Hawks Advance to Japan Series

October 20th, 2014

The Softbank Hawks won the sixth and final game 4-1 to win the best of six climax series over the Nippon Ham Fighters. Kenji Otonari threw seven innings of six hit shutout ball. The offense was supported by Seiichi Uchikawa, who drove in the first run with a single and Yuki Yoshimura whose RBI single drove in the second run. Yoshimura was voted the MVP of the series for his six RBIs. Toru Hosokawa hit a solo shot in the fifth to give the Hawks a 3-0 lead.

The Fighters were not able to mount much of a challenge off Otonari, who was pitching on four days rest. They put two runners on in the fifth but could not string any hits together to mount a rally. They did score their lone run in the ninth off Hawk closer Dennis Sarfate, but an error by Sarfate allowed the lone run to score. With two runners on Takuya Nakashima grounded out to end the game.

There was a capacity crowd of 38,561 to see the Hawks advance to the Japan Series.

Minor League All Stars AL West

October 19th, 2014

Oakland Athletics

Shane Peterson OF (AAA) - He hit .308 with 40 doubles so the Athletics need to find room for him in their outfield. In the young AFL season he already has three triples, two less than he hit during the regular season. A .381 OBA makes him a typical moneyball player, but he does have a lot of swing and miss to him (137 whiffs).
Chris Jensen SP (AA) - A 12-8, 3.14 numbers in AA but only 94 whiffs in 160 innings. The Athletics acquired Jensen in a Brett Anderson trade with the Rockies that also got them Drew Pomeranz.
Matt Olson 1B (Hi A) - A slugging bat (.543) that sent 37 balls over the fence. He also walked 117 times to give him an OBA of .404. Matt was a first round supplemental pick in the 2012 draft.
Renato Nunez 3B (Hi A) - He was just one homerun short of 30 but did drive in 96. He doesn’t draw the walks that Olson does (34). The duo could light up the scoreboards at the corner infield positions in a couple years. He cut his errors down from 40 in 2013 to 15 this year, though he played 26 fewer games at third base.
Seth Streich SP (Hi A) - He showed excellent command with a 22/116 walk to whiff ratio, resulting in a 3.16 ERA. Not overpowering stuff but if he continues locating his pitches it will result in weak contact.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Brennan Boesch DH (AAA) - At one point a top Tigers prospect, but at this point his best option may be continuing his career in Japan or Korea. He hit .332 with 25 homeruns but when called up to the Angels the average dropped to .187. The Angels took him off their 40 man roster.
Alex Yarbrough 2B (AA) - The fourth round 2012 pick could be the best prospect in the Angels system after hitting .285 with 38 doubles. He doesn’t carry a lot of speed and his power is gap to gap.
Brian Hernandez DH (AA) - The first baseman hit .308 but lacks the power to fill the position at the major league level.
Cam Bedrosian Relief (AA) - The son of Steve and the Angels first round pick in 2010 got some major league time after dominating the late innings in AA with a 1.11 ERA and 15 saves. The AA batters could only bat .097 off him. He could be the Angels closer in 2015.
Michael Roth SP (AA) - A savy pitcher who lacks the stuff to be an effective major leaguer. He was a big game pitcher for South Carolina, but the major leagues are a different animal (8.76 ERA). Roth did have success in AA (11-7, 2.62).
Tyler DeLoach LHP (Hi A) - A 26th round pick who put up good numbers (10-4, 3.21) that were even better in his brief showing in AA (4-0, 2.29). In a weak farm system that could put the 6′6″ pitcher on the prospect map.

