Hiroki Kuroda Continues An Unhappy Trend

Kuroda bounced early in 6-5 loss to the Twins

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Kuroda's lucky that he doesn't get paid by the inning.

    Hiroki Kuroda uses a translator to help him with post-game interviews, but some things are easy to communicate regardless of language differences.

    If a pitcher who relies on the sinker throws pitches without any sink, for example, he isn't going to be very successful. Kuroda is a pitcher who relies on the sinker, so we'll just tell you that he lasted 4.1 innings and allowed six runs before allowing you to fill in the blank about how good his main pitch was on Wednesday night.

    The main culprit was Justin Morneau, who was the lucky recipient of two Kuroda meatballs and deposited each of them into the stands. The first helped them to a 4-0 lead after the top of the first, a lead the Yankees nearly erased in the bottom of the inning, and the second chased Kuroda from the game in the fifth inning.

    Derek Jeter, who is taking Prince's advice and partying like it's 1999, hit another homer in the ninth and the Yankees closed within 6-5 before Matt Capps was able to slam the door on the comeback. The Yankees had other chances to close the gap offensively late in the game, but the focus should remain on what happened at the front end.

    Kuroda's start makes it four times in the first 12 games that a Yankee starter has failed to get through five innings, putting a lot of strain on the bullpen. They've responded well to the extra work, but the law of averages says that there's eventually going to be diminishing returns when you work relief pitchers to the bone.

    Twelve games is not enough to draw any big conclusions about a baseball team, but it is alarming how often the Yankees are making pitching changes before games have even become official. It's alarming enough that the team is going to go with a 13-man pitching staff for the next little while with Cody Eppley coming up from Triple-A to replace Brett Gardner on the roster.

    Gardner is heading to the disabled list with an elbow injury and that would normally demand the ascension of another outfielder who can help with defense and pinch running, at the very least, until he's able to return to the lineup. But it is hard to argue too much with the decision to go with an extra pitcher during a nine-game stretch against the powerful lineups of Boston, Texas and Detroit.

    Until the starters hold up their end of the bargain, the Yankees are going to have to protect themselves against destroying arms. The only way to do that is to go with ungainly roster construction and that's an unfortunate state of affairs in any language.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.