Though it was only a solitary start, Hiroki Kuroda's disappointing debut with the New York Yankees gave some reason to wonder whether he'd be able to successfully make the transition from the pitcher friendly NL West to the offensively explosive AL East.
In the second game of the season, Kuroda took the loss in an 8-6 defeat at the hands of Tampa Bay. He looked overwhelmed in that start, as he allowed six runs, four earned on eight hits and four walks in only 5.2 innings.
It was less-than inspiring and caused concern that the former Dodger might not be cut out to navigate powerful AL lineups.
Thankfully, in his second start, Friday's Yankee home opener, Kuroka delivered a masterful performance in which he shut out the Los Angeles Angels into the ninth inning.
Utilizing a fastball that featured great movement and pinpoint control of his off-speed pitches, Kuroka subdued a dynamic LAA lineup laden with powerful, experienced bats.
His overall line was eight-plus innings pitched, no runs allowed on only five singles and two walks, with six strikeouts. He threw 71 of his 109 pitches for strikes and kept the Angels off balance all day.
Los Angeles was able to get the leadoff hitter aboard in three of the first four innings, but Kuroda was able to keep himself out of trouble each time. He induced three double-play grounders over the course of the game, effectively snuffing out any potential threats that the Angels mounted.
The only real trouble Kuroda faced was in the fifth inning, when he allowed a one out walk to Maicer Izturis and a two out single to Peter Bourjos, before he retired Erick Aybar on a groundout to second.
New York's new number two pitcher only faced three ball counts against three Angels all game.
Kuroka's subtle dominance was a welcomed sight for the club and fans alike. While the Angels have yet to hit on all cylinders, they are a talented club capable of producing some offensive fireworks.
Once CC Sabathia rounds into his expected form and Yankee stalwart Andy Pettitte is ready for the big league rotation, Kuroda joins them to form a formidable trio to lead the New York rotation. Teamed with the young arms of Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes, veteran Freddy Garcia and the rehabbing Michael Pineda, CC, Kuroda and Pettitte could make the Yankee rotation the considerable strength that it was expected to be.