Japan Wins Series Against the Major Leaguers

November 15th, 2018

To be fair it was not really a major league All Star team. But Japan still showed that they can play baseball with some of the best beating a group of major leaguers five games to one. Yesterday they scored all their runs in the second inning to carry them on to a 4-1 win.

Sosuke Genda got the bit hit with a bases clearing three run triple. That was about all she wrote for the major league team, who found leads very fleeting in this series. They scored their lone run in the eighth inning on a solo blast from Ronald Acuna Jr. They did outhit Japan 10 to 8 but stranded 11 runners. The major leaguers were 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position.

Erasmo Ramirez had a dominating outing for the major leaguers after Brian Johnson could not retire a batter in the second inning. Ramirez went five innings, striking out seven and allowing just two hits. That was his best outing of a ugly series.

Shotaro Kasahara got the win working 4.2 scoreless innings. Yasuaki Yamasaki picked up his second save of the series.

Under 18 Pan Am Pool Brackets

November 15th, 2018

The top four teams will go to Korea to play in the Under 18 World Cup in 2019. The teams will be broken into three pools.

Pool A (Santiago)

United States, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Peru and Honduras

Pool B (Las Tablas)

Cuba, Canada, Venezuela, Colombia and Bahamas

Pool C (Chitre)

Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, Argentina and Guatemala

The United States are the defending champions with Cuba finishing second. The top two teams from each pool will advance to a super round. The top two teams from the Super Round will play in the championship game. Chitre will be the host for the Super Round and the championship game.

Japan Continues to Defeat Major Leaguers

November 14th, 2018

The pitching staff the major leaguers brought to Japan is not the best in quality. Most teams did not want their $20 million arms to barnstorm Japan. But Kenta Maeda may have been one of the better major leaguers that made the trip. He only pitched two innings while returning to his roots, holding the Japanese scoreless. It was then a bevy of relievers whose names are a bit sketchy even to those who closely follow major league baseball. Japan rallied for four runs in the top of the ninth off major league closer Kirby Yates to down the major leaguers 5-3.

The Japanese pitchers have not been star quality either, but they have been containing the major league bats a little better. Daichi Ohsera held the major leaguers to two hits in his five innings of work. One of those hits was a Rhys Hoskins solo blast in the second. The game froze at 1-0 until the seventh inning when the major leaguers tacked on another run on a Juan Soto double.

The Japanese hit their second inside the park homerun of the series, this one by Shogo Akiyama to left field in the eighth inning. The major leaguers countered that with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth by Carlos Santana.

In came the major league closer in Kirby Yates. The 2018 season saw him pick up 12 saves and carry a 2.14 ERA with 90 whiffs in 63 innings. The Japanese were not impressed. A leadoff walk to pinch hitter Kazuki Tanaka got the inning started. He stole second and then scored on a Seiji Uebayashi single. The Japanese played their style of baseball, bunting Uebayashi to second. He scored on a single by Kosuke Tanaka to tie the game.

More Japanese baseball as Tanaka steals second and advances to third when J.T. Realmuto throws the ball away. Shogo Akiyama is intentionally walked and in comes John Brebbia. He lacks the credentials of Craig Kimbrel or Wade Davis, but this is Japan and they play by a different set of rules. Ryosuke Kikuchi lays down a bunt to score the go ahead run and is safe at first. A passed ball moves the runners over and Yuki Yanagita drives in the fourth run of the inning with a ground out.

Not one extra base hit in the inning but four runs. Enough to send the United States to their third loss of the series. Japanese closer Yasuaki Yamasaki pitched a scoreless ninth to drop the major leaguers record to 2-3 while in Japan.

They recently lost another game 6-5, again victimized in the late innings by a four run outburst by the Japanese. Rhys Hoskins again got the scoring started for the major leaguers with a two run homer in the second. The Japanese bounced back with a solo shot from Kazuma Okamoto in the bottom of the second. It was the only hit Junior Guerra would allow in his five innings of work.

The major leaguers dominated the next four innings to take a 5-2 lead. Juan Soto again drove in a run with a single in the third. Yadier Molina continued to carry a hot bat with his RBI double in the fourth. And Carlos Santana drove in another run with a single in the sixth.

The Japanese are relentless with their small ball tactics. Three singles and an error score two. Hotaka Yamakawa ties the game with his two run double. Japan wins it in the eighth on a Takuya Kai RBI double. Seiji Uebayashi had started out the inning with a two out single.

Japan brought out Yuki Matsui to shut out the major leaguers in the ninth to improve their record to 4-1 against the major leaguers (the Yomiuri Giants taking the other loss.)

Wyverns Win KBO championship

November 13th, 2018

It took 13 innings but the Wyverns pulled it out to win the championship over the Doosan Bears 5-4. Choi Jeong hit a solo shot in the ninth inning to send the game into extra innings and Han-Dong Min went deep in the 13th inning to seal the victory.

