Nova still adapting to reliever’s role
The invincibility of the Yankees’ bullpen took a hit Wednesday night due mainly because of a pitcher not used to working in relief. In his previous appearance a week ago at Yankee Stadium, Ivan Nova earned his first career save with four shutout innings against the Astros.
So Yankees manager Joe Girardi had every reason to believe that they could remain within a run’s reach of the Blue Jays when he brought in Nova to hold them down in the eighth inning after Mark Teixeira’s third home run of the season had cut Toronto’s lead to 3-2. Nova, who was beaten out in the spring for a spot in the rotation by CC Sabathia, had a miserable time of it in yielding four runs as the Jays pulled away for a 7-2 victory.
“It’s different for him.” Girardi said about Nova’s new role, “but we need him to get outs.”
Toronto scored a run before Nova got an out that inning on doubles by Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista. The two-base hit was big for the Jays, who have not homered in either game of the series but lashed out six doubles Wednesday night, including two by 9-hole hitter Ryan Goins, who had three hits and two RBI. After getting Edwin Encarnacion out on a ground ball, Nova gave up an RBI single to Troy Tulowitzki and Michael Saunders’ second double of the game on a late swing against the shift.
Russell Martin knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly for the second out, but Nova hit Justin Smoak in the foot with a pitch and gave up a run-scoring single to Goins. The four runs allowed by Nova raised his ERA from 0.00 to 7.20 and that of the overall bullpen from a league-best 0.84 to 2.31.
Michael Pineda got through six innings but threw 105 innings and was uncharacteristically wild with three walks. Goins’ first double with two out in the second put Toronto ahead. After tying the score in the fifth against J.A. Happ on a double by Ronald Torreys, a single by Austin Romine and an infield out, an errant throw by Torreys, who played shortstop with Didi Gregorius getting a night off, opened the door for two Toronto runs. Smoak scored on the wild throw, and Goins came home as Donaldson grounded into a double play.
Kirby Yates pitched a shutout seventh with two strikeouts to extend the bullpen’s scoreless string to 7 1/3 innings before Nova came unglued in the eighth.