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.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.