Kuroda carries Rivera-less Yankees to series opening win over Halos

Mikolas & Estrada homer in GCL Yanks win
CC Sabathia, weight loss, and release points

Two straight wins? Two straight wins! The Yankees have won back-to-back games for the first time since winning three straight exactly one month ago. Yeah, it had been a while. New York took the series opener against the Angels by the score of 2-1.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Cy Kuroda
With eight scoreless and relatively stress-free innings on Monday, Hiroki Kuroda has now allowed a total of five runs in his last seven starts and 48 innings. That’s a 0.94 ERA. In eleven home starts — that’s eleven starts in homer happy and hitter friendly Yankee Stadium — he’s got a 1.54 ERA. That’s the best home ERA by a qualified starter in the AL. Only Felix Hernandez (2.28 ERA) has been better at preventing runs overall in the so-called Junior Circuit this season.

Anyway, Kuroda held the Halos to a single, a walk, and two doubles in those eight innings of work. He struck out seven, got a dozen ground ball outs compared to five in the air, and recorded 22 of his 24 outs on the infield. At one point from the second through eighth innings, Kuroda retired 19 of 22 batters faced. He was marvelous, masterful, impressive, amazing, astounding, distinguished, meritorious, handsome, and all around swell. The Yankees need to hand this guy a blank check after the season. Kuroda can’t go anywhere.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

The Second Run Counts As An Insurance Run
It’s become a regular thing to dump on the Yankees offense this year — don’t get me wrong, they do stink — but I thought Angels starter Garrett Richards actually pitched rather well. He had a real sharp slider to pair with his mid-90s fastball, and although he doesn’t miss as many bats as his stuff suggests he should, Richards excels at getting hitters to beat the ball into the ground. Sure enough, 15 of his 24 outs came on the ground in this start.

The Yankees did break through for a pair of runs though, the first on a clutch two-out single by Brett Gardner in the third (Eduardo Nunez scored from second) and the second on a Curtis Granderson solo homer in the seventh. That’s the kind of thing the Bombers couldn’t do pretty much the entire first half of the season, tack on that one extra run with one swing in the late innings. It’s really tough to score when you need to string together three or four hits just to push across one run. The Gardner single and Granderson homer were all the Bombers would get and need on Monday.

No Mo? No Problem … Kinda
It makes for a fun narrative that Mariano Rivera needed a day off to mentally rest after blowing each of his last three save chances, but that’s not why he was unavailable in this game. The team’s 43-year-old closer had thrown 81 stressful pitches over the last five days. That’s all, he needed a breather, which meant the ninth inning belonged to someone else.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

With Rivera unavailable, Joe Girardi turned to Boone Logan and David Robertson to preserve the two-run lead. Logan faced two left-handed batters to leadoff the inning and one reached base when a ground ball deflected off the first base bag. Robertson made things difficult by walking Mike Trout to put the tying run on base, and the next batter (Josh Hamilton) dropped the epitome of a bloop double into shallow left to score Anaheim’s first run. If Alex Rodriguez had two good hips instead of two bad hips, he probably catches it over his shoulder like a wide receiver with ease.

That double put the tying run on third and the go-ahead run at second, and naturally the call was to make an even bigger mess by intentionally loading the bases. I hate intentionally loading the bases with a one-run lead. Hate it hate it hate it. Of course, Robertson is not your typical reliever, so he escaped the jam by striking out Mark Trumbo and former Yankee Chris Nelson. He has now retired each of the last 25 (!) batters he’s faced with the bases loaded. Twenty-five! That dates back to 2011 and is the longest such streak since Jeff Brantley retired 30 straight with the bases loaded from 1989-1991. It wasn’t the easiest save in the world, but no one is giving out style points.

Granderson was the only Yankee with two hits, and he saw just six pitches in this three at-bats. That’s very un-Granderson-like, he works the count as well as anyone. In fact, five of the nine hitters in the lineup saw nine or fewer pitches (!) on the night. Seriously, we’re talking about 36 total pitches for 15 at-bats (2.4 per). What’s up with that?

A-Rod had a rough night, going 1-for-3 with a solid single to left-center. He also was thrown out trying to steal second — it looked more like a botched hit-and-run, really — and grounded into two double plays. Three at-bats, five outs. Ouch.

During a discussion about making penalties harsher, Michael Kay compared serving a performance-enhancing drug related suspension to being on death row. Just thought you should know that.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees remain seven games back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. If you haven’t noticed, it’s real tough to pick up ground when you’re chasing four teams. Cool Standings says New York’s postseason odds have climbed to 3.5%, so … progress!

