Our Hiro! Kuroda is Brilliant in Two-Hitter
Added by Elizabeth DiPietro on August 15, 2012.
For a while, it seemed like Hiroki Kuroda was going to get the run support shaft again Tuesday night against the Texas Rangers.
With CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte on the disabled list, Kuroda has emerged as the de facto ace on the Yankees’ pitching staff. Going into Tuesday’s game, he had yet to record a win since July 29, but it wasn’t because of his pitching performance during that stretch. In his previous three starts, the Japanese right-hander had given up only six earned runs in 20.2 innings pitched, but the normally potent Yankee lineup could only manage a total of six runs of support in those three games.
Things appeared to be going the same way at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night. The Yanks and Rangers were locked in a scoreless tie until Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira launched back-to-back jacks in the bottom of the seventh inning. Kuroda hadn’t surrendered a hit until the top of the seventh, and eventually pitched a complete game, two-hit shutout as the Yankees topped the Rangers 3-0.
Kuroda’s dominance was evident from the get-go. His slider and splitter had great movement throughout the entire duration of his 109-pitch gem, and recorded many of his outs as weakly-hit ground balls. Sluggers like Josh Hamilton (0-for-3 with a strikeout) were fooled mightily by Kuroda’s lethal mix of pitches, swinging away as if with a toothpick.
“He was throwing the ball just enough out of the zone so that it looked like a strike,” Hamilton said. “He did a good job mixing it up.”
This wasn’t Kuroda’s first brush with the record books. As a Dodger in 2008, he took a perfect game into the eighth. It was broken up by none other than Mark Teixeira. Russell Martin was Kuroda’s battery mate that day, as he was on Tuesday.
Kuroda’s performance was undoubtedly the most dominant by a Yankee starter this season. He has been solid throughout most of the season and if he were getting the same amount of run support as say, Ivan Nova, he could easily have a few more wins attached to his current record of 11-8.
As a side note, since we’re on the subject of near-no-hitters, I’d like to address something that’s been bugging me awhile. Around the fourth or fifth inning, when the idea of a no-hitter begins to become significant, broadcasters always start the “I don’t want to jinx it, but…” conversations. Now, of course broadcasters have a responsibility to report what’s going on, mainly for viewers who may have tuned in late and missed the box score at the previous commercial break. Radio announcers, in particular, have a duty to report the situation, since their listeners cannot see scores or graphics as they would on TV.
Rather than debate if they are doing the right thing by discussing a potential no-no, I propose all of us in the baseball world, conjure up a secret-code euphemism we can use in lieu of the actual words “no-hitter” or “perfect game,” not unlike how performers say “break a leg” instead of “good luck” before they go onstage. Something silly that would have no logical meaning outside the baseball lexicon, like “purple manatee.” That way, John Sterling could say, “Through seven, Hiroki Kuroda has a purple manatee” and inform the public of what is happening, guilt-free. You can also tweet your friends: “Turn on YES RIGHT NOW to see CC’s purple manatee! Hurry!”
While we’re waiting for the Baseball Almanac to update their dictionary, the Yankees have two more games against the Rangers this week, and a high-profile series against Boston this weekend. Kuroda has set the bar high for pitching performances. Whether or not a purple manatee is in the cards, the Yanks need to follow his example if they want to stave off these hard-hitting teams.