Nova stars for undermanned Yankees
Right-hander keeps Blue Jays bats quiet for 7 innings, Gardner goes deep
Watching his outfielders range from line to line and even leap above the wall to make several exquisite plays, left Ivan Nova speechless.
If he keeps up this winning streak, he won't have to say anything.
Nova won his 11th straight decision with some help from an acrobatic defence and Robinson Cano hit a tiebreaking single in the fifth inning, lifting the New York Yankees to a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.
"I don't know," Nova said with a laugh when asked what he said to Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Andruw Jones after impressive outs.
McGowan nearing promotion?
Blue Jays right-hander Dustin McGowan, out since 2008 because of an injured right shoulder that required two operations, pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings, scattering four hits, for AA New Hamsphire in his fifth rehab start.
Acting manager Don Wakamatsu said McGowan had no problems at all, and general manager Alex Anthopoulos indicated to mlb.com that the pitcher probably would be activated from the disabled list soon.
McGowan hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2008 when he had a 6-7 record and 4.37 earned-run average in 19 starts. McGowan has had two shoulder surgeries since getting hurt.
The 29-year-old sports a 2.80 earned-run average and 35/14 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 12 rehab starts between High-A Dunedin and the AA Fisher Cats. His fastball has been consistently clocked at 95 miles per hour.
It's believed McGowan would return to Toronto as a starter.
— The Associated Press
"That's not the first time they do that for me," he added.
Nova (15-4) was nearly unhittable for seven innings after giving up two hits and two runs with none out in the first.
Gardner made two tough catches to help hold the Blue Jays in the first inning. He then hit a two-run homer in the third for New York, which returned early Friday from a successful trip to Boston.
"Gardy had a huge game," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Gardy drove in two, scored a run and probably saved two himself."
Brandon Morrow (9-10) made few mistakes against a Yankees lineup missing Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, their Nos. 3 and 4 hitters. Teixeira was hit by a pitch on his right knee on Thursday and was still sore a day later. Rodriguez was out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with a strained left thumb.
After the game, Teixeira, wearing a bandage on his knee, said he had not improved and hoped he'd wake up Saturday feeling better.
"Anytime I try to flex my leg or walk, that hamstring is real tight there behind the knee," Teixeira said.
Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth for his 37th save in 42 chances one night after striking out Adrian Gonzalez with the bases loaded to close out a victory against the Red Sox that gave New York a win in two of three games against their AL East rival.
The Yankees moved a half-game ahead of the Red Sox for the division lead after Boston lost 10-0 to Texas.
Gardner lined a 3-1 pitch over the fence in right-centre for the Yankees' first hit with one out in the third. Russell Martin had walked leading off and Eduardo Nunez lined out to right field before Gardner came up.
Morrow gave up just three more hits but he was hurt by another walk, to Granderson, in the fifth. He gave Granderson the pass after Derek Jeter singled to put runners on first and second. Cano then lined a single to centre, scoring Jeter for the 3-2 lead.
Morrow has lost his last three starts and is 1-5 with a 5.40 earned-run average in his last six outings.
"It definitely was a step in the right direction," Morrow said. "I thought I threw the ball better, a lot better than I had the last couple of times."
Nova held the Blue Jays without a hit after Jose Bautista singled in a run with no outs in the first inning until Eric Thames doubled with one out in the sixth.
The 24-year-old rookie has solidified his spot in a crowded New York rotation that will be cut to five pitchers early next week by improving to 7-0 since being recalled from AAA Scranton-Wilkes/Barre on July 30. He gave up three hits and two walks — one intentional — and struck out four. The Yankees are 12-0 in his last 12 starts.
"The best way to stay in the rotation and not be sent down is pitch" well, Nova said.
Adam Lind followed Bautista's single in the first with a sacrifice fly — Gardner's first spectacular catch — for the game's first out -- and a 2-0 Toronto lead. Then with Bautista running, Edwin Encarnacion hit a sharp liner to left caught by a sliding Gardner. Bautista had already rounded second and conceded the double play.
"Some tremendous defence by Gardner in left field on two balls that kind of maybe would've turned the game around, even that early in the ball game," acting manager Don Wakamatsu said.
Bautista robbed Granderson of seeing another pitch in the second when he made a leaping catch at the wall in foul territory down the right-field line. In the fourth, Bautista was on the other end, sending a long drive to right-centre that Jones caught above the wall for the first out.
Gardner made a long running catch in the fifth on a drive by rookie Brett Lawrie. In the sixth, Jones went down to the ground to make a catch of Yunel Escobar's sinking liner and Granderson caught Lind's drive running into the wall in centre.
"Nova kept the ball in the stadium," Jones said. "That's why we're out there, to make plays."
Toronto played an eighth straight game without manager John Farrell. He is recovering from pneumonia and won't be with the Jays this weekend. Wakamatsu is running the team in Farrell's place.