Fighters Even Series with Homer Barrage

October 17th, 2014

The Nippon Ham Fighters clubbed the Softbank Hawks 12-4 blasting four homeruns, two of them by Dai-Kang Yang. Mitsuo Yoshikawa was the benificiary of all that power, getting the win after going six innings.

Yang started the homer barrage in the first inning with a two out solo shot. Two singles later and Eiichi Koyana smoked a three run shot to give the Figthers an early 4-0 lead. Both homers were off Tadashi Settsu.

Yang would victimize Settsu again in the second inning blasting a three run shot to give the Fighters a 7-1 lead. Again the rally was started after Settsu had retired the first two hitters. The inning was extended after an error by Hawk catcher Toru Hosokawa preceded the Yang blast. Settsu retired the last batter in the second but did not come out for the third inning.

The Hawks had their opportunity to do damage in the bottom of the first. They accumulated four hits but could only score one run. Yuki Yoshimura grounded to third with the bases loaded. The Hawks would get two more hits in the second, but that failed to produce a run. Six hits in two innings and only one run.

Seiichi Uchikawa showed the Hawks were more than singles by hitting a two run homer in the fifth. The Hawks had scored a run in the top of the inning on an RBI single by Kensuke Kondo for their eighth run. The two run shot by Uchikawa only closed the gap to 8-3.

The Fighters widened the gap in the sixth, Yang driving in his fifth run of the game with an RBI single and Sho Nakata clubbing a three run homer to make it 12 -3. For Nakata it was the fourth straight Climax Series game in which he has homered.

The Fighters did not get another hit after the Nakata blast. They rested. The Hawks bunched together four more hits in the ninth but could only score one run. Akira Nakamura flied to left with the bases loaded to end the game. The Hawks out hit the Fighters 14 to 12 but the Fighters were able to take greater advantage of their baserunners with two three run homers.

There were 31,000 to attend the game, short of a sellout, but more than the opener. The Hawks averaged 34,000 plus during the regular season, more than the number attending the Climax Series. Perhaps Hawk fans are discouraged by the higher prices often associated with post season ticket sales.

Tigers One Win Away from Japan Series

October 17th, 2014

The Hanshin Tigers won their third straight Climax Series game against the Yomuiri Giants, this one 4-2. Randy Messenger got the start and went five innings. He gave up a Shinnosuke Abe RBI single in the first and a solo shot to Yoshiyuki Kamei in the third, but he was not in long enough to get the win. That went to Yuya Ando.

Down 2-0 the Tigers struck back against Giant starter Toshiya Sugiuchi for two in the sixth. Mauro Gomez drove in the first of his three runs with an RBI single. Matt Murton chased Sugiuchi with a single and Kosuke Fukudome tied the game at 2-2 with a RBI double off Kentaro Nishimura.

Mauro Gomez broke the 2-2 tie in the seventh with a two run single. Tsuyoshi Nishioka started the inning with a single and Takashi Toritani advanced him to third with a double.

The Tigers turned to Seung-Hwan Oh to pick up his third save of the series, striking out two of the three hitters he faced.

The Giants are now down three games to one. If the Tigers win one more game it will be their first Japan Series appearance since 2005. The Giants played last year against Masahiro Tanaka and the Rakuten Eagles.

Ishikawa Walkoff Lifts Giants to World Series

October 17th, 2014

Short series can create unexpected heros. It can also create goats. Travis Ishikawa was a little of both in the Giants 6-3 win yesterday. He misjudged a fly ball early in the game to give the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead. With the score tied 3-3 he made amends for that play by hitting a 3-run walkoff homerun to give the Giants a 4-1 series win in the National League Championship series. Travis Ishikawa was playing left field only because of an injury to Michael Morse.

The Cardinals had an opportunity to score one more run in that third inning after the misjudged Ishikawa fly ball. With runners on second and third and one out Matt Holiday lifted a shallow fly to center not deep enough to score Matt Carpenter from third. Jhonny Peralta lined to left for the third out.

The Giants struck back with a rookie who was a Nationals killer in their short series. Joe Panik hit a two run homer to right to give the Giants a 2-1 lead. With Madison Bumgarner on the mound Giant fans hoped it was enough. It wasn’t.

In the top of the fourth Matt Adams and Tony Cruz hit solo shots two outs from each other. It gave the Cardinals a 3-2 lead. Bumgarner would not allow another hit after the Cruz homer, retiring 13 Cardinals in a row before being lifted for a pinch hitter.

