As the Yankees try to make up ground in the American League Wild Card race, they could use the Hiroki Kuroda who has helped anchor their rotation for much of the past two seasons.
Unfortunately for New York, Kuroda is struggling as he goes into his start against the Blue Jays on Thursday night at Rogers Centre, where the teams are finishing a three-game series. That's bad timing for the Yankees, who snapped a four-game losing streak on Wednesday to even the set and move 2 1/2 games back in the race for the second Wild Card spot.
Kuroda (11-11, 3.13 ERA) owns a 5.96 ERA and has allowed five home runs in four career games at Rogers Centre. On Aug. 28, he gave up seven runs (five earned) on nine hits over five innings there.
That game is part of a six-start stretch in which Kuroda has gone 0-4 with a 6.69 ERA and .325 opponents' batting average. He gave up five runs over six innings in a loss on Friday at Boston, although he settled in after a four-run first.
"As a starter, I think my responsibility is to go at least six or seven innings," Kuroda said afterward through an interpreter. "That's what I'm telling myself to do."
Kuroda's counterpart isn't pitching for a postseason berth, but he might be working toward a spot in the Blue Jays' 2014 rotation. Despite coming "out of nowhere," according to manager John Gibbons, right-hander Todd Redmond has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 10 of his 11 starts since joining the rotation, while striking out more than a batter per inning.
Redmond beat Kuroda on Aug. 28, when he held the Yankees to two runs in 5 2/3 innings. He went a career-high 6 1/3 innings on Friday, limiting the Orioles to one run on three hits, with no walks and seven strikeouts. It was the type of performance that could put the 28-year-old in Toronto's plans for next year.
"I hope so," Redmond said after his last start. "This year, I just look one start at a time, and next year is next year. I hope I am. I just go out there and do my best, and help the team win."
Yankees: Logan nearing return
Left-hander Boone Logan could rejoin the Yankees' bullpen as early as Friday, according to manager Joe Girardi.
Logan, who has a bone spur in his elbow, threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday and felt fine. Girardi wants to make sure he still feels good on Thursday before clearing him to pitch in a game.
Logan owns a 3.26 ERA in 60 appearances, holding lefties to a .224 average.
Blue Jays: No set DH
Moises Sierra started at designated hitter for the Blue Jays on Wednesday night, but it's not a permanent assignment. With Edwin Encarnacion out for the rest of the season and Adam Lind taking over as the regular first baseman, Gibbons plans to use a variety of players at DH.
Since Encarnacion last played on Sept. 8, Rajai Davis, Mark DeRosa and Kevin Pillar all have been in the lineup at DH at least once, in addition to Sierra. Gibbons will choose his starter based on matchups, while also taking into consideration the impact on his defense.
• The Yankees hold a 14-4 lead in the season series.
• New York returns home on Friday to play the Giants and Rays before heading to Houston, while the Blue Jays still have series against the Red Sox, Orioles and Rays.