Hiroki Kuroda has been a huge reason why the New York Yankees are still fighting for a playoff spot. However, if he doesn't get his act together soon he may be the reason they miss out on the postseason.
The Japanese right-hander tries to put the brakes on a personal three-game losing streak on Tuesday when the Yankees continue a three-game set with the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium.
Kuroda was as good as any pitcher in baseball through the first four months of the season and won his team-best 11th game back on Aug. 12, when he tossed eight scoreless innings to beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He's lost all three starts since, though, and has seen his ERA rise more than half a run to 2.89.
"To not have my stuff at this stage of the season is pretty frustrating," Kuroda said through a translator.
However, his three consecutive losses have come on the road. He is 7-2 with an AL-best 1.54 ERA at Yankee Stadium. Kuroda also hasn't given up a run in his last 20 innings in the Bronx.
Chicago, meanwhile, will counter with lefty Chris Sale, who has won four of his last five starts. Sale beat the Houston Astros on Wednesday, allowing just a run and four hits in eight innings to run his record to 10-12 to go along with a 2.99.
Sale's run started with a win over Kuroda and the Yanks back on Aug. 6 and is 2-0 lifetime against them with a 0.49 ERA in five games (2 starts).
New York continued its improbable push toward the postseason in Monday's opener, as David Huff tossed 5 2/3 effective innings of relief and the Yankees erupted for eight runs in the bottom of the fourth en route to a 9-1 rout.
After a rain delay of one hour and 53 minutes ended starter Phil Hughes' afternoon after just 1 1/3 innings, Huff (2-0) yielded only Paul Konerko's solo homer and four other hits in a superb fill-in effort.
Derek Jeter broke out of a slump with a 2-for-4, two-RBI performance that helped the Yankees move within 2 1/2 games of Tampa Bay for the American League's second wild-card spot.
"The more you play, obviously the more comfortable you get," Jeter said. "Today the results were there."
Dylan Axelrod was charged with all eight runs -- six of which were earned -- in the fourth, and was tagged for eight hits in 2 1/3 innings after replacing Jose Quintana (7-5) following the stoppage.
Chicago's loss on Monday stopped a six-game winning streak against the Yankees.