Ivan Nova holds Orioles to three hits in first career shutout

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Ivan Nova tossed his first career shutout while Robinson Cano did the heavy lifting for the offense as the Yankees defeated the Orioles 2-0 this afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

Nova gave up just three hits (all of them singles), one walk, and two hit-by-pitches while striking out five batters. He induced 15 swinging strikes and needed just 103 pitches to finish off the victory. The 26-year-old right-hander has quietly posted a 2.88 ERA and 97/34 K/BB ratio over 109 1/3 innings this season. Hiroki Kuroda has hit a bit of a rough patch recently and CC Sabathia hasn’t looked like an ace all season, but Nova is filling the role of frontline starter quite nicely.

Cano drove in both runs for the Yankees, smacking an RBI double in the first inning and a solo home run in the eighth. Scott Feldman pitched admirably for the Orioles in the loss, allowing just one run on six hits and one walk over seven innings.

With the victory, the Yankees improved to 72-63 on the year and moved ahead of the Orioles in the AL Wild Card race. New York is now four games back while Baltimore is 4.5 games back. The Yankees will go for the series sweep tomorrow when they send Andy Pettitte to the hill against Wei-Yin Chen.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves