Results tagged ‘ Hiroki Kuroda ’
The All-Star Game will be at Citi Field in a couple of months, and there has been a lot of talk in Flushing about Matt Harvey, the Mets’ impressive rookie, perhaps getting the nod as the starting pitcher for the National League. Not to take any thunder away from Harvey, but it may not be a bad idea if the American League gave serious consideration to the Yankees’ Hiroki Kuroda as its starter.
Oh, sure, it’s far too early to get into that discussion. One thing is certain: when that topic does become heated, figure Kuroda to be in the middle of it, right up there with Felix Hernandez, Clay Buchholz, Matt Moore, Yu Darvish, Jon Lester and the other All-Star starter contenders.
Say what you want about the Blue Jays’ 17-25 start, but the Toronto lineup is still formidable. Yet Kuroda mowed through it seemingly without breaking a sweat.
“He had all three of his pitches going – fastball, slider, splitter,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He pretty much gave the bullpen the night off. He has been doing that for us all season.”
The first inning was an indication that it might be a special night for Kuroda. Melky Cabrera led off the game with a double. Kuroda then struck out Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion and got the third out by gloving a searing line drive by J.P. Arencibia.
“I felt good after those first two strikeouts,” Kuroda said.
Asked how he was able to catch Arencibia’s dart, Kuroda said, “I don’t know.”
After Melky’s hit, Kuroda got 19 consecutive outs before yielding a second hit, Encarnacion’s one-out single in the seventh. Kuroda walked Muenori Kawasaki in the third inning but picked him off. The righthander had five strikeouts in his eight innings, and it was hard to believe that 41 of his 109 pitches were called balls.
Kuroda improved his record to 6-2 and lowered his ERA to 1.99, clearly the best of each in the rotation. He has been a one-man gang against Toronto with 12 consecutive scoreless innings against the Jays. Opponents are hitless in their past 25 at-bats with runners in scoring position against Kuroda and 2-for-30 for the season. He has pitched at least seven innings without giving up a run in nine of his 42 starts with the Yankees, which matches Hernandez and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw for the most such starts in the majors over the past two years.
The Yankees tied the score right away by scoring off Mark Buehrle in the first inning. Brett Gardner tripled to left-center and scored on a groundout by Robinson Cano. The first of two sacrifice flies by Jayson Nix gave Kuroda the lead in the fifth, and the bottom of the Yankees’ order constructed the bulk of a three-run rally in the seventh.
How about the 3-4-5-6 hitters combining to go 1-for-16 and still the Yankees winning, 5-0? Nix had a 0-for-0 game with two walks and two sac flies, the first Yankees player to get four plate appearances in a game without an official at-bat since Derek Jeter Sept. 12, 2006 against the Rays. Rookies David Adams and Austin Romine had a double and a single apiece, and rookie pitcher Preston Claiborne tossed another scoreless inning (that’s eight now in six appearances). Gardner also walked and singled in a run. It was all nice to see, but the way Kuroda pitched was unnecessary.
Hey, remember when the Yankees signed Hiroki Kuroda, which prompted questions about whether he could handle the American League? It was a legitimate concern. I recall years ago Lou Piniella telling me to beware of the records of pitchers on teams from southern California.
“The ball doesn’t carry well in night games in Los Angeles and San Diego,” Sweet Lou said. “A lot of those guys go elsewhere and their good numbers don’t transfer well.”
Kuroda was only so-so in his four seasons with the Dodgers, a 41-46 record despite a 3.45 ERA, so it was fair to wonder how he would do in a league that has an extra hitter in the lineup and in a division – the AL East – that has hitter-friendly venues and some dangerous lineups.
Is anyone questioning Kuroda now? Probably not even Piniella.
The Japanese righthander may have been the Yankees’ most reliable pitcher last year and has been their top starter this season as well. Kuroda improved his 2013 record to 5-2 with a 2.31 ERA Sunday in the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over the Royals. After the Yankees overcame a 1-0, first-inning deficit with a three-run third powered by a two-run home run by Robinson Cano and a solo shot by Vernon Wells in successive at-bats off Kansas City starter Ervin Santana, Kuroda did not allow another run until the eighth, his last inning.
It was not an overpowering outing by Kuroda, who had only one strikeout, but it was no less formidable. Kuroda got 16 outs in the infield and kept the Royals hitless in three at-bats with runners in scoring position. KC would make it 0-for-4 in the eighth when David Robertson retired Billy Butler on a fly to center stranding a runner on second base.
