Curacao Neptunus Wins Sixth Straight Netherlands Title

October 8th, 2018

For the sixth straight season Curacao Neptunus has won the Dutch Hoofdklasse, defeating L&D Amsterdam in a best of seven series four games to two. L&D had won the first two at their park. Curacao swept them in three at home and then beat them in the final on the road 3-0.

Both Elton Koeiman (Curacao) and Kyle Ward (l&D) engaged in a pitcher’s duel, Koeiman going six scoreless innings before he was replaced by Kevin Kelly and Ward pitching seven scoreless innings before a dropped fly ball opened the flood gates for Curacao, allowing them to score three unearned runs.

The eighth inning began with an error by the L&D third baseman. A single and walk loaded the bases with two outs. A high fly ball into right field was then dropped allowing all three runners on base to score. Kelly shut down the L&D offense for the last to innings to keep the shutout and secure the win and championship for Curacao.

Verdugo Tosses First Perfect Game in CPBL

October 7th, 2018

When we reported on the no hitter thrown by Elih Villanueva last week we stated that it was the ninth no hitter thrown in the CPBL. Of those nine no hitters none of them were perfect games. That changed with the perfect game no hitter thrown by the Uni Lions Ryan Verdugo yesterday. He only faced 27 Brothers, striking out eight of them.

To win a no hitter your team has to score runs. That didn’t happen until Kuo Fu-Lin hit a walk off homer in the bottom of the ninth to give the Lions a 1-0 win over the Brothers.

The Lions will face the Fubon Guardians in a playoff match with the winner playing the La Miga Monkeys, who won both halves of the CPBL to get a 1-0 advantage in the best of seven series.

Sanchez Leads Yankees; Astros Dominate Indians

October 7th, 2018

Only two games today. Hard to find obscure players who made an impact in the games from yesterday.

Gary Sanchez has struggled with his 2018 season. The homeruns have come (18) but the batting average has suffered (.186). He has also been limited to just 89 games because of injury. Last year he slugged 33 homeruns while hitting .278 in his sophomore season.

Last night Sanchez looked more like the 2017 version than the 2.0 of 2018. He hit a solo homerun in the second and a three run job in the seventh to lead the Yankees to a 6-2 win over the Red Sox. The Yankees seem to have David Price number and last night he did not survive past the second inning. He also gave up a solo homerun to Aaron Judge in the first inning. For Gary Sanchez his homerun off Price was his sixth off him in just 14 career at bats. Talk about owning a pitcher.

While Price wilted, falling to 2-9 with a 5.28 ERA in playoff games, Masahiro Tanaka looked strong. He allowed just one Red Sox run in his five innings of work, a Xander Boegarts solo shot in the fourth. Tanaka was a big game pitcher in the playoffs in Japan and he is proving that in the United States, going 3-2 with a 1.50 ERA in five starts.

The win evens up the series between the Yankees and the Red Sox at one game apiece.

Marwin Gonzalez was originally a Chicago Cub. He was picked up by the Red Sox on waivers in 2011 and then traded to the Astros for Marco Antonio Duarte. The utility player who is actually a starter, it just depends on what position he plays that day, went a perfect 4 for 4 playing left field to lead the Astros over the Indians 3-1. It was Gonzalez two run double in the sixth inning that gave the Astros a 2-1 lead.

Gerritt Cole, who was originally drafted by the Yankees as a first round pick, but failed to sign, dominated the Indians with 12 whiffs in seven innings. Francisco Lindor blasted a homerun off him in third inning for the only blemish in his game.

The Astros now lead their series against the Indians two games to zero.

Unsung Heroes in this Foursome of Playoff Games

October 6th, 2018

Myworld continues to look at some of the unsung heroes in these playoff games. Those players who were not really expected to contribute, especially when you looked at their career path before the 2018 season started.

