Bronx, NY—For the second time in less than one month, pitchers Hiroki Kuroda and Chris Sale started a game versus one another. On August 6 at U.S. Cellular Field, both hurlers pitched effectively, but Sale earned the win and Kuroda the loss in a 3-2 White Sox win.
In that contest, Sale gave up only one unearned run and five hits in 7.1 innings while Kuroda yielded three runs and nine hits in seven.
The two starters have been travelling in different directions since that day. Before Wednesday’s game began, Sale had won four of the last five, lasted at least seven innings in each contest and yielded only more than three runs in the loss.
On the other hand, Kuroda lost four of five, lasted fewer than seven frames in three games and surrendered at least three in each of the defeats.
One circumstance the two capable hurlers share is the lack of run support they have received from their teammates in 2013. Sale is third lowest in the majors with an average support of only 3.19 per game. Chicago scored a total of 14 runs in Sale’s 12 losses and was shut out in five of those games.
Kuroda’s support from his teammates is barely higher. He has a run support average off 3.26. The Yanks scored 18 runs in the 10 games in which Kuroda received a loss and were shut out twice.
The lack of run support has given both distorted won/loss marks as each has an ERA of less than three runs per nine innings.
Their performances on Wednesday night appeared to follow the recent pattern. Kuroda gave up four runs in 6.1 innings on the mound.
Second sacker Gordon Beckham doubled in the first and scored on a single by Adam Dunn.
Alexi Ramirez hit a two-run triple in the fifth and Alejando De Aza, the last batter Kuroda faced, blasted a solo home run in the seventh.
The only run scored off Sale, while he was still on the mound, was greatly aided by the inept fielding of the White Sox infielders. Vernon Wells beat out an infield single with one out. He moved ahead thanks to two Chicago infield errors and scored on the front end of a double steal.
After Sale fanned Brett Gardner in the bottom of the eighth, the end result seemed near to many. Those without faith in the revamped Yankee lineup were in for a big surprise.
Derek Jeter singled and was followed by Robinson Cano, who doubled. Manager Robin Ventura removed his ace. Although Sale had thrown 114 pitches, he exceeded that amount in eight previous starts this year.
The Yankee offense was only beginning the damage that would continue against three Chicago relievers that inning. Alfonso Soriano doubled in two runs off Nate Jones. The two earned runs were added to the account of Sale. Alex Rodriguez followed with a single and pinch hitter Curtis Granderson tied the game with a single. With two out, Eduardo Nuñez drove in the winning runs with a double.
Mariano Rivera retired the side in the ninth to earn his 40th save. Rivera, annoyed by questions asking if he had changed his mind regarding retirement, spoke about the importance of the result of the contest, “We won. That’s the most important thing. It was a big game for us.”
The win was the Yanks eighth of their last nine home games. The White Sox are now 0-5 in their current road trip.
The Yanks hope to sweep the three game series on Thursday evening with C.C. Sabathia (12-11) starting against Erik Johnson, who will be making his major league debut.