Kuroda & Ichiro lead Yanks to win over BoSox


Source: FanGraphs

We’re starting to reach the point where we have to discuss Hiroki Kuroda‘s Cy Young Award candidacy, no? I don’t think he should win at the moment, but he probably deserves some top-five consideration. His win over the Red Sox on Sunday was his latest gem in a season full of them, giving the Bombers just their second Yankee Stadium series win over Boston since the start of the 2010 season. Let’s recap…

  • 2.96 ERA: The most impressive part of Kuroda’s outing wasn’t the eight innings of one-run ball, it was that he retired Pedro Ciriaco all three times he faced him. I may or may not be serious. Either way, Kuroda was brilliant yet again, with the only blemish on his line being a late-inning solo homer from Adrian Gonzalez. He struck out four, walked zero, and got a dozen ground ball outs compared to just six in the air. Outside of the dinger, the Red Sox didn’t hit much if anything with authority. Hiroki Kuroda, 37-year-old hurler transitioning to the AL East, is the proud owner of a 2.96 ERA with a little more than a month left in the season. Amazing.
  • The Derek & Ichiro Variety Hour: The two most veteran of veterans carried the offensive torch on Sunday. Derek Jeter doubled twice — including to leadoff the very first inning — and came around to score both times, then Ichiro Suzuki did him one better by hitting a pair of solo homers off Josh Beckett. Two homers! From Ichiro! File that under “you can’t predict baseball.” That’s it, those two accounted for pretty much all the scoring. Great job, fellas.
  • Leftovers: Curtis Granderson doubled in Jeter in the first to continue his resurgence, and it took a wild pitch to get the Cap’n in the second time … Robinson Cano broke an ugly 0-for-16 skid with a single, his first hit since facing J.A. Happ last Sunday … the offense didn’t do much else, a combined 0-for-19 with a walk (Nick Swisher). Casey McGehee managed to go 0-for-4 with a strikeout on just eight pitches. That’s why he doesn’t play much against righties … Rafael Soriano made things ever so slightly interested in the ninth by allowing a leadoff single to Carl Crawford, but a Dustin Pedroia double play ended the threat in short order. Gonzalez struck out to end the game.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. Both the Rays and Orioles won on Sunday, so they remain five and six games back in the loss column, respectively. Boston is 14 games back and the magic number to clinch the AL East crown is down to 37. The Yankees are off to Chicago for three games against the White Sox, starting with Freddy Garcia and Gavin Floyd on Monday.

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Tex & Chavez carry Yanks to split in Detroit

After losing eight straight agonizing one-run games, it was nice to be on the other side of the ledger for once. The Yankees took the finale of the four-game series with the Tigers on Thursday afternoon, using a late rally and some seriously clutch relief pitching to earn the split. It was their first one-run win since the big comeback off Scott Downs, the very first game after the All-Star break.

(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Back-to-Back

They say the Yankees can’t hit homers in big ballparks or off good pitchers or in late-inning clutch situations, but they did all of that to win this game. Down 3-2 heading into the eighth against uber-setup man Joaquin Benoit, the Bombers stayed true to their moniker and used a pair of one-out solo homers from Mark Teixeira and Eric Chavez to tie the game and then take the lead. The back-to-back dingers came on consecutive pitches, and Tex’s shot was yanked down the line to right field while Chavez went the other way to left. That was really impressive.

Believe it or not, the homer was Teixeira’s fourth game-tying blast in the seventh inning or later this season. The rest of the Yankees have three. Chavez now has a dozen homers on the year and is on a 33-homer pace across 600 plate appearances, all while hitting a cool .289/.347/.526 on the season. That is in-his-prime type of stuff from the former Athletic. You just can’t say enough about how amazing he’s been this year, stepping up to produce in a big way while helping cover for various injuries. This game had all the look of another disappointing one-run loss, but Teixeira and Chavez came up with some enormous hits.

