Oakland's offensive talent is undeniable. They lead the league in runs scored and on base percentage. Their run differential this season is +115. The next best team in the AL is Toronto with a +39. This is no fluke, the team can hit. If the Yankees want any chance at winning tonight, Hiroki Kuroda (4-3, 4.57 ERA) needs to have his sinker working.
After being re-signed by the Yanks, Kuroda has struggled mightily at home, earning a 5.60 ERA. He's given up eight HRs in just six starts at Yankee Stadium in 2014. For a ground ball pitcher, that's never going to cut it. If he can keep the ball low tonight, he can avoid some damage from Oakland's big bats.
Who are these sluggers from the Bay? One name to get familiar with is 3rd baseman Josh Donaldson. Believe it or not, this guy finished fourth in MVP voting last season, and he's at it again. The 28 year old is fourth in the AL with 15 HRs, and third with 48 RBIs.
So, how does this relate to the Yankees' starter? Well, Donaldson's home run to fly ball ratio is an astonishing 16.5%. That basically means that for every six fly balls he hits, one gets out of the park. That's better than the odds of flopping a set in poker. Kuroda can't let the Athletics' big gun get to him, or it could be a long night in the Bronx. If he keeps the ball down, the Yanks have a chance to give Oakland their 5th straight road loss.