Girardi: Nova earned another start

Ivan Nova pitched nine incredible innings against the Orioles. Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK -- Ivan Nova had one of the best nights of his career on Friday against the Baltimore Orioles. And it only got better after the game.

Shortly after Nova finished the first complete game of his career, Joe Girardi delivered some good news on the right-hander, telling reporters that he had earned another start.

That's big news for Nova, who has been used mostly as a spot starter this season.

"That's good," Nova said. "I've got some confidence back, and I've got to keep working."

Nova has every reason to be confident after Friday's outing.

He was masterful against the Orioles, striking out 11 and walking just one in a 3-2 win. He gave up only three hits all night.

"I thought everything was working for me," Nova said.

The 26-year-old righty had once been viewed as a mainstay in the Yankee rotation. But he lost his spot earlier this year due to ineffectiveness and injury.

After Friday night, it looks like he's forced Girardi to think long and hard about letting Nova back in the rotation.

"I thought he was great," Girardi said.

Nova has had three straight strong outings thanks in part to a deceptive two-seam fastball that he recently added to his arsenal.

He used the pitch to get ahead of Orioles hitters all night and relied on an array of sliders and curveballs to put them away. He also kept the game close heading into the bottom of the ninth, giving the Yanks a chance to complete a two-run game-winning rally in the final frame.

"His curveball was about as good as I've seen a curveball for anyone," said Vernon Wells, who had a game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth. "You could tell by some of the swings that guys took that they weren't picking it up."

That much was apparent early on when Nova struck out two Orioles in the top of the first. His only mistake of the night came in the second inning. After drilling home run threat Chris Davis with an inside fastball, Nova threw a 93 mph heater over too much of the plate to Matt Wieters. Wieters hit a deep drive to left that bounced off the top of the wall and in the stands for a two-run homer, out of the reach of a leaping Wells.

"I was rejected by the wall," the Yankee left fielder joked.

From there, though, Nova was dominant.

He retired nine in a row, striking out the side in the fifth.

Nova also benefited from strong infield defense from both Robinson Cano and Luis Cruz.

"He was great after the homer," Girardi said.

So now, the right-hander gets another start.

It isn't clear when that will happen, but with the Yankees playing 20 straight games before the All-Star break, Girardi will surely find a spot for the suddenly-hot Nova.

"I'm not sure exactly how we'll do it but he'll probably start again," he said.