Results tagged ‘ Melky Cabrera ’

Yanks blow three-run lead to end 3-4 trip

A trip considered pivotal for the Yankees’ playoff chances did not turn out as well as they had hoped. They got off to a good start with a victory in Kansas City over one of the contenders for post-season play but hit snags in Detroit and Toronto where the Yanks lost each series, two games to one.

Sunday’s finale at Rogers Centre was a major disappointment. One day after sustaining a one-hit shutout, the Yankees bounced back against J.A. Happ to take a 3-0 lead behind Brandon McCarthy, who was rolling along through five innings working on a two-hit shutout.

Before McCarthy could get the third out of the sixth, however, he was smacked for two long home runs by Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista that made it a one-run game. Cabrera’s 16th home run of the season was his fifth this year against his former teammates. Bautista’s 29th homer of the season made it five straight games in which he has gone deep, one shy of the franchise record by Jose Cruz Jr. in 2001. The major league record is eight shared by the Pirates’ Dale Long (1956), the Yankees’ Don Mattingly (1987) and the Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr. (1993).

Edwin Encarnacion tied the score when he led off the seventh with another bomb of a homer (No. 28), and a shaken McCarthy then walked Dioner Navarro. That turned out to be just as bad as the home runs when pinch runner Steve Tolleson stole second base with two out and scored the go-ahead run on a single by Munenori Kawasaki off Dellin Betances. The play at home was close, but Tolleson sliding head first got his left hand across the plate just before the lunging tag by catcher Francisco Cervelli.

The Yankees had chances after that to get back in the game. They had two runners on with two out in the eighth against Brett Cecil, but Cervelli struck out. In the ninth, Jacoby Ellsbury, hobbled by a sprained left ankle that was heavily taped, came off the bench and pinch-hit a double to shallow right field with one out. Pinch runner Ichiro Suzuki moved to third as Brett Gardner, who flirted with a cycle, grounded out to the right side.

That brought up Derek Jeter in what was likely his final game in Toronto. A Hollywood ending would have had the Captain trying the score at least with a single or perhaps even putting the Yanks ahead with a two-run homer. Instead, he hit a soft liner to Tolleson to end the disappointing trip in which the Yankees were 3-4.

The Yanks wasted several other scoring opportunities. Cervelli tripled with two out in the second before Stephen Drew struck out. Cervelli singled in the Yankees’ second run in the fourth, but he and another runner were stranded when Drew flied out.

Gardner accounted for the other two runs with his 16th home run of the season, the fifth leading off a game, and a triple in the fifth when he continued to the plate on an errant relay by Jose Reyes. Gardner doubled with two out in the seventh but Jeter was out on a pepper shot. Gardner needed a single to complete the cycle, and it might have tied the score in the ninth except he grounded out. He also flied out to left field in the third inning.

While the Yankees had 11 hits, the middle of their lineup was silent as Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran combined to go 0-for-8 with five strikeouts. The Yanks had 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

The Yankees’ loss dropped them nine games behind first-place Baltimore in the American League East, and they stayed 3 1/2 games back in the wild-card race by failing to take advantage of a Detroit loss with Seattle and Kansas City playing later in the day. Even worse, the Yankees could have buried the Blue Jays but instead allowed Toronto to pull to 1 1/2 games behind them in the wild-card hunt.

Labor Day turns out to be a holiday as well for the Yankees, who have Monday off. Then it’s another crucial nine-game stretch at Yankee Stadium with three-game series each against the Red Sox, Royals and Rays. Time is growing short.

D-Rob called on to avoid sweep at Toronto

Joe Girardi wasn’t taking any chances Wednesday night. The manager wanted to avoid being swept in Toronto as the Yankees had done to the Blue Jays last week at Yankee Stadium. Toward that effort, Girardi did not hesitate to have David Robertson work a five-out save to salvage at least one victory in the three-game series.

The Yankees came back from Tuesday night’s sloppy loss to turn back the Blue Jays, 5-3, and end a four-game losing streak. The Jays jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Jose Reyes hit the first pitch from Hiroki Kuroda for a home run, but the Yankees attacked Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison for four runs in the third and held the lead with solid ensemble work from the bullpen.

Kuroda earned his first victory in five starts since May 28, although he had not pitched that poorly (3.33 ERA) during the four-game stretch in which he had two losses and two no-decisions. The Japanese righthander gave up two runs on a two-out single by Melky Cabrera in the fifth that made it a one-run game but worked out of trouble in the sixth and departed with one out and a runner on first base in the seventh with the Yankees up by two runs.

