That would prove to be more than enough for Kuroda, who was never really in trouble again. He allowed one runner in each of the second, third, and fourth innings, with two of those coming on a bunt single by Aybar and a single by Pujols, before putting two on in the fifth by walking Maicer Izturis and allowing a single by Peter Bourjos, but that would be the extent of the Angels threat on this day, and Kuroda would go on to pitch three consecutive perfect innings headed into the 9th. In fact, Izturis was the only Angel to so much as reach second base on the afternoon.
Offensively, the Yankees would tack on two more runs on a couple of solo home runs by Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson. For A-Rod, it was his first home run and RBI of the season, and the 630th home run of his career, moving him into a tie with former Seattle teammate Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth place on the all-time list.
This day was all about Kuroda, however, who entered the ninth inning looking to finish the complete game shutout before being removed after Abreu’s single following a five pitch at bat to lead off the final frame. At that point, Girardi decided to turn the game over to David Robertson, which was a bit of a strange decision given the 5-0 Yankee lead at the time, but the Angels did have Pujols and Morales batting and I suppose Robertson needs a little extra work after missing time in Spring Training, so I won’t quibble with it too much. In any event, Robertson promptly got Pujols to ground into a double play and struck out Morales with a pretty 2-2 changeup to close out the victory for the Bombers.
With the win, the Yankees have now won four in a row following their opening series sweep at the hands of the Rays, and are above .500 for the first time in 2012.
Hiroki Kuroda: Without question the star of today’s game, Kuroda made his Yankee Stadium debut in the grandest of fashions. His final line for the day: 8 innings pitch, 0 runs allowed, 5 hits, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts.
Alex Rodriguez: A-Rod had been off to a slow start to the year through the first road trip, but I thought he’d been doing an okay job at the plate, getting good swings and not pressing as the hits didn’t fall in the first week. Today the results were definitely there, however, as Alex went 3-4 with the home run and two runs scored.
Nick Swisher: Swisher’s first inning double was arguably the single biggest moment of the game for the Yankees, and exactly the sort of clutch hit the Yankees get accused of not being able to come up with when things aren’t going well. The Yankees really needed to make hay off of Santana’s first inning struggle with the middle of the order, and Swisher came through big time. Come July or August, that ball probably carries over the wall for a grand slam, but there’s nothing wrong with a three RBI double by any means.
Raul Ibanez: The Yankees’ DH was the only member of the lineup not to reach base, going 0-4 with a strikeout. Yeah, I’m nitpicking here, it was that kind of game. Just be happy about that, mmmkay?
The Yankees will go for there fifth straight win when they meet the Angels in another matinee affair tomorrow at the stadium. The Bombers will get their first look at C.J. Wilson in an Angels’ uniform, as he’ll take to the mound for the Halos to oppose Phil Hughes and the pinstripers. First pitch is at 1:05 P.M. and, what do you know, it’s the first Fox game of the season. Yay?