Category: Hiroki Kuroda

Martin Prado and Hiroki Kuroda led the Yankees to their second win in a row against the White Sox

Martin Prado.

Martin Prado.

The Yankees defeated the Chicago White Sox, 5-3, on Saturday afternoon for their third consecutive win. The Yankees scored more than four runs for the first time in their last 11 games

Martin Prado, who had a walk-off hit on Friday, led the Yankees with three hits and also had two RBIs and a run scored. In the fourth inning, for the team’s second and third runs, Prado hit a double to left that scored Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. In the sixth inning, a challenge was ruled in the Yankees favor giving Prado another double, and his hustle would help him score on Chase Headley’s shallow sacrifice fly. His other hit was a bunt single in the second.

In his last three games, Prado has six hits in 12 at-bats, five RBIs and three runs scored. His offense, defense and energy has greatly improved the team. Joe Girardi has been impressed with Prado in his three weeks with the Yankees. “He is a guy that grinds it out everyday,” Girardi said. “I knew how good of a player he was and he has been a good acquisition.” 

Prado, who had four productive seasons with the Atlanta Braves before moving on to the Arizona Diamondbacks, is a true team player. “I am trying to do whatever I can to help the team,” Prado said. “We are not looking at stats right now.” 

In the second-inning, Mark Teixeira scored on Chase Headley’s double play. Beltran, who was 2-4 in his first game since Tuesday due to his elbow injury, hit his 15th homer of the season in the sixth inning. Prado scored the team’s fifth run later in the sixth inning on a Stephen Drew sacrifice fly. 

Right now, I am just thinking about winning ballgames,” Beltran said. “That is all we are thinking about as a team. It is good to always contribute to the team. Most importantly, we need to go out there and try to get Ws.” He made a point of saying that he didn’t want to answer another question about his injury. 

Hiroki Kuroda was also key in helping the Yankees bring their winning streak to three. He pitched six solid innings while only allowing two runs. He had six strikeouts and retired the last three batters that he faced before Shawn Kelley came in for the seventh. Jose Abreu hit a single that scored Alexandro De Aza in the fifth, but Kuroda was then able to get Adam Dunn to hit into an inning ending double play.

Kuroda was pitching on a day of extra rest, and he has proven to pitch with much more effectiveness when this happens. In the last six starts that he has had one or more days of extra rest he is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA. His second consecutive dominating start lowered his ERA to 3.94 and gave him his ninth win of the season. 

David Robertson pitched the ninth and saved his 34th game in 36 chances this season. It was the 22nd consecutive save chance that he has converted.  

The Yankees are now 3.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners for the second wild-card as a result of Seattle’s win on Saturday. The Yankees gained ground on the Detroit Tigers, who have lost three in a row, and are now only two games behind them.

On Sunday, the Yankees will face the White Sox ace, Chris Sale, as they try to sweep the White Sox. 

Hiroki Kuroda’s gem helped the Yankees sweep the Cincinnati Reds

Hiroki Kuroda pitching at Yankee Stadium

Hiroki Kuroda pitching at Yankee Stadium

The 3-2 win by the Yankees on Sunday at Yankee Stadium finished of a three-game sweep against the Cincinnati Reds. After the sweep, the Yankees are now only three games behind the Baltimore Orioles for first place and 1.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners for the second Wild Card. The Bronx Bombers won with a walk-off bloop single by Brian McCann, which was followed by a Gatorade shower by Brett Gardner.

Their pitching was solid in all three games, and Sunday’s game was highlighted by Hiroki Kuroda not allowing an earned run in 6.2 innings. He struck out six, allowed two walks and only three hits. His unearned run came in the fifth inning as Zach Cozart scored on Skip Schumaker double after Brian Roberts made an error to begin the inning. Kuroda has really stepped while 80 percent of the opening-day rotation is on the disabled list.

Kuroda, who is in his third season with the Yankees, has pitched much better since the beginning of June. His 3.88 ERA is now the lowest it has been since the beginning of April, and this is because he has allowed three runs or less in seven of his nine starts going back to June 3. In July, Kuroda has pitched 6.2 innings or more in three of his four starts and has allowed a dominating two runs or less in those three starts. With Brandon McCarthy, Shane Greene, David Phelps and Kuroda, the Yankees now have four starters pitching well.

Kuroda did a wonderful job today,” Joe Girardi said. “To give us almost seven innings, and he gave up the one unearned run, he was outstanding.”

A key play in the third inning was Jacoby Ellsbury’s great diving catch on a ball hit to shallow center to end the inning and prevent Frazier from getting an RBI since there was a runner on second.