Kuroda is now 21-13 with a 3.13 ERA during his time with the Yankees. His adjustment to the AL has been extraordinary.
The Yankees’ sweep of the Royals ran their winning streak to five games heading into a makeup doubleheader Monday at Cleveland. It was a far more pleasant experience at Kauffman Stadium this year than last for Mariano Rivera, who was honored by the Royals in a pre-game ceremony featuring Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett. Rivera, who tore up his left knee in KC last May, earned his 15th save in 15 opportunities this season and his 29th in a row against the Royals. Mo was 37-for-39 in save chances against them in his career.
In addition to his ninth home run, Wells had two other hits, both singles, and a stolen base. Wells has had a strong trip, batting .360 with three home runs and seven RBI in 25 at-bats and overall is hitting .295 with 20 RBI. With Curtis Granderson close to returning to active duty with the Yanks, Wells promises to give manager Joe Girardi some headaches trying to figure out how his outfield will look on a daily basis.
Considering all the difficulty Girardi has had dealing with an abundance of Yankees injuries, he probably won’t mind that challenge.
For five innings Tuesday night, it appeared Hiroki Kuroda would turn the tables on Coors Field, the Denver yard where he had a lot of problems during his years with the Dodgers. Kuroda was 1-2 with a 6.85 ERA at Coors and 1-5 with a 5.52 ERA overall against the Rockies.
Kuroda, who has been the Yankees’ best starting pitcher in the early going this season, had a two-hit shutout working into the sixth and got the first two outs that inning in short order. Then just as quickly, the game fell out of his grasp.
Josh Rutledge got one of his three hits, a single to center field, before Carlos Gonzalez dealt the killing blow to Kuroda by driving a 3-2 fastball to right field for his seventh home run and a 2-0 Colorado lead that held up as the final score.
It was a tough loss for Kuroda, who scattered seven hits and walked only one batter with three strikeouts in seven innings. Even with the loss, his ERA is an enviable 2.30. The game came down to that one pitch, the full-count heater to Gonzalez.
If the Yankees thought they would pad their batting averages and power number at offensive-friendly Coors Field, they were sadly mistaken. They managed merely four hits, all singles, off four Colorado pitchers in the first shutout at Coors Field this season, in 17 games.
Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa, who gave up three hits over the first six innings, continued his career success against the Yankees by improving to 3-0 with a 0.98 ERA against them. Despite his good numbers, the Yankees had hit .302 as a team against De La Rosa, but after Tuesday night that figure fell to .257.
The Yankees had won five of their past seven games against left-handed starters and were an American League-best 8-3 against them overall. Once again, they played without shortstop Eduardo Nunez, who is still bothered by a irritated left ribcage. Also, with no designated hitter in play in a National League park for the inter-league series, the Yankees were able to get only one at-bat for Travis Hafner off the bench (he grounded out batting for Kuroda in the eighth).
Despite a sloppy track caused by a steady rainfall during the game (hey, it could have been worse; snow is not uncommon in Colorado in May), the Yankees had four stolen bases, including swipes of second and third by Ichiro Suzuki on successive pitches in the third inning. Three of the five runners that the Yankees left on base in the game were in scoring position. They were 0-for-5 in those situations.
Speed has not been that much an element to the Yankees’ offense this year. It was thought that they would suffer a power outage this season with the loss of several sluggers, but the Yankees continue to lead the American League in home runs with 36, the most recent coming on Lyle Overbay’s solo shot in the eighth inning of Tuesday night’s 7-4 victory over the Astros.
The Yankees’ other runs were due more to their legs than their brawn, which was good to see. They entered the game with nine stolen bases, the second lowest total in the league. They used thefts to help manufacture the first two runs. Travis Hafner got two of his three RBI because of the steals by Brett Gardner in the first inning and Ichiro Suzuki in the third.
Houston starter Philip Humber also helped the Yankees move around the bases by throwing four wild pitches in his six innings. Two came in the fifth inning in which the Yankees scored twice with only one ball reaching the outfield. Suzuki and Jayson Nix beat out infield hits, and a dash to first base by Brennan Boesch averted a double play and resulted in a run as well.
Eduardo Nunez ran from out of his helmet as usual to turn two of his three hits into doubles, the second of which led to a run in the three-run eighth on a single by Chris Stewart. They seemed like pad-on runs at the time, but the Astros rallied in the ninth against Shawn Kelley that prompted manager Joe Girardi to summon Mariano Rivera, who restored order with a strikeout and earned his 10th save.
