Archive for November, 2011

Hawks Escape with Victory Over the Other Lions

Friday, November 25th, 2011

The game was a little hazy as jet lag had set in.  All myworld can say is that it was a bit noisy, with pounding drums, incessant chants, waving flags, cute cheerleaders, popping balloons and blaring horned instruments all clouding my mind somewhere.  The Hawks were able to escape with a 6-5 win, holding off a three run ninth inning rally by the Uni-President Lions, with the tying run at third and the winning run at first when the final out was made.  The rest is a bit muddled.

Neither pitcher Shota Oba or Ryan Glynn lasted long in the game.  Glynn gave up a run in the first on a Nobuhiro Matsuda RBI single, and his pickoff of Matsuda at first saved the inning from being larger.  Oba was driven from the game when the Lions chased him with two hard singles and a 2-run double into the right centerfield gap by Tai-Shan Chang in the second inning.  A walk ended the day for Oba, but the bullpen got the three outs without any further damage.

Glynn got rocked in the third.  After back to back singles put runners on first and second and no one out, Glynn tried to make an off balanced throw to third on a bunt while he was falling to the ground in an attempt to get the lead runner.  The ball sailed past the third baseman and allowed the tying run to score and runners to move up.  Glynn tried to hide his face in his glove.  A 2-run single by Seiichi Uchikawa made it 4-2 and after a walk to the next batter the day was done for Glynn.  The crowd gave him a nice applause despite his poor effort.

An error by Lion’s second baseman Kuang-Sheng Chou proved costly in the fifth (actually, I have been advised that Chou had been replaced by Chih-Hsiang Lin prior to the error, so it would have been Lin that made the boot).  A single by Nobuhiro Matsada and a hit batsman loaded the bases.  Kenji Akashi singled on a 3-1 pitch to score two to increase the Hawk lead to 6-2.  Another hit batsman loaded the bases again, but the Lions catcher Chih-Kang Kao was able to pick off Kenta Imamiya to end the inning.

The Hawks looked like they would run away with the game when they loaded the bases with no out in the seventh, but two whiffs and a popup prevented the Hawks from scoring.  The count was 3-0 on the first batter that whiffed and he swung on the 3-0 count.  The failure to score created an interesting ninth inning drama.

The fans gave a big applause to Taiwan native and Hawk pitcher Yao-Hsun Yang when he came in the game to pitch the ninth.  Now do you root for him to do well and Taiwan to lose, or hope he does poorly to give Taiwan the victory and his status with the Hawks is downgraded.  He retired the first two batters, but then struggled.

Pinch hitter Chun-Yu Kuo walked.  The Hawk skipper Koji Akiyama came out to talk to the Taiwanese pitcher and seemed to joke with him, putting his arm around his shoulder.  On his second pitch to Fu-Hao Liu, Yang grazed his uniform to put runners on first and second.  Akiyama came out, patted Yang on the head and they both laughed.  It turned serious when Masahiko Morifuku could not stop the bleeding, giving up an RBI single to Yung-Chi Chan to score one.  Wu-Hsiung Pan then took a 1-2 pitch down the right field line, racing to third with the triple as two runs scored to pull the Lions to within one and the tying run on third.  Takahito Kanazawa then came on to face the Lions best hitter Kuo-Ching Kao.  He walked him on four pitches to put the winning run on first.  As you can imagine the crowd was going into a frenzy.  My jet lag had long left and with the count 1-0 after throwing four straight balls to the previous hitter Kao, Tai-Chi Kuo swung at the next pitch and grounded the ball weakly to second for the final out.  The groan from the crowd could be heard in Taipei.

