(Courtesy of the AP)
It hasn't been a strong stretch to the most important 10-game stretch of the year so far. The Yankees entered today's series finale in Arlington 2-4 in their first 6 games and losing a third to the Rangers would have put them in a really bad spot heading home to face the red hot Rays. Naturally, Joe went with quite possibly the worst lineup of the season to date, featuring no Brett Gardner, Brent Lillibridge hitting second, a 4-5-6 of Wells, Nunez, and Adams, and Austin Romine catching. Needless to say, Hiroki Kuroda needed to be the man today. He wasn't the man in the traditional sense of dominating the Rangers, but he did what he's done since he got here and won another huge game with a big pitching performance.
- The leadoff man got on in each of the first 3 innings for the Yanks, and they never came close to doing anything with any of those chances against Texas starter Derek Holland, no slouch in his own right.
- A couple of loud outs early and a 2 on/1 out situation in the bottom of the 3rd for Hirok that he worked out of with a strikeout of Ian Kinsler and a groundout by Elvis Andrus. At that point, Kuroda seemed to find his command.
- The Yanks wasted another leadoff runner in the 5th and looked ready to strand Romine after he started the 6th with a double. Ichiro executed a good sac bunt to move Romine, and Lillibridge came through with a ribbie double to give Hirok the only run he would need.
- Kuroda walked a tightrope in the 6th, working around single, single, walk to the first 3 batters of the inning without allowing a run. He finished up by dispatching the bottom half of the 7th with 3 grounders on 8 pitches.
- Big insurance run in the top of the 8th. Robinson Cano hit a 1-out double and smallballed his way around to score on a single and a groundout.
- Joe didn't fool around and went with D-Rob and Mo for the 8th and 9th. They rewarded him with 2 clean innings and rewarded Hiroki with a much-deserved victory.