Yanks wait out the rain, top Twins in Bronx
Kuroda earns win after delay, thanks in part to Logan's strong relief
NEW YORK -- Hiroki Kuroda busied himself during a 73-minute rain delay by throwing pitches in the batting cage adjacent to the Yankees' dugout, telling anyone who would listen that he would have no problem heading back to the mound once the heavy showers subsided.
Kuroda said he was twice told by pitching coach Larry Rothschild that his night was complete, but his determination won over the Yankees. He went back out to finish five innings and pick up the victory after the Yankees defeated the Twins, 2-0, at Yankee Stadium.
"He's a machine. I'm glad I'm on his team," closer Mariano Rivera said. "He has been there for us. He has given us a lot of great games."
Kuroda's five scoreless innings willed him to just his second win in his last 10 starts. He picked up a major assist along the way from left-hander Boone Logan, who struck out the side in the seventh inning to squelch a Twins rally that had the potential tying run on base.
"It can't be the easiest conditions to pitch in; the mound is probably not what they're used to, and you have to be careful that you don't slip," manager Joe Girardi said. "They did a really good job. Boone Logan came in and did an outstanding job."
David Robertson pitched a perfect eighth inning and Rivera set down the side in order in the ninth, recording his 30th save of the season and securing the Yanks' first shutout since May 17, vs. the Blue Jays.
Rivera has now reached the 30-saves plateau for the 15th time in his career, surpassing Trevor Hoffman (14) for the most such seasons all-time.
"It doesn't mean anything to me," Rivera said. "I'm glad we won; that's the most important thing. Whatever [other] accolades you get, it's part of the team. You come here to play, come here to win."
Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano accounted for the Yankees' offense with a pair of fifth-inning RBI singles, enduring a soggy and windy night to log New York's third straight win and send the Twins to their sixth consecutive defeat.
Unlike Kuroda, Twins starter Scott Diamond did not return after the delay, his night complete after 3 1/3 innings of scoreless one-hit ball.
Kuroda told the coaches that he had returned after 1 1/2-hour delays both with the Dodgers and in Japan, and though the Yankees had some hesitation considering his age (38), they eventually relented, counting each pitch he tossed in the cage.
"With all the preparation I made for tonight's start, I wanted to come back out there," Kuroda said through an interpreter. "I think I gave Larry a hard time, but the weather seemed to come back. The rain stopped earlier than I thought, so I think that helped me."
Facing Ryan Pressly in the fifth, Gardner provided Kuroda and the Yankees with a lead by slapping a run-scoring single through the left side of the infield to drive home Luis Cruz from second base.
After Ichiro Suzuki advanced Gardner with a groundout, Cano followed by shooting a two-hop single through the moist center of the infield past diving second baseman Brian Dozier, giving the Yanks a two-run lead.
The Yankees might have had more if not for an incredible throw by Aaron Hicks, who nailed Vernon Wells at third base as he attempted to stretch a sixth-inning double into a triple; Hicks' throw arrived at third base on the fly from deep center field.
Preston Claiborne permitted two singles to open the seventh inning, and a wild pitch moved the potential tying run into scoring position against Logan.
The lefty responded by striking out Chris Parmelee and Joe Mauer before narrowly avoiding trouble, as Logan zipped a pitch past both Justin Morneau and catcher Chris Stewart that sailed to the backstop.
But the ball took a fortunate bounce right back to Stewart, pinning Pedro Florimon at third base, even though Stewart's knuckleball toss to the plate had to be retrieved by shortstop Eduardo Nunez behind the mound.
"We got lucky it came straight back," Girardi said.
After halting play to request a new rosin bag, Logan took advantage of the moment by getting Morneau to offer a half-swing at a slider, prompting Morneau to spike his bat and fire his batting helmet in anger at the call.
"I think it was just frustration boiling over from the road trip," Morneau said. "It was just another at-bat leaving runners in scoring position, which is what we've been struggling with as a team. I think all those things came together, and I let it out. I think it was the first time I've ever thrown my helmet on the ground."
It was a pivotal moment; as Stewart said, "That was the ballgame right there."
Stewart further explained that Logan's good command of his fastball helped set up his slider against Minnesota's hitters, which came as no surprise to at least one fellow bullpen member.
"That's the Boone Logan that we know," Rivera said. "Everybody knows he's capable [of doing] that. I've seen him do it. It's really impressive."