Notes: Yankees play a complete game

July, 20, 2013
7/20/13
10:07
PM ET
Chris StewartJared Wickerham/Getty ImagesChris Stewart made the play of the day in the eighth inning of Saturday's Yankees win.
BOSTON -- When Joe Girardi is asked how the New York Yankees can be successful, he keeps it simple: Score enough and win close games. Saturday was a perfect example of how that can happen.

Let's go a little further.

PITCHING: Hiroki Kuroda continues to astound. He didn't dominate, but he didn't give up any runs, either. For the first six innings, he held the Red Sox scoreless. In the seventh, he gave up two runs, but that was it.

"His stuff was really sharp," Girardi said.

He was throwing his fastball away to lefties and setting them up. All professional baseball players -- even the ones we might sometimes say aren't very good -- have unbelievable skills, but Kuroda's mastery of his specialty is a cut above. He is not going to win the Cy Young, but he might earn a few votes on some ballots if this continues.

DEFENSE: Kuroda didn't do it alone. The Yankees also made three special plays on defense. The biggest came in the eighth, when Dustin Pedroia, representing the tying run, popped up behind the plate. Chris Stewart, tracking back, made a nice catch as he bounded over the small wall between the Yankees dugout and home plate. With David Ortiz on deck and down two runs, Daniel Nava inexplicably tried to tag up.

"I got rid of it as quick as I could," Stewart said.

He nailed Nava on a one-hop throw to second to end the inning.

Kuroda also had the benefit of having two other innings end with outs at home. Vernon Wells threw a runner out from left to end the first. In the fifth, Kuroda covered home after a ball went past Stewart. Mike Carp tried to score from third. The ball didn't reach the backstop so Stewart recovered and tossed back to his pitcher for the out.

"It was sort of an unconventional day of outs," Stewart said. "We'll take it. It was a big win for us. Hopefully, we'll get on a little roll now and we can get back in first place."

OFFENSE: Girardi always likes to spin everything in a positive fashion, but the reality is too great for him to try to pass the offense off as more than it is.

"There are not too many nights when we are going to slug," Girardi said.

The Yankees scored five runs as Eduardo Nunez and Lyle Overbay each had three hits, including two doubles.

"That's the thing about being a hitter, it can change real quickly," Girardi said.

Nunez raised his average from .207 to .226.

ON THE BASES: Girardi's strategy is to take advantage of Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Nunez and Luis Cruz stole bases, while Brett Gardner was thrown out.

Girardi is also probably being more aggressive because he knows he has to create more chances. He can't just wait around for the three-run homer, like in years past.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.51 135 129
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .271
HRM. Teixeira 21
RBIJ. Ellsbury 70
RB. Gardner 82
OPSB. Gardner .752
ERAH. Kuroda 3.77
SOH. Kuroda 137