Yankees-Mariners Preview

Although New York’s Ivan Nova saw one of his impressive winning
streaks come to an end in his last start, he has another still
intact.

Nova again looks to match a club rookie record set 72 years ago
by winning his 12th straight decision and help the AL East-leading
Yankees sweep their first series in Seattle in a dozen years in
Wednesday night’s finale.

With Tuesday’s 3-2 victory over the Mariners, New York (90-57)
maintained its four-game lead over second-place Boston in the
division. Mariano Rivera got the final three outs for his 600th
career save, moving within one of Trevor Hoffman’s major league
record.

“We won,” Rivera said. “That’s the most important thing.”

Robinson Cano led the offense, hitting a solo shot and driving
in another run on a fielder’s choice, and is 7 for 14 with two
homers and six RBIs in his last three games – all wins. The
Yankees, who are seeking their first sweep in Seattle since winning
four in a row there from Aug. 5-8, 1999, are 51-16 this season when
Cano drives in a run.

Cano, who is tied for the AL lead with 111 RBIs, could be poised
for another big game, considering he is 8 for 15 with two doubles
lifetime against scheduled starter Jason Vargas (8-13, 4.49
ERA).

The Yankees got two of their starters back in their regular
positions Tuesday with Russell Martin (right thumb) returning to
catch and Nick Swisher (left elbow) taking his spot in right field.
Former Mariner Alex Rodriguez (left thumb), who has missed the last
four games, isn’t expected back until Friday.

Seattle (61-87) has combined for eight runs while batting .176
in losing its last four games, and could have trouble breaking out
of this funk against Nova (15-4, 3.94).

Nova entered Thursday’s makeup game against Baltimore having
gone 11-0 with a 3.43 ERA in his previous 12 starts with New York
winning each time. The right-hander was a little shaky against the
Orioles, allowing three runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings, but
was still in position to become the first Yankees rookie since
Atley Donald in 1939 to win nine straight starts before Baltimore
pulled even in the eighth. New York went on to lose 5-4 in 10
innings, its first defeat with Nova on the mound since June 3,
against the Los Angeles Angels.

Although Nova was unable to match one of Donald’s records, he
can still tie another of his. Donald is the only Yankees rookie to
win 12 straight decisions in a single season, set May 9-July 25,
1939.

Nova didn’t have much luck in his only career outing against the
Mariners on May 28, however, allowing four runs and five hits in 3
2-3 innings of a 5-4, 12-inning loss at Safeco Field.

Vargas, however, has been even worse in this series, posting an
11.48 ERA in losing his last three starts to the Yankees, with two
coming this year.

The left-hander pitched well against Kansas City on Friday,
giving up a run and four hits in six innings of a 4-1 victory.
Building on this outing could be difficult, however, as Vargas has
been extremely inconsistent lately.

Since Aug. 5, he is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in four of his starts,
but 0-3 with a 12.89 ERA in the other three.