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The New York Yankees might be heavily reliant on a long ball driven offense, but when they receive starting pitching like they did on Sunday night from Hiroki Kuroda against the Red Sox, the combination goes a long way towards success. The Red Sox were unable to figure out Kuroda, with two solo shots from Ichiro Suzuki highlighting the Yankees offense in a 4-1 loss to conclude a disappointing 4-6 road trip.
This sounds familiar: Josh Beckett was roughed up by the Yankees, despite showing good stuff at times through his six innings of work. Beckett (5-11) allowed all four runs on seven hits and three walks, while striking out three. The two big blasts were the titanic home runs by Ichiro, though the Yankees took a 2-0 lead prior on an RBI double and a run scored on a wild pitch uncorked by Beckett.
Ichiro has been a successful component for the Yankees since his departure from Seattle, hitting over .300 with New York in 26 games. The outfielder has also homered three times with the Yankees, after hitting just four in nearly 100 games for the Mariners. Derek Jeter was also a force for the Yankees against Beckett, scoring the first two runs and collecting three hits.
The real story for New York though was Kuroda (12-8), who pitched eight strong innings against the Sox, allowing one run on four hits while striking out four. A theme for the Boston offense remains their inability to make pitchers work and draw walks, again failing to receive a free pass from Kuroda, though he threw 75 of his 112 pitches for strikes.
The one blemish for Kuroda came in the seventh inning, when Adrian Gonzalez kept up his hot hitting with a solo shot of his own. Gonzalez is hitting .307 with 15 home runs and 85 RBI, continuing to boost his power numbers. Still, a single run was far from enough and Rafael Soriano closed out his 31st save of the year.
The long-term fate of Carl Crawford will be revealed sometime early this week, but considering a surgical procedure is a significant option it’s possible that Sunday night was Crawford’s last game of the season. In his final at bat of the night, he singled off of Soriano before being erased on a double play. Crawford is hitting .282 and has looked much more like the player Boston though they were getting before 2011.
The Red Sox have not won a series in the month of August, as they continue to slide further down the standings with a 59-63 record. Instead of worrying about the five teams in front of them in the wild card race, Boston may have to look in the rearview mirror where the Seattle Mariners are closer than they appear, just a game back of the sinking Sox. They are 7.5 games back of the second wild card spot, and 13.5 games out in the division. They open a series with the Angels back at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.