Here’s something unusual for this season: The Yankees seem to have avoided a serious injury tonight.
When Manny Machado sent a comebacker off Hiroki Kuroda’s lower leg, the scene was similar to the line drive that broke Andy Pettitte’s leg a year ago. There was never a sense that Kuroda was hurt that badly, but there were certainly some recent perspective on how bad it might have been.
“You get concerned,” Joe Girardi said. “But it’s all muscular. That should heal. It’ll be sore a little bit tomorrow and the next day, but that’ll go away.”
Girardi said he would be “shocked” if Kuroda had to miss a start because of this injury, and Kuroda left little doubt that he expects to pitch again in five or six days.
“It will depend on how I feel tomorrow,” Kuroda said. “But for me, I’m going to make that start.”
Kuroda said the ball hit in the lower half of his calf, toward the side of his leg. When Girardi and Steve Donohue went to check on Kuroda immediately afterward, Kuroda said he was fine, and a few warmup pitches proved to be no trouble. When Kuroda went out for the next inning and allowed back-to-back hits, the Yankees became concerned — they though Kuroda was stretching his back, but he was just trying to twist around to stretch his calf — and Kuroda told Girardi that he was having trouble pushing off the mound. That’s when Girardi made the decision to go to the bullpen.
“I guess it was more of a precaution,” Kuroda said. “If I had to push myself, I might have continued to pitch.”
• Even before the calf injury, this was a pretty bad night for Kuroda. He’d previously allowed just three home runs this season, but he allowed two in the first inning. “The home run I gave up to the third hitter, that sort of changed my rhythm,” Kuroda said. “After getting two quick outs, with a 1-1 count, I left a ball in the middle. That was something I was disappointed with.”
• Last time Kuroda pitched against the Orioles, he pitched a complete game shutout at Yankee Stadium on April 14. Tonight he allowed season highs in hits (eight) and runs (five) despite pitching just two-plus innings. Weird.
• Pretty unusual situation for Preston Claiborne, who hadn’t allowed a run before rushing into the game, replacing Kuroda, and allowing a three-run homer two pitches later. “I had plenty of time to get ready,” Claiborne said. “I took the appropriate time to get ready on the mound. … I didn’t execute the pitch, and if I had put it where I wanted it, then I would have more than likely got a good result out of it, just like I did the night before.”
• Looking for a pitching bright side, that’s easy. Adam Warren went four scoreless innings. He allowed five singles, but didn’t walk anyone and got two double plays. He has a 1.14 ERA this season. He’s in a kind of unusual role, but he’s pitched very well.
• Another highlight: Curtis Granderson. His power had yet to reveal itself this season, but tonight he was 3-for-3 with a double and a home run. “I liked how he was swinging the bat (before this),” Girardi said. “I just felt it was a matter of time until he started getting some hits. He swung the bat great tonight.”
• Granderson on his big night: “That’s just baseball. It’s a matter of a game, a pitch, a swing. All the stuff like that. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything is resolved by any means, it’s just one game. Take that, tomorrow’s an off day, and try to come back and be in the best position to be successful on Friday.”
• David Adams hit his second home run in three days.
• We’ll give the final word to Granderson, talking about whether hitting for the cycle ever crossed his mind tonight: “The fans were telling me about it. I was just trying to hopefully get up there, the fourth hand the fifth time, with an opportunity to continue to cut into the lead a little bit, especially in the end. When we got that home run by Adams, now we’re down three, and if we can get a couple of things going, maybe we can get the meat of the lineup up and make this thing interesting.”
Associated Press photos