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams on Tuesday night, when CC Sabathia gets the ball against not Tommy Hanson. The Angels announced left-hander Jason Vargas will be activated off the DL to make the start instead. He’s missed just about two months with a blood clot in his shoulder. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to be like me and attend the game.

Mikolas & Estrada homer in GCL Yanks win
CC Sabathia, weight loss, and release points
  • http://twitter.com/#!/KChinmaster KenC

    Shame Kuroda has only a slim chance for Cy Young this year considering how 1) he plays for the Yankees and 2) Hernandez, Darvish, and Scherzer will probably get more votes than him

    • trr

      All true

    • JGYank

      The only two things keeping him from winning it are his record and his lack of strikeouts compared to other Cy Young contenders. Other than that he is as good as a candidate there is.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I’ll chip in a few bucks towards #HIROK’s blank check for next season.

    Three out of four. The odds are tough. I still believe.

    • Elton Cod

      I still believe in this team too.

      This isn’t like last year’s team with chronic overpaid underperformers like Swisher, Tex, and Russell Martin.

      Nix/Overbay/Stewart/Romine aren’t as talented but they play harder, like true Yankees. I know people are ragging on Stewart recently and saying Romine should play instead, and I don’t disagree, but I still like Stewart’s veternarian presence.

      Having A-Rod/Granderson/Soriano in the lineup has made a huge obvious difference, homeruns happen again, I think it will be enough to push us over the edge in September. The 40-man will be a big help too, expand the bullpen and get some guys some rest.

      I just wish we still had Freddy Garcia buried in a closet someplace, we could use a few gritty 6-inning starts from him right now with the way Pettite/Hughes have been pitching.

      • Darren

        I know you’re just being silly, but this comment doesn’t make any sense, from a troll perspective or otherwise.

      • Ryan

        Okay. You really had me going until the Freddy Garcia comment. Well played.

        • Improbable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR)

          It was “veterinarian presence” that got me.

  • Darren

    We. Can. Do. It.

  • Kramerica Industries

    Chris Davis is fucking unreal.

    • Kramerica Industries

      Embedded Yankee Wil Nieves to the rescue. Hahahahahahah.

      • forensic

        Cool, guess I now have a chance at a win and a save for my fantasy team. :-)

    • forensic

      Bastard took away a chance at a hold and a save for my fantasy team.

      • Kramerica Industries

        Since the Mets were staging a rally, I was doing a split screen, and I had the audio on the Mets/Dodgers. I was tending to another task at the moment, looked up at the faint screen and could tell it was Davis at the plate. Next pitch, and he does one of his patented oppo shots. I knew it was coming and was still jarred by it. It’s way too effortless for that guy.

        Looks like Brad Ziegler in the 9th for the Dbacks. For the life of me, I will NEVER trust an underarm RHP as a closer. Logically, it makes no sense to me. And the only other times I’ve seen him closing games, he got it done but it was very shaky. The first game against Boston and second one against Tampa are the games in question.

        • forensic

          Ziegler has given up his share of hits, but generally is getting the job done. Really, the whole situation is because Gibson makes weird, and terrible, decisions with his bullpen. Putz was the closer, came back from his injury, had one rough outing (blown save) and was immediately removed from the role and dropped way down in the pecking order, below even Heath Bell (who he also tried in the closer’s role before he blew two saves).

          And as I say all this, Ziegler is in big trouble.

          • forensic

            Damn you Goldschmidt, easy double play (which Ziegler apparently leads all MLB relievers in since 2008) and you don’t even get one out (and how is that ruled a hit??? what is wrong with official scorers? at least make it an unearned run chance for me).

        • Kramerica Industries

          see what I’m talking about? Goldschmidt didn’t help, but put a ton of LHB against an underarm RHP, what the hell do you expect?

          It would be like having Clay Rapada be the Yankee closer in 2012.

          • Kramerica Industries

            Actually, for RHP apt’s sake, I should say Cody Eppley. In general, the point remains either way.

        • Kramerica Industries

          Well, took three tries, but I finally saw Ziegler blow a save against an AL East team.

          I probably shouldn’t complain too much. The Dbacks bullpen helped the Yankees win one game and nearly another that they really shouldn’t have otherwise.

    • Kramerica Industries

      lol Adam Eaton.

      What a wacky game that was.

      • forensic

        I don’t understand why they throw dirt all over the guys who hit walk-offs. They’ve done that a few times now. Seems like the dumbest celebration ever.

        • Kramerica Industries

          Arizona is a weird place and traditions and celebrations over there are probably better not wondered about.

