There's no place like home for well-rested Kuroda
Game 3 starter at his best in Yankee Stadium during regular season
Even if he is tiring, Hiroki Kuroda still has Yankee Stadium going for him.
The right-hander has thrown the most innings of his Major League career, 219 1/3, entering his start against the Orioles on Wednesday in Game 3 of the American League Division Series. Kuroda will be on six days' rest, a bonus of two days for the 37-year-old.
Although Kuroda said that the extra rest is welcomed, he isn't dragging.
"Yes, I think definitely it'll be favorable for me to have a little bit more rest," Kuroda said on Tuesday during a conference call. "I really haven't thought of anything about [the impact of the innings]. You know, I don't really feel fatigued, or I don't think I can afford to think like that, because I always prepare myself for the next game, and that's what I'm doing right now. So I'm just going to do my best and pitch my best game possible tomorrow."
Manager Joe Girardi didn't beat around the bush: The decision to back up Kuroda's start was because of his innings load.
"We've seen he's been pretty good on extra rest the times he's went on his sixth day, and I know it's his seventh or eighth day here," Girardi said. "But we feel with the innings that he's logged, that this will be beneficial for him. When you look at his statistics, this is the most innings he's thrown in a long time."
Kuroda eclipsed 200 innings in the Majors just once in his four previous Major League seasons, all spent with the Dodgers, and that was last year.
Beneficial, too, for Kuroda seems to be pitching at home. He went 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA in the regular season but was at his best in Yankee Stadium, where he went 11-6 with a 2.72 ERA in 132 1/3 innings.
Kuroda thinks that if there's any reason for the disparity, it's the fans.
"I think it's just a matter of luck that I have great numbers in the stadium here at Yankee Stadium," he said. "But I think one of the biggest things is the fans. They really motivate me during the game."
Although Girardi probably would have preferred this series to have started at Yankee Stadium, the fact that Kuroda's start comes both in New York and with extra rest isn't the worst tradeoff.
"Well, we haven't seen year after year after year, so it's hard for me to say, being around him just for the first time this year," Girardi said of the home-away splits. "But he seems to do very well in our ballpark. He seems to know how to pitch to our ballpark, and that could have something to do with it. But he's been very good at home. It's one of the reasons that we talked about him pitching at home, plus we thought the extra rest would really help him, the couple of days, instead of him having to go on his fifth day again. But let's hope it holds true again tomorrow."
Kuroda said that the extra rest did not significantly change his routine. The prior two times he faced Baltimore -- both of them this season, and both of them at home -- he allowed a combined five runs in 15 1/3 innings (2.93 ERA). He went at least seven innings in each start.