Hiroki Kuroda had an inauspicious first game with the Yankees as he allowed six runs on eight hits in a little over five innings of work. Not much was working for the man from Osaka, as he uncharacteristically walked four Rays despite his four-year career mark of 2.1 BB/9. Kuroda struggled in almost every inning that he pitched, save for a 1-2-3 fourth. Shortstop Eduardo Nunez did him no favors by leading off the game with an error on a Desmond Jennings ground ball; Jennings and Matt Joyce, who walked, came around to score to give the Rays an early 2-0 lead on a two-run single by Luke Scott. Kuroda gave up a double to rookie catcher Jose Lobaton in the second, and he also came around to score on a Carlos Pena single. The Yankees just cannot seem to find a way to get Pena out. Matt Joyce hit a solo homer against Kuroda to lead off the third, and the score was 4-0.
The Yankees did manage to spark a two-run rally against David Price in the bottom of the third to make the score 4-2, courtesy of the combination of some wildness by the Rays battery (Price wild pitch, Lobaton throwing error) and singles by Andruw Jones and Nunez. Unfortunately, the Rays rallied for more runs in the sixth, and that knocked Kuroda out of the game. His performance was certainly not what the Yankees were looking for, but fans should not get too worried; hell, even CC was shaky yesterday. Kuroda should get more time to prove his mettle than just one start. Fans will certainly be looking for improvement when he starts the home opener against the Angels next Friday.
More frustrations after clicking the blue letters.
Aside from the two-run fourth inning, the offense did not fare well against the formidable Price. He only allowed two hits outside of the one poor frame and left the game with a 6-2 lead in the top of the seventh. He snuffed out one Yankee rally with a double play in the fifth inning, and reliever Burke Badenhop helped him out by inducing a double play from Derek Jeter immediately after Price's departure. The Yankees hit into yet another double play in the top of the eighth, when Mark Teixeira ran into some bad luck by hitting a line drive right to second baseman Sean Rodriguez, who flipped to shortstop Reid Brignac to double off Robinson Cano. It was just one of those nights--if Tex's liner was just a couple inches to the right, then the score would have been 8-4 with one out in the eighth. Alas, the MT25 was set to "disbelief," as Wallace Matthews noted.
More game notes:
- Clay Rapada, who had a great Spring Training, made his first regular season appearance of the year, and he picked off Longoria to end a threat in the sixth (after Nunez's heads-up play, catching Brignac off of third base). Unfortunately, he walked the lefty Pena and was allowed to pitch to the righty Evan Longoria. Not sure when the Binder missed the memo that Rapada cannot be allowed to pitch to righties. Longoria hit a drive that was ruled a double after umpires ruled fan interference at the right-field fence (thanks for almost turning it into a homer, random Yankee fan). Rapada then gave up a two-run single to the lefty Joyce. Fantastic.
- Cory Wade, who had an awful Spring Training, made his first regular season appearance of the year, and he retired all five hitters he faced, with three strikeouts. Ah, Spring Training, how you confuse us.
- The Yankees mounted a rally against the Rays bullpen in the ninth inning, as they scored four runs (including a three-run homer from Nick Swisher) and sent the tying run to the plate in the form of a centaur. A groundout ended the game, but the offense should be commended for putting up a fight.