video thumbnail

PHI@NYY: Kuroda strong in Spring Training debut

HOUSTON -- The butterflies have burned off, and now the Yankees and Astros can both get into the flow of the regular season. For New York, it's about putting the first game in the past, while the Astros hope to keep a good thing rolling.

The Astros lost 15 straight games to close out last season but busted out of the gates on Tuesday by roughing up CC Sabathia for six runs on Opening Day. Still, they will have their work cut out for them at 8:10 p.m. ET on Wednesday against veteran Hiroki Kuroda, who was the Bronx Bombers' best pitcher for most of last season before tailing off late in the year.

Houston has not started a season 2-0 since 2003, and it will attempt to do so behind right-hander Jarred Cosart, who grew up in Houston and will try to handle a revamped Yankees lineup -- and his nerves -- in front of 20-25 friends and family members.

"You saw what they did this offseason," Cosart said of the Yankees. "They spent a lot of money to bring in the best. The Yankees and Red Sox, they want to win a World Series each year, and they've got a lineup that's going to allow them to do that. Our job is to execute pitches and hope for the best."

Cosart made 10 starts as a rookie last year and was 1-1 with a 1.95 ERA en route to being named the Astros' Rookie of the Year by the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The righty, who will turn 24 on May 25, posted the lowest ERA by an Astros pitcher in his first 10 starts.

"It's my first Opening Day in the big leagues, and I've had guys tell me once you only get one first start to the year, so make the most of it," Cosart said. "That's what I'm going to try to go out and do."

Cosart will be assigned to take on a Yankees order that is looking for better results than in Tuesday's season opener, which they lost, 6-2. New additions Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson combined to go 3-for-19 with two walks and a run scored against Houston.

Kuroda was 11-13 with a 3.31 ERA for New York last season and has a track record of success against the Astros, stemming from his time in the National League West with the Dodgers.

In his career against Houston, Kuroda is 4-0 with a 1.39 ERA in eight starts, seven of which came with Los Angeles. He departed Spring Training saying that he was pleased by his preparation for the season.

"When the season starts, it could be different," Kuroda said through an interpreter. "I have to expect different things. But the fact that I was healthy through Spring Training, I'm pretty satisfied."

Yankees: Jeter to reunite with Clemens, Pettitte
The Astros will have the honor of holding the first of many on-field ceremonies this season paying tribute to Derek Jeter's career. Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, both former teammates of Jeter's, will take part in the ceremony.

Jeter will be presented with gifts on behalf of the Astros franchise, and he said that it was good to get re-acquainted with Clemens last season when Houston honored retiring closer Mariano Rivera. Pettitte was around the Yankees this spring as a guest coach.

"It's always good to see those guys, especially Andy, being with Andy for so long. Rocket as well," Jeter said. "I don't know what they have planned, but I look forward to seeing them."

Jeter was hit on the left forearm by a pitch in his first plate appearance of the season on Tuesday, but he stayed in the game. Manager Joe Girardi said that Jeter underwent no tests.

Astros: Full speed ahead for Fowler
Dexter Fowler doubled and scored in each of his first two plate appearances with the Astros on Tuesday, and the speedy center fielder said that kind of aggressive play has been a topic of discussion with Houston manager Bo Porter.

"I think that's our game," Fowler said. "You've got to put the pressure on the defense. Bo talks about that all the time, and I think that's what we're going to do. If we see an opportunity, we're going to take it."

Fowler joined Jack Hiatt (April 8, 1971) and Vinny Castilla (May 15, 2001) as the only players in Astros history with two doubles and two runs scored in their Houston debuts.

Worth noting
• First baseman Jesus Guzman hit a two-run homer in his first plate appearance as an Astro on Tuesday. The last player to do that for Houston was Rick Ankiel, who hit a pinch-hit home run on Opening Night against the Rangers on March 31, 2013.

• CC Sabathia struck out six batters on Tuesday, giving him 1,002 strikeouts since joining the Yankees in 2009. He's just the 12th pitcher in club history with 1,000 strikeouts. The pitchers immediately ahead of Sabathia on the Yanks' all-time list are Clemens (1,014), Al Downing (1,028), Bob Shawkey (1,167) and Rivera (1,173).

• Wednesday marks the anniversary of Jeter's first Yankees Opening Day, on April 2, 1996, at Cleveland. Then 21, Jeter hit a fifth-inning solo homer off Dennis Martinez in New York's 7-1 win. He was the first Yankees rookie to start at shortstop on Opening Day since Tom Tresh in 1962. Comments