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Kuroda remains last starter standing

7/20/2014

Hiroki Kuroda didn’t get the win for the New York Yankees on Sunday. But he walked off of the mound with his health in tact. And that alone is considered a big victory for the Yankees these days.

The 39-year-old Kuroda gave up three hits and no earned runs over 6 2/3 innings in his 200th major league appearance on Sunday, a no-decision in the Yankees’ 3-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

“He was outstanding,” manager Joe Girardi said of Kuroda.

Sure, the manager made a great point. Kuroda struck out six and walked two in a masterful performance against Cincinnati. From a macro perspective, the biggest victory for the Yankees and Kuroda on Sunday was that he walked off the mound healthy.

Injuries have hit the Yankees’ starting rotation hard this seasons.

CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova are already out for the year. Masahiro Tanaka may be as well. Michael Pineda is trying to battle back from a shoulder injury.

Kuroda is the last starter standing in the Bronx.

“It just tells you about how well he prepares himself,” Girardi said before the game.

Kuroda’s preparation was on display throughout the afternoon on Sunday. He struck out the side in the first inning and spread out three hits over the final 5 2/3 innings to outduel Reds ace Johnny Cueto.

“He pitched deep in the ballgame and kept them off balance,” catcher Brian McCann said.

The Yankees’ fill-in staff has pitched well of late. Bombers starters have allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of their past eight games (since July 9). They’ve gone 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA over that span.

Kuroda said after the game that he wasn’t feeling any added pressure to perform in light of the Yankees’ banged up starting staff.

“You can’t replace my teammates, but when I’m on the mound I want to make sure I give my team a chance,” Kuroda said.

Rare mistake from Betances: Dellin Betances allowed a game-tying solo homer to New Jersey product Todd Frazier in the eighth. Before Frazier’s blast, righties had been 0-for-24 off of Betances. The All-Star has allowed two homers in 58 1/3 innings this season.

Girardi called the sight of Betances allowing a homer “shocking.”

Consistency: The Yankees have used the same starting lineup in each of their past three games since the All-Star break, marking the first time they’ve used the same lineup in at least three consecutive games since three straight from July 20-22 last season. ... The Yanks finished their interleague schedule with a 13-7 record, including a 6-1 mark in their last seven.