Shawn Kelley gave up a single to Reyes but then got Cabrera on a fly to right. Girardi brought in lefthander Matt Thornton to face lefty-swinging Adam Lind. During the at-bat, Anthony Gose and Reyes, two of the fastest players in the major leagues, pulled off a gutsy double steal. Thornton got the job done, however, as Lind hit the ball right back to the pitcher for the third out.

Adam Warren started the eighth, but when he gave up a one-out single to Dioner Navarro Girardi summoned Robertson. D-Rob had not pitched in a week and was plenty strong. He finished off the eighth with two strikeouts, then got another punchout to start the ninth before inducing two ground balls for his 18th save.

The Yankees were only 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and had two runners thrown out trying to steal but got key hits when it mattered. Getting a rare start behind the plate, Francisco Cervelli doubled home the Yanks’ first run in the third inning. The first of Jacoby Ellsbury’s three hits was a two-out single that sent home Cervelli. Mark Teixeira followed with his 14th home run to make the score 4-1.

After the Jays closed to 4-3, the Yankees scored a run without a hit in the seventh on two walks, a hit batter and a sacrifice fly by Teixeira.

The Yankees can now exhale Thursday, their first day off after playing for 23 straight days. It is also Derek Jeter’s 40th birthday. He and his teammates could surely use the rest.

Taking turns messing up

No sooner had the Yankees allowed the Blue Jays to pull in front by the score of 6-0 due in part to shabby defense that Toronto did the same thing in return and watched its sizable lead disappear.

Mark Buehrle seemed poised to end his personal nine-game losing streak against the Yankees only to watch his career record against them remain at 1-11 as he was hung with a no-decision. Errors by left fielder Melky Cabrera and shortstop Jose Reyes were key factors in the Yankees’ putting up a five-spot in the seventh inning to knot the score at 6.

Derek Jeter, whose hesitating play in the fifth contributed to a three-run inning by the Blue Jays, began the Yankees’ comeback in the sixth with a solo home run (No. 2) off Buehrle. After Brian McCann doubled with one out in the seventh, Brian Roberts (No. 3) also took Buehrle deep, and Toronto’s lead was cut in half.

Then things got really crazy after Yangervis Solarte made the second out. Brett Gardner was credited with a double when Cabrera couldn’t hang on to the ball while attempting a sliding catch in shallow left field. Righthander Dustin McGowan replaced the left-handed Buehrle and had all four batters he faced reached base.

Jacoby Ellsbury followed a walk to Jeter with a single to left that scored Gardner. Jeter and Ellsbury were able to advance a base apiece on an errant throw to the plate by Cabrera. Mark Teixeira hit a grounder up the middle that was gloved by Reyes, who had plenty of time to throw out Tex but hurried his peg that bounced past first baseman Edwin Encarnacion for an error that allowed Jeter and Ellsbury to score and tie the game.

Alfonso Soriano kept the line moving with a single to left, which prompted another pitching change. Lefthander Aaron Loup got the final out by gloving a hard grounder to the box by Carlos Beltran.

So it was somewhow appropriate that the game should end on an error, which it did in the bottom of the ninth. Reyes, who had a miserable game in the field with two errors, doubled to lead off the ninth against Adam Warren. Cabrera, whose 20-game hitting streak against the Yankees came to an end, dropped a sacrifice bunt toward third baseman Yangervis Solarte, whose throw to first base sailed past Roberts covering as Reyes ran all the way home with the winning run.

The Yankees’ losing streak stretched to four games as they fell 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Blue Jays in the American League East.

Jays a different club away from Stadium

What a difference a venue makes. Last week at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees swept a three-game series from the first-place Blue Jays that let Toronto know it was not going to run away and hide in the American League East. That sweep ran to 16 games the Yankees’ winning streak at home against the Jays.

The return engagement at Rogers Centre was a different story, at least for Monday night’s series opener. The Blue Jays struck early and often in their own building to end Chase Whitley’s good luck charm on the road with an 8-3 victory.

The Yankees had been 5-0 in road games started by Whitley, the Triple A call-up who has done a splendid job in plugging up one of the holes in the injury-riddled rotation. The Alabama righthander did not have it this night, however, as Toronto burst out to a 7-0 lead after two innings. That marked as many runs as Whitley allowed over his four previous starts combined covering 24 2/3 innings.

