08/22/10 6:01 PM ET
Yanks ask rookie Nova to extend lead in Toronto
By Bailey Stephens / MLB.com
As the Yanks head north to Toronto for a three-game set beginning on Monday, they'll hand the ball to Nova, just called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"This is a big opportunity for me," Nova said. "I just have to go out and do my job."
Nova, who earned the chance by going 12-3 with a 2.86 ERA in Triple-A, briefly appeared with the big club earlier this season, but worked out of the 'pen. Now, with a chance to show off his new slider, the 23-year-old right-hander will return as a starter with the confidence of his manager.
"He's got good stuff," Joe Girardi said. "He's got velocity, as well. I liked him in Spring Training. When he came up and pitched a couple innings in Detroit [in May], he threw strikes. It seems like he's got pretty good command."
Nova's big task will be shutting down the homer-happy Blue Jays, who lead the Majors in dingers, homers after the seventh inning and long balls against a right-hander. Nova might be new to the party, but he's got a game plan in mind against the slugging Jays.
"I watch a lot of games. I've got an idea of what I'm going to do," he said Sunday. "They're good hitters, but let's wait until tomorrow."
Nova will go against another talented young starter, right-hander Brandon Morrow, who is one start removed from a 17-strikeout, one-hit performance against the Rays. Morrow got eight days of rest after tossing that gem, but he struggled in his ensuing outing, walking three batters in four innings.
"I just didn't feel that sharp," Morrow said. "I didn't have my best stuff by far."
But now back on a more regular schedule, Morrow will face the Yankees, against whom he's 2-0 with a 4.72 ERA in his career. And he'll be at Rogers Centre, where he sports a sterling 7-1 record to go with a 2.83 ERA this season.
Blue Jays: Encarnacion still sore
Jays third baseman Edwin Encarnacion remained out of the starting lineup again on Sunday with a sore left wrist. His status is day-to-day, and the Blue Jays are hopeful he can avoid the disabled list and return this week in New York. For now at least, manager Cito Gaston is willing to err on the side of caution with John MacDonald and Jose Bautista filling in at third. "He's still a little sore," Gaston said of Encarnacion. "He tells me he can pinch-hit, but I probably won't use him. I just want to make sure he's OK, and we'll see what happens tomorrow with him. Hopefully he's ready to play against the Yankees.
Yankees: Players picking up slack for A-Rod
Of course the Yankees are counting down the days until cleanup hitter Alex Rodriguez is back in the lineup, but surprisingly, the lineup hasn't missed a beat since he was injured. In the 12 games that Rodriguez has missed this season, the Yanks are 12-0. And Robinson Cano, who has moved into the cleanup spot, went 2-for-4 on Sunday with a grand slam and six RBIs. But as Girardi said on Sunday, there won't be a hesitation to re-insert A-Rod when he's ready. "Let's hope we get to that point, and then I'll put him in the next day," Girardi said with a smile. "Basically, people have stepped up in his absence."
Andy Pettitte will be traveling with the Yankees to Toronto as he continues his comeback from a strained left groin. ... Yanks lefty CC Sabathia picked up his team-leading 17th win of the season on Sunday.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.