Archive for September, 2018

United States, Mexico, Cuba and Venezuela Qualify for 12 and Under World Cup

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

The United States, Mexico, Cuba and Venezuela qualified for the 12 and under World Cup that will be played in Taiwan in 2019. There were 12 teams participating in the qualifier in Mexico. Panama, Nicaragua, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Brazil fell short of qualifying.

The four teams will join Taiwan (host), Korea and Japan from Asia, Italy and Czech Republic from Europe as nine of the 12 teams in the tournament. One African team, an Oceania team and a wild card team are three unknown teams open to qualify in future tournaments.

In case any of these players become major leaguers, the following players were voted all tournament:

Catcher - Kailand Halstead (United States)

First Base - Dean Moss (United States)

Second Base - Brock Thompson (United States)

Third Base - Carlos Miguel Villalobos (Colombia)

Shortstop - Denilso Aguila (Cuba)

Outfield - David Guzman (Venezuela), Ricardo Orozco (Mexico), Leonardo Nicolao (Brazil)

Pitcher Luis Sarabia (Mexico)

ABL Team to Join CPBL

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

There is some talk of a team from the Australian Baseball League (ABL) joining the China Professional Baseball League (CPBL) in Taiwan. The first step would be for the ABL team to play in the minor leagues but eventually advance to the major league. It is hoped that negotiations can be completed so that this ABL team can play next year for the 2019 season.

Taiwan has been seeking to add the number of teams to their professional league. Currently they have four teams. Adding one more team would give them an odd number so a sixth team would be ideal to balance the schedule. Another issue to work out is the number of Taiwan players to play on the team and whether the Australian team would have access to Taiwanese players through the draft. Currently three foreigners are allowed to play for each team in the CPBL and for the most part the three players fill the starting rotation.

The ABL has added two foreign teams to their league in the fall. A team from Korea and another from New Zealand will play in the ABL this fall.

Carp and Lions Class of the NPB

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

In the Central everyone loves the Yomiuri Giants, who are considered the New York Yankees of the NPB. They are one of the first professional Japanese teams and have won more NPB titles. The Hanshin Tigers may not be good consistently but they are popular.

In the Pacific League the Softbank Hawks had replaced the Giants for the best team in the NPB. Since 2000 no team has won more NPB championships (5) than the Hawks and four of their five championships have occurred after 2011.

This year, the top two teams in each division are the Seibu Lions in the Pacific League and the Hiroshima Carp in the Central League. The Lions last won a title in 2008. For the Carp, they have won the Central Division the last two years, but you have to go back to 1984 to find their last championship. Since 2000 eight of the 12 NPB teams have won championships. Of the four teams that have not won championships, the Bay Stars won in 1998, Orix won in 1996 as the Blue Wave and the Hanshin Tigers won in 1985. So the Carp have the longest reign without winning a championship.

The Carp are comfortably on top in the Central and this should allow them a third appearance in Japan Series. Winning the division gives them a bye in the Central playoffs and home games once they play the winner of the wild card series.

The big bat for the Carp is Yoshihiro Maru, who is having a career season (.323, 31, 78). His 104 walks are a career high as are his 31 homeruns. Injuries delayed the start of his season so all this production will happen with fewer games played than in previous seasons. Seiya Suzuki (.337, 27, 81) is the other productive outfield bat. At 24 years of age this is probably his most productive season.

For the most part the Carp are winning without the presence of a foreign bat. Xavier Batista is hitting well when in the lineup (.255, 23, 48) but he has only played in 80 of the Carps 115 games and his production has been inconsistent. Brad Eldred continues to have trouble staying healthy, limited to 38 games with just a .213 average. He has played more (40 games) in their minor league system trying to find his bat.

The ace of their staff is 27 year old Daichi Osera (15-5, 2.21) whose 15 wins and 2.21 ERA are all career highs. This is his fifth year pitching for the Carp. On the pitching front the Carp have been better with foreign players, Kris Johnson putting up solid numbers to be their number two starter (10-2, 2.98). This is a bounce back year for Johnson after struggling with a 4.01 ERA last year in only 13 starts.

The closer for the Carp has been Shota Nakazaki (3-0, 2.78, 29 saves). He is supported by two foreign pitchers Jay Jackson (3-1, 2.70, 23 holds) and Geronimo Franzua (1-3, 1.68, 16 holds).

