Outstanding pitching has spurred the New York Yankees’ winning streak.
They’ll try not to waste another strong effort from Hiroki Kuroda, as he again gets the nod opposite Oakland’s Scott Kazmir on Saturday night.
New York (35-31) is on the brink of matching a season-high five-game winning streak from April 12-17, and a 1.75 ERA – 1.55 from the starting rotation – in the last four contests is a big reason why.
In Friday’s series opener at Oakland, David Phelps and two relievers combined for a two-hitter and the offense plated its most runs since May 28 in a 7-0 win.
Now, the Yankees will try to give Kuroda (4-4, 4.12 ERA) some help.
The right-hander was a hard-luck loser at Kansas City on Sunday, yielding two runs in seven innings while the offense went 1 for 17 with runners in scoring position. That 2-1 loss was New York’s most recent defeat.
"You get a great performance by Kuroda, and we didn’t do anything with it," manager Joe Girardi told the team’s official website.
That was also the case in a 5-2, 10-inning home defeat to the A’s (40-27) on June 3, when Kuroda allowed one run and two hits in 6 2-3 innings. He had similar luck in his last visit to Oakland on June 13, 2013, when he gave up two runs and two hits in eight innings before the Yankees fell 3-2 in 18.
The Yankees’ .286 average over the last four games is 31 points higher than their season mark, and they had six players get an RBI on Friday while totaling 12 hits.
"That’s the recipe for scoring a lot of runs," Girardi said.
Facing Kazmir (7-2, 2.20) again will likely be much more challenging.
The left-hander, third in the AL in ERA and Oakland’s leader in wins, was impressive opposite Kuroda earlier this month, collecting a season-high 10 strikeouts while allowing two runs in 6 1-3 innings. He was even better five days later at Baltimore, throwing seven scoreless inning of an 11-1 victory.
"Good again. Seems like a broken record with the way he pitches for us," manager Bob Melvin told the team’s official website. "He’s just a very consistent guy. It’s tough to even think about a tough game he’s had for us. He’s been spot-on every time."
Brandon Moss connected for a grand slam in Kazmir’s last outing, but he’s 1 for 17 with nine strikeouts in four games since. The first baseman went 0 for 4 on Friday, as he dropped to 6 for 28 (.214) in eight home meetings against New York.
Moss, though, hit a solo homer off Kuroda on June 3 before adding another in the 10th inning off reliever Adam Warren.
Derek Jeter is pacing the Yankees at the plate, going 9 for 16 with two RBIs and five runs over the past four games. The future Hall of Famer is a career .342 hitter during the regular season at Oakland, but owns a .133 average in 45 at-bats versus Kazmir – his lowest mark against any of the 153 pitchers he’s faced at least 21 times.
He was 0 for 3 against him earlier this month.
Mark Teixeira homered off Kazmir in that meeting, giving him two home runs while going 11 for 20 with four doubles in all-time matchups.