You'll see it tonight in the Bronx. After all the fanfare that comes along with a postseason game at the Stadium, all the player introductions and the ceremonial first pitch. After the Yankees take the field, and the national anthem. And after Yankee catcher Russell Martin gives the signals for the first pitch of the game.

Hiroki Kuroda will pause.

Not to reflect, or anything deep like that. He will pause because that is a part of his delivery. That mid-windup hesitation that seems to be part of every Japanese pitcher's motion. Hideo Nomo did it. Daisuke Matsuzaka does it. And so does Kuroda.

"I think it's just something that's been passed down from one pitcher to the next over a long time," Kuroda said recently through his translator. "The Japanese, as a culture, often when something becomes 'normal' it's like there's only one way to do it. I'm pretty sure I just saw other pitchers pause when I was a kid, and I just copied it. As others did."

The pause, which lasts about two seconds, comes after Kuroda's left foot moves back from the rubber. What follows the pause, obviously, is much more important. The pitch.

For the better part of this season, Kuroda was making good pitches more consistently than any other Yankees starting pitcher. From the end of May through August, the typical start for the 37-year-old right-hander was seven innings, two or three earned runs allowed.

In 18 Kuroda starts from May 27-Aug. 31, the Yankees went 12-6. Kuroda failed to go seven innings in only one of those defeats. But as the calendar turned to September, and Kuroda's innings went past 200 for just the second time in his five major league seasons, and then past 202 for the first time, before finally stopping an out short of 220 innings, it did not appear Kuroda had the same sharpness on his sinking fastball or breaking ball.

Still, the veteran figured out a way to go 4-1 in September/October, though he only pitched beyond the sixth inning once in six starts. That was in his final start.