NEW YORK - The 20 extra pitches Hiroki Kuroda threw during a lengthy rain delay took nothing from the 90 he threw during game action.
Kuroda navigated his way through trouble for five innings, getting out of several jams as the New York Yankees blanked the Minnesota Twins, 2-0, in the opener of a three-game series Friday night at Yankee Stadium.
Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano delivered RBI singles in the bottom of the fifth for the Yankees, who won their third straight, ninth in 12 games and for the second time in 30 games when scoring two runs or less.
The game was delayed for 73 minutes with one out in the bottom of the fourth. By that point, Kuroda had thrown 72 pitches to 18 hitters and doing so in a deliberate matter, especially with men on base.
"I think I had experience with coming back out there two or three years ago," Kuroda said through an interpreter. "With all the preparation I made for tonight's start, I wanted to come back out there."
"We had him throw a little bit underneath and he talked to us about (how) he's done it a number of times," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "He was experienced doing it and there were concerns that we were (not) going to be able to get to fifth inning with the weather that we thought might be coming."
Kuroda's deliberate style paid off as he held the Twins hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position and 1-for-12 with men on base. He came back for the fifth following the delay, which is rare for many starting pitchers.
"I think I gave Larry (pitching coach Rothchild) a hard time but the rain stopped earlier than I thought," Kuroda said. "So I think that sort of helped me get back out there."
"He got up a couple of times," Girardi said. "We counted those pitches."
Upon returning, Kuroda gave up a two-out double to Joe Mauer and walked Morneau. He kept the game scoreless by getting Ryan Doumit to ground out and then the Yankees manufactured their runs and turned it over to the bullpen.
"The man is a machine," Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said. "I'm glad I'm on his team."
Kuroda (8-6) allowed six hits, struck out five and issued two walks while throwing 52 of 90 pitches for strikes. He won for the second time in his last 10 starts while turning his sixth scoreless outing.
Kuroda was able to get to win because New York manufactured two runs in the fifth
Luis Cruz opened the inning against reliever Ryan Pressly (2-2) by lacing a 0-2 curveball into left field. After being sacrificed over by Chris Stewart, he scored on Gardner's base hit to left on a 1-2 slider.
Gardner took second on the throw and that proved vital when he moved to third on a groundout to second by Ichiro Suzuki. Cano followed with single up the middle against Brian Duensing that easily scored Gardner.
Preston Claiborne pitched a scoreless sixth but started the seventh by allowing consecutive singles. Boone Logan inherited a first-and-second jam and made that second and third with one out after bouncing a first-pitch slider to Joe Mauer.
Logan recovered by getting the strikeout on an inside full count slider that Mauer briefly questioned though replays showed it crossed the plate. Logan then fanned Morneau on a check-swing, prompting the first baseman to fling his bat and helmet, though he was not ejected by plate umpire Lance Barksdale.
David Robertson pitched a hitless eighth and Mariano Rivera did the same in the ninth for his 30th save.
The Twins dropped their sixth straight and fell to 1-11 in their last 12 games as starter Scott Diamond did not return after allowing one hit in 3 1/3 innings before the rain delay.
"I think it's just because it carried on," Diamond said of the delay. "Once it got past that hour, I think that sold it."
NOTES: The Yankees said that Derek Jeter's spirits were high and that he was his normal self despite having to the miss the series because of a hamstring injury sustained on Thursday. GM Brian Cashman said that he was caught off-guard when trainer Steve Donahue informed him why Jeter was being lifted from the game on Thursday. ... 3B Alex Rodriguez was slated to play seven innings in the field for For Class A Tampa, but his game against Bradenton was rained out.... Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire addressed a column in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Thursday that discussed his managerial status by saying he has no intention of leaving. "I've seen an awful lot of good here. It's a little rough right now; we're trying to figure that out," he said. "As long as they keep me here, I'll try to figure it out. If they decide they want to do something, that's what they decide."