Game Notes: The four cheerleaders for the Lions all had dimples the size of Lake Michigan.  Not a lot of impressive physical dance moves, but then myworld believes they are there for their looks and not their cheerleading ability…They must give out lyric sheets to the fans somewhere before the game.  The lead man on the microphone would be constantly chanting some phrase and the crowd in unison would respond back with another phrase.  Similar to Japan, but in Japan they do that in the outfield bleachers with very little participation in the reserved seats.  Here, the chanting was throughout the stadium…The fans all blew balloons in the sixth, but they did not shoot them in the air as they used to do in Japan, until there was some concern of the passing of saliva from the flying balloons.  They just held them for the rest of the game, though most of them were being popped after the Pan triple…They tried a wave in the seventh inning, but it stopped at the end of the third base line.  The outfield seats did not seem too interested in extending the wave.  After the third attempt there was no more…Myworld went up to the concessions after the fifth inning and was amazed to see the line waiting to use the rest rooms for the men.  There were at least 40 people lined up outside the door.  Myworld hopes none of them had to go to bad.  I didn’t see the women’s rest room.  Note to self, go early …Seiichi Uchikawa and Nobuhiro Matsuda combined to get on base all eight times they were up.  Uchikawa walked, singled twice and got on base on an error.  Matsuda singled three times and walked.  The next hitter in the lineup, Yuya Hasegawa got on base in three of his four plate appearances, two on walks and one a hit by pitch…At some point starting second baseman Kuang-Sheng Chou was removed from the game.  My guess is after his crucial error and then strikeout in the bottom of the fifth.  I only noticed that Chih-Hsiang Lin had come in at some point in the game, with no announcement about the change.  They are pretty good about announcing pinch hitters so after his K the manager may have seen enough (his second K of the game) and replaced him with Lin.  Lin walked in the seventh but was then pinch hit for in the ninth (As noted above I have been advised that Lin replaced Chou prior to the error in the bottom of the fifth inning…Kuo-Ching Kao delivered three singles and a walk in five at bats to win the award for the hitting star for the Uni President Lions.

Lions Give Heat Their First Loss

Friday, November 25th, 2011

The Heat came into this tournament 11-0 in games played in the ABL.  The Samsung Lions made sure that winning streak came to a close with a convincing 10-2 victory.  The game was much closer than the score, with the Lions Myung-Chul Shin finishing off a 6-run eighth inning with a grand slam homer off Warwick Saupold.

The Heat scored first off Lion’s starter Won-Sam Jang in the top of the third.  Jang had started the inning well, striking out the first two hitters but then walked Alex Burg on four pitches.  Allan de San Miguel was Jang’s worst nemisis this game ripped a double into left center that one hopped the wall.  Burg loped around third and just beat the throw home from shortstop Sang-Su Kim.  The ball actually arrived at the plate before the runner reached home but Burg was able to slide in safely before the Lions catcher Kab-Young Jin could reach back to apply the tag.  If he had been blocking the plate Burg may not have scored.

The Lions countered off Daniel Schmidt in the bottom frame.  Daniel had his fielder’s sloppy defensive play to thank for his loss.  With one out Young-Seop Bae walked.  Bae was going on the 3-2 pitch that Myung-Chul Shin lined up the middle, advancing to third on the hit.  Schmidt had Shin picked off at first, but instead of taking the sure out Aaron Baker threw to third to try to get Bae and he dived back safely.  This proved costly now with one run turning into two when Sok-Min Park went the opposite way and drove a double down the right field line.  Both runners would score.  Baker made a nice diving play on a hit by Hyoung-Woo Choi, but when he threw to the pitcher covering his throw went wide left and as the ball trickled to the catcher who had to retrieve the ball, Park raced home with the third run of the inning.  Again, that proved costly when Bong-Kyu Kang hit a hard grounder over the second base bag that Mychal Givens turned into a 4 unassisted to 3 double play.

Jang was cruising after giving up his run in the third, striking out the side in the fourth and the leadoff batter in the fifth to up his K total to eight.  With one out in the sixth Miguel got ahold of another Jang pitch and drove it into left field for a homerun.  Jang struck out the next two batters to finish the day with 10 strikeouts.

As they did in the third the Lions countered with a run of their own in the sixth.  After a one out walk to Hyoung-Woo Choi, Bong-Kyu Kang hit a soft grounder to third baseman Alex Burg, who booted the ball.  Another walk ended the day for Schmidt, loading the bases and Han-Yi Park lifted a fly deep enough to center to score Choi.  It was inadvisable to throw home because they didn’t have much of a shot to get Choi and the throw allowed the runners to advance.  This did not prove costly to the Heat when Warwick Saupold prevented further damage by getting Kab-Young Jin to ground one in front of the plate.  Miguel’s throw to first bounced to Baker, but he was able to scoop it to save a run from scoring.