Seattle Mariners

Ketel Marte SS (AA) - The solid defensive player is showing an impressive bat (.302), even hitting .313 in AAA. There is not a lot of power in his bat but he does have some speed in his legs to steal 23 bases.
Patrick Kivlehan Utl (AA) - A Triple Crown winner in the Big East conference in 2012 that power is showing in A/AA with 32 doubles, 20 homeruns and a .507 slugging. He also drove in 103 runs between the two levels. He plays third base but 24 errors in just 72 games forced the Mariners to show him at first and in the outfield.
Jordy Lara DH (Hi A) - The Dominican hit .353 with 22 homeruns at High Desert, a park that has shown many gaudy numbers for hitters. He did finish the year with 104 RBIs between A and AA but his slugging percentage dropped from .609 to .492.
Jabari Henry OF (Hi A) - The second Jabari in the Mariners farm system swatted 30 homeruns at High Desert, driving in 95 runs. He slugged .584.
Carlton Tanabe 1B (Rookie) - A .326 average got him promoted to AA. He gapped 13 doubles in just 39 games. Tanabe also caught 13 games.
Estarlyn Morales OF (Rookie) - He finally broke out with a .303 average with 17 stolen bases in 20 attempts. The Dominican now needs to break out of the rookie leagues into a full season league.
Arby Fields OF (Rookie) - Arby was drafted twice but did not sign ultimately signing as a minor league free agent, first with the White Sox and then by the Mariners. Broke out with a .331 average slugging .503 with a .932 OPS.
Trey Cochran-Gill Relief (Rookie) - The 2014 17th round pick saved 12 games and combined for a 0.25 ERA at two levels. The opposition hit him at a .172 clip.

Texas Rangers

Trevor Adams 1B (AA) - Not big numbers (.278, 14, 61) for the position. He is more gap to gap with his 36 doubles.
Joey Gallo 3B (AA and Hi A) - One of two bats to slug more than 40 homeruns. The only player to make an All Star team at two levels. Joey hit 21 homeruns in just 58 games in High A. He hit 21 in 68 games after being promoted to AA. He swung and missed more after his promotion to AA (115 to 64) which resulted in a 100 point drop in average (.323 to .232). Joey had 179 whiffs last year with 87 walks meaning there are a lot of absent contacts in his at bats.
Jorge Alfaro C (Hi A) - The Colombian is considered one of the better catchers in the minor leagues. He has fallen into a pattern of hitting .260 with 17/18 homeruns. Not a lot of plate patience with a 29/123 walk to whiff ratio.
Nick Williams OF (Hi A) - The second round 2012 pick saw his power drop a bit when compared to last year. His 22/140 walk to whiff ratio does not bode well as he rises higher in the minors.
Chris Garia Of Utl (Hi A) - The Curacao native scampered for 11 triples and hit .284. His triple numbers was just as much as his doubles (7) and homeruns (4) combined. Chris lacks power but his 11 triples and 45 stolen bases shows he carries a lot of speed.

Houston Astros

Preston Tucker OF (AA) - Preston had his second year for hitting for power with 24 homeruns and a .481 slugging percentage. His lack of strong defensive tools may make him a fourth outfielder.
Roberto Pena C (Hi a) - Slugged a career high 13 homeruns. Noted more for his defense than offense where he caught 52 runners to only allow 40 successful stolen bases.
Tony Kemp 2B (Hi A) - Tony hit .316 in the California League with a .411 OBA. He also walked (73) more than he struck out (67) and he stole 41 bases.
Teoscar Hernandez OF (Hi A) - One of the Astros five tooled uber prospects. Slugged .550 at Lancaster with 31 stolen bases and gold glove defense in center field. His arm got him 11 assists in the outfield.
Josh Hader LHP (Hi A) - They traded Bud Norris to the Orioles for Josh. They hope his 9-2, 2.70 ERA is indicative of his major league potential. California League hitters only hit him at a .206 clip.
Colin Moran 3B (Hi A) - The Marlins first round pick, they traded him to the Astros. His power has been disappointing (.397) after he led all college hitters in RBIs in 2012.
Brett Phillips OF (Low A) - He hit for a triple double, with 21 doubles, 12 triples and 13 homeruns with 23 stolen bases.

Monkeys Take Second Game from Brothers

October 19th, 2014

The Lamigo Monkeys took the second straight game from the Chinatrust Brothers 7-6 to go up in the seven game series two games to none. A near sell out crowd of 17,000 attended the game, less than the attendance for the opener. The Monkeys had to rally from a 4-0 deficit to take this game.

Chih-Ping Lin had an RBI double to tie the game at 4-4. The-Lung Yu stroked a bases loaded single to drive in two to give the Monkeys a 6-4 lead they would not relinquish. The hit gave Yu the game MVP honors.

Chinatrust had an opportunity to win the game in the ninth, putting runners on first and third with one out, but unfortunately the batter roping the base hit roamed too far from first when rounding the bag and was gunned down trying to return to the bag. The runner on third scored to put the Brothers to within one, but with two out and nobody on it was too much to ask for them to put together a second rally for the inning.

The two teams travel to New Taipei City’s Sinjhuang Baseball stadium for game three.