Hafner and Suzuki also had three hits in the Yankees’ 15-hit assault. Humber’s record fell to 0-6. He is 4-11 since pitching that perfect game April 21 last year for the White Sox at Seattle.
Hiroki Kuroda overcame a shaky first three innings to pitch a four-hit shutout through seven innings. The Astros were hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position over those first three innings and stranded seven base runners. Kuroda found himself after that and pitched to the minimum number of batters through the seventh and is now 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA.
The Astros didn’t score until Chris Carter hit a two-run home run off David Robertson in the eighth. They got two more runs off Kelley in the ninth before Rivera put the finishing touch on a surprisingly strong April for the Yankees, who posted a 16-10 record despite having six regular position players and two-fifths of the rotation on the disabled list during the month.
There was good news and bad news about the Yankees’ player transactions before Saturday’s game against the Blue Jays. The bad news was that catcher Francisco Cervelli was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a broken right hand and will be sideline for six weeks. The good news was that although pitcher Ivan Nova was also assigned to the DL his injury (inflammation of the right triceps) is not as serious as had been feared, a possible elbow strain.
So there were two new faces in the Yankees clubhouse. Catcher Austin Romine was recalled from Scranton and pitcher Vidal Nuno had his contract purchased from the Triple A affiliate. To create room on the 40-man roster for Nuno, the Yankees transferred Derek Jeter to the 60-day DL. The Captain is not due back for another three months anyway.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi sounded relieved that the injury to Nova was one that should heal in a short period of time. Nova pointed to a spot above the elbow where he felt tightness while pitching in the early innings of Friday night’s 6-4 Yankees victory over Toronto. He mentioned the stiffness to Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild after the second inning. When Nova hit the first batter he faced in the third and allowed a single to the next, Girardi did not hesitate to remove him and have an MRI done to check out the area.
Nova said the area stiffened up only when he threw curves, but that is his chief weapon, so the Yankees were wise to act quickly on his behalf. David Phelps, who had nine strikeouts in four innings of relief Friday night and earned the winning decision, will take Nova’s spot in the rotation for the time being.
Romine, who was assigned uniform No. 53, was not in the starting lineup as Girardi went with Chris Stewart, who had a good game Friday night by drawing two walks and throwing out two base runners. Romine was kept busy before the game, however, by working with Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte in bullpen sessions.
“I thought when we had him up here in 2011 that he could be a major-league catcher,” Girardi said. “But he hurt his back last year and missed a lot of time, so we felt he would be better served by playing regularly in the minors rather than being a backup here. He will get a chance to show what he can do.”
Romine batted .333 with one home run and four RBI in 14 games and 42 at-bats at Scranton. Nuno’s arrival gives Girardi a second lefthander out of the bullpen to go along with Boone Logan. Nono, who was assigned No. 34, was also off to a good start at Triple A with a 2-0 record and 1.54 ERA. He allowed 13 hits and only two walks with 26 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings.
Nice weather has finally reached the area. You could tell the difference with all the home runs hit at Yankee Stadium Thursday night. Though it cooled off somewhat in the latter innings, a game time temperature of 65 degrees signaled the possibility that the ball would carry much better than in previous homestands when temperatures barely got out of the 40s.
Over the first four innings, five baseballs left the yard. Hiroki Kuroda, who handled the Blue Jays with ease last week at Toronto, was down quickly, 3-0, on a two-run home run in the first inning by Edwin Encarnacion and a solo shot in the second by Brett Lawrie. Encarnacion’s blow made up for a terrible series last week at Rogers Centre in which he was hitless in 12 at-bats.
But just as quickly, the Yankees struck back with the long ball against Mark Buehrle, a good sign for the team against a lefthander. Southpaws have been tough on the Yanks, particularly lately with Kevin Youkilis out of the lineup. He did not play again Thursday night because of continuing back stiffness.
Vernon Wells hit a towering drive over the center field wall leading off the second inning for his sixth home run, which tied him for the club lead. Temporarily, that is. Robinson Cano thrust the Yankees in front in the third inning with a three-run shot to right. Cano’s seventh home run this season was career No. 184, which tied him with Charlie Keller for 18th place on the Yankees’ all-time list. Next up in 17th place at 185 is Paul O’Neill.
Cano also moved up the Yankees’ career RBI list and into the top 10. His 732 RBI tied him with Elston Howard for 10th place. Give Cano credit. This was the time of year with all the injured Yankees that Cano might have felt pressure to do too much and chased bad pitches, but he has displayed patience and is off to a very productive start, batting .322 with seven homers and 17 RBI.
