I know for me, Kuroda's dominant performance takes the sting away from knowing a Red Sox pitcher did such a great job. It should make Yankees fans feel even better that Kuroda pitched the shutout against a team that was first in offense after the first week of the season and second only to the Red Sox until the Yankees shut them down this past weekend. While Buchholz can pat himself on the back for his performance--no doubt its no easy task to no hit professional hitters, the Rays have sat at the bottom of the AL East in offense since the start of the season. I'd say the Rays/Red Sox game went as expected, while the Orioles/Yankees game had the nay-sayers backtracking on their declarations of a Yankees' demise.
Kuroda's partner in the complete game shutout was catcher Francisco Cervelli, behind the plate as well as with the bat. Although Brett Gardner stole the show with his homerun, the team of Kuroda and Cervelli was the constant that kept fans confident of a win. In reading LoHud Yankees Postgame Notes I was happy to read that Kuroda had this to say about Cervelli:
“Against the lefties, as well as the righties, I was able to throw my sinkers with precision ... Basically, the movement and what the catcher says and how they react to it. Today especially, Cervi had great game calling. I just followed his lead.”
I hope this Baltimore series has been a sign of what's to come and Cervelli becomes the 2013 New York Yankees' starting catcher. Yes, he has gotten most of the playing time in the position over Stewart, as expected, but I'm not satisfied with a 60/40 split. Its time to give Cervelli his due. I'd be happy with 100-120 games behind the plate. The kid has put in his time and is showing that he can make a difference on a consistent basis. His offensive plus side has always been his on base percentage and this season has been no different; he sports the best OBP of all the everyday players (.500) and his offense has come at the most needed times. In almost half the at bats, Cervelli has managed to bring home just 2 fewer runners than the team RBI leader Robinson Cano (8).
Tomorrow's line up will be telling. After a day of rest and a questionable young Ivan Nova due to take the mound, it only makes sense to give Nova the best partner--Francisco Cervelli.