Archive for the 'Japan' Category

Yomiuri and Softbank to Face Each Other in Japan Series

Monday, 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.

Hanshin and Softbank Advance in NBP Playoffs

Wednesday, 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.

Yoshitomo Tsutsugo to be Posted by Bay Stars

Monday, October 7th, 2019

The Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars have announced they will post outfielder Yoshitomo Tsutsugo to give him an opportunity to play major league baseball. For his ten year career Yoshitomo has hit .285 with 205 homeruns. His best season was in 2016 when he hit .322 with 44 homeruns and 110 RBIs. All of those numbers have been career highs.

Defense is not a big part of his game, nor are stolen bases. For his career he has stolen just 5 bases and been caught 4 times. That is an average of one stolen base attempt per season. The last two years he has not attempted to steal a base. Last year he seemed prone to the strike out, whiffing a career high 141 times, which resulted in a .272 batting average. Myworld would compare him as a lessor version of Juan Soto, but he needs to work on getting back to making more solid contact.

He will be a solid leftfielder/designated hitter for any team that puts in a bid.

Japanese Roster - Premier 12

Friday, October 4th, 2019

One of the biggest international tournaments is happening in November. The 12 best countries will be competing for two qualifying spots in the Olympics to be played in Tokyo next year. Two countries have already qualified. Japan, which is hosting the Olympics and Israel, which won the European/Africa qualifier, upsetting Netherlands and Italy, which usually represent Europe in international competition are the only two countries with Olympic spots.

The 12 teams will be playing pool play in three countries, Mexico, Korea and Taiwan. The top two teams from each pool will then travel to Tokyo to play in a Super Round pool play in Tokyo. The top two countries from that tournament will qualify for the Olympics.

The Japanese roster is filled with NPB players. If these players were put together to compete against major league teams they would be a playoff contender. One of the best pitchers in baseball, Kodai Senga is on the roster. His fastball hits triple digits. They have a shortstop in Hayato Sakamoto, who hit 40 homeruns in the NPB last year. One of the reasons these players have not been posted to the major leagues is the teams they play for, the Softbank Hawks and Yomiuri Giants do not post players. They have to wait for free agency, which means they have to wait until after they have been playing for eight years.

Missing from the roster are major league players, and at least three NPB All Stars. Tsutsugo Yoshitomo a power hitting second baseman/outfielder who has expressed his interest in playing major league baseball is absent from the roster, as are his 29 homeruns and the 44 dingers he hit in 2016. Also not on the roster is 30/30 (homers/stolen bases) player Yuki Yanagita, who has been struggling with injuries these past two years. In 2019 he was limited to 38 games. On the pitching front Takahiro Norimoto is not on the roster. He was out most of this year because of injuries, limited to just 12 starts. From 2014 to 2017 Takahiro had 200 plus strikeouts.

Interesting that no player from the Hanshin Tigers or the Lotte Marines made the roster. The Yomiuri Giants and the Softbank Hawks had the most players on the team with five each.

Pitchers

Takayuki Kishi (Rakuten Eagles), Taisuke Yamaoka (Orix Buffaloes), Yuki Matsui (Rakuten Eagles), Shun Yamaguchi (Yomiuri Tokyo Giants), Yasuaki Yamazaki (Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars), Shota Imanga (Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars), Yudai Ono (Chunichi Dragons), Kodai Senga (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks), Rei Takahashi (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks), Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix Buffaloes), Kohei Morihara (Rakuten Eagles), Yuta Nakagawa (Yomiuri Tokyo Giants), Kazuto Taguchi (Yomiuri Tokyo Giants)

Catchers

Seiji Kobayashi (Yomiuri Tokyo Giants), Tsubasa Aizawa (Hiroshima Toyo Carp), Takuya Kai (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks)

Infielders

Tetsuto Yamada (Tokyo Yakult Swallows), Sosuke Genda (Seibu Lions), Eitoto Asamura (Rakuten Golden Eagles), Ryosuke Kikuchi (Hiroshima Toyo Carp), Shuta Tonosaki (Seibu Lions), Hayato Sakamoto (Yomiuri Tokyo Giants), Nobuhiro Matsuda (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks)

Outfielders

Kensuke Kondo (Nippon Ham Fighters), Ukyo Shuto (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks), Masataka Yoshida (Orix Buffaloes), Seiya Suzuki (Hiroshima Toyo Carp), Shogo Akiyama (Seibu Lions)

NPB Playoff Teams Decided on the Last Day

Monday, September 30th, 2019

In the Central League the Hiroshima Carp needed just two wins in their last six games or the Hanshin Tigers needed to lose two of their last eight and the Carp would go onto the playoffs. The Carp could win only one and the Tigers kept winning and on the last day of the season the two teams were tied for the last wild card spot.