  • Bartolo’s Colon

    I’m not a Kay fan, especially anything he says about a-rod or steroids in general, but all he was saying is that a lifetime ban because of one failed ped test is crazy, specifically because false positives. I couldn’t agree more and would love to know why people like trout are saying such stupid stuff like that.

    • forensic

      I was curious what he said since I’m stuck with the Angels’ announcers. Completely agree about the one failed test, there’s just too much that could happen to trigger something.

      • Kramerica Industries

        I took the easy way out tonight* and listened to the ESPN telecast. All I will say is bravo to Rick Sutcliffe for remaining completely objective and retaining anything resembling a neutral agenda tonight. I know ARod is a lightning-rod (no pun intended) of negative opinions, and color commentary is rooted in opinions, but Rick really took that over the top tonight. Save that for a studio/radio show or something. Doing that on a live baseball telecast is the wrong forum to be airing grievances like that.

        *as I am wont to do when the Yankees are nationally televised.

        • Pat D

          So…he was just ranting against ARod for the 4,628th time then?

          • Kramerica Industries

            *4,629th time.

    • 28 this year

      Tests such drug tests aren’t far from fool proof. Positive test results aren’t not at all a guarantee of actual drug use. It’s like any other screening procedure like tb tests, mammograms, etc, you’re always going to have false positives but at lest the positi be results help give you a target audience for more invasive testing procedures. Obviously the drug tset policy works differently in some ways from other procedures but if it was one strike and you’re out, that would be problematic to say the least.

  • forensic

    I hated the decision to have Logan start the 9th inning. If you really need to rest Mo (even though he hasn’t even pitched back-to-back days in over a month) then at least let Robertson start the inning clean. Also didn’t like IBB’ing Aybar in the 9th. Looked like they really got a gift strike call on the first pitch to Trumbo which changed that whole AB, and then Nelson swung at several balls rather than walking in the tying run. I know the result is the most important thing now, but I think they really got lucky there.

    Don’t understand why you’re hitting and running with A-Rod on the bases and a terrible hitter at the plate. Frankly, the way A-Rod is moving they may still be able to force him at 2nd on a groundball, so I’m not sure you’re really getting that much of an advantage by putting him in motion.

    Couldn’t believe they called Grandy’s single a hit instead of an error. Talk about generous, and absurd, hometown scoring.

    I love how anytime Romine dares put up an 0-fer in a game he knows he’s going to be glued to the bench for a bunch of games.

    But, other than that, it was a great game. :-)

    • Kramerica Industries

      That “gift” strike call (no sarcastic quotation intended) was a worse version of the 3-2 pitch to Trout. I thought the 3-2 to Trout was a strike, and the 0-0 to Trumbo was a ball.

      Very weird umpiring.

    • villapalomares

      Somebody please free Austin Romine.

      • stuart a


        stewart needs a friggin break. offensively he is horrible…

  • Pat D

    Kay annoyed me more by bringing up his “conversation” with Pete Rose, for at least the second time. In case you don’t know, it’s the one where he asked Rose if Ichiro’s combined hit total ends up exceeding Rose’s, does that make Ichiro the all time hit king. Any idiot who knows the slightest bit of information about Rose would know the answer to that question before asking him.

    On the other hand, even though it wasn’t a great analogy, he was referring to what false positives have the potential to do. They could theoretically put someone on death row in the right, or should that be wrong, circumstances.

    Also, I don’t like the IBB to load the bases either, especially when he’s already non-intentionally walked someone, but considering it was strikeout machine Trumbo and AAAA player Nelson coming up, I was all for it.

    • Kramerica Industries

      Why would it, anyway? Japanese league baseball isn’t even remotely comparable to MLB quality. That’s myopic at best to think the combined total would justify being the all-time hit king.

      • Pat D

        Right, I agree. But why bother ask a notoriously egotistic douchebag like Rose if he thinks a record of his would be surpassed? Just baiting to get a response, I suppose.

        • Kramerica Industries

          That too. Sounds like the perfect Kay thing of him to do, though, so nothing should surprise us.

  • SDB

    Yeesh, does any team have a worse bullpen than Arizona?

    • Kramerica Industries

      The way we’ve felt the past week, is pretty much the way Dbacks fans have to feel every 9th inning where the Dbacks actually have the lead.

      You just know it’s highly likely going to blow up in your faces. Such a depressing feeling.

      Thank Mo.