The 21 year old Saupold pitched well.  An error by the second baseman Givens, the fourth error of the game for the Heat put a runner on second when Givens pivot throw on a double play went way right of the first baseman.  That put a runner on second with one out, but Saupold was able to get out of the inning with two fly outs.  The next inning he was not so lucky.  He gave up a single to Hyoung-Woo Choi, but the pinch runner Myun-Gu Kang was caught stealing.  After a walk to the next batter, Tae-In Chae singled and the throw to third could not get pinch runner Young-Wook Lee and In was able to advance to second.  The Heat walked Han-Yi Park intentionally and appeared to be out of danger when Kab-Young Jin flied weakly to center to keep the sacks jammed.  But the ninth place hitter Sang-Su Kim singled to drive in two and a walk to Young-Seop Bae loaded the bases.  The Heat manager Brooke Knight chose to leave the laboring Saupold in and Shin launched one over the left field wall for a grand slam.

Down 4-2, the Heat appeared ready to take the lead in the top of the eighth when they loaded the bases with no out.  The Korean manager Joong-Il Ryu stayed with reliever Oh-Joon Kwan and he coaxed the Heat’s big bat Allan de san Miguel to ground into a 5-2-3 double play.  Ryu replaced Kwan with Hyrn-Wook Jong and he got Matt Kennelly to fly to left to end the potential rally.  It was garbage time after the six run explosion and Seung-Hwan Oh, the Lions 47 save closer was allowed to pitch to the last batter and get the out.

Game Notes: They made the announcement that there would be no objects that make loud noise and no climbing structures on the field.  The attendance for this game was sparse, a problem for international events when the local team is not playing and the country is unfamiliar with the other players.  The next game for the packed Taiwan game made the same announcement, but they had whistles, clackers, horned instruments, almost everthing that a person could get their lips on except that South African instrument that would have probably been ruled a “object that makes a loud noise.”…It is not surprising that major leaguers hit the ball out of the park here.  While the fences are fair, with 325 down the line it only takes a 400 foot shot for the ball to leave the stadium here at Intercontinental Baseball Stadium…The seats along right field are color coded to spell Taichung.  The bullpen is a couple of mounds along the first and third base side and they have a nice scoreboard with a medium sized television screen…Lots of handouts for game, including a mens body and hair wash combined into one.  That would make our soap and shampoo industry cringe.  I don’t think the DVDs will be compatible with my computers at home but it was a touching jesture and the girls in the cheerleader outfits were very cute.  The videos appear to be a couple of baseball video games, but it was all written in mandarin, so I’m basing this on the pictures…They didn’t accept credit cards there, which seems odd when the seats were priced $NT300, 500 and 1,000 for the day game and $NT800 and 1300 for the night game.  It is about $NT30 to $1.  I used all my cash to buy the tickets and did not have any left for souvenirs…Fielding was the big difference in this game with the older, more experienced Lions taking advantage of their years.  In the first inning third baseman Sok-Min Park made an excellent diving catch on a grounder down the line by Matt Kennelly, robbing him of a double.  With runners on first and second it would have easily scored two runs, but Park calmly got up and fired the ball to first.  The Heat made four errors and a number of throws that should not have been made that allowed the runners to advance…Aaron Baker had a booming double in his first at bat off lefthander Won-Sam Jang, but then had three feeble swings and misses off righthander Oh-Joon Kwan…The Heat’s Mitch Graham does not appear to have shortstop skills.  His range is lacking, his arm is not strong and his hands are suspect, at least from the results of this game.  They might do better with Luke Hughes at the position, especially since Graham struck out his first three times up, so did not contribute anything offensively…The Koreans were very aggressive, swinging at a number of 3-0 pitches…Finally, during warmups the coach had a little trouble hitting popup fungos to his catchers, chasing them into the infield or past the cones where the press were allowed to assemble before the game.  They also had a little incident trying to water the infield.  One of the hoses had a leak the size of the geyser Old Faithful.  They had to replace that hose component with another…I hope to be able to post some pictures of the event in the next couple days.

