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.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.