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Nova impresses, Cano mashes as Yankees capture 9-3 Game 1 win over Tigers

Oct 1, 2011, 11:51 PM EDT

Yankees pitcher Nova reacts after getting the Tigers out to end fifth inning of Game 1 of their MLB American League Division Series baseball playoffs at Yankee Stadium in New York Reuters

Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova opened a whole lot of eyes during the regular season while registering a 3.70 ERA across 165 1/3 innings. On a wet and cold Saturday night in New York, he opened many more.

Making his first-ever postseason appearance, the 24-year-old Dominican hurled 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball, striking out five and scattering four hits as the Yankees rolled to a two-night 9-3 victory.

But the Yankees did more than pitch well in the resumption of Game 1 of the ALDS — with Tigers ace Justin Verlander watching helplessly from the visitor’s dugout. They hit. And hit. And kept on hitting.

Robinson Cano hit a grand slam in the sixth inning off the Tigers’ Al Alburquerque, who allowed only three of 31 inherited runners to score during the regular season. It was the 50th grand slam in postseason history.

Derek Jeter had two hits and three runs scored, and Brett Gardner drove in two runs while scoring one of his own. Every member of the Yankees’ starting lineup recorded a hit, expect for Alex Rodriguez.

Game 2 is set for Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET. Freddy Garcia will face off against Max Scherzer.


* The rain ceased by the time the suspended game got back underway, but it was pouring in The Bronx for most of Saturday afternoon and evening, leaving the Yankee Stadium playing surface a bit moist.

* Nova displayed no fear in the early going, hurling his slider with confidence on an impressive strikeout of Miguel Cabrera in the top of the fourth inning. That confidence remained high throughout.

* Tigers “starter” Doug Fister showed some jitters in his first couple frames, at one point committing an awkward-looking balk. He eventually settled in and began operating quickly, but the Yanks’ lineup can be relentless. The young right-hander retired 11 batters in a row between the second and fifth innings, then just three of his last 10 batters. He departed with the bases loaded.

* Tigers catcher Alex Avila was gunned down at the plate in the fifth inning by a smooth relay from Curtis Granderson and Jeter. Russell Martin laid the tag. The game was tied 1-1 at that point.

* Cano nearly had a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth, but a replay review clearly showed that the ball bounced off the top of the wall and back into play. He was correctly awarded an RBI double.

* Cano’s grand slam in the sixth did not require a review. It was destroyed. A no-doubter.

* Nick Swisher struck out with a man on second in the sixth inning and is now 0-for-28 with runners in scoring position during his postseason career. He entered the night with a .162/.302/.314 career playoffs slash line.

* Yankees fans loudly chanted “MVP” every time Granderson stepped to the plate. He went 1-for-3.

* The Tigers rallied for four hits and two runs in the ninth before the Yanks turned to Mariano Rivera.

  1. halladaysbiceps - Oct 2, 2011 at 12:02 AM

    Come to the Phillies, Yankees. I will be pulling for you guys. I look forward to a 2009 rematch. Go Yankees!

    • phukyouk - Oct 2, 2011 at 12:13 AM

      thx cepts… I too look forward to a rematch of 09… an EXACT rematch of 09.

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 2, 2011 at 12:18 AM

        The feelings are mutual. Instead this time you won’t face a broken down Pedro. You will have to face a “little” better rotation.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 2, 2011 at 12:48 AM

        Broken down Oswalt? 😉

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 2, 2011 at 12:52 AM

        Yeah, broken down Oswalt is what you will face :)

      • phukyouk - Oct 2, 2011 at 3:06 AM

        LMAO! i forgot all about Pedro…

      • deathmonkey41 - Oct 2, 2011 at 11:54 AM

        Hideki was his Daddy.

  2. bigharold - Oct 2, 2011 at 12:06 AM

    “* The Tigers rallied for four hits and two runs in the ninth before the Yanks turned to Mariano Rivera.”

    Rivera was like that old Bugs Bunny cartoon, .. One .. Two .. Three strikes you’re out!

  3. ssazz - Oct 2, 2011 at 12:11 AM

    There was an awful lot of talk about Fister before this match up, but hardly any about Nova.

  4. Old Gator - Oct 2, 2011 at 12:19 AM

    We were really spoiled rotten by the runups to the division series – Wednesday night’s fantastic games especially. Aside from homeboy enthusiasm, these DS games have all been pretty one-sided – or shall we say boring – games so far. It’d be nice to have one or two cliffhangers before we move on, wouldn’t it?

