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If you were going to make a list of the most disappointing teams in the AL this year, it would the Angels, the Blue Jays, and the Yankees. That pretty much sets the excitement level for this week's 4-gamer against the Angels, who are even further out of playoff contention than New York and looking possibly in even worse shape for the future despite having the best all-around player in the game on their team. The 2 teams got things started last night at The Stadium as Hiroki Kuroda looked to continue to be the guiding force of the rotation and strengthen his slowly-growing Cy Young candidacy. He won't win in the end, but he'll get a few more votes after last night.
- Kuroda worked the sinker a lot the first time through the order, and got the first 9 outs on the infield through 3 while allowing just 1 hit. When he needed to, he snapped off some nasty sliders for strikeouts.
- Anaheim starter Garrett Richards breezed his way through the first 2 frames, then got manufactured to death in the bottom of the 3rd. Eduardo Nunez got a 1-out hit, moved to second to stay out of the DP on an aggressive call by Joe, and scored on Brett Gardner's bloop single to center.
- Kuroda continued to overpower the Angels through 5 innings. He gave up a leadoff walk to Erick Aybar then expertly worked around it with a groundout, strikeout, strikeout finish. He was working his sinker inside to both righties and lefties and the Anaheim lineup had no answer.
- After singling in his first AB in the 2nd, Richards decided to smarten up and get those fastballs in on A-Rod's hands. It led to inning-ending double plays off Alex's bat to end the 4th and 6th innings and kept the game at 1-0.
- Kuroda continued his brilliance through 8 shutout innings, and even got an insurance run in the 7th on a Curtis Granderson solo HR before dialing it up to 94 on his last pitch of the night and turning it over to the 'pen.
- It was Boone Logan who emerged from the bullpen to begin the 9th and not Mo. A bad luck bounce off the first base bag ruined Joe's plan and D-Rob got an impromptu high-leverage save opportunity audition out of it.
- It got a tad interesting after a walk and a blooped double, but D-Rob K'd Mark Trumbo and former Yankee great Chris Nelson with the bases loaded to preserve Hirok's well-deserved win.
- Kuroda: 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K. Total dominance of an inferior lineup by an on-his-game Kuroda. He had everything working, he could locate it all to both sides of the plate, and he threw a lot of strikes. 18 of his 24 outs recorded were either groundouts or strikeouts. When he's on like that, he's a beast.
- C-Grand: 2-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. Guess he saw what he needed to see on that fastball the pitch before because Curtis crushed the next one. He could use a hot finish to the season to build some free agent market value.
- A-Rod: 1-3, 2 GIDP, 3 LOB. He looked pretty good Sunday. He looked pretty old last night. Part of being 38.
Back at it again tonight with CC Sabathia back on the hill. He took a step forward last time out and he'll face Jason Vargas.