It looked early like Milone might have a very short outing. Derek Jeter led off the game with a single to left. Curtis Granderson walked. But then Mark Teixeira fouled out to third. The third baseman had to run forty yards to make the catch and once again, that was out out in Oakland that would not be an out in any other ballpark in baseball. Alex Rodriguez singled to right in a nifty bit of going with the pitch. But Jeter was conservatively held at third to load the bases. Two terrible at-bats followed as both Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher limply popped out to end the threat.
Jones started the top of the second with his monster homer on the first pitch he saw and then Jayson Nix hit a booming double to the wall in right-center. But in a moment of complete insanity, Joe Girardi had Chris Stewart bunt for a sacrifice. Stewart popped the bunt up and it was caught by the charging third baseman for a gift out. Jeter then hit a ball sharply in the shortstop hole but Cliff Pennington made a nice play with the backhand and threw Jeter out. Granderson then flew out to center. Once again, Milone escaped.
The Yankees had another chance in the third as Mark Teixeira hit a rope double over the third baseman’s head to lead off the inning. A-Rod grounded out weakly to third but then Cano walked. Nick Swisher started swinging at Milone’s breaking ball before Milone even threw it and struck out. Swisher cannot hit a breaking ball right now and has zero pitch recognition. Jones then grounded out to end the threat.
Both Kuroda and Milone settled into a groove after that. Well, that’s not quite right as Kuroda was in a groove all game. He faced the minimum amount of batters in the first three innings and was never in serious danger of allowing a run after that. Milone got the Yankees in order in the fourth and fifth and worked around a one-out single by Swisher in the sixth.
Milone then got the first two outs in the seventh but Granderson singled with two outs and would score on Teixeira’s second double of the game, this one to deep right-center. Since there were two outs, Granderson was off on contact and scored easily on the play. The Yankees had a 2-0 lead which seemed insurmountable at that point. It was also the end of Tommy Milone’s day. It was a hard luck loss for Milone as he really battled all day. The loss brings his record to 6-4 with a 3.64 ERA.
Kuroda ran into a little trouble in the seventh. Coco Crisp singled and after a Josh Reddick fly out, stole second. Seth Smith walked and Crisp stole third to make it first and third with one out. But Kuroda struck out Kila Ka’aihue and retired Josh Donaldson on a pop up to end the inning.
After that little jam in the seventh, it was a bit surprising to see Kuroda come out of the dugout in the eighth, but it ended up being a good decision as Kuroda retired the side in order. Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth and gave up a two-out single to Reddick, but struck out two to record his fifth save in as many chances. Kuroda improved his record to 4-6 and lowered his ERA to 3.98.
The sweep edged the Yankees a little closer to the top as the Orioles lost two of three over the weekend. The Yankees are now two and a half games behind the Orioles and Rays, who are tied with the division lead. The Rays won today on a blown save in Boston and took two of three from the Red Sox over the weekend. The Blue Jays had a brutal weekend in Texas and are now two and a half games behind the Yankees. The Red Sox are a half a game behind the Blue Jays.
Hiroki Kuroda: Again, did he pitch that well or was it the competition he faced? Ah well, he done good.
Mark Teixeira: Went two for four with two doubles and brought his average up over .250 to .254. He’s coming.
Andruw Jones: This is all Jones has to do for the Yankees. Play the occasional game against a lefty and blast an occasional homer. Mission accomplished.
Rafael Soriano: He is allergic to 1-2-3 innings and misses more spots than he hits. But it’s working.
Fossils in the Coliseum:
Nick Swisher: Swisher had a hit in four at bats, but stranded five base runners all by himself and looks awful at the plate right now.
Robinson Cano: Zero for three with a walk and two lousy at bats with runners in scoring position.
Chris Stewart: Went without a hit in four at bats with two strikeouts and that dumb bunt pop up (not his fault). But he did make another beautiful throw to second to nab Weeks trying to steal and caught another great pitching outing. His catcher ERA has be to mighty fine right about now.
The Yankees travel to Anaheim or wherever those Angels happen to play to face Jered Weaver tomorrow. Phil Hughes will get the start for the Yankees. The game starts at 9:05 E.T., which is just plain wrong. On a holiday like Memorial Day, all the games should be during the day. But whatever.