Twins Club Dinos in KBO Playoff Opener

October 19th, 2014

The NC Dinos took third place in their second season in the KBO. The Twins took advantage of that inexperience by piling on the runs in their 13-4 win, scoring six in the opening frame and five in the eighth to take control of the game. Kyung-Cheol Choi slugged a three run homer in the first to close out the six run frame.

Dinos starter Jae-Hak Lee failed to survive the first inning. Twins starter Jae-Kuk Ryu was relieved after the fourth, giving up two runs including a solo homerun from Sung-Bum Na. The Twins finished the day with 16 hits, none more than the three collected by Brad Snyder.

Fighters Bring Series to Final Game

October 19th, 2014

Don’t know what will happen if the game remains tied after 12. Yesterday the game went 11 innings before the Nippon Ham Fighters pulled it out 6-4 to even the series at three games apiece. The Hawks were awarded one game already for winning the division. Takuya Nakashima came through with a clutch two out base loaded single to drive in the two runs to give the Fighters the victory. It was his first hit of the game. Haruki Nishikawa had struck prior to his at bat.

The Softbank Hawks got off to a quick start off the Nippon Ham Fighters 20 year old ace Shohei Otani, bashing him for four runs in the second inning. The Hawks do what they do best, accumulating hits to put runners on base. Yuki Yoshimura drove in two with a bases loaded double and Kenta Imamiya tallied another run with a single. A fourth run scored after a ground out by Yuki Yanagita. Otani settled down after that, working through the seventh without allowing another run.

This allowed the Fighters to battle back. Jason Stanridge worked through six shutout innings for the Hawks, tossing only 87 pitches and allowing just three hits. The Hawks chose to go to their bullpen, Yuito Mori, to start the seventh. He retired the first two hitters before two singles, a double and a triple pulled the Fighters to within one. Shota Ona blasted the double that scored the first two runs and Haruki Nishikawa hit the triple to score the third.

Sho Nakata continued to show his power in the eighth. He had homered in four consecutive games until the streak broke yesterday. He started a new streak hitting a solo shot in the eighth to tie the game, his fifth post season homerun. Nakata is turning into a Mr. October.

The bullpens took control after that. Dennis Sarfate was working his second inning when the Fighters got to him for a walk and two singles to load the bases in the 11th. After he gave up the two run single to Nakashima he was gone. Hirotoshi Masui worked the last inning to close out the victory for Nippon Ham.

Monkeys Win Opener in Taiwan Series

October 18th, 2014

In the first game of the Taiwan championship series the Lamiga Monkeys shutout the Chinatrust Brothers 3-0, Mitch Talbot going seven innings to get the win. Chih-Yao Chan was the offensive star driving in two of the three runs.

Chris Cody got the start and took the loss for the Brothers. He gave up two runs in his five innings of work.

A near sell out crowd of 19,000 packed Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium to witness the Monkey victory.

Hawks One Win Away from Nippon Series

October 18th, 2014

Yuki Yanagita led off the bottom of the first with a homerun and Nobuhiro Matsuda collected four hits in four at bats to drive in two runs and score one, giving the Softbank Hawks a 5-2 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters. The win gives them a 3-2 lead in their Climax Series with the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Hawk Starter Kenichi Nakata was a bit wild walking five in five innings of work, including three in a row in the second inning to load the bases. Shota Ono singled to score one but with one out and the bases still loaded Nakata struck out Haruki Nishikawa for the second out and induced Takuya Nakashima to ground out to end the threat. Nakata struck out seven in the game, including striking out the side in the third inning.

A second Yuki, Yuki Yoshimura stroked an RBI single in the bottom of the second to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead. They added two more in the third on a 2-run bases loaded single from Matsuda to take a 4-1 lead.

Dennis Sarfate was on the mound to close out the game and pick up his first career Climax Series save. He took a polite bow to acknowledge the victory.

Tigers Sweep to Advance to Japan Series

October 18th, 2014

The Giant fans showed up in mass to watch their team play, but many were wondering if these were the same players who won the Central Division. The Tigers swept them, winning the final 8-4. Matt Murton slugged a three run homer in the first and Kosuke Fukudome made it back to back with a solo shot. The hefty contract Fukudome signed a couple years ago after being released from the major leagues is finally starting to pay off.

