Ivan Nova is doing pretty well, isn't he? The Yankees' offense wasn't at its best today, scoring just two runs on seven hits. Thankfully for them, Nova was more than at his best. Nova threw a complete game shutout, allowing just three hits and one walk. Orioles starter Scott Feldman was pretty good himself, but a pair of runs worked just fine for Nova. The Yankees came away with a 2-0 win that allowed them to pass Baltimore in the standings.
The game could not have gotten off to much of a better start for the Yankees. Nova threw an easy 1-2-3 inning in the first and that was followed up by a run in the bottom half of the inning. Brett Gardner led off with a double. He moved to third on Derek Jeter's groundout and scored on Robinson Cano's double. After the first inning, the Yankees had a 1-0 lead.
Nova got himself into some trouble in the second inning. He hit Adam Jones with a pitch and allowed a single to Matt Wieters, both before recording an out. However, he came right back and got Nick Markakis to ground into a double play and J.J. Hardy to fly out. That was the closest the Orioles got to scoring in the next several innings. Nova allowed just one other hit through the next five innings.
The Yankees were having a difficult time themselves trying to get more runs off Feldman. They had decent chances to score in the fifth, sixth and seventh, but came away with no runs all three times.
Nova threw just 77 pitches through the first seven innings and he came back out to pitch the eighth. He started off the inning by walking Hardy, but that was quickly erased by Wilson Betemit grounding into a double play. He finished off his eighth scoreless inning by getting Brian Roberts to ground one back to him for the third out.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees' offense finally got Nova another run to work with. Cano crushed a Troy Patton pitch deep over the right field wall to extend the lead to 2-0.
As the rest of the offense went down in order in the ninth, no one was warming in the bullpen. That indicated that Nova was coming back out to try and finish off the game in the ninth, but he would have to do so against the top of the Orioles' lineup.
Nate McLouth was due up first against Nova. McLouth lined one back to the mound. Nova deflected it and lost the ball for a second. By the time he found it, he had to rush his throw, which pulled Lyle Overbay off the bag. McLouth was credited with a single and there was a runner on for Manny Machado. Nova got Machado to fly out to left for the first out. The inning only got scarier from there as Chris Davis came to the plate. Davis took the fifth pitch of the at-bat to deep right field. With the way Ichiro Suzuki was playing, it looked like the ball might be headed over the fence. But it died on the warning track and ended up as a loud second out. The third out wouldn't be as stressful, as Jones lined the first pitch he saw right at Jeter.
The Yankees came away with a much-needed series win and now find themselves with a half-game lead over the Orioles.