Nova did his job, rest of the Yanks didn’t

The Yankees were looking to Ivan Nova to continue his hot hand Monday night on a 99-degree night at Rangers Ballpark In Arlington. Nova has worked himself back into the rotation nicely in recent weeks and seemed up to the responsibility to bounce his club back from a tough loss the night before and a long, somber flight through the wee hours.

And Nova did his job, too, a good one despite less than commanding stuff that he has displayed lately. That is a sign of a maturing pitcher, someone who can get outs on a night when the curve isn’t as sharp nor the fastball as zippy.

Nova was not the problem Monday night. Yu Darvish was. Coming off the disabled list from a trapezius strain, Darvish got right back to where he left off two weeks ago with 6 1/3 innings of two-hit, shutout pitching in the Rangers’ 3-0 victory.

The Yankees did not get a hit until the fifth inning, a bloop single by Lyle Overbay, and added only two more singles (by Overbay and Ichiro Suzuki) the rest of the way. They have now gone 21 innings without an extra-base hit. Robinson Cano was 0-for-4 as his 12-game hitting streak came to an end.

With so tight a margin for error, Nova did remarkably well. He walked three batters, two of whom scored, and gave up a long home run to Nelson Cruz in the seventh, his last inning. The righthander pitched well enough to win but no pitcher can chalk up a ‘W’ if his teammates do not score. The Yankees were shut out for the eighth time this season.

In five appearances since coming off the DL, Nova is 2-2 with a 2.72 ERA in 36 1/3 innings. He was clearly one of the few highlights for the Yankees in the game. Third baseman Luis Cruz made the defensive play of the night with a running, back-to-the-infield catch along the left field line to rob Mitch Moreland of a hit in the third inning.

Brett Gardner tried to wear out Rangers closer Joe Nathan in the ninth by leading off the inning with a 14-pitch at-bat that unfortunately ended in an out on a fly to center. Ichiro’s hit followed, but Nathan struck out Cano and retired Overbay on a fly to deep center for his 31st save as Texas halted a four-game losing streak.

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