The Yankees appeared to be on their way to a fifth-straight victory in the first inning. Brett Gardner got things started with a double off Mariner’s starter Jeremy Bonderman. Gardner scored later from third base on a ground out by Travis Hafner.
In the fourth inning, things unraveled for Kuroda. Michel Morse sent a drive to left-center field that Gardner misjudged. The ball bounced into the stands, giving Morse a ground-rule double.
Kuroda, in an uncharacteristic struggle with his control, then loaded the bases with back to back walks. Brendan Ryan then singled to right field to give the Mariners a 2-1 lead.
The next batter, Endy Chavez, grounded the ball up the middle. The grounder could have ended the inning. But the ball hit the second base bag, preventing the Yankees from making the play.
Instead of crying about his misfortune, Kuroda blamed himself.
“You know, it’s part of baseball,” he said with the assistance of an interpreter. “The more important thing was to make sure I got the out from the next batter, but I couldn’t really do that.”
Manager Joe Girardi seemed surprised by Kuroda’s lapse of control.
“He’s so consistent with his stuff, and he kind of lost his strike slider,” Girardi said. “Then he gets a bad break, a ball hits the bag. He’s probably out of that inning.”
But as Girardi pointed out, Kuroda’s control problems started early.
“The first couple innings, he had a hard time throwing strikes. It seemed like he got in some long counts, but then he seemed to really find the strike zone. He used his slider pretty effectively and his sinker as well.”
Bonderman, conversely, seemed in complete control. After their back to back home runs in the previous game, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira combined for zero for seven with three strike outs, leaving three runners on base between them.
With the loss, Kuroda’s record drops to 6-5. His earned run average is still at 2.84. He struck out six batters in 6.1 innings.