Walkoffs in Australia

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

There is nothing more exciting in baseball than the walkoff homerun.  The Australian Baseball League had two games yesterday end in walk off homeruns.

The first was a 3-run walkoff homerun by Calvin Anderson that gave the Adelaide Bite an 8-5 win over the Sydney Blue Sox.  Chin-Lung Hu had connected for a 2-run homer earlier in the inning to tie the game at 5-5.  Both homeruns were off the Blue sox closer Dae-Sung Koo.  The 42 year old Korean is not quite as dominant as he was last year.  This is his second blown save in a row, after he was successful with his first two saves.  Last year he led the ABL in saves with 12 and did it with a 1.00 ERA.

Kenny Wilson broke a 2-2 by clubbing a 3-run homer off Andrew Mann to give the Canberra Cavalry a 5-2 victory over the Melbourne Aces.  The Aces had just come back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game 2-2 with single runs in the seventh and eighth innings.  Steven Kent got credit for the win improving his record to 3-0.  He struck out four of the five hitters he faced.

You can follow the games in the Australian league by going here: http://web.theabl.com.au/scoreboard/league.jsp?lid=595&sid=l595.  The Perth Heat, who are 11-0 this year, won the championship last year and are in Taiwan to play the Asian Series.

United States Juniors Beat Puerto Rico

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

In a game that had been postponed because of rain, with Puerto Rico ahead 2-0, the United States rallied to score the games remaining eight runs to win 8-2.  Technically, it extends the shutout streak of the United States pitching, but the stats will probably be credited towards a few days ago, when the game should have been played.  The United States will now go into the second round 2-0, matching Canada as the two only undefeated teams.

When the game was suspended the United States had the bases loaded with no outs after Puerto Rico had taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the frame.  The United States scored four runs to take the lead for good.  Jesse Winker and Clate Schmidt combined to throw five innings of shutout ball to allow Troy Conyers to get credit for the victory.  The offensive stars were Mikey White (3 for 5) and Addison Russell (2 for 2 with 2 RBIs).

The loss by Puerto Rico allowed Colombia and Mexico to advance to the second round.  The United States opens the second round against Panama.

You can read more about the game at: http://web.usabaseball.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20111124&content_id=26039350&vkey=news_usab&gid=

Japan Posting News

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Hiroki Sanada - Interesting strategy to post a player that they appear to have no plans on keeping.  Many of the NPB teams lost money this year and the Bay Stars are in the process of going through a complete team sponsorship change.  His 4.22 ERA was worst than last year’s 3.88 in a year when most pitchers ERA should have gone down in this year of the pitcher.  Hiroki’s 66 hits and 18 strikeouts in just 49 innings pitched means a lot of contact is made and the balls are not being caught.  This is like fishing - Sanada is the bait.  If a major league team bites they get a little extra cash.  If a major league team does not bite Sanada becomes a free agent and they lose nothing.

Hiroyuki Nakajima - Nakajima was voted a gold glove.  While his offensive numbers were down a little bit, this was a year when most hitters offensive numbers were down.  The big difference between him and Nishioka, who the Twins signed last year is that Nakajima has more power.  He’s hit in the double digits in homeruns for over eight years in a row.  He also does not appear to be as injury prone, playing in 144 games two of the last three seasons.  One of the concerns with Nishioka were the injuries he had incurred during the season that caused him to miss games.

Norichika Aoki - He also was voted a gold glove.  Last year the Swallows had moved him from centerfield because they were not happy with his defense.  Perhaps that was a wake up call.  His offensive numbers dropped quite a bit more than Nakajima and he is no longer the stolen base threat that he once was. His power numbers dropped significantly from last year as he went from 44 doubles to 18 and 14 homeruns to four. So myworld doesn’t know if the improved defense makes up for the drop in offense, but it will be interesting to see what major league teams post for his services.  In years past the Swallows would not make him available. Now that they perceive an overall decline in his skills they may not have anything to lose by posting him.

United States and Canada Continue to Roll in Juniors

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

The United States has only given up three runs in their five wins, their pitching staff getting back to back shuout victories over the Bahamas (16-0) and Colombia (4-0).  When the team played Colombia, both teams came into the game with identical 3-0 records.  Carson Kelly pitched eight innings of shutout ball, striking out seven, to end the undefeated ranks for Colombia.  Carson Fulmer closed out the last inning to preserve the shutout.

