What it means: That it might just be time to give David Phelps another look, because whatever has been ailing Ivan Nova since the All-Star break isn't getting better. Nova got pounded again Monday night in the Yankees' 7-2 loss to the Tigers in Detroit, giving up seven runs in 5 1/3 innings. Over his past five starts, he is now 0-3 with an 8.36 ERA.
Nova no good: Five days after unraveling for seven runs in the second inning against the Orioles, Nova had almost as bad a night, although it took him three more innings to do it. This meltdown began in the fifth, when Nova surrendered four straight hits and a sacrifice fly to give the Tigers a 5-2 lead. Nova was not helped when Russell Martin, seemingly in position to receive a throw from Curtis Granderson that would have beaten Jhonny Peralta at home plate, allowed the ball to skip by and the Tigers' fourth run to score. Nova followed that with a sixth-inning fadeout in which he gave up three straight lasers before Joe Girardi pulled him and brought in Joba Chamberlain. Nova now has allowed 21 hits and 16 earned runs in his past two outings, covering 10 1/3 innings. His ERA over that span is 13.93.
Justin time: The only danger to defending AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander came from, well, Justin Verlander. While he was far from unhittable -- the Yankees had eight hits -- Verlander's nasty curveball accounted for most of his career-high 14 K's. And had he not dropped an inning-ending throw while covering first base, which led to two unearned runs, he might have kept the Yankees off the board all night. Verlander went eight innings, allowed no earned runs, walked only one and threw a career-high 132 pitches, 96 of which were strikes. An outstanding, overpowering performance.
RISP-y business: Stop me if you've heard this one before: The Yankees got a leadoff double from Eric Chavez in the third inning and failed to get him home, even with Martin delivering a one-out single to left. Chavez was held at third, and stayed there when Granderson struck out and Derek Jeter grounded back to the pitcher.
Home run derby: The Tigers got solo homers from Prince Fielder in the second and Miguel Cabrera in the fourth off Nova. Cabrera's shot traveled an estimated 450 feet and landed in the jungle beyond the center-field fence.
Double your pleasure: Chavez doubled twice off Verlander, leading off the third and fifth innings. The second time, the Yankees actually got him home -- with help from Verlander, who dropper Fielder's flip on what should have been Granderson's inning-ending grounder. Jeter and Robinson Cano followed with RBI singles to tie the game at 2.
Better Joba: Chamberlain gave up a single to Peralta, the first batter he faced, allowing an inherited runner to score. But on the whole, he looked better than he did in his comeback appearance last week at Yankee Stadium. Chamberlain worked 1 2/3 innings, allowed two hits, struck out one and hit 97 mph on the gun.
Streaky hitter: Ichiro Suzuki's 12-game hitting streak came to an end, but another streak began. After not having struck out in his first 50 plate appearances as a Yankee, Ichiro struck out in his last three at-bats against Verlander.
What's coming: What to do about Nova? I'll listen to what Girardi, Nova and Martin have to say, and get back to you on this.
Tomorrow: Phil Hughes (11-8, 3.96 ERA) gets the ball against fellow righty Rick Porcello (8-6, 4.65) in Game 2 of this four-game series, first pitch at 7:05 p.m. ET.