Kang Seung-Ho was the big bat early for the Wyverns. His two run homerun in the fourth staked the Wyverns to a 3-0 lead. Jamie Romak drove in the first run in the opening frame on a ground out.

The Bears battled back. In the sixth Choi Joo-Hwan doubled in a run and Yang Eui-Ji drove in two with a single. Up until that point Merrill Kelly was breezing along with a five inning shutout. A hit by pitch, wild pitch and walk put two runners on to put him in trouble. Yang hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth to give the Bears a 4-3 lead.

The Bears called on Josh Lindblom to close out the game in the ninth. The Bears needed to win this game to take the series to a seventh game. Lindblom struck out the first two hitters. Choi Jeong was a different beast. The slugger took Lindblom deep with a drive over the left field wall.

For Wyvern manager Trey Hillman this is his second championship. He won his first in Japan with the Nippon Ham Fighters. He has already announced that this was his last season with the Wyverns. He will return to the United States where another major league team could give him an opportunity to manage.

Han Dong-Min was voted the Korean Series MVP. Han only went 4 for 21 in the series but he bookended his homeruns, hitting a two run shot in the first inning of game one. Han also ended game five of the semi-final with a walkoff homerun to get the Wyverns to the championship game.

Molina Leads Major Leaguers to First Win

November 11th, 2018

The jet lag should be over. The major leaguers. led by the three run homerun from Yadier Molina in the fifth inning beat Japan for the first time 7-3. The major league pitching staff, led by rookie Scott Barlow finally prevented the Japanese All Stars from crossing the plate in village like numbers.

J.T. Realmuto got the scoring started for the major leaguers with a solo homerun, his second homerun of the series. Japan responded with a run of their own in the bottom half on a Shuta Tonosaki RBI double. The major leaguers then pulled away from Japan with four in the sixth, capped by a Molina three run homer.

Eugenio Suarez and Mitch Haniger drove in runs for the major league team in the seventh to extend the lead to 7-1. The Japan all stars scored two in the bottom of the ninth to make the score closer.

Japan did manage to spray 10 hits, but did strand 13 baserunners. The major leaguers collected 12 hits and stranded 14 baserunners. Molina finished the day with a game high three hits, raising his average for the series to .636. Japan now leads the series two games to one.

Juan Soto again hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome, which may have prevented him from hitting a homerun in his third consecutive game. The ball was then caught by the right fielder.

Wyverns Pull to Within One of Korean Championship

November 11th, 2018

The SK Wyverns are led by Trey Hillman, who has indicated this will be his last year of managing in Korea. He is one win away from managing the Wyverns to a Korean championship. Trey Hillman managed the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan and led them to their first ever Japan Series championship in 2006. In 1981 they had won their only Pacific Conference, but they failed to win the championship. Hllman also managed the Kansas City Royals in the major leagues but did not have any championship success there.

The Wyverns last won a Korean Series championship in 2010. They are one win away from winning their fourth championship after a 4-1 victory over the Doosan Bears.

Seth Frankoff, who won 18 games during the regular season was pitching a shutout through the first six innings for the Bears. The Bears had gone ahead 1-0 after a Jung Jin-Ho solo blast in the third inning had given them a 1-0 lead. Wyverns pitcher Park Jong-Hoon did not allow a run after that through five innings. It had all the appearances of ending as a rare 1-0 pitcher’s duel.

Sloppy fielding impeded the Bears from winning this game. A double by Kim Sung-Hyun drove in the Wyverns first run, and the only earned run they scored on the evening. An error by the leftfielder allowed Kim to advance to third where he scored on a fly ball to make it 2-1.

In the eighth a dropped pop up by the shortstop allowed two unearned runs to score. A single by Park Jung-Kwon scored the runner from second. The Wyverns then loaded the bases and a two out walk scored the second run of the inning to give the Wyverns a 4-1 lead.

Starter Angel Sanchez was called on to pitch a scoreless sixth. Kim Tae-Hoon pitched two scoreless innings and then Jung-Young-il closed out the game with a scoreless ninth. He did put two runners on in the ninth but a line out double play ended the Bears hope for a victory.

Japan Hammers Major League Pitching

November 10th, 2018

Japan hitters are hammering major league pitching, scoring 19 runs in their first two games of a six game series. They won the first game 7-6 and the second 12-6.

Kirby Yates failed to protect a lead in the opener giving up three runs in the final frame to take the loss. As he did in the Japan Series Yuki Yanagita blasted a two run sayonara homerun to end the contest. Shogo Akiyama had the other big hit for Japan with a three run double in the fifth.

