After a rough showing in the home opener on Monday, the Yankees were pinning their hopes on Hiroki Kuroda and his ability to give them another quality start as he did so often in 2012. Kuroda struggled to get out of the first inning, eventually surrendering a run on a two out hit to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. However, things turned materially worse in the second inning as Kuroda reached with his pitching hand for a sharp liner off of the bat of Shane Victorino heading straight over the mound. The ball clipped off of Kuroda’s middle finger and carried into the outfield. Kuroda stayed in the game but was clearly affected by the blow as he hit two batters and walked another in the inning before being pulled leaving the bases loaded and another run on the board for the Red Sox. Cody Eppley came in for the injured Kuroda, and was then able to get Dustin Pedroia to bounce into an inning ending double play, keeping the Yankee deficit at just two by the end of the second inning.
Though long man Adam Warren had been warming up, Joe Girardi decided to stick with Eppley in the third inning. Unfortunately, the results were not as kind because the Red Sox eventually added four more runs to extend their lead to 6-0 by the middle of the third.
Meanwhile, Clay Buchholz was having a very efficient start against the Yankees lineup, continuing his success from spring training, and eventually going seven innings while giving up six hits, two walks and striking out four. Travis Hafner did provide a brief respite from the mostly punch-less lineup by depositing a Buchholz mistake into the right field bullpen for his first home run of the season in the fourth inning, but overall the Yankees never were able to muster a real threat against Buchholz tonight.
In the eighth inning Vernon Wells capped off a good night at the plate with a three run home run off of ex-Yankee Alfredo Aceves, after Ben Francisco and Kevin Youkilis had reached by a hit-by-pitch and a single, respectively. Wells went 3-for-4 on the night with the home run and three RBIs, roping his dinger over the left field wall. However, it was too little and too late for the Yankee offense as they couldn’t scratch another three run dinger off of Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan in the bottom of the ninth.
Other noteworthy moments for the Yanks came in the top of the seventh inning when catcher Chris Stewart made an excellent catch off a Shane Victorino foul ball that nearly left Stewart tumbling head first into the Red Sox dugout. Adam Warren did a nice job of limiting the damage and saving Joe Girardi from taxing his bullpen further by going 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball while striking out four batters on five hits and one walk. Overall, though, this was a game whose most entertaining moments were punctuated by my wife commenting on two of the Red Sox players’ eyebrows, and that’s not a good sign.
Tomorrow the Yankees turn to Andy Pettitte, as they’ve done so many times before, to avoid the very undesirable event of opening the season with a series sweep by the division rival Red Sox. The Yankees hope to get their first quality start from their starting pitcher this season tomorrow, and they’ll see what their offense can do against the Red Sox’s righty veteran Ryan Dempster.