The Lions have two big bats in Hideto Asamura (.316, 26, 102) and Hotaka Yamakawa (.268, 36, 97). No player has more homeruns than Yamakawa. This is actually his first season as a full time player and the first baseman is taking the league by storm. Last year he showed his potential for power with 23 homeruns in 78 games. The last Asamura hit for more than 100 RBIs was in 2013. He is now one homerun and eight RBIs from passing his career highs.

Outfielder Shogo Akiyama (.325, 18, 65) is a steady source at the top of the lineup. His 84 runs scored are second on the team to Asamura and Yamakawa, who each have scored 85 runs. Sosuke Genda builds on his rookie of the year season (.268, 3, 45) with another good season. His 32 stolen bases are tops in the NPB.

Amazingly, the Lions are also dominating their division with no productive foreign bats in their lineup. Ernesto Mejia (.212, 9, 18) who had been a traditional source of production for the Lions has been absent for most of the season. They have had no foreign presence to replace him.

The Lions may have the next Japanese pitcher who comes to the major leagues to test his craft. Yusei Kikuchi (10-4, 3.07) was the star at Koshien but took a few years to have success in the NPB. Last year he had his breakout season (16-6, 1.97). This year his strikeout numbers are down and he has been easier to hit, not the kind of season Kikuchi was looking at if he wished to be posted to the major leagues next year.

Daiki Enokida (9-2, 3.30) has been having a good season in his first year with the Lions. Previously Daiki pitched for the Tigers and was used primarily in relief. This has been his first real opportunity in the starting rotation and he has made the most of it. Shinsaburo Tawata (12-5, 4.38) leads the team in wins and eats up innings, but his outings have been inconsistent. This is only his third season in the NPB.

The biggest weakness for the Lions has been their bullpen. Last year’s closer Tatsushi Masuda has been awful (0-4, 6.75, 11 saves). They have found no alternative, though foreign pitcher Deunte Heath (3-1, 2.43, 8 saves), signed away from the Carp has the second most saves for the Lions.

Yelich Slam Sinks Nationals

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

Christian Yelich blasted his first grand slam of his career and it was enough for the Milwaukee Brewers to blast past the Washington Nationals 9-4. Keon Broxton also homered that inning, a three run bomb that was really the big blow of the inning giving the Brewers a 5-4 lead. The win gives the Brewers the top wild card spot in the National League over the St. Louis Cardinals. For the Nationals, their season is over even though they are not yet mathematically eliminated.

Jefry Rodriguez got the start for the Nationals. At the start of the game his fastball was hitting 96-98 but had no location. The first two hitters walked. A Mike Moustakas two run single scored both to give the Brewers an early 2-0 lead.

The Nationals responded back in the bottom of the second off Junior Guerra. With two outs Wilmer Difo lifted one high into left center field. Keon Broxton went to the fence but lost the ball in the sun. The ball travelled over the fence into the corner of the left field bullpen for a homerun. It was doubtful Broxton could have caught the ball if he saw it.

The Nationals took the lead in the third, scoring all of their runs after two were out. An Adam Eaton single and two out walks to Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon loaded the bases. That brought up Juan Soto. As poorly as the Nationals season has gone, imagine what it would have been if not for Soto. Soto lined a clutch single into left center to score one to tie the game at 2-2. Mark Reynolds broke the tie and drove in two with his bounce single up the middle.

Jefry Rodriguez continued to struggle with his command. He had six walks through four innings. His fastball had dropped from 96-98 to 93-94 in the fourth inning. In the fifth most of his pitches were read as changeups because they were only lighting the radar up at 87-90. With Manny Pina up and Eric Thames on second and two out my comment was “This will be Rodriguez last batter”. His stuff was just not there. Pina hit a infield single.

Rodriguez stayed in the game. Dave Martinez had bounced back and forth between warming up Tim Collins, to Austen Williams back to Tim Collins in the bullpen. Because Tim Collins was the current pitcher warming up Martinez stuck with Rodriguez to face the right hander Keon Broxton. Maybe he was trying to give Rodriguez a baseball life lesson by telling him to dig deep. The life lesson failed. Rodriguez got behind 2-0. The next pitch Broxton drove deep into centerfield for a three run homer. My comment “Martinez waited one batter too late before removing Rodriguez.”

