Sunday, October 2, 2011

Super Nova comes through in prime time

Many people had a lot of questions about Ivan Nova going into his “start” last night. I was not one of them.

When I was buying tickets for the American League Division Series, of course, I wanted to see the Game 1 clash of the titans between CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander. But I also did something I have never done before. I bought tickets to two games of the same division series. Why? Because I wanted to see Nova pitch in Game 2 against the Detroit Tigers. It technically wasn’t Game 2, but the kid stepped up in a big playoff start last night.

Unlike with AJ Burnett, I’m confident in the rookie pitching a big game for the New York Yankees. Despite his youth, I never worry that Nova is going to fall apart at the first sign of trouble. That’s how much confidence I have in him. I think that goes back to the first time I saw him start a big-league game in person, the night the Yankees were dedicating George Steinbrenner’s monument. With all the hoopla and emotion of that night, it would have been very easy for the kid to be distracted, but he turned in a pretty solid start in a game the Yankees went on to win.

I’m surprised when Burnett pitches well and I’ll be shocked if the Tigers don’t shell him if he starts Game 4. I’m not surprised when Nova has a good start and I have absolutely no problem with the kid getting the ball in a Game 5 elimination matchup if it comes to that.

“I loved what he did today,” his manager Joe Girardi said of Nova last night.

So did I.

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