Rain delay can't KO Kuroda
July, 13, 2013
By Kieran Darcy | ESPNNewYork.com
Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY SportsDespite a 73-minute rain delay, Hiroki Kuroda returned to earn his eighth win.NEW YORK -- Starting pitchers normally don’t return to the mound after long rain delays.
But Hiroki Kuroda did Friday night, and it paid off.
Kuroda only got three more outs, but that enabled him to pick up his eighth win of the season in the Yankees’ 2-0 victory over the Twins.
"With all the preparation I made for tonight’s start, I wanted to come back out there," Kuroda said afterward, through a translator.
Prior to the game being suspended with one out in the bottom of the fourth, Kuroda had posted four zeroes, but labored to do so. The Twins had a runner in scoring position in each of their first four innings. Kuroda had to work around five hits and a walk, and needed 72 pitches to get the job done.
The rain delay officially lasted 73 minutes. But it was even longer for Kuroda when you consider that the Yankees were batting when play was halted and when play resumed. The Twins had a new pitcher on the mound when the game restarted. Yet there was No. 18 in pinstripes, striding to the mound prior to the top of the fifth.
"We had him throw a little bit underneath, and he talked to us about it, he’s done it a number of times," manager Joe Girardi said.
Kuroda recalled coming back after a long delay with the Dodgers "two or three years ago." He stayed loose, throwing about 20 pitches in the batting cage over the course of the stoppage, and lobbied Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild to return to the game.
"I think I gave Larry a hard time," Kuroda said, smiling.
He had to dodge trouble in the fifth inning too, after Joe Mauer smacked a two-out double and the next batter, Justin Morneau, walked. But Kuroda got Ryan Doumit to ground out to second to end the threat.
Girardi pulled Kuroda prior to the top of sixth, since he had thrown 90 pitches, plus the 20 during the delay. By that time, the Yankees had broken up a scoreless game with two runs in the bottom of the fifth, putting Kuroda in position to earn another win.
His record is only 8-6, but his earned run average dropped to 2.65. That's now the best mark in the American League, just ahead of Felix Hernandez and Bartolo Colon, both of whom have an era of 2.69.
Those two will be on the AL squad in Tuesday's All-Star Game, along with 13 other pitchers. Kuroda will be sitting at home.
"Not really," said Kuroda, when asked if the All-Star snub bothers him. "Obviously it’s a great thing to be selected as an All-Star. But there are rules of selection, so those who deserve to go there are going to the All-Star Game."
He might not be an All-Star, but he has been the Yankees' best pitcher for the second straight season. "He’s had an outstanding first half," Girardi said.
Friday night's outing was one of Kuroda's shortest, in terms of innings pitched. But in terms of grit, and guts, it was off the charts.