These three wins have all been at home and that is important because the Yankees had struggled at Yankee Stadium before the All-Star break. Before the break their home record was 18-23 and it is now 21-23. Thirty-seven of their final 64 games come in the Bronx, which means that the weekend’s success needs to continue the next few months.

“If we are going to get to the playoffs, we’re going to have to win at home because we have so many games (here),” Joe Girardi said after the game. “To be able to start of this way against a team that has been playing well, that is fighting for their division as well, I think was very important. We did a good job of getting the leads in most games and keeping the lead.”

The Yankees scored for the first time in the fifth inning as two RBI singles gave them a 2-1 lead. Derek Jeter’s single to right scored Kelly Johnson with one out and then Ellsbury’s single to right scored Brett Gardner. Johnson and Gardner both walked earlier in the inning. Ellsbury steal of second in the fifth was his 17th of the season, which is the fourth highest in Major League Baseball.

All-Star Dellin Betances pitched 1.1 scoreless innings before giving up a solo home run to the powerful Todd Frazier. The Toms River, New Jersey product has 20 homers and was the runner up in the Home Run Derby. It was surprising that Frazier hit this homer because it was the first homer that Betances gave up since May 17. Betances had also previously held righties hitless in 24 at-bats.  This was only the third earned run that Betances had allowed in his last 15 appearances.

To set up McCann’s game-winning single, Ellsbury hit a clutch single off of the flame-throwing Aroldis Chapman. He consistently throws his fastball in the upper 90s and has once thrown a 105 MPH fastball, which is the fastest recorded pitch in a game. Girardi was impressed with Ellsbury’s at bat. “It was really good,” Girardi said. “A guy that is throwing 100 MPH, plus, to be able to stay in there, get the count in your favor, and foul off some tough pitches.”

Ellsbury was able to steal his second base and then advance to third on a wild pitch by Chapman. McCann was able to get his on a fly ball that went about 120-feet into the outfield grass because the infield was playing in and Frazier was playing first base instead of his normal third base position. However, in this case, a single that fell in between three fielders was just as good as a home run.

The Yankees are now 13-7 in inter-league play and they held the Reds to an inept 1-22 with runners in scoring position in the series. The Yankees will now continue their 10-game home-stand with a four-game series against the last place Texas Rangers. Monday’s 7:05 game will be a matchup between Shane Greene, who will be making his fourth start for the Yankees, and the struggling Miles Mikolas.

The rotation for the opening series in Houston has been announced

Sabathia pitching in 2009.

Sabathia pitching in 2009.

Joe Girardi has announced his rotation for the first four games of the season, and he has indirectly revealed who the fifth starter will be.

CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova will start the first three games of the season against the Astros in Houston from April 1-3. It was well known that Sabathia, who has a 1.59 ERA in spring training after his subpar 2013 campaign, and Kuroda would be No. 1-2 in the rotation, but it was unknown who would pitch the third game.

It was thought by some that after signing a seven-year, $155 million contract in the offseason that Masahiro Tanaka would be the No. 3 starter, but it makes sense that he will begin the season as the No. 4 starter behind Ivan Nova. The Yankees want to ease Tanaka’s transition into the American League as much as possible, and this will only help that process.

Tanaka pitched every seven days for the Rakuten Golden Eagles, but he will now have to adjust to pitching every five days as a result of the five-man rotation that the Yankees and every other MLB team have. He has received some extra rest during spring training, where he has performed well. He has a 3.00 ERA in 15 innings while striking out 16 batters so far.

Having him pitch the fourth game of the season will help him stay on a schedule close to what he is used to from his stellar career in Japan. He will be able to fly ahead of the team to Toronto to be ready for his start on April 4 at Rogers Centre. By pitching the first game of the Toronto series, Tanaka will have an extra day of rest leading up to his third start of the season, based on a day off after the previous series from April 10-13 against the Boston Red Sox. If he has pitched well after his first four or five starts of the season, he will be ready to switch with Nova in the rotation.

An official announcement has not been made about the No. 5 starter, but it is believed to be Michael Pineda. He was the pitcher who had a leg up going into spring training, and Pineda has done nothing lose the position. He has produced a stat line of a 1.20 ERA in 15 innings, 16 strikeouts and only one walk.

He has consistently pitched between 91-93 MPH, not quite the mid 90s he threw when he was a rookie for Seattle, but he could regain that velocity as the season progresses. His fastball has a lot of movement, and his sinker has led to a lot of ground ball outs, which will be important in Yankee Stadium. Pineda also throws a reliable changeup.

“(We will choose) who we think is going to help us the most, and what we think is going to make us the best team,” Girardi said. “How do we put a 12-man pitching staff together that makes us feel the best leaving the gate?” 