The United States team slammed three homeruns, Ahmed Rosario with a solo shot in the third, Carlos Santana with a three run bomb in the fifth and Juan Soto with a two run shot in the sixth. Every time the major leaguers would take the lead Japan would match them to tie it, except when the major leaguers scored two in the sixth the Japan all stars waited until the ninth to strike.

Japan banged out 17 hits in the second game, abusing major leaguers Erasmo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson for 12 runs in 6.2 innings. Yanagita again went deep for the Japan stars in a perfect 4 for 4 day with 4 RBIs. Akiyama also had a good day going 3 for 4 with three RBIs and a triple. Sosuke Genda also contributed three hits.

The major leaguers got another homerun from Juan Soto, a solo shot in the fifth for their first run to make it 9-1. J.T, Realmuto also went deep with a three run dinger in the eighth, but that only made it 12-6.

There is probably a little jet lag involved in the United States performance. Their bats are hot scoring enough runs to win most ballgames, but their arms are no match for the Japanese hitters.

Lindblom Pitches Bears to Win

November 10th, 2018

The only playoff series in town saw the Doosan Bears even their series against the SK Wyverns with a 2-1 win. Josh Lindblom went seven innings, allowing just three hits and one run. He struck out 10.

It appeared his outing would go for naught as Kim Kwang-Hyun threw six innings of shutout ball The Wyverns went to their bullpen and in the eight inning Jung Soo-Bin launched a two run homerun to give the Bears a 2-1 lead. Jung is not one of the more prolific homerun hitters in Korea, having hit just 19 in his 911 game 9 year career. But he came through last night.

Ham Duk-Go took over for Lindblom in the eighth and pitched two shutout innings to give him the victory. The series between the Bears and Wyverns is now tied at two games apiece.

Soto Hits Roof of Tokyo Dome in Major League Win

November 8th, 2018

Juan Soto hit an infield double to drive in a run when his high popup hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome. The major league team went on to beat the Yomiuri Giants 9-6 in the exhibition game that preceded the six game series between the major league All Stars versus the Japanese All Stars.

The United States erupted for five runs in the third inning to take a commanding 7-0 lead. Soto’s double scored Yadier Molina from second for the second run of the inning. J.T. Realmuto doubled home Soto and Ahmed Rosario capped the inning with a two run single.

Soto is not the first player to hit the ceiling of the Tokyo Dome. Shoei Ohtani also hit a ball through the roof in 2016. The first base coach for the major league team Hideki Matsui crushed a homerun that hit the ceiling of the Tokyo Dome. Both of those shots you can watch on You Tube.

Yomiuri Giants fans got a thrill when rookie outfielder Seiya Matsubara split the left centerfield gap in the fourth inning and raced all the way home for a three run inside the park homerun. Matsubara has yet to play a game in the NPB. The inside the park homerun cut the major league lead to 7-4.

J.T. Realmuto added a solo homerun in the fifth. The solo homerun and RBI double made him the hero of the game. That is a big tradition in Japan where the hero of the game is celebrated by getting up on a stand and talking to the crowd after the game in a “hero interview”. That is a little different than talking to reporters in the locker room after having a good game. Realmuto was not used to that tradition.

The major league team was a bit sloppy committing four errors in the game. The four errors only resulted in two unearned runs scoring. Japan committed one error that allowed two unearned runs to score. Hayato Sakamoto threw a ball away in the top of the first with two outs that allowed the first two runs to score.

Yadier Molina was a perfect 2 for 2 hitting in the DH spot, with two runs scored and an RBI. The two players vying for National League rookie of the year, Ronald Acuna and Juan Soto were 2 for 5 and 2 for 4. They did let the ball hit by Matsubara split between them for an inside the park homerun.

Daikan Yoh was a perfect 3 for 3 for the Yomiru Giants, scoring two runs. He is from Taiwan and has been playing in the NPB for 12 years. Giants starter Hosei Takata had a rough outing, charged with seven runs in his three innings of work. Hosei is a 20 year old who made one NPB appearance last year and gave up six runs in two innings. So you could call this outing an improvement. He was a fifth round pick of the Giants in 2016.

Taiwan Edges Japan in Exhibition Game

November 7th, 2018

They played in the Softbank Hawks stadium, the two time champions of the NPB. The Japan All Star team is preparing to play major leaguers later on in the week. They did not look like All Stars getting roasted by the Taiwanese, who jumped out to a early 6-0 lead and then survived a ninth inning rally by Japan to hang on 6-5.

Lan Yin-Lun smacked a three run homerun in the fifth for Taiwan to cap off a five run inning and an early 5-0 lead. Chen Chun-Hsui smoked a solo shot in the eighth to make it 6-0.

Japan rallied in the ninth, scoring five runs and placing two runners on base when Taiwan closer Cheng Kai-Wen struck out the final batter to preserve he win. The major leaguers will now play the Japan All stars tomorrow.