Apr
13

Kuroda bedevils Angels, Yanks win home opener

By

The afternoon started with Jorge Posada throwing out the ceremonial first pitch and ended with the Yankees celebrating a 5-0 win over the Angels.

(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

Two-Out Rally

The Yankees scored 29 runs in their first six games of the season, and more than half (15) of them came with two outs. They continued that trend in the very first inning on Friday even though Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson struck out to open the frame. New three-hole hitter Alex Rodriguez got the whole thing started with a single to left field, his first of three hits. Ervin Santana lost the strike zone after that, throwing balls with eight of his next nine pitches — all fastballs. Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira had walked to load the bases with two outs.

Nick Swisher was the hero on Wednesday night, clubbing that two-run homer in the tenth inning to sink the Orioles. After Santana fell behind in the count 2-0 and then 2-1, Swisher sat on a fastball and turned a 96 mph offering around for a double into the right-center field gap and over Peter Bourjos’ head. All three runners came around to score, giving the Yankees and Hiroki Kuroda some breathing room in the early going. Swisher has driven in nine of the team’s 34 runs this season.

HIROK. (Photo courtesy of Nick Koutoufas)

We Will Hirok You

After struggling through 5.2 IP against the Rays last Saturday, Kuroda had to answer questions and deal with speculation about his ability to make the transition from the NL to the AL. He answered every one of those questions against the Angels, for at least one day. Kuroda held the Halos to just five singles and two walks in eight shutout innings, allowing just two batters to reach second base and none to reach third. Nine of 29 batters hit the ball out of the infield. Nine.

Kuroda has a reputation of being a pitch-efficient guy, and he certainly lived up to the billing. He threw a first pitch strike to 19 batters and only once — the first inning — did he throw more than 15 pitches in an inning. Hiroki retired the side on a dozen pitches or fewer in half of his eight innings, and only three of those 29 batters managed to work a three-ball count. He threw first pitch breaking balls for strikes and was able to command his fastball much better than he did against the Rays. Only 52 of his 109 pitches were fastballs, the rest were all offspeed — changeups, breaking balls, splitters.

The Yankees can’t expect Kuroda to be this good every time out, but this is the guy they expected to see when they agreed to sign him three months ago — efficient, mixing his pitches, keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate. Outside of the first inning, when Albert Pujols and Kendrys Morales batted with a man on second base, Hiroki was under no stress whatsoever. He retired ten of the last eleven men he faced, the one exception being Bobby Abreu’s infield single to open the ninth. Kuroda walked off the mound to standing ovation, and he deserved every bit of it. Just a marvelous performance in the home opener, his first career game in the Bronx.

A-Rod Makes History

With just four hits in the first six games of the season, A-Rod traded lineup spots with Cano and responded with a 3-for-4 game. His second hit was his first homer of the season, a first pitch fastball from Santana that Alex muscled out to dead center and into Monument Park. It was the 630th homer of his career, tying him with former teammate Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth on the all-time list. Next up is Willie Mays at 660, at which point A-Rod will start to earn those $6M bonuses in his contract.

(Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Leftovers

It was a very hot-and-cold day for Granderson. Santana struck him out on eight total pitches in his first two at-bats — including five swings and misses against the same down-and-in slider — before Curtis returned the favor and homered to right in his third trip to the plate. It was a total Yankee Stadium cheapie, a line drive maybe one row back. Granderson then struck out against Jason Isringhausen in his fourth at-bat. Of his six hits this year, four have gone for extra bases.

For only the second time this season, Jeter did not lead the game off with a hit. He did double later in the game. Swisher had a single in addition to that first inning double, and Russell Martin singled as well. Cano, Mark Teixeira, and Brett Gardner each drew a walk while Raul Ibanez was the only starter not to reach base. A-Rod and Martin each stole a base while Gardner got picked off first. The replay showed he was probably safe, though it was definitely bang-bang.

David Robertson replaced Kuroda after Abreu’s swinging bunt single in the ninth, and he had what will probably be his easiest outing of the season. He got Pujols to ground into a double play on the second pitch before striking out Morales. Eight pitches, six strikes, game over.

Kuroda became the first Yankee to throw eight scoreless innings in his Yankee Stadium debut since Bob Shirley back in 1983. Javy Vazquez came close, he allowed one run in eight innings in his Bronx debut.

There is a special place in hell reserved for whoever came up with the promotion campaign for the Three Stooges movie. That might be the most annoying ad campaign since Frank Caliendo’s … thing a few years ago.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

Game two of the three-game series will be played Saturday afternoon. Phil Hughes will look to actually complete five innings or work and possibly more in his second start of the season. C.J. Wilson goes for the Halos. RAB Tickets can help get you in the door if you want to attend.

Categories : Game Stories
  • BronxBombers98

    I was in attendance for my first opening day, and it was a hell of a game! Kuroda looked absolutely amazing.

  • DannyC

    I was pleasantly surprised with Kuroda, nice to see Jorge, and good to see alex get going, overall it was a great day.

  • Will (the other one)

    Swish is gonna make it as hard as possible this season for the team to cut ties with him. And it’s gonna be glorious.