The injured Michael Morse finally had an opportunity to influence the game in the eighth inning when he pinch hit for Madison Bumgarner. Pat Neshek had replaced Adam Wainwright on the mound. Morse took Neshek deep over the left field fence to tie the game at 3-3.

The Cardinals loaded the bases in the top of the ninth off Santiago Casilla. Oscar Taveras hit for Peter Bourjos. Bruce Bochy countered with Jeremy Affeldt. This was a matchup of rookie phenom versus veteran lefthanded pitching specialist. Affeldt won the battle getting Taveras to ground back to the mound to spoil the rally. The Cardinals would not get another opportunity.

Michael Wacha came in to pitch the ninth, having not pitched in twenty days. He gave up a single to Pablo Sandoval and issued a one out walk to Brandon Belt. That brought up Ishikawa to do his magic. Another battle between a phenom prospect versus a journeyman player who had been released by the Giants earlier in the year. The journeyman won, becoming a hero for the day with his 400 foot shot to right field. The hot shot prospect will probably have to wait at least another year to get his opportunity again. It was the first homerun ever hit to end a National League championship series.

This is a World Series matchup of wild card winners, the first time two World Series opponents have faced each other where both teams have less than 90 wins. It is also the first time the Royals are playing the Giants in a World Series matchup. They have played 12 times since interleague play began with Kansas City winning nine of the 12. The Royals swept the Giants in three interleague games this year.

The Philadelphia Athletics, who became the Kansas City Athletics played the New York Giants, who became the San Francisco Giants back in 1911 and 1905. Those Kansas City Athletics then moved to Oakland. The Kansas City Royals were an expansion franchise in 1969 that has appeared in only two World Series, one in 1980 against the Philadelphia Phillies and the other in 1985 against the St.Louis Cardinals. The Royals were World Series winners in 1985.

Madison Bumgarner was voted the MVP of the championship series. For Michael Wacha, this is the second straight playoff elimination game in which he has been the losing pitcher. Last year he lost to the Red Sox in game six of the World Series. There is always next year.

ESPN.com gets credit for most of the statisitical information.

AFL Update

October 17th, 2014

Myworld will try to provide an update of the various winter leagues that are being played in multiple countries. This is the time when prospects can show whether they are ready for the major leagues or journeyman can find a new pitch or eliminate that hitch in their swing to become a different ballplayer. Our first look is the heavily laden prospect league, the Arizona Fall League.

East

Salt Lake Rafters (6-2)

Eddie Rosario is hitting .444 with four stolen bases in five attempts. He has only one extra base hit, a double to go with 11 singles and has yet to walk in 27 at bats. Peter O’Brien has a 1.028 OPS because of his three homeruns and his 9 to 6 walk to whiff ratio. His six RBIs lead the team. Despite a .182 batting average his 9 walks put his OPS at .438. Bryon Buxton was the top prospect in baseball last year but could not stay healthy. With the Rafters he has played in six of the eight games hitting .280 with only one extra base hit (.320 slugging).

Marc Appel has looked pretty good on the mound in his two starts. He has yet to allow a run in his seven innings of work, giving up just two hits and walking three with eight whiffs. His WHIP is 0.71. On the other end of the spectrum is Archie Bradley, who in two starts has a 7.20 ERA. He has given up nine hits in just five innings of work for an opposition average of .375. The team has four saves, one each shared by four players. Jake Reed has one save and was voted the first pitcher of the week as a result of his three appearances and five shutout innings. Jake is second on the team to Appel in strikeouts with seven.

Scottsdale Scorpions (5-4)

Greg Bird put together a two homerun day to give him three for the season. There is a lot of swing and miss with his bat (10) but he is hitting .394 with a 1.202 OPS. Six of his 13 hits have gone for extra bases. Roman Quinn has proven to be a terror on the bases with six stolen bases in seven attempts. A four hit day upped his average to .300. The Giants recent Cuban signing Danny Carbonell has gotten off to a slow start (.200) but he has gone deep once.

Tyler Glasnow has shown he is still a bit wild with four walks in his three plus innings in two starts. He has limited the opposition to just one run to keep his ERA respectable (2.45). Nefi Ogando is proving formidable in the bullpen with one save and two wins in four appearances. He has a 1.93 ERA and 0.86 WHIP.

Mesa Solar Sox (2-5)

Matt Olson has clobbered three homeruns but it has only resulted in four RBIs. Add a double to his ledger and all four of his hits have gone for extra bases for a .235 average. Dalton Pompey is a multi tooled athlete hitting .260 with four stolen bases in five attempts. Boog Powell has a name that makes you think of RBIs and he leads the Solar Sox with six, with two homeruns and a .353 average.

