Hiroki Kuroda has struggled at Coors Field in his career, but tonight he made one costly mistake. After retiring nine straight batters, Josh Rutledge singled and Carlos Gonzalez homered into the rainy Denver night to break a scoreless tie, and give the Rockies all the runs they'd need to take the first game of the series. The Yankees had a chance to tie the game in the ninth inning with the right hitters - as right as hitters in this lineup can be right now - due up after Jayson Nix, but the Colorado bullpen, which has been strong all season, held.
Playing short-handed without Eduardo Nunez in a National League ballpark, everyone knew that the Yankee lineup would be ugly, but they could only notch four hits - all singles. The hitters who did reach ran wild, particularly on starter Jorge De La Rosa, managing to swipe five bases in the game, but those extra bases meant little with no one to help get them home. Nix's two singles were the best line of the day out of the Yankee hitters, though Ichiro Suzuki singled and stole two bases. A walk by Ben Francisco and Brett Gardner and a single by Chris Stewart would be all they could muster.
Nix reached on an infield single to leadoff the ninth inning, which gave hope to a possible comeback, but their best chance came with Robinson Cano at the plate and the result was a fielder's choice that was all too close to a double play. Vernon Wells, who has gone nearly as cold as he was hot a few weeks ago, fouled off a belt-high pitch right down the middle of the plate before striking out on a pitch that wasn't in the zone. We knew we were on borrowed time with some of these guys succeeding where all logic and reason said they shouldn't, but we needed them to keep it up a little longer. The earliest wave of replacements (Curtis Granderson) is still a couple weeks away, and we have to find a way to tread water until at least then.
A good chunk of this game was played in a steady rain, with the upper deck of Coors Field being evacuated at one point because of lightning. It seemed like a rain delay was coming at any moment, but they managed to play on. Having started the game at nearly 9 o'clock for those of us on the East Coast, not having a lengthy rain delay was not unwelcome.
Maybe not facing a left-hander for the foreseeable future will help the offense look less helpless starting tomorrow against Rockies' pitcher Juan Nicasio, who is 3-0 on the season so far.