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.
The Yankees will play an important three-game series in Boston to kick-off the post All-Star break portion of the schedule.
Every series against Boston is important, but if they can win two out of three games they can think more legitimately about getting one of the two Wild-Cards. Their offensive will obviously be bolstered by the return of Derek Jeter (he can come off the DL in a week), Alex Rodriguez on Monday, and eventually Curtis Granderson.
So far this season, the Yankees have scored 125 fewer runs than the Red Sox. The Red Sox have scored 498 runs and the Yankees have scored 373 runs. This makes it even more important for their injured players to return.
It is likely that A-Rod will receive a 50 or 100 game suspension by MLB in the coming days, which he deserves, but the players union will then probably file an appeal which could mean that it would take until next season for the suspension to go through. A-Rod has lost a lot of fans by reportedly taking PEDs for a second time, but since his suspension might take months to go through, he will obviously be an upgrade at third base.
A-Rod hit his second homer of the week and second of his 12-game rehab stint in a game yesterday with the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. He has a .222 average in his stint in the minors. This one, just like his homer on Monday for Trenton, was a two-run blast. His goal for the games over the weekend is to: “Go first to third and finish with a “hard slide,” and perhaps make a diving stop of a ground ball to his left,” as reported in Newsday.
However, it is important that Andy Pettitte (7-6, 4.39 ERA) pitches like he did in April and not how he has in his starts since then. In his first four starts, Pettitte only gave up seven earned runs in 28.1 innings. He has allowed four or more runs in a start five times since then. However, he does have a 3.64 ERA after the All-Star Game, and a 4.06 ERA before it for his career, so history says he could be able to bounce back.
In Pettitte’s first start of the season, against the Red Sox, the threw eight solid innings while limiting the Red Sox to only one run.
Here are the pitching matchups for the series in Boston. The Yankees are currently six games behing Boston for first place and three games behind the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays for the Wild-Card.
Tonight at 7:10 p.m. on the YES Network
Andy Pettitte vs LHP Felix Doubront (6-3, 3.91 ERA)
Saturday at 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Hiroki Kuroda (8-6, 2.65 ERA) vs. RHP John Lackey (7-6, 2.78 ERA)
Sunday at 8:05 p.m. on ESPN
CC Sabathia (9-8, 4.07 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (8-6 4.58 ERA)
The one positive of this series is the Yankees will not have to face Clay Bucholz, who has nine wins and a 1.71 ERA. He is currently out with soreness in his right shoulder.
Brent Lillibridge (he was called up from AAA as a result of Jeter being put on the DL), who was acquired by the Yankees from the Cubs on June 21 and had been playing for the RailRiders, will make his debut for the Yankees at third base tonight. Eduardo Nunez and Lillibridge will be the 17th different shortstop and third base combo so far this season.