The Hanshin Tigers won their last game, beating the Chunichi Dragons 3-0. Koyo Aoyagi threw five shutout innings before turning it over to his bullpen. He gave up only two hits and struck out five. Five different relievers threw the last four innings, also giving up just two hits to complete the shutout. Kyuji Fujikawa pitched the last inning to pick up his 16th save.

Yusuke Oyama drove in the only run with an RBI single in the fourth. The two other runs scored on wild pitches in the fourth and fifth innings. Because ties are possible in Japan a win by half a game in the standings is not unusual. The Tigers finished the season with six ties while the Carp only had three.

The Tigers will travel Tokyo to play the Yokohama Bay Stars to play a best two out of three, all played in the Bay Stars park. The winner will play the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo. The Giants/Tigers rivalry is compared to the Red Sox/Yankees so the media would like to see another historic Giants/Tigers playoff to see who will represent the Central in the Japan Series.

In the Pacific Conference the Rakuten Golden Eagles (who just purchased the LaMiga Monkeys in the CPBL) will play the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks at the Hawks park. The winner will play the Saitama Seibu Lions at the Lions park.

In the conference series game they sort of play a best of seven, but they only play six games. All the games are played in the conference winners park and they also enter the series with a 1-0 lead, being given a win before the series even begins. The NPB allowed two wild card teams, but they made it very hard for them to advance to the Japan Series.

Another Japanense No Hitter

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

The NPB had another no hitter Saturday night. Lefthander Yudai Ono tossed a no hitter against the Hanshin Tigers to lead the Chunichi Dragons to a 3-0 win. It came just a week after the first no hitter of the year thrown by the Hawks Kodai Senga. The Dragons last no hitter was thrown by Daisuke Yamai in 2013. Ono walked one and another runner got on base via an error.

The Dragons scored early scoring one in the second when Dayan Viciedo led off the inning with a double and eventually scored on a wild pitch. An error led to another run in the third, that run scoring on a Nobumasa Fukuda sacrifice fly. Viciedo had a perfect 3 for 3 day and drove in the third run with a single in the fifth.

Ono is just ten days shy of his 31st birthday. At 9-8 with a 2.59 ERA Ono is having a solid year. The last year his ERA was below 3 was in 2015. He was a first round pick of the Dragons in 2010 and made his NPB debut in 2011. Ironic that the Hanshin Tigers were Ono’s favorite tem growing up.

The Dragons are still in the playoff hunt a half game behind the Tigers and four games behind the Hiroshima for the last playoff spot.

Kodai Senga Tosses No Hitter

Monday, September 9th, 2019

Softbank Hawk 26 year old Kodai Senga tossed the first no hitter in the NPB this year, no hitting the Lotte Marines in the Hawks 2-0 win. Senga struck out 12, hit a batter and walked three. Two of those walks happened to lead off the ninth inning. He was able to get out of that by retiring the last three hitters to complete the victory.

The Hawks scored two unearned runs off Mike Bolsinger. Both of the runs scored after Leonys Martin dropped routine fly balls, one in the fifth and the other in the sixth. Martin was signed by the Marines this year after being released by the Cleveland Indians. While he has 11 homeruns in 39 games for the Marines he is only hitting .233. The Marines are still in the playoff hunt, sitting at third place in the Pacific Division, the last wild card spot but just one half game ahead of the Rakuten Golden Eagles. The Hawks are in first place, one game ahead of the Seibu Lions.

For Senga the no hitter came at an opportune time. He had been having an exceptional season, but in the last three games he hit a road bump, giving up 16 runs in his last 17.1 innings. His won-loss record went from 11-4 to 11-7. He was also leading the Pacific League in ERA but the struggles dropped his ERA to over 3.00. He now sits at 2.92, with 205 strikeouts in 160.1 innings. He may be the best pitcher in Japan right now, but don’t expect him to be in the major leagues in the near future. The Softbank Hawks do not traditionally post players for the major leagues and Kodai still has a couple years left before he becomes an international free agent. He made his NPB debut in 2012, but he did not become a regular until 2016

The 6′1″ pitcher throws his fastball in the mid to high 90s. He has hit triple digits on the radar readings. He also throws a forkball and slider. The no hitter by Senga was the first for a Hawk pitcher since 1943 when Takehiko Bessho tossed one. The last no hitter by a Japanese pitcher was last year, tossed by the Yomiuri Giants Shun Yamaguchi.

Under 18 All World Team

Sunday, September 8th, 2019

Yu Chien, who pitched the championship match against the United States was named MVP. Below is the All World Team for 18 and under by position.

