Remember how in my Game 1 recap I mentioned that 6 runs from the Yankees offense would be enough to win most games? Well, as Yogi Berra would say, “It’s deja vu all over again.” The offense continues to do its thing, but thus far (and granted 2 games is a ridiculously small sample size) the pitching staff has failed to keep the team in the game.
Yesterday was Hiroki Kuroda‘s turn to have a rough start against the Rays. Kuroda’s numbers against left-handed batters have typically not been the best, and it appeared that Kuroda was taking every precaution against the Rays lineup stacked with lefties. Kuroda looked to be trying very hard to locate his pitches by nibbling the corners of the plate, with the result that he was either missing the strike zone all together, or he was dealing up pitches right in the middle of the plate. All in all Kuroda threw 95 pitches in 5.2 IP, 55 of which (58%) were strikes.
The bright spot pitching-wise was right-hander Cory Wade. Wade retired all 5 batters that he faced, striking out 3 of them. Given that Joba Chamberlain will be out of commission indefinitely, a reliable Wade could have a huge impact for the Yankees late in games.
For the most part the offense looked good again, though they struggled to score baserunners going 3-8 with RISP and leaving a total of 18 men on base. Andruw Jones was 1-3 with a run and an RBI, and Raul Ibanez came in to pinch-hit and drove home a run with a sacrifice fly ball. Essentially the Jones/Ibanez platoon has thus far done exactly what it is meant to do: produce runs. Mark Teixeira remains hitless, though he is traditionally a slow starter so it is too early to worry about his season as a whole.
So far the Yankees’ two games have been defined by their inability to drive home runs when men get into scoring position, and inability of the pitching staff to keep the other team off the board. Both problems are easily identified – but whether they are easily solved is yet to be determined.