NEW YORK - Ivan Nova pitched shutout ball into the eighth inning, Curtis Granderson drove in four runs and the Yankees moved within one win of a playoff berth by beating the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-0, last night.
Granderson hit a three-run double and reached base four times, boosting his MVP credentials as the Yankees slowed Tampa Bay’s charge at the rival Red Sox in the AL wild-card race. New York can secure its 16th postseason trip in 17 years with one victory in today’s day-night doubleheader against the Rays.
In fact, the AL East leaders are in with a win over Tampa Bay in any of their six remaining matchups this season. And it won’t take much more to wrap up the division title, too. The Yankees opened a six-game lead over second-place Boston, their largest of the season.
Tampa Bay remained two games behind the Red Sox for the AL wild card. Boston lost to the Orioles, 7-5.
One day after Mariano Rivera set the major league saves record with No. 602, New York turned its attention to a four-game series with surging Tampa Bay. Nova (16-4) worked in traffic all night but the rookie never yielded, allowing six hits and three walks over 7 2/3 innings.
Solidifying his role as the team’s No. 2 starter, Nova improved to 12-0 with a 3.09 ERA in 15 starts since his last loss June 3 at the Los Angeles Angels. Despite a midseason demotion to the minors, where he went 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA, Nova leads all major league rookies in wins.
One of the few big hits was Granderson’s bases-loaded double down the right-field line off Wade Davis (10-10) in the second. Eric Chavez had an RBI single earlier in the inning following Nick Swisher’s leadoff double.