A lot of that has to do with the protection Cano has received in the lineup from Wells (.293, six home runs, 10 RBI) and Travis Hafner (.300, five home runs, 10 RBI), who was on the bench Thursday night with the Jays starting a lefty.
Francisco Cervelli continued the Yankees’ home run parade with a shot off the barrier in front of the left field bleachers. The catcher’s third home run of the season apparently upset Buehrle, who hit Cervelli with a pitch in his next at-bat. After yielding a single to the next batter, Ichiro Suzuki, Buehrle was taken out of the game and said something to Cervelli at third base as he headed for the dugout.
The Yankees are hopeful they can get the other Francisco, Ben, going. Hafner’s designated hitter partner has struggled. He got a hit with a bunt single that was not awarded until an umpire was overruled by one of his mates. First base umpire Chad Fairchild called Francisco out at first base on a bang-bang play. Replays indicated Encarnacion at first base may not have had control of the ball as Francisco hit the bag. Second base ump Jeff Kellogg, the crew chief, huddled the umpires together, and the call was reversed.
It was the proper call, but Blue Jays manager John Gibbons didn’t think so. He got ejected by Kellogg after a heated argument. The season has not gone the way Gibbons hoped back in spring training. The Jays, who had been picked in many preseason publications as the favorite in the American League East, are 9-14 and have lost three of four games to the Yankees.
Francisco was just thankful to be standing on a base instead of walking back to the dugout. For all of Gibbons’ screaming, the play was not involved in the scoring. Thanks to the weather in the early innings, this was a home run game, and despite the perception that the Yankees are weaker in the power department their 31 homers are the most in the league.
The slick artificial surface at Rogers Centre played havoc with both the Yankees and the Blue Jays Saturday. Of course, without such a surface the clubs might not have been able to play at all. Snow and freezing temperatures hit Toronto Saturday morning, but with the flick of a switch at the domed facility the roof allowed the teams to get in a game without the sort of conditions the Mets faced on their recent trip to snow-bound Minneapolis and Denver.
The Yankees prevailed, 5-3, but not without a struggle. They had the dubious defense of the Blue Jays to thank for this one. A two-base throwing error by relief pitcher Aaron Loup let what proved the deciding runs to score in the 11th inning. Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie ranged too far off third base on a sacrifice bunt by Ichiro Suzuki, a daring move infielders often make on the fast surface there, and could not get back to the bag in time to make a play on Loup’s throw that went down the left field line and let the tiebreaking runs score.
Back in the fifth inning, Lawrie couldn’t handle a scorching line drive by Kevin Youkilis that went off his glove and into left field for a two-run single that had given the Yankees a 3-0 lead. Youkilis ended up having to come out of the game when his back stiffened up playing on the hard turf. Shoddy defense hurt the Blue Jays Friday night as well with the Yankees getting two gift runs due to a throwing error by center fielder Colby Rasmus that might have just as well been charged to catcher J.P. Arencibia, who was out of position to take the rally.
The Yankees will always take advantage of being given extra outs by the opposition. The turf played a part in the Jays’ tying the score with a three-run eighth that hung a tough no-decision on Hiroki Kuroda, who stretched his scoreless innings streak to 20 2/3 before that inning and lowered his season ERA to 2.35.
Lyle Overbay, who replaced Youkilis at first base, could not stop a rug-cutting grounder by Rasmus that went into right field for a one-out single. David Robertson came on and got a big strikeout of Maicer Izturis for the second out. But a walk to pinch hitter Adam Lind preceded a single by Rajai Davis on a hanging curve on a 0-2 count to score the run that ended Kuroda’s streak.
Davis then made a big play with a steal of second base. And the day after Overbay and Vernon Wells hurt their former Blue Jays team, Melky Cabrera did the same to the Yankees with a single to center that knotted the score.
Mariano Rivera withstood a leadoff double by Jose Bautista in the bottom of the 11th for his fifth save. The winning pitcher was Sean Kelley, who did a nice job of relief in the 10th after Toronto got a runner to second base with one out against Boone Logan. Kelley retired Davis on an infield pop and Cabrera on a grounder to the right side.
Kuroda was coming off a complete-game shutout last Sunday against the Orioles and was just as stingy over the first six innings by limiting the Jays to two hits. He finished with a three-hit effort with one walk and seven strikeouts. Wells had another big game at his old yard with 3-for-5, including his fifth home run.
Pitchers seem to be taking aim at Eduardo Nunez this year. Nunez, who is holding down the shortstop position until Derek Jeter can return to the Yankees from the disabled list, was knocked out of a game for the second time in a week after being hit by a pitch in the second inning Friday night by the Orioles’ Miguel Gonzalez.
