Monday notes: Kuroda not pleased

Hiroki Kuroda said that he typically starts slowly during Spring Training, but the hurler’s harshest critic may have been himself in the Yankees’ 4-3 Grapefruit League loss to the Astros. Kuroda threw three scoreless innings but came away dissatisfied.

“I don’t think I had all my stuff today,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “Nothing was really consistent. My two-seamer wasn’t there, my cutter wasn’t really cutting.”

Joe Girardi didn’t think it was all that bad. Kuroda allowed two hits, walking two and striking out two as he threw 24 of 42 pitches for strikes. Kuroda was better his first time out against the Rays, Girardi said, but this wasn’t terrible.

“I thought he was off a little bit,” Girardi said. “I don’t think he was as consistent in the strike zone as he wanted to be, but I thought he threw some good curveballs tonight (and) decent splits. His cutter wasn’t bad. He wasn’t quite as sharp as the last time, command-wise.”

What went right: Dellin Betances looked very good in a two-inning stint. Girardi said that Betances has showed a lot of progress: “From the first time he pitched to this time, much, much better. Tonight he had good stuff.” … Nick Swisher ripped a RBI triple in the sixth inning, chasing home Melky Mesa. … Juan Cedeno pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

What went wrong: Girardi said that a missed pop-up was responsible for Rafael Soriano’s shaky fourth inning, in which he allowed a run and only recorded two outs. Catcher Francisco Cervelli and first baseman Eric Chavez didn’t communicate and the ball fell foul … The Yankees didn’t get their first hit until the fifth inning, stifled by Kyle Weiland … Mike O’Connor coughed up two runs in the ninth.

What they said: “He’s very businesslike. That’s the one thing that I’ve noticed. Everything is calculated, when he’s going to do it, when he’s going to get it done. It seems that he’s always got a plan. I would say that translates out there too for him.” – Girardi, speaking pregame about his early impressions of Kuroda.

What’s next: The Yankees will kick off the 2012 edition of their classic rivalry with the Red Sox on Tuesday, meeting for the first time this season with a 7:05 p.m. ET contest under the lights at Steinbrenner Field that can be seen on MLB.TV. Right-hander Ivan Nova will make his third turn in New York’s spring rotation, looking to correct the control issues that have popped up through his first two efforts. Boston will hand the ball to left-hander Felix Doubront.

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