First Baseball Manager Hired

October 15th, 2019

It was a bit unexpected, but the first manager from the United States was hired. Former Nationals manager Matt Williams was signed to a three year contract by the Kia Tigers in the KBO. Matt Williams first year as manager of the Nationals he got them into the playoffs in 2014. His second year was not so good, with player dissent in the locker room plentiful. The Nationals failed to reach the playoffs in his second year and he was fired.

The Kia Tigers won the KBO championship in 2017. They are considered the most successful team in the KBO because of their 11 championships, but the last decade and a half have been a struggle. The last two years they failed to finish over .500, finishing fifth in 2018 and losing in the wild card game and failing to make the playoffs last year with their seventh place finish. In 2009 they won the KBO championship, but in the next seven years after that they finished over .500 in just one season, qualifying for the playoffs just twice.

Matt Williams will earn his keep if he can get the Tigers back in the playoffs.

Strasburg Pitches Nats One Win Away from World Series

October 15th, 2019

As he walked alone from the bullpen before the start of game three of the National League playoffs, the fans cheered. Stephen Strasburg gave no reaction. It appeared he was focused as he took each step to the dugout. Failed to hear the cheering fans or just so focused he did not want to react to them. When he got on the mound he was almost unhittable, striking out 12. He did give up seven hits, but three of them were in the seventh inning, his last. That is when he gave up his only run. Juan Soto slipping in the outfield and then making a wild throw to the infield. The ball flew past Trea Turner and Rendon and skipped past an inattentive Strasburg.

In the past, an incident like that would have unnerved Strasburg. A 7-0 lead was now 7-1. Two runners were on base with only one out. Strasburg had just given up three hits, all line drives or clunkers into left field. A defensive player had just made an error that cost the team a run. Time to man up. Matt Wieters came in to pinch hit and Strasburg struck him out. Derek Fowler came up, 0 for 3 with two strikeouts on the day. Strasburg threw three pitches past him for the whiff. You could see Max Scherzer in the dugout giving out a big fist cheer. There was a big group hug for Strasburg as he reached the dugout, led by Gerrado Parra.

The Nationals broke this game open in the third inning off Cardinals pitching phenom Jack Flaherty. Victor Robles got the inning started with an off the end of the bat seeing eye ground ball single into centerfield. Strasburg bunted him to second. After Trea Turner struck out for the second out the Nationals needed a clutch hit from Adam Eaton. They got one with a ground single to the right of second base that scored Robles.

Anthony Rendon blooped one into left field. Marcel Ozuna charged the ball and tried to make a sliding catch. The ball hit off his glove and rolled far enough in front of him for Adam Eaton to score the second run. It was a catchable ball that was ruled a double. Juan Soto walked and Howie Kendrick lined the first of his three doubles, this one into right center that scored both Rendon and Soto. The Nationals were up 4-0. They probably should not have scored any.

Flaherty lasted only four innings. Tyler Webb was the first to come on in relief to start the fifth. He gave up a single to Anthony Rendon. With a bucketful of right handed hitters coming up the Cardinals went with John Brebbia. Howie Kendrick swung at his first pitch and lined it into the left center field gap. Rendon was being waved home and made it easily after Ozuna dropped the ball the first time he tried to pick it up. Ryan Zimmerman got behind in the count 0-2 and lined a pitch into the left centerfield gap for another double to put the Nationals up 6-0.

In the sixth Victor Robles led the inning off with a homerun. He was one of the least likely players to be voted dinger of the day, but he was the only National to have the ball leave the park. It barely left the park. His mom watching him play for the first time in the United States had to be proud.

The Cardinals finally got to Strasburg in the seventh. Jose Martinez ran the count to 3-2, fouled a number of two strike pitches off and then lined a single to left, his second hit of the day. Yadier Molina followed with a single on the next pitch from Strasburg to put two runners on. The pitch count for Stras had reached 100 but he struck out Tommy Edman. Paul Dejong blooped a single to left. The Cardinals were happy to keep the bases loaded, even after Soto slipped on the grass and fell. He got up and wildly threw the ball to the infield, past Turner and Rendon. Strasburg was not looking and the ball got past him. Suzuki chased after the ball that had now rolled past the first base foul line, but Martinez scored. That is when Strasburg showed his mettle, striking out the next two hitters to end the inning and his day at 117 pitches.