Melky Cabrera, who has tormented his former teammates since he left after the 2009 season, got the ball rolling for the Jays with a one-out double in the first inning. Adam Lind, batting in the 3-hole with Jose Bautista out because of hamstring problems, knocked in Cabrera with a single.

Lind did quite a bit more damage in the six-run Toronto second inning. The Jays loaded the bases with none out on three straight singles. A fielder’s choice and an RBI single by Cabrera made the score 3-0 before Lind broke the game open with a three-run home run over the center field wall.

Cabrera extended his hitting streak against the Yankees to 20 games. During the stretch, he has batted .349 with seven doubles, one triple and one home run in 83 at-bats. Melky has reached base safely in all 22 career games against his former club. The last player with a 20-game hitting streak against the Yankees was also named Cabrera, the Tigers’ Miguel (no relation) from 2006-10.

Whitley, who had walked only four batters in his seven prior starts totaling 38 2/3 innings, walked the first two guys up in the fourth and appeared gassed. Dioner Navarro singled to drive in the Blue Jays’ eighth run, which forced manager Joe Girardi to go to the bullpen.

The relief work of David Huff and Shawn Kelley were bright spots for the Yankees. Huff pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed one hit and two walks with three strikeouts and a wild pitch. Kelley struck out the side in the eighth and gave up one hit.

It was the first poor outing for Whitley, who was charged with eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings as his ERA hiked from 2.56 to 4.07. The righthander allowed 11 hits and three walks with one strikeout and one wild pitch.

Marcus Stroman, who could not get through the fourth inning last week at the Stadium, pitched a solid eight for the Blue Jays this time. The righthander from Long Island gave up one run on Mark Teixeira’s 13th homer and only two other hits, singles by Brendan Ryan and Ichiro Suzuki, and had seven strikeouts.

Considering the state of the Yankees’ offense these days, the hole Whitley put his team in was too great out of which for his teammates to climb. The Yankees did score a couple of runs in the ninth off Chad Jenkins. Yangervis Solarte, who entered the game in the eighth, stopped a 0-for-28 slump with an RBI single, and Kelly Johnson doubled in a run.

Those were the Yankees’ only runs other than the two from a pair of homers by Teixeira over the past 27 innings for the Yankees, who fell 2 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays, a sign that they were no longer at Yankee Stadium.

Yanks hope to stay hot on West Coast

The Yankees couldn’t beat the Mariners at Yankee Stadium but couldn’t lose to them at Safeco Field. Seattle with its new second baseman, Robinson Cano, was victorious over the Yankees April 29 and May 1 at the Stadium as well as the June 2 rainout makeup game. The past three nights at Safeco was a whole different story, however, and there was nothing Cano could do about it.

The three-game sweep by the Yankees was impressive considering that the Mariners were hot entering the series while the Yanks were struggling with a fizzling offense. Their 6-3 victory Thursday night marked the first time in 13 games that the Yankees scored more than four runs. Derek Jeter heated up during the series with seven hits, including a double, and two RBI in 12 at-bats, a .583 clip that raised his average 17 points to .271.

The turnaround in fortunes home and away matched that of the Subway Series this year with the Mets winning the two games at Yankee Stadium May 12 and 13 and the Yankees taking the two games at Citi Field May 14 and 15. This marks the only two instances in franchise history that the Yankees lost all of its home games and won all its road games against the same opponent in a single season.

A drawback from Thursday night’s victory was Jacoby Ellsbury coming out of the game in the late innings because of a strained right hip. Ellsbury has broken out of an early-season slump to go on a 16-game hitting streak dating to May 26, which is the longest for the Yankees since a 19-gamer by Jeter in 2012 from Sept. 4-25. Ellsbury’s streak is the longest active streak in the majors, the third-longest in the American League this season, and tied for sixth-longest in the majors. The Elias Sports Bureau reports that it is longest hitting streak by a Yankees center fielder since Melky Cabrera hit in 18 straight games in 2007.

During the streak, Ellsbury is batting .381 with nine runs, three doubles, two home runs, 12 RBI, seven walks, seven stolen bases and a .443 on-base percentage in 63 at-bats. It is his longest hitting streak since a 19-gamer with the Red Sox last year from May 19 through July 11. His career best is a 22-game streak in 2009 from May 2-27. Ellsbury is tied for second in the AL with 18 stolen bases with the Tigers’ Rajai Davis, six behind league leader Jose Altuve of the Astros. Ellsbury had the game-winning RBI in the Yankees’ past three games. Elias notes that he is the first Yankees player with the game-winning RBI in three straight team games since Nick Swisher in 2012 from Aug. 13-15.

