On Friday night, the Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 in dramatic fashion. After Jim Johnson walked Travis “Pronk” Hafner to bring home the tying run Vernon Wells hit the game winning single to cause hysteria at Yankee Stadium. It was their first walk-off win against the Orioles since April of 2011.
This was the most exciting win by the Yankees since Ichiro Suzuki hit a game ending homer to beat the Rangers on June 25. (It was also the most exciting game that I have been to in some time.) Friday night’s win was even more important than the one over the Rangers because the Yankees lost three in a row to the Orioles last weekend and it pushed their winning streak to five games.
Ivan “Super” Nova dominated from start to finish en route to throwing his first complete game of his career. His 11 strikeouts were a season high and one away from his career record that he set last season against the Reds. He only allowed three hits, and one of them was a two-run homer by Matt Wieters.
Another stat that proves how excellent Nova was is that he is the first Yankee to throw a complete game while striking out at least 11 and allowing 3-or-fewer hits since Mike Mussina in 2002.
Nova struggled in April, but since coming back from the minors he has pitched well and proven that he deserves to stay in the majors. His last three starts have been quality ones and they have all been against AL East opponents (two against the Orioles and one against Tampa). This proves that he deserves David Phelps’s spot in the rotation since his last two starts have left much to be desired and he has a 5.01 season ERA.
The stadium was definitely aware of Nova’s special performance as he received standing ovations after many of his strikeouts and after he left the game in the ninth. Nova was also able to give the bullpen a needed day off since Girardi needed four pitchers to come in after Phelps’s shaky start on Thursday at Target Field.
The Yankees are basically firing on all cylinders right now since the offense has finally started to come around. Vernon Wells, who had been struggling after a hot start to the season, is now 6-12 in his last three games. He has raised his average from .223 to .235 in the last few days.
After the dramatic win, the Yankees are now only half-a-game behing the Orioles in the Wild-Card standings. Wells got a much deserved Gatorade shower by a teammate during his interview with Meredith Marakovits. This brought back memories to when A.J. Burnett used to throw a pie at the player who hit the game winner during his tumultuous time with the team.
Another positive sign is that Eduardo Nunez has been activated from the disabled list and Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Michael Pineda are all playing in minor league games. Nunez has gone from the Charleston RiverDogs to starting for the Yankees in the span of five days.