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Nova, White Sox stung by error in Bronx duel

Former Yankee charged with unearned run in decisive 7th inning
@ladsonbill24
April 13, 2019

NEW YORK -- The White Sox and Yankees found themselves in a pitchers' duel on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Then came the seventh inning. Shoddy defense by second baseman Yolmer Sánchez helped the Yankees defeat the White Sox, 4-0. Right-hander Ivan Nova was cruising against his former team into

NEW YORK -- The White Sox and Yankees found themselves in a pitchers' duel on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Then came the seventh inning. Shoddy defense by second baseman Yolmer Sánchez helped the Yankees defeat the White Sox, 4-0.

Right-hander Ivan Nova was cruising against his former team into the bottom of the seventh inning before allowing a leadoff single to Gleyber Torres. White Sox manager Rick Renteria then took Nova out of the game, feeling that Nova was gassed after 93 pitches (64 for strikes). Nova later denied he was tired.

In came left-hander Jace Fry to face Greg Bird, who hit a perfect double-play ball to Sanchez, but he booted it to put runners on first and second. It was the fourth error of the season for the usually sure-handed infielder.

"Fry did a nice job to get that ground ball. Obviously, we didn't make that play," Renteria said. "The errors are not typical of Yolmer. I think he is probably pressing a little bit. But I'm sure I'll have a conversation with him to make sure he is OK. He'll be in there tomorrow. He just has to play."

The miscue helped open the floodgates for the Yankees. White Sox right-hander Ryan Burr entered the game to face Clint Frazier, who singled to right field to load the bases.

Luke Voit came in as a pinch-hitter and singled to center, scoring Torres. Kyle Higashioka followed with a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Bird. In a safety squeeze, Tyler Wade bunted the ball to Yoan Moncada, who threw out Wade, but Frazier scored on the play.

The Yankees added another run in the eighth inning when Aaron Judge homered off Burr.

Nova returns to where it all started
Nova called Yankee Stadium home for six-plus seasons and, on Saturday afternoon, it seemed like he never left the place. He pitched six-plus innings, allowed one earned run and took the loss. It was the first time Nova pitched at Yankee Stadium since the Bronx Bombers traded him to the Pirates on Aug. 1, 2016.

Nova said there were a lot of emotions when he stepped on the mound, but he kept his composure and pitched well. When he left the game in the seventh inning, Nova received a nice ovation from the New York fans.

"Everything was working," Nova said. "I had to work hard in the first inning. After that, it was really smooth. I was commanding my pitches. The curveball was really good."

Said Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge about Nova: "Working magic, that's what he does well. He's got a good sinkerball, two-seamer, and a nice little slider combo to work with. He really busts righties hard in off the plate, and then once he starts thinking we're going to chase one in, he'll go with that slider away off the corner.

"[Nova] was just able to do that all game and miss our barrel. Once we were able to get into that bullpen and get some guys on, we string some good at-bats together and were able to put up some runs."

To top it off, Nova was facing his mentor, former teammate CC Sabathia, who pitched five shutout innings in his season debut to open his 19th and final year in the big leagues.

"I was very lucky to face him today," Nova said. "We are not going to have time [to talk about what CC did for me]. He helped me every way I can imagine. He gave me a lot."

For Sabathia, he considers Nova a good friend.

"It was great, and I knew he was going to be good today," Sabathia said about Nova. "He's been calling me all week saying we were lining up. It was good to see him pitch well. I know he wanted to pitch good back here in Yankee Stadium. Nova's like a little brother to me, so I'm always wishing him well."

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.