Orioles end Nova's winning streak at 15
For 11 months, Yankees pitcher Ivan Nova went without a loss to his name, a span of 15 straight victories. But Nova's streak came to a decisive end as he was outpitched by Baltimore starter Jake Arrieta, who was masterful in eight shutout innings, allowing just five hits in a 5-0 Orioles victory Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
Nova kept it close for six innings, trailing 2-0. But he was charged with three more runs in the seventh, starting with a home run by Nick Markakis. Nova hurt himself with four walks and allowed the first or second hitter to reach base in five of seven innings.
By contrast, Arrieta was a model of efficiency, striking out nine Yankees and walking none. Not one Yankees runner made it to second base, and they were 0-for-10 with a man on base.
"Arrieta had good stuff," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
"His fastball had good sink, and it was up to 94, 95 miles per hour. Sometimes, a pitcher can make you look bad . . . He had outstanding location. Everything was working."
Nova's 5.18 ERA coming into the game indicated he's been far less commanding than last season, but somehow, his string of 15 victories dating to June 3, 2011, against the Angels in Anaheim was intact. As a result, Nova had a chance to make history with a win to tie Roger Clemens' club record of 16 straight during the 2001 season.
"I don't really think about any winning streak," Nova insisted. "For me, winning is more important than any personal goal that I have. Now we've got to go back to work and pitch better next time."
Nova said he wasn't bothered by the 53-degree weather. But he found himself falling behind in the count. In addition to the homer by Markakis in the seventh, Nova also gave up a solo shot to Matt Wieters leading off the fourth inning for the first run of the game. Both homers came off change-ups.
"The Markakis one was right up the middle," Nova said. "I just wanted to go back to work with that pitch after being behind in the count. I know he can get a really good swing on a fastball, and I was throwing too many curveballs and sliders. I was thinking throw maybe a changeup."
Nova said he felt strong coming out for the seventh inning, but the results said otherwise. After Markakis homered, Nova hit Adam Jones, and then Wieters delivered an RBI double to make it 4-0 and drive Nova from the game.
"It was 2-0 after six, and we had a chance to win," Girardi said. "It got away in the seventh, but for the most part, I thought he pitched well."
Nova pitched better than in his previous start against Detroit, when he also allowed five earned runs, but he put himself in bad situations. In the sixth, he issued a leadoff walk to Chris Davis, who went to second on a wild pitch, moved to third on a ground out and then scored on an infield hit by No. 9 hitter Robert Andino to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead.
"You got to go right after people, especially the little hitter," said Nova, referring to Andino.
Meanwhile, Arrieta busied himself silencing the Yankees' big bats. To make matters worse, third baseman Eric Chavez left the game in the bottom of the fifth after suffering a possible concussion diving for a ball hit down the third-base line. He was to undergo head and spine scans, and Girardi said he wouldn't accompany the team on its road trip to Kansas City.