While his name isn't likely to come up when discussing the game's best pitchers, Hiroki Kuroda was brilliant his last time out.
He'll try to build on his fifth career shutout Saturday as the surging New York Yankees continue a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
After compiling a 6.75 ERA through his first two turns in the rotation, Kuroda (2-1, 2.87 ERA) delivered a masterful performance Sunday in a 3-0 win over Baltimore, striking out five without a walk in a five-hitter. The right-hander recorded 18 groundball outs and didn't allow a runner past first base until Nick Markakis took second on a bouncer in the ninth inning.
"When I look at Hiroki, he's able to read swings, he's able to change speeds," manager Joe Girardi told MLB's official website. "He has pitches that he can freeze hitters on, certain fastballs; he can get them to swing and miss on his split and slider. He has a curveball that he goes to just to get them off balance. I think he really knows how to pitch."
Kuroda is 6-1 with a 3.68 ERA over his last 11 road starts dating to last year. The right-hander was tagged for a career worst-tying seven runs over five-plus innings of an 8-1 loss at Toronto on May 16, but he's posted a 1.46 ERA in winning his last two starts in the series.
While Colby Rasmus is just 2 for 18 with eight strikeouts against Kuroda, Jose Bautista is 2 for 5 with a pair of homers. Bautista missed the previous four games due to back spasms before going 1 for 3 with a two-run shot in Friday's 9-4 series-opening defeat.
Toronto (7-10) has now lost three off four and dropped to 4-7 at home, where it's gone a horrendous 4 for 53 (.075) with runners in scoring position.
"We can't get anything going. It hasn't come together yet," manager John Gibbons said. "I think it will, it's just a matter of time. But you know what, it's time to start playing better baseball, there's no question about it."
Travis Hafner , meanwhile, hit his fifth long ball and former Blue Jays Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells also went deep as New York posted its fourth consecutive road win. The Yankees (9-6), who have hit .354 and outscored opponents 41-11 over that stretch, have won eight of 10 overall.
"I'm not complaining and I don't hear anyone else complaining," Girardi said. "We've swung the bats really pretty well. We've hit a lot of home runs, we hit a bunch tonight. It's good to see."
New York will try to stay hot against Mark Buehrle (1-0, 7.31), who showed signs of coming around Monday against his former team. The left-hander allowed two runs and nine hits over 6 1-3 innings, earning the victory in a 4-3 win over the White Sox.
"I'm the same pitcher no matter what team, no matter what batters are in there," he said. "Just try to hit my spots, keep the ball down. My cutter was working a little bit better than it has. ... Just seemed like everything was working."
Buehrle, though, could be in for a long day if his efforts versus New York are any indication. He's 0-6 with a 9.00 ERA over his last eight starts against the Yankees, and his lifetime 6.38 ERA against them is his highest against any opponent.
|New York Yankees|
|April 12, 2013||Eduardo Nunez||Day-to-Day||Left game - right wrist contusion|
|March 26, 2013||Cesar Cabral||60-Day DL||Left elbow pain|
|March 22, 2013||Curtis Granderson||15-Day DL||Fractured right forearm|
|March 22, 2013||Derek Jeter||15-Day DL||Recovery from left ankle surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Phil Hughes||15-Day DL||Right upper back thoracic injury|
|March 22, 2013||Mark Teixeira||15-Day DL||Strained right wrist - out 8-10 weeks|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|April 14, 2013||Sergio Santos||15-Day DL||Right triceps strain|
|April 13, 2013||Jose Reyes||15-Day DL||Sprained left ankle|
|April 12, 2013||Jose Reyes||Day-to-Day||Sprained left ankle|
|April 11, 2013||Darren Oliver||Day-to-Day||Arm|
|April 04, 2013||Jose Bautista||Day-to-Day||Left game - Twisted ankle|
|March 27, 2013||Dustin McGowan||60-Day DL||Sore right shoulder|
TORONTO (AP) -- The New York Yankees have been hitting home runs at an impressive rate. They earned their latest win though using some small ball.
Blue Jays reliever Aaron Loup made a two-run throwing error in the 11th inning and the Yankees beat Toronto 5-3 on Saturday for their ninth win in 11 games.
"Our guys are seizing opportunities and you have to do that," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "These games are hard to win but our guys have been resilient."
