On August 12, the New York Yankees were 60-57. They were not considered a legitimate threat to make the postseason, and the only reason the still had a slim chance was the dazzling play of Hiroki Kuroda. After his win on the 12, Kuroda improved to 11-7 with a 2.33 ERA on the season. He was literally pitching to keep the Yankees postseason hopes alive every fifth day and was pretty much carrying the starting rotation.
Fast forward to the night of September 24; the Yankees sit at 82-75, nearly mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. Injuries to Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez cost the Yankees their chance this year. Besides that, you can also look at a tired, overworked bullpen and a poor lineup as reasons for their downfall.
But when it started to go downhill for Kuroda, one of the few consistent pieces to this Yankees team, that seemed to be the final straw. Since his August 12 victory, Kuroda is 0-6 with a 6.37 ERA, and the Yankees are 2-6 overall in his eight starts since that time. Kuroda lost his command in September, issuing multiple walks in every one of his starts after doing so just once in July and August combined.
Kuroda did everything he could all season long to get the Yankees into the playoffs, but when he got tired and needed his teammates to pick him up, they were nowhere to be found. Case in point: tonight’s 7-0 defeat handed to them by the Tampa Bay Rays, where the Yankees mustered up four measly hits while fighting for their postseason lives.
With all of the injuries, the drama and everything else surrounding New York Yankees baseball in 2013, Kuroda’s decline seems to epitomize it all.