The Nationals got the run back in the bottom of the seventh. Howie Kendrick tied a record for most doubles in a National Championship Series by again finding the gap into left center. Ryan Zimmerman lined a single past the third baseman to score Kendrick.

Fernando Rodney and Tanner Rainey each pitched an inning and retired all three hitters they faced, each striking out two. Rainey hit 102 on the radar gun with his fastball.

Game Notes: In addition to his two fielding gaffes in left field, Ozuna made a base running mistake in the second inning that changed the complexion of the game. He led the inning off with a double to left field. Jose Martinez grounded a pitch to Strasburg. Ozuna strayed too far off second and was tagged by Strasburg for the first out, not even trying to get in a run down…Paul Goldschmidt struck out all four times he came to the plate…The announced attendance was 43,675, but there seemed to be many of those fans looking like blue seats. Columbus day weekend may have resulted in some no shows…The 50-50 payout was a bit over $33,000…Security was plentiful. Lots of dogs and lots of guns. Made me wonder who pays for all this security…Six of the seven runs the Nationals scored were on two out hits. Only the Victor Robles leadoff homerun in the sixth came with less than two out…Kurt Suzuki got his first hit of the playoffs with a single to left in the fourth inning…Strasburg has a playoff ERA of 1.10. The only two pitchers with a lower playoff ERAs are Sandy Koufax (0.96) and Christy Mathewson (1.06)…The Robles homerun was witnessed by his mom, who was watching her first game in the United States…The “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” announcer was at the game and made his patented call, just before “play ball”…The first pitch was thrown by the Make a Wish kid. He wish was to become a National for a day, and signed a one day contract. The Nationals were 19 and something when he signed. They had the best record in baseball after he signed a contract.

Yomiuri and Softbank to Face Each Other in Japan Series

October 14th, 2019

They are the equivalent of the Dodgers and Yankees. Historically, the best franchise in the Central Division will face the best franchise in the Pacific Division. The Giants took the easy route, winning their division and having to win just three home matches to clinch the Central. The Hawks took the road less travelled, surviving as a wild card and needing to win four against Seibu with all of their games on the road to win the Pacific.

The Giants were up 1-0 before the six game series started. Ties are still applicable and count as half a win. The Giants easily disposed of their arch rival Hanshin Tigers in the first two games, 5-2 and 6-0. Yoshihiro Maru and Kazuma Okamoto got the scoring started in the first inning of the first game with back to back homers. A three run second made it 5-0. Yun Hamaguchi went one out into the eighth inning limiting the Tigers to one run to earn the victory. The second game was all Christopher Mercedes, who shut out the Tigers for seven innings to get the win. Cuban Alex Guerrero went deep for the Giants with a two run homer in the fourth inning to give Mercedes all the runs he needed.

The Tigers were able to pull out game three 7-6 to run the series to three games to one in favor of the Giants. A solo homerun from Yusuke Oyama in the top of the ninth broke a 6-6 tie. Kyuji Fujikawa shutout the Giants in his second inning of work to pick up the win, retiring all six Giants he faced.

A typhoon postponed the game on Saturday and they played it on Sunday. Yuki Takahashi worked five innings and limited the Tigers to just one run. He was supported on offense by Okamato, who hit his third homeruns of the series, a solo shot in the fifth to tie the game at 1-1 and a two run homerun from Guerrero in the seventh to give the Giants the Division win. Four different bullpen pitchers retired all 12 hitters they faced with Kan Otake getting the win with his inning of work and Rubby de la Rosa notching up the save with his perfect inning.

In Seibu the home team did not fare as well. Despite being up 1-0 before the series even started, the Hawks swept them. The Lions pitching staff could not tame the Hawks offense. The Hawks won the opener 8-4 to even the series, scoring six runs in the last three innings to overcome a 4-2 deficit. Yurisbel Gracial hit a solo shot in the seventh to pull the Hawks to within one and Nobuhiro Matsuda drove in four runs to fuel the Hawk offense.

