On Sunday, the Yankees were looking to complete a three-game sweep of the Oakland A's at O.co Coliseum.
The Yankees were sending up Hiroki Kuroda on the mound, who at the time, had a 3-6 record with a 4.56 ERA.
In Kuroda's previous nine starts, you weren't sure which pitcher would show up; the one that will be very sharp or the one that looks flat.
Against Oakland, the former showed up and absolutely dominated the younger Athletics' lineup.
Kuroda pitched eight solid innings allowing four hits, no runs and one walk en route to a 2-0 Yankees victory.
With the victory, Kuroda lowered his ERA to 3.96 and improved his record to 4-6.
Although he has a below .500 record, Kuroda has pitched better than his numbers show for the Yankees.
The first thing he has given the Yankees is innings. Even when he isn't pitching well, Kuroda still goes out every fifth game and battles.
Kuroda has pitched 61.1 innings for the Yankees in the 10 starts he's made in 2012 (averaging out to 6.1 innings per start), which is a big reason why they gave him $10 million back in January to be their No. 2 starter.
But when you look at a starter who has a 4-6 record, you usually expect someone with a 5.00-plus ERA; kind of like what Phil Hughes is going through with his 4-5 record and 4.94 ERA, an ERA that's come down three full runs since the end of April.
Kuroda just got his ERA down to 3.96, which is good given the potent lineups he faces in the American League East.
He's had a couple of starts where he got knocked around, like back on May 16th against the Toronto Blue Jays where he allowed seven runs and three home runs in just five innings.
That was the first time in over a month where Kuroda had a lousy outing for the Yankees, because he gives them quality innings and keeps them in games.
His next outing is scheduled to be against the Detroit Tigers, a team that had high expectations in 2012 but are 23-24 and in third place in the A.L. Central.
Despite their record, Detroit is still a very dangerous team and have a lineup that can compete with anyone in the league, so it won't be a cakewalk game for the 37-year-old.
But so far, I've been impressed with what Kuroda has given to the Yankees. If he can keep it up, he should end up having a solid 2012 campaign.
Hopefully his record at the end of the year will support that claim, even if his record at the end of May doesn't.
But make no mistake about it, Kuroda is doing the job for the Yankees. Sunday's eight-inning shutout gem was just an example of it.
Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.
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