Kuroda 'brilliant' against Angels
August, 12, 2013
By Matt Ehalt | ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- One by one, the Yankees all fawned over Hiroki Kuroda's stretch of masterpieces, punctuated by Monday night's dominant performance versus the Angels.
Reliever David Robertson called this stretch amazing. Outfielder Curtis Granderson described Kuroda's recent efforts as excellent. Manager Joe Girardi even joined the party.
"He has been brilliant," Girardi said.
Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesHiroki Kuroda pitched eight shutout innings on Monday.
Kuroda has given his peers good reason to gush about his recent outings as his eight scoreless innings of three-hit ball powered the Yankees to a 2-1 win over the Angels on Monday night at Yankee Stadium.
The 38-year-old veteran leads MLB with nine scoreless outings this season, including five in his past seven games.
"Every time he takes the ball it seems like he gives you seven, eight innings. He's exceptional out there," Robertson said. "His two-seamer was working out there, his splitter, his slider. Everything he threw was baffling their hitters tonight.
"He seems to be doing that the last couple of weeks and the whole season."
Kuroda has been magnificent all season, but he's been particularly great since July. Dating back to July 7 against Baltimore, he's now thrown scoreless games against the Angels, Orioles, Twins, Rangers and Dodgers and hasn't allowed more than three runs in those seven starts. He's yielded just five runs over his past 48 innings, pitching to a 0.94 ERA while going 4-1.
Monday, Kuroda dominated the Angels, limiting them to just four baserunners in eight innings. After surrendering a leadoff double to Josh Hamilton in the second, he didn't allow another hit until 17 batters later, when Mike Trout beat out an infield single to shortstop in the seventh.
The Angels never advanced a runner to third base against him and were 0-for-6 against him with runners in scoring position. On Kuroda's final pitch, the 107th he threw, he retired Hank Conger to end the eighth with a runner on second and the Yankees ahead 2-0.
Kuroda struck out seven batters, walked just one and has not allowed a homer in his past 51 innings, which is a career-high stretch, according to Elias.
"With the close games I wanted to avoid big home runs," Kuroda said through an interpreter after improving to 11-7. "I was able to keep the ball down."
With his recent stretch of scoreless starts, Kuroda leads MLB with 14 games of at least seven scoreless innings over the past two seasons. He's thrown those 14 scoreless games in just 57 starts with the Yankees, averaging one scoreless performance nearly every four starts.
Kuroda, who lowered his ERA to 2.33, said he doesn't feel any different during this stretch but acknowledged the improved results. Kuroda, normally reserved, even joked about the secret to this blistering stretch that has him throwing as well as anyone in baseball.
"I wish I knew the answer to that," Kuroda said with a laugh. "Hopefully, someone will teach me what it is that's working."