As good as Kuroda was in this game, the outcome of the game was in doubt until the seventh inning as the Rangers’ starter, Matt Harrison, matched Kuroda zero for zero for the first six innings. The Yankees had Harrison on the ropes early and could not deliver the knockout blow. Two-out rallies in the second and third pushed Harrison’s pitch count to 60+ pitches by the end of the third inning. Inexplicably after the third, the Yankees started swinging and putting in play first-pitch pitches by Harrison to allow him some quick innings and hang in the game through six plus.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Yankees finally pushed across some runs. Harrison retired Nix to start the inning. But then Derek Jeter laced a line drive single to center and Ron Washington came out to pull Harrison. With what happened after, it is easy to second guess Washington’s decision. Harrison was at 106 pitches when Washington came out. Instead, with the right-handed reliever, he turned Nick Swisher to his better side and the short porch in right.
To be fair to both Washington and Ogando, Swisher’s homer was somewhat serendipitous. He hit a 3-2 fastball. clocked at 99 MPH at shoulder level. That pitch usually strikes batters out who swing at it. Somehow, Swisher got his barrel on the ball and hit a majestic homer into the Yankees’ bullpen. Mark Teixeira hit a much more grooved fastball right down the middle and Teixeira nailed it on a line to the seats in right in about four seconds. The Yankees would take a 3-0 lead on those two homers (begin the “score all their runs on homers” meme) and that was the ballgame.
Hiroki Kuroda faced only 29 batters in the game as two of his four base runners were erased with double-plays. The Rangers only had a man in scoring position once in the game and only hit six balls to the outfield all game. It was a masterful outing and improved his record to 11-8 and brought his ERA down to 3.06. Kuroda now has an impressive WHIP for the season of 1.15. Matt Harrison took the hard-luck loss as Jeter scored ahead of Swisher’s homer to tally on Harrison’s line. His record fell to 13-7. Alexi Ogando came into this game with a .597 OPS against. The Yankees have caused that to rise a bit higher with their two homers against him.
Derek Jeter went two for four and is now batting, .320. Casey McGehee and Mark Teixeira also had two hits in the game. Curtis Granderson had another bad day at the plate as he went without a hit in four trips with two strikeouts. Jayson Nix also had a zero for four night with a strikeout.
In the night’s stupidest comment after the game, MLB Network’s, Dan Plesac, said that Kuroda was effectively wild in this game. Say what!? What game was he watching?
These two teams will go at it again tomorrow in a battle of fifth starters as Scott Feldman faces Freddy Garcia. David Phelps, Derek Lowe and Hiroki Kuroda have saved the bullpen the last two days. That might be a good thing going into tomorrow’s game.