Hiroki Kuroda waited, along with the 47,082 fans surrounding him at Yankee Stadium, for a breakthrough that never came. This Yankees team has relied in these playoffs upon superlative starting pitching and nearly-miraculous hitting.

Sunday, only one half of that equation appeared.

"I tried to stay patient, hoping that something good would come up like last night's game," Kuroda said through his interpreter after the Yankees' deflating 3-0 loss to Detroit in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. "I stayed tough, grinding. But this was the outcome. There was nothing I could do."

Kuroda, 37, stretched himself into unfamiliar territory. He performed on three days' rest for the first time in his major-league career. Wielding a dynamic splitter and wipeout slider, he struck out 11 Tigers during 7? innings.

It was his second excellent start of this postseason — and it wasn't enough. He was outdueled, ever so slightly, by Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez. A botched call and a bullpen breakdown sullied Kuroda's final line, leaving him on the hook for all three Detroit runs.

"He was unbelievable," designated hitter Raul Ibanez said.

The Yankees fly to Detroit two more losses away from the winter. Their best hope lies in their starting staff. They have sustained this wretched offense. In seven games, the starters have allowed 13 runs in 54 innings, good for a 2.17 ERA. Manager Joe Girardi insisted Phil Hughes would start Game 3, with staff ace CC Sabathia slated for Game 4.