The next time he struggles against the Chicago White Sox will be the first.
Nova has been outstanding in his first four career starts against the White Sox, a trend he'll try to continue Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field by helping New York bounce back from a rough pitching performance in the series opener.
Nova (11-6, 4.76 ERA) went into the break on a roll, going 4-1 with a 1.70 ERA in his final seven starts, but a little time away seems to have been a very bad thing. He gave up four runs over 5 2-3 innings Thursday at Texas and actually lowered his post-break ERA to 7.02.
"It has been tough this year," Nova told the Yankees' official website. "A lot of people are expecting more from me, and I'm not happy with what I'm doing."
The Yankees (72-50) saw their AL East lead over Tampa Bay cut to four games after Monday's series-opening loss to the White Sox, but Nova's focus is clearly on winding up in the postseason rotation should New York get there.
"If my manager still has confidence in me, he's going to put me in the postseason, no matter if I throw good this month, or the next month," Nova said.
Nova has looked like a front-line starter against the White Sox (66-55), a team he could very well wind up facing in October. He's 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA in four career starts in the series, allowing one run in each outing.
The Chicago hitter with the most success against him - Alejandro De Aza, who's 5 for 7 with a homer - was placed on the disabled list prior to this game due to bruised left ribs.
After being swept over the weekend in Kansas City, the White Sox didn't miss a beat without their leadoff hitter in the series opener. Down 3-0 in the fifth, Chicago hit one homer apiece in each of the next four innings to win 9-6 and push its AL Central lead over Detroit back to two games."The energy was going down a little bit in Kansas City. We didn't get off to a good start tonight," said designated hitter Adam Dunn , who hit his major league-leading 36th homer. "I think it shows the resiliency of this team. ... We just kept battling."
The Yankees, 26-17 against left-handed starters this season, will see White Sox southpaws in each of the next two games. First up is Francisco Liriano (4-10, 5.22), who's coming off his first win since being acquired from Minnesota.
Liriano held Toronto to two runs and three hits over 6 1-3 innings Thursday in a 7-2 road victory."It's been kind of up and down the last month," Liriano said. "I felt pretty good (Thursday). Physically I feel very good. Location-wise, pitching-wise, it was a good night."
Liriano picked up his first win - in his seventh start including postseason - against the Yankees on Aug. 20, 2011, but was rocked for five runs, seven hits and four walks while lasting just 2 1-3 innings in an 8-3 loss April 17.
"He just continues to have big days for us," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "That's what he's doing. It is pretty amazing."
|Alejandro De Aza||3||.333||1||0||0||0||2||.333||.666||.333|
|New York Yankees|
|August 17, 2012||Mark Teixeira||Day-to-Day||Sore left wrist|
|August 09, 2012||CC Sabathia||15-Day DL||Left elbow soreness|
|July 25, 2012||Alex Rodriguez||15-Day DL||Non-displaced fracture in left hand|
|July 25, 2012||Nick Swisher||Day-to-Day||Strained left hip flexor|
|July 24, 2012||Alex Rodriguez||Day-to-Day||Left hand fracture|
|June 28, 2012||Andy Pettitte||60-Day DL||Fractured left ankle - out 6-8 weeks|
|Chicago White Sox|
|August 19, 2012||Kevin Youkilis||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|August 16, 2012||Orlando Hudson||15-Day DL||Left foot contusion|
|August 14, 2012||Leyson Septimo||15-Day DL||Left biceps inflammation|
|August 12, 2012||Kevin Youkilis||Day-to-Day||Sore left forearm|
|August 08, 2012||Paul Konerko||7-Day DL||Mild concussion|
|August 08, 2012||Paul Konerko||7-Day DL||Mild concussion|
CHICAGO (AP) -- Hard to tell where the Chicago White Sox might be without Kevin Youkilis . He's been what they expected and needed when the veteran third baseman was acquired from Boston.
And much more.
Youkilis, who was part of the fierce Yankees-Red Sox rivalry for years, hit a grand slam Tuesday night and the White Sox came back from an early deficit for the second straight game to beat New York 7-3.
"I think there is a rivalry in the past that I played on and that was blown out of proportion," Youkilis said. "I think here, it's not really that crazy. The fans aren't as crazy into it. They just treat it like every other game."
But with both the Yankees and White Sox leading their divisions with about five weeks left, it's not just another series. And Youkilis' opposite field grand slam off Ivan Nova was the difference Tuesday night.
"It just depends on the situation. I was trying to drive the ball to the outfield, get a runner in," Youkilis said. "That's what I was trying to do and I was very fortunate it got over the fence."
Paul Konerko also homered for the White Sox and Dewayne Wise had four hits against the Yankees, the team that designated him for assignment last month.
With the game tied 2-2, the White Sox loaded the bases in the fifth inning on Alexei Ramirez 's double, a walk and single by Wise. Youkilis' high fly to right carried over the fence in right for his second grand slam at U.S. Cellular Field this season. He also cleared the bases in April for the Red Sox against the White Sox and Phil Humber.
"Youkilis put a good swing on it. I didn't think that ball was going to go, but the ball carries well here," Yankees catcher Russell Martin said. "That was a big blow."
Since joining the White Sox in June, Youkilis has hit 11 of his 15 homers. He's given Chicago steady fielding at third, power at the plate and a No. 2 hitter who has good at-bats.
"That was a tough spot for us. Third base, even batting second. It's changed that spot, particularly," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said.
"It extends your lineup. He's a tough at-bat. He sees a lot of pitches. All the things you want when a guy goes up there. He's seeing a lot of pitches and he's a good hitter."
Nova (11-7), who is 1-4 in his last eight starts, gave up seven hits and six runs in six innings.
"He's struggled. There's no doubt the second half, he's struggled," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Nova. "He has not located like he did the first half, and his off-speed has not been consistent. You just got to keep working. That's all you can do."
Chicago's Francisco Liriano (5-10) also went six innings, surrendering Derek Jeter 's leadoff homer and two runs in the first while allowing six hits and three walks.
"It was touch and go in the beginning, but this team will make you use a lot of pitches," Ventura said. "He did battle through it and got sharper as the game went along. He just made pitches and at least got us to a point where we could go to the bullpen and guys came in and did a good job."
Jeter hit the game's first pitch for his 12th homer, giving him sole possession of 11th place on the career hits list (3,256) and moving him ahead of Eddie Murray . The Yankees then loaded the bases on a single by Nick Swisher and two walks, but ended up with just one more run on Curtis Granderson 's fielder's choice grounder as Liriano avoided a big inning.
Chicago got one back in the second on Alex Rios ' triple and A.J. Pierzynski's sacrifice fly and then tied it on Konerko's 21st homer in the fourth.
Martin hit his 14th homer, a solo shot off Jesse Crain , in the seventh. Gordon Beckham had a two-out RBI single in the eighth to restore the four-run lead.
Notes: Yankees ace CC Sabathia threw 38 pitches in a bullpen session and said he expects to return to the rotation Friday against Cleveland. He's been on the DL with an inflamed elbow. ... OF Jordan Danks returned to the White Sox after a short stint in the minors as Chicago put Alejandro De Aza on the DL with sore ribs. Wise has been more than an adequate fill-in as both a center fielder and leadoff hitter with De Aza hurting.