Kuroda looks to extend Yankees' streak
June, 13, 2012
By Will Cohen, ESPN Stats & Info | ESPN.com
Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesHiroki Kuroda is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA in his last 3 starts.
The New York Yankees have won 15 of their last 19 games to grab sole possession of 1st place in the AL East and the best record in the AL. Tonight, they look for a season-high sixth straight win overall against the Atlanta Braves (ESPN, 7 ET).
History certainly favors the Yankees, as the Braves have been dominated at home by New York; they’ve dropped four straight and 15 of their last 17 games dating all the way back to the 1958 World Series. That's surprising, considering the Braves own the NL’s best interleague record at 133-116 (.534).
The Yankees enter today with the most homers in the league with 95. Correspondingly, they also lead the league in percentage of runs scored via the home run at over 53 percent. On Tuesday the long ball played a significant factor, as Alex Rodriguez notched his 23rd-career grand slam, tying the Major League record held by Lou Gehrig.
While power has not been an issue, timely hitting has been. The Yankees rank last in the AL with runners in scoring position, batting just .220, and have never batted worse than .255 with RISP over a full season in the wild-card era. The team’s lowest BA with RISP in the live ball era came in 1990 (.234).
Hiroki Kuroda takes the mound for New York, having thrown well lately. In his last three starts overall, he's 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA, and after starting the season 0-4 on the road, Kuroda has fared better in his last two starts with just a 1.20 ERA. He will be making his return to the NL where he pitched his first four seasons, and in his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he posted a 3.45 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.
It could be a long night for Atlanta, as current Braves players have a combined career .187 BA with a .563 OPS against Kuroda.
Going against Kuroda will be Tim Hudson, who is making his first start since June 5th (threw his first complete-game shutout in over a year). He missed a start dealing with an injured ankle, and it may be an uphill battle tonight, as Hudson has just one win in 10 career starts versus the Yankees despite a respectable 3.78 ERA.
This season, Hudson has done a fantastic job of using his sinker to keep the ball in the park. He has allowed just one HR in 54 IP this season and has been forcing hitters to ground out at a high rate. In fact, Hudson’s 60.5 percent ground ball rate is the best in the majors since 2009.