      • SDB

        I’ve watched a few of their games and it’s horrific that their closing options are Putz, Heath Bell and Ziegler. If only Joba could have been shipped there for a useful bat…

        • Kramerica Industries

          No need to repeat what I said above in depth. Brad Ziegler has generally been a good RP, but a ROOGY as a closer? I mean, how in the world can that be comfortable?

          Last Wednesday when Ziegler pitched against the Rays, there were two on and one out and Longoria hit a rocket up the middle. Fortunate for Ziegler about the defensive positioning, turning a game-tying hit into a game-ending DP. I just can never trust that type of pitcher in that kind of spot. So easy for it blow up.

      • SDB

        Awesome. The bullpen can’t fuck up a walkoff HR.

    • forensic

      Their announcers said they’ve put the tying run on base in 24 of their 43 save chances so far this year. I have no idea where that would rank, but they were making it sound like it’s really bad, which I can believe.

    • Get Phelps Up

      They have the 3rd most save opportunities in baseball, but just the 15th most saves. Funny thing is, their bullpen as a whole is actually a top 10 bullpen, ERA wise.

      • vicki

        this was their 22nd blown save. how demoralizing must that be? at least we know the entire game we’re probably going to lose.

        • forensic

          They actually get two blown saves tonight, so it’s 23.

          And ESPN shows them with more save opps than their announcers said for that stat above, so I’m not sure what they were talking about (maybe just 9th inning save opps?).

  • Lukaszek

    Mets once told me, yes they told me, I’d watch teams like them.
    They also told me, “Ur offense’s so bad, you’ll score one run a game.”
    Well just the other day I heard of A-Rod’s falling on
    Some steroid scandal that’s going round

    Nixie’s alright, Stewart’s alright, they just seem a little baaad
    Surrender, surrender, and give players up for tra-ade, traaaaaade

    Jeter’s alright, Hafner’s alright, they just seem a little huuurt
    Surrender, surrender, and give players up for tra-ade, traaaaaade

    Fonzie’s alright, Ichi’s alright, they just seem a little ooold
    Surrender, surrender, and give players up for tra-ade, traaaaaade

    CC’s alright, Hughesy’s alright, they just suck at piiitching
    Surrender, surrender, and give players up for tra-ade, traaaaaade

    Robbie’s alright, Gardy’s alright, they’re actually kinda goood
    Surrender, surrender, and give players up for tra-ade, traaaaaade

    • HateMclouth (formerly I’mVernon)

      Isn’t it a bit late to be making trades? Other than that I liked it.

    • CS Yankee

      Seems like you pulled a Cheap Trick here…well done!

  • vicki

    picked the right time to hit your one homerun of the year, adam eaton.

    • Kramerica Industries

      Same with Wil Nieves.

      • vicki

        jinkies. i was watching the dodgers when he hit his; didn’t realize that was his first on the season.

    • SDB

      I hope he can produce an encore tomorrow, actually. Or Wednesday.

  • Nathan

    Every year I’ll buy a few jerseys and/or player shirts of my favorite Yankees. I’m a little ashamed that it’s taken me this long to realize that I don’t have anything Kuroda.

    • vicki

      i just got my RAB #hirok tee in the mail today.

  • Sweet Dick Willie

    During a discussion about making penalties harsher, Michael Kay compared serving a performance-enhancing drug related suspension to being on death row.

    That’s not the way I interpreted it.

    First, he wasn’t talking about suspensions, he was talking about lifetime bans.

    Second, he was referring to Trout saying there should be a lifetime ban for the 1st offense. Kay mentioned false positives, saying that a player could potentially be banned based on false evidence, just as people have been sentenced to death based on false evidence.

    In my opinion, that isn’t “comparing serving a performance-enhancing drug related suspension to being on death row.”

  • Mscott

    They should immediately offer Kuroda a one year extension at $18,181,818,18.

  • Kosmo

    This season in 6 NDs Kuroda´s ERA is 1.05. He certainly deserves better. Last year after 24 starts his record stood at 11-8, this season 11-7. Last season Kuroda pitched extremely well at home not so well on the road. This season his road ERA is below 3.00. Something like 1 run less than last season.

    I agree, even at his age resigning Kuroda is # 1 priority.

    If Sabathia -Hughes-Pettitte had all showed up this season NY could very well be in the drivers seat right now. For shame.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mattpat11 Matt DiBari

    Complaining about a guy that had two hits, including a home run, only seeing six pitches is like a parody of a baseball nerd.

    • bob

      Matt, Mike,
      Exactly, Matt! We all know that Granderson has been a strikeout machine. If swinging early at better offerings makes him less predictable and lest prone to the two-strike count going on a strikeout, then we need to see if he and Rotschild have come up with a worthwhile experiment. You are too locked in on this Mike. It’s whatever may work to create the run that we need; and business as usual won’t do it.

