Hiroki Kuroda had two distinct starts within one last night. (Image: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE)

Reynolds Wrapped: Yanks' bats stagnant as Birds blast three homers

New York Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda once again put in a performance with two distinct sides. He gave up two homers last night and in between looked great. Unfortunately, the Yankees didn’t have any offense to support him and the upstart Baltimore Orioles won the first game of a crucial three-game series to creep to within two games of first-place.

Mark Reynolds hit two homers and Miguel Gonzalez beat the Bombers for the second time this season as the Yankees looked listless, which is a scary thought considering the magnitude of this series. If a team can’t get up for a three-game set with one month to play, which could greatly affect whether they reach the postseason, then when will they?

The Orioles jumped on Kuroda in the top of the second inning with back to back singles by Adam Jones and Matt Wieters. Chris Davis drove in the first run with sac fly. Reynolds as next and launched his first home run of the game to left field to give the O’s and Gonzalez everything they would need.

The O’s 28-year-old righty stifled the Yankees bats, not allowing a hit until a Derek Jeter leadoff single in the fourth. He proceeded to strikeout the next two hitters and retired the last on harmless fly out. The Yanks tried to make some noise in the sixth after J.J. Hardy homered to stretch the Orioles lead to 4-0.

Ichiro Suzuki singled to open the sixth and moved to second on a wild pitch. Jayson Nix walked. Jeter bounced into a force out removing Nix from the bases. Nick Swisher struck out, one of four on the night and Robinson Cano, who looked tired at the plate, popped to third in foul territory to end the threat. The Yanks had one more chance in the seventh with two on and two-out, but again failed to push a run across.

Gonzalez ended up scattering four hits over seven innings with one walk and struck out nine. It’s hard to say if yesterday’s poor offensive display was all about him or an offense in a rut. The Yankees have had plenty of trouble scoring, tallying only 33 runs in their last ten games of which they have lost seven.

The Orioles scored two more in the top of the ninth after Kuroda was lifted with one out and 99 pitches. His final line was 8.1 IP, four runs, eight hits, no walks and four strikeouts as he dropped to 12-10 on the season. After Clay Rapada got the next out, Derek Lowe came in and was greeted by Reynolds’ second homer of the night and then allowed three more hits and one run before recording the final out of the inning. Granderson got the Yankees on the board with his 34th home run of the season and the Yankees’ 200th of the year, but the next two batters went quietly to end the game.

In this afternoon’s tilt, the Yankees (75-56) moved up David Phelps (3-4, 2.96 ERA) to take Freddy Garcia‘s spot. Garcia was moved to Tuesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays in order to get Phil Hughes to pitch Sunday’s series finale. Hughes has been exceptional recently at the Stadium and Garcia’s ERA is over five at home. The Orioles will have Wei-Yin Chen (12-7, 3.78 ERA) on the mound to try and further crack the Yankees fragile armor.

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