Hiroki Kuroda had a rare struggle with his pitch location Friday night as the New York Yankees were defeated by the Tampa Bay Rays 7-2 at Tropicana Field. The Rays hit four home runs in the first game of the weekend series.
“Overall, I wasn’t sharp,” Kuroda said with the assistance of an interpreter. “There were a few homers that I could have avoided, so I felt really bad. I didn’t have precise control today; that led to bad counts. I got behind and got hit hard.”
The Yankees offense struggled against Rays pitcher Chris Archer. But It appeared in the beginning that it would not. Alfonso Soriano gave the Yanks the lead with an RBI single in the first inning, scoring Brett Gardner. But that was all the offense they could muster until the sixth inning when Gardner tripled and scored on a ground out by Robinson Cano.
Manager Joe Girardi was surprised by Kuroda’s sub-par performance, but didn’t lose confidence in his ace.
“It was really strange,” Girardi said. “He just didn’t have his stuff tonight. He kept trying to find it and find it, but I didn’t think his slider was extremely sharp and I didn’t think he had the great command of his fastball tonight.”
The biggest blow by the Rays was the three- run home run by catcher Jose Lobaton in the second inning.
Like Girardi, Gardner also stayed confident, and looked forward to today’s game to even the series.
“When you lose the first game of a three-game series, it’s tough to win the next two, especially on the road against a team like the Rays,” Gardner said. “They’ve been playing good ball all year, and hopefully, the way we’ve been playing recently, we can get a good one tomorrow.”
Gardner, who was hit by an Archer pitch, did not seem bothered by the swelling that resulted in his hand. He plans to be in the lineup tonight.