W2W4: Yankees at Mariners (July 23)
July, 23, 2012
By Katie Sharp, ESPN Stats & Information
US PresswireHiroki Kuroda looks to end the Yankees' four-game losing streak tonight in Seattle.
Kuroda threw seven scoreless innings in his last outing versus the Blue Jays to snap a two-start skid during which he allowed 12 runs over 13 innings. Kuroda relied on his split-fingered fastball against Toronto, throwing 24 of them (second-most this season) while netting six outs against just one hit with the pitch.
Kuroda has been on a roll since the end of May, going 6-1 with a 2.61 ERA in 10 starts. He was just 3-6 with a 4.56 ERA in his first nine starts. During this hot 10-start stretch he has held lefties to a .224 average; in his first nine starts they hit .330 against him.
Kuroda has pretty much ditched his curveball over his last 10 starts, and with good reason: Opponents are 9-for-16 with four extra-base hits in at-bats ending in the pitch this season.
Instead, his primary breaking ball recently has been his slider. He allowed an .852 OPS, including four homers, on the pitch during his first nine starts; since then, opponents are hitting .183 against his slider and one-third of those batters were retired with a third strike.
Despite his recent success, Kuroda and the Yankees still probably wish this game was during the day, instead of at night. Kuroda is 4-0 and hasn't allowed a run in four daytime starts (30 innings) this season. He is 5-7 with a 4.58 ERA in his 15 night starts.
Safeco: Home away from home
The Yankees lead the season series with the Mariners, 2-1, with three games left after this series. The Yankees have won four straight season series (2008-11) against the M's; the only time in franchise history they've had a streak of five straight season-series wins versus them was from 1983-87.
This is the Yankees' first and only trip to Seattle this year. Since Safeco Field opened in 1999, the Yankees are 36-25 (.590) at the stadium, the second-best record at the ballpark by an AL team. If they sweep the Mariners, they'll pass the Indians (34-22, .607) for the best record there.
Derek Jeter is hitting .356 in July after hitting .232 in June and already has more extra-base hits in this month (six) than he did all of last month (five).
Jeter's luck on line drives has turned around this month. In June, he got just six hits on the 16 line drives he hit; in July, he's gotten hits on 11 of his 12 line drives. The average major-leaguer gets hits on about 72 percent of line drives hit into play.
Ichiro Suzuki is hitting just .192 against the Yankees since the start of last season, his worst against any AL team during that span. The Yankees have done a good job converting his grounders into outs.
He has just three hits on 25 groundballs hit against the Yankees since 2011 (.120); against all other teams over the last two seasons his batting average on groundballs is .245.