4 Reasons Hiroki Kuroda Will Come Up Big for the Yankees in Game 3
There's no question that the Orioles have their backs against the wall, as they must take two of three games in Yankee Stadium from a Yankees team that plays much better at home.
The key to tonight's game for the Yanks will be starter Hiroki Kuroda, who will play a major role in the team's 2012 postseason success.
Here are four reasons why I think he'll come up big tonight.
Experience Is on Kuroda's Side
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Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez has been a revelation for the Orioles this season, as he went 9-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 18 games (15 starts).
He was especially good to close out the regular season, going 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his last four starts. This solid production was enough to earn him the start in Game 3.
However, pitching in an pivotal game under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium, there is no question Kuroda has the advantage in the pitching matchup.
Kuroda could very well be spotted an early lead if his teammates can jump on the inexperienced Gonzalez from the get-go.
Orioles Have Yet to Homer in the Series
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Kuroda was susceptible to the home run all season, allowing 25 long balls for a 1.0 HR/9 mark.
The Orioles were one of the league's most prolific power teams, hitting 214 home runs during the regular season to rank second in the AL.
But the O's have gone without a home run in the series' first two games. And while that is certainly a small sample size, it still bodes well for Kuroda to know the Orioles aren't squaring up and teeing off on all of the mistakes they see.
Pitched Well in Two Starts Against Baltimore This Season
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Kuroda faced off against the Orioles twice during the regular season, going 1-1 with a 2.93 ERA and a 0.848 WHIP.
His first start came back in April, when he went seven innings and allowed just four hits and one earned run to pick up what was then his second win of the year.
The other start came in August, when he took the loss but pitched 8.1 innings and allowed four runs on eight hits. He ran into trouble in allowing three runs in the second inning, but more or less shut down their offense the remainder of the game.
He's Pitching at Yankee Stadium
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On the season, Kuroda has performed much better at home, going 11-6 with a 2.72 ERA in 19 starts at Yankee Stadium compared to just 5-5 with a 4.23 ERA in 14 road starts.
Aside from the ERA, the most glaring statistical difference is his WHIP, which is 1.408 on the road, compared to a sterling 1.005 at home.
Keeping the pesky Orioles off the bases will be important, and he's proven more than capable of doing so at Yankee Stadium.