Twins-Yankees Preview

The Associated Press

Hiroki Kuroda dazzled the home crowd in his first start in pinstripes. Facing a team - and the majority of its players - for the first time could lead to another dominant performance from the right-hander.

Kuroda takes the mound for the New York Yankees when they continue a four-game series with the visiting Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night.

Signed to a one-year, $10 million contract Jan. 26 after spending his first four seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kuroda struggled in his Yankees debut at Tampa before getting the assignment for New York's home opener Friday.

He didn't disappoint the nearly 50,000 fans in attendance, allowing five hits in eight-plus innings to defeat the Los Angeles Angels 5-0.

"I always try to have the same approach no matter where I pitch or when I pitch," Kuroda said through a translator. "I was able to pitch with confidence."

Kuroda (1-1, 2.63 ERA) should feel confident Wednesday night with Minnesota not having much experience against him.

The only Twins that have stepped into the batter's box against Kuroda are Ryan Doumit and Josh Willingham. Neither player has had much success, with Doumit going 2 for 12 with five strikeouts and Willingham 1 for 9 while striking out four times.

Willingham hit his fifth homer Tuesday night as Minnesota lost 8-3 after beating the Yankees 7-3 in Monday's series opener. The Twins, who had five hits Tuesday, are 6-29 in 35 regular-season games in the Bronx since Ron Gardenhire took over as manager in 2002.

Derek Jeter continued his strong start to the season by driving in two runs for the Yankees (6-5), who will also be facing a pitcher that doesn't have much experience against the AL.

New York native Jason Marquis will be making his first start for Minnesota (3-8) after beginning the season in the minors. The right-hander was sent to Double-A New Britain on April 4 because he missed two weeks of spring training while tending to his 7-year-old daughter, who was seriously injured in a bicycle accident last month.

He made two starts with New Britain, allowing three runs over 14 innings.

"I felt great physically and mentally," Marquis told the Twins' official website. "Obviously the time the Twins gave me to be with my daughter and pitch with New Britain at the same time allowed me not only to get ready physically, but mentally, too. She's at home safe and sound now."

Minnesota is Marquis' first AL team in his 13-year career, and he's gone 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in two appearances against the Yankees. He last faced them June 10, 2005, while with St. Louis, allowing one run and six hits over eight innings of an 8-1 win.

Marquis went 8-6 with a 4.43 ERA in 23 starts with Washington and Arizona last season. The Nationals traded him to the Diamondbacks on July 30, but he made only three starts for them before a fractured right fibula ended his season in mid-August.

Andruw Jones homered and had two hits Tuesday, and he may again see himself penciled into New York's lineup since he's 9 for 12 with five home runs against Marquis. Raul Ibanez is 8 for 22 with two homers and two doubles when facing him.

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