will look to allow two runs or less in his fifth straight start to help solidify his position as likely the comeback player of the year.