The New York Yankees are in position for their longest winning streak in nearly 27 years thanks in part to some outstanding starting pitching.
New York (41-25) won 6-2 on Monday to open this three-game set as CC Sabathia struck out 10 in his first complete game of 2012. The Yankees improved baseball's best interleague record to 11-2, and won for the fourth time in as many tries against the Braves (35-32) this season.
"I don't think you're ever satisfied. I think when you become satisfied you can go backwards," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Guys always feel that they can do more, and that's the bottom line."
Sabathia's effort helped New York starters improve to 12-1 with a 1.97 ERA in June.
"Our pitchers have been doing a great job, executing pitches, executing game plans," said catcher Russell Martin, who served as designated hitter in the series opener.
The Yankees' last 11-game win streak was Aug. 31-Sept. 10, 1985.
Kuroda (6-6, 3.43 ERA) is 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his last four starts as he looks to defeat Atlanta for the second straight outing. He yielded two runs over six innings last Wednesday in a 3-2 road victory.
"This is what we saw last year and the scouts all saw," Girardi said of the pitcher the Yankees signed away from the Dodgers in the offseason. "It's just consistency. You're starting to see the consistent velocity. You're starting to see the consistent slider, a better curveball. That leads me to believe that he'll continue."
The right-hander improved to 2-4 with a 2.23 ERA in six career starts against the Braves. Jason Heyward doubled twice against him last week after being 0 for 8 previously versus Kuroda.
Martin Prado has given Kuroda the most trouble among Atlanta hitters, going 5 for 12 with a homer. Brian McCann is 3 for 13 off Kuroda, including a two-run homer Wednesday.
Kuroda will again match up with Tim Hudson (4-3, 3.90), who gave up three runs over six innings last week to fall to 1-4 with a 3.84 ERA in 11 career regular-season starts against the Yankees. Hudson surrendered a go-ahead, two-run homer to Curtis Granderson in the sixth inning.
Hudson, who has not pitched in the Bronx since 2006, will be making his first appearance in the new Yankee Stadium. The veteran right-hander won at Tampa Bay on May 20 after going 0-9 with a 7.71 ERA over his previous 10 interleague road outings.
He figures to be challenged by a surging Derek Jeter, who had two hits off him last week. Jeter is 14 for 42 during a nine-game hitting streak.
Jeter had two hits and three RBIs Monday for his 104th career interleague multihit effort, the highest total in history. The Yankees captain is 7 for 18 against Atlanta this year.
"Sometimes you hit balls well, they catch it, sometimes you find holes," Jeter said. "I was fortunate to find some holes today."
Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher could return soon after missing his second straight game Monday with a bruised quad.
The Braves, shut out in losses to Baltimore on Saturday and Sunday, have totaled 16 runs while losing seven of eight.
"We haven't kept the lineup moving," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We haven't battled in at-bats."
- Hiroki Kuroda
- Atlanta Braves