Hiroki Kuroda’s dominance today at the Trop certainly aided in the Yankees taking this weekend’s series against the Rays. Throwing 97 pitches over his 6.2 innings, Kuroda “the Workhorse” was back in action, something that seems to have been missing for the last few outings. He gave up just 4 hits, 2 runs, and 1 walk, and striking out just 1 Rays batter had the Yankee defense on their toes making some truly impressive outs. One run was scored by the Rays in the 1st inning on an RBI ground out. The second run came in the 7th after a lead-off double scored on a single.
Before Kuroda exited the game in favor of the bullpen, the Yankees hand-delivered the win with their offense. With 2 outs in the 5th inning, the Yankees offense came alive. Drew walked, Prado doubled, and then Brett Gardner scored both on his single. Jeter singled, and then Jacoby Ellsbury singled in Gardner for a nice 3-run inning for the Yankees.
So as Kuroda exited in the 7th, the score was 3-2 Yankees. Kelley was brought on in relief and quickly got out of a minor jam for Kuroda. Betances’ 8th and Robertson’s 9th (and eventual 33rd save) closed the door on any potential Rays’ rally. And because a 1-run lead just wasn’t enough, Mark Teixeira punctuated the scored with his own contribution — an 8th inning solo home run. It would be 4-2 Yankees today.
Roster updates: Brian McCann was back in the line-up and behind the plate today after being placed on the 7-day DL with a mild concussion last week, after taking a foul ball off his mask. And yesterday, Carlos Beltran was back playing right field after a bone spur in his elbow initially hampered any play, but he eventually worked his way back to a fielding position, something I know must be a relief for the veteran outfielder; Beltran has been DH-ing since returning from the DL a few months ago. Jeter has been the DH for the last two games in his “place”, giving other bench players a chance to play on the rough terrain that is artificial turf.
Okay, because I mentioned it above and it bares repeating, the Yankees were something to watch defensively. Martin Prado, today at 2nd base, seemed particularly set on showing off his defensively flair. And of course, Headley and Ichiro weren’t far from any action. It was certainly a highlight reel worthy day on that front. Honestly, the Yankees really played like the team I know they are, something that was certainly missing on Friday and showed up in pieces yesterday. They head home tomorrow to play a 6-game home stand against the Astros and White Sox, so it will be nice if they can continue the momentum.
Of course, winning is always a great momentum train to jump on for as long as humanly possible. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I like winning, and I like it when the Yankees win. They can keep this train rolling for as long as they want because I think there’s a few million fans (including quite a bit of those vocal Tampa fans from this weekend’s games) that want to see that happen.