Coming off of a couple of good starts against the Kansas City Royals and Oakland Athletics, Hiroki Kuroda runs into some trouble out in Oakland. After a 38-minute lighting -- not lightning -- delay, the A's knocked Kuroda out in just the 5th inning, as the Yankees fell, 5-1, on Saturday night at the O.Co Coliseum.
Something had to give in a matchup of two better pitchers in the American League over the past couple of weeks, and as it turns out, it was Kuroda and the Yankees, who didn't have many answers against Scott Kazmir in this one.
After both starting pitchers traded 1-2-3 innings in the 1st, the A's jumped on the board against Kuroda in the bottom of the 2nd. Kuroda loaded the bases with a couple of walks to Yoenis Cespedes and Andy Parrino, and a Stephen Vogt single, and with two outs, Eric Sogard singled to center field to score a pair of runs, putting the A's up 2-0.
The Yankees got a run back in the top half of the 3rd to cut the Oakland's lead in half. Kelly Johnson walked and Brett Gardner singled with two outs to put runners in the corners. Derek Jeter followed with a ground ball to the shortstop, Parrino, whose throw sailed over first base, scoring Johnson.
Play was delayed before the start of the bottom of the 4th inning because a large set of lights in left field would not turn on -- probably because the A's forgot to pay the bills, or something leaving some of left field without any lighting.
Joe Girardi took his team off of the field after speaking with the umpires. It took 38 minutes for the lights to finally turn on -- presumably when the check to the utility offices finally cleared.
When play finally resumed, Kuroda worked through the 4th, but run into trouble in the 5th inning, and the only way got out of that trouble was when Girardi decided to take him out of the ballgame.
Sogard lead off the inning with a walk, then Coco Crisp dropped a bunt down the third base line that could have rolled foul had Johnson not picked it up quickly throw have no chance to throw out Crisp at first base. A past ball by John Ryan Murphy moved both runners up 90 feet. John Jaso ripped a ground ball to the right side that Brian McCann, who was playing first base, stopped to get the out at third, although Sogard scored from third base.
McCann was playing first base after Mark Teixeira was scratched from the lineup shortly before the game with tightness in his rib cage. He made a couple of plays that looked normal for a first baseman, and a couple that clearly showed he doesn't play first base.
Anyway, after Sogard scored to make it a 3-1 game, Murphy let another ball get past him, scoring Crisp from third base to extend Oakland's lead to 4-1.
Kuroda came back to strikeout Josh Donaldson for the second out of the inning, but gave up a single to Brandon Moss, ending his night.
All four runs were charged to Kuroda, on five hits and three walks, with three strikeouts on 93 pitches. He looked well coming into the game, but didn't seem to be as crisp tonight.
The Yankees scored a run off of Kazmir in the 3rd inning, and that was they only run they would score against the guy that lowered his ERA to 2.05 -- ranking second in the league behind only Masahiro Tanaka's 2.02 -- with six innings of two-run ball on five hits and three walks.
Shawn Kelley took over for Kuroda in the 5th and needed 12 pitches to retire Cepsedes, the only batter he faced. David Huff made his 2014 debut for the Yankees, giving up a run on three hits on three innings on an RBI double by Perrino.
Jacoby Ellsbury went 0-for-3 with a walk, ending his 17-game hitting streak.
The Yankees and Athletics will wrap up this three-game series on Sunday afternoon at 4:05 pm ET. Vidal Nuno and Jesse Chavez will be the starting pitchers in that series final matchup.