Postgame Notebook: Yanks holding out for a Hiro
Instead, the veteran righty allowed just two base runners the rest of the way - one of which, Munenori Kawasaki, was picked off at first base after walking in the third - and retired 11 in a row between Kawasaki's walk and Edwin Encarnacion's seventh inning single.
"It's a night where I think he had all three pitches; he had a very good fastball, a very good slider, and a very good split," manager Joe Girardi said. "He had some swings and misses on splits, and he was really, really good."
"All my pitches were pretty good today," Kuroda added through his interpreter. "I felt good all along, especially early on after I struck out Bautista and Encarnacion."
Kuroda improved to 6-2 on the season with the win, with two of those victories already against Toronto; the veteran righty is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA against the Jays, and Toronto manager John Gibbons had high praise for the Yankees starter after the game.
"He's very good; he's definitely one of the better ones in the league, and I think that's three times this year where we haven't been able to do anything with him," Gibbons said. "That's what the good ones do; you have to get to them early, (because) once they settle in and get in their rhythm, they're awfully tough."
And, by going eight innings, Kuroda was able to keep Girardi from exhausting a bullpen that has seen a lot of work lately, something that will be important going forward through the next few games.
"It's nice whenever you can give your bullpen the night off, because we've had to use them a lot and shuffle some people in and out," Girardi said. "(Kuroda has been) so good for us; he's been giving us a lot of innings, a lot of quality starts…he's been outstanding. The way he left off last year, he's picked right up."
That could also be important now that Andy Pettitte is on the disabled list and Vidal Nuno will step in for him, but Girardi doesn't think that will make Kuroda press any more than he already does.
"I don't think (the loss of Pettitte will affect Kuroda); I think he takes each start individually and expects to do very well and give us an opportunity to win," Girardi said.
More news and notes following the Yankees' series-opening win over Toronto:
-The Yankees still have not lost more than two in a row all year, and this time it was the kiddie corps who played a huge role in the Yankees victory. David Adams was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Austin Romine was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored, while Preston Claiborne pitched the ninth and got out of a jam to keep his ERA at 0.00 after eight innings of work.
"That's what you want these kids to do; when you think about the runs we got, it was between seven and nine that did a lot of the damage," Girardi said. "And Claiborne…we were impressed with him in Spring Training, and we left thinking he could help us at some point this year, and he's doing that right now; you never know how a guy is going to act when he gets here, but he's the same guy he was in Spring Training, and he's probably gaining confidence every day."
-Adams on his first week in the Majors: "I feel fortunate and blessed to be here. Days like the last couple days when we don't win, it's a little tougher, but on days like this when we win, it's awesome." -Romine on changing up his offensive approach a little bit: "I just went back to a little tiny leg kick, just a little one to get some rhythm and momentum going, and it felt good."
-Claiborne on what getting out of the ninth inning jam did for his confidence: "It's huge; I got a chance to finish the game and I got a little excited and left the ball up a couple of times and made some mistakes, but I got lucky. The guys played good defense behind me, and Romine made a good catch to finish the game."
-Jayson Nix won't show up in the box score with an official at-bat, but he had what could be a turning point kind of game; coming off an 0-for-9 series against Seattle, Nix walked twice, stole a base, and had a pair of sacrifice flies, and Girardi singled him out as "one of the guys who provided a lot of support" for Kuroda.
-Prior to the game, Brian Cashman said that Joba Chamberlain would be lined up for a bullpen session on Sunday, at which point the brass would re-address what his next step will be.
-Cashman also had the following to say on Mark Teixeira: "He's done BP…he's out until at least June 1, but if everything continues he'll be doing rehab games before that. I think he should go through a full Spring Training, somewhere around 50 or so at-bats; Curtis Granderson did that, but his rehab might go slower than Curtis. The injuries were different, and Curtis led off for five days in Extended Spring Training and got five at-bats a day, so he got a quicker 25 at-bats than Teixeira will."
-Last word also goes to the GM, relating to future roster moves: "We're so jammed up and have to watch every move we make going forward here. I've exhausted (the limit) on the 60-day (disabled list); I can't do any more there, so we have to be careful with our next steps."