LADY AT THE BAT: Number 18, Hiroki Kuroda

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Number 18, Hiroki Kuroda

I've heard that, in Japan, the number 18 jersey is reserved for a team's ace pitcher. In Spring Training this year, when Hiroki Kuroda requested to wear the number, I thought he was taking an awful lot for granted. After all, he was far from being the Yankees' ace.

Fast forward five months later to last night. Kuroda took a no-hitter into the 7th inning. He gave up only 2 hits en route to a 3-0 shutout victory over the Texas Rangers, a team with what might be the most potent lineup in all of baseball.

Kuroda has come such a long way from his dreadful start to the season, one that I, for one, never thought he would fully overcome. I thought he would pitch better but, not this much better.  In his last 10 starts he is 5-1 with a 2.42 ERA. Couple this with Sabathia's injuries and the inconsistency of guys like Hughes and Nova, and Kuroda emerges as a constant. A go-to guy. The ace.

So this Japanese custom of the ace wearing number 18 is perfectly suitable right now. Hiroki Kuroda has earned the privilege and he should wear it with pride.

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