As Joe Girardi said afterward, Ivan Nova didn't exactly make the decision difficult.
“We’re asking a young man to step up,” Girardi said of Nova. “And that’s exactly what he’s doing.”
Nova earned his first victory in the big leagues today, surpassing what was a pretty good debut Monday in Toronto by allowing just one run in 5 2/3 innings this afternoon.
“He’s going to make another start, I can tell you that,” Girardi said. “He’s pitching lights out.”
Girardi said after A.J. Burnett’s horrid outing here Friday that he would “evaluate” the rotation after the weekend, not dismissing the possibility that Burnett was a candidate to be skipped.
But after today's game Girardi said the Yankees would stay in rotation, meaning Dustin Moseley starts tonight, followed by Phil Hughes tomorrow night, Burnett on Wednesday, CC Sabathia on Thursday and, of course, Nova on Friday.
“We need A.J. to pitch well for us,” Girardi said. “He’s going out Wednesday and we need him to pitch well for us.”
Nova has now done that twice, showing composure on the mound that belies his age.
"I sense that he can continue to make pitches and not get rattled," Girardi said. "I go back to his first game in Toronto when he had the bases loaded and nobody out and didn't give up a run. He had some situations today...but he continued to make pitches."
Nova described himself as “emotionless” on the mound, which was part of following the advice his mother, Altegracia, gave him.
“Don’t feel pressure,” he said. “Pitch like you’re in Triple-A.”
Nova, 12-3 with a 2.86 ERA in Scranton, smiled at his response.
“I said, Ok.”
"That's what we try to do," catcher Francisco Cervelli said of keeping Nova in that mindset. "It's not that different except a few thousand more fans."
Yes, Cervelli, who had the first four-hit day of his career, laughed when he said that.
The Yankees could afford to be all smiles after finishing the six-game trip at 3-3, not bad considering how it started.
"When you're 1-3 and you're facing a team that plays really well at home it can be a really tough road trip," Girardi said. "To finish up 3-3 was really good and we'll try to keep that momentum when we go home."