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TB@NYY: Kuroda pitches eight innings of two-run ball

If the Yankees are going to keep pace in the tightly packed American League East, they will have to rely on right-hander Hiroki Kuroda to be one of the leaders of their rotation alongside Masahiro Tanaka.

New York is facing the reality that CC Sabathia appears to be lost for the season, and Michael Pineda is at least a month away from returning to the Majors. The other three Yankees starters -- David Phelps, Vidal Nuno and Chase Whitley -- have been inconsistent.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has expressed a willingness to be active in the trade market, but for now, the team must count on the players it has.

Kuroda will be looking to build off a strong outing in his previous start and lead the Yankees to a series win in Sunday's finale against the Twins at Target Field.

In his last start against the Rays, Kuroda allowed two runs in eight innings while striking out seven, but he was outdueled by David Price and came away with a loss.

"Especially today, we were facing Price, who is a real good pitcher," Kuroda said after the start through an interpreter. "So I was expecting it's not going to be easy. I was trying to be sure I could get both corners and try to minimize the damage."

The Yankees are in the midst of an 11-game road trip and are looking to rebound from a five-game losing streak to close their last homestand.

The Twins will counter with right-hander Ricky Nolasco, and he is also hoping to continue the momentum from his last start.

Nolasco, who signed a four-year, $49 million deal this past offseason with Minnesota, gave up one run on eight hits over six innings against the Royals for his first quality start since May 30 and first win since June 4.

"He's had a tough go," said Terry Ryan, the Twins' general manager. "We need to get him going here. He's one of our major offseason acquisitions. High hopes."

Yankees: Girardi unable to rest Gardner
Manager Joe Girardi wanted to give Brett Gardner the day off Saturday, but late in a tie game, Girardi decided to insert his speedy outfielder.

Gardner entered the game in left field in the ninth inning to replace Alfonso Soriano, who misplayed a couple of balls on defense and went 0-for-4. Gardner didn't get an at-bat in the Yankees' eventual 2-1 loss in 11 innings.

"He's about the only guy who hasn't had a day off," Girardi said before the game. "You get a little bit concerned, so you take the initiative, 'You know what? I'm going to give you a day off.'"

Gardner had started 39 straight games before Saturday, but still has not taken a full day off since April 27, a span of 60 games.

Twins: Suzuki could make first All-Star team
Kurt Suzuki ranked fourth among American League catchers in the final All-Star ballot released, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire believes when the teams are announced Sunday his catcher deserves to represent the host team.

"Absolutely," said Gardenhire, who will serve on the AL coaching staff under Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He's hitting .300 as a catcher, and with everything with this pitching staff he's done, he's been pretty doggone good. So absolutely."

Suzuki, who has never been an All-Star, is enjoying a fine offensive year in his first season with Minnesota. He is hitting .308 with 17 doubles and 34 RBIs, all among the tops for catchers in the league. Suzuki added to his cause on Saturday, going 2 for 4 with a walk.

The 2014 All-Star Game will take place at Target Field on July 15.

Worth noting
• The Yankees are 13-4 at Target Field since it opened in 2010.

• With a single in the 10th inning Saturday, Derek Jeter moved into a tie for fourth place on the all-time singles list with former Yankee Willie Keeler at 2,539.

• Twins right-hander Mike Pelfrey is not expected to start throwing again until September and could miss the rest of the season after undergoing elbow surgery in early June.

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