Ivan Nova was super once again, pitching seven effective innings, while not wasting the offensive explosion, during the 8-3 victory in the second game of the doubleheader. He became the first Yankees rookie to win at least 10 straight decisions in one season since Atley Donald won 12 straight in 1939.
Nova allowed one run in each of the first three innings, as Adam Jones would drive in two of those runs. Nova leads all rookies with his 14 wins, and pitches very well with a lead. Some pitchers will crumble and buckle under pressure with a lead, but Nova excels.
However, the story of this game was how the Yankees offense put on yet another remarkable display.
Curtis Granderson turned around his slump with a vengeance as he hit a three run home run in the third. His 37th home run, in the top of the third, nearly made it onto Eutaw Street and it put the Yankees up 3-2. He is now in sole possession for the major league lead in homers.
Granderson drove in Eric Chavez and Brett Gardner, who have both been in slumps recently. Chevez’s slump has been more pronounced as he is only 4-25, but at least he is not an everyday player.
The home run barrage off of Orioles starter Brian Matusz would continue a Cano hit an opposite field home run in the top of the sixth, to break the tie and send the Yankees up 5-3. That was the first of back-to-back-to-back homers which would make the score 7-3. Nick Swisher sent one over the fences off of Matusz to end his night and send him to the showers.
The next two pitchers could not avoid the long ball as well. Chris Jakubauskas, struck out two batters but he also gave up Andruw Jones’s 11th homer of the season. Granderson hit his second home run off of journey man giant Mark Hendrickson.
An interesting not about the three consecutive homers in the sixth is that the last time the Yankees did so it also came against the Orioles. That date was May 20, 2009, and Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano joined the party on that day as well.
Another positive about Granderson is that he has totally turned around his offensive production against lefties. He used to struggle against them but ever since his meeting with hitting coach Kevin Long, last August, he has been a new hitter from both sides of the plate. He now leads the majors with 15 long balls off of lefties and has just passed Cano for most RBI against them.
This is the offensive outburst that was expected against the Orioles, and especially Brian Matusz because he had an 8.92 ERA coming into the game, now 9.07, and even though he has not been in the rotation the whole season he has likely been the worst starter in the American League.
David Robertson had not allowed a run in his last 12 appearances. He entered the game with the score 8-3, and runners on first and second. He would go on to allow a single to Adam Jones. Since it was hit right to Nick Swisher in right, J.J. Hardy was stranded at third. Robertson got the free swinging Vladimir Guerero to strike out on a pitch that was well out of the strike zone. Another hitter who does not take many pitches, Mark Reynolds, was Robertson’s next victim, as he struck out for the third time. He then struck out Ryan Adams for the trifecta, pulling off the impressive feat of striking out three men with the bases loaded.
This was a truly remarkable outing by Robertson, also known as Houdini. He had the correct mindset as he threw mainly pitches out of the zone against Guerrero and Reynolds because he knew they were apt to be overly aggressive. Now, out of the 44 batters he has faced with the bases loaded he has struck out 23 of them.
Baltimore’s bullpen has been suspect as well, so they were due for a down game after having won six straight. Hopefully this will be the start of a long winning streak for the Yankees as they start a three- game series, in Boston, against the Red Sox, on Tuesday. They are now two games behind Boston, who has won three out of their last four.
In an effort to give the Yankees a split of the four-game set, Freddy Garcia (3.16 ERA) will pitch during the series finale on Monday, which will be his first start since coming off of the disabled list. He has the advantage against O’s starter Alfred Simon, who only has four wins and 4.30 ERA. However, in his last start, he only allowed the Twins offense to score one run over a career high eight innings.
It is also possible that he will not see Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez in the lineup, who could continue to be out with minor injuries.