Welcome to a long day/night of baseball. Hiroki Kuroda will start for the Yankees in the opener of the doubleheader against the Dodgers and Phil Hughes will take the night shift. Kuroda is 7-2 with a 2.18 ERA in his 12 day starts with the Yankees these two seasons, tied for the top winning percentage in the AL (.778).
“A lot of times when you have a little age on you, you prefer the first game instead of waiting around all day,” Joe Girardi said. “Hughesie seems to like to pitch a little better at night. So it actually works out pretty well.”
Kuroda went 7-12 with a 3.79 ERA in 26 games, including 25 starts, working on the day side for the Dodgers. And now he gets to go against his old team.
“What might help is this situation is a lot of the guys that are playing today weren’t teammates of his,” Girardi said. “They have a lot of new faces there.”
Girardi said he hadn’t spoken to Brian Cashman as yet about the Yankees’ plan for the outfielder they reportedly have acquired from the Astros, Fernando Martinez, the former Mets prospect who got hurt often and didn’t pan out. The Yankees do need outfield depth at Triple-A.
The tentative plan for new call-up Zoilo Almonte is to give the 24-year-old switch-hitting outfielder a start in the second game and probably one against a righty in the coming Tampa Bay series. He was batting .297 with 12 doubles, six homers and 36 RBI with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He was batting .354 in 16 games this month, including 10 for 17 in his last four games. Almonte played all three outfield positions for the RailRiders.
“We really believe this kid is going to hit,” Girardi said. “At times, we really saw it in spring training. He struggled a little bit in spring training. Maybe it was the excitement of trying to make a team. But he has seemed to swing the bat pretty well down there, especially left-handed. He’s a guy that can play either left or right, which is helpful in this situation.”