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Yankees’ Nova Confident, Ready For 2011 Debut

Ivan Nova (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Ivan Nova (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – The Yankees host the Twins on Monday to start a four-game set as the teams play for the first time since New York swept Minnesota in the ALDS last October.

Regular season or postseason, the Yankees have consistently dominated the Twins. In steps Ivan Nova, New York’s young starter, eager to put his stamp on the series.

“I have confidence, I don’t see a reason why I have to be nervous,” Nova said on Sunday. “If I can keep thinking the way I was thinking and the way I was working I think it’s going to be a good year.”

After claiming a rotation spot with a solid spring training, Nova will try to justify manager Joe Girardi’s faith in him.

“I’ve been waiting for this season and I get to open the season with the big club,” he said. “I’m excited about it.”

“He’s really good when he works his fastball down in the zone and just find a way to get his breaking ball over for a strike just to keep the hitters off the fastball,” Russell Martin explained. “But the main thing is working the ball down in the zone early and elevate up with two strikes, but just get one of his breaking balls going.”

The 24-year-old right-hander was 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in seven starts and 10 total appearances as a rookie last year, striking out 26 in 42 innings. In his lone appearance against the Twins last May, Nova allowed two hits in a scoreless inning of relief.

“I did my best, but I didn’t pitch too well,” said Nova. “This year is different. But I don’t think about what happened in the past.”

New York (2-1) has won all four postseason series between the teams since 2003, and last year’s sweep extended its playoff winning streak over the Twins to nine games. Minnesota did snap a 10-game regular-season losing streak at New York with a 6-3 win May 16, but has dropped 11 of 13 overall to the Yankees in the last two regular seasons.

“Some people say it’s great to get them out of the way, but… it might not be that great to get them out of the way,” manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins’ official website. “We just have to play – play the schedule out. We just want to survive and get to our home field.”

Minnesota (1-2) got off to a slow start by dropping two of three at Toronto, avoiding a sweep with a 4-3 victory Sunday. The victory didn’t come without drama, as closer Joe Nathan gave up a run before working out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth for his first save since 2009 after missing last year due to Tommy John surgery.

While the Twins were able to avoid a sweep this past weekend, the Yankees (2-1) failed to complete one Sunday following a 10-7 defeat to the Tigers. New York wasted four homers – two by Jorge Posada – as both Phil Hughes and Bartolo Colon struggled to keep Detroit off the basepaths.

“Obviously you want to bring out that broom in your first series, but you’ve got to give them credit,” Nick Swisher told the Yankees’ official website.

Mark Teixeira continued his torrid start with his third homer in his many games, joining Dave Winfield (1983) as the only Yankees to go deep in the first three games of the season. It’s a stark reversal from Teixeira’s miserable start to 2010, when he hit .136 with two homers in April. The switch-hitting first baseman has batted well versus Baker, going 6 for 12 with a home run and double.

Will Nova come up big against the Twins? Make your prediction in the comments below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)