VandenHurk Defines Winning with 13 Straight in Japan

Rick Vandenhurk has had an interesting career. Born in Eindhoven, Netherlands, he was signed by the then Florida Marlins to an international contract in 2002. When the Marlins promoted him to their major league club in 2007 he was the youngest player in the National league. Who would have thought three championships find his future after a failed major league career.

Unfortunately, his years with the Marlins were filled with high ERAs and inflated batting averages. They traded him to the Baltimore Orioles in 2010 where his fortunes were not much better. After the Orioles released him he bounced around with a couple more major league teams before finally returning to Europe after the 2012 season.

The Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) took an interest in him. They signed him to a contract in 2013 and after a vanilla first season Vandenhurk shined in the 2014 season, leading the league in ERA (3.18) and strikeouts (180). The Lions won the championship in the two seasons Vandenhurk pitched for them.

The Softbank Hawks in Japan were looking for a pitcher to insert into their rotation. They signed him to a contract for the 2015 season and he has not lost a game since. The 13 game winning streak has tied two Japanese records, 1) for most wins to start a career set by Tsueno Horiuchi set in 1966 and 2) the most consecutive wins by a foreign pitcher set by Tai-Yuan Kuo in 1987-1988. He is still a long way from the record established by Masahiro Tanaka of 28 consecutive wins.

Vandenhurk also pitched a little winter league ball in Puerto Rico in 2009. He hopes all that international exposure gives him a return engagement to the major leagues sometime in the future. That is if the Softbank Hawks don’t convince him to stick around for just a bit longer as he pitches them to another NPB championship. That’s right. The Softbank Hawks won the NPB championship his first year with the team. Now if that is not a motivator for some major league team, three straight Asian championships with a fourth in sight. Who does not love a winner. What happened to the Samsung Lions after Vandenhurk left. They lost to the Doosan Bears ending their run of four straight championships.

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