Houston Astros 7 Cleveland Indians 2

The usual suspects in George Springer, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve went deep in the Astros win. An unusual suspect also went deep in Martin Maldonado, a seventh inning shot that turned the momentum on the Indians. The Indians had scored two in the sixth to cut the lead to 4-2 but Maldonado’s solo shot in the seventh tamed their celebratory mood. Prior to the season Maldonado was an Angel. The Astros acquired him after an injury to Brian McCann. They liked his defense. Yesterday they liked his offense as well. To many Astro fans he has become an angel.

Justin Verlander did not allow a hit through the first five innings. When he got in trouble in the sixth, giving up two runs the Astros called on Ryan Pressly, not a usual choice in the Astros pen. Pressly also started his 2018 season with another team (the Minnesota Twins) stitching together an ERA north of 3 in his six years with Minnesota. Since being acquired from the Twins Pressly has appeared in 26 games with the Astros, limiting the opposition to a 0.77 ERA and a .136 opposition average. He retired all five hitters he faced, striking out Edwin Encarnacion to end the inning, though he did allow both inherited runners to score on a wild pitch and a ground out.

Boston Red Sox 5 New York Yankees 4

J.D. Martinez slugged a three run homer for the Red Sox. There were no unsung heroes unless you want to tout the defensive play of Sandy Leon behind the plate, stopping many balls from crashing into the back stop.

Milwaukee Brewers 4 Colorado Rockies 0

The Brewers went up 2-0 on the Rockies. The pitching staff shut down the Rockies offense, but it was the usual suspects quieting the bats. For the Brewers it was their tenth straight win.

Myworld has to go to our third catcher named as an unsung hero, the 38 year old Erik Kratz, who was appearing in his first playoff game in his career, a career that has always found him as the back up catcher for the seven or so major league teams he has played for since 2010. He started this year as the back up catcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, hitting only .236 during the regular season, which was above his .211 career average. Yesterday, besides calling a good game that did not allow the Rockies a run, he also got a clutch hit in the eighth inning, a two run single that turned a 2-0 game into a 4-0 game. It has been since 1905 when a position player older than Erik Kratz started his first playoff game, that player being the equally non-descript Lave Cross, a third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Asked if that was the biggest hit of his career Kratz remarked that he did hit a homerun in a AAA playoff game. Come on Erik. I’d take a two run single in a major league playoff game over a homerun in AAA.

Los Angeles Dodgers 3 Atlanta Braves 0

The Braves bats have certainly had a power outage. After being shutout by Ryu the day before they were also shutout by Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw pitched 8 innings of shutout ball, striking out three. Manny Machado swatted a two run homer in the first and Yasmani Grandal hit a solo shot in the fifth. This game was absent unsung heroes, but in the playoffs Kershaw has always struggled. Coming into this playoff game his playoff ERA sat at 4.35. The eight shutout innings lowered his ERA to 4.05. That still falls far short of his career regular season ERA of 2.39.

La Miga Monkeys Win Second Half

October 5th, 2018

For the second consecutive year the La Miga Monkeys have won both halves of the season. It is the first time in CPBL history that a team has won consecutive half-season titles, giving them a 1-0 advantage when the Taiwan Series begins. It also opens up a semi-final five game series between the Uni Lions and the Fubon Guardians, with the winner playing the La Miga Monkeys in a seven game series down 1-0.

Ryu Leads Dodgers to Game One Playoff Win; Two Rookies Shine for Brewers

October 5th, 2018

If you had to choose between Clayton Kershaw or Hyun-Jin Ryu for your opening day playoff pitcher which one would you choose? Most would say Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers chose Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Ryu has been having a solid year with a 1.97 ERA, which would get him Cy Young consideration if he had more than 15 starts. Ryu has had difficulty staying healthy this year with a three month battle with a groin issue. After coming over from Korea in 2013 he pitched two good seasons for the Dodgers. He missed all of 2015 and all except for one start of the 2016 season because of a shoulder injury that required surgery. In 2017 he got 24 starts but they were rather blah starts, failing to get him on the Dodgers post season roster. He was always a big game pitcher in Korea so the Dodgers chose him to start game one against the Braves.