C.J. Edwards is making progress towards the starting rotation for the Cubs with his 1.80 ERA in two starts. His numbers are still pedestrian with four hits and four whiffs in five innings of work. A Cuban Cub signing Gerardo Concepcion has proven to be a disappointment since his debut in 2012. In two relief appearances his ERA sits at 15.00 with five runs given up in just three innings of work. He has walked four and given up four hits.

West

Surprise Saguaros (5-4)

Patrick Kivlehan is their homerun leader with three. He is batting .292 with a .414 OBA to put his OPS at a team leading 1.164. The first AFL player of the week is RBI leader (9) Jesse Winker. He is hitting .350 with one homerun. Rusney Castillo has scored eight runs with his .360 batting average but both numbers are second on the team to Kyle Waldrop who has crossed the plate nine times with a .429 average. Kyle has yet to walk but he has two doubles, a triple and a homerun to go with his 12 hits.

Taijuan Walker has struck out 11 in his nine innings of work in two starts. His ERA sits at 2.00. He will be competing for a rotation spot with the Mariners in spring training next year. Burch Smith got toasted for five runs in less than an inning to sky rocket his ERA to 20.25 after three appearances.

Glendale Desert Dogs (3-3-1)

Tim Anderson (.360) and Steven Moya (.308) each have three stolen bases in three attempts. Anderson is a shortstop who needs to improve on his 0/9 walk to whiff ratio. Moya could be starting in right field for the Tigers with the retirement of Torii Hunter. He leads the team with seven RBIs. Corey Seager has four doubles and a triple among his seven hits. He is hitting .259 with 10 whiffs in the seven games he has played.

Chris Bassitt has been limited to three relief appearances but he leads the team in strikeouts with 10. Chris has a 1.29 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP. Robbie Ray struggled in his major league debut in 2014 but in two AFL starts he has yet to give up a run. He has struck out seven in his five innings of work, allowing just two hits.

Peoria Javelinas (2-5-1)

Francisco Lindor has a shortstop opening if he can show he is ready to hit. In seven games he is hitting .290 with one homerun. Two slow starters are Hunter Dozier (.179) and Bubba Starling (.167). Each of the prospects has 10 strikeouts.

Sam Tuivailale can hit triple digits with his fastball but struggles with his command. In three relief appearances he has yet to walk a batter in his three innings of work. Kyle Zimmer leads all AFL pitchers in strikeouts with 14. In two starts he has a 3.12 ERA.

Fighters Knock off Hawks

October 16th, 2014

The Nippon Ham Fighters used six different pitchers, none lasting more than four innings to beat the Softbank Hawks 5-1. Seiichi Uchikawa hit a homerun in the opening frame for the Hawks only run. A two out error by the usual smooth fielding shortstop Kenta Imamiya allowed the tying and go ahead runs to score and extended the inning for a two run homerun from Sho Nakata to make the score 4-1. Nakata has now homered in three straight games. He drove in the final run in the eighth on an RBI double.

The Hawks still lead the series two games to one.

Tigers Win Second Against Giants

October 16th, 2014

While the San Francisco Giants are winning at home, across the Pacific Ocean the Yomiuri Giants are struggling. They lost their second game to the Hanshin Tigers 5-2 in front of 44,728 to fall behind in their series two games to one. The nice thing about their championship series is all their games are at home.

Takashi Toritani drove in two runs with two RBI singles and Matt Murton drove in two with an RBI single to lead the Tiger offense. Staked to an early 5-0 lead Minoru Iwata pitched six shutout innings before giving up a two run homer in the seventh to Hirokazu Ibata to make it 5-2. Seung-Hwan Oh closed out the ninth inning to pick up his third save in the post season, his second in this series.

Hirokazu Sawamura was the losing pitcher for the Giants, failing to last five innings of work before giving up four runs. He was ejected in the fifth inning for throwing a dangerous pitch.

Giants One Win from Series

October 16th, 2014

The Giants seem to shine in even numbered years, winning World Series in 2010 and 2012. They are one win away from appearing in the World Series in 2014 to extend that streak. Buster Posey drove in three runs, including an RBI single to close out a three run sixth that gave the Giants a 6-4 win over the Cardinals. The Giants took advantage of two poor fielding plays by Matt Adams to score the tying and go ahead runs.