The Hawks got a two run homer from Akira Nakamura and a solo shot from Gracial to win game two 8-6. Nakamura hit 48 homeruns during the year for the Hawks, leading all players in homeruns. The Hawks relied on Mori to get the final four outs to earn the save.

The top pitcher in Japan, and perhaps one of the top five pitchers in baseball Kodai Senga shutdown the Lions on two hits during his eight innings of work, leading the Hawks to the 7-0 win. Leadoff hitter Taisei Makihara collected three hits and four RBIs, including a two run homer in the fourth to provide most of the offense.

The typhoon postponed the Saturday game to Sunday. The bat of Kenta Imamiya was more destructive on the Lions than the typhoon as his five hits, three of them homeruns, drove in six runs to lead the Hawks to a 9-3 slaughter. Gracial also hit his third solo shot of the series to contribute to the offense.

Now, it’s the Hawks versus the Giants for the Japan Series.

East Wins AFL All Star Game

October 13th, 2019

The Arizona Fall League had their All Star game. The East pulled out the 4-2 win with Twins prospect Royce Lewis being named the MVP for his two run homer in the second that put the East up 2-0. Alec Bohm scored ahead of him after leading off the inning with a walk. Bohm also started a fourth inning two run rally with a leadoff single in the fourth that broke a 2-2 tie. Josh Lowe drove him in with a double for what proved to be the go ahead run.

The West scored both their runs on solo homeruns. Kyle Isbel launched a solo blast to right field in the third and Tyler Stephenson barreled one straight up the middle into centerfield in the fourth to tie the game.

Pitching seemed to stand out in this game with 22 whiffs, 11 by each team. The two teams also only combined for 9 hits, a third of them going over the fence. Nick Neidert struck out four in his two innings of work for the East. He was the only pitcher to work more than one inning. Daniel Lynch struck out two of the three hitters he faced in the first inning for the West. Zach Neff retired the last hitter to pick up the save, taking over for Argenis Angulo in the ninth, who retired both hitters he faced with whiffs.

Premier 12 Canadian Roster

October 13th, 2019

The Canadian roster is filled with familiar names on the baseball scene. Unfortunately, it is for what they accomplished in the past and not for what they can bring in the present. Justin Morneau is the most familiar name, an ex-major leaguer who made his mark on pitchers in the past, winning an American MVP award. Some other familiar names include Philippe Aumont, Adam Loewen and Scott Mathieson on the mound, with Mathieson currently pitching for the Yomiuri Giants in the NPB. He was out most of the year with injuries. In addition to Morneau the bats have Michael Saunders, a former major league All Star, and the two Pompey brothers Dalton and Tristan. Tristan was recently drafted by the Marlins in the third round in 2018, while Dalton was once a highly prized prospect that has seen his flame wither because of injuries. Depending on how much fuel some of these players have in the tank will determine how well they compete in Korea against Cuba, Australia and Korea. This roster has many names that won the bronze medal in the last World Cup that was held in Panama back in 2011. That was eight years ago.

Pitchers

Philippe Aumont, Brock Dykxhoorn, Chris Leroux, Adam Loewen, Brandon Marklund, Scott Mathieson, Will McAffer, Dustin Molleken, Daniel Precopio, Dylan Rheault, Scott Richmond, Evan Rutckyj, Rob Zastryzny

Catchers

Kellin Deglan, Dustin Houle

Infielders

Wes Darvill, Charles Leblanc, Jordan Lennerton, Jonathan Malo, Justin Morneau, Eric Wood, Andy Yerzy

Outfielders

Gareth Morgan, Connor Panas, Dalton Pompey, Tristan Pompey, Michael Saunders, Rene Tosoni

Ernie Whitt will manage the team with Larry Walker and Denis Boucher helping out in the coaching department. If Ernie needs a pinch hitter in the clutch Larry might be able to still do the job.

