We head to the fourth, still scoreless. Kuroda looks to keep it that way. AJax obliges by grounding out to Nix at shortstop on the first pitch. For all the people have complained about Granderson and whined for Jackson, he's only 7-for-28 in the playoffs with nine strikeouts. Yes, it's better than Grandy, but not by much. Berry think grounding out to short is a good idea as well, and he sends one toward the middle that Nix spears. One throw later, there are two outs. The fearsome Miggy is up next and takes two sinkers low to jump ahead 2-0. Kuroda's next two sinkers are more accurate, and he gets a strike before Cabrera grounds out softly to his counterpart at third, A-Rod, to end the inning. No strikeouts that inning, but still no baserunners against Kuroda. I've said this already, but he's just brought overwhelming stuff to the ballpark in the Bronx today. Here's one interpretation of him so far below.
Raul Ibanez will start the fourth against Anibal Sanchez. We'll see if he can get something started; he's the best hope the Yankees have right now anyway with Jeter out. He lifts a pop-up in foul territory, but the convergence of Sanchez, catcher Alex Avila, and Cabrera let it drop--it nicked off Avila's glove. Think they'll regret that? A ball later, Ibanez ensures that they will by grounding a ball up the middle for a base hit! Now, Russell Martin will come up with A-Rod on deck. A hit-and-run is botched though, and Ibanez is thrown out at second base. Yuck. That was unpleasant to watch. Martin grounds out, and A-Rod strikes out on a foul tip. Dude can't buy a hit.
Can Kuroda keep up the terrific pitching against the dangerous Prince Fielder? He pops up the second pitch way high that A-Rod corrals near the shortstop position. It was a splitter in the middle of the zone, a great hitter like Prince probably should have done more with it. Alas. Delmon Young up now, and Kuroda gets him to 1-2 on a sinker and two sliders. A couple pitches later, Delmon becomes the eighth strikeout victim of the afternoon as he chases a filthy slider. Dirks then hits one hard up the middle, and it looks like Kuroda's streak of outs is at an end. However, Robinson Cano dives to stop it, gets up, and throws him out! He might not be hitting, but at least he's still one of the best defensive second basemen in the league.
Sanchez starts off the bottom of the fifth by firing two strikes that Granderson just takes. It seems he's always falling behind 0-2 these days. The inevitable occurs when he strikes out on a foul tip. That makes 14 strikeouts in 27 plate appearances so far in the playoffs. Swisher follows with a strikeout of his own and he leaves to a trail of boos. He and the fans in right field have not been getting along lately due to his slump and the overall fan treatment. It really appears as though he's looking forward to skipping town in free agency. Back in the game, Jayson Nix grounds out to third and the inning is over.
#HIROK is still looking for run support, guys, give it to him! In the meantime, he'll just have to keep up his tremendous performance.