Rodriguez continued to pitch. He gave up a single to light hitting Orlando Arcia. The pitcher Brandon Woodruff came up and Rodriguez walked him on four pitches. Martinez finally came out. In comes lefty Tim Collins. He was not much better.

The first pitch from Collins sailed over the head of catcher Spencer Kieboom to advance the runners to second and third. Collins walked pinch hitter Hernan Perez on four pitches. Collins first two pitches to Christian Yelich were off the plate. The next pitch was served to Yelich’s liking. He clobbered it into centerfield for a grand slam homerun. All seven runs had scored after two were out.

The Nationals had trouble hitting Brandon Woodruff. He pitched four innings of relief and did not allow a runner until his third inning of work. In the seventh inning, his fourth inning of work he allowed two singles but got out of the inning without the Nationals scoring. Xavier Cedeno and Corey Knebel each pitched one inning to finish the six shutout innings of relief.

Game Notes: The more myworld sees of Jefry Rodriguez the more convinced we are that he belongs in the bullpen. The fastball has good velocity, but it lasts only three innings. Myworld only sees a fastball/curve combination, which tells me he lacks a third pitch, or throws it so infrequently that myworld does not notice it…Eric Thames did not look good on defense at first base. His primary position in Korea was DH. Myworld would not be surprised if the Brewers traded him to an American League team. It is either him or Jesus Aguilar…Orlando Arcia is a smooth fielding shortstop. It is too bad he lost his bat…It worries me when Bryce Harper swings and misses at 97 mile per hour fastballs. He used to feast on fastballs. Brandon Woodruff blew one by him for a K…Juan Soto may be able to hit, but he is not the most graceful defensive outfielder…Christian Yelich had quite the road trip. He had his first two homer game, his first six hit game, his first cycle and his first grand slam. Myworld always considered his bat good for batting titles, but now that he is adding power with 27 homeruns it puts him with the elite bats in the National League…With the acquisition of Gio Gonzalez, another poor outing by Junior Guerra may knock him out of the Brewers rotation. Over his last nine starts his ERA sits at 7.62…National pitchers walked 11 hitters, tying a team record for a nine inning game…Austen Williams made his major league debut with two scoreless innings of relief.

South Korea Wins Asian Games Gold

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

They were upset in their opener by Taiwan 2-1. After that South Korea ran the table, shutting out Japan 3-0 in the gold medal game for their fifth straight victory. It was their third straight Asian games championship.

Yang Hyeon-jong shut out the Japanese amateurs on one hit for six innings. Japanese pitcher Ryoga Tomiyama walked the first two hitters he faced. Both of them scored on a single by An Chi-Hong. Ex-Twin Park Byung-ho is starting to find his homerun bat. He slammed a solo shot in the third inning, the fourth consecutive game in which he has hit a homerun.

Jang Pill-Joon and Jung Woo-ram closed out the game for South Korea, completing the shutout by retiring all nine hitters they faced.

A Tale of Two Seasons

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

Yesterday was a shining example of the two teams that have gone out on the field for the Nationals in 2018. Prior to the rain delay the group out in the field appeared lethargic. Disinterested. Just going through the motions as they stumbled their way through the game. It is not a group filled with energy so when they make mistakes the perception is they lack the intensity to win.

Myworld does not know what happened after the two hour rain delay but they rallied for four runs in the eighth inning to pull out a 5-4 win. Myworld was not there for the rally. Call me lethargic. Disinterested. Just going through the motions in watching the games.

Both pitchers started out well. Strasburg mowed down the Brewers using an economy of less than 30 pitches to retire the first 9 Brewers in three innings. Jonathan Schoop touched him for a leadoff single in the third but he was erased on a line out double play. Chase Anderson had done the same, going through the first 9 batters in order. He walked Carter Kieboom in the third but he was erased when Stephen Strasburg grounded into a double play.

Strasburg began his struggles in the fourth when he threw over 30 pitches to retire five batters. He walked two of them and had 3-2 counts to four batters and a 2-2 count to the leadoff hitter before striking him out. In the fifth his frustration began to show.

The fifth also mirrored the Nationals worst stretches of the season. Mike Moustakas doubled into right field on a ball many thought Adam Eaton could have caught. It one hopped the fence and bounced past Eaton. Jonathan Schoop ripped a one bouncer that glanced off the glove of Anthony Rendon. It was originally ruled an error but correctly changed to a double. It was a tough play for Rendon, but the horror was watching Rendon jog for the ball out in short left field foul territory while the slow footed Mike Moustakas chugged his away around third and raced home. Perhaps he thought Soto was going to get the ball but Moustakas never should have scored on that play.

