Hiroki Kuroda felt some tightness in his left hip flexor before Sunday’s start in Baltimore. The Yankees found out about it after the game and sent him back to New York for an MRI today. The MRI came back clean — there’s no tear — but the Yankees will have Kuroda skip Friday’s start as a precaution.
Joe Girardi said it’s possible he’ll start a few days later without necessarily missing a full turn through the rotation.
“We’ll just figure out when we see him Friday,” Girardi said. “If we can slot him in somewhere, we’ll slot him in.”
The Yankees have kept Ivan Nova on the roster and played with a short bench, and now it’s clear that they actually need him. Nova will start Friday in Kuroda’s place.
Ultimately, Girardi said, today’s MRI was good news. He said this is a low-concern situation.
“Because of the doctor’s report,” Girardi said. “If the MRI comes back and you see something, obviously you’re going to be concerned with a pitcher that it’s going to be a while because we worry about the arm, but the fact that it came back negative makes you feel good.”
• The Yankees sound optimistic about Kuroda, and there’s was little negative to say about Phil Hughes. Through seven strong innings, Hughes looked sharp tonight. It was the ninth time this season that he’d allowed two runs or less. He’s made 16 starts, meaning he’s allowed two or less in well over half of them. “You talk about never having consecutive bad outings,” Hughes said. “So if you have a good one, you want to keep that ball going. Hopefully it’s the start of a bunch I can roll off here and we can get going.”
• Hughes has looked particularly good in these past two starts spanning 15 innings with three runs. “I feel a little bit better with my mechanics overall,” he said. “I feel like I have better direction toward home plate, attacking guys and the fastball is staying more true to both sides of the plate. That’s been the key over the last couple starts. It’s something I worked on when I had the extra days before the start against Texas. I feel like that sort of stuff is paying off.”
• The big moment for Hughes came in the fourth when he had runners at second and third with no outs. He got two strikeouts and then a ground ball to get out of trouble. “Just get outs,” Hughes said. “Strikeouts would have been nice, and I was able to get a couple consecutive there. Just to get out of that inning, I felt like it really kind of swung the momentum in our favor just to get out of that inning without letting any runs score, give our guys a chance to come back from that.”
• It’s interesting that Hughes seems to have gotten something going just when Michael Pineda was creeping closer to the end of a rehab assignment and Ivan Nova had returned as a possible rotation alternative. Hughes said there was no extra motivation because of his rotation spot possibly being in danger. “Not at all,” he said. “I want to pitch well every time I go out there, the circumstances, there’s always something going on, you know. It seems like every year there’s rumors swirling around or something’s gonna happen. I just try to ignore it as much as I can and try to go out and pitch as well as I possibly can. I feel a lot better with what I’m doing and it just so happens we have some guys coming up and stuff like that.”
• Ultimately, the Yankees had to go to Mariano Rivera when Preston Claiborne and Adam Warren had trouble closing out the game. Rivera got his 27th save of the season, and he did it with two pitches. “I don’t call it easy,” Rivera said. “Anything can happen. One pitch, home run. It’s not easy. Shorter one, that I’d say. We won, that’s good.”
• Also good, the Twins retirement gift of a rocking chair made with broken bats from former Twins players. Pretty awesome. Probably his best gift yet. “I can’t be picky,” Rivera said. “But these things, really thinking about it, you appreciate it. They really think. It’s great.” Rivera said he’ll put the chair in his trophy room.
• Player of the Game might have been shortstop Alberto Gonzalez who got a rare start, put the Yankees in front with a two-run double. His three RBI tied a career-high and more than doubled his RBI total for the season. He also made a terrific catch for Hughes. “Everyone knows very well what my role on this team is,” Gonzalez said. “Joe knows it. I know it. I’m always ready. I work very, very hard at every practice, at every position, and I’m always ready when the team needs me and when the manager needs me.”
• But the Player of the Road Trip is clearly Robinson Cano. Another two-hit game. Another home run. He now has 20 for the season and his batting average is back up to .295.
• This is the first time Cano’s ever had four home runs in a three-game span. He’s the first Yankees to hit four home runs in three games since Andruw Jones hit four in two games July 7-8, 2012.
• David Adams tied his career-high with two hits, getting two for the first time since June 1. It was the third time he’d ever scored two runs in a game.
• Seventeen runs is the most Yankees runs in back-to-back games since April 8-9 against Cleveland. “You want at least one guy that you can get on base for that guy,” Cano said. “But the last two games, it’s been everybody. So we scored 10 last night, seven tonight. That’s good.”
• Final word goes to Girardi: “It’s great to see because as we’ve talked about, it has to come from everybody to be successful and put together good streaks. Gonzo had a big game for us tonight. Adams had a couple of hits, got some rallies going. It was nice to see.”
Associated Press photos