Game 56: Ivan Nova Cruises, Beats Rays 4-1

By David Hill

New York Yankees starting pitcher Ivan Nova came into tonight’s game with a 5.60 ERA and had given up 79 hits (13 home runs) in 62.2 innings. The Tampa Bay Rays offense with the third worst batting average and ranked 10th in the American League in runs. Something had to give.

Mark Teixeira kicked off the scoring against Rays starter Alex Cobb. With one out in the bottom of the second inning, Teixeira lined a home run deep to right to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Robinson Cano doubled that score with a solo home run of his own in the bottom of the fourth inning, putting the Yankees advantage at 2-0.

Those two home runs were the only hits Cobb allowed through the first seven innings. Heading out to start the eighth, he simply ran out of gas. After a leadoff single to Raul Ibanez, Nick Swisher doubled to right, scoring pinch runner Dewayne Wise to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead. Eric Chavez followed with a double to deep center, plating Swisher for a 4-0 lead and ending Cobb’s night. He finished having pitched 7+ solid innings, giving up 4 earned runs on 5 hits and 1 walk while striking out 4 batters.

Ivan Nova, meanwhile, was even more dominant. After giving up a leadoff single to Desmond Jennings in the top of the first, he did not allow another hit until Sean Rodriguez hit a double with one out in the top of the eighth inning.

The Rays finally scored in the top of the ninth. Nova came back out to try to finish the shutout, and Desmond Jennings led off the inning with a triple. B.J. Upton followed with another triple, cutting the lead to 4-1. Former Ray Rafael Soriano entered the game, and ended the threat, preserving the 4-1 victory for the Yankees.

With the loss, the Rays now find themselves in third place in the AL East, a game out of first.

Game notes: Ben Zobrist now has had only 1 extra base hit in his past 18 games. The 6 baserunners given up by Cobb were the fewest he had allowed since June 18, 2011, when he gave up 3 hits and 2 walks in 6.1 innings against the Marlins.