This reveals that Girardi wants to put pitchers in roles that they can be successful and help the team. Pineda can be a very productive starter for the team especially since he is healthy now and has proven his ability when he was a rookie with the Mariners. David Phelps, who has pitched well during spring training in competing for the No. 5 spot, has also pitched well in the bullpen in past seasons, which is a spot that makes sense for him in 2014.

A rotation of Sabathia, Kuroda, Nova, Tanaka and Pineda has the potential of being a successful one for the Yankees.

Yankees lose the series in Toronto as their wild-card hopes fade

Joba Chamberlain

Joba Chamberlain

On Thursday night at the Rogers Centre, the Yankees (80-73) lost a game to the Blue Jays that they absolutely needed to win. They lost 6-2 and Joe Girardi, Joba Chamberlain and the offense are to blame. It was their second loss in three games in Toronto.

The Yankees are now 3.5 games out of the wild-card with nine to play, but before this series and the one against the Red Sox from September 13-15, they were only one game out of the second wild-card. They have gone 1-5 in their last six games, including the sweep in Boston, and this past week has effectively ended their chance of making the playoffs. During the past six games, they have not pitched or hit well as they have allowed five or more runs four times and scored three or fewer runs four times.

The Yankees should have been able to rebound from the series in Fenway by sweeping the Blue Jays, but they obviously did not have it in them to win three straight against a last place team not playing for anything. On Tuesday, in the game that they lost 2-0, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey threw seven shutout innings against the Yankees offense. However, the truly inexcusable game was the one earlier tonight.

Hiroki Kuroda, who allowed three runs, including a bumpy third where he gave up three hits, two walks and two runs, can’t be blamed because he kept the team in the game by recording seven strikeouts. However, the offense should have been able to score more than two runs off of a decent rookie starter in Todd Redmond and the Blue Jays bullpen.

They only runs that they scored were a homer in the sixth inning that went above the bullpen by Curtis Granderson (his seventh of the season) and a ground out to second by Vernon Wells with the bases loaded in the ninth inning. It appeared that they would score a few runs in the ninth to make it interesting but Wells grounded out and Lyle Overbay weakly grounded out to first.

Robinson Cano gave the team a scoring opportunity in the top of the fourth after hitting a ground rule double with one out. However, he was stranded at second since Alfonso Soriano and Wells struck out and popped out, respectively. Soriano would have been safe at second with a double in the second inning if he would have been running hard the whole time. On Tuesday, Soriano was the one who said that the Yankees needed to have more energy.

The move that truly made no sense was bringing in Joba Chamberlain in the bottom of the seventh. The Yankees were only losing 3-1 at the time, and Chamberlain should not be brought into any games that are within four runs. He has been that unreliable this season. Giaradi could have left Kuroda in or brought in Shawn Kelly, David Phelps or Casar Cabral, but decided to bring in Chamberlain even though he had allowed runs in three of his previous five outings.

True to form, Chamberlain only faced three hitters and allowed a walk, a single and then a three-run homer to the dangerous Adam Lind for his 22nd of the season. It doesn’t make any sense that Girardi has continued to have confidence in Joba.

The Yankees have been essentially eliminated from the postseason while still having a mathematical chance of making it. They will have to win the rest of their nine games and then receive help from other teams.

They start their six-game home stand with three games against the San Francisco Giants, who are nine games below .500, but are 7-3 in their last 10 games. After the series against the Giants, they play three at home against Tampa and then conclude the season in Houston.

Eduardo Nunez’s two-run double ended up being the game winner against the White Sox

Eduardo Nunez.

Eduardo Nunez.

The Yankees defeated the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night after they scored five runs in the eighth inning. They recorded an impressive six of their nine hits in that pivotal sixth inning. The Yankees did their damage off of the White Sox bullpen as they scored all of their runs in the eighth after White Six ace Chris Sale left the game with one out and runners on second and third.

Hiroki Kuroda did not pitch up to the standards that he had earlier in this season that put him in CY Young consideration up until allowing 15 runs in three starts, but Kuroda showed some improvement after pitching into the sixth inning and striking out seven batters. He had not recorded seven strikeouts since August 12, and the four runs and seven hits were both less then he had allowed in his last two starts.

Sale, whose 2.97 ERA is the sixth best in the American League, dominated the Yankees for the second time in the past month. However, more importantly, the Yankees were able to get the win this time as their offense has greatly improved. They got clutch hits from four players who have spent time on the disabled list this season in that pivotal eighth inning.

In the second inning, Vernon Wells, who has been struggling recently, scored the team’s first run on a steal of home in the middle of a double steal after getting on base via a single. It did not look promising for the Yankees when the White Sox took a 4-1 lead in the seventh after Alexandro De Aza’s 16th homer, but the home team’s offensive onslaught was about to come in full force.