(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

MFIKY

I’ve never been much of a Rafael Soriano defender, but that was without a doubt his biggest performance of the season and maybe of his Yankees career. Not only did he get a four-out save in a one-run game while pitching for the second straight day, he also pitched around a first-and-third, no outs jam in the ninth by inducing three weak pop-ups. Other than a strikeout, that’s the best possible outcome of an at-bat in that situation. Furthermore, Miguel Cabrera was waiting on deck when the last out was recorded, so the margin of error was as small as it gets. That was a big boy save if I’ve ever seen one, Soriano came up huge.

While we’re at it, we also have to give Clay Rapada and David Phelps some props for their work in the seventh and eighth. Rapada retired the two lefties he faced with a man on second to end the seventh, then Phelps came in to navigate around Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Austin Jackson in the eighth. David Robertson was unavailable after throwing 35 pitches on Wednesday, and Joba Chamberlain was unavailable after throwing 20+ pitches on both Monday and Tuesday. Phelps fell behind Miggy 3-0 but battled back to get him to fly out, and while Fielder singled, he was able to retire A-Jax on a little fly ball to right. That was some serious work by the rookie, bravo.

(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Ump Show

The umpiring crew was legit bad in this one. Third base ump Tim Welke initially called a ball that landed directly on the line foul before changing his mind and signaling fair, though it’s unclear if that actually impacted Raul Ibanez‘s pursuit of the ball. Either way, Welke jumped the gun on the call and made a mess of things. Joe Girardi came out to argue, got tossed, and apparently tried to protest the game. First base ump Tony Randazzo also blew a call on an Omar Infante infield single — replays showed he was out by half-a-step if not more. That didn’t lead to any scoring, however. And, of course, home plate ump Todd Tichenor had a goofy strike zone. Unfortunately this is just par for the course these days.

#HIROK

The final pitching line isn’t anything special — 6.1 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 7/5 GB/FB — but Hiroki Kuroda made basically one bad pitch all afternoon, and that was the pitch Alex Avila hit for the game-tying two-run homer in the fifth. Other than that, he got infield singled and blooped and dunked to death. It was ugly as all hell, but Kuroda still managed to turn in a quality start, his 11th in his last 14 starts. The dinger by Avila was the first Hiroki has surrendered in four starts.

(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Leftovers

The Yankees scored their first two runs with two outs in the second inning, when Ibanez tripled (!) in Chavez and Ichiro Suzuki singled in Ibanez. The old guys were getting it done early. Ichiro also drew his first walk as a Yankee in this game, his 16th since the trade.

The bottom five hitters in the order went a combined 7-for-18 (.389) with two doubles, a triple, and a homer. The top four hitters didn’t do much of anything — 3-for-18 (.167) — outside of Teixeira’s homer, but sometimes the guys on the bottom have to pick the big bats up.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

Now that is a fun graph, as long as you’re pulling for the team is on the bottom. MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the advanced stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Rays won and the Orioles lost, so both clubs are now six games back of the Yankees in the loss column in the AL East race.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

The Yankees are taking a short trip up to Toronto and will open a three-game weekend series against the Blue Jays on Friday night. Freddy Garcia will be opposed by southpaw Ricky Romero.

Domination: Felix blanks Yanks in 1-0 loss


Source: FanGraphs

There really isn’t much you can say about Saturday afternoon’s loss to the Mariners. Felix Hernandez is a great pitcher and sometimes he’s going to be so good that you’re only going to get two hits in nine innings. I was at the game and the only thing that bothered me was his strikeout total: six. If I’m going to watch the Yanks get manhandled like that in person, at least rack up 15, 16, 17 strikeouts or something like that. Rude of him to only whiff six.

Hiroki Kuroda was pretty awesome on the other side and was saddled with the tough luck loss. The bullpen was great, Ichiro Suzuki extended his exactly-one-hit streak to eleven games, and that’s that. MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the advanced stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Orioles beat the Rays, so the lead in the division remains seven in the loss column. Also, this happened. Every day that ticks off the calendar without anyone gaining ground is almost as good as a win. Freddy Garcia and Hisashi Iwakuma will meet in the rubber game on Sunday afternoon.

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Sorry folks, no minor league update tonight. I will, however, link you to the box scores: Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, Low-A, Short Season, Rookie GCL.

