DENVER -- Humidor or no humidor, the home run is still king here at Coors Field, and it took just one of them to send the Yankees to defeat Tuesday night, 2-0, to the Rockies in the opener of a three-game series. The Yankees offense was non-existent -- just four hits, all singles -- wasting an excellent starting pitching performance by Hiroki Kuroda, who lost his first game since April 3 in the second game of the season.
What it means: That this three-city, eight-games-in-seven-days road trip is off to a, um, rocky start. Although the Yankees are still playing close to .600 ball, they have lost 3 of their last 4 games and are facing three tough teams (Colorado, Kansas City and Cleveland) before heading home next Tuesday.
Second best: Kuroda (4-2) pitched well once again -- 7IP, just 2ER -- but one mistake that resulted in a two-run homer was enough to cost him and the Yankees a game tonight. And Kuroda's opposite number, Jorge De La Rosa, was a little bit better -- six shutout innings, just three singles allowed -- keeping alive his record of never having lost to the Yankees. He is now 3-0 with a 0.98 ERA against them in four career starts.
Dangerous CarGo: After matching zeroes with Rockies starter Jorge De la Rosa for five innings, Kuroda knuckled under in the sixth, allowing a two-out single to Josh Rutledge and then a two-run homer to Carlos Gonzalez on a 3-2 pitch to give Colorado a 2-0 lead. To that point, Kuroda had allowed just three baserunners on two hits and a walk, and one of them was erased on a pickoff.
Rocky Mountain Sigh: Despite playing in a ballpark known for home runs, even post-humidor, because of the thin air at its mile-high elevation, the Yankees were unable to generate much offense, managing just three singles through the first eight innings. Twice they got a runner as far as third base (Ichiro Suzuki in the third, Chris Stewart in fifth), but Jayson Nix struck out looking to strand Ichiro, and Kuroda grounded to first to strand Stewart. The one time they got the leadoff runner on base, via Brett Gardner's walk in the seventh, he was erased on an inning-ending double play by Chris Nelson.
Grand larceny: The Yankees stole four bases, two by Suzuki on successive pitches in the third inning, and even Stewart got into the act, stealing second when Kuroda missed on a bunt attempt in the fifth. Stewart not only stole a base, he erased a Rockies baserunner when he threw behind Josh Rutledge and picked him off in the first inning.
Backstop Backfire: The Rockies moved the backstop forward by 12 feet this offseason in order to accommodate six more rows of seats behind home plate, and the move cost them a run in the sixth when, with a runner on third, Kuroda bounced a pitch past Stewart that would have allowed the runner to score. But the ball rebounded off the moved-in wall and came right back to Stewart, forcing the runner to hold.
Coors Lightning: The first five innings were played in a heavy downpour and several impressive flashes of lightning were seen beyond the center-field seats. The rain eased up but continued to fall lightly for the rest of the game.
Peyton's Place: Was behind home plate during batting practice. Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning and a bunch of his teammates came down to watch the Yankees take BP before the game, and Manning and Champ Bailey engaged in a lengthy conversation behind the cage with Joe Girardi.