In his short Yankee career, Hiroki Kuroda has frequently had trouble in the 1st inning, putting his team in a hole early in the game. The good news about today’s outing was that Kuroda managed to avoid 1st-inning trouble, sending down Toronto’s first 3 batters in order. The bad news, however, is that Kuroda got into trouble in the 2nd.
After a up a leadoff single by Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie grounded to short. Jayson Nix made the throw to second to record an out, but Robinson Cano bobbled the ball as he was trying to get it out of his glove. There was no error on the play (because you can’t assume the double play) and it likely would have been close at 1st, but Cano’s misplay didn’t do Kuroda any favors. JP Arencibia made the Yankees pay by stroking a 3-2 slider to left-center for a home run, putting the Jays ahead 2-0.
Kyle Drabek held the Yankees hitless through the first 3 innings, and Kuroda faced off against #9 hitter Omar Vizquel and the top of the Blue Jay order in the bottom of the 3rd. Kuroda started the inning off well, getting Vizquel to pop up and inducing a groundball out from Kelly Johnson. However, Eric Thames doubled and Jose Bautista walked, sending up Encarnacion with a chance to do some real damage. Encarnacion obliged by swatting a 93 mph fastball to center field, plating 3, and putting Toronto ahead 5-0. With the Yankees’ recent offensive ineptitude, the 5-run deficit felt like a 10-run deficit.
Toronto added on 2 more runs against the beleaguered Kuroda via an RBI single by Kelly Johnson in the 4th, and a solo home run by Jose Bautista in the 5th. The Yankees, meanwhile, were unable to get anythign done against Drabek until the 6th, when Nick Swisher singled in Robinson Cano to make it a 7-1 game. That would be it for the Yankee offense, as Drabek, Luis Perez, and Francisco Cordero shut the door, giving Toronto an 8-1 victory after they added another run on a Kelly Johnson homer.
Overall, it was a rough outing for Kuroda, who gave up 7 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks in 5 innings of work, and allowing 3 home runs. The longball has been a problem for Kuroda and several other Yankee starters this season, and tonight provides some evidence that the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium are not the only cause. One bright spot is that Kuroda did have 6 strikeouts and only 2 walks, and his splitter did look better than it did in his past starts. However, he simply left too many hittable pitches up in the zone, and a good hitting team like Toronto was able to take advantage.
On the other side, Drabek pitched an excellent game, holding the Yankees to just 3 hits in 7 innings of work. Drabek got the Yankees to ground out 13 times against only 2 fly-ball outs, and recorded 5 strikeouts. He is a pretty good pitcher, but this Yankee offense should be able to manage more than 3 hits and 1 run.
It was another frustrating game for the Yankees on both sides of the ball, but hopefully they can get things going tomorrow. Phil Hughes will go for the Yankees tomorrow, looking to snap the Yankees’ 2-game losing streak, and continue his recent stretch of solid pitching. It’s about time for the Yankee bats to get back on track as well.
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