Although the door is almost closed to the Yankees walking into the post-season, winning the last three contests has technically kept their chances alive. They are 4.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot with nine games remaining.
Most fans believe the 2014 season of the Yankees will end on September 28 and their interest is centered on watching Derek Jeter play his last few games prior to his retirement.
The only season opening starter on the Yankees not to visit the disabled list this year, Hiroki Kuroda, made his 31st start of the season on Friday night against the Toronto Blue Jays. He yielded two hits including a two-run home run by Edwin Encarnación before even retiring a second batter. The home run tied his teammate Jose Bautista with 33.
After the game, Kuroda commented through his translator, “The first inning I thought he [Encarnación] was looking for that pitch. Then I settled down.”
The veteran right-hander gave up only five more hits and one run before being removed from the contest after 6.2 innings. The Japanese native fanned seven but did not walk a batter for the fourth start game. He has faced 108 batters since he last walked a batter. It was his 11th start of the season in which he didn’t issue one walk. His strikeout/walk ration in 2014 is 137/35. He earned his 11th win of the year for the fourth straight year.
The Yankee captain commented, “Hiro knows how to pitch. If we scored any kind of runs for him, he’d have 17-18 wins.” The 39 year-old starting pitcher gave credit to his teammates for scoring five runs, “I had great support from our offense.” Kuroda is tied with Cole Hamels for the most losses in quality starts since 2008 with 30 since his offensive support is so lacking.
When asked by a reporter if he is considering returning next year, Kuroda stated, “I’m not thinking of that. This season is not over. Maybe my next start will be my last one.”
The five runs were the most scored by the Yankees since September 11. Jacoby Ellsbury led the offensive output with two hits, a double and a home run and three runs batted in. Unfortunately for Ellsbury and his team, Ellsbury left the game with hamstring pain. Yankee skipper Joe Girardi said of the centerfielder, “There’s nothing that this kid can’t do.” He remarked that it’s possible Ellsbury may not play again this season.
Jeter, who refrains from praising himself, spoke highly of Ellsbury, “When he gets hot, he’s capable of doing a lot of things. He’s fun to play with.”
What Jeter did not wish to discusss was that Friday’s contest was his second straight multi-hit game. There are six more home games for Jeter and the Yankees.
Yankee records-Yankee hurlers have fanned 1,279 batters this season. They need 40 strikeouts to break the record set in 2012. Ellsbury’s home run was the 14,998 of the Yankees. They now need only two to reach 15,000. Who do you think will hit #15,000?