I was actually planning to write one of those “random thoughts” posts this morning, but as I’m sitting here, about to fly to Tampa, I really have only two random thoughts: 1. The pitching staff really dodged a bullet last night; and 2. The offense really needs a huge, breakout game at some point.
The first thought pretty much speaks for itself. Just like last season, Hiroki Kuroda has been the Yankees best starter. I think CC Sabathia has become somewhat underrated — the velocity is down, and he’s not Justin Verlander, but he regularly gives the Yankees quality innings and a chance to win — but Kuroda has been the rotation’s knockout punch.
When last night’s game started, Kuroda was second in the league in ERA. When that comebacker hit off his shin, the Yankees were in trouble.
Of course, it turned out, the injury was incredibly minor. A bruised calf should heal just fine, and absolutely no one seems legitimately concerned that Kuroda will miss a start. With each of these injuries, I keep wondering which one will be the straw that breaks the Yankees’ back. Losing Kuroda might have done it, especially when the rotation depth is already being tested.
And that rotation is vital because of the second random thought: The Yankees offense has been spectacular considering the circumstances. They’ve used four different shortstops, and four different third basemen, and their starting first baseman is only there because the three options the Yankees brought to spring training didn’t work out.
So, we knew all along that the offense was going to have to scratch for some runs, and for the most part, the lineup has been able to do exactly that. It’s gotten some timely hits and some surprising power, and a good pitching staff has turned that into 28 wins. It’s defied xpectation, and it’s made the Yankees one of the surprise teams in baseball.
But the lineup hasn’t been explosive, and it’s hard for any team to keep winning all of these tight games. We saw that on Tuesday night when the Yankees bullpen finally gave up a run in the 10th, and we saw that on Wednesday night when a four-run Orioles lead was never seriously challenged.
The Yankees need their pitching, which means they need Kuroda. But they could sure use some offense, too.
Associated Press photo