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BAL@NYY: Kuroda hurls seven innings of one-run ball

The Yankees have had some time to adjust to the shock of losing Mariano Rivera to a season-ending right knee injury. Now, they have to get back to business. New York will look to push ahead in its series against the Royals on Saturday, and it will match veteran Hiroki Kuroda against Felipe Paulino.

Kuroda, signed as a free agent in the offseason, lost three of his first four starts for the Yankees before producing his best effort. The 37-year-old went seven innings and allowed just one run on Monday, leading New York to its only victory in a three-game series against the Orioles.

The Royals, meanwhile, will be welcoming Paulino back from the disabled list. The right-hander has been sidelined since the end of Spring Training with a strained right forearm, but he's proven himself healthy and effective with a pair of stress-free rehab outings for Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

"I'm just really happy to get back to the mound," Paulino said. "I'm feeling really strong now, happy, and I'm ready to help the Royals. It's the Yankees, but I'll take it like any other team. I'll just go up there with my game plan and do the best I can do to give a chance to the Royals to win the game."

Rivera's knee ailment may be New York's most pressing injury concern, but it's hardly the only one. The Yankees have been down two outfielders due to separate injuries to Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner, and manager Joe Girardi hopes that both veterans will be able to return next week.

Gardner has been on the disabled list since April 18 due to a strained right elbow, but he was able to take batting practice in the cage on Friday and will progress to batting practice on Saturday. Swisher, meanwhile, has missed five straight games due to a strained left hamstring.

Girardi said that Gardner would go out on a Minor League rehab assignment early next week, and he added that he hopes Swisher can return as soon as Tuesday.

Yankees: Ninth inning a dual effort
The Yankees don't know exactly how they'll replace Rivera, but they know that two of their relief arms -- David Robertson and Rafael Soriano -- will have to play a big part in that effort. Girardi said he belives both relievers are capable of working the ninth, and he'll find opportunities for both to close.

"We're fortunate in that we believe we have two guys who are capable of doing it," said Girardi. "You look at what Robertson's done, [and] he deserves an opportunity to do it. You look at Soriano's career -- what'd he have, 45 or 46 saves a couple years ago? We'll make a decision each day. ... Mo is Mo. I'm not saying it's easy to replace him, but guys have to step up a little bit, given an opportunity."

Royals: Moustakas not afraid of Yanks
Third baseman Mike Moustakas had a big game in Kansas City's 4-3 win over the Yankees on Thursday night, and he said the Royals' young clubhouse is still getting comfortable at competing against New York. Moustakas, 23, will go into Saturday's action riding a seven-game hitting streak.

"You know it's the Yankees on the other side ... but at the end of the day, you know you've got to go out and win," Moustakas said. "We're the Kansas City Royals, and we've got to go out and win a game for the Kansas City Royals. And whoever's on the other side of the field, that's just kind of how it is that day."

Worth noting
• In what's expected to be his final Minor League start, left-hander Andy Pettitte is scheduled to pitch for New York's Triple-A affiliate on Sunday.

• Derek Jeter homered in Friday's 6-2 win and leads all Major Leaguers in hits (46) and average (.404).

Before Friday, the Yankees had been held to a total of six runs in their previous four games, their lowest four-game total since the 2008 season.

The Royals are 1-11 at home this year. Comments