New York Yankees: Chris Archer

Nova pitches gem, doesn't get rewarded

July, 27, 2013
7/27/13
6:33
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Ivan Nova pitched arguably his best game of the season on Saturday.

The New York Yankees still lost, again.

Nova went seven innings, giving up just one run on six hits, with eight strikeouts. But the Yanks mustered just two hits in nine innings off Tampa Bay Rays rookie Chris Archer, resulting in a demoralizing 1-0 loss in the Bronx.

[+] EnlargeIvan Nova
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsIvan Nova received no run support -- again.
"Sometimes when you pitch good, it's hard to be charged with a loss," Nova said. "It doesn't feel great, but at the end I'm still happy with the way I pitched."

Nova's first pitch of the game was lined into center field by Desmond Jennings for a single, an ominous start. But Nova worked around two singles in the opening frame.

He got in trouble again in the fourth inning, after a leadoff double by Wil Myers and a walk by James Loney. But Nova struck out the side from there to end the threat -- each K coming via his curveball.

"I was trying just to get ahead [in the count] first, and then use my best pitch to strike them out," Nova said. "And that's what I did."

Nova's fastball reached as high as 96 mph on the radar gun. Manager Joe Girardi and catcher Chris Stewart said everything was working.

"To me it's his fastball command, because his curveball has seemed to be there for the most part. It's been really effective," Girardi said. "And he threw some good changeups today, too."

"He's obviously gotten confidence again," Stewart said. "That's the biggest thing -- when you go out there with confidence you trust your stuff, and he's got the ability to get anybody out in any situation."

The Rays' lone run came in the sixth inning, and even that was a little fluky. Loney hit a one-out bloop single into center field, Matt Joyce walked and Kelly Johnson drove the run home with another single, on a pitch Nova and Stewart were happy with.

"Yeah, two-seamer down and away, hit it off the end of the bat, and it just fell in there," Stewart said. "It's kind of the way our breaks have been going right now."

Since returning to the Yankees on June 23, after a triceps injury and a stint in the minor leagues, Nova has pitched six times (five starts). In 43 1/3 innings, he has allowed just 12 earned runs, for an ERA of 2.49.

However, Nova's record is just 2-3 during that span.

In fact, this was the second consecutive start in which Nova got zero run support. And whether he admits it or not, it's difficult to pitch when your offense gives you little or no margin for error.

"You gotta stay trying to keep your team close, and hoping that they're gonna score a run at some point," Nova said. "That's the only thing that I can do, try to keep my team in the game."

He certainly did that Saturday, but had nothing but a loss to show for it.

Archer makes Yankees look feeble

July, 27, 2013
7/27/13
6:00
PM ET

Chris Archer had a dynamite slider on Saturday.
The pitching-rich Tampa Bay Rays are profiting big-time from the presence of rookie starter Chris Archer.

Archer, rated the No. 53 prospect in baseball by ESPN.com's Keith Law prior to the start of the season, has pitched among the game's elite, no more so than on Saturday afternoon when he shut out the Yankees, 1-0.

Let's run through some of the statistical highlights.

What a month!
Archer is not scheduled to pitch again in July, thus wrapping up one of the most remarkable calendar months by a rookie in major-league history.

Archer finishes the month 4-0 with an 0.73 ERA and 0.65 WHIP in five starts. He's thrown two shutouts in his last three starts after not having thrown a shutout prior to that in his professional career.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Archer's 0.73 ERA is the best ERA ever by a rookie in the month of July. The full list, one that includes ESPN broadcaster Orel Hershiser, is in the chart on the right.

The History
Archer is the second visiting pitcher in as many seasons to throw a 1-0 shutout at Yankee Stadium, joining Felix Hernandez. Prior to Hernandez, no visiting pitcher had thrown one there since Greg Swindell for the 1988 Cleveland Indians.

He's the third visiting pitcher in the last 55 seasons to throw a 1-0 shutout, allowing two hits or fewer in that ballpark or its prior iterations, with the other two being Hernandez and Hall-of-Famer Jim Palmer (1967 Baltimore Orioles).