A week ago Friday, Nunez was plugged in the right biceps by the Tigers’ Doug Fister at Detroit and had to sit out the next two games. This time, it was a fastball to the right wrist that got Nunez on the last type of night (42 degrees at game time) a player wants the ball to hit him, not that any player ever really wants to be hit.
Nunez clearly was in a lot of pain but after being treated behind the plate by trainer Steve Donohue remained in the game, at least briefly. Nunez gave it to the old college try and went to his position at the start of the third inning, but after making one practice throw indicated to the dugout that he could not continue and was replaced by Jayson Nix.
Also under the weather, pardon the pun, Friday night was Andy Pettitte, whose was supposed to start Saturday against the Orioles but was pushed back to Tuesday night or perhaps Wednesday night during the Yankees’ inter-league series against the Diamondbacks. Pettitte is bothered by back spasms. Andy said he felt something in his back in his last start and had some treatment afterward, but the back tightened up during the night Thursday. At this point, the condition does not appear major, just a reminder that the lefthander is 40 years old.
Phil Hughes will start in Pettitte’s place Saturday with Hiroki Kuroda scheduled to start Sunday night’s series finale.
I thought it was nice to see Tigers fans cheer for Brennan Boesch during home-opening day ceremonies last Friday in Detroit even though he was now playing for the Yankees. But that was nothing compared to the response from Cleveland fans before the Indians’ home opener Monday toward Travis Hafner. You would have thought the Yankees’ designated hitter was still a member of the Tribe the way the local fans treated him.
It was obvious that Indians fans had fond feelings for Hafner, who slugged 200 home runs in 10 seasons in Cleveland. Hafner’s “thank you” response was a bit harsh, however. Wearing the No. 33 uniform that Nick Swisher, now playing first base for the Indians, had worn in his four seasons with the Yankees, Hafner quieted down the home crowd in the first inning with a three-run home run off righthander Ubaldo Jimenez.
Hiroki Kuroda gave back all of that lead in the bottom of the first, an indication that he might still have been bothered by the right middle finger he injured in his previous start. Hafner put the Yankees back in front with a run-scoring single in the third. Kuroda found himself and pitched into the sixth while the Yankees’ bats stayed as productive as they were Sunday at Detroit to ruin the home opener for the Indians to the tune of 11-6.
It turned out to be a big day for Hafner, who along with fellow newcomers Kevin Youkilis and Vernon Wells is off to a terrific start with the new club. Hafner walked and scored in each of his next two at-bats. He is batting .391 with two home runs and six RBI. Hafner has also scored six runs, the most on the team.
Hafner had the better day between him and Swisher, who reached base three times with a single and a pair of walks and scored a run. Swish made a remark before the game that he was “hurt” that the Yankees did not make him a contract offer, which was not true. They were willing to tender him for $13 million in 2013, but he chose to look elsewhere for a long-term deal and got it from the Indians at $56 million for four years, far too steep for the Yankees to consider for a 32-year-old switch hitter who batted .162 in 130 postseason at-bats for them the past four seasons.
Youkilis had another hit to extend his hitting streak to all seven of the Yankees’ games and is batting .370 with a .433 on-base percentage, one home run and four RBI. Wells had a double and two singles, stole a base and scored a run. He is batting .381 with two home runs and four RBI. All three of Wells’ hits were to right field, which is as many as he had all last year in 243 at-bats with the Angels.
The newcomers in the lineup have out-shown the holdovers in the Yankees’ lineup thus far, but Robinson Cano let himself be heard finally. Entering the game with a .130 batting average, no extra-base hits or RBI, Cano broke out big-time with two home runs, a double, a walk, two RBI and four runs scored.
A spotlight has been Cano since the season opener. He is eligible to become a free agent after the season and has already been engaged in negotiations toward a contract extension with the Yanks, who traditionally have not held contract talks with players during seasons but have indicated a willingness to do so in his case.
With regulars Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira all on the disabled list, Cano has been somewhat naked in the lineup. Nevertheless, Youkilis and Hafner and Wells have done their part to give Robinson protection, so it was encouraging to see him have such a big day Monday.
The Yankees’ offense that had been so criticized during spring training continues to click. They have raised their team batting average 39 points over the past two 13-hit games. And manager Joe Girardi can stop saying that the Yankees won’t hit a lot of home runs. The have out-homered opponents, 10-4, and are at a pace for a 230-homer season, which is not shabby.