Josh Beckett , on the other hand, hasn't come anywhere close to pitching like the ace the Boston Red Sox expect him to be.
These right-handers, emblematic of their teams' seasons, square off Sunday night at Yankee Stadium with Kuroda coming off a two-hit shutout against one of baseball's best lineups and Beckett trying to bounce back from another poor outing.
The beleaguered Red Sox (59-62) actually have a chance to win their second straight series in the Bronx following Saturday's 4-1 victory, but the pitching matchup certainly doesn't seem to favor them.
Kuroda (11-8, 3.06 ERA) dominated Texas on Tuesday, yielding two singles and two walks in a 3-0 victory. After a mediocre first two months with the Yankees, he's 8-2 with a 2.30 ERA in his last 15 starts.
"He's been really, really big for us and he could have a number of more wins. He's been the hard-luck guy for us this year," manager Joe Girardi said. "That was his 11th win for us. Realistically, he could have 15 or 16 at this juncture."
Kuroda has allowed three runs over 30 1-3 innings in his last four starts in the Bronx. He struggled at Fenway Park last month, but he pitched very well against the Red Sox at home July 29, allowing two runs in eight innings of New York's 3-2, 10-inning defeat.
Performances like that have been few and far between for Beckett (5-10, 5.19) this year. The Red Sox have gone 2-9 in his last 11 starts, and he has posted a 7.78 ERA in seven outings since the beginning of July.
Over his last two starts, Beckett has allowed 14 runs and five homers in 10 1-3 innings.
"It'd be nice to win a game," he told the Red Sox's official website after Tuesday's 7-1 loss at Baltimore. "I've got to pitch better. I can't put these guys in a hole like that."
That's exactly what he did against the Yankees on July 6, allowing five runs in the top of the first. The Red Sox scored five off Kuroda in the bottom of the inning, but eventually lost 10-8.
Oddly enough, pitching at Yankee Stadium may be a good thing for Beckett, who has won his last three starts there to improve to 9-3 lifetime in the Bronx - including his World Series-clinching shutout for the Marlins in 2003.
He'll try to follow a strong outing by Jon Lester , who stifled the Yankees for seven innings Saturday.
Adrian Gonzalez hit an early two-run homer - he's batting .373 with 39 RBIs in 33 games since the All-Star break - and Pedro Ciriaco went 4 for 4. Ciriaco is 15 for 29 (.517) against the Yankees this year.
He helped the Red Sox take two of three at Yankee Stadium from July 27-29, but they haven't been able to sustain any momentum as turmoil continues swirling around manager Bobby Valentine .
"I'm not doing a good job," Valentine said before Saturday's game. "I didn't get paid to do anything other than get to the playoffs, win a lot of games, be in the thick in things right down to the end, even be in first place."
New York (71-49) remains in first place, and its loss Saturday was just its third in 11 games.
Curtis Granderson homered for the second straight day and Nick Swisher had three hits. Swisher is 10 for 24 with four homers in six games on this homestand, and 16 for 33 (.485) with five homers and 14 RBIs in 10 games against Boston this year.
Mark Teixeira seems unlikely to return for the series finale after missing the first two games with a sore wrist.
|Boston Red Sox|
|August 11, 2012||Will Middlebrooks||15-Day DL||Broken right wrist - out for season|
|August 10, 2012||Felix Doubront||15-Day DL||Right knee contusion|
|August 06, 2012||Vicente Padilla||15-Day DL||Strained right biceps|
|July 31, 2012||Ryan Sweeney||60-Day DL||Fractured left hand|
|July 31, 2012||Josh Beckett||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back spasms|
|July 29, 2012||Daniel Nava||15-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|New York Yankees|
|August 17, 2012||Mark Teixeira||Day-to-Day||Sore left wrist|
|August 09, 2012||CC Sabathia||15-Day DL||Left elbow soreness|
|July 25, 2012||Alex Rodriguez||15-Day DL||Non-displaced fracture in left hand|
|July 25, 2012||Nick Swisher||Day-to-Day||Strained left hip flexor|
|July 24, 2012||Alex Rodriguez||Day-to-Day||Left hand fracture|
|June 28, 2012||Andy Pettitte||60-Day DL||Fractured left ankle - out 6-8 weeks|
NEW YORK (AP) -- With two home runs already, Ichiro Suzuki was thinking about No. 3. He took a huge hack in the eighth inning and fouled the pitch straight back.
"I swung too hard. My neck hurts," Suzuki said through a translator Sunday night after his rare power display.
Three players pushing 40 carried the New York Yankees to a 4-1 victory over Boston. Suzuki smacked a pair of solo shots, Hiroki Kuroda pitched eight innings of four-hit ball and Derek Jeter had three hits.