Alex Bergman led the United States offense with two runs and an RBI with his two hits.  Albert Almora had three hits.  There were approximately 10,000 fans that attended the game to see the United States play the host country Colombia.

The Unites States then went out to maul the winless Bahamas 16-0.  The bats only needed four innings to compile their 16 runs.  Gavin Cecchini went 3 for 3, driving in three runs.  Cole Irvin and Hunter Virant combined to get the shutout, with Hunter going the last three innings without allowing a hit.  Cole only allowed one hit in his two innings of work.  The second consecutive shutout gives the pitching staff 15 straight innings without allowing a run.

You can read more about the games at http://web.usabaseball.com/news/archive.jsp

Canada had to battle with Venezuela to determine who would lose their first game out of pool play.  Canada just nipped Venezuela 4-3.  Five walks and a wild pitch allowed Canada to score their final two runs to make it 4-1.  Venezuela was also gift wrapped their final two runs, scoring on an error, hit batter, walk and wild pitch.  Jacob Robson was the offensive hero for Canada batting from the leadoff spot, getting two hits in three at bats, plus drawing two walks.

From Pool A Canada advances with Venezuela and Panama, going into the second round with a 2-0 record.  Venezeula defeated Panama in their game 3-2 so they will enter the second round 1-1 while Panama will be 0-2.  They will be joined by three teams in pool B - the United States who has a makeup game with Puerto Rico is the only team that has clinched advancement.  Puerto Rico can advance if they upset the United States, but if they don’t they have to hope that Colombia and Mexico lose to their opponents Bahamas and Argentina, neither who have won a game.

You can see more details on the game at http://www.baseball.ca/eng_news_story.cfm?NewsID=2036 plus a look at the standings and other scores at: http://www.baseball.ca/files/Americas%20World%20Junior%20Scedhule%20Scores%20Stadings.pdf

Planes, Trains, Automobiles and a Couple Buses

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Who says I won’t go through great depths to see a baseball game.  The day started off Tuesday morning when I got into my car and drove to a parking spot near the metro to take a short train ride that would take me to a bus to get to the airport.  The plane ride from Dulles in D.C. to Narita was about 14 hours.  There was a four hour wait time in Narita to get onto the next flight from Narita to Taipei.  That was about a three hour flight.  I had to wait in Taipei two hours for the bus to take me from Taipei to Taichung, which is about an hour ride.  The final leg was a five minute taxi ride to the hotel, arriving at the hotel at 3 AM on Thursday morning Taiwan time.  The baseball starts tomorrow.  Of course, my world doesn’t have any tickets yet.

It seems I have lost a day somewhere, though actual travel hours I calculate as being a 26 hour journey.  Myworld is used to losing days when traveling, especially to Asia when you lose a day.  Myworld has probably lost six months of our life flying on airplanes or waiting at airports.  Of course, many of us lose days to our lives sitting in automobiles making our commute to work. There is always a price somewhere. You just have to be prepared to meet it.

The plane ride was torture for two infants, one landing in Narita and the other landing in Taipei.  I can’t imagine the popping that was going on in their ears.  The passengers had to listen to their constant wails as the plane descended to the ground.  Myworld now knows what an observer of waterboarding must feel like.  There is nothing you can do to stop the torture, but you wonder how anyone can put someone through so much pain.  Parents should think hard before putting infants on airplanes, one for the pain they cause the baby and two for the misery that it creates for the passengers who have to listen to their painful cries.

The Holiday Inn in Taichung is quite impressive.  The window view I have is of a park with water and clay tennis courts.  There is a free breakfast in the morning.  The city seems much safer than Panama City.  I don’t think I would be so comfortable arriving in Panama City at 3 AM in the morning and expecting a taxi driver to meet me and only charge me a couple bucks to drive me to the hotel.  The taxi driver in Panama would try to get $10 from me and wouldn’t care where he left me.  This driver wanted to make sure that I arrived at the right place and was much more responsive that I got into the hotel.

