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Tuesday, July 31, 2012
W2W4: Orioles at Yankees (July 31)

Ivan Nova Stats To Watch
Nova was uncharacteristically wild in his last start, with six walks in five innings against the Mariners. That’s one more walk than he had in his three prior starts combined.

Nova had trouble commanding both his fastball (51 percent strikes) and his slider (six of 12 for strikes). The latter he had thrown 25 times in his two starts prior to that, netting 22 strikes. Overall, he threw just 54 percent strikes versus the Mariners, the second-lowest rate of his career.

Nova’s fastball averaged 93.8 MPH against Seattle and topped out at a career-high 97.8 MPH. However, the high heat resulted in more foul balls than whiffs. Thirteen of the 20 swings (65 percent) against his fastball were fouled off, the highest rate of his career in a single game.

One positive outcome from his last outing was Nova’s ability to dominate the Seattoe lefties, allowing just one hit in 12 at-bats. In his previous two starts, lefties had hit .310 and slugged .690 against him.

Nova really struggled in his last two starts versus the Orioles, with a 7.71 ERA and a 1.971 WHIP over 11⅔ innings. He had a lot of trouble putting away hitters in those games. After he got into a pitchers’ count, the Orioles tagged him for a .972 OPS, well above his season mark of .619 in those situations.

Matt Wieters has nasty numbers against Nova, going 7-for-16 with three home runs. In two games against Nova earlier this season, he was 5-for-8 with a pair of home runs to right field.

Chris Tillman Stats To Watch
Tillman’s three wins in four starts this year matches his career high for wins in a season, which he set last year over 13 starts.

Yet a win tonight might be difficult. He doesn’t have the best history against the Yankees, with a 1-3 record and an 8.71 ERA in five starts. That’s the third-highest ERA among active pitchers who have made at least five starts against the Yankees.

Tillman’s success this season can be credited to the performance of his offspeed pitches, particularly against left-handed hitters.

He’s gotten 26 outs and yielded only five baserunners (one hit) when throwing his offspeed pitches to lefties this season. His ratio of outs-to-baserunners on such pitches is nearly double what it was in his three previous seasons combined.

Tillman will be challenged to repeat that success with his offspeed pitches against the Yankees' lefties, especially when Robinson Cano comes to the plate.

Cano is 7-for-11 with four RBIs against Tillman, his third-highest batting average against any pitcher he’s faced at least 10 times. Cano is also hitting .342 overall against offspeed pitches, and .364 against soft stuff from righties, both of which rank among the top three in baseball this season.

Stat of the Game
The Yankees have a 13-12 record in July as they enter their final game of the month. The Yankees have posted a winning record in July in each of their last 19 seasons, from 1993-2011. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the longest streak of winning Julys in major-league history.