      • bob

        sorry, meant kevin long, not rothschild.

    • JGYank

      Then can we complain about him batting 7th? I think he would be a decent cleanup hitter at least in this lineup.

      • bob

        Right. Girardi’s got to see if a semi-makeover for Grandy’s approach can translate into a far more productive cleanup spot.
        Also, if Grandy’s new approach translates into fewer strikeouts per RISP ratio (and better than A-Rod or Sori’s), I think you’re on to it.

  • mt

    I am all for signing Kuroda next year if he wants to come back but we have to keep all of our fingers crossed – he is 39 and can decline quickly. Now he keeps himself in marvelous shape and is not four seam fastball velocity driven (his run- back-in two seamer, slider, and split are all big parts of his success.)

    The thing I love about him is that he does not give excuses – if he gets a run from the offense, he says he did not do his job if he gives up a run. If I were a Yankee pitcher these days I would pull my hair out with this Yankee offense especially since it seems to be every game – we normally score 0-3 runs with a couple 4 runs and maybe a 5 run day thrown in there. Can our offense generate a blowout now and then where the B team pitchers can finish the game? So one might ask if he does decide to play in US next year, might he go back to Dodgers who he may perceive has a better offense and he could really slide into being a #2 behind Kershaw (he and Kershaw seem to have developed a good rapport when he was there based on some of the things Kershaw said about him when Yanks were in L.A..)

    These close games also lead to overuse of Mo and Robertson when we do have a chance to win. I also would love an analysis of Mo’s blown saves lead distribution versus prior years – he blew two 1-0 games against Mets and Orioles, a one run game against Chicago WS, and two two-run games against detroit this weekend. I don’t remember a lot of three run lead saves he has had to save – the percenatge of blown leads increases with the tighter lead.

  • mt

    I did not hear the Michael Kay discussion but I think it is easy for some of these players to say to reporters in the current frenzy “players should be one and done (lifetime ban)” or Longoria’s take of “people should not play during a suspension like Arod has” but I will only believe this noise when they actually open the CBA up and change it to to these very harsh penalties. The union leaders will be inclined as a matter of labor relations to try to stop players from giving some of their due process away.

    I have always thought that the best way to solve this is to invalidate your current long-term contract subject to current team approval (team approval players juicing to get themselves out of a crappy long-term deal). That way players can still play but teams can then be wary on their next signing (if team agres to let players out of their contract).

  • bob

    We all know that Granderson has been a strikeout machine. If swinging early at better offerings makes him less predictable and lest prone to the two-strike count going on a strikeout, then we need to see if he and Kevin Long have come up with a worthwhile experiment. You are way too locked in and cliched on this Mike. It’s whatever may work to create the run that we need; and business as usual won’t do it. Tonight the different approach worked. If pitchers can’t expect him to be patient, he may gain a needed edge and deliver the home run ball that’s been MIA as all know.

  • bob

    The LA Dodgers don’t need Kuroda, but, then again, there’s never too much pitching, etc. etc. That said, I don’t think anyone at his age would stay with the NYY unless he was convinced that the team was seriously doing a re-make and would pay him a king’s ransom to stay. And that said means that the beancounters cannot stick with (nor get the fanbase to act like lemmings who dutifully repeat( their 189, 189, 189, mantra. This team cannot afford to sacrifice brand value by enforcing their 189M cap. Brand value (strategic partnerships, endorsements, sponsorships, merchandising, global recognition, coverage, etc. etc.) rules. And Kuroda and Ichiro link us to Asian markets, to say the obvious. So on both baseball and business levels, Kuroda is a must. Plus, he’s fast becoming recognized by NY media for the quality performer he is (even in this dismal last season of Mo’s departure and Jete’s injury). If A-Roid is their box-office draw as the bad boy; Kuroda could be their next and needed box-office draw as the quality guy. Another line of business, in their commercial terms. And a great baseball guy, given the chance, in the Yankee legacy. Matsui should come out and endorse Kuroda; and so should Mariano. The 189 cannot be allowed to rule the roost – not with this team and our currently very dismal prospects for next year. Let them wise up and save their own brand and live up to their touted legacy – re-sign Kuroda now. Whatever it takes.

  • Conor in China

    Walking Aybar was absolutely the right move. With Trout on third you need a strikeout or a pop up. Aybar has only struck 36 times this season. Trumbo has struck out 129 times. Not to mention Trumbo has been in a slump since May.