Tonight’s 3-0 shut-out win against Baltimore was all about Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda threw 113 pitches through all 9 innings, allowing only 5 hits and striking out 5 batters. He really threw just a solid outstanding game, something you normally don’t see until much later in the season, hitting the momentum and keeping the game tight and strong.
It was in the 5th inning that the Yankees scored all three of their runs. The first one was due to a Jayson Nix sacrifice fly to score Brennan Boesch. The final two were a 2-out 2-run home run by Brett Gardner, also scoring Francisco Cervelli. On the defensive side, in the 8th inning, there was a rather fun 6-4-3 double play, a quick flip by Nix to Robinson Cano who almost Jeter-esque stepping on 2nd, tossed it over to a waiting Lyle Overbay at 1st.
And while there is no wins if no one scores, tonight just really belongs to Kuroda. The first Yankee pitcher of the season to go an entire game and was impressive throughout. And if I think back even to his time in Spring Training, Kuroda always turned in an excellent performance, no matter what the game was. I know some people slough off the spring games as no big deal because they don’t count for anything, but at least for Kuroda, it seemed as if he was always on his A-game, regardless of what game was being played and who his opponent was — an example truly for all the players, especially those trying to make their way to the regular roster.
Perhaps that is the true necessity of the veteran, “experienced” players on the team, to be a great example of excellence to the younger players. I was talking with a friend tonight during the game about the hype around some young players around the league, and while they are very good in some (often flashier) ways, they still lack the polish, the instinct, the heart that comes with “experience” of time, repetition, and determination. The younger players may do something amazing, they may even end up in Cooperstown in 20-odd years, but they aren’t there yet. And the advantage of being on a team full of classy, excellent, well-seasoned players is the first-hand learning experience for the younger, often unpolished players.
And for that, I’m excited for the Yankees this year. While critics seem to almost romanticize what they see as the aged fall of the dynasty, I see as the greatest opportunity to pass on the continued legacy that is the New York Yankees. Perhaps I am romanticizing a bit now, but I’d rather wax poetically about something positive, holding out for all possibilities, instead of dooming everything to some abyss of infinite impossibilities. I like that so much is still possible, and it always is. Hope isn’t foolishness or naivety because I’ve seen the supposedly crumbling Yankees do the impossible for so long, and I expect nothing less from a team full of “experienced” players and those that hope to be one day.