(Nothing to be ashamed of, Hiroki. Courtesy of The AP)
The quickly-hyped "Hiroki Kuroda vs. Yu Darvish" matchup was the focal point of last night's game, and it lived up to its billing. Both pitchers showcased the best that Japan has to offer in what must have been a very prideful experience for all Japanese baseball fans. In the end, Darvish was better and led his team to a 2-0 victory.
- Kuroda was very good last night, but had a few hiccups that really cost him a great outing. He gave up a leadoff homer to Ian Kinsler in the bottom of the 1st, then retired 8 of the next 9 batters he faced into the 3rd inning, 6 of them via groundout.
- With 2 outs in the 3rd, Kuroda gave up a walk to Elvis Andrus and an RBI single to Josh Hamilton to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead, then worked the next 4 innings scoreless with 4 strikeouts. His stuff was very good, and his command much improved from his last outing, but a few offspeed pitches left a little too high up in the zone killed him.
- Darvish, on the other hand, was money. He used 103 pitches to work through the first 7 innings, and it was easy to tell he was on his game as he struck out 9 batters (including the side in the 7th) with a dazzling array of moving fastballs and offspeed stuff and also got 9 groundball outs.
- As good as Darvish was, the Yankees blew a golden opportunity in the top of the 3rd. They loaded the bases with no outs after a walk to Russell Martin sandwiched between 2 singles from Eric Chavez and Derek Jeter, but failed to score after Darvish battled out of the inning by striking out Curtis Granderson and inducing a double play off the bat of Alex Rodriguez.
- After that, the Yankees put a runner on base in every inning through 7, but never really mounted much of a rally against Darvish.
- I wouldn't have blamed Ron Washington if he went to his 'pen after 7, even as good as Darvish was, but he showed confidence in Darvish and was rewarded with a 1-2-3 inning in the 8th and even an out in the 9th. Darvish gave his team length and dominant length at that in his 8 innings of work to earn the win, looking completely like a pitcher worth $112 million.
- Bullpen props to the Yankees' LOOGY crew of Rapada & Logan, who retired the 2 batters they faced, and Texas' Joe Nathan, who needed just one pitch to get a game-ending DP from Raul Ibanez.
- Robinson Cano: 2-4, 2B, and turned a slick 4-3 double play to get Kuroda out of the 5th inning.
- Jeter: 2-4, 2B. Even on nights like this when everybody else is getting schooled, he still hits.
- Kuroda: His line was very good (6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K), he just got outpitched by Darvish. Giving up only 2 runs against that Ranger lineup while pitching into the 7th inning is nothing to sneeze at.
- A-Rod & C-Grand: Combined 0-7 with 3 K, 1 BB and 8 LOB. They looked the most baffled by Darvish's stuff than any other Yankee hitter.
- Ibanez: 0-4 with 2 K and the game-ending DP on an idiotic first-pitch swing.
The Yankees will look to get the series win, and Phil Hughes will look to build on the positive finish to his last start, when he faces off against Scott Feldman in the rubber match of this 3-gamer tonight.