Kuroda faces first tough outing
Sloppy defense, long inning test Dodgers newest hurler
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- For the first time in his very brief Dodgers career, pitcher Hiroki Kuroda was roughed up.
The Houston Astros sent 10 batters to the plate in a five-run second inning on Thursday afternoon, leading them to a 7-6 win over the Dodgers at Osceola County Stadium.
The right-hander worked a difficult 42-pitch inning after hurling an easy 1-2-3 first. Mark Loretta and Humberto Quintero knocked in two runs each for the Astros. Los Angeles second baseman Delwyn Young committed a key throwing error during the barrage on a single by Michael Bourn.
"It's a little bit tough when you give any team four or five outs. I thought his breaking ball was better. He just got a couple of balls up. It's hard to judge when [the inning] goes that long," pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said of Kuroda's performance.
After getting Carlos Lee on a long flyout to left to open the inning, Kuroda ran into problems when Miguel Tejada's blooper to right field fell in for a double, barely eluding a diving Jason Repko. Kuroda then gave up a double that Repko nearly caught while backpedaling, a run-scoring single up the middle, a walk and Quintero's blast off the wall in right-center to make it 4-0. Honeycutt said the worst pitch Kuroda made was to Quintero, and the pitching coach walked to the mound and talked to the 33-year-old Japanese pitcher. Kuroda still wanted the ball. "He was making the pitches; we just didn't make any plays for him," Honeycutt said.
The game plan for Kuroda, who complained about the strike zone in his last start, was to come out early and get strikes. The first inning was promising, as he retired Bourn and Hunter Pence on easy ground balls, then struck out Lance Berkman looking.
"He wanted to attack the zone more earlier in the count. He looked good in the first inning, wherever the pitches were. Everything kind of started after what we thought was a foul ball, then a fly ball that should've been caught," Honeycutt said.
Kuroda appeared to get out of the second inning on a ball hit back to him by Berkman, the ninth batter in the inning, but shortstop Ivan DeJesus dropped the ball at second base while transferring it to his throwing hand, resulting in a fielder's choice rather than a double play. Kuroda then struck out Lee.
"It just kind of escalated. Anytime you're out there for that number of pitches and plays aren't being made behind you, it gets kind of frustrating after a while," added Honeycutt.
Kuroda gave up an unearned run the following frame. He tossed three innings, gave up six hits, allowed five earned runs, fanned two and walked a batter. He threw 73 pitches in the game, his fourth start.
Bill Whitehead is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.