(Dude's been getting a lot of high fives lately. Courtesy of The AP)
Hey look! We're back in the American League! Back in baseball civilization where there are designated hitters and less than 17 sacrifice bunts a game, and people like Jordany Valdespin and Vinny Rottino are not on active rosters. And last night's return matchup to the Varsity league should have been an interesting one as Hiroki Kuroda faced the Cleveland Indians, a team he'd never faced before, and the Indian hitters faced Hiroki Kuroda, a pitcher they'd never faced before. The Yankee lineup was familiar with Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin and looking to build on previous successes against him.
- Tomlin doesn't have putaway stuff, so he makes his living on command. He didn't have it last night and against the patient Yankee lineup that's not a good thing. They worked him over in the top of the 1st for 35 pitches and 2 runs on a C-Grand walk, Teix single off the wall in right, and 2-run double to the right-center gap by Robinson Cano.
- Tomlin's command didn't improve much in the 2nd when he pretty much put a curveball on a tee for Dewayne Wise that Wise crushed for a 2-run HR. When Dewayne Wise is taking you deep, that's never a good sign.
- Cano kept the run-scoring train going in the the 3rd when he smashed a 2-out homer to right field to give the Yanks a 5-0 lead. Nick Swisher shoveled more coal on the fire with an opposite-field solo job right after Cano to make it 6-0.
- Oh yeah, Kuroda was pitching too. And he did a damn fine job through the first 6 innings, minus the top of the 4th when he started pussyfooting around the strike zone and walked the first 2 batters. He was efficient, he threw strikes, and wasn't trying to do too much against a weak Cleveland lineup.
- The HR in the 2nd inning was good enough, but the RBI triple in the bottom of the 6th for Wise was just insult to injury. And yeah, he was out at third but what are you gonna do? Dewayne Wise: Power Hitter.
- His final line got marred a bit by the runners he put on in the top of the 8th when he shouldn't have been in the game (thanks, Joe!), But Kuroda was very good last night. The bullpen hosses needed a night off and his 7+ strong innings gave them just that.
- Cano: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI, 2 LOB. In case anybody had forgotten, yes, Robinson Cano is the best second baseman in baseball.
- Kuroda: 7.0+ IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. Smart approach by Kuroda last night. He pitched to contact, knowing that the Indians weren't a bunch of bashers and that he had a solid defense behind him, and he got a lot of nice plays to support him. And when he needed to, he threw some nasty stuff on the corner and down in the zone to get strikeouts.
- Wise: 2-3, 1 3B, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 K. I don't want to say I knew this was coming, but Wise was smoking the shit outta the ball in Triple-A all season long before he got called up. He isn't going to do this every night, but the dude is a professional hitter who knows what he's doing at the plate.
- Derek Jeter: 1-4, 1 LOB. Too many groundballs. Just way too many. Even Jeter's hit in his final at-bat was a grounder that was well-placed up the middle. He needs to wait a fraction of a second later and let the ball get deeper so he can get back to driving it to right with some pop.
- Joe's Bullpen Management: 2nd night in a row that I didn't agree with Joe leaving his starter in. Kuroda had given him 7 scoreless and had thrown 100 pitches. It was a 7-run game with 2 innings to go. Get Rapada, Eppley, a/o Garcia in there to mop the thing up and get Kuroda out with the clean line he deserved. It's not that hard.
Phil Hughes looks to get back on the horse after his HR-infested outing in Atlanta and keep the ball in the park a little more in the second game of this series tonight. Opposing him will be Justin Masterson, former Fraud Sawck and de facto Cleveland ace, which isn't saying much.