Ivan Nova has had plenty of time to think about his first start of the year. The 26-year-old right-hander takes the hill for the first time in nearly two weeks on Tuesday when the New York Yankees open a three- game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium.
These teams were both idle on Monday so they will commemorate the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in this one, as all players and on-field personnel once again wear the Hall of Famer's No. 42.
Of course, it's just another day at the office for New York reliever, Mariano Rivera, who is the last active player to wear the number.
Nova, meanwhile, couldn't get out of the fifth inning in his season debut back on April 5 in Detroit, as the Tigers reached him four runs and five hits in just 4 2/3 innings. He also struck out five and walked a pair in the loss.
"It's the first one. Of course you want to start the season in a good way," Nova said. "Personally, I don't feel like I pitched that bad. I was throwing a lot of balls and getting into too deep counts, but it's the first start of the year."
Nova will be trying to help the Yanks stay on the winning track after they took two of three from the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend. New York claimed the series on Sunday, as Hiroki Kuroda tossed his fifth career shutout and Brett Gardner smacked a two-run homer as part of a three-run fifth inning in Yankees' 3-0 win. Brennan Boesch had two hits and scored a run for New York, which has won five of its last six games.
"I thought his sinker was excellent," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Kuroda. "He kept his pitch count down, that's why I kept running him out there."
Arizona also enters this set on a high note after a series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Diamondbacks won Sunday's rubber match, as Paul Goldschmidt smacked a one-out single through the right side in the bottom of the ninth to give them a 1-0 victory.
Goldschmidt, who finished with two of his team's six hits, plated A.J. Pollock with the game-winning run after the center fielder hit a double to center.
"He (Los Angeles starter Josh Beckett) made a good pitch and I just hit it through the hole," Goldschmidt said. "Sometimes that's just the luck you get."
Arizona, winners in three of its last four, got a solid outing from starter Trevor Cahill, who lasted 7 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed six hits while striking out four. J.J. Putz (1-0) picked up the win after tossing a scoreless top of the ninth.
Hoping for that same type of effort on Tuesday will be righty Brandon McCarthy, who lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates his last time out. McCarthy surrendered six runs (4 earned) - including five in one inning - and 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings, as he fell to 0-1 to go along with a 7.71 ERA.
McCarthy walked a pair in the loss and has walked three batters or less in 61 straight starts, the third-longest active streak in baseball behind Bronson Arroyo (85) and Rick Porcello (76).
McCarthy has faced the Yankees five times (3 starts) and is 2-0 against them with a 5.79 ERA.