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The good news is the Yankees found a way to beat the Angels in Anaheim on Wednesday night.
That might not seem all that notable for a team that wins as often as the Yankees win, but trips to Anaheim turn them into some hideous hybrid of the Pirates and the old St. Louis Browns. They lost the season series in Anaheim for the eighth straight year thanks to their two losses to start the week, but Wednesday's 6-5 win allows them to save a little face.
It wasn't a particularly attractive victory, right down to the ninth inning when Rafael Soriano did his best to remind us that Mariano Rivera is nowhere to be found. Soriano put a couple of runners on base, although it would have been worse if Derek Jeter didn't keep Albert Pujols' single on the infield, before finally shutting the door on Mark Trumbo, who had three homers and six RBIs over the course of the series.
Soriano's ability to escape trouble should be an inspiration to Ivan Nova, whose ERA now stands at 5.60 after Wednesday night's mediocre outing. Nova has struggled to find consistency this season and that was a problem for him again against the Angels.
Nova escaped a bases loaded, no out situation by allowing just one run in the first inning and came into the fourth with a 5-1 lead thanks to home runs by Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano. Nova gave all four runs back in that inning, though, to turn what looked like a relatively easy night back into a nailbiter.
Nova would wind up pitching into the seventh inning, picking up the win when the Yankees pushed another run across, and avoided further danger, but this is hardly the next step of the maturation process that the Yankees wanted to see from Nova this season. He rarely has a game where he gets totally strafed, something that gets balanced by the fact that he rarely cruises through an outing either.
Everything is a slog with Nova, which is better than some alternatives and much worse than others. He's got to be a thrill to the Jack Morris for the Hall of Fame crowd because he always seems to figure out a way to wind up with a win, but the reality is that fact says less about Nova than it says about the team.
The Yankees don't have a better option at this point, so we'll keep waiting for everything to click into place for Nova this season. Until it does, it would be splendid if Cory Wade could keep escaping from jams in the seventh inning so that the Yankees don't give away the games they are in a position to win.
If the Yankees lost last night, they would have fallen into a tie with the Red Sox for last place. Winning leaves them 1.5 games out of first place and that slight difference in outcomes tells you just how big it will be for the Yankees to win the games available to them if they are going to survive the AL East race.
The good news is the Yankees won just such a game on Wednesday night. The better news is that they don't come back to Anaheim this season.