Jeter also scored twice for the Yankees, who took two of three from the Red Sox despite playing the entire series without slugger Mark Teixeira . The AL East leaders won for the ninth time in 12 games, ending a two-year streak of futility against Josh Beckett (5-11).
The right-hander was 5-0 in his previous seven starts against the Yankees since losing to them on Aug. 8, 2010. He kept his team in the game this time, but dropped to 0-4 in his past six outings overall. He is 1-7 in 13 starts since May 20 and has served up seven homers in his past three appearances covering 16 1-3 innings.
"I thought Josh had some of the best stuff that he's had in a while," Boston manager Bobby Valentine said, fiddling with a DVD of Les Miserables on his desk. "He just had trouble with two hitters, Jeter and Ichiro. They kind of did him in."
While Beckett has struggled when the Red Sox needed him, Kuroda (12-8) has provided a major boost to the Yankees with ace CC Sabathia and veteran Andy Pettitte on the disabled list. The 37-year-old right-hander, coming off a two-hit shutout against Texas, struck out four and walked none while reaching 100 pitches for the 11th straight start. His ERA is 2.96.
"This is how good he's been. He has been on a tremendous roll for us and the consistency of his sinker and slider is really the factor," manager Joe Girardi said.
Kuroda's only blemish was Adrian Gonzalez 's homer in the seventh. Rafael Soriano worked a one-hit ninth for his 31st save in 33 tries.
Fourth-place Boston (59-63) has lost eight of 12 and left the Big Apple trailing the Yankees by 13 1/2 games. The team said it will decide Monday whether left fielder Carl Crawford will have season-ending elbow surgery.
"We need a lot of things to happen now," Beckett said. "We need to play better and we've got to have some teams fall down."
Crawford singled leading off the ninth, perhaps his final at-bat of the year. He was promptly erased on Dustin Pedroia 's double-play grounder.
Never known for his power, the 38-year-old Suzuki homered into the second deck in right with two outs in the fourth. Two innings later, he lined a shot into the lower seats for his seventh career multihomer game and second this season. He also hit two with Seattle on June 2 at the Chicago White Sox.
The 10-time All-Star popped out of the dugout for a curtain call, showing more than a few flecks of gray in his closely cropped hair. He has seven home runs this year, three for New York after he was acquired from the Mariners in a July 23 trade.
When he returned to his position in right field, fans in the sellout crowd of 48,620 chanted "Ichiro! Ichiro!"
"It felt so good, you know? Sometimes you just don't know how to react on the field, the timing of when to acknowledge it," Suzuki said. "I was embarrassed."
Suzuki added an infield single in the eighth - after taking that big cut. Asked if he was going for a third home run, he winked.
"I think he's probably hit to his ballpark, in a sense, all those years. Seattle plays extremely large and if he had been a Yankee for a number of years, who knows how many he might have hit? But we know that there's power there," Girardi said.
"You watch his BP and you can see it," the manager added. "Our ballpark's a little bit different, and you might see more power."
Suzuki finished 10 for 19 (.526) on New York's 5-2 homestand against Texas and Boston. The Yankees, who play 16 of their next 22 games on the road, have outhomered Boston 31-11 while going 8-4 against their longtime rivals this year.
Gonzalez hit his 15th of the season and second in two days with one out in the seventh, snapping Kuroda's scoreless streak at 16 2-3 innings.
Jeter, 38, doubled over the head of center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury leading off the first. With two outs, Curtis Granderson doubled to put New York ahead.
Granderson entered the series in a 4-for-36 funk before homering in each of the first two games. He batted cleanup Sunday for the second time in his career and first with the Yankees.
Jeter clocked a ground-rule double to center in the third. He was on the front end of a double steal with Nick Swisher and scored on Beckett's wild pitch.
NOTES: Teixeira missed his third straight game with a sore left wrist, but he said it's improving and he intends to try to play Monday night in Chicago. "We'll have to see when he goes through some drills how he feels," Girardi said. "I think it's a possibility he could have to deal with this the rest of the year and I think it's a possibility it could be gone, too." Swisher started at first base. ... Granderson batted cleanup for Detroit on May 31, 2009. ... Robinson Cano singled in the fifth to snap skids of 0 for 16 and 1 for 25. ... Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez (broken left hand) and LHP Andy Pettitte (broken left ankle) both had X-rays. Rodriguez isn't ready to swing a bat yet, and Pettitte said he hopes to be cleared to throw off a mound during the team's next homestand. ... Boston finished 4-6 on its longest road trip of the season. ... Red Sox OF Cody Ross was rested after striking out in all four plate appearances Saturday. ... DH David Ortiz (strained right Achilles) said he thinks he could return to the lineup during the upcoming homestand.