(The Verge)- Entering play today, the Rays sat at three games out of first place in the division with the Yankees atop. Yesterday’s win coupled with the Orioles loss to the Athletics allowed the Yankees to move into sole possession of first place yet again. The Yankees and Orioles have been going back and forth for what seems like an eternity but to this point, the Orioles have not had a lead bigger than .5 games in the division. With today’s Yankee win over the Rays, the Rays find themselves five games out of first place and a little further away in the wild card race. Winning two out of three games against the pesky Rays was just what the Yankees needed. Also, the Yankee bats were able to wake up in the series against Tampa Bay’s tough starting pitching.
Hiroki Kuroda looked untouchable through the first five innings before things got messy in the sixth inning. Kuroda led off the inning with a walk to the Rays number nine hitter, Jose Lobaton, followed by an infield single and another walk to load the bases. Evan Longoria hit a ground ball to third base which took a nasty hop and went over A-Rod’s head as two runs would score. Another run would score in the inning on a double play ball but Kuroda left the game in the sixth with the lead. What makes you feel good is that none of the balls in the sixth inning were hit hard off Kuroda and he was able to get ten strikeouts. In a game the Yankees desperately needed, Kuroda stepped up to the plate and delivered. No pun intended.
The Yankee offense was able to continue their hot hitting against a tough rookie starter in Matt Moore. Moore got in trouble in the third inning when he allowed a five spot. Russell Martin was the clutch performer of the game offensively when he went opposite field to hit a three-run jack into the short porch in right field. Other than that inning, the Yankee offense was not able to do much against a tough bullpen, mainly Wade Davis who struck out four hitters in 1.2 innings. Another bright spot for the Yankees was Eduardo Nunez who reached base twice and stole three bases. He started the Yankees five run fifth inning with a walk and a stolen base. He adds a distraction to the opposing pitcher. Matt Moore may have lost his momentum after Nunez was on the base paths.
Depending on what the Orioles do against the A’s this afternoon, the Yankees could have a two game lead after the day is done. A two game lead would be much more comfortable for the Yankees and would allow them to go about their business in a calmer manner. The Blue Jays come to Yankee Stadium for three games starting on Tuesday night after an off-day tomorrow. Andy Pettitte will be making his long awaited post-DL debut and will be on a pitch limit of about 70-75 pitches. Ricky Romero will make the start for the Jays.
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