There is a lot to do today.  Myworld will catch up on the International baseball news we have missed while getting to Taiwan once we get the lay of the land.  While we have been to Taiwan twice, this is my first time in Taichung.

A co-worker told me that I am the most driven person she has ever met.  I guess I just proved that by going through all that just to see a baseball game in Taichung.  Sometimes you have to do incrediable things to find the enjoyment out of life.  Some who know me would call them crazy things. I would just call them life experiences.

Off to Asian Series

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

A quick note before taking off for Taiwan.  The Hawks may be down to two starters for the Asian Series.  Starting pitcher D.J. Houlton has returned to the United States while Tsuyoshi Wada wants to rest his arm for the upcoming bidding by major league teams for his free agency.  Toshiya Sugiuchi wants to rest because he is recovering from shoulder pains.  Nobuhiko Matsunaka and Hiroki Kokubo are out because of injuries.  That leaves only Tadashi Settsu and Hiroki Yamada as the available starters.

Until tonight, or tomorrow when myworld will be reporting from Taiwan.

Venezuela Update

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Time flies.  Myworld didn’t realize it has been a couple weeks since we last updated the Venezuelan League.

Magallanes Navegantes (9-9) 20-13

They have not lost their first place standing despite only playing .500 in their last 18 games.  The two hottest bats in the league have to belong to Jose Altuve (.403) and Jesus Flores (.383), who stand 1 and 3 in the batting race.  Jose had five hits in his last two games and four games of three hits or more in his last 10.  Flores has had five balls leave the park and is slugging .593.  He is ready for the Nationals backup job, or a starting position if the Nationals choose to trade him.  The balls have stopped leaving the park for Bryan Lahair.  His average has dropped to .264 and his homerun total has only gained one since the 10 game report that happened 23 games ago.  He is stuck on seven, which is still tied for the Venezuelan League, but now he must share that lead with two players.  Johermyn Chavez has recently joined the team and in 10 games he is only hitting .091.  He is supposed to compete for the Mariners DH job in 2012 but his .130 on base average and .091 slugging is cause for concern.

In six starts Jerome Williams is 5-0, 1.00 with a .219 opponent average.  He did not give up any earned runs in his first four starts, covering 23 innings, but he has coughed up four in his last two starts.  Robert Coello (0.54) and Tanner Scheppers (0.69) have been providing excellent relief.  Robert has not allowed a run in his last 12 appearances and opponents are only hitting him at a .088 pace.  He has 20 whiffs in 16 innings of work.  Tanner has limited the opposition to a .121 average and has only allowed one earned run in his 14 appearances.  They have been a solid bridge to closer Jean Machi (1.69).  Machi has won two games in addition to his seven saves.

Aragua Tigres (10-6) 19-13

Lastings Milledge (.325) has been the big bat for the Tigres.  He had an eight game hitting streak broken with an 0 for 4.  He has banged out 11 doubles to put his slugging average at .509.  He is tied for the team RBI lead with Vinny Rottino (.272) with 19.  Ronny Cedeno has recently joined the team and is hitting .346 in his first six games.  Ronny had three multi hit games in his first five games.  Unfortunately, he has made three errors in those six games.

The Tigres have a good group of starters in Deunte Heath (2.29), Sergio Perez (2.45) and Darin Downs (3.00).  Deunte has 34 whiffs in his 35 innings pitched while Sergio is right behind him with 31 whiffs in 33 innings of work.  Zach Segovia (3.68) is a recent addition to the rotation and has pitched effectively in three starts.

Caribes Anzoategui (8-8) 18-14

Luis Nunez (.268) is their top RBI man with 19, but he has significantly slowed his pace.  Luis also leads the team in stolen bases with eight.  He is joined by his double play partner Alexi Amarista (.270) as the biggest offensive contributors on the team.  Alexi is still not showing the same power he showed last year.  Alexi has only hit two homeruns and is slugging just .421 compared to the nine dingers he hit last year that gave him a slugging average of .521.  Mike Wilson is tied with Lahiar for the league lead in homeruns with seven, but he is only hitting .217.  The first base combination of Dmitri Young (.186) and Gabby Martinez (.163) has been a dud.