All Ryu did was pitch seven innings of shutout ball, giving up four hits and striking out eight while walking none, proving his big game exploits are not just limited to Korea. The Braves had no chance against Ryu. Next they will have to deal with Kershaw.

Another unsung hero was Max Muncy. Last year everyone’s surprise team for making the playoffs the Oakland Athletics released Max Muncy. They had too many corner infielders and did not have enough room for him on their roster. He had played for them a little bit in 2015 and 2016 but struggled to stay above the Mendoza line, failing to get his OPS above .600. He did not play in the major leagues in 2017 spending all his time in the minor leagues.

The Dodgers picked him up even though they had rookie of the year Cody Bellinger to play first base. By mid-season Muncy had won the starting first base job, his 35 homeruns almost equaling that of Bellinger last year (39). The Dodgers decided to make an outfielder out of Bellinger, giving the first base job to Muncy.

He made that look good last night with a three run homer off Mike Foltynewicz to give the Dodgers an early 4-0 lead. It was his first official post season at bat. He had walked in the first inning in his first post season at bat. With Ryu tossing zeroes the Dodgers were the easy winner 7-0 in the opener and Ryu and Muncy share the spotlight of unsung heroes becoming heroes in these playoff rounds.

The Milwaukee Brewers had a couple rookies become unsung heroes in these playoff games. Rookie Brandon Woodruff, the Brewers top pitching prospect entering the 2018 season was given the opportunity to start the opening playoff game against the Rockies. This despite the fact he had only made four major league starts during the regular season. Most of his appearances had come in relief.

He almost pitched a perfect three innings against the Rockies. He walked one, but that was okay because that runner was caught trying to steal second base.

He was followed by another rookie prospect Corbin Burnes. He had made 30 relief appearances during the regular season, vulturing a 7-0 record during those 30 games. He pitched two shutout innings, striking out two and giving up one hit. Unfortunately, he could not vulture another win after being given a 2-0 lead on a Christian Yelich two run homer in the third because Brewer closer Jeremy Jeffress coughed up the lead in the ninth.

No worries. In the 10th the Brewers got a walk from Christian Yelich and a walk off single from Mike Moustakas, who was a Kansas City Royal at the start of the season, to win the game 3-2.

Yankees the First Wild Card Winner

October 4th, 2018

The Yankees do not have a lot of non-descript players to become heroes in a playoff series. They have a lineup filled with sluggers. Those sluggers proved crucial in their 7-2 win over the Oakland Athletics in the one game wild card playoff series. However, there was a moment where a non-descript player had an opportunity to be a hero in a playoff series.

Aaron Judge started things off with a two run homer in the first inning. Giancarlo Stanton hit one of the hardest homeruns ever in playoff history, if you take into account exit velocity with his solo shot in the eighth. But if you want to accept the notion of unsung heroes winning playoff games, prior to the Stanton homer the newest Yankee Luke Voit sealed the win with a shot off the top of the fence that scored two off Athletic superstar closer Blake Treinen, who was brought in early to try to stop a Yankee rally. For Voit, he finished the hit standing on third for his first career triple, the kind of thing an unsung hero only does in a playoff game.

The Yankees did not limit their power to just hitting. Luis Severino threw gas with his mid-90s to high 90s fastball to tame the Athletics bats. He struck out Marcus Semien with the bases loaded and two outs to put out the flames of any Athletic come back. His wildness with four walks in four innings led to an early departure in the fifth inning where Dellin Betances pitched two perfect innings to extend the shutout. Last year Betances was mainly a spectator in the playoffs because he had trouble finding the plate.

Khris “with a K” Davis spoiled the shutout with a two run homer off Zach Britton in the eighth.

The Judge homer had an exit velocity of 116.1 miles per hour, making it the hardest homerun hit in the playoffs since exit velocity was measured. That only lasted until the eighth inning when Stanton smacked one that travelled 117.4 miles per hour.

Now it is on to Boston for a big series against the Red Sox. A Yankee/Red Sox series is one of the most intense in all of sports.

