While the end results were good for the Yankees, the 4-game series with the Rangers was hardly an exercise in productive offense. The Yankees scored 10 runs in 37 innings over the 4 games, the Rangers just 8. Offense wasn’t the problem at all in tonight’s opener against the Blue Jays. The runs were coming early and often from both sides and it was a big blow from a most unexpected source that was the deciding factor for the Bombers.
Hiroki Kuroda was not at his best tonight. He put multiple runners on base in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th innings and had trouble getting his sinker to sink. Where he struggled the most was against Jose Bautista. Kuroda threw him a non-sinking 3-0 sinker in the top of the 1st with 2 men on and Bautista used his green light to smack it into the left field seats for a home run. In the 3rd it was the slider that betrayed Kuroda, as he left one up and over the plate enough for Bautista to extend his arms and hit a solo shot to left.
Kuroda was able to limit the damage to those 4 runs in his 5.2 innings, and the Yankee lineup’s efforts against Toronto starter Mark Buehrle were even more fruitful. They got 2 in the 2nd when Brian Roberts singled with the bases loaded and Brett Gardner brought Chase Headley home with a sac fly. They really struck big in the 3rd with a pair of home runs, a solo shot by Carlos Beltran on a hanging 2-1 changeup and a 3-run Yankee Stadium special off the bat of Ichiro on an even worse hanging curveball. Yep, you read that right. Ichiro Suzuki finally hit his first home run of 2014.
Both teams’ bullpens were more up to the challenge of preventing runs than the starters were. Toronto got 5 shutout innings from 3 pitchers to keep the Yanks at 6, and Huff, Kelley, Betances, and D-Rob combined for 3.1 clean innings to get Hirok a W and extend the winning streak to 4.
– Ichiro’s HR was his first since August 30th of last year, a span of 320 plate appearances.
– 3-hit night for Headley, his first multi-hit game in pinstripes. Also extended his Yankee career-opening hitting streak to 4 games.
– The 5-9 hitters combined to go 9-18 with 2 2B, 1 HR, 5 R, 4 RBI, and the only walk drawn by the Yankee lineup.
– The only guys without a hit were Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury. Go figure.
– The Yankees’ complete and utter dominance of the Blue Jays at The Stadium continues. That’s 17 straight wins against Toronto at home.