Turner made a nice diving stop on a ball hit by Manny Pina but his one hop throw could not be scooped by Zimmerman. A failed bunt attempt by Anderson and a ground out to Rendon put runners on first and third with two out. Christian Yelich then lined the first pitch by Strasburg over the head of Difo into left field. Eaton tried to pick the ball up twice and dropped it twice allowing Cain to hustle to third. Fortunately, it did not hurt the Nationals as Jesus Aguilar grounded out to third.

The Nationals scored a run in the bottom frame. Juan Soto started the inning off lining a single into right field. Ryan Zimmerman followed lining a single to left, Soto hustling to third. Wilmer Difo hit a ball that glanced off the diving Aguilar at first. He still attempted to flip it to the pitcher who failed to catch it allowing Soto to score and Zimmerman to advance to third. With first and third and one out the Nationals failed to score when Carter Kieboom hit a shallow fly to right. Yelich made a diving catch but Zimmerman could not score, stuck halfway between home and third. Strasburg grounded out to catcher to end the inning with only one run.

The Nationals pen is one of strangers as Mike Rizzo has traded many of them to playoff teams (Kintzler,Kelly and Madson) and the rest are on the disabled list (Kieboom and Herrera). So Dave Martinez called on Jimmy Cordero in the seventh and he gave up a solo shot to Manny Pina into the left field bullpen area to give the Brewers a 3-1 lead. The rains began to fall in the bottom of the seventh and myworld had seen enough.

Needless to say the Nationals rallied for four runs in the eighth after the two hour rain delay. Juan Soto got the clutch two run single that put the Nationals ahead. Justin Miller almost gave the game away, giving up two hits and a run, including a solo shot to pinch hitter Tyler Saladino, but he is the fifth closer the Nationals have tried this season and the only bullpen presence that has been with the team for most of the year.

Game Notes: Bryce Harper has either lost a step or has issues moving quickly out of the batter’s box. He grounded into a double play in the fourth that was not hit that hard. A fast runner should have made it to first…The bullpen for the Nationals last night was Jimmy Cordero, Tim Collins, Wander Suero, Matt Grace, Greg Holland and Justin Miller. That is a far cry from the bullpen the Nationals started with to begin the 2018 season…The velocity for Strasburg sat at 93 to 94 miles per hour and he got Jesus Aguilar swinging and missing at a third strike fastball. So his velo appears to have returned…The crowd gave Gio Gonzalez a nice standing ovation. He was traded to the Brewers while they were in town so he was in a Brewers uniform…The loss prevented the Brewers from capturing the top wild card spot in the playoffs. A win could have put them one half game ahead of the Cardinals…Travis Shaw looked good at second. He fielded all the balls hit at him and even started two double plays. It would have been interesting to see his double play pivot…Chase Anderson only threw 79 pitches in five innings. The month of September has arrived meaning an expansion of the bullpens.

Japan Women’s World Cup Champs

Saturday, September 1st, 2018

Japan shutout Taiwan 6-0 to win the Women’s World Cup in baseball. Ayami Sato gave up six hits in her five innings of work but did not allow Taiwan to score. Akino Tanaka twirled the last two innings to close out the victory. Sato tied for first in wins with three, allowing just one run in her 19 innings of work.

The big bats of Lori Miura and Yuki Kawabata each drove in two runs to lead the Japan offense. Miura led the tournament in RBIs with 12.

In the bronze medal game Canada got some revenge on the United States and beat them 8-5 in 10 innings. Daphnee Gelinas blasted a three run homer in the fifth inning to give Canada a one run lead. Malaika Underwood tied the game with an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh.

Despite being able to place runners on first and second neither team scored for two innings. Canada erupted for five in the tenth inning, Daphnee Gelinas singling up the middle to score the first run of the inning. Ashley Stephenson ripped a two run single to close out the scoring.

The final standings for the tournament:

1) Japan, 2) Taiwan, 3) Canada, 4) United States, 5) Venezuela, 6) Dominican Republic, 7) Australia, 8) Cuba, 9) Puerto Rico, 10) Korea, 11) Hong Kong, 12) Netherlands