Playoff Baseball - Time for the Non Superstars to Shine

October 3rd, 2018

Expect the unexpected. When playoff baseball begins it is usually the non-superstar that steps into the spotlight. It happened last night in a five hour 13 inning marathon that saw the Rockies pull out the win over the Cubs 2-1.

Kyle Freeland pitched well for the Rockies. He did not give up a run in his 6.2 innings. Jon Lester matched him for the Cubs, allowing one run in his six innings. The first two RBIs of the game were driven in by Nolan Arenado for the Rockies and Javier Baez for the Cubs. All the mentioned players are having solid years and would be expected to contribute in the playoffs.

And then the game went into extra innings. It lasted an hour past midnight before Tony Wolters, who came into the game with a .170 batting average, delivered on a go ahead two out RBI single to give the Rockies a 2-1 lead. The Rockies had already used Wade Davis in the game, so they had to call on Scott Oberg to save the game. He had struck out the one batter he faced to end the 12th inning, living up to his vulture reputation where he was 8-1 during the regular season. He proceeded to strike out all three batters he faced in the 13th inning. Take that Wade Davis.

The Rockies have been in three cities in three days to play three games. They now get a day off before travelling to their fourth city to play the Milwaukee Brewers in a semi-final NL championship game.

Lions to Post Kikuchi

October 2nd, 2018

The Siebu Lions have agreed to post Yusei Kikuchi to the major leagues next year. He becomes a free agent in Japan after the 2019 season. Kikuchi does not have the stuff of Shohei Ohtani or even Masahiro Tanaka. He is more representative of Hisashi Iwakuma, a smallish righthander who sits in the low 90s but can hit the mid-90s with his fastball.

Kikuchi had a season for the ages in 2017, going 16-6 with a 1.97 ERA. He struck out 217 batters and gave up just 122 hits in 187.2 innings. This year he is not so dominant (14-4, 3.08, 153 K’s and 124 hits in 163.2 innings). Reports say his slider is not as effective as it was in 2017.

At 6′0″ he is a small righthander and durability comes into question. Japanese pitchers are used to pitching every sixth day so they have one more day of rest than pitchers in the major leagues. This extra work could slow down the fastball.

Like Ohtani Kikuch wanted to avoid the Japanese draft so he could play in the major leagues right away. Players who choose to bypass the Japanese draft are prevented from returning to Japan to play in the NPB for three years. Signing with a Japanese team binds a player to that club for nine years.

Elih Villanueva Throws No Hitter in Taiwan

September 30th, 2018

Elih Villanueva tossed a no hitter in the Brothers Baseball Club’s 1-0 win over last year’s champions, the La Miga Monkeys. He struck out ten, walked one and hit a batter. It is the ninth no hitter in CPBL history, none of them perfect games.

It was the second no hitter for the Brothers this year. Back in June Nick Addition threw a no hitter against the President Lions despite walking six hitters. The Brothers supported Addition with 11 runs. Catcher Huang Chen-Sheng caught both games to become the first catcher in CPBL history to catch two no hitters.

The Brothers scored their only run in the first inning off Zeke Spruil when he walked Chou Su-Chi with the bases loaded. It was the first CPBL loss for Spruil.

The other no hitters:

July 19, 1991 - Yang Jie-Ren for the Wei Chuan Dragon over the Tigers.

May 21, 1992 - Ravelo Manzanillo for the Brother Elephants over the Dragons

May 8, 1997 - Mark Kiefer for the Sinon Bulls over the Tigers.

March 1, 1998 - Alvin Brown for the Sinon Bulls over the Elephants

May 13, 1999 - Tsao Chun-Yang for the Uni Lions over the Dragons

July 10, 2008 - Pan Wei-Lun for the Uni Lions over the Whales

October 25, 2015 - Pat Misch for the LaMiga Monkeys over the Brothers

June 9 2018 - Nick Addition for the Chinatrust Brothers over the Monkeys.

None of the no hitters has been a perfect game. The above no hitter information courtesy of CPBLstats.com.