Yanks, Pirates spend long day in the Bronx

May, 18, 2014
May 18
10:24
PM ET


NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates played a combined five hours and 56 minutes of baseball Sunday at Yankee Stadium, and at the end of the affair, it was essentially a wash.

The Yankees won the first game. The Pirates won the second. The fans won by getting to see the finale for free, thanks to Friday's rainout, resulting in the first single-admission doubleheader here since 2004. But relatively few stuck around, which is a shame.

Nevertheless, here are six things we learned from nearly six hours of action:

Kuroda is overpaid: Hiroki Kuroda got the win in Game 1, but wasn't particularly impressive in doing so, giving up three runs on five hits in six innings, including home runs to Neil Walker and Tony Sanchez. It was Kuroda's first win since April 12 -- he is now 3-3 with a 4.61 ERA.

That's not terrible, but it's not nearly where he was on this date last season -- 6-2 with a 1.99 ERA.

"The mechanics and command and stuff like that aren't as good as last year," Kuroda said, via an interpreter. "But I had outings that weren't good ... with good results last year, so I'm trying to overcome that adversity."

Kuroda is making $16 million this season, but the more important number is 39 -- as in, Kuroda's age. How much does he have left in the tank?

D-Rob is not: David Robertson notched his second four-out save in four days in the first game. With the Yankees leading 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the eighth and a runner on second, manager Joe Girardi lifted Adam Warren for Robertson, who struck out Starling Marte looking. He followed that up with a 1-2-3 ninth, including two more K's.

Incidentally, Robertson said he was prepared to pitch in Game 2 as well if called upon. "I had asked Joe, he said, 'We'll see,'" Robertson said.

Whether Girardi would have used him in Game 2 is less important than the fact Girardi now seems comfortable using Robertson for more than one inning, which he did with Mariano Rivera from time to time in important games and/or critical situations.

The heir to Rivera's throne is now 8-for-8 in save opportunities this season, with a 1.54 ERA, looking quite capable of filling those enormous shoes.

No stopping Solarte: Yangervis Solarte was one of three position players to start in the field in both games Sunday (along with Kelly Johnson and Zoilo Almonte) -- at second base in Game 1, and third base in Game 2. Being able to use Solarte at multiple positions is handy, but it's his bat that continues to open eyes.

[+] EnlargeYangervis Solarte
AP Photo/Bill KostrounYangervis Solarte, right, used Game 1 as a warm-up before snapping his skid in Game 2, recording a single and solo homer.
Solarte was mired in a mini-slump, 0 for his past 13, after going 0-for-3 in Game 1. But he broke that streak with a second-inning single in Game 2, then drilled a solo game-tying homer deep into the right-field bleachers in the sixth, and almost tied the game again in the seventh with a line drive deep to left that the Pirates' Josh Harrison made a gorgeous leaping grab on.

More than a quarter of the way in, the 26-year-old Solarte -- a career minor leaguer prior to this season -- is batting .313, with five home runs and a team-high 24 RBIs. He has three homers in his past six games, and four in his past 10.

"I feel good," Solarte said, via an interpreter. "I've been trying to play for the team, and keep doing what I'm doing right now, and try to win some games."

Ryan can play first: Brendan Ryan started at shortstop in Game 2, giving Derek Jeter a break after Jeter played Game 1. But after Jeter pinch hit for Johnson, who was playing first base, to lead off the bottom of the eighth, Girardi had to get creative in the top of the ninth.

Thus, Jeter entered the game at shortstop, and Ryan moved to first base -- his first career appearance there.

Ryan had no trouble, and now has played every position on the infield in his major league career. Girardi said Ryan has taken grounders at first base, but, "It’s not something that I will do very often."

No clue on CC: Girardi admitted following the doubleheader that the Yankees have no idea when CC Sabathia will be back with the team.

"Is it a 15-day DL? It’s gonna be more than that, I can tell you that," Girardi said. "When we get him back, I don’t think any of us really know, cause this is not something that’s done very often."

Dr. James Andrews found a "degenerative change" in Sabathia's right knee, and the pitcher was expected to receive a cortisone shot and stem cell shot to try to help the issue.

The Yanks are in first: Following the split doubleheader, the Yankees are 23-20 -- in first place in the American League East, by a half-game over the Baltimore Orioles.

But it's only mid-May, and that will probably be a difficult position to maintain as long as David Phelps, Vidal Nuno and Chase Whitley make up three-fifths of the Yanks' starting rotation.

"It sure beats the alternative of not being in first," Girardi said. "But we know we have a long way to go."
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
13 2.77 141 136
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .271
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146