A-Rod and the Yanks continue set against White Sox
Overshadowed in all the Alex Rodriguez hoopla has been the play of New York Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda.
Kuroda looks to pick up where he left off in July when the Yankees resume a three-game series Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox.
In five July starts, Kuroda was magnificent with a 3-0 mark and a sparkling 0.55 earned run average over 33 innings. He allowed only two runs in that stretch and hasn't given a run up since July 20. Kuroda fired seven scoreless innings in Wednesday's 3-0 win at Dodger Stadium for a no-decision.
The Yankees have won each of Kuroda's last four starts and he is 10-6 overall in 22 starts with a 2.38 ERA. Kuroda, who has a 4-4 mark in 12 road assignments, has faced the White Sox three times -- all starts -- in his career, going 2-1 with a 2.53 ERA in that time.
Kuroda's rotation mate, Andy Pettitte, struggled against the White Sox in Monday's 8-1 loss and allowed seven runs and 11 hits in just 2 2/3 innings. The left-hander walked only one batter and struck out four.
"It's frustrating. There's just no other way I can say it," Pettitte said. "(It was) just so disappointing. Obviously I didn't feel like they hit the ball real hard. The second inning, I felt like they hit it, I left a couple balls in the zone but, man, we're trying to win series and for me to go out there and to give up three in the first ... it's just so disappointing."
The Yankees scored their lone run of the game in the seventh inning when Eduardo Nunez crossed the plate on a Brett Gardner sacrifice fly. Vernon Wells had three hits, including a pair of doubles, in the loss, New York's second in a row and 12th in the past 18 tries.
New York is five games off a wild spot and 2-4 on an eight-game trip.
But the biggest news for the Yankees isn't their poor play of late, it's the drama surrounding Rodriguez. Rodriguez was activated from the disabled list Monday and made his season debut after undergoing offseason hip surgery followed by a quadriceps strain. He also learned his fate from the Biogenesis scandal and was suspended for the rest of this season and all of 2014, effective Thursday, Aug. 8.
Rodriguez, though, will appeal his suspension in hopes that the penalty will be shortened. Rodriguez was penalized for his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited PEDs, attempting to cover-up his violations and obstructing MLB's investigation with Biogenesis of America, a Miami-area based anti-aging clinic suspected of distributing performance-enhancing substances.
"It's been crazy, but from this point on I'm going to do my very best to focus on baseball," Rodriguez said following the game. "Every game is very important. It was good for me to get the first one behind me. We didn't win, but we need to have every game like it's a playoff game.
"I just hope there's a happy ending somewhere."
A-Rod was booed often in Chicago and finished 1-for-4 with a strikeout. Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and minor league outfielder Fernando Martinez were suspended 50 games by MLB, which levied suspensions to a total of 12 players, including Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz and Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was placed back on the disabled list Monday with a right calf strain and has played in just five games this season. Jeter, of course, missed the start of the season recovering from an ankle issue and suffered a quad injury his first game back.
"It's been terrible. It's been like a nightmare," Jeter told the club's website Sunday. "The whole season has been a nightmare. I really don't know what to tell you; I wish that wasn't the case and we were sitting here talking about something besides another injury."
The White Sox weren't distracted by Monday's media circus with their opponent and finally put the brakes on a 10-game losing streak. In the first win since July 25, Jose Quintana pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball and Alex Rios finished 2-for-4 with four RBI.
"I got good run support so that was really good today," Quintana said through an interpreter.
Alexei Ramirez had four hits, two RBI and a run scored for the White Sox in the opener of their 10-game homestand. Chicago left fielder Dayan Viciedo left Monday's game in the first inning with a jammed left thumb after diving for a ball hit by Yankees All-Star Robinson Cano.
X-rays were negative and Viciedo is listed as day to day.
Chris Sale hopes to get back into the groove when the White Sox pin pitching duties on him Tuesday. Sale has lost three straight starts and is only 1-9 with a decent 3.23 ERA in his last 11 trips to the mound.
Sale was roughed up a bit in Thursday's 6-1 loss at Cleveland and yielded five runs and 10 hits in five innings. He struck out six and did not walk a batter, but he still fell to 6-11 in 20 starts to go along with a 2.92 ERA.
The left-hander has faced the Yankees four times (1 start) in his career and has a 1-0 record with a formidable 0.82 ERA.
The Pale Hose are meeting the Yankees for the first time since winning five of seven matchups a season ago. Chicago swept a three-game set in this series at home last Aug. 20-22.