The New York Yankees came into the 2008 season knowing they’d have to rely on two young starting pitchers to get wins.
Nearly three weeks into the season, they’re still waiting for the first one.
Kennedy (0-1, 8.74 ERA) was in line for a victory in his most recent start, having allowed just two runs through six innings with the Yankees holding a 7-2 lead over Tampa Bay on Monday.
But the 23-year-old right-hander left the game after being hit in the hip with a line drive in the seventh, and New York’s bullpen blew the lead.
Still, the Yankees (9-9) went on to win 8-7, and it was Kennedy’s best outing of the season. He had struggled in his previous two appearances, lasting only 2 1-3 innings and allowing six runs in his first start, and allowing two runs in three innings of relief on April 9.
Kennedy said Tuesday that he had fully recovered from the hip injury, which shouldn’t affect Saturday’s start.
“It feels really good,” Kennedy said. “I expected to be a lot more stiff. It’s just a little seam mark where it hit. No bruising.”
Hughes’ problems continued, however, as the 21-year-old dropped to 0-3 Friday. He allowed only one run through five innings, but the Orioles broke the game open with seven runs in the sixth, with four of those charged to Hughes. Baltimore eventually won 8-2.
Among Yankee pitchers, only Hughes’ 8.82 ERA is worse than Kennedy’s.
“I thought he threw the ball a lot better,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Hughes. “Unfortunately, it was a tight ball game and it kind of got away from us that inning.”
With Mike Mussina struggling and Joba Chamberlain still in the bullpen when he returns from visiting his ailing father, a strong start by Kennedy could solve a lot of uncertainty in the Yankees’ rotation.
The Orioles (10-7) have continued their surprising start despite struggles by their own rotation. Four of their five starters have ERAs over 5.00, including Brian Burres, who will take the ball Saturday.
Burres (1-1, 5.40) gave up six runs in 4 2-3 innings last Sunday, taking a 6-2 loss against Tampa Bay.
“I wasn’t hitting the spots really well,” Burres said. “I didn’t get my fastball back down in the zone. They just hit the pitches that were up in the zone.”
The left-hander went 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in four appearances - three starts - against New York last year, allowing just nine hits and three runs in his first 14 2-3 innings. But the Yankees chased Burres after just 3 1-3 innings on Sept. 30, scoring six runs on nine hits.
Behind a quality start from Daniel Cabrera, Friday’s win gave Baltimore back-to-back victories for the first time since the Orioles’ six-game winning streak from April 2-8. Before Thursday’s 6-5, 10-inning win over the Chicago White Sox, Baltimore had dropped six of eight, averaging fewer than three runs over that span.
Their struggling offense used seven singles for Friday’s seven-run rally.
“We haven’t been getting a lot of extra-base hits,” Baltimore’s Jay Payton said. “It would be nice to throw a three-run homer up there to give us some breathing room, but however we can do it.”
The Yankees have won nine of their last 20 against Baltimore.