A pitching matchup between the New York Yankees' Hiroki Kuroda and Houston Astros' Philip Humber appears to be a colossal mismatch.
Kuroda has never lost in seven career starts against the Astros while Humber has been hit hard in losing all five starts for Houston heading into Tuesday night's matchup.
Houston (8-18) ended a nine-game road slide as well as New York's four-game win streak with a 9-1 rout in Monday's opener of a three-game set.
The Yankees (15-10), though, figure to be heavily favored in the second game.
Kuroda (3-1, 2.79 ERA) is 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA against the Astros and brings in a 15-inning scoreless streak against them.
New York has won four straight starts by the right-hander, who is 3-0 with a 2.28 ERA in that span. He gave up three runs over six innings Thursday in a 5-3 home win over Toronto, settling down and not allowing a hit over his final four frames.
"This might be his best performance of the year," manager Joe Girardi said. "It says a lot because he didn't have a whole lot."
Kuroda's batterymate was the injured Francisco Cervelli in each of his last three outings, with Chris Stewart catching him in his first two 2013 outings. He has a 1.61 ERA with Cervelli behind the plate, but a 6.75 mark with Stewart.
Opponents are batting .215 against Kuroda this year while that figure is a robust .343 against Humber (0-5, 7.99).
Humber failed to get out of the first inning and allowed eight runs two starts ago against Cleveland before yielding seven over 4 2-3 innings Thursday in a 7-2 defeat at Boston.
"I'm just not making good pitches," Humber said. "It's not fun to go out there and get hit around like that."
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts against the Yankees back in 2011.
One factor in his favor would be if he faces Ichiro Suzuki, who got the night off Monday. Humber is the pitcher Suzuki owns the most at_bats against without a hit, going 0 for 9 - 0 for 3 in Humber's perfect game last season with the White Sox.
Houston had 17 hits for its second-highest total to break a four-game overall slide. Carlos Corporan homered among his four hits and drove in four runs, Brandon Barnes had three hits and three RBIs and each set career highs for hits and RBIs.
The Astros recovered after being outscored 28-10 in a four-game sweep by the Red Sox.
"I know they can do it,' manager Bo Porter said. "You're just waiting for it to happen night in and night out and be consistent. That's why we stay positive, because we know it's in there.'
The top three hitters for New York combined to go 6 for 11, but the rest of the lineup was 2 for 20.
The Yankees were without Kevin Youkilis for the eighth time in nine games because of a bad back. He had an MRI on Monday and was placed on the disabled list Tuesday.
New York leads the all-time series 8-2.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved