Hiroki Kuroda tosses two-hit shutout against Rangers

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The Yankees need a healthy CC Sabathia if they hope to make a legitimate run at the World Series, but Hiroki Kuroda continues to prove that he’s no slouch, either.

Kuroda limited the Rangers to just two hits in a complete game 3-0 win tonight at Yankee Stadium. It was his fourth career shutout and his second as a member of the Yankees. He previously threw a rain-shortened, seven-inning shutout against the Blue Jays on July 18.

Kuroda actually had a no-hitter going until Elvis Andrus reached on a leadoff single in the top of the seventh inning. The game remained scoreless until Nick Swisher connected for a two-run homer against Alexi Ogando with one out in the bottom of the seventh. It was immediately followed by a solo shot from Mark Teixeira. That was more than enough support for Kuroda on this night.

Kuroda ended up striking out five and walking two en route to improving to 11-8 on the year. The 37-year-old right-hander struggled early on in the season, but now has an excellent 3.06 ERA and 121/38 K/BB ratio over 159 innings.

Report: Orioles interested in Alex Cobb

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MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.

Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.

It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.