Kuroda Returns To Form, Yankees Beat Orioles 3-0

The New York Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-0 Sunday night as Hiroki Kuroda pitched a complete game shutout. Kuroda returned to form and only gave up five hits while striking out five against the Orioles.

The Yankees rotation has struggled to start the season, but Kuroda turned the page Sunday and shut down the Orioles as the Yankees took two-of-three games to win the series. The 38-year-old right-hander induced 18 groundballs in the contest and baffled Chris Davis at the plate.

Davis is considerably the hottest hitter in the MLB right now, but Kuroda got the best of him in the rubber match Sunday. The Orioles' first baseman went 0-for-4 at the plate with three strikeouts against Kuroda, though he is still tied for the league lead in home runs and RBIs.

The Yankees didn't get on the board until the fifth inning when Jayson Nix drove in Brennan Boesch on a sacrifice fly. Brett Gardner followed Nix's at-bat with a two-run homer to deep right that extended the Yankees lead to three.

Orioles' starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen threw a fastball up and in to Gardner that he would quickly regret. Gardner turned on the pitch and hit the foul pole down the right field line for his second home run of the season.

Hiroki Kuroda took over from there and held the Orioles to one hit over the last four innings for his fifth major league shutout. Yankees manager Joe Girardi was very pleased with Kuroda's performance after the game.

"I think he's got outstanding command," Girardi said. "I think he really knows how to pitch."

The Yankees are now back above .500 baseball with the win and are just one-game back of the Boston Red Sox for first place in the AL East. The Orioles are 1 1/2 games back in third place and will now return home for a three-game set at Camden Yards against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Yankees move on to their first interleague series of the season as they take on the Arizona Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium. The Diamondbacks are coming off a series win at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers and are only a half-game back of the San Francisco Giants in the NL West.

Andy Pettitte will not pitch against Arizona as his next start has been pushed back to next weekend against the Toronto Blue Jays. Pettitte experienced back spasms last week and was scheduled to return against the Orioles before being pushed back again.

With Pettitte's back problems and Phil Hughes' rough outing on Saturday, the Yankees needed a little relief and they got it from Kuroda. The Japanese pitcher has always been consistent and came through when the Yankees needed it most Sunday.

Can the New York Yankees' rotation settle down after Kuroda's huge performance?

[Image via Creative Commons]