Matt Moore looked nasty in the first two innings. He struck out the side in the first and worked around a one out walk to Nick Swisher. Moore recorded his fourth strikeout in the bottom of the second and worked around hitting Andruw Jones with a pitch. But, it was clear that his command was erratic and it would catch up with him in the bottom of the third. Moore started off that inning by walking Eduardo Nunez. Nunez then stole second base and scored on a single by Derek Jeter. Jeter took second on the throw home. Nick Swisher sacrificed (whuh?) to the pitcher and Jeter went to third. Alex Rodriguez then singled to center to score Jeter. Matt Moore further unraveled after that.
First, he uncorked a wild pitch and A-Rod went to second. Moore then walked Robinson Cano and on the fourth ball, A-Rod stole third. Russell Martin then capped off the five-run inning with a three-run homer to right that landed in the second row. Sure, call it a short-porch homer. Whatever. But the result was a 5-0 lead with their most reliable pitcher on the mound.
Before we get to Kuroda, we need to finish out the bottom of the third. The Yankees did not score any further runs, but things sure got interesting. After Martin’s homer, Moore got Andruw Jones to ground out. But then with Curtis Granderson at the plate, Moore threw an errant toss and somehow Granderson crouched down low enough to miss getting hit in the head by inches. The umpire, Paul Emmel, immediately warned Moore and then both dugouts. Rays’ manager, Joe Maddon, took exception to Emmel warning his pitcher and started griping from the dugout. Emmel threw Maddon out of the game. Maddon probably deserved getting tossed, but it seems doubtful that the Granderson pitch was purposeful. Moore simply had no idea during his outing where his pitches were going.
After a long time in the dugout during that rally, Kuroda gave up a lead off homer to Ben Zobrist to start the top of the fourth, but retired the side in order and the score was 5-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth. The Yankees would tack on another run in that frame.
Brandon Gomes relieved Moore and started the inning with his own error to allow Nunez to reach first base. Nunez then stole second. Then Nunez stole third. Derek Jeter walked to make it first and third. Nick Swisher could not get the run in as he popped up. But A-Rod hit a deep fly to right and Nunez trotted home on the sac fly. Robinson Cano then doubled and Jeter was held at third. Martin then grounded out to end the threat. The Yankees would only have two more base runners the rest of the game, one on a walk and the other with a single.
Meanwhile, Kuroda had a 1-2-3 fifth inning but ran into immediate trouble in the top of the sixth. Kuroda walked Jose Lobaton to start the half inning. One of the Yankees’ own fans ruined what should have been the first out. Desmond Jennings popped out in foul territory and Steve Pearce drifted over. Pearce reached into the seats and would have caught the ball, but a fan was too intent on getting it himself and pulled a Bartman. Jennings then singled. Kuroda further complicated things by walking Zobrist. The bases were loaded with no outs and Evan Longoria came to the plate. Kuroda made a good pitch and got Longoria to hit a perfect double play ball to third. A-Rod was setting up to get the round the horn DP going when the ball took a huge freak hop and went over A-Rod’s head. Two runs scored to bring the score to 6-3. To Kuroda’s credit, he then got Matt Joyce to hit another double play ball to clear the bases as the fourth Rays’ run scored. Kuroda then struck out B.J. Upton to end the inning and the scoring for both teams.
Speaking of Upton, he had a tough day. He came to the plate four times and struck out all four of them. He earned himself a golden sombrero.
Kuroda’s line looks worse than his pitching really was. He caused some of his own trouble in the sixth, but without that fan getting in the way and a better hop to A-Rod and Kuroda easily could have gotten out of that inning without any runs scoring. His final line was six innings, four hits, four runs, two walks and ten strikeouts.
Boone Logan and David Phelps combined to get through the seventh inning. David Robertson pitched a perfect eighth and Rafael Soriano worked around an A-Rod error (another bad hop) to earn his fortieth save.
The Yankees only had five hits in the game and no batter had more than one. Derek Jeter’s single was his 199th hit of the year and needs just one more to reach 200. The win puts the Yankees back up to twenty games over .500. They have a day off on Monday before hosting the Blue Jays starting on Tuesday.