Not many sure things exist for the Yankees these days, except for perhaps when Hiroki Kuroda starts or David Robertson faces a bases-loaded jam.
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Kuroda was on his game last night, allowing three hits in eight scoreless innings and Robertson held off a rally to earn the save as the Yankees won consecutive games for the first time in over a month with a 2-1 victory over the Angels.
“I don't know if you can expect anyone to be that dominant in this day and age when there's so many ways to score runs, but he's just been brilliant,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He gave us those eight innings. We knew we needed a lot of distance out of him tonight.”
Kuroda allowed a leadoff double to Josh Hamilton on a slider in the second. He also gave up an infield single on a fastball on a hot smash to shortstop by Mike Trout.
The third hit Kuroda allowed was a two-out double to Chris Iannetta. Kuroda quickly shut it down even as Boone Logan warmed up by retiring pinch-hitter Hank Conger on a 3-1 pitch to shortstop Eduardo Nunez in shallow left field.
The last two at-bats of the eighth were two of the four instances Kuroda reached a three-ball count. The Yankees went to Boone Logan to start the ninth and Robertson to finish it as they gave Mariano Rivera a day off after he had blown three straight saves for the first time in his career.
“Hiroki’s been amazing lately,” Robertson said. “Every time he takes the ball, it seems like he gives you seven or eight innings. He’s exceptional out there. Everything he threw was baffling the hitter. He seems to be doing that the last couple of weeks, shoot the season.”
That’s where things got really interesting for the Yankees in another close game
Logan allowed a single to lead off the ninth as portions of the crowd began chanting for Mariano Rivera. David Robertson eventually worked out of a bases-loaded jam by fanning former Yankee Chris Nelson on a full count with a high fastball for his sixth career save.
Before closing out the win, Robertson walked Trout on a close pitch and gave up an RBI double to Hamilton that just sailed over Alex Rodriguez’s head at third and into short left field.
“I was trying to make a good pitch,” Robertson said. “They had a runner on first. I was hoping to maybe get a ground ball double play. I ended up walking Trout and after that Hamilton got the hit over Alex’s head at third and I was like, ‘Good God.’
“That’s a tough spot mentally and it just got even worse. I just had to dig deep and find a way to get out of it.”
Robertson recovered and needed three fastballs to strike out Mark Trumbo and then got Nelson, who briefly played for the Yankees in May, to expand the strike zone and swing at a full-count cut fastball.
It was Kuroda’s major-league leading ninth scoreless outing of the season. Five have been in his last seven starts. Kuroda’s pitch count was so low nobody began warming in the Yankee bullpen until his final batter.
The Yankees did not do much offensively as they won for the third time in four games and first time consecutively since opening July with a six-game winning streak. They had been 11-18 in between wining streaks.
Brett Gardner had his third straight game with the go-ahead hit as he had an RBI single in the second. Curtis Granderson added a second-deck home run in the seventh.
As for Alex Rodriguez, he singled in the second but drew boos for getting caught stealing and grounding into a pair of double plays
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.