It’s a different month for Nova

Ivan Nova was the American League Pitcher of the Month for August. He is off to a rocky start in contention for AL Pitcher of the Month for September.

The righthander, who was 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA last month, made it through only four innings Thursday night and left the game trailing due to Will Middlebrooks’ home run into the second deck in left field that unlocked a 2-2 score.

So much for all that excitement that was forecast about the Yankees-Red Sox showdown. It was snore, snore for a couple of innings. Things got lively in the third inning, however, as Yankee Stadium began to rock ‘n roll like the good, old Yankees-Red Sox days.

Boston broke the silence in the top of the inning with two runs off Nova, who had trouble keeping his fastball down in the strike zone or getting his curveball over. Ryan Lavarnway and Middlebrooks reached him for singles, and Jacoby Ellsbury put the Red Sox on the board with a double over the fence to right-center.

The Yankees kept the infield back and conceded another run when Shane Victorino grounded out. Dustin Pedroia did, too, but after walking David Ortiz intentionally Nova walked Daniel Nava quite unintentionally on four pitches to load the bases. Nova went to a full count on Mike Napoli before getting him on a called third strike.

After the top half of that inning awoke Red Sox fans, it was Yankees fans’ turn in the bottom half against Jake Peavy, who had lost all four of his previous starts against the Bombers. Ichiro Suzuki got the Yankees’ first hit on a single to center and then promptly stole second base. Chris Stewart made the second out on a popup, but Brett Gardner kept the inning alive with a bunt single.

Peavy got himself in trouble with a walk to Derek Jeter that filled the bases for hot-hitting Robinson Cano, who whacked the first pitch off the wall in right field for a two-run double that tied the score. The Red Sox put one of those exaggerated shifts on Alfonso Soriano, who hit into it and flied out to left field.

Nova’s brief outing was a decided disappointment. The Yankees had been counting on him to continue his hot hand and get them off to a good start in the four-game set against the Red Sox. Nova had pitched into the seventh inning and higher in 11 of his previous 12 starts but ran his pitch count up to nearly 100 (96) through the fourth.

Preston Claiborne, recently recalled from Triple A Scranton, did not help matter when he faced five batters in the fifth inning and got none of them out. Shane Victorino started Claiborne off with a home run to left. Pedroia and Ortiz followed with singles before Nava walked to fill the bases. An infield single by Napoli and an infield out brought in two more runs.

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