He's also the second visiting pitcher to do so without issuing a walk, joining Wes Ferrell for the Boston Red Sox in 1935.

In another neat twist, Archer became the first visiting pitcher to throw any sort of shutout, allowing two hits or fewer with no walks in Yankee Stadium, since Neil Allen of the 1986 Chicago White Sox.

Allen mentored Archer as his pitching coach at the start of the season, for the Triple-A Durham Bulls.

How He Won
Archer won on the strength of his slider, which effectively complemented a fastball that averaged 95 mph.

He threw 31 of 41 sliders for strikes, and those 41 pitches netted him 13 outs without yielding a baserunner.

Yankees hitters chased 10 sliders out of the strike zone, the most chases that Archer has gotten from that pitch in any start in his career.

Archer was helped by what has been an inept Yankees lineup. With a lack of left-handed hitting options to choose from, Joe Girardi started five right-handed hitters. Those five were a combined 0-for-15.

Archer makes for a very tough challenge for a right-handed hitter. He's retired the last 27 he faced, the equivalent of a perfect game's worth of batters.

Amazing Rays Young Pitching
Archer is the latest pitcher churned out by a Rays franchise that has become the best at developing that sort of talent.

Since the start of the 2008 season, the Rays have had seven different starting pitchers under the age of 25 to throw a shutout (they've combined to throw nine). Only one other team had more than two pitchers age 25 or under throw a shutout in that span, the San Francisco Giants with three.

Rapid Reaction: Rays 1, Yankees 0

July, 27, 2013
7/27/13
4:02
PM ET


NEW YORK -- Ivan Nova was good, but Chris Archer was even better, and the Tampa Bay Rays took another game from the New York Yankees in the Bronx on Saturday.

What it means: Tampa Bay, clearly the hottest team in baseball, continues its incredible run. The Rays have won 21 of their past 24, are 20 games over .500 (62-42) and lead the American League East by a full game over the Red Sox.

The Yankees, on the other hand, are digging themselves a huge hole. They're 3-6 since the All-Star break, have lost eight of 11 overall, are just four games over .500 (54-50) and remain in fourth place, now eight games behind Tampa Bay.

Early zeroes: This game was scoreless through five innings. Nova had multiple runners on base in the first and fourth innings but worked out of trouble each time. After Wil Myers and James Loney led off the top of the fourth with a double and a walk, Nova struck out the side.

Archer did not allow a hit until Lyle Overbay's one-out single in the bottom of the fifth. And the Yankees did nothing with that.

The breakthrough: Tampa Bay finally scored in the top of the sixth. Loney hit a one-out bloop single to center and was erased on a fielder's choice. Matt Joyce walked, giving the Rays runners on first and second with two outs. Kelly Johnson had the big hit, a two-out RBI single.

That was all the damage Nova allowed. He went seven innings, giving up one run on six hits with eight strikeouts and three walks. Yet Nova was still saddled with a loss, dropping him to 4-4 on the year. His ERA, on the other hand, improved to 3.41.

David Robertson and Shawn Kelley each pitched a scoreless inning in relief.

Offensively challenged: The Yankees' lineup continues to come up small. They mustered just two hits on the day -- the other being Brett Gardner's two-out double in the bottom of the sixth.

Archer went the distance -- a complete-game two-hit shutout at Yankee Stadium with six strikeouts and zero walks. And he needed only 97 pitches to do so.

Alfonso Soriano, acquired from the Cubs to provide some extra pop at the plate, is now 0-for-8 in two games. He went 0-for-3 on Saturday, with two fly outs and a groundout.

What's next: The series finale and the final game of this brief three-game homestand. Phil Hughes (4-9, 4.33 ERA) will start for the Yankees, opposed by lefty Matt Moore (14-3, 3.17), with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. The Rays will be going for the sweep.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
13 2.77 141 136
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .271
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146