Walks as good as hits? Not always

About the only good thing to say about Ivan Nova’s performance Tuesday in a 14-5 loss to the Orioles was that he kept the line moving in a string of walkless innings by Yankees starting pitchers. Nova may not have walked anybody, but the Orioles did not lack for base runners against the righthander.

Baltimore touched up Nova for 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings and scored seven runs. The first inning was an ill omen as the Orioles jumped out to a 3-0 lead on singles by Nick Markakis and Delmon Young, a sacrifice fly by Chris Davis and bomb of a two-run home run to center field by Adam Jones.

A successful pickoff play at second base seemed to get Nova out of a jam in the second until he gave up an RBI double to 9-hole hitter Jonathan Schoop, who is filling in for disabled third baseman Manny Machado. The Orioles stung Nova for three more runs and four more hits in the third before he was removed.

Yankees starters have gone an entire turn in the rotation — five starts — without allowing a walk, a stretch of 29 innings in which they have totaled 26 strikeouts. It is the longest such streak since a six-game period from Sept. 5-10, 2002, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Orioles did not have much use for bases on balls Tuesday as they sprayed 20 hits, including home runs by Jones, Young and Matt Wieters. The Yankees had their share of hits as well — 13 in all, including home runs by Alfonso Soriano and Kelly Johnson — but they got only one hit in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Nova’s start was far from ideal on a day when the Yankees’ bullpen was lean. Vidal Nuno had to take one for the team (7 earned runs and 8 hits in 3 1/3 innings) after Nova’s departure. He has not displayed his best stuff in both his starts. There was no sinking action on his fastball nor hard break on his curve.

On the plus side for the Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury had a double and two singles and is hitting .414 in 29 at-bats. Rookie Yangervis Solarte continues to impress. Two more doubles raised his batting average to a team-high .438. Elias reports that he is the first player since 1900 with at least six doubles through his first seven career games. Soriano also showed signs that he is coming out of his slump with a homer and a double.

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