On Friday night, the Yankees lost in Seattle 4-1 to the Mariners. Kuroda allowed four runs in the fourth inning as this was his first start where he did not dominate after allowing more than two runs in his previous outing. He threw a shutout the previous three times following a start when he allowed more than two runs.
The Yankees (35-26) had won four games in a row coming into this game and need to win today’s game and Sunday’s game in order to win the series. It would have been ideal if they could have won the first three games because they will face Felix Hernandez on Sunday. They are two games behind the Red Sox for first place.
Hiroki Kuroda, who had limited the opposition to a .103 batting average with runners in scoring position coming into the game, struggled with runners on base in the fourth. However, the Yankees offense should have been able to come up with more than three hits off of Jeremy Bonderman, who was only making his second start of the season, and allowed seven runs in his first one.
Mark Teixeira has helped give the Yankees some more power since he has come off the disabled list. He is only hitting .192 in eight games, but he has slugged three home runs, two of which have been critical toward helping the Yankees win. However, he was not able to provide a spark on Friday night.
The only real positive to take out of last night’s game was the performance from rookie Preston Claiborne. He only allowed Nick Franklin’s single to right in 1.2 innings in relief of Kuroda. As a result of his 14 strikeouts, one walk, one earned run, and only 14 hits in 18.1 innings it could be argued that he deserves a more prominent role in the bullpen.
In a similar amount of innings, he has pitched much better than the more heralded Joba Chamberlain. Claiborne has a 0.49 ERA in 18.1 innings and Chamberlain has a 5.11 ERA in 12.1 innings. It would make sense for Joe Girardi to let Claiborne pitch the seventh inning at times in a game where the Yankees have the lead.
Coming into the season, Claiborne had not been one of the team’s most talked about bullpen prospects, but his stats have always been noteworthy. Between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton, Claiborne recorded a 2.96 ERA and respectively a 24.6 and 21.0 K%. The most impressive part about Claiborne so far is that he has not walked anyone, and if he can keep that up, he should continue to have success.
He has been able to locate his four-seamer, sinker, slider and changeup since being called up. There are not that many relievers that can rely on four different pitches.
In today’s game, at 4:10, Andy Pettitte will pitch for the Yankees and Joe Saunders (5.20 ERA) will take the mound for the Mariners. Pettitte will look to get the team back into the win column with his 250th victory. That would put him in sole position of 47th place, and one win behind Bob Gibson.
The Yankees will need a solid performance from Pettitte, their offense and their bullpen in order to get a much needed win.