LA Story: Almost Perfect

Hiroki Kuroda
On Monday night, first year Dodger pitcher Hiroki Kuroda needed only 91 pitches to complete a shutout of Chipper Jones, Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann and the Atlanta Braves. In fact, he came 6 outs away from a perfect game until Mark Teixeira doubled to lead off the 8th inning ( a solid hit by the way). Kuroda followed up that at bat by slamming the door on the remaining six batters, with a little help from his friends behind him, to finish his second complete game shutout of the season.

What makes this impressive to me is that he accomplished this feat with under 100 pitches (91 to be exact). That’s an utterly dominating performance in my book.

What’s even more amazing is that he’s in his first year playing in the US. This off season, the Dodgers claimed the Japanese free agent, making him a MLB rookie in 2008. If you take into account the change in culture, size difference in the ball between the US & Japan (Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima both mentioned this last year) and you have a player who can defy the odds.

Kuroda was a good Japanese player, but not in the same stratosphere as Matsuzaka according to the hype we saw last year in Boston. Personally, I like an underdog and between the two (Matsuzaka and Kuroda), Kuroda would be that underdog, so rooting for him to complete the perfect game was easy. Unlike the predicament I had to be in when I heard about David Wells’ perfect game as a member of the Yankees back in 1998 (I don’t much like Wells).

I even stayed up to after 12:30am to find out the outcome of this one while I watched the MLB Gamecast.

For a good article on this game, please read Doug Padilla’s article from asahi.com by clicking HERE (yes, it’s in English).

What are your thoughts about this complete game shutout by Hiroki Kuroda?

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