Ivan Nova sharp, Casey McGehee hits three-run HR as Yankees beat Blue Jays
TORONTO -- Late Saturday morning, Joe Girardi said that regardless of what happened that afternoon, Ivan Nova would be starting again in five days.
And the performance he saw will make Girardi feel a lot better about that assignment.
Nova, who had allowed 16 runs and 21 hits in 101/3 innings in his previous two starts, gave up two runs and five hits in 71/3 innings as the Yankees beat the Blue Jays, 5-2, in front of a sellout crowd of 45,582 at Rogers Centre for their fourth straight win.
Nova (11-6), who came in 1-4 with a 5.60 ERA in his previous nine starts, said having his manager's support made a difference.
"The other day in Detroit, he stopped me and said don't feel bad, that happens, and to hold my head up,'' said Nova, tagged for seven runs and 11 hits in 51/3 innings by the Tigers on Monday. "That makes you feel much better because your manager is giving you confidence.''
On Saturday, with a nasty curveball and a much-improved slider -- that pitch's effectiveness had been mysteriously missing in recent weeks -- Nova struck out 10, including Anthony Gose four times. He walked one and hit Yunel Escobar twice. "I was proud of what he did today,'' Girardi said. "He got after it.''
Nova said he was confident that he and pitching coach Larry Rothschild had figured things out in the days leading up to the start and added that his confidence hadn't waned. Still . . .
"I always say that I need a good outing,'' he said, "but the one I had today makes me feel a lot better than I was.''
An unlikely suspect led the offensive charge: Casey McGehee. He hit a three-run homer into the second deck in left-center with two outs in a four-run fourth, then doubled and scored on Derek Jeter's two-out double in the sixth, a drive to right-center that hopped over the wall.
That hit was Jeter's second of the day and gave him an AL-best 150 this season. He and Hank Aaron are the only big-league players to collect at least 150 hits in 17 consecutive seasons.
McGehee had been 1-for-9 with three walks in three games since being acquired from the Pirates for reliever Chad Qualls. "I think I was trying to force that to happen, especially the first couple of times out there, trying to do way too much in every at-bat,'' he said. "I was making a conscious effort to just slow down and relax and realize even though it's a new organization and new team, it's still a game I've been playing for a little while and get back to doing what I know I'm capable of doing.''
David Robertson took over for Nova with one on and one out in the eighth and needed only one pitch to get out of the inning. Omar Vizquel grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, with shortstop Jayson Nix -- whose two-out RBI single preceded McGehee's homer in the fourth -- making an outstanding across-the-body relay to first. Rafael Soriano pitched a perfect ninth for his 28th save in 30 chances.
Notes & quotes: Aaron had at least 150 hits in years two through 18 in his 23-year career, picking up 3,141 of his 3,771 hits in that span. Jeter also has done it in years two through 18, with 3,226 of his 3,238 hits . . . Ichiro Suzuki had appeared in 17 straight games since being acquired by the Yankees, a streak that ended Saturday. "The plans all along were to give Grandy Friday off and him Saturday,'' Girardi said of Ichiro, who is batting .353 with nine RBIs in his last four games. "It's a day game after a night game and he hasn't had a day off since we've had him. Figured give him a day off the turf.'' . . . Girardi said Robinson Cano, a starter in 112 of the team's 113 games, likely will get his fifth start at DH Sunday.