Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Curse of Kuroda

Hiroki Kuroda is a very good pitcher. Since coming over to America in 2008, he's posted a 3.62 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. However, he's no Roy Halladay … or Johan Santana … or CC Sabathia … or any other Cy Young winner or candidate. That is, unless he's facing the Phillies in the regular season.

For those of you who managed to stay up for last night's game, you know that Kuroda gave up just 1 hit in his 7 and two-thirds innings of work, striking out seven Phillies — but not Ryan Howard! — to combine with Hong-Chih Kuo for the shutout. It was the fourth time in his career that Kuroda faced the Phillies in the regular season, and it was the fourth time he's given up two hits or less.

In those four starts, he's surrendered a total of just seven hits and two runs. The Phillies are batting .084 against him, with an on-base percentage of .172, slugging percentage of .108 and OPS of .280. The Phillies cannot touch the guy. And it makes absolutely no sense.

Don't get me wrong — like I said, Kuroda is a good pitcher. But, well, he's not a great pitcher. Not by any stretch of the imagination. And he's not a left-handed pitcher, the type that can give Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and company fits. He's just a good, solid right-handed pitcher with good control. The type of guy you'd expect the Phillies to be able to hit — though maybe not with this year's struggles.

The only time the Phils have actually gotten to Kuroda was last October. The weird thing is the Phillies didn't just chip away at Kuroda and scratch and claw for runs in game 3 of last year's NLCS. No, they completely blitzed him, chasing him after just an inning and a third by clobbering him for six runs on six hits.

So how is it that the Phillies can manage to completely and utterly embarrass Kuroda on the biggest stage, yet can't even manage to get more than a hit or two against him in the regular season? I mean, in that playoff game, they scored four more runs than they have in four career regular season starts, and had just one less hit than they have all-time against him.

It's some sort of odd curse that only seems to be broken in October, which I suppose is the best time to reverse the fortunes. Though it would be nice if once, just once, the Phillies could manage to hit the guy during the regular season. Then again, at this point, I'll just settle for them hitting anyone right now. This offense needs a good talking to.

And perhaps a little Dom Brown?

BallHype: hype it up!

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