The New York Yankees may have breathed a little easier following an impressive outing by CC Sabathia. They certainly were pleased with Ivan Nova's first start off the disabled list.
Nova looks to help the AL East leaders win their seventh straight Saturday when they continue their series against the Oakland Athletics.New York won its sixth in a row with a 2-1 victory in 10 innings Friday. After Brandon Moss' home run off Rafael Soriano in the ninth denied Sabathia his first win since Aug. 24, Russell Martin hit a game-winning shot to lead off the 10th.The homer was Martin's 18th of the season and fourth in his last 11 hits over 42 at-bats, helping New York (87-63) stay a game in front of Baltimore for first place in the division."You can feel that playoff weather coming," Martin said. "I like it. I enjoy it."The Athletics (85-65) dropped out of a tie with the Orioles for the first AL wild card, but still lead the Los Angeles Angels by 3 1/2 games for the second spot. They have lost four of five, scoring two or fewer runs in three or their last four.Oakland managed just three hits over eight innings against Sabathia, who entered amid concerns about his velocity, and the A's could face another challenge against the Yankees' next starter.Nova (12-7, 4.85 ERA) will look to extend New York's longest winning streak since a 10-game run June 8-18. He's making his second start since coming off the disabled list after missing a little more than three weeks with inflammation in his right rotator cuff.Nova gave up two runs and four hits over six innings of a 5-3 win over Tampa Bay last Saturday, striking out eight.The right-hander had gone 1-4 with a 7.28 ERA in his first eight starts coming out of the All-Star break before landing on the disabled list."We've seen him do it before. We really didn't expect to get him into the seventh," manager Joe Girardi said. "I was extremely impressed with his stuff today and his command and what he did out there."Nova has faced the Athletics twice this year -- both times in Oakland -- and is 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA.Oakland counters with Travis Blackley (5-3, 3.36) as he makes his 13th start of the season and first since Aug. 29.The left-hander is 4-3 with a 3.97 ERA in 12 starts. In the most recent, he allowed two runs and three hits over 5 2/3 innings of an 8-4 win at Cleveland.Blackley, whose last appearance was out of the bullpen Sunday, will be facing the Yankees for the first time."If you're looking at it like that, you're going to psych yourself out," Blackley told the A's official website. "I'm just thinking about keeping the team in the game as long as possible. It's good to know that they can trust you to take the reins when they need it."In a lineup of formidable hitters, Blackley will especially want to pitch carefully to Derek Jeter, who extended his hitting streak to a season high-tying 15 games Friday with a single in the sixth.He's batting .388 (26 for 67) during the streak.