Puerto Rico Premier 12 Roster

October 12th, 2019

It would be nice if Puerto Rico could have Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez and Carlos Correa on their roster. That would be a pretty impressive infield. But players on the major league 40 man roster are not eligible to participate in these games. There is not even a player rated as one of the top ten minor league prospects on this roster. So Puerto Rico will have to settle for some retired or released major league players, borderline prospects, journeyman and players who participate in their winter league season. There best player may be their manager Juan Gonzalez. It will be a tough road for them, but they will battle. They will be playing in the Taiwan pool with Japan, Taiwan and Venezuela

Pitchers

Fernando Cabrera, Freddie Cabrera, Fernando Cruz, Orlando Roman, Ivan Maldonado, Andres Santiago, Bryan Escanio, Miguel Mejia, Adalberto Flores, Miguel Martinez, Luis Cintron, Efrain Nieves, Giovanni Soto, Ramesis Rosa

Catchers

Wilfredo Rodriguez, Kevin Torres

Infielders

Jesmuel Valentin, Luis Mateo, David Vidal, Jeffry Dominguez, Ozzie Martinez, Jack Lopez, Ivan Dejesus Jr.

Outfielders

Anthony Garcia. Yariel Gonzalez, Edwin Gomez, Jay Gonzalez, Danny Ortiz

Premier 12 Roster for Mexico

October 11th, 2019

Below is the roster for Mexico to compete in the Premier 12. They will be the host country of the first round of three pool playoffs to determine the six finalists headed to Tokyo. The roster is dominated by Mexican League players with a couple ex-major leaguers in Ryan Verdugo, Fernando Salas, Efren Navvaro and Christian Villanueva. Villanueva also played briefly in the NPB before being released mid-season. Verdugo currently pitches in the CBPL in Taiwan.

Pitchers

Horacio Ramirez (Tijuana), Humberto Castellanos (Astros), Carlos Bustamante (Acereros), Arturo Reyes (Rays), Justin Kelly (Acereros), Ryan Verdugo (Uni Lions), Brennan Bernardino (Tijuana), Manny Barreda (Tijuana), Felipe Gonzalez (Monterrey), Adam Quintana (Acereros), Jesus Cruz (San Luis), Eduardo Vera (Nationals), Orlando Lara (Tijuana), Fernando Salas (Phillies)

Catchers

Armando Araiza (Mexico Diablos), Ali Solis (Monterrey)

Infielders

Jose Vargas (Acereros), Phillip Evans (Cubs), Christian Villanueva (Yomiuri Giants), Jorge Flores (Yucatan), Javier Salazar (Tijuana), Esteban Quiroz (Padres), Efron Navarro (Hanshin Tigers), Matt Clark (Leon)

Outfielders

Jonathan Jones (Yucatan), Juan Perez (Saltillo), Noah Perio Jr. (Acereros), Jesus Fabela (Mexico Diablos)

Heroes Advance to Semi-finals Against Wyverns

October 11th, 2019

As each team advances higher up the ladder in the Korean playoff format, the favored team has won the series. The fourth place LG Twins were able to defeat the fifth place NC Dinos in the wild card game. But when advancing to face the third place Kiwoom Heroes they lost three games to one.

The first two games won by the Heroes were done so in walk off fashion. Byung-Ho Park drove in the only run of the game in the opener with a walk off homerun in the bottom of the ninth. Tyler Wilson had thrown eight shutout innings for the LG Twins, but in the bottom of the ninth reliever Woo-seok Ko gave up the homerun to Park to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Jake Brigham had pitched 6.2 shutout innings for the Heroes.

The Heroes won game two in the bottom of the tenth on an error to score the winning run in a 5-4 win. The Heroes rallied for three runs in the last two innings to overcome a 4-1 deficit. Park hit a two run homer in the eighth and Keon-Sang Seo sent the game into extra innings with a clutch two out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. An error allowed the winning run to score in the bottom of the tenth inning for the Heroes.

The LG Twins delayed elimination for one day with a 4-2 win in game three. Eun-Sung Chae clubbed a solo shot in the fourth to tie the game 2-2. A sacrifice fly by Ji-Hwan Oh in the bottom of the seventh gave the Twins a 3-2 lead. Carlos Peguero extended the lead to 4-2 with his solo blast in the bottom of the eighth.

