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.
With Game 1 of the Red Sox-Indians ALDS set to commence on Thursday, there’s no better starter for the job than Corey Kluber. The only question is whether or not the right-hander will be up to the task after sustaining a mild quadriceps strain earlier this week.
Indians’ manager Terry Francona appeared optimistic about Kluber’s chances of recovering in time for the Division Series, but admitted that he doesn’t have his rotation set in stone for the first couple of postseason games. Complicating matters is Monday’s potential make-up game between the Indians and the Tigers, which they’ll be forced to play if the outcome has bearing on playoff seeding.
Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Francona doesn’t have a starter for the make-up game, either, though he clarified that rehabbing right-hander Danny Salazar would not be eligible. Salazar is still working his way back from a forearm injury in hopes of joining the Indians for their postseason run, and needs to toss another simulated game before he can be expected to return to the mound. Kluber, meanwhile, will throw off the mound on Sunday.
With Kluber or Salazar limping out of the gate, the Indians will likely have to fall back on right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Bauer is slated for Saturday’s face-off against the Royals and confirmed his willingness to pitch on short rest through the playoffs. The 25-year-old also spoke to the Indians about his ability to pitch out of the bullpen, though it’s an option they appear unlikely to exercise. While Francona’s comments on Friday stressed the club’s patient approach toward their rotation, Bauer appeared revved and ready to go:
If it was up to me, […] I’d pitch and be ready to start or be available out of the ‘pen every game. In the playoffs, there’s really no reason to save anything. So, whenever I can get in there, whenever they want me to get in there, I’ll be ready.
Matt Holliday might not have a landing spot with the Cardinals in 2017, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to hang his cleats up just yet. Prior to the Cardinals’ afternoon set against the Pirates on Saturday, the 36-year-old expressed his desire to further his career elsewhere, even if staying in St. Louis is not a possibility.
It’s been a down year for the outfielder, who batted .242/.318/.450 through 107 games before landing on the disabled list with a fractured right thumb. His 0.6 fWAR is the lowest mark of his career to date. Notwithstanding two injury-riddled seasons (he was sidelined through most of 2015 with a right quadriceps strain), he’s performed admirably for the Cardinals over the past eight years, putting up a .292/.379/.494 batting line, 156 home runs, and 26.8 fWAR with the club. With a return to full health, he might not be on the market for long.