Kuroda's slider results on upswing

June, 25, 2012
6/25/12
1:40
PM ET
The New York Yankees have been baseball’s hottest team over the past month, going a league-best 22-7 since May 22. The run has been fueled by a pitching staff that has posted a league-low 2.95 ERA over that span.

Tonight they welcome to the Bronx the Cleveland Indians, who are coming off a series loss against the Houston Astros during which they scored just four runs combined in the three games.

The Indians have fallen a half-game back in the AL Central and are now faced with winning at a stadium where they are just 6-29 since 2002. That’s the Indians worst road record against any team they’ve played at least 10 road games against during that span.

However, not all hope for a victory is lost among fans in Cleveland. The Indians lead the majors in wins (32) and win percentage (.627) against right-handed starting pitchers this season, and tonight will be facing the Japanese righty Hiroki Kuroda.

Hiroki Kuroda Stats To Watch
Kuroda will be making his 15th start of the season for the Yankees, and after struggling to find consistency in his first nine starts, he has turned things around in his last five outings.

His slider has shown a huge improvement, as opponents are hitting just .184 in at-bats ending in the pitch over his last five starts, compared to a .254 average in his first nine outings.

In his last start against the Atlanta Braves last week, he netted a season-high eight swings-and-misses on his slider while allowing just one hit in 10 at-bats ending in the pitch.

Josh Tomlin Stats To Watch
Tomlin led the Indians in wins, WHIP, and opponent batting average through his first 10 starts of last year, but has failed to replicate those numbers in 2012. He brings a dismal 5.12 ERA and 1.14 WHIP into tonight’s game, after going 6-2 with a 2.74 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in his first 10 starts of 2011.

Known for his incredible control, Tomlin’s walk rate has doubled from a league-leading 1.1 walks per nine innings last year to a 2.1 rate in 2012. Tomlin has also struggled to get righties out this year. They are hitting .319 against him in 2012 after he held them to a .226 average last season.

Happy To See You
Derek Jeter is a career .340 hitter against the Indians, the highest batting average against the team among active players (min. 175 at-bats). Mark Teixeira has reached base safely in 27 of his last 30 games against the Indians and owns a .436 OBP vs the Indians, his highest vs any AL team.

A trio of Yankees -- Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano -- have really enjoyed facing the Indians at the new Yankee Stadium.

Each is hitting better than .400, with Cano leading the way at .489. Granderson has 12 hits, including five doubles, in 29 at-bats (.414). A-Rod has a .923 slugging percentage in 26 at-bats, with seven of his 11 hits going for extra bases.

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