Nova's performance was what I would call "AJ-esque." In the first inning, he struck out his first batter, induced a groundout to Melky Cabrera, who bats second in the Royals lineup, then gave up two singles and a double, putting the Royals up 2-0. How many times have we seen AJ Burnett get two outs with ease, only to implode and give up runs afterward? The Yankees would back up Nova in the 3rd inning, first on a single from Robinson Cano that scored Curtis Granderson who walked on an HBP. Later, a single from Russell Martin would score Cano and Mark Teixeira, who had also been walked by Royals rookie Danny Duffy. The Bombers were up 3-2.
But in the bottom of the 3rd, Nova would give up two more runs on a groundout which scored Alcides Escobar, who hit for a triple on his first at-bat, and then a home run by Cabrera. The Royals would go up 4-2. How many times have we seen Burnett give up a lead immediately following runs scored by the Yankees? Do you get the "AJ-esque" reference now?
Nova was lucky to have kept the Royals as close as he did. The majority of his pitches were fastballs, but too many of them were directly over the plate and high in the zone. In the 1st inning, he seemed determined to rely on his slider, which has been a successful pitch for him during his win streak, but the Royals were all over it so he wisely vacated it. Eventually, his control on the FB clicked, and he was able to pitch through for 5 solid innings.
''A win is a win, no matter the way you get it,'' Nova told the media afterward. Joe Girardi also seemed less concerned about the way Nova won, and more content with the win.
''We won the game. Bottom line is we won the game. He's pitched really well. Great pitchers get hit. It's going to happen.''
I was hoping that Nova would have a more representative outing than he had. The last time he pitched against the Royals in May, they tagged him for 8 runs on 10 hits, including 2 homers. He would only go 3 innings in that outing, making it his worst thus far for the season. Maybe the Royals will be one of those teams that just have his number. The good news is, this is the final series the two teams will meet this season. This is the first year that Nova has faced them, so it will be interesting to see how he fares against them in the future.
In tomorrow night's finale, Bartolo Colon will get the start against Bruce Chen. Chen is coming off of a 5-1 win against the White Sox last Friday, where he went 6 innings and allowed only one hit and 4 SOs. The last time Chen faced the Yankees was August 12, 2010, a 3-4 loss to Sabathia.
Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper