Brett Gardner managed to explain this one in 97 words.
“I guess everyone probably wondered what’s going on when you Kuroda giving up a homer, and another one, and another one, and then another one, and then maybe even another one,” he said. “I’m not sure how many it was, but he’s been so good all year. He’s not perfect, you know? You get into a hole like that, its tough to get back out of it, especially against someone who’s throwing the ball as well as Archer. Hopefully, CC can give us a good one tomorrow and we can even out the series and get back on track.”
That’s the whole story right there. Hiroki Kuroda gave up a season-high four home runs, Chris Archer was tremendous again, and the Yankees really need to recapture momentum quickly if they want to keep this run going. It was the kind of game that might be easily dismissed as a bad night for one starter and a good night for the other, but nothing is easily dismissed right now. Not for a team trying to fight its way back in the hunt.
“It was really strange,” Joe Girardi said. “He just didn’t have his stuff tonight. He kept trying to find it and find it, but I didn’t think his slider was extremely sharp, and I didn’t think he had the great command of his fastball tonight. It’s one of those nights he just didn’t have his stuff.”
One thing that Gardner’s comment makes clear is just how much the Yankees have come to depend on Kuroda this season. He’s been close to automatic, so much so that a night like tonight really did seem stunning. We’ve seen him get hit, but not quite like this.
Through the first four months of the season, Kuroda never allowed as many as nine hits in a start. He’s now done it three times in his past four starts. Anything to be concerned about?
“I don’t really feel fatigue,” Kuroda said. “I’ve being throwing 200 innings the last couple years, and there are times when you have good stuff and not good stuff, so I don’t really think about fatigue right now. … Obviously the team was on a roll, and the fact that I couldn’t contribute today to the team was, yes, disappointing.”
• Derek Jeter told reporters in Scranton that he knew all along this was going to be a three-game rehab assignment. He was never expecting to join the Yankees in Tampa. “I’m not surprised by too many things,” he said.
• Jeter said he’ll play shortstop again tomorrow. That’ll be three games in a row in the field. He didn’t say how many innings he’ll play, but he played seven tonight after five last night. He was 0-for-3 with a walk, a strikeout and a run scored. “I’m not concerned about running,” he said. “Not at all. Everything felt good. … For me, it’s just playing in games. For them it’s probably check to make sure I’m alright. But I get it.”
• Speaking of injured Yankees, Brett Gardner was nearly added to the list. That hit by pitch in the third inning got him on the back of the right hand in basically the exact same spot where Jayson Nix was hit earlier this week. Nix is lost for the year. Gardner stayed in the game to have two more hits. “Just got lucky,” he said. “It didn’t square me up. … I’m not concerned about it any more.”
• As a precaution, Gardner said he’ll likely get an X-ray tomorrow. His hand was slightly swollen, but not much. I really couldn’t tell looking at it, but Gardner said it was a little bigger.
• Chris Stewart also had his right heel wrapped. He took a foul ball there but said he’s fine. Didn’t see Lyle Overbay in the clubhouse after the game. With the Yankees facing a lefty tomorrow, he probably wasn’t going to play anyway, so he should get two days to try to get over this flu-like situation.
• One more mild injury update, Eduardo Nunez had a few plays when he had to run at a full spring down the first-base line and he came through the game just fine. His hamstring seems to be doing better. “You hope he feels good tomorrow,” Girardi said. “You worry sometimes about the day after, but today’s the best we’ve seen him run.”
• Stewart seemed to have a different evaluation: “He didn’t throw too bad,” Stewart said. “They were just laying off some really good pitches. When he threw it in the zone, they didn’t miss them. They hit him pretty hard. I made some bad calls. It’s just tough to game plan when they’re not really chasing anything. That’s kind of his game. He works in and out of the zone. He starts in the zone and gets chases out of the zone. They didn’t chase today. They made him throw strikes and hit him hard.”
• Archer is 3-0 against the Yankees this season. He’s the first rookie with three wins against the Yankees in a season since Kevin Brown in 1989. “I thought we swung the bats a little bit better against him today,” Girardi said. “You can look at the ball Stewie hit. The one inning we hit three balls hard and didn’t get a hit. He’s got good stuff, there’s no doubt about it; but I thought we had better at-bats against him today.”
• Stewart really did seem to have a sure double that David DeJesus robbed with a great running catch in the eighth. “I put my head down and was thinking automatic double, hear the crowd go crazy and apparently the ball’s in his glove,” Stewart said. “That’s just kind of the way things went tonight.”
• Final word goes to Gardner: “Well, you want to win the first game. When you lose the first game of a three-game series it’s tough to win the next two. Especially on the road against a team like the Rays but they been playing good ball all year and hopefully the way we been playing recently, we can get a good one tomorrow.”
Associated Press photos