CHICAGO -- There is a good chance Hiroki Kuroda quit drinking coffee about two months ago.
Tight games are becoming Kuroda’s signature as Tuesday’s outing was his 14th consecutive start decided by three runs or less. Nine of those 14 starts were decided by two runs or less.
Call Kuroda a man on a deserted island because not only was he abandoned by his own offense, his opponents weren’t about to send him a search party. White Sox starter Chris Sale entered with a major league low 2.47 runs of support per game and a 1-9 record over his last 11 starts (eight quality), despite a 3.23 ERA in that stretch.
“I don’t feel sorry for him, nor does Sale,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You know he’s going to be tough. He’s just one of those guys, he doesn’t make it easy. He just moves the ball in and out.”
It’s not that it was Kuroda’s best outing, but he did manage to work his way out of trouble. He gave up season-highs in hits (nine) and pitches (116).
It ended up being his first loss since June 30, when he gave up three home runs to the Baltimore Orioles.
“All I can think about is to make sure when I take the mound, I contribute to a win and today I couldn't do that,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “In that sense I feel really bad.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi knows that Kuroda has nothing to apologize for, acknowledging that he is impressed with the way his pitcher keeps getting after it in each start.
“He has not shown any frustration,” Girardi said. “He’s pitched extremely well and he should have a lot more than 10 wins. He just goes up there and throws up zeroes for us and that’s what he’s been doing all year.”
Sale was just better on this night, pitching with an added fire that nearly proved to be costly. He gave up a first inning run when Alfonso Soriano scored from second base on a wild pitch and appeared to be getting flustered. But he settled in, with the White Sox finally scoring single runs in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings.
“I thought he was pretty good,” Girardi said. “I thought he threw the ball pretty good. They had some hits with runners in scoring position. That was probably the difference in the game. You give up three runs in seven innings, usually you’ll sign up for that.”