Hiroki Kuroda has been a pleasant surprise for the New York Yankees; unfortunately the offense has not always shown up during his starts. Last night’s 3-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians was one of those instances.
Kuroda was erratic in the first inning as he hit Jason Kipnis to lead off the home-half of the first and issued a one-out walk to Shin-Soo Choo. He then gave up a three-run homer to light-hitting Michael Brantley (six homers in 2012) with two outs. That was the end of the scoring for the Indians as Kuroda shutdown the Tribe for the rest of the game providing the offense the opportunity to strike back.
The opportunities were plentiful against Cleveland’s Justin Masterson, who twice stranded the bases loaded during his 6 2/3 innings. Their best chance was in the top of the sixth as they jammed the bases with no one out. Mark Teixeira recorded a sacrifice fly driving in Derek Jeter for New York’s only run. Curtis Granderson walked to load the bases back up, but Eric Chavez lined out and Russell Martin flew out to the warning track for the final out.
The Yanks threatened again in the seventh loading the bases with two outs, but Teixeira popped out against Indians reliever Vinnie Pestano to end the inning. Pestano tossed a 1-2-3 eighth and Chris Perez pitched a perfect ninth for his 33rd save of the season.
The Yankees went 1-for-7 with RISP and stranded nine base runners overall. Kuroda pitched the entire game, only allowing three more hits, a walk and hit batter after the first inning. He struck out six as his record fell to 12-9. Last night’s effort marked the eighth straight start in which Kuroda allowed three or fewer runs. He’s just 2-2 in August despite a 1.91 ERA and an opposing batting average of .205.
The Yankees (73-53) maintain a 3 1/2 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East as the Rays lost to the Oakland A’s 4-2. The Indians snapped a nine-game losing streak, their second lengthy losing streak of the month (they lost 11 straight from the end of July into the first part of August).