Ivan Nova did what Masahiro Tanaka accomplished the prior night at Yankee Stadium to the Boston Red Sox by giving his team innings on the mound. The New York Yankees got enough runs like the night before, and that highly touted threesome out of the bullpen also duplicated what was done the night before.
And that was supposed to be the plan for the Yankees going into the season, but until now it hasn’t been and that is why Monday night in the Bronx, a 2-1 win over the first place Baltimore Orioles may have finally seen consistency that hasn’t been seen since that long ago six game winning streak in May.
There may be hope for these Yankees, but that is hard to say because being consistent has not been an easy task. Tuesday night, with Nathan Eovaldi on the mound, after a brief stint in the bullpen, the Yankees will try and remain consistent as they seek their third straight win and try to move a game over the .500 mark.
In the meantime, the 46-46 Yankees have to feel good as trade rumors continue to revolve around Nova, Carlos Beltran, and two out of the three from that threesome out of the bullpen, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman.
And if the Yankees are going to be sellers by the non-waiver trading deadline in a few weeks, it could be determined after this four-game series with the Orioles and three more with the San Francisco Giants, the best team in baseball that wrap up this 10-game homestand.
Manager Joe Girardi is just concerned about getting wins. He said that prior to Nova throwing the first pitch and continues to rely on Beltran who has the scouts looking at his every bat. Beltran, 3-for-4, with a double, raised his average to .303, and teams in that pennant hunt could use that bat in the middle of their lineup.
“Not difficult at all,” said Beltran about concentrating as trade rumors continue. “I am not concerned about the talk. I have a responsibility with the New York Yankees. My job is to come in and get ready to play the game. What’s going to happen is going to happen and not worry about that.”
They could also use Chapman, who threw a heater in the ninth that was clocked at 105 on his sixth pitch to J.J. Hardy, and the look on those faces in the opposing dugout made them wonder if the temperature rose another notch in the Bronx as Chapman notched his 19th save and got the win for Nova.
“You duck down one step when he’s throwing,” said Girardi about Chapman. “You watch him, he’s that quick.” And when Chapman follows Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, the Yankees are 18-1. The problem though, the big three don’t get that chance every game, and Tuesday night if the Yankees have the lead going into the seventh they may not be available having worked consecutive nights.
The rest of the bullpen is part of the reason the Yankees have lots of work to do. This was one game of more to reduce that 7-½ game deficit from the division leading Orioles, and to also catch up with four other teams for the second wild card spot.
The rookie Rob Refsnyder, filling in at first for the injured Mark Teixeira said, “Betances is incredible. Andrew (Miller) is dominating and pleasure to watch. We can just focus on doing our jobs individually it will help get a couple of runs and turn to our bullpen. That is our identity right now. We’re just trying to hit a streak. We have the players to do it.”
They also need more production from Alex Rodriguez, who led off the second inning and hit his ninth home run of the season that produced the Yankees first run off Orioles; starter and loser Kevin Gausman, 1-7, who may be their unreliable pitcher in the rotation.
It was the 696th career home run for A-Rod, now four from 700. But, he needs more playing time and before the game that may have been in the works as Rodriguez had a drill with a screen set up at home plate that keeps him from shortening the swing as the barrel of his bat is inside the pitches on balls coming that way.
That may have attributed to hitting that 94-mile fastball off Gausman to left field. Either way, Rodriguez with that huge salary and going nowhere at the trading deadline, is needed to be that run producer if the Yankees want to get back in the race.
It was his first home run at Yankee Stadium since mid April when he hit one against the Seattle Mariners. So, how did A-Rod react when asked how it felt?
“Surprise,” he said. “I haven’t hit a ball like that in a long time. It certainly felt good. A lot of times you come out and do work and you don’t get results. You may get a walk or a base hit. But to get a ball in the air really feels good.”
And the home run which may or may not be a consistent feature, considering that A-Rod has struggled, was satisfying to Girardi and his team. Because if Alex Rodriguez and his soon to be 41-year old body can be in the lineup everyday and produce, the Yankees have a better chance.
“It’s good to see Alex taking his A-swing and doing some damage tonight,” Beltran said. “That has been hs game all his life. We all know what A-Rod does.”
And they know what Nova can do. The righthander improved to 7-5, pitched 6.0 innings, struck out four and walked three. The curveball was moving as was the fastball, though the lone blunder was a curve that did not locate in the third inning that Jonathan Schoop hit to left center for the Orioles lone run.
Nova had that huge 6.95 ERA in his last five starts but the 10-days of rest may have helped with the command.
“I worry when he has a lot of extra rest because he’s a sinkerballer,” said Girardi. “It took him about three innings to really find his command and he was really good after that.”
Nova could not pinpoint if the extra rest helped from his last start, and like Beltran is not focused on his name being a part of that trade talk. Consistency is what he wants, and keeping his team in the game is the focus.
For now, the Yankees reminded the Orioles, and the Red Sox the night before: We are not done. It’s the consistency that will convey that message and Nathan Eovaldi, who also has some scouts looking will try and keep it going in the Bronx Tuesday night.
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