Saturday, July 2, 2011
Angels can't solve Kuroda
By Pedro Moura
ANAHEIM -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia clearly was reluctant to praise Dodgers' right-hander Hiroki Kuroda after Friday's game, a 5-0 Dodgers' win, despite Kuroda's stellar seven-inning, three-hit, one-walk performance.
"He pitched alright," Scioscia said of Kuroda, who threw 103 pitches. "He pitched OK tonight."
Why the apparent bitterness?
Because Scioscia felt Kuroda purposely hit his first baseman, rookie Mark Trumbo, in the bottom of the seventh inning with a pitch. It appeared to be a potential retaliation move after Kuroda hit Torii Hunter on the hand in the first inning, forcing him to exit the game, and the Angels followed it up by hitting Andre Ethier and A.J. Ellis in the fourth and sixth innings.
Trumbo, a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder who stands reasonably far away from the plate in the batter's box, avoided Kuroda's first pitch but couldn't escape the fourth, which hit him in the leg and prompted plate umpire Dale Scott to formally warn both dugouts.
“You like to give guys the benefit of the doubt, but he almost hit him with the first pitch, and it [only wasn't a hit-by-pitch because] Mark’s way off the plate," Scioscia said after Friday's game. "And the second time it was a laser right at him.
"The intent was obvious there.”
A reporter began to ask another question -- related to the Angels' seventh-inning fielding fiasco that allowed Dee Gordon to score from third -- but Scioscia cut him off, clearly still peeved about the previous one.
"How many guys has he hit this year in 100 innings?" he asked, rhetorically. "Yeah. This guy’s got pretty good command."
In 101 2/3 innings entering Friday's game, Kuroda had hit exactly one batter. He hit two Friday, which amounted to a third of the baserunners he allowed in what was one of his better performances on the year.
The Angels simply couldn't do anything against him, advancing only two runners past first base in Kuroda's seven innings of work. And one of those two, center fielder Peter Bourjos, got to second on a ground-rule double and didn't get any further. The other was Howie Kendrick, who got on via infield single and got to third via productive outs before Hank Conger popped up in an RBI situation.
Almost everything Kuroda threw was low, and most of the things he threw were in or near the strike zone. He threw 65 percent of his pitches (67 of 103) for strikes, contributing largely to the 10th Angels' shutout loss of the season, more than they had all of last year.
"You have to try to force him to get the ball up, but he was delivering the ball down in the zone and throwing strikes down there," said outfielder Vernon Wells, who went 0-for-4 with a strikeout after going 0-for-2 against Kuroda in last Saturday's 6-1 win at Dodger Stadium. "When you're able to keep the ball down and change speeds like he was -- that's the way you're taught to pitch and he did it by the book.
"We didn't do enough offensively to get him out of there early enough. It's on us."