NEW YORK -- The decision to pull him came one batter too late and, in the end, it made all the difference for Ivan Nova and the Yankees on Saturday in the Bronx.
During the sixth inning of the Yankees' eventual 6-0 loss to the Blue Jays, Nova loaded the bases for first baseman Justin Smoak, who came to the plate with just a single out. Nova delivered a first-pitch, 82-mph curveball that Smoak fouled off. Strike one. Then, he threw the same pitch -- this time at 81 mph -- just where Smoak wanted it. Grand slam.
Smoak's homer broke open a scoreless game and effectively erased the fact Nova had retired 16 of the first 19 Toronto batters he faced. He retreated from the mound, having tied his season high for runs and earned runs allowed.
"When you're in a nothing-nothing game and you're facing that part of the order, you've got to be careful," Yanks manager Joe Girardi said. "You can't just lay it in there. He lost the strike zone a little bit."
Prior to the homer, Nova had struck out six -- keeping the game scoreless in his matchup with Blue Jays ace David Price.
Adam Warren had been warming in the Yankees' bullpen, but Girardi and his staff made the conscious decision to leave Nova in.
"We were talking about what to do and if Adam was ready," Girardi said. "Nova pitched his butt off and is a ground-ball guy -- and I stuck with him."