Yankees-Blue Jays Preview
By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- The New York Yankees' Hiroki Kuroda has settled in nicely following a rocky start to the season.
After impressing in the early going, the Toronto Blue Jays' Kyle Drabek has, in contrast, had a hard time hitting his spots of late.
With Kuroda looking to build on another strong outing and Drabek hoping to avoid losing a fifth consecutive start, these AL East rivals open their season series in the first of two Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.
Signed to a one-year, $10 million deal in the offseason, Kuroda (3-4, 3.56 ERA) understandably may have needed some time to adjust after spending the previous four years with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The right-hander, however, appears to be on track and improved to 2-2 with a 2.52 ERA over his last four starts with seven innings of two-run ball during Friday's 6-2 win over Seattle.
"It's what I've been doing all my life," Kuroda, who's never faced Toronto, told MLB's official website. "I really hope that I can be real consistent, and it looks like it's beginning to be like that, so I'm happy about that."
Kuroda, who has compiled a 4.32 ERA in losing all three of his road starts, will have to face Brett Lawrie despite the third baseman being suspended four games Wednesday.
Lawrie was ejected from Tuesday's 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay after arguing home plate umpire Bill Miller's strike three call in the ninth inning. Lawrie slammed his batting helmet to the ground during his tirade and it bounced up and hit Miller in the hip.
"That was not my intention at all," said Lawrie, who is appealing the suspension. "I've never, ever done anything to go at an umpire before in my life, and I didn't mean to tonight. I apologize for that."
Losers of three straight and seven of 10, the Blue Jays (19-18) could find it difficult to get back on track behind Drabek (2-4, 3.66). Since going 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA over his first three outings, Drabek has compiled a 5.06 mark during a career-worst four-start losing streak.
Six days after yielding a season-high five runs in as many innings during a 6-2 road loss to the Angels, Drabek allowed three, four hits and four walks over 4 1-3 frames of Friday's 7-6 defeat at Minnesota.
"I'm trying to figure it out right now - really it was my two-seamer today that was just down the whole time. I had to rely on my offspeed tonight," Drabek said. "The two-seamer's always been there for me. Just tonight it wasn't ... I couldn't seem to get it up."
Drabek dropped to 0-2 and saw his ERA balloon to 7.90 over three career starts against the Yankees (20-16) after surrendering five runs, seven hits and four walks in 2 1-3 innings of a 5-4 road loss April 30, 2011.
New York is coming off a two-game split with Baltimore, falling 5-2 on Tuesday. Curtis Granderson's two-run shot - his second homer in as many days - proved to be the club's only offense.
The usually potent Yankees, who went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position Tuesday, have gone 2 for 25 (.080) in such situations over their last three games.
Already without Mariano Rivera (torn ACL), New York placed fill-in closer David Robertson on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a strained muscle in his left ribcage.
"We lost Mariano first. The bullpen will do whatever we have to do," said Rafael Soriano, who is expected to take over for Robertson. "Now with two guys down, it's not easy for us."
The Yankees have dropped 12 of 19 at Toronto.
Updated May 16, 2012