Yanks come back against Red Sox (again), lose anyway (again)


Source: FanGraphs

Same story, different day. The Yankees are playing a pretty crummy brand of baseball these days, winning just three of their last ten games against three teams that are a combined one game under-.500. To make matters worse, five of those seven losses have come by one run. That’s brutal. Let’s recap…

  • My Hiro: Man, Hiroki Kuroda is just awesome. Eight innings of two-run ball, a career-best four ground ball double plays … and a no decision. Life isn’t fair. He came into the game with the eighth worst run support (5.44 runs per game) in the AL and it managed to go down.
  • One Man Army: All of the offense came from Russell Martin, at leave the driving in runs part. He hit a solo homer off Felix Doubront — a below-average pitcher (97 ERA+) who the Yankees have made look like Cy Young three times this year — in the seventh then singled in Andruw Jones to tie the game in the eighth. The eighth inning rally started with two outs, so hooray for that.
  • Bleeder & Blooper: David Robertson created his own mess in the tenth by walking Jarrod Saltalamacchia and his .285 OBP to lead off the inning, but the Red Sox scored the go-ahead run on a little ground ball single that scooted through the infield and a bloop that dunked into shallow right. The walk’s clearly on Robertson, the other stuff just kinda happens. Sucks.
  • Leftovers: Robinson Cano went 0-for-5 and saw 16 total pitches on the day his agent said he wants a ten-year deal #timingfail … Ichiro Suzuki had an infield single and still has exactly one hit in every game with the Yankees, but he also made the final out of an inning with a man in scoring position three times (!) … the top four hitters in the lineup went a combined 1-for-19 with a walk and six strikeouts, the bottom five hitters went 7-for-21 with four walks and five strikeouts … Rafael Soriano only threw eight pitches in a scoreless ninth, and he probably would have gone back out for a second inning had he not pitched on Saturday … absolutely weak effort by the fans on Mark Teixeira‘s foul ball in the tenth, they let Ryan Sweeney lean right in to catch it for the out.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Orioles won, so the lead in the division is down to eight games. They’re coming to town for a three-game set starting Monday, when Freddy Garcia gives it a go against rookie Miguel Gonzalez. Check out RAB Tickets for the latest deals.

Kuroda shows that some NL pitchers can transition to AL

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

It happens every time media reports connect the Yankees with an NL pitcher, and one success story won’t change that. There is a seemingly widespread belief that pitchers who succeed in the NL cannot succeed in the AL, or at least cannot succeed in the AL East. Hiroki Kuroda has proven doubters wrong. After a rough start to the season he has become one of the Yankees’ most reliable pitchers. His results even line up pretty well with his career numbers, despite the league shift.

In 2010 and 2011 Kuroda produced a 3.23 ERA, which amounts to a 117 ERA+ (which accounts for league and ballpark factors). While his raw ERA is a tick higher this year at 3.34, the league and park factors change the picture. After last night’s victory over Seattle Kuroda owns a 127 ERA+. That’s good for 12th in the AL, just one spot behind CC Sabathia.

Not only has Kuroda delivered in results, but his peripherals seemingly line up well. His 19.4 percent strikeout rate matches up almost perfectly with his numbers from the last two years. The difference, of course, is that he doesn’t face opposing pitchers any more. Against pitchers in 2011 his strikeout rate was a hair under 40 percent; in 2010 it was 37 percent. Viewed in that manner, his strikeout rate has virtually increased this season, since he doesn’t have the benefit of facing that pitcher 60 times a season.

Kuroda does have two-plus months remaining, and perhaps AL lineups figure him out by then. But they haven’t been able to do so in the past two months. Starting with his May 16th start against Toronto (as to exclude his previous one against Seattle) and through his start July 18th (for the same reason), he has a 3.40 ERA with a 7.94 K/9 rate (21.5 percent). That’s a pretty hot run through some tough opponents.

The next time someone decries the Yankees’ interest in a pitcher because he’s an NL guy, try to think of Kuroda’s success. He might not disprove the theory, but he does show that certain types of pitchers can succeed in any league.