Every All-Star game has its All-Star snubs, and Hiroki Kuroda certainly belongs on that list this season. He doesn’t have huge strikeout totals, but his WHIP is tiny. He doesn’t have a huge win total, but he’d have double digits if not for Mariano Rivera’s only blown saves of the season.
“I think he’s one of those guys that they’re going to talk about that really had a good shot of making the team and didn’t,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “There’s always going to be a number of guys. I wish he would have been an All-Star, but he’s not. I’m sure he’ll enjoy his four days.”
Some of Kuroda’s All-Star quality really needs to be witnessed, and he showed it tonight. The eight base runners look ugly, but Kuroda got the outs he needed. He kept the ball on the ground in key spots and had strikeouts waiting for key moments.
He also went back to the mound after a 73-minute rain delay, and after Larry Rothschild told him — twice! — that he was finished and wouldn’t be going back for the fifth inning. Kuroda convinced the Yankees to send him back by telling them he once went back to the mound after an hour and a half with the Dodgers.
“I think I gave Larry a hard time,” Kuroda said. “But the weather seemed to come back. The rain stopped earlier than I thought, so I think that helped me. … With all the preparation I made for tonight’s start, I wanted to come back out there.”
Kuroda threw roughly 20 pitches in two different sessions to stay sharp, and that’s why his total pitch count was limited to 90. But those 90 pitches did the job. Does Kuroda think much about the All-Star game and his chances of making it?
“Not really,” he said. “Obviously it’s a great thing to be selected for an All-Star, but there are rules of selection. Those who deserve to go there are going to the All-Star game.”
So what’s he going to do with those four days?
“Relax,” Kuroda said. “And get ready for the second half.”
• Kuroda gave the Yankees a chance to win tonight, but it was really Boone Logan who preserved the win and kept this game from falling apart. His seventh-inning performance — striking out Parmelee, Mauer and Morneau with two on — was the turning point. “That’s the ball game right there,” Chris Stewart said. “He was throwing his fastball for strikes. I think that’s what was keeping them off balance. Everyone knows he has a great slider, but for him to be able to show them he’s willing to throw his fastball at any time in the strike zone, it’s going to get them off the slider. He kind of kept them off balance out there.”
• There was also a wild pitch that nearly let the Twins score a run and cut the lead in half. “I called a slider, I was looking for slider, it was just a little more out front than I thought it was and it kind of took a tricky hop,” Stewart said. “Especially with the way the mud was back there, it just kind of caught me off guard and got by me. … I knew I was quick getting on it and just wanted to make a quick throw back to Boone, but it was a little too quick. Thank goodness he wasn’t going.”
• Hard to know what would have changed had Florimon scored — either on the wild pitch or on Stewart bad throw back to the mound — but the Yankees caught a break. “We got lucky because he can have a big lead for them because we’re off the line,” Girardi said. “We got lucky it came straight back.”
• Mariano Rivera has already reached 30 saves this season. That’s as many as he had in 67 appearances in 2007. “It doesn’t mean anything to me,” Rivera said. “I’m glad we won, that’s the most important thing. Whatever else, accolades you get, it’s part of the team. You come here to play, come here to win. Tonight was one of those games. Hiro pitched outstanding and he gave the bullpen an opportunity to pitch and do our job. Whatever happens after that, a record, it’s a team attribution. It’s not about myself.”
• But seriously… 30 saves at the break. “Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate that,” Rivera said. “At the same time, I’m a team player. Those things, I hate to talk about myself and all those stats. The most important thing is that we won; 30 saves, 20 saves, 15 saves, whatever it is, as long as we won, it doesn’t matter. Winning is our thing. That’s what we’re here for.”
• This is Rivera’s 15th season with at least 30 saves, moving him past Trevor Hoffman for the most such seasons all-time.
• Rivera on Derek Jeter’s setback: “That was hard. A guy that worked so hard for all those months to come back and play, be with his team and help his team as much as he can. All of a sudden you get hurt in the first game, it’s incredible. At the same time, you don’t have to ask, ‘Why me?’ You have to find out the way to get it done, get ready and come back.”
• The Yankees have won three in a row and nine of their past 12. They are 5-0 against the Twins this season. … This was the Yankees fifth shutout win, and their first since May 17.
• Robinson Cano extended his hitting streak to a season-high seven straight games.
• The rain delay actually came in the middle of Lyle Overbay’s at-bat, with an 0-1 count. “That was an hour and 15 minute at-bat I had,” Overbay said. “It was a long one.”
• The Yankees officially announced that they’ve come to terms with first-round pick Aaron Judge and 36th-round pick Nestor Cortes. The Yankees have signed 31 of their draft picks, including their top 16 picks.
• Final word goes to Girardi: “(The pitching staff) did a great job. It can’t be the easiest conditions to pitch in; the mound is probably not what they’re used to and you have to be careful that you don’t slip. They did a really good job. Boone Logan came in and did an outstanding job.”
Associated Press photos