Bronx, NY—Returning from a road trip which found starter Ivan Nova injured, needing surgery, and out for the rest of the 2014 season and starter Michael Pineda suspended for 10 games, starter Hiroki Kuroda began the homestand on Friday night with his worst performance of the young season.
Kuroda was removed from the game by Yanks skipper Joe Girardi after 4.2 innings after surrendering 10 hits and 8 runs, 6 earned. In his previous 26 starts, since May 28, 2013, Kuroda had pitched a minimum of five innings. The current holder of the highest streak of games of at least five innings pitched is Kuroda’s countryman, Yu Darvish with 56.
Kuroda spoke critically off his performance, “Right now, some pitches are inconsistent. I need to improve my breaking ball. I need to make an adjustment.”
Two veterans, Albert Pujols and Raúl Ibañez, beagn the hit parade for the Angels with singles in the first inning. The first three batters in the second inning, Ian Stewart, Erick Aybar and Hank Conger, hit safely and later in the inning scored.
With two out in the third, second sacker Howie Kendrick singled and was driven in on a two-run homer by Stewart.
Pujols, leading off the fifth, drilled a 1-1 pitch into the leftfield stands for his ninth home run of the year and the 501st of his career in the majors. He became the 26th player to reach 500 four baggers three days earlier. Now in his 14th season, Pujols, off to an excellent start, had only once, 2006, reached his ninth homer in the season sooner than game #22. The nine homer in April tied an Angels mark set by Brian Downing in 2006.
Pujols is the first righty to hit a home run off Kuroda in 10 starts. The last was Edwin Encarnación on August 28, 2013. The last righthand batter to homer off him in Yankee Stadium was Jose Iglesias on June 2, 2013.
Although the outcome was already decided when Kuroda left the field, the Angels left nothing to chance by scoring five runs off Yankee relievers. Four were driven in by homers in the seventh. Aybar blasted a three run home run and, two batters later, Colin Cowgill hit a solo homer.
The Yankee offense was halted by Los Angeles starter CJ Wilson. In six innings, he yielded only four hits and one run to earn his third win of the season.
The second game of the series will be plated on Saturday afternoon with Vidal Nuno starting for the Yanks and Hector Santiago for the Angels.