If that was not enough, another ex-major leaguer Tsuyoshi Nishioka made it 6-0 with his two run shot in the second inning. For those Giant fans arriving late, by the time they got in their seats the game was just about over. Giant starter Yuki Koyama was gone after the third homerun.

Yoshiyuki Kamei brought a little spurt of life to Giant fans with his solo homerun in the bottom of the second. They added another run in the third on a Shuichi Murata sacrifice fly. They were able to get at least two runners on base in the first four innings but could only score two runs.

Mauro Gomez sent many of the Giant fans home with a two run single in the seventh with the bases loaded to negate the brief Giant comeback and give the Tigers an insurmountable 8-2 lead with just three innings to wake up the offense.

Cuban star now turned Giant pinch hitter Frederich Cepeda and lead off hitter Hayato Sakamoto hit back to back homeruns to begin the bottom of the ninth. Both shots were off Korean closer Seung-Hwan Oh, who was appearing in his fourth straight game. Oh gave up one more single but retired the rest of the order to complete the Tigers a victory. Don’t know why the Tigers chose to use Oh in an 8-2 game after he had appeared in three straight, but he’ll have some rest before the Hawk/Fighter series is decided.

The Tigers become the first Central League team without home field 1-0 advantage to advance to the Nippon (Japan) Series. Only the 2007 Yomiuri Giants and the 2010 Softbank Hawks have won their division and not advanced to the Nippon Series. My guess is the 1-0 game advantage was instituted after the Giants lost in 2007.

LG Twins Back Into KBO Playoffs

October 18th, 2014

On the last day of the season the LG Twins clinched a spot for the KBO playoffs. They had lost to the Lotte Giants 8-5. They were fortunate when the SK Wyverns lost to the Nexen Heroes 7-2 to walk into the last playoff spot. The KBO playoffs begin tomorrow with the fourth place Twins playing the third place NC Dinos. The winner of that series plays the second place Nexen Heroes. The winners of that series plays the first place Samsung Lions for the KBO championship.

MyKBO points out the stat of the day, which conflicts with the major leagues down turn in offense. In 2013 there were 798 homeruns hit by KBO teams. In 2014 KBO teams slugged 1,151 homeruns. This calculates to 353 more homeruns in 2014 or about 39 more homeruns per team. Much of this power increase can be attributed to the addition of a foreign position player. These foreign position players could have made the overall lineup that much stronger.

Fighters Even Series with Homer Barrage

October 17th, 2014

The Nippon Ham Fighters clubbed the Softbank Hawks 12-4 blasting four homeruns, two of them by Dai-Kang Yang. Mitsuo Yoshikawa was the benificiary of all that power, getting the win after going six innings.

Yang started the homer barrage in the first inning with a two out solo shot. Two singles later and Eiichi Koyana smoked a three run shot to give the Figthers an early 4-0 lead. Both homers were off Tadashi Settsu.

Yang would victimize Settsu again in the second inning blasting a three run shot to give the Fighters a 7-1 lead. Again the rally was started after Settsu had retired the first two hitters. The inning was extended after an error by Hawk catcher Toru Hosokawa preceded the Yang blast. Settsu retired the last batter in the second but did not come out for the third inning.

The Hawks had their opportunity to do damage in the bottom of the first. They accumulated four hits but could only score one run. Yuki Yoshimura grounded to third with the bases loaded. The Hawks would get two more hits in the second, but that failed to produce a run. Six hits in two innings and only one run.

Seiichi Uchikawa showed the Hawks were more than singles by hitting a two run homer in the fifth. The Hawks had scored a run in the top of the inning on an RBI single by Kensuke Kondo for their eighth run. The two run shot by Uchikawa only closed the gap to 8-3.

The Fighters widened the gap in the sixth, Yang driving in his fifth run of the game with an RBI single and Sho Nakata clubbing a three run homer to make it 12 -3. For Nakata it was the fourth straight Climax Series game in which he has homered.

The Fighters did not get another hit after the Nakata blast. They rested. The Hawks bunched together four more hits in the ninth but could only score one run. Akira Nakamura flied to left with the bases loaded to end the game. The Hawks out hit the Fighters 14 to 12 but the Fighters were able to take greater advantage of their baserunners with two three run homers.

There were 31,000 to attend the game, short of a sellout, but more than the opener. The Hawks averaged 34,000 plus during the regular season, more than the number attending the Climax Series. Perhaps Hawk fans are discouraged by the higher prices often associated with post season ticket sales.