Hiroki Kuroda was supposed to save us, but we got even more injury news tonight. He didn’t start today’s game particularly strong, but after taking a line drive to the throwing hand in the second inning, he completely lost his control. Kuroda gave up a walk and two hit by pitches almost immediately, and gave the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead before Joe Girardi gave him the hook. At the moment, he’s being diagnosed with a contusion to his middle finger, but X-Rays are being taken.
Cody Eppley came into relieve Kuroda, and immediately earned an inning ending double play to get out of the BB/HBP mess. Girardi left Eppley in for the third inning, but a number of well placed groundballs made it through the infield. Eppley gave up 4 earned runs in his 1.1 inning of work, but he didn’t look that terrible. The right-hander drew 5 ground balls, 1 strikeout, and 1 line drive, but the ground balls just couldn’t find fielders.
Adam Warren came in to relieve Eppley and was brilliant. He allowed two of Eppley’s base runners to score, but he only allowed one of his own runs to score over his 5.1 innings of work. He saved the bullpen and showed his capability at the major league level. Last year, Warren was given a start, and looked completely helpless. This Spring Training, he was equally awful. Tonight’s relief work was a big step in the right direction for a starter who’s already had two successful seasons at the Triple-A level.
The offense wasn’t as bad as we saw on Monday. The Yankees had 9 hits and 2 walks, 11 total base runners, but left 18(!) men on base. Fortunately Travis Hafner hit the team’s first home run of the year to make things not so terrible. Kevin Youkilis had 2 hits of his own, and Nunez earned himself two singles and a walk. The star of the game was… Vernon Wells?! Wells looked good this Spring, but went hitless on Monday (although he technically hit a double that was called a foul mistakenly). Tonight, he went 3 for 4 with two singles and a big three run home run in the 8th inning. The left fielder is someone to keep a close eye on this April, as he’s made several adjustments, and could be an important piece if he ever gets back to the hitter he was before joining the Angels.
Despite the amount of ground ball singles, the defense had little to do with it. Balls just found holes, and even Kuroda saw his fair share of bloops in the first inning. Chris Stewart wasn’t too impressive behind the plate, although he did catch a popup over the visiting dugout in the 7th. Nunez again made a handful of great plays, showing off his range and a much improved arm. He did boot a ball in the 9th inning, but it was on one crazy hop. I used to cringe when the ball was hit to him, but now I’m thankful that it’s Nunez over Derek Jeter, though he’s no replacement with the bat.