Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Kuroda Might be the Answer to Yanks' Pitching Prayers

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, AUGUST 13- Joe Girardi said 35 more wins would be needed in order for the New York Yankees to make the post season this October. It does mean the pitching rotation will have to do their part if that is going to happen with CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes needing to make the adjustments and get back on the winning track.

Though the odds are against them, New York is not entirely out of the playoff picture. The wild card is not out of range seven-games from the second spot coming into play Monday night against the Angels in the Bronx

One arm in that rotation, right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, Monday night once again gave the Yankees another superb outing in the Yankees 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels. Kuroada has been Mr. reliable for Giaradi. As has been Ivan Nova, 5-4 and a 2.93 ERA who gets the ball Wednesday night in game three of the series against the Angels.

So, there was Kuroda again on the mound. One ground ball out after another. Getting the strikeout again when it was needed as he two-hit the Angels for eight-innings on 107 pitches before Girardi went to his bullpen.

In the eighth inning, a 1-0 lead was in jeopardy. Kuroda used his effective slider and got pinch hitter Hank Conger to pop out to Eduardo Nunez at short in between Robinson Cano. That has been the type of innings Kuroda has been giving the Yankees who improved to 11-7 with an ERA of 2.33.

“With the close games I wanted to avoid big home runs,” commented Kuroda through his interpreter. “I was able to keep the4 ball down.”

Girardi knew he did not have Mariano Rivera available. The all-time saves leader had blown the last three games. But, Rivera was due for a day off after consulting with Girardi and pitching Coach Larry Rotschild,

“He gave us those eight innings,” said Girardi about Kuroda who has held opponents scoreless for the fifth time in his last seven starts. That’s how good has Kuroda been and the Angles only reached base four times

He has a Major League high nine scoreless starts overall this season. And compared to Sabathia and Hughes, both leaders in giving up the home run ball in the American league, Kuroda has not allowed one in his last 51.0 innings, the longest such streak in a single season of his career.

“He kept us off balance,” said the Angels’ Mike Trout. “A lot of fastball counts, he threw off speed and like I said, kept us off balance.”

Girardi said, “The bottom line is winning. We knew we needed a lot of distance out of him tonight.” In a stretch of games when Kuroda is on the mound, the Yankees feel confident about another win.

The question is can Sabathia, Hughes and Pettitte give them that confidence also?

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