ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The worst part of Saturday night for Ivan Nova very well might not have been the career-high four home runs he allowed in the Yankees' 16-1 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field.
After giving up Ben Zobrist's single and Matt Joyce's double and throwing two pitches to Evan Longoria to start the fifth inning, Nova left with right elbow soreness. He was sent for an MRI, the results of which were not immediately available.
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But elbow trouble of any kind for a pitcher sends up flares in an organization, and the Yankees -- blown out in two straight games by the Rays after Thursday night's series-opening victory -- are no different.
"Obviously, you're really concerned," Joe Girardi said.
Bench coach Tony Peña first noticed a problem with Nova after his 1-and-0 pitch to Longoria. "The delivery looked kind of funny," Peña said. And catcher Brian McCann added: "I saw him wince on that last pitch."
Girardi asked Nova what the problem was and he said he felt discomfort in his elbow. Nova asked to stay in the game but Girardi responded, "You're done."
While Nova (2-2, 8.27) has been typically inconsistent this season, it doesn't mean the Yankees are looking to delve into the system for starter help.
"Any time you lose a starter, it's a big blow," Girardi said. "Starters aren't easy to replace. Obviously there's concern. It's tough to replace starters."
Righthander Matt Daley, who arrived earlier in the day from Triple-A to replace Cesar Cabral, then allowed a sacrifice fly, walked James Loney intentionally and saw Wil Myers rip his second homer of the game, a three-run shot that made it 10-1.
The bullpen struggled a second straight night as Daley allowed six runs -- four earned -- in 11/3 innings. Dellin Betances walked two in 12/3 innings and, in order to protect himself for Sunday, Girardi called on reserve infielder Dean Anna to pitch the eighth (he allowed two runs).
"When you see me in there, it's not a good day," said Anna, whose fastball sat in the 60-mph range.
Girardi said the Yankees will make at least a couple of moves before Sunday's game -- which will be started by Vidal Nuño, on a pitch count of about 75 -- to bolster their pitching. Righty Bryan Mitchell, part of the club's rotation at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, was told late Saturday night that he was being promoted, according to a tweet by a Baseball America editor, and righty Preston Claiborne, in the Scranton bullpen, also is a candidate to head for St. Petersburg. First baseman Mark Teixeira also is expected to be activated for the game.
Nova, coming off a start against the Red Sox in which he allowed two runs in 71/3 innings, gave up eight runs and eight hits in four innings-plus against the Rays. "They swung like they knew what was coming," one opposing team scout said.
Ryan Hanigan (six RBIs) homered twice off Nova, with Myers and Longoria (four RBIs apiece) hitting one each.
While the Rays feasted, picking up 16 hits for the second straight night, the Yankees had only three. Chris Archer (2-1) allowed one run and three hits in 62/3 innings.
Myers' solo shot got the Rays on the board in the second. The first of Hanigan's homers and Longoria's two-run homer later in the third inning made it 4-0. Myers led off the fourth with a walk and scored on Hanigan's two-out blast to make it 6-0.
"The good thing is tonight's game only counts as one," Girardi said. "Even though it was pretty lopsided and it was ugly, it only counts as one."