Reynel Pinto has been one of the top pitchers in the league with his 5-0, 1.24 in seven starts.  He has struck out 42 in his 43 plus innings of work and had a streak of starts where he did not give up a run in 19 innings.  The opposition has been held scoreless by him in four of his seven starts.  He is second to Jerome Williams in ERA and has matched his win total for the league lead.  The last five starts from Andrew Baldwin (1.64) have been quality starts.  In his six starts he has yet to give up more than two earned runs.  Alex Herrera (2.45) has not given up more than one earned run in his last five starts.  Two of the three starts for Carlos Zambrano (3.29) were quite effective.  He was stinged by a line drive in the face during his third start and may be out of commission for awhile.

La Guaira Tiburones (9-9) 19-15

Buster Posey better beware.  Hector Sanchez (.389) is getting a lot of playing time at DH because of his hot bat.  He has gone deep four times and driven in 18 runs and is second in the league in hitting.  His slugging percentage of .589 leads the team and is four percentage points behind Jesus Flores for the Venezuelan lead.  Gregor Blanco (.317) continues to be a walking machine.  His 24 walks are tied for the lead leauge in that category.  Danny Worth has made an immediate impact, delivering a homerun in each of his first two games.  Those two homeruns have been his only hits in his first nine at bats, but they have driven in five.  Eduardo Escobar (.270) has been getting most of the shortstop playing time over Ehire Adrianza (.298).

Sharon Martis (1.84) has been a nice addition to the rotation, though he has walked 10 hitters in his 19 innings of work.  He doesn’t have the dominant stuff to be putting that many runners on base without it coming back to bite him.

Zulia Aguilas (11-5) 16-16

The Aguilas have made a nice run to get back to .500.  Jose Pirela (.347) has been raking, but has been slowed recently by a few too many 0 fers.  His hot bat has taken playing time away from Freddy Galvis (.224) who hoped to prove to the Phillies that he is ready to take over their shortstop job if Jimmy Rollins decides to bolt.  He has a nice 12/12 walk to whiff ratio, but the hits are not falling for him.  Ernesto Mejia (.297) has matched his 2011 end of the season batting average.  He has 13 doubles are tops in the league and his four homeruns and 23 RBIs lead the team.  He also has 34 strikeouts in just 32 games, a bad stat that tops the Venezuelan League.

Wilfredo Boscan (1.97) has not allowed a runner to cross the plate in his last two starts covering 12 innings.  Of his six starts three have not allowed a runner to score.  Adys Portillo (2.16) has moved his success from the bullpen to the starting rotation.  He has thrown eight shutout innings in his two starts, giving up only one hit in each start.

Caracas Leones (5-12) 14-19

The defending champions from the previous two years are closer to the basement than qualifying for a playoff spot.  Jesus Guzman (.268) has returned to the team but his bat has been very tame.  The usual RBI machine has only seven in his 16 games played.  He has walked 14 times in those 16 games so perhaps teams are not pitching to him when he has had RBI opportunities.  The .286 slugging percentage is uncharacteristic.  Caleb Gindl (.235) is not hitting for average but his six homeruns and 18 RBIs lead the team.

Dylan Owen (1.73) has put togther a string of good starts.  He has not given up more than one run in his last four starts covering 23 innings.  Unfortunately, he won only one and lost two of those four starts.  Franklin Morales is trying to make a return from arm problems.  He has yet to give up an earned run in eight relief appearances, giving up just three hits.  The opposition is only hitting .111 against him.  Fu-Te Ni went from the Taiwan exhibition series to Venezuela and got treated rudely, giving up four runs in his three inning start.  He pitched much better than that in his one start against the major leaguers in Taiwan.

Lara Cardenales (9-9) 14-20

Luis Jimenez (.291) has been the Cardenales big bat with seven homeruns and 17 RBIs.  But Joe Thurston (.347) has recently joined the team and is hitting the pitching in Venezuela as he did the pitching during the World Cup in Panama.  Joe has yet to hit a homerun in the 14 games he has played, but he has walked eight times.  Alex Liddi (.136) was released from the team because of his inability to hit.  He shouldn’t feel too bad because his Mariner teammate Michael Saunders (.148) also struggled as did Twins top prospect Rene Tosoni (.195).  At least Alex hit better than Cesar Izturis (.103).

