If the Yankees manage to somehow keep their flickering postseason hopes alive the band leader will be Hiroki Kuroda.
With Mariano Rivera unavailable after flushing three straight save opportunities and the Yankees’ bats controlled by Angels starter Garrett Richards Kuroda hurled the Yankees to a 2-1 victory in front of an announced Yankee Stadium crowd of 37146.
“It was a brilliant performance by Kuroda’’ manager Joe Girardi said following his team’s second straight victory the first time they won back-to-back games in a month. “I don’t know if you can expect anyone to be that dominant. He has been brilliant. He knew we needed distance tonight.’’
Kuroda pitched eight shutout innings improved to 11-7 and lowered his ERA to 2.33.
Girardi decided 107 pitches were enough for his ace and opted for Boone Logan and David Robertson to pitch what turned into a high-anxiety act in the ninth inning while Rivera sat idle. Rivera said he wasn’t hurting and vowed to be available tonight.