First Pitch: Nova looking to stay hot

July, 10, 2013
7/10/13
6:00
AM ET
Ivan Nova AP Photo/Kathy WillensIvan Nova would like to win back his spot in the Yankees' rotation.
NEW YORK -- The last time Ivan Nova took the mound, he had no idea whether he'd get another shot or be banished back to long relief.

With one of the best starts of his career, a compete-game two-run effort in a win over the Baltimore Orioles, Nova assured himself of another start on Wednesday.

"It changed my whole mind," Nova said on Monday about his last outing. "[Knowing] I'm pitching Wednesday, that makes me build up my comfort a little bit more. It's great to have a game like that and get back on the mound."

Since returning to the New York Yankees in late June, Nova has been pitching his best ball of the season. He's 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA in his past three outings, compared to starting the season 2-1 with a 5.16 ERA before being injured and landing in Triple-A.

"The first time I get to the Yankees, to spring training, I knew there was going to be a fight. That's what I've been doing," Nova said of battling for a spot. "There are ups and downs, I'm not perfect. When you're down you have to find a way to get back on track, and I think I'm doing that right now."

Nova struggled early this season before landing on the disabled list with inflammation in his right triceps. After coming back, he pitched just twice before the Yankees demoted him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

After being called up when the Yankees needed a fill-in for Hiroki Kuroda, Nova has made a claim to retake a spot in the rotation. Starting with a solid outing against the Tampa Bay Rays on June 23, Nova is pitching better than he has all season.

Wednesday against Kansas City, with his team lifeless offensively and losers of three straight, he can bolster his claim that he's here to stay.

Up now: The Yankees lost as CC Sabathia faltered late and the Yankees scored just once in the first inning in a 3-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals. Ian O'Connor wrote about the Yankees needing Derek Jeter to save their season. The second day of Hope Week saw the Yankees handing out pillows.

On deck: The Yankees will try to save face against the big, bad Royals. Nova (3-2, 4.09 ERA) faces Wade Davis (4-7, 5.42). Wally and Kieran Darcy have you covered from the stadium.

Question: Do you believe Nova has turned the corner?

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.271 16 70 71
OTHER LEADERS
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
WM. Tanaka 13
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146