Catcher - Juan Gonzalez (Spain) - .323, 8 runs scored, 9 RBIs, 4 doubles
First Base - Yuya Nirasawa (Japan) - .345, 8 runs scored
Second Base - Ji-chan Kim (Korea) - .528, 11 runs scored, 10 stolen bases
Third Base - Shun-Ho Wang (Taiwan) - .364, 8 runs scored, .682 slugging, 3 stolen bases
Shortstop - Austin Gomm (Canada) - .345, 7 runs scored, 10 RBIs
Left Field - Darryl Collins (Netherlands) - .345, 8 runs scored, 12 RBIs, .759 slugging
Centerfield - Pete Crow-Armstrong (United States) - .364, 9 runs scored, 3 triples, .606 slugging, 3 stolen base
Rightfield - Robert Hassell (United States) - .514, 14 runs scored, 14 RBIs, 5 doubles, 2 homeruns, .886 slugging
Designated Hitter - Tyler Soderstrom (United States) - .294, 10 RBIs
Relief Pitcher - Alejandro Rosario (United States) - 3-0, 1.30 ERA
Starting Pitcher - Yasunobu Okugawa (Japan) - 1-0, 1.29 ERA, 18 K’s in 7 innings pitched, .083 batting average against
MVP - Chien Yu (Taiwan) - 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 saves, 15 K’s in 10 innings pitched

18 and Under World Cup - United States to Play Taiwan in Championship

Saturday, September 7th, 2019

The United States won their game against Korea. Taiwan could not beat Canada. They were fortunate that Australia beat Japan. Since Australia and Taiwan tied for second place in the Super Round, Taiwan won the tie breaker, since they beat Australia in their earlier meeting.

United States 8 Korea 5

Korea jumped out to an early 5-0 lead after the first two innings. The United States turned to Alejandro Rosario to finish out the first inning and he went 7.2 innings, giving up just the three unearned runs in the second inning. The United States pecked away in the third through sixth innings, scoring twice in three of the innings and once in the fifth to take a 7-5 lead.

Robert Hassell got things started with a two run homer in the third. In the fourth RBI singles from Nolan McLean and Jack Bulger pulled the United States to within one. The lone error by Korea in the fifth put Aaron Vuckovich on second where he eventually scored on a ground out. In the sixth a Drew Bowser RBI single put the United States up for good and Robert Hassell drove in an insurance run with a SF. Hassell finished the game with three RBIs. Nolan McLean pitched the ninth inning to pick up the save.

Canada 12 Taiwan 7

The Canadian bats came alive with 17 hits in their rout of Taiwan. Dasan Brown led the charge with three hits and three runs scored. Sam Schofield and Owen Diodati each drove in three runs for Canada. Canada used three big innings to score their crooked numbers.

Wie-Chieh Lo contributed three hits for Taiwan, driving in two runs and scoring once.

Australia 4 Japan 1

Brandan Bidois had his second strong start to allow Australia to pull off a mild upset of Japan and knock them out of any hope of a championship playoff appearance. In his last outing against China he allowed just one hit and two runs in six innings of work. Against Japan he allowed just a first inning run and three hits to shut down the Japanese bats for seven innings.

Australia erupted for four runs in the second inning to come away with the upset. Sota Asada could not retire any of the five hitters he faced in the second inning, giving up four hits and a walk. Another Japanese fielding error created an unearned run for Australia in the inning.

The loss by Japan vaulted Taiwan into the championship game against the United States. Korea and Australia will play in the bronze medal game. Japan has to settle for fifth place, one of their lowest finishes in youth international tournaments.

Under 18 World Cup -Super Round

Friday, September 6th, 2019

The championship appears to be down to two teams. The defending champs the United States and Taiwan. If one of those two teams loses tomorrow it would be a mess of a tie breaker, with Japan, Australia and Korea at 2-2. The only team myworld is aware of that is eliminated from the championship game is Canada.

Taiwan 12 Australia 0

An 8 run seventh ended this game early. Yu-Min Lin shut out Australia for six innings. Heng-Yu Ho led the offense with three RBIs. Shun-Ho Wang was a perfect 3 for 3 with three runs scored and a walk. Taiwan will play Canada on the last day of the Super Round. Canada has yet to win in the Super Round.

United States 10 Canada 0

The United States scored five first inning runs and ended the game after seven. Ben Hernandez pitched a complete game seven inning shutout. Robert Hassell drove in three runs and scored twice on a 2 for 3 day. Pete Crow-Armstrong hit two triples to score twice. The first three hitters in the United States lineup, Crow, Hassell and Aaron Vucovich scored twice each to account for six of the ten runs. The United States may have the toughest match when they play Korea.

Korea 5 Japan 4

A mild upset knocked Japan to 2-2. It was a 0-0 shutout after six. Japan struck first in the seventh on RBI singles from Toyo Kumada and Kei Mizukami. The eighth was a nightmare for Japan. After loading the bases with one out a ground out double play ended the threat. Then a two out error in the bottom frame allows two runs to score for Korea to tie the game.

It went to the 10th where a two run double by Ryusei Takeoka gave Japan another two run lead. Korea came back with three runs to win the game without the benefit of a hit. Another Japanese error led to Korea’s first run scoring on an attempted bunt. A bases loaded walk scored the second run and a sacrifice fly gave Korea the 5-4 win.

Korea did have the go ahead run thrown out at home in the bottom of the ninth.