Hiroki Kuroda’s best start so far this season helped the Yankees (17-15) defeat the Angels in Anaheim 4-3 on Tuesday night. He resembled the pitcher that he was last season that made him a borderline All-Star as he pitched 7.2 innings, gave up five hits and no walks, only one earned run and struck out a season-high eight batters.
Kuroda, who is an even more important pitcher for the Yankees right now since Ivan Nova is out for the season due to Tommy John surgery and Michael Pineda will miss three-four more weeks with a strained back muscle, had his first start of the season where he pitched into the seventh inning. His dominating start lowered his season ERA from 5.14 to 4.43, and Kuroda was impressively able to rebound from his start against the Angels two weeks ago where he allowed six earned runs and two homers in 4.2 innings pitched.
Joe Girardi was impressed by Kuroda and thought that his slider and sinker were effective. “His slider was really good again,” Girardi said. “I thought his sinker was excellent again tonight. I’ve been saying that once he gets his slider going, we’ll see the Kuroda that we’re used to seeing, and he had it tonight.”
Kuroda, who allowed one earned run but three runs overall, was not able to get the win because the run that Shawn Kelley allowed with two outs in the eighth was charged to him. Pujols’s single that drove home Mike Trout tied the score at three. Trout’s third triple of his season sent him to third, and it was only his third hit in his last 20 at-bats.
Brian Roberts hit a 390-foot homer to right with two outs in the top of the 9th off of Ernesto Frieri to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead that would end up winning the game for the Bronx Bombers. It was Roberts’s first homer of the season. In his past six games, Roberts, who came over to the Yankees after being injured during most of the past four seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, is hitting .348 to push his overall average up to a more respectable .250.
In the fifth inning, Roberts drove in the first run of the game for the Yankees as his single to center scored Yangervis Solarte. In the eighth inning, Alfonso Soriano gave the team a temporary one run lead because his single to left scored Carlos Beltran. Solarte and Roberts were the only Yankees to record two hits.
David Robertson was able to retire the Angels in order in the ninth for his fifth save in as many chances. Robertson has not had any trouble replacing Mariano Rivera so far this season.
Derek Jeter is now the only regular on the team without a home run. Ichiro Suzuki also has not hit a ball out of the park yet, but he is a part-time outfielder and does not have enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title.
The Yankees will play the Angels at 10:05 p.m. EST on Wednesday to try to win the series before starting a three-game set in Milwaukee against the Brewers.