(Safe. Courtesy of the AP)
It took a while, but the talk for Hiroki Kuroda's Cy Young candidacy has really started to pick up in the last few weeks. That'll happen when you toss up a 0.55 ERA for an entire month. Not only that, Kuroda's recent work has been even more impressive when you look at the opponents he's dominated. He's shut down some very good lineups and outpitched some very, very good starting pitchers to get wins. He was facing another one of those very good pitchers last night in the form of Chris Sale, although the lineup he was facing was one equally as weak as Hirok's supporting crew. It should have been a favorable matchup for him. It ended up being a struggle and another disappointing loss.
- The Yankees were lucky enough to catch Sale on an off night, but did not take advantage of the situation. It took a bad throw, a stolen base, and a wild pitch to score a run in the top of the 1st, and they left runners in scoring position in consecutive innings in the 3rd and 4th.
- The 3rd inning could have gone differently had some things changed. For one, the ump could have got the call right when Brett Gardner was called out at the plate to end the inning. He was safe. Gardner could have done the smart thing and slid. He didn't, he was called out, and the run didn't count.
- Kuroda wasn't as sharp as he has been in his last few starts. He had to work to strand 2 runners in the second and gave up the game-tying run in the 4th on a 2-out hit. Very un-Hirok.
- Another great scoring chance went wasted in the top of the 5th. With 2 on and 1 out, Alex Rodriguez lined out to center and failed to advance the runners. After a Robinson Cano walk, Vernon Wells grounded out to leave the bases loaded. The Yanks had 9 baserunners against Sale in 5 innings and only came away with a single run.
- A bunch of bad luck killed Kuroda in the bottom of the 6th. 2 straight groundballs found holes for singles, another well-placed one moved the runners up, and a failure to turn a double play with Paul Konerko running cost him a crucial run instead of getting him out of the inning.
- Insult to injury in the 7th. Kuroda gave up a leadoff double, struck the next 2 hitters out, then gave up another double for the third run. He just couldn't make a pitch with his sinker or splitter when he needed to.
- Gardner: 1-3, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 LOB. There should be another run added there, but whatever. Gardner did his job getting on base and creating scoring opportunities. Guys behind him didn't drive him in.
- Wells: 0-3, 4 LOB. There's that typical dead spot in the batting order. Right smack dab in the middle, where the run producers are supposed to be.
Series finale tonight and with a sweep at the hands of the 2nd worst team in baseball on the line, it could be the informal end of the season. CC Sabathia gets the ball against Hector Santiago.