Sure, the focus on the New York Yankees leading up to the trade deadline was over whether they’d be able to grab a bat to help flagging offense, but on that night, Hiroki Kuroda showed why that’d be missing the point.
That’s because without the help of the team ace, none of it would matter.
The fact is that even with the looming return of Curtis Granderson and maybe a dozen home runs added (being hopeful), this team isn’t going to get anywhere based on offense, not while the entire lineup after the no. 4 spot right now is a massive black hole that a Michael Young just won’t fix.
No, if the Yankees are going to gain some traction on the race for a Wild Card spot for which they are only three games back, it’s going to come down to the pitching — and Kuroda seems determined to lead them there.
How? By being not just being the best pitcher on the team, but the best pitcher in MLB.
If you don’t think the Japanese hurler is capable of that, just ask Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. The lefty took a hard-luck no-decision on Wednesday despite being his usual brilliant self, shutting down the Bombers with eight innings of five-hit scoreless ball with five strikeouts.
And Kuroda, well, he just matched him step-for-step, that’s all.
Dishing out seven innings of five-hit, scoreless pitching with a walk and eight strikeouts, the 38-year old was a stark reminder that hey, the old guys can do it too, and was the only reason why the Yankees were in the position to muster up some late-game heroics off the bat of Lyle Overbay (not that Yasiel Puig helped any … right, Mark Ellis?) to earn a 3-0 victory.
This isn’t the first time that the right-hander has carried his team on his shoulders either. After scuffling a bit in June (3.92/1.15 ERA/WHIP), he has been downright ludicrous over the month of July, allowing just two earned runs in his five turns, with four of them being seven-inning outings.
Yes, that’s two runs in 33 innings of work, good enough for a 0.55/0.94 ERA/WHIP.
If anything, that he only has three wins out of those is perhaps the most severe indictment one could make about the Yankees offense.
So while the veteran took home another no-decision on Wednesday night, Kuroda may have proved once again that the win-loss stat is a totally irrelevant indicator of pitching success; simply, no one on the Yankees deserved more credit for the win that continued to keep them in the playoff picture.