I’m actually driving to San Diego tonight, so I’m going to try to be fairly quick with these postgame notes and get on the road. Even after the ninth-inning rally and the must-needed win, the thing that stands out most is the Yankees starter who didn’t factor into the decision.
Do you ever stop to think where the Yankees would be without Hiroki Kuroda this season?
“No, I don’t,” Joe Girardi said. “And I’m not going to.”
Seven scoreless innings, against a red-hot Dodgers lineup, cut Kuroda’s ERA to 2.38. He doesn’t have all the wins he deserves, because too often he’s pitched on night’s like this, but he looks like a Cy Young candidate at 38 years old.
“He was brilliant again,” Girardi said. “You think of his starts that he’s had since the break, he’s been really good for us. … To have the ERA that he has in our division, in this day and age, in our ballpark, is pretty amazing.”
Kuroda was typically understated after the game, polite as ever, seemingly unimpressed with his consistency and occasional dominance this season. This was his first time back at Dodger Stadium since he left Los Angeles, and he matched up against arguably the best pitcher in the game. He was up to the task, and even showed a little bit of rare emotion as he walked off the mound after that huge strikeout in the seventh.
“The situation dictated that emotion,” Kuroda said. “Once in a while I can do that.”
• Lyle Overbay didn’t look good on those first couple of pitches. Paco Rodriguez has a big slider and a weird delivery, and Overbay looked kind of lost until he drove that game-winner up the middle. “It wasn’t that I wasn’t comfortable,” Overbay said. “I was just being too aggressive. But with two strikes you’ve got to protect. You’re just trying to see spin and make sure, because he can throw that fastball where early in a count you can sit on a pitch. I was looking for a slider and he threw it to me. But I was being too aggressive, and finally that last pitch it just didn’t break like the other ones.”
• Girardi’s late pinch hitting decisions worked perfectly, as did his decision to walk Yasiel Puig to have Boone Logan face Adrian Gonzalez in the eighth. Was that an easy choice? “No!” Girardi said. “You start talking about the matchups and what you want to do. Gonzo’s seen Boone. Because he was in Boston, he’s seen him plenty, and he’s had a couple of hits off him, but I thought Boonie’s probably our most experienced reliever there, and that’s what I chose to do.”
• Another reason for sticking with Logan: Dave Robertson wasn’t available. He’d pitched three of the past four days, and he told Girardi pregame that his arm was feeling a little tired. No concern at all, just quite a bit of work lately and the Yankees were trying to stay away from their setup man.
• As for the decision to pinch run for Derek Jeter, it had as much to do with injury concern as with speed. “If there’s a ball in the gap…” Girardi said, without need to finish that thought. The Yankees didn’t want Jeter to get in a situation where he had to really push himself, so Eduardo Nunez came in. “We’ve told him to put a governor on it and be careful as we’re getting through this for the first week or so, the first 10 days,” Girardi said. “He’s been smart about it. I’ll give him credit. It’s not in his DNA, and I’ve had a couple of talks about it, but he’s been smart about it.”
• Melky Mesa was chosen to pinch hit in the eighth — ahead of Eduardo Nunez or one of the lefties — because of his power. There were two outs and a runner at first, so it’s not like a single was going to score a run. “We talked about who to send up there, and Melky probably has as much power on the bench as anyone,” Girardi said. “You’ve got a runner on first, so you thought… I know it’s a lot to ask a kid to hit a homer off Kershaw, but if you run into one, he’s got the most power of all the guys probably there.”
• Kuroda said it was his split that was especially effective tonight. “At first it was a little bit strange, I have to admit,” Kuroda said. “But I’m wearing a Yankee uniform now, so once the game started, I was able to get in the game, into a rhythm.”
• Jeter on the pitchers’ duel: “It was a lot of fun going to sit down every time you go up there.”
• Big play by Vernon Wells, keeping Adrian Gonzalez from going to second base when trying to stretch a single into a double in the seventh. The Dodgers had a few hits after that. “That was a huge play for me, as well as the team,” Kuroda said. “If that had ended up being a double, I may have given up a run, so that was huge.”
• CC Sabathia was on deck to pinch hit for Logan when Chris Stewart grounded out to end the seventh. “I would have gotten a hit if I’d realized,” Stewart said. “I made an out trying to speed the game up a little bit.”
• Might as well give the final word to Jeter: “We’ve been battling. It’s tough for me to say because I haven’t really been here too much, but since I’ve been here, guys go out there and battle. We’ve pretty much had a short memory of previous days, which we need. Hopefully we can build on this. You want to put together a little stretch, so hopefully a game like this can get us going.”
Associated Press photos