By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, AUGUST 13- Hiroki Kuroda has been a blessing to the Yankees since joining the club in 2012. The 38-year old has been, by far, the most impressive starting pitcher in the Yankees’ rotation. His work on the mound on Monday night against the Los Angeles Angels made him appear much younger than his chronological age.
The native of Japan compiled outstanding statistics in eight innings. The superlative performances have come regularly since his first disastrous start of the year on April 3. He did not allow a run for the ninth of his 24 starts this year.
If the starting pitcher does not give up a run in the game, it would appear likely that the club would win that contest, yet the weak hitting 2013 Yankees lost two of the contests in which Kuroda left the mound without surrendering a run.
Although Kuroda’s ERA of 2.33 is one of the lowest in the majors, the lack of run support by his teammates has resulted in a Yankee loss in nine of Kuroda’s 24 starts. The Yankees run support for Kuroda of 3.38 runs per game is a lower level of backing than given to all other of the team’s starters this season.
The batters of the Angels only managed to obtain three hits off the righty. This was the fifth start in which the stingy veteran hurler did not yield more than three hits in one of his starts.
Kuroda is not only stingy in not allowing hits, but he rarely issues walks to opposing batters. He issued a base on balls to only one Angels’ batter on Monday. Kuroda has not exceeded that lonely number in 19 of his 24 starts in 2013.
Yankee skipper Joe Girardi, like everyone in the stadium, was in admiration of the performance, “You get a brilliant performance from Hiroki. I don’t know if you can expect anyone to be that dominant.”
When asked by a reporter to explain Kuroda’s improvement over his excellent 16-11 mark in 2012, Girardi remarked, “It took him a month to get comfortable last year. That’s probably the biggest difference.”
Despite the chant “We want Mo” from the fans in the stands, Girardi did not use Mariano RIvera in the game, but used Boone Logan and David Robertson in relief. The two made it interesting and dramatic as collectively they allowed one run to score and completed the game with the bases loaded by Angelinos.
Girardi explained the absence of Rivera in the save situation, “We thought it would be better to give him the night off.”
The Yanks achieved a two game win streak for the first time in exactly one month.