All three of the Yankees’ victories in Seattle came in games in which their starting pitcher was a rookie. The Yankees are 21-8 in games started by rookie pitchers (Masahiro Tanaka, 11-2; Vidal Nuno, 5-5; Chase Whitley, 5-1), including 15-1 on the road (Tanaka, 6-1; Nuno, 4-0; Whitley, 5-0). Yankees rookie starters have a 2.73 combined ERA in 181 innings and allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of their past eight outings (1.87 ERA in 53 innings). According to Elias, the Yankees have started rookies in 29 of their first 65 games, their highest such total since 1910 when the Highlanders had 30 of their first 65 starts by Russ Ford, Hippo Vaughn and John Frill.

The Yankees finish the trip with a three-game weekend set at Oakland against an Athletics team that has the best record (40-26) in the AL. Mark Teixeira has hit more home runs against the A’s (36) than any other opponent. His total against Oakland ranks second among all active players (Alex Rodriguez has 43HR). Tex has hit more home runs at O.co Coliseum (20) than any other ballpark as a visiting player. That, too, ranks second only to A-Rod, who has 21.

Yankees take control in first inning

It was a positive sign for the Yankees to break out of the gate early Sunday. They had been pushed around in first innings to the tune of 7-2 in the first five games of the season. Sunday at Toronto, they gave CC Sabathia a 3-0 lead before he took the mound even though they had only one hit in the first inning.

That hit was a two-out, two-run double by Kelly Johnson that climaxed a rally fueled by two walks and a hit batter off Drew Hutchison, who had pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings in a winning first start last week.

The Blue Jays answered back with a run in the bottom of the first on a leadoff home run by Melky Cabrera, the third homer of the series for the former Yankees outfielder. Sabathia had given up four runs in the first inning in his Opening Day start last week at Houston.

Derek Jeter made history with a leadoff single in the third inning. It was career hit No. 3,319 for DJ, who tied Hall of Famer Paul Molitor for eighth place on the all-time list. Jeter moved past Molitor with a single in the fourth for No. 3,320.

“To have the most hits for the most prestigious franchise in professional sports is pretty special,” Molitor told me back in 2011 when Jeter reached 3,000 hits. “Getting 3,000 hits is as much a product of longevity as ability. If Derek stays healthy, he has a good chance to rack up a lot more hits.”

Rookie infielder Yangervis Solarte has multi-hit games in each of his first three career starts to become the first Yankees player to accomplish the feat since Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio from May 3-6, 1936 (also three games), according to the Elias Sport Bureau. Solarte entered play leading the Yankees in hits (7), doubles (3), extra-base hits (3), RBI (4), on-base percentage (.600), slugging percentage (.769) and OPS (1.369).

Solarte picked up his fourth double and fifth RBI of the season with one out in the fourth and then scored on the Yankees’ first home run of the season. Brett Gardner ended the drought with a drive to right off a 3-2 pitch that chased Hutchison.

Pineda impressive in 1st start since 2011

Saturday’s 4-0 loss to the Blue Jays falls into the crying shame category for the Yankees. They received a splendid effort from Michael Pineda in his first major-league start since 2011 and have nothing to show for it.

R.A. Dickey pitched a game out of his 2012 National League Cy Young Award season with the Mets and the Toronto bullpen withstood heavy challenges in the late innings as the Yankees sustained their first shutout of the season.

I need to come clean here that I was not in favor of the Yankees’ trade for Pineda from Seattle two years ago. I thought Jesus Montero showed a lot of promise, at least from the offensive side, as a future catcher and that Hector Noesi had been a useful pitcher out of the bullpen. Pineda made the American League All-Star team in 2011 as a rookie but had a major falloff in the second half of that season, and I was skeptical when he became available through a trade. When Pineda showed up in camp out of shape in 2012 and suffered a torn right labrum that required surgery the deal sure seemed like a bust.

That shows you what I know and also how you cannot analyze a trade right away. Look at the situation now. Montero is no longer in the Mariners’ plans and is an overweight designated hitter in Triple A. Noesi was designated for assignment this week.

Meanwhile, Pineda has emerged after two years of rehabilitation as a possible force in the Yankees’ rotation. He nailed down a starter’s role in training camp and got another stamp of approval Saturday despite taking the loss. The righthander’s fastball clocked consistently in the mid-90-mph range as he scattered five hits, did not walk a batter and struck out five in six innings.