After Joe Girardi made the correct decision to pinch-hit Austin Romine for Chris Stewart in the seventh (Stewart doesn’t have a hit in his last 20 at-bats), Robinson Cano hit a double off the wall in to send Derek Jeter to third, which would start the rally and send Sale to the showers.

After Sale left the game for reliever Nate Jones, Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run single that drove in Jeter and Cano. Those were his 38th and 39th runs driven in during his 36 games with the Yankees. He has given the team even more than Brian Cashman could have hoped for. Those runs made the score 4-3. After an Alex Rodriguez single advanced Soriano to third, Curtis Granderson’s pinch-hit single drove in Soriano.

However, the hero of the game was Eduardo Nunez. Nunez, who is hitting .384 in his last 13 at-bats, smashed a double down the third base line to score A-Rod and Granderson. That hit would seal the win. Nunez received a much deserved Gatorade shower during his interview with Meredith Marakovits after what was his most clutch hit of his career.

Mariano Rivera came in for the ninth inning and retired the side in order to record his 40th save of the season. He has now saved 40 games nine times in his Hall of Fame career. His 2.12 ERA proves that he still has a lot left in the tank and could likely dominate again next year. It has been reported that Joe Girardi will try and delay his scheduled retirement until after the 2014 season.

Their win combined with the Orioles loss moves the Yankees up in the Wild-Card standings to 2.5 games back and half-a-game ahead of the Orioles. It seemed like the Yankees would gain ground on the Tampa Bay Rays who have one Wild-Card spot right now, since they were 0-9 in the Pacific time zone this season, but  They could move even closer if the Rays lose the game they are currently playing in Anaheim. The Rays are currently 0-9 in the Pacific time zone this year, but Tampa routed the Angels.

The Yankees beat the Rangers behind another outstanding start by Hiroki Kuroda

Mariano Rivera with his cowboy hat and customized boots.

Mariano Rivera with his cowboy hat and customized boots.

The Yankees (54-48) defeated the Rangers (56-46) on Wednesday afternoon in Arlington, Texas behind seven shutout innings from Hiroki Kuroda. This was Kuroda’s seventh start this season where has has limited the opposition to zero runs, and it was his third in his last four starts.

The 2-0 win allowed the Yankees to salvage a split of the four-game series in Texas. They also finished the road trip against the Boston Red Sox and the Texas Rangers with a 3-4 record. Three wins and four losses is a lot better than two wins and four losses, as Joe Girardi said in his postgame interview. The catalyst in this win was obviously Kuroda, who is now second in the American League with a 2.51 ERA. Felix Hernandez is first in the America League with a 2.43 ERA.

In fact, the Rangers only had runners in scoring position twice against Kuroda. He was able to work out of trouble in the third and sixth innings as David Murphy was stranded at second in the third and Elvis Andrus was stranded at third in the sixth. Austin Romine, who was three for four and had his first multiple extra base hit game of his career, was critical in preventing a run from scoring in the sixth since he threw out Ian Kinsler trying to steal second.

Based on his ERA and very low WHIP (Walks and Hits divided by Innings Pitched), Kuroda should be in the top three in the CY Young. However, he likely will be closer to fifth or sixth because of his low amount of strikeouts and wins. He is currently fifth in the AL with his 1.04 WHIP. However, his 10 wins puts him in a three-way tie for seventh and his 92 strikeouts are 30th highest in the AL. If Kuroda can keep up his current pace he should finish in the top five of the CY Young along with Felix Hernandez, Yu Darvish, Max Scherzer and Chris Sale. Above all, Kuroda gives the Yankees a chance to win basically every time he takes the hill.

On offense, the Yankees were led by Romine whose three hits raised his average from .165 to .193. Romine also scored half of the team’s runs. This was a rare offensive outburst by the back-up, an once heralded prospect, because this was only his second multi-hit game of the season out of 27 starts. The California native is definitely more known for his defense.

The other run was scored by All-Star Robinson Cano, who was one for four, which included his 20th double of the season. Eduardo Nunez and Brent Lillibridge both went 1-4 with an RBI to account for all of the runs in the game. Nunez, who has been a much needed addition to the offense since coming of of the disabled list, is 9-29 or .310, with two Runs Batted In and four runs scored since the All-Star break.

The stellar one two punch of David Robertson and Mariano Rivera did not disappoint once again. Robertson, who is on track to replace Rivera as the closer next season, pitched a perfect eighth inning to lower his ERA to 1.96. Rivera, who received a cowboy hat and customized Yankees boots before the game from the Rangers (this was another one of his pre-game gifts as he plays in visiting stadiums for the last time), allowed one hit in the ninth for his 33rd save of the season.

Tampa Bay will now come to the Bronx for a three-game series. The Yankees are currently three games behind the Rays for the Wild Card.