    Also, no fair mentioning Javy Vazquez and Kuroda in the same sentence.

    • Dummies Playing With Balls (formerly Rainbow Connection)

      “Also, no fair mentioning Javy Vazquez and Kuroda in the same sentence.”

      But…he…didn’t.

      You did.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        True, but Axisa did mention Kuroda and BOB SHIRLEY in the same sentence, for God’s sake.

        • Dummies Playing With Balls (formerly Rainbow Connection)

          Doesn’t matter. This person lied. They lied and they need to be dealt with, Robinson Labia.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            That’s Mr. Robinson Labia to you.

  • Mattchu12

    Love that A-Rod is batting third here, I irrationally disliked having Grandy and Cano back-to-back despite being a total believer that those two are just as good against lefties as they are against righties. Still, it’s going to be an issue if I get my .380+ OBP for Gardner wish.

    I want GGBG leading off, so maybe Gardner-Jeter-Cano-ARod-Grandy?

    • Havok9120

      Nah. I like having the powerless speed at the top and bottom of the order. One of those two needs to be in both places, and it won’t be the Captain, at least not until he demotes himself.

  • Dummies Playing With Balls (formerly Rainbow Connection)

    I like A-Rod third, but who will protect Cano in the lineup? Will Cano suffer?

    • David “Stairs” Adams

      Ah, screw it.

    • Havok9120

      No way to know until we try it. I don’t see a lot of managers being willing to disregard a guy with Tex’s power; they aren’t usually as obsessed with batting average as we seem to be.

      We’ll just have to cross that bridge when we come to it. Its not as if Tex needs to/should be any lower in the order, so it has to be either Tex or ARod unless you want to move the Granderson speed/power combo around (I don’t).

  • pistol pete

    Love Arod in the 3 hole. I posted that a couple weeks ago. Cano has plenty of power to bat cleanup and it gives great left right balance throughout the lineup. It also gives Arod great protection sandwiched between the Yanks two best players. Cano will be fine with Tex to protect behind him. At this point in their careers Arod needs more help than Robbie. One through six the Yanks are real solid and Martin and Gardy are fine at the bottom. Still think Ibanez will be a bust even though I have to admit he had two big hits, one in Tampa Bay and the extra inning winner in Baltimore. Bat looks slow and has real trouble with hard stuff. I would love to see Nunez DH when he’s not filling in for Jete or Arod.

  • PinedaColada

    I have a sabermetric question that I am hoping someone can answer for me…
    In the xFiP formula “{(13 x (.106 x FB)) + (3 x (BB + HBP – IBB)) – (2 x K)} / IP + constant” What is the constant value? I am trying to write a sabermetric iPhone/android app and I need to know what the constant stands for in the formula so I can calculate the xFiP.

    Thanks in advance for any help!

    • Dummies Playing With Balls (formerly Rainbow Connection)

      E = MC2?

    • Plank

      I would check at insidethebook.com

      They will be able to answer your questions, but the TangoTiger and MGL are big douchebags, so fair warning.

    • radnom

      Why not just look up the xFip for one pitcher in 2011, plug in all the other numbers and derive the constant?

    • Eirias

      The constant is found by calculating the FIP (without the constant). You then take the league average FIP and subtracting that from the league average ERA. This number is typically around 3.2 and you can use 3.2 to get close enough.

      From Fangraphs: “The constant is solely to bring FIP onto an ERA scale and is generally around 3.20. You [...] can derive the constant by taking league-average FIP and subtracting that from league-average ERA. League-average home run per fly ball rate varies on a yearly basis, but you can find those values here on the FanGraphs leaderboards.”

  • Robinson Tilapia

    That’s what a home opener’s supposed to be about.

  • Dummies Playing With Balls (formerly Rainbow Connection)

    “That’s how the home opener laughs!”

  • Dummies Playing With Balls (formerly Rainbow Connection)

    I’d never pitch to Cano if I had Teix on deck.
    PIck your poison or somethin.
    Trade a run for an out?

    • pistol pete

      Tex has been awful when you consider just how much he makes. He’s become a dead pull all or nothing power hitter who’s not going to hit over 250, what a disappointment. Makes you wonder if he was a juicer too as his frame seems thinner and his performance has steadily declined year after year. Adding to those woes is that he’s been more than awful in the playoffs. Good thing he can field but for $23m he should perform far better than he does and has.

      • Plank

        Teixeira is an admitted juicer.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....47092.html

      • Havok9120

        Yeah, because steroids are known to add so much non-muscle mass.

        The guy is in better shape now than he’s ever been in the 4 or 5 years I’ve paid any attention to him. He hits for power, drives in runs (situational hitting!!1!), and is the primary reason the infield defense works as currently constructed. You’re acting (and have been acting) as if he’s offensively useless, and that isn’t the case at all.

    • Havok9120

      Eh? The guy has a ton of power. Opposing managers have to respect that, if nothing else.

      And if your starter is a lefty then you’re kinda screwed if Tex is batting. You and Pete are way too obsessed with him considering his production.

      • pistol pete

        How has Tex done in the playoffs where it really matters for the Yankees.

  • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.