Shawn Kelley (1-0) got two outs in the 10th for the win and Mariano Rivera finished for his fifth save.
Vernon Wells hit New York's AL-leading 26th homer and finished with three hits, including a single to start the winning rally.
"Big day for Vernon to get us on the board and then in that 11th inning, to lead off with a single," Girardi said. "Just a big day."
New York has hit at least one homer in each of its first seven road games, their longest such streak since going deep in eight straight road games to start the 2002 season. But they didn't win this one with the longball.
"That's a sign of a good team, when you can take advantage of mistakes," Wells said. "Even though we have been hitting home runs, it's not something we're just going to rely on."
Wells and Francisco Cervelli singled off Loup (1-1) to open the 11th, and Ichiro Suzuki followed with a bunt to the third base side of the mound that Loup and third basemen Brett Lawrie both charged. Loup fielded it and wheeled to throw to third. But with Lawrie out of position as he retreated back to the bag, the ball sailed into foul territory and down the left field line, allowing both runners to score.
"I thought we had an easy play at third base," a downcast Loup said. "I didn't have enough awareness to realize Lawrie was crashing in on the play. By the time I realized he was backpedalling to the bag and wasn't there, it was too late and I'd already let go of the ball."
Wells said he was "shocked" to see Loup throw to third.
"You know what, you get in the moment and you make an aggressive play like that and sometimes it works out," Wells said. "You look great when it works out and bad when it doesn't."
The Blue Jays used a single and a sacrifice to put the winning run in scoring position with one out in the 10th but Kelley came on and got Rajai Davis to pop out, then got Melky Cabrera to ground out.
Toronto lost for the fifth time in seven games and fell a season-high four games below .500.
"You screw up the fundamentals, you're not supposed to win," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
New York infielder Kevin Youkilis left after five innings with a sore lower back and was replaced by Lyle Overbay .
"His back locked up a little bit on the right side," Girardi said. "My guess is he's not a player for me (Sunday). I don't think it's anything serious but it's the tough part about playing indoors sometimes. The good part is it's warm today but sometimes that turf grabs at you a little bit."
Wells opened the scoring with a homer against Mark Buehrle in the second that hit the left field foul screen, his fifth of the season and second in two days. Wells has five homers in 15 career games against his former team.
Wells improved to 23 for 47 (.489) against Buehrle.
"He's a guy who throws strikes and I'm usually a guy who's swinging often," Wells said. "I've gotten a few to fall in."
New York made it 3-0 in the fifth. Jayson Nix led off with a single and went to third on Brett Gardner 's double. One out later, Robinson Cano was walked to load the bases for Youkilis, who ripped a liner to third that bounced off Lawrie's glove and rolled into shallow left for a two-run single.
Wells singled to load the bases but Cervelli grounded into a double play.
Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda , who beat Baltimore with a five-hit shutout in his previous start, allowed just two hits through the first seven innings, but was replaced by David Robertson after Colby Rasmus ' one-out single under Overbay's glove in the eighth.
Maicer Izturis struck out and pinch hitter Adam Lind walked before Rajai Davis grounded an RBI single up the middle. The run snapped Kuroda's streak of shutout innings at 20 2-3 dating to his April 8 start at Cleveland.
Cabrera followed with a two-run single to center that bounced away from Gardner, tying it at 3-all. Jose Bautista walked but Robertson fanned Edwin Encarnacion to end the inning.
The two hits with runners in scoring position in the eighth were one more than the Blue Jays had in their previous six games combined, when they went 1 for 29.
Kuroda allowed one run and three hits in 7 1-3 innings. He walked one and struck out a season-high seven.
"His slider was really good today," Girardi said. "He used it really effectively against the right-handers. He used his split pretty effectively, threw some early curveballs. He just mixed his pitches. He gave us a great outing again."
Making the 400th start of his career, Buehrle allowed three runs and eight hits in a season-high seven innings. His only walk was intentional and his seven strikeouts were a season-high.
NOTES: Buehrle hasn't beaten the Yankees since 2004. ... Yankees manager Joe Girardi said LH Andy Pettitte had only "normal soreness" one day after beating Toronto. Pettitte had missed his previous start because of back spasms. ... Attendance was 46,095. ... Blue Jays RH Josh Johnson (0-1) faces New York RP Ivan Nova (1-1) in Sunday's series finale.