Nuno rewards Girardi’s faith with strong outing

Exactly what everyone would have predicted, right? Vidal Nuno pitched 5 2/3 innings of scoreless, two-hit ball, and the Yankees got home runs from Kelly Johnson, Brett Gardner and Brian McCann, defeating the Red Sox 6-0 on Friday night.

Nuno said after the game that he needed the boost, proving that his stuff can still work against big league lineups after he was hammered his last two times out by the Athletics and Orioles.

“Every day has been tough lately, just knowing that my command wasn’t there,” Nuno said. “I’ve been working on it. Pretty much, it’s a confidence booster tonight, to show that I can still belong here and attack these guys. With my stuff, I can win games.”

This was Nuno’s first career victory at Yankee Stadium, a place where he’d been dreadful this year. As Red Sox manager John Farrell said candidly after the game, Boston thought they’d have a good shot against Nuno, but it wasn’t to be.

Joe Girardi, who had bristled when asked about his rotation earlier in the afternoon, was asked after the game what it is about Nuno that inspires confidence:

“He fights. It’s not a guy that throws 95, not a guy with a wipeout slider. it’s a guy that just goes out and competes and finds a way to get it done. He’s beaten a lot of the odds in a sense where he’s had to start over and come back and work his way up. He throws strikes, you know that he’s going to throw strikes, you know that he doesn’t get intimidated by a situation. I like that about him. He’s very even keeled but he gives you everything he’s got every time he goes out.”

Johnson (by the way, that homer snapped an 84 at-bat drought for him) shared his view on Nuno’s performance:

“When he’s on, he’s as comfortable and easy to play behind as anybody on this team. He works really fast. He gets the ball (and throws it). The ball was popping out of his hand really good, sharp.”

Here are some other assorted notes and quotes:

  • Start the clock: CC Sabathia will pitch in his first Minor League rehab game tonight for Class-A Tampa against Dunedin. Sabathia is expected to need at least three rehab starts, so you’re probably looking at after the All-Star break at the earliest.
  • Comeback trail: Michael Pineda will play catch on Saturday in Tampa, but it’ll be a long road back. He’s basically starting Spring Training over, so don’t look for Pineda to be in the Bronx until August.
  • Age is just a number: Derek Jeter, still in the lead to be in the American League’s starting lineup for the All-Star Game, singled twice in his first game as a 40-year-old. The first of those was a classic “Jeterian” inside-out hit lashed to right field.
  • Whoops: Dellin Betances slipped while delivering a pitch in the seventh inning last night, but he was fine. Girardi and head athletic trainer Steve Donohue came out to check on the right-hander, who resumed his outing.
  • Thank you: David Robertson’s “High Socks for Hope” charity received a $10,000 donation last night.
  • Your call: This is kind of interesting – Nuno said that he didn’t shake off catcher Brian McCann once last night. Nuno prefers to let his catchers call the game, placing complete trust in them so he can focus on executing his pitches. McCann said that Nuno stayed out of hitters counts and kept the ball in the yard; when he does that, he can win.

Masahiro Tanaka and Jon Lester are on the mound tonight at 7:05 p.m. ET in game two of the three-game weekend series.

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