Pineda left the game with the score 1-0 Toronto, the run coming on a flare single to left field by Jays catcher Josh Thole in the second inning. The Yankees thought they tied the score an inning later, but a disputed play at the plate went against them. Francisco Cervelli, running from second base with two out on a single to center field by Jacoby Ellsbury, was thrown out at the plate on a strong throw by Colby Rasmus.

Or was he? Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn’t think so and challenged the call by plate umpire Dana DeMuth. The replay unit in New York supported DeMuth’s call, but Girardi was not satisfied and said after the game that he still felt strongly that Thole had blocked the plate without the ball, which is against the new rules regarding plays at the plate designed to prevent collisions. Girardi is correct in his view that this area will be the toughest for the replay crew to monitor.

In the end, the play proved inconsequential because the Blue Jays broke the game open in the eighth inning against reliever David Phelps, who gave up a solo home run to Melky Cabrera, a double to Rasmus and a two-run blast by Jose Bautista. The Yankees were 1-for-11 (.091) with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners, including seven in the last four innings.

The Yankees have yet to hit a home run through five games, their longest drought at the start of a season since 1975 when they were shut out in homers the first six games.

Winning challenge contributes to winning rally

Technology came to the Yankees’ rescue in the third inning Friday night. Manager Joe Girardi’s first challenge of an umpire’s call worked in his favor and helped the Yankees regain the lead for Masahiro Tanaka, whose debut in the major leagues has been testy.

The play in question was a bang-bang call at first base in which Ichiro Suzuki was called out initially by first base umpire Dana DeMuth. Replays clearly showed that Ichiro beat the play. In the past, it would have been a case of too bad for the Yanks because the umpire had the last say.

But with new rules regarding replays, Girardi had the option to challenge the call and did so. After checking with a crew in New York reviewing the play, DeMuth’s initial call was reversed and Ichiro had a single. Even better for the Yankees, the hit kept the inning alive instead of Suzuki having made the third out.

Yangervis Solarte, who is becoming pretty familiar quickly to Yankees fans, then smoked a double to right-center to score two runs and put the Yanks back ahead, 4-3. Girardi made another challenge in the eighth inning, also at first base in which Jacoby Ellsbury was called, but the original call stood this time.

As an aside, for years I used to get teased in press boxes for scoring in pencil, which I still do while most of my comrades use pens. Well, with these challenges it might be a good idea for those who score games to follow my example. There are plenty of pencils to go around.

The Yankees gave Tanaka a bit of a comfort zone by scoring two runs in the top of the first inning off Toronto starter Dustin McGowan as five of their first six batters reached base with hits. It might have been a more productive inning, but the Yanks left the bases loaded when Suzuki struck out and Solarte popped out.

Tanaka got a rude welcome to the bigs when Melky Cabrera hit a home run off a 1-1 hanging splitter leading off the bottom of the first. The newcomer from Japan got the next three hitters, two on strikeouts, but was cuffed for two runs in the second. An errant throw by Mark Teixeira trying for a force at second base contributed to the rally climaxed by a two-run single by Jonathan Diaz, playing shortstop for injured Jose Reyes.

Teixeira came out the game in the second inning due to a strained right hamstring. That illuminated a situation that the Yankees had coming out of spring training in that they do not have a pure first baseman as a backup. Kelly Johnson, who started at third base, moved to the other corner with Solarte going to third and Brian Roberts inserted at second.

Johnson, who was playing only his fourth game at first base in the majors, may turn out to be decent insurance at that position after all. He made a diving, run-saving play to get the Yankees and Tanaka out of the third inning unscathed.

Tanaka settled in nicely after that. He pitched to the minimum number of batters in each of the next four innings. The only baserunner over that stretch — Edwin Encarnacion, who reached on an infield single in the sixth — was erased on a double play.

After a shaking beginning perhaps caused in some part by nerves, which would be understandable, Tanaka turned in a strong outing for his first major-league victory. He was backed by a 16-hit attack, including three hits apiece by Ellsbury and Ichiro.

The Yankees got to .500 (2-2) but are still looking for their first home run of the season. Their five extra-base hits were two doubles each by Ellsbury and Solarte and a triple by Johnson. The Yankees had runners in scoring position in all but one inning and were 9-for-24 (.375) in those situations.

