Saturday, September 14, 2013

Salty Slams Yankees to the Mat

One might think the game was over Friday night after the Red Sox scored four runs in the 1st inning off of Hiroki Kuroda. But just as they had last week in New York, the Yankees rallied to tie the game at four apiece. Unfortunately, just like three of last week's games with Boston, the Yankees lost anyway.

The Red Sox have hit eight grand slams on the year, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia being the latest batter to go deep with the bases loaded. The catcher's slam came off of Preston Claiborne and turned the aforementioned 4-4 tie into an 8-4 Red Sox lead. That turned out to be the final score as the Red Sox won their 90th game and the Yankees fell two games behind Tampa Bay for the number two wild card spot.

Kuroda has been the Yankees ace since last year, but he's been extremely fatigued of late. Since he tossed eight innings of shutout ball against the Los Angeles Angels on August 12, Kuroda has not gone past 6.1 innings in any start. In fact, he recorded an out in the 7th inning only once and hasn't won since the game against the Angels. (In fairness, he was the pitcher of record in last Sunday's game against Boston, but Mariano Rivera blew the lead. The Yankees won in the bototom of the 9th on a wild pitch.)

Kuroda got into immediate trouble Friday night with a 33 pitch 1st inning. He gave up a lead off single to Dustin Pedroia, a 1-out double to David Ortiz, and an RBI ground out to Mike Carp that gave Boston a 1-0 lead. Given the opportunity to escape with a single run allowed, Kuroda got touched up for three more runs on a Daniel Nava single and a 2-run double by Stephen Drew.

The Yankees slowly chipped away against Sox starter John Lackey with an unexpected solo home run from Brendan Ryan in the 3rd inning. Lyle Overbay cut the lead in half in the 6th with a sacrifice fly as Kuroda hung tough and shut down the Red Sox red hot lineup.

The Yankees pulled even in the 7th with Ryan and Chris Stewart reaching on back-to-back singles to start the rally. With Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, and Robinson Cano due up, John Farrell sent for left-hander Craig Breslow. Breslow K'ed Granderson, but walked A-Rod to load the bases for Cano. The second baseman came through with a game tying 2-run double. Alfonso Soriano had a chance to put the Bombers ahead, but Brandon Workman induced an inning ending ground out.

The good times didn't last long- Joe Girardi sent Kuroda back out to start the 7th, but he gave up a single to Shane Victorino and departed. Lefty Cesar Cabral came on, but hit Ortiz. Claiborne, this year's Cody Eppley, wore down quicker than his predecessor after a surprisingly effective first half of the season. He was next to enter the fray Friday night and walked pinch-hitter Jonny Gomes to load the bases.

Claiborne struck out Nava, but Saltalamacchia deposited grand slam number eight over the right field fence to essentially end the Yankees night.

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