There were plenty of questions surrounding the Yankees' newest free-agent toy, the right-hander switching leagues from National to American, and levels of expectations from modest to maniacal. It was the home opener, after all, an emotional time, old Yankees prowling the grounds and a full house of hungry Yankees fans wanting instant gratification.

And getting it, as it turns out, thanks to eight brilliant innings from the Yankees newest free-agent toy, the right-hander who was so dominant, so dynamic, that it took less than three hours to salt away his first win in pinstripes.

Hiroki Kuroda?

Well, yes: Kuroda was brilliant yesterday, he did toss zero after zero at the Angels, limiting them to five hits, facing only four batters over the minimum. He did electrify the home opener, a day that began with Jorge Posada saying goodbye to his fans and included Alex Rodriguez embracing a shift to No. 3 in the batting order with three hits, a 5-0 win when Kuroda was everything the Yankees could have hoped he would be.

But we were actually referring to April 8, 2004, a day when another NL import was in the exact same situation, and produced the exact same effort. That was Javier Vazquez, making his debut with an eight-inning, three-hit masterpiece against the White Sox.

Just in case you'd forgotten how humbling a game this can be.

"This is the way I believe I can pitch," Kuroda said through an interpreter yesterday, after striking out six and benefitting from three double plays and keeping the Angels off balance with a terrific curve and an even better splitter. "I wanted to be more aggressive and get ahead in the count and that's what I did today."