Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Kuroda spins a gem in Yanks win

By Erik Boland

NEW YORK — CC Sabathia, the Yankees’ ace since 2009, is on the disabled list. Their ace of the last 2 1/2 months, however, is quite healthy.

Hiroki Kuroda, continuing to embarrass those who were convinced he couldn’t make the transition to the American League, no-hit the league’s top offense for six innings before settling for a two-hitter in a 3-0 victory over the Rangers Tuesday night in front of 44,533 at the Stadium.

Nick Swisher broke the tie with a two-run homer off reliever Alexi Ogando with one out in the seventh. It was Swisher’s 16th homer and second in as many nights. His grand slam keyed Monday’s victory that got the Yankees (69-47) off to a good start in the four-game series matching the AL’s top teams.

Mark Teixeira followed Swisher’s blast with one of his own, No. 23.

Kuroda struck out five and walked two in improving to 11-8, 3.06.

Entering the game, the 37-year-old right-hander had thrown at least seven innings in 10 of his last 14 starts since May 27, going 7-2 with a 2.51 ERA. In that stretch, Kuroda, 3-6 after his first nine starts, lowered his ERA to 3.24 from 4.56.

Elvis Andrus broke Kuroda’s no-hit bid in the seventh, leading off by swinging at the first pitch and grounding it up the middle. Jayson Nix, starting for Derek Jeter, the designated hitter, made a diving stop to his right but had no chance at Andrus. The crowd gave Kuroda a loud standing ovation.

Josh Hamilton came next and hit a fly ball to right, deep enough to allow Andrus to take second. Kuroda struck out Adrian Beltre, but his first delivery to Nelson Cruz was a wild pitch that moved Beltre to third. Two pitches later, Cruz grounded out to end the inning.

“He knows how to pitch,” Joe Girardi said of Kuroda before the game. “He wasn’t a guy we thought was just going to come in and blow people away. We knew he knew how to pitch.

“Now he’ll still get up to 94 at times, but if you know how to pitch, you can get people out. If you have different weapons, you can get people out, and that’s what he has.”

All of those weapons were on display because there were few hard-hit balls by Texas. One of the hardest — harder than Andrus’ infield hit — came off the bat of leadoff man Ian Kinsler in the first. The second baseman swung at Kuroda’s first pitch, a 90-mph sinker, and hit a ground smash to Casey McGehee at third. Playing in, McGehee smothered the ball and easily threw out Kinsler.

The next hardest-hit ball might have been Michael Young’s sharp single to lead off the eighth. There would be no rally, however, as Kuroda induced David Murphy to hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Luis Martinez grounded out to end the inning.

Matt Harrison overcame a high early pitch count — he was at 81 after four — to give the Rangers 61/3 innings. After Jeter’s second hit with one out in the seventh, it increased Jeter’s AL-leading total to 156 — Rangers manager Ron Washington called on Ogando.

Swisher hammered a full-count pitch to right field for the first runs of the night, all Kuroda would need.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home