Yankees hope to spoil Moore’s record

The Yankees opposed Rays lefthander Matt Moore Saturday, which was the fifth time in the past 40 seasons that they have faced a pitcher with a season record of 8-0 or better. They won each of the past two such games: June 3, 2007 at Fenway Park, 6-5, over the Red Sox and Josh Beckett, who entered the game 8-0 and got a no-decision, and July 14, 2006 at Yankee Stadium, 6-5, over the White Sox and Jose Contreras, who came into the game at 9-0 and absorbed his first loss.

The other two times were June 1, 1994 at the Stadium, 5-4, to the White Sox and Wilson Alvarez, who entered 8-0 and got a no-decision, and June 16, 1986 at the Stadium, 10-1, to the Red Sox and Roger Clemens, the winning pitcher whose record went to 12-0.

The Yankees recalled outfielder Brennan Boesch from Triple A Scranton Saturday to replace Curtis Granderson, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a fractured left pinky as the result of being hit by a pitch in Friday night’s 9-4 victory over the Rays. Boesch hit .179 with a double and two RBI in seven games and 28 at-bats after being optioned there May 13.

In Friday night’s victory, each of the Yankees last four batters in the lineup (David Adams, Lyle Overbay, Jayson Nix and Chris Stewart) had two hits and scored at least one run. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time the starting 6-7-8-9 hitters for the Yankees each had multiple hits and at least one run in the same game since Aug. 6, 2009, a 13-6 victory over the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. The 6-through-9 hitters in that game were Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera.

Kuroda making case for All-Star consideration

The All-Star Game will be at Citi Field in a couple of months, and there has been a lot of talk in Flushing about Matt Harvey, the Mets’ impressive rookie, perhaps getting the nod as the starting pitcher for the National League. Not to take any thunder away from Harvey, but it may not be a bad idea if the American League gave serious consideration to the Yankees’ Hiroki Kuroda as its starter.

Oh, sure, it’s far too early to get into that discussion. One thing is certain: when that topic does become heated, figure Kuroda to be in the middle of it, right up there with Felix Hernandez, Clay Buchholz, Matt Moore, Yu Darvish, Jon Lester and the other All-Star starter contenders.

Say what you want about the Blue Jays’ 17-25 start, but the Toronto lineup is still formidable. Yet Kuroda mowed through it seemingly without breaking a sweat.

“He had all three of his pitches going – fastball, slider, splitter,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He pretty much gave the bullpen the night off. He has been doing that for us all season.”

The first inning was an indication that it might be a special night for Kuroda. Melky Cabrera led off the game with a double. Kuroda then struck out Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion and got the third out by gloving a searing line drive by J.P. Arencibia.

“I felt good after those first two strikeouts,” Kuroda said.

Asked how he was able to catch Arencibia’s dart, Kuroda said, “I don’t know.”

After Melky’s hit, Kuroda got 19 consecutive outs before yielding a second hit, Encarnacion’s one-out single in the seventh. Kuroda walked Muenori Kawasaki in the third inning but picked him off. The righthander had five strikeouts in his eight innings, and it was hard to believe that 41 of his 109 pitches were called balls.

Kuroda improved his record to 6-2 and lowered his ERA to 1.99, clearly the best of each in the rotation. He has been a one-man gang against Toronto with 12 consecutive scoreless innings against the Jays. Opponents are hitless in their past 25 at-bats with runners in scoring position against Kuroda and 2-for-30 for the season. He has pitched at least seven innings without giving up a run in nine of his 42 starts with the Yankees, which matches Hernandez and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw for the most such starts in the majors over the past two years.

The Yankees tied the score right away by scoring off Mark Buehrle in the first inning. Brett Gardner tripled to left-center and scored on a groundout by Robinson Cano. The first of two sacrifice flies by Jayson Nix gave Kuroda the lead in the fifth, and the bottom of the Yankees’ order constructed the bulk of a three-run rally in the seventh.

How about the 3-4-5-6 hitters combining to go 1-for-16 and still the Yankees winning, 5-0? Nix had a 0-for-0 game with two walks and two sac flies, the first Yankees player to get four plate appearances in a game without an official at-bat since Derek Jeter Sept. 12, 2006 against the Rays. Rookies David Adams and Austin Romine had a double and a single apiece, and rookie pitcher Preston Claiborne tossed another scoreless inning (that’s eight now in six appearances). Gardner also walked and singled in a run. It was all nice to see, but the way Kuroda pitched was unnecessary.