Lots of talk tonight about Hiroki Kuroda, who’s gone from untouchable staff ace to infinitely hitable veteran. He’s seemed to defy his age all year, but in the past month, Kuroda’s looked every bit of 38 years old. He’s allowed nine hits in four of his past five starts. He quite literally never did that in the first four months of the season.
“(His command) hasn’t been as sharp,” Joe Girardi told YES Network. “For whatever reason, it hasn’t been as sharp.”
Kuroda never says much. Maybe it’s something about the language barrier, or maybe it’s his personality, it’s really hard to tell, but he’s not one to get into much detail. Tonight, he told reporters in Toronto that the movement of his pitches hasn’t been the same, and he might be rushing through his delivery.
“This time of the season, you have a lot of innings in you, a lot of innings thrown, so there are issues that you have to figure out,” he said. “I have experienced this before, so I think I’ll be able to regroup.”
Said Chris Stewart: “Could be mechanics. Could be he’s dropping his elbow. It’s late in the year. His body could be getting tired. He’s not able to physically repeat what he was doing early in the year. Maybe he’s more conscious of it now. … He’s just making bad pitches every once in a while, and they’re not missing them.”
Stewart did note that he thought Kuroda was better today than in his most recent starts, but the Yankees have really come to count on Kuroda being terrific every five days. There are 29 games to go, and the Yankees need Kuroda back on track; they need CC Sabathia back on track; and they need Andy Pettitte to stay on track.
“It’s going to make it really, really hard (if the starters can’t get on a roll),” Girardi said. “But every starter has got to pitch well throughout. That’s kind of the bottom line. And when they don’t, we’ve got to be able to pick them up offensively.”
• Girardi said that Eduardo Nunez will get an MRI tomorrow. Nunez told Bryan Hoch that he’s worried this knee injury could cost him two weeks or more.
• Nunez was in the lineup initially, but he was pulled because “he couldn’t run full speed” during warm ups, Girardi said.
• Unusual replacement at second base, but Mark Reynolds actually looked alright from what I could tell. The Yankees are still hopeful that Robinson Cano will be able to play second base on Friday. “In my heart, I think he’s going to be in there,” Girardi said. “But if he’s not, we’ll have to deal with it.”
• Stewart on the passed ball in the first inning: “I called a slider and he threw a fastball. … I tried to force the issue after that. Probably should have just eaten the ball and gone after the next hitter.”
• Girardi on the decision to send Alex Rodriguez in the fourth: “It’s just a read, and unfortunately it didn’t work out and kind of put a halt to our inning. … I didn’t have a problem with (Rob Thomson’s decision).”
• Final word goes to Stewart: “Any loss at this point in the season is rough on us. Time is ticking away and we don’t really have much room for error.”
Associated Press photos