Game 102: NYY vs. TEX — Split shut out

Hiroki Kuroda is easily becoming one of my favorite current pitchers, and that’s saying a lot. But Kuroda’s ridiculously consistent performances certainly rank him as one of the most underrated pitchers in the league. At least in my opinion. Today’s outing was no exception, throwing an even 100 pitches over 7 full innings, allowing just 6 hits and a walk, keeping the Rangers from doing anything for the hot crowd in Arlington to cheer much about. David Robertson continued the scoreless-ness in the 8th, giving the ball to Mariano Rivera in the 9th to throw 11 pitches, earning his 33rd save of 2013. Texas was very effectively shut out of tonight’s game.

I should clarify. In order to be shut out, you must have some kind of offense to shut out the other team. In what began as a near pitchers’ duel, the Yankees found weakness toward the end of the Texas starter’s outing. First in the 6th inning, Austin Romine (defensively becoming a really reliable catcher) improved his lackluster batting average with a leadoff double, advancing to 3rd on Ichiro Suzuki’s sacrifice bunt. This allowed another unsuspecting Yankee, Brent Lillibridge, to hit a solid double and score Romine for the first run.

In the 8th inning, Robinson Cano’s double brought a pitching change, which Vernon Wells immediately found his pitch and singled, advancing Cano to 3rd. Eduardo Nunez hit into a force out, getting Wells at 2nd, but missing the double play and scoring Cano for the second (and final) run of the evening. The Yankees would split the series with Texas with tonight’s win of 2-0 New York.

In good injury-related news, Derek Jeter took some sprinting drills and fielding practice today, in addition to routine batting practice (something he’s been doing regularly since his return to the DL as part of his rehab). If all things check out medically, he seems to be right on track for a return some time this weekend. I can imagine he would have played today if he could have convinced everyone he was “just fine”.

I’m sitting in the city tonight, reflecting on current events of all sizes and significance, some baseball-related, most not even close. And I guess I’d love to just pronounce some kind of final statement on some of these stories and it would be over with and done. Life just doesn’t work that way. Much like baseball, life is rarely a perfectly orderly game. You get messy and dirty, you advance and retreat (often in the same play), you miss easy opportunities to make a difference, you end up at the wrong end of bad calls, your teammates don’t always do their job or want to work with you, you don’t always succeed, and you don’t always walk home a winner. So why do we keep coming back, day after day, year after year, season after season?

Because there’s always a chance that this year is the year that everything just magically lines up, that things just work right, and that at the end of the day, you’re not just the winners of a game, but the champions of the world. This might just be the year you take home that ring, adding that significance to part of who you are, and those memories of sweet victory to last you a lifetime.

Again, it always comes down to hope. And if we don’t have hope for something amazing, then what’s the point of it all. I mean, certain baseball clubs have been waiting years, decades, entire lifespans to even get close to the World Series, let alone walk away with the victory. But when they don’t get it, year after year, they don’t just close up shop and forget baseball. No, they regroup, develop new guys, re-strategize, and make plans for a trophy case. Because, much like the Red Sox learned in 2004, that day of victory will come, even if it takes 84 years to get to that day. The faithful never give up hope of better days, better seasons, and that magical moment of victory.

That one day…

Go Yankees!

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