Ivan Nova throws six no-hit innings in statement outing

12 Comments

For players with job security, spring box scores usually mean very little. But for players auditioning for new roles, a quality stat line can mean everything.

Enter Ivan Nova.

According to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times, the 24-year-old right-hander hurled six no-hit innings against the Orioles on Wednesday night in Tampa. He was on an 85-pitch limit, but he needed only 59 tosses to get through the outing and 41 of those throws went for strikes.

Nova struck out four and allowed only one baserunner via a first-inning hit by pitch. He faced 19 batters in all — one above the minimum.

The Yankees have kept a running competition this spring for the final two spots in their starting rotation and it took a while for the involved candidates to create separation. Nova is likely to capture the No. 4 spot for his stellar performance tonight and the success he has enjoyed all spring long. Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon will continue to duke it out for the final opening. The injured Sergio Mitre can probably be ruled out.

This winter might have been rough on the Yanks, but their rotation is finally coming together and looking at least somewhat promising. CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett round out the top slots.

Astros advance to the World Series with 4-0 finale against Yankees

Getty Images
11 Comments

The Astros punched their ticket to the World Series on Saturday, shutting out the Yankees 4-0 to take their first Game 7 victory at home. Charlie Morton was nearly untouchable on the mound, holding the Yankees to two hits, a walk and five strikeouts en route to his first career postseason win.

Morton and Sabathia carried their duel through three solid innings. Morton struck out three batters and allowed just one baserunner. Sabathia worked in and out of jams in the second and third innings, supplying and stranding two runners in scoring position.

Evan Gattis was the first to strike. In the fourth inning, he punched a 2-2 slider from Sabathia into the left field wall, where it registered a projected 405 feet and broke a homer-less streak of 115 at-bats by designated hitters in the 2017 postseason. The home run signaled the beginning of the end for the Yankees’ starter. He induced a groundout from Marwin Gonzalez, then walked Brian McCann on six pitches and allowed Josh Reddick his first base hit of the playoffs. That was enough for Joe Girardi, who pulled Sabathia for righty Tommy Kahnle and an inning-ending double play to close out the fourth.

Even with Sabathia gone, there was still some hope that the middle of the order could bail the Yankees out. Greg Bird led off the fifth with a first pitch double and Aaron Hicks took a four-pitch walk. A wild pitch from Morton allowed Bird to reach third base, but Alex Bregman and Brian McCann weren’t about to let the Yankees spoil their starter’s shutout. Todd Frazier bounced a ball toward third base, where Bregman grabbed and fired it to home plate, catching Bird just as McCann put his glove down.

The bottom of the inning wasn’t any easier for Sabathia’s successors. Jose Altuve went oppo-taco on a 1-1 changeup from Kahnle, postmarking it 364 feet into the right field stands. Kahnle labored through the next four at-bats, handing out a pair of singles to Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel before sending Gattis down swinging. The next at-bat was even more troublesome. McCann roped a two-out, two-RBI double to the warning track in right field, clearing the bases and boosting the Astros’ to a cushy 4-0 lead.

The excitement fizzled a little over the next few innings. Brett Gardner muscled a leadoff single off of Lance McCullers, but was later caught at second on a force play to end the sixth. McCullers didn’t let go of the ball again. He was lights-out through the end of the game, scattering a walk and six strikeouts over four innings and clinching the pennant with a 1-2-3 performance in the ninth.

Whatever confidence the Astros had coming off of their three-game sweep in the Division Series was tested and tested again in their pennant run. They battled through three tough losses in Games 3 through 5, staved off elimination with a gem from Justin Verlander in Game 6, and finally emerged victorious tonight. Three days from now, when they enter Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series, they’ll have the chance to do it all again.