ST. PETERSBURG — Hiroki Kuroda turned in a disappointing debut for his new club and defensive shifting continued to frustrate the hitters behind him, as the Rays defeated the Yankees, 8-6, on Saturday at Tropicana Field.
The veteran right-hander surrendered six runs — four earned — and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings, showing few signs of the polish that prompted the Yankees to stretch their budget to offer him a $10 million contract over the winter.
“It’s really disappointing,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “No matter what kind of situation you’re in, you go to the mound to get a win and I wasn’t able to do that, so it was very disappointing.”
Nick Swisher brought the Yankees back into the game with some ninth-inning thunder, blasting a three-run homer off Joel Peralta, and a Robinson Cano walk brought Alex Rodriguez to the plate as the tying run.
But Fernando Rodney induced Rodriguez to ground up the middle for the final out of the game. It was a fitting conclusion, as Rays manager Joe Maddon’s use of the shift has taken away several Yankees hits through the first 18 innings of the regular season.
“That’s the first time I’ve seen a shift like that before,” Swisher said. “Righties, lefties, it doesn’t really matter — it feels like there’s 15 guys on the right side of the infield or the left side of the infield.”
Swisher said that there isn’t anything the Yankees can do to alter their approach, a stance Rodriguez agreed with shortly after second baseman Sean Rodriguez took away what could have been a game-extending hit.
“It must be the computer stuff,” Rodriguez said. “All you can do is get a good pitch to hit and smoke it. They’ll find holes. I’m happy with the way guys swung the bats, one through nine. We could have scored 10 runs; we scored six.”
Luke Scott drove in three runs to pace Tampa Bay’s attack against the 37-year-old Kuroda, as scoring proved tough to come by for the Yankees against left-hander David Price, who limited New York to two runs over 6 1/3 innings…..Read More
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