Erasmo Ramirez (1.48) has turned into their ace.  He has only walked one batter in 30 plus innings of work and has yet to have more than two runners cross the plate in any of his six starts.  Poor Yoervis Medina (4.41) is 0-6 in his first seven starts.  No other pitcher in the league has more than four losses.

Margarita Bravos (8-11) 13-23

Sean Burroughs (.333) has provided the Bravos some offense, but it has not extricated them from last place.  Burroughs has yet to hit a homerun and is 0 for 9 in his last three games.  In five of his last six games he has gone hitless.  Wilmer Flores (.200) is exhibiting a tepid bat.  He has only contributed two extra base hits in his 21 games played.  He doesn’t play defense well enough not to hit.  His slugging average of .233 would be good if he was a professional bowler, not a run producer.

Despite their perch on the bottom of the ladder, Mike Parisi (2.22) and Yusmeiro Petit (2.38) have been providing them quality starts.  Mike has a 5/31 walk to whiff ratio in 44 plus innings while Petit has one complete game and given up just one run in his last two starts, covering 16 plus innings.  Petit also leads the league in whiffs with 44.

Perth Heat Head to Taiwan Undefeated

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Last year the Perth Heat won the Australian Baseball League, qualifying them for the Asian Series because of the inability of China to participate.  This year they appear to be even more competetive, flying to Taiwan with an 11-0 record in the early season of the ABL.  Because of their dominance, no other team in the Australian league has a record better than .500.

Some of the hot hitters for the Heat include Tim Kennelly, who is hitting an ABL league leading .529 with a 1.237 OPS.  He has five three hit games in the eight games he has played for the Heat.  Last year Tim played for the Reading Phillies and hit just .215, his worst year of his minor league career.  Tim’s brother Matthew is also playing with the team and is hitting .256.

Shortstop Mitchell Graham is hitting .435 with an 8 for 15 streak in his last three games.  He also has four stolen bases and four homeruns.  The power has contributed to a 1.219 OPS.  His 16 RBIs lead the team and the ABL.  On the down side Mitchell has committed six errors.  He last played minor league baseball in 2004 for just one year with the Phillies organization.

Another big bat for the Heat is catcher Allan de San Miguel.  He is hitting .421, also with an 8 for 15 streak in his last three games.  He has three stolen bases, an impressive feat for a catcher.  The last two years in the minor leagues, Allan’s numbers have not been that impressive, hitting .166 in 2010 and .190 in 2011.

The leading homerun hitter on the team is Alex Burg, who has an ABL leading five.  He is second to Mitchell Graham in RBIs with 14.  Alex is 7 for his last 14, with six RBIs, raising his average to .356.  He has a 1.113 OPS.  Burg plays for the Giants franchise, where last year he hit .298 with 14 homeruns.  He was not born in Australia.

The Orioles have top prospect Mychal Givens playing for the team.  He has not been one of their better hitters, struggling with a .235 average, but he provides good speed and defense.  His three stolen bases are second on the team.  He is teamed with another Oriole, first baseman Aaron Baker, who is only hitting .205, but his 12 RBIs are third on the club.  On the downside, Aaron has 15 whiffs, eight more than the nearest player on the team.

Jamie McOwen is another player to watch.  He is hitting .311 with an ABL leading seven stolen bases in eight attempts.  As the leadoff hitter his 13 runs scored are tops in the ABL.

The top pitcher on the team has been 21 year old Australian Warwick Saupold.  In three starts Warwick has a 0.45 ERA.  As far as myworld can determine, he is not affiliated with any major league team, but before the season is over some team will sign him if he continues to put up those numbers.

Daniel Schmidt has been the next most consistent starter.  The 23 year old Australian is 2-0, 3.63 ERA in three starts.  He went eight innings in his last start.  Daniel last pitched in the Independent league for Grand Prairie in 2010.

The closer for the Heat has been Ben Grice, with his three saves.  Benn has a 2.57 ERA, giving up runs in two of the six games he has relieved.

You can see all the numbers at http://web.theabl.com.au/stats/stats.jsp?t=t_ibp&cid=4068&stn=true&sid=t4068