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Hoping for double play, Ivan Nova gives up grand slam instead

New York Yankees starting pitcher Ivan Nova walks

New York Yankees starting pitcher Ivan Nova walks off the mound after giving up a grand slam to Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak during the sixth inning of a baseball game at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Ivan Nova was hoping for a double play. It didn't happen.

After Josh Donaldson walked and Jose Bautista singled to put runners on first and second with one out in the sixth inning of a scoreless game, Nova walked Edwin Encarnacion on four pitches to load the bases.

But instead of a double play, Justin Smoak hit a grand slam on Nova's 0-and-1 pitch, an 81-mph curveball. Blue Jays 4, Yankees 0.

"I didn't do a good job in that inning," Nova said after the Yankees' 6-0 loss Saturday at Yankee Stadium. "I fell behind with [Encarnacion], loaded the bases and made a huge mistake with that curveball. It's really frustrating, you know. One thing I was looking for was to get a win for the team, and I didn't do the job today."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Nova is a "ground-ball guy" and had earned the right to work himself out of the jam. "We've seen him do some of his best work late in games this year," he said. "We've seen him do some really good work when runners have been in scoring position, too. Today, he didn't make the pitch."

Nova, who entered the game with a 3.10 ERA in seven starts, allowed four hits, four runs and two walks in 51/3 innings, striking out six.

The top four batters in the Toronto lineup went 2-for-10 with five strikeouts and two walks against Nova, who retired 16 of his first 19 batters before allowing the final four to reach base. His main problem was pitch count, as Smoak hit the grand slam on his 102nd pitch.

Girardi said Nova isn't managed any differently because he returned in late June from Tommy John surgery.

"I thought he threw some pretty good pitches," Girardi said. "A check swing that didn't go his way, another pitch that didn't go his way. [But] when you're in a 0-0 game and you're facing that part of the order, you've got to be careful. You can't just lay it in there. He lost his strike zone a little bit."


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