Bay Stars Hope to Ride Gourriel to Playoffs

Yulieski Gourriel is back and the Bay Stars hope to ride his hot bat to the playoffs. He has seven hits in his last nine at bats to raise his average to .370. Yesterday he hit a homerun in the eighth, his eighth of the year to tie the game against the Yomiuri Giants and slashed a single to extend a rally in the ninth to fuel the Bay Stars 5-4 win. Masayuki Kuwahara eventually came through with the walkoff single.

The Giants Itaru Hasimoto had a rough time from the leadoff spot, striking out all five times he came to the plate. Gourriel’s counterpart for the Giants, Frederich Cepeda has been relegated to ni-gun duties because of his inability to hit Japanese pitching.

The Bay Stars are still nine games out of first place and need to gain seven games on the third place Hanshin Tigers to reach the playoffs. It is interesting to note the only team in the Central Division to score more runs than they have given up is the Hanshin Tigers. Even though the Yomiuri Giants are in first place with a 63-50-1 record, they have only scored 457 runs while giving up 462.

The two dominant teams reside in the Pacific League. The Softbank Hawks and Orix Buffaloes are the top two teams battling for the top spot. The Hawks have a one and a half game lead over the Buffaloes. Both teams are 1-2 in pitching while the Hawks .286 average is tops in the league.

In the race for the batting championship in the Pacific League Yoshio Itoi of the Buffaloes is at the top spot with a .326 average. Five Hawk players are in the second through sixth spot with averages from .300 to .316. No other team in the Pacific League has a hitter with a .300 average who qualifies for the batting title.

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