LADY AT THE BAT: Igawa Seizes The Moment

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Igawa Seizes The Moment

As Jeff Karstens lay crumpled on the field with a broken leg yesterday, Joe Torre looked around the Yankee dugout for Kei Igawa, who'd been there earlier, standing with his teammates for the national anthem. The lefthander was no where to be seen. He already knew what he had to do and hadn't waited to be told. Six innings later Igawa walked off the field to a standing ovation, having thrown 2-hit, shut-out ball, walking 4 and striking out 6.

Igawa had been passed over for this start in favor of Karstens, because he just couldn't manage to stay ahead of hitters and keep the ball down in the zone. He was demoted to the bullpen and some people, including me, felt the demotion was not enough; he should have been sent to the minors. I even began to think that Igawa was nothing more than a poor move made by the Yankees in their never-ending chess game with the Red Sox, a bad response to the signing of Daisuke Matsuzaka. Who knows, maybe that's the way it will turn out. But for one day, at least, Igawa looked like the strike-out leader he was back in Japan.

With this last-minute appearance Igawa didn't have time to think about things, which, I'm sure had a lot to do with how well he pitched. Another factor was pitching coach Ron Guidry, whom Igawa's been spending extra time with. I think there's another thing to throw into the mix as well: the Japanese media. I'm guessing there were fewer of them in attendance yesterday because Igawa wasn't scheduled to pitch. I'm also assuming that the game was not broadcast back to Japan. In any case, Kei Igawa gave both himself and his team a very much needed boost yesterday, and in the process, showed that he's capable of pitching in the Major Leagues.

The Lady

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