    • halladaysbiceps - Oct 2, 2011 at 12:22 AM

      No. All is going according to plan, friend.

      • yankeesgameday - Oct 2, 2011 at 12:26 AM


      • phukyouk - Oct 2, 2011 at 3:28 AM

        and the motion is passed

      • Old Gator - Oct 2, 2011 at 9:34 AM

        yawn – I think I’ll go play Ouija Scrabble and see if anyone knows which game to bother watching. I tell you this much: it ain’t gonna be Dolfeens at Chargers.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 2, 2011 at 12:51 AM

      Many have been closer than the final score would indicate. It seems one team has run away late in a a number of these playoff games so far.

      I don’t think any Game 1 of 5 will be able to equal the do-or-die excitement of Wednesday, but I have a feeling the tension will build a bit by the time we get into the 3rd and 4th games of some of these sets.

      • Old Gator - Oct 2, 2011 at 9:38 AM

        Nay, sir. Any baseball game can have you biting your nails if it’s played hard and close down to the wire. Any baseball game can turn on a dime and evolve from a would-be rout to a crisis – Wednesday’s Borg-Razed game a case in point. All the different courses of destiny that have been clanking towards an intersection suddenly meet and the spirit of the races says “now,” and consummation comes, and jars two fan bases….

        (with apologies to Thomas Hardy)

    • Kevin S. - Oct 2, 2011 at 6:06 AM

      Texas-Tampa G2 was an exciting, back-and-forth affair.

      • Old Gator - Oct 2, 2011 at 9:39 AM

        Best of the lot so far. Not bad, but not delicious.

      • cur68 - Oct 2, 2011 at 11:51 AM

        I think to get the level of nail bite you are after, OG,wait till the game finishes the series. Game 3 is where it’s at. Then you better have nice long nails…..

  5. uyf1950 - Oct 2, 2011 at 6:12 AM

    Great group of games on Saturday. I guess all the team that were favored or supposed to win did just that. Boring or not they were enjoyable

    Just a quick note about the Yankees/Tigers game. Good to see Nova prove his value in a post season game and continue his outstanding play since coming up back up from the minors in July. Also, what can you say about the night Cano had, other than just great. When his 2012 and 2013 option years are up he’s going to cost the Yankees some serious money.

    Good luck to all the 6 teams scheduled to play Sunday.

  6. itsmekirill - Oct 2, 2011 at 8:08 AM

    My favorite moment of the night was Rivera making Betemit look like an overmatched little leaguer facing one of those 16 year old kids with fake birth certificates.

  7. jcioffi1485 - Oct 2, 2011 at 8:28 AM

    Ivan SUPER Nova!

  8. dailyrev - Oct 2, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    I was listening to the Detroit radio feed and they were calling the first Cano blast a HR. They said one replay angle in that FOX-mo or whatever it’s called slow-speed showed the ball touching a fan’s jacket. So they were shocked when the umps came out and ruled it a 2b.

    But this is perhaps yet another case of fan-broadcasters having distorted views of what’s happening right in front of them. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the type that I call the Eeyore Fan: everything in the game is seen through a dark lens, so that only what’s-bad-for-my-team is visible. There’s a charmingly childlike, almost infantile quality to this very common type of fandom, but it is clearly, as all fandom is at its root, delusional.

    • cur68 - Oct 2, 2011 at 12:03 PM

      Faintly, in the background, you can hear the scrape of steel on stone, right? Knives are being sharpened for that remark. A feature of the sort of thing you are talking about is a certain intolerance for anti-homerism or perceived anti-homerism. They’ll be here soon, frothing at the mouth, knives a-gleaming. Just don’t let the froth get in the wounds they cause, eh? Nasty stuff, froth.

      • dailyrev - Oct 2, 2011 at 12:26 PM

        Nah, nobody pays any attention to me here. But when you listen to a home team broadcaster who’s fairly objective, such as the former catcher/manager Buck Martinez of the Toronto club, it’s so refreshing that it makes you actually like their team! That’s been my experience, anyway: I’ve had a far more positive feeling about the Jays since being exposed to the relative professionalism of Martinez.

  9. ditto65 - Oct 2, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    I still can’t believe that CC only lasted 2 innings.

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