This was a pretty hyped up pitching match-up between the two best Japanese pitchers in the bigs and maybe the two the best teams in the bigs and it basically lived up. This was a close game throughout, but the Yanks couldn't capitalize on their few opportunities and fell 2-0.
I really wanted the Yankees to make a strong push for Yu Darvish because he didn't count toward the luxury tax, but mostly because he was a very good pitcher. Unfortunately, they didn't and he wound up going to Texas and tonight he showed the Bombers brass why they should have tried harder. He struck out ten while walking only two over 8.1 scoreless innings. He had every hitter guessing with six different pitches that he could throw in any count for strikes. It was absolutely remarkable.
Hiroki Was Okie Dokie
Kuroda did make two mistakes though that cost him. Ian Kinsler, the first batter he faced, hit a big homer on a 1-1 count on what looked a like a two-seamer he was trying to get down and in that stayed up. It was no cheapie either and that made it a 1-0 game. Then, in the third, after two quick outs, he got up on Elvis Andrus 0-2 and couldn't put him away and wound up walking him. Andrus then stole second and scored on a Josh Hamilton single. You have to challenge a guy like Andrus in that situation, although he did get a little bit squeezed. He may have gotten the loss, but he certainly didn't deserve it.
The One Chance
The Yanks had nothing on Darvish all night, except for in the top of third inning. Eric Chavez led off with a single to right and was followed by a Russell Martin walk (now hitting .195 with a .400 OBP), and things got interesting from there. Derek Jeter, of course on his own, laid down a bunt down the first base line to get the runners over, but it was a beauty that got past Darvish and wound up being a base hit. So bases load nobody out for Curtis Granderson and A-Rod, how could they not score, right? Easy. Granderson struck out looking on a very questionable call and Rodriguez grounded into a 5-3 double play end the threat. That was it; the entire dynamic changed right there and there was no other chance like that.
Kuroda was pulled with two outs in the seventh after allowing a two-out single to Mike Napoli for Clay Rapada to face Mitch Moreland, who he got to ground out to second. Cory Wade the came on and got the first two outs of eighth (Kinsler and Andrus), before getting pulled in favor of Boone Logan, who wound up striking out Hamilton swinging. Again, great work by the bullpen which continues to be the best part of this team. Wade and Logan, especially, have been fantastic.
The Yanks finally chased Yu with one out in the ninth when Nick Swisher singled off of him, but that was negated with one pitch from Joe Nathan who got Raul Ibanez to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end it. How do you not take one pitch? Anyway, Jeter collected two hits keeping his average at a healthy .416 and improving his hitting streak to 14 games and Robbie Cano had two as well. The Grandy Man, A-Rod, and Mark Teixeira combined to go 0 for 11 with four strikeouts, which hurt a lot. Hopefully they are just saving up for tomorrow.
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Tomorrow, these same two teams will play the rubber game of this three game set as Phil Hughes takes on Scott Feldman. Talk about a marquis pitching match up!