ANAHEIM, Calif. — If there was a magic button Ivan Nova pushed, an adjustment that has unlocked his best run of the season, the big right-hander kept it to himself.
Hard work was his reasoning for a 0.49 ERA going back to an outing July 22 against the Marlins. He has three scoreless outings in the run, and in the other two, he gave up just one earned run.
“I feel like I’m the same guy just controlling my command a little bit better and making a little bit better pitches that what I was making earlier in the year,” Nova said, heading into his next outing Monday against the Twins. “I was missing a lot in the middle of the zone and needed to focus a lot in the bullpen on making quality strikes instead of just missing over the plate.”
The timing could not be better. At 4-9 with a 5.86 ERA following a throttling by the Royals on July 17, Nova has gone from looking like a 32-year-old veteran with limited opportunities moving forward to one who will garner some interest as a free agent this winter.
Could a return to the Sox be of interest to provide veteran leadership among the growing cachet of young players?
“I feel good here,” Nova said. “If the opportunity presents [itself] to come back, I would.”
Asked about going to Minnesota this week and potentially affecting the American League Central race with the Indians, Nova handled the question like a veteran leader.
“We’re just trying to beat everybody we face,” he said. “Our goal is to take every three-game series, four-game series. It doesn’t matter who you are facing. They are a really good team in our division. We don’t think about doing damage to them because of the other team [in the race]. We just want to beat the team we face.”
Nova will enter the start after a dominating outing against the Twins on July 27 when he gave up just an unearned run over six innings as the Sox walked away with a 5-1 victory.
The text chain of Sox fans in Hollywood was on fire Sunday with Michael O’Brien’s turn in the broadcast booth Sunday. A Second City veteran and comedy writer for “Saturday Night Live” from 2009-15, O’Brien was a cast member on SNL for the 2014-15 season.
The creator of the NBC comedy series “A.P. Bio,” O’Brien admitted the Sox contingent in Hollywood is not huge, but it is loyal. And he just stumbled onto a new member recently.
“ ‘A.P. Bio’ has a new network boss, my contact at the network, and we were having our first formal meeting and in the first five minutes I said I just got done watching a White Sox game,” O’Brien said. “He said, ‘Oh my God, I’m an everyday follower. I can’t believe Tim Anderson’s catch.’ Right away we were off and running so my life is going to be so much easier having a Sox boss.”
O’Brien said his text chain includes SNL alum Paul Brittain, with executive types and also actors still working their way into the business.
A Michigan native, who had a number of South Side relatives, O’Brien said his first memory of attending a Sox game introduced him to a fear of heights.
“It was at Old Comiskey in the super-steep upper deck and sitting with my grandparents,” the 43-year-old O’Brien said. “It would have probably been like ’86 or something and that was an early-life memory, mostly because the fear locked it in.”
On his way
Manager Rick Renteria said this weekend that the Minnesota series is a possibility for Yoan Moncada’s return from a hamstring strain, and the third baseman is showing he is ready.
Moncada was 4-for-12 (.333) in the first three games of his rehab assignment at Class AAA Charlotte and hit a home run Saturday night.
Moncada did not play Sunday so Luis Robert put on his own show with two home runs, to give him 11 at Charlotte and 27 this season in 108 games between Class A Winston-Salem, Class AA Birmingham and Charlotte.