The Heroes bats were too much for the Twins in the fourth game. With the Twins ahead 5-3 going into the sixth inning the Heroes exploded for seven runs in the next three innings to come away with a 10-5 win and advance to the semi-finals to face the SK Wyverns. Park went deep for the third time in the series, a two run banger in the first inning. Jerry Sands drove in the go ahead run in the seventh with an RBI single after the Twins walked Park intentionally.

The Heroes will face the SK Wyverns in a best of five series. The winner will then advance to the finals to play the rested Doosan Bears.

Premier 12 Dominican Republic Roster

October 10th, 2019

There are some ex-major leaguers on the pitching staff that can do some damage such as Ervin Santana, Enny Romero and Neftali Feliz, a KBO star in Mel Rojas Jr, and a couple bright prospects with the Cardinals in Elehuris Montero and the Twins in Lewin Diaz. It will be a lineup that could pull some upsets but will be short of making the top two spots, which would qualify it for an Olympic berth.

Pitchers

Enny Romero, Ervin Santana, Neftali Feliz, Carlos Pimentel, Ariel Hernandez, Carlos Espinal, Carlos Sano, Christopher Sanchez, Dalbert Siri, Henry Henry, Samuel Adames, Christopher Ogando, Bryan Valdez, Kelvin Gonzalez, Luis Perez

Catchers

Charlie Valerio, Jose Mena

Infielders

Edwin Espinal, Geraldo Perdomo, Lewin Diaz, Jeison Guzman, Elehuris Montero, Jonathan Guzman, Otto Lopez

Outfielders

Mel Rojas Jr., Oscar Gonzalez, Gilberto Celestino, Alfredo Marte

Hanshin and Softbank Advance in NBP Playoffs

October 9th, 2019

The Hanshin Tigers defeated the Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars 2-1 to win the Central League climax series two games to one. The veteran Kyuji Fujikawa pitched the final two innings to seal the victory for the Tigers to bring on their rivals the Yomiuri Giants for the Central Division championship. The series between these two franchises is equivalent to the Yankees/Red Sox rivalries. The Giants will start the six game series with a 1-0 advantage, with all six games played at their park, a daunting task for the Tigers to advance to the Japan Series.

The Tigers scored their first run on a wild pitch and the Bay Stars bounced back scoring a run courtesy of a Tiger error. A hit batsman and another wild pitch in the eighth inning allowed a runner to move to third where Ryutaro Umeno drove him in with a sacrifice fly to score the go ahead run. Fujikawa came in to successfully protect the one run lead for two innings. Many may remember this name. Fujikawa pitched three rather unsuccessful seasons in the major leagues where he left after 29 appearances and a 5.74 ERA with the Cubs and Rangers.

The losing Bay Stars have already announced the posting of their star player Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. He will be a popular target among major league teams looking for a power hitting left fielder. Tsutsugo hit two homeruns in the first two games of this playoff series but went 0 for 4 in the deciding third game.

The Softbank Hawks also advanced after beating the Rakuten Golden Eagles 2-1 to win their three game series two games to one. Seiichi Uchikawa drove in both runs for the Hawks, his last hit being the most critical with a solo homerun in the seventh giving the Hawks a 2-1 lead. Cuban Livan Moinelo shutdown the Eagles in the eighth and Yuito Mori closed out the ninth inning to earn the save.

Two more Cubans assisted in the Hawks victory. Alfredo Despaigne and Yurisbel Gracial ended the no hitter from Takayuki Kishi with back to back singles in the fourth inning. Uchikawa ended the shutout by making it back to back to back singles, scoring Despaigne with the first run and tying the game 1-1.

The Eagles scored their lone run in the fourth inning on a Hideto Asamura solo shot. It was his fourth homerun in the three game playoff series. He hit 33 homeruns during the regular season. He also accounted for seven of the ten Eagles RBIs.

The Hawks will have to face the Seibu Lions in the final of the Pacific League. They will start the six game series down 1-0 with all six games held at the Seibu Lions park.