Both teams traded runs in the first three innings. Only the Giants failure to score in the bottom of the second was the lone bagel of the first three frames. Matt Adams single in the top of the first drove in Matt Carpenter to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. A Buster Posey sacrifice fly in the bottom frame tied the game. Both teams were prevented from scoring more runs by double play ground outs.

Kolton Wong doubled to start the second inning. A.J. Pierzynski drove him in with a single to give the Cardinals the lead again. The Giants failed to respond in the bottom frame.

Jhonny Peralta grounded into his second double play of the game, scoring one run but eliminating runners from the base paths. Kolton Wong struck again with a deep drive over the right field fence for a 4-1 lead. He has seven hits in this championship match, all for extra bases. This time the Giants answered back with two of their own on Buster Posey and Hunter Pence RBI singles.

The Giants bullpen would come on to pitch the fourth. Yusmeiro Petit set the stage by striking out the side in the fourth. He would work three innings and not allow a runner to advance past first base. It took five other relievers to complete the last three innings. They bent but did not break, holding the Cardinals scoreless to complete the victory.

The sixth inning got started with a Juan Perez pinch hit walk and single by Brandon Crawford. Matt Duffy advanced them with a sacrifice. Gregor Blanco grounded a ball to Matt Adams at first, who chose to go home but was too late in getting Perez. Another ground ball to Adams and his attempt to turn a 3-6 double play failed when his throw to second was wide allowing Crawford to score from second.

The two aces Madison Bumgarner will go against Adam Wainwright today.

Royals Complete the Sweep of O’s

October 16th, 2014

Fifteen of the 25 players on the Royals active roster were not even born the last time the Kansas City Royals played in a World Series. The trade of Will Myers to the Rays for James Shields and Wade Davis has provided dividends for the Royals. James Shields has turned into their ace while Davis acts as the primary setup man to Greg Holland. Shields will be a free agent after this year, but it won’t prevent him from celebrating a World Series appearance. The Royals swept the Orioles with a 2-1 win and now await their next opponent for a World Series matchup. Wade Davis pitched a perfect inning of relief, something he has shown he is quite capable of doing all year.

Sabremetricians, the gurus in all things baseball, loath the bunt. They preach that managers should not give away outs. Ned Yost loves the bunt. He had his number three hitter Lorenzo Cain, later voted the MVP of the playoffs bunt in the first inning to move the runners up a base. They both scored on a Eric Hosmer ground out. The second run scored on an error by Caleb Joseph, allowing the ball to skip past him to score Aoki with the second run.

That was all the runs Jason Vargas needed. He gave up a homerun to Ryan Flaherty in the third to close the lead to 2-1. Vargas worked until one out in the fifth inning before turning it to the bullpen. Three different relievers combined to pitch the last two and two/thirds innings to get win and advance to the World Series.

The Royals are now on a 11 game post season winning streak. They have to wait six days to celebrate before refocusing and work on extending that streak.

Jose Fernandez Departs Cuba

October 15th, 2014

Jose Fernandez started the season with 65 at bats for the Matanzas Crocodiles this year. He hit one homerun and struck out just once in this young season, walking eight times and batting .315. Any salary paid to the 26 year old will not count against a team’s international salary cap, but he will probably not be available to play until closer to the 2016 season, having to clear a number of hurdles to achieve eligibility. This could mean he would need a half season of minor league play to shake off the rust.

He is not considered a strong defensive player or a stolen base threat, so if he is to make an impact with a major league club he will need to do it with his bat. In the World Baseball Classic in 2013 he hit a team high .524 with no strikeouts in 21 at bats. In 2014 Fernandez was voted to the Nacional Series all star team with a .326 average and five homeruns. He makes contact and is more a gap to gap hitter than an over the fence basher.

Reed and Winker Win AFL of Week Honors

October 15th, 2014

The Twins Jake Reed was voted the pitcher of the week after the first week of AFL play. Reed was a 2014 number five pick who dominated in his short stint in the minor leagues, finishing with a 0.29 ERA after 20 appearances. This earned him a spot on the AFL team. He has proved he is ready for this assignment, allowing his mid 90s fastball to pick up one win and one save in three innings of shutout relief. Other pitchers who were considered for pitcher of the week were Jayson Aquino (Rockies), Tyler Jenkins (Cardinals), Chris Bassitt (White Sox) and Parker Bridwell (Orioles).

The offensive player of the week was announced as Reds outfielder Jesse Winker. The lefthanded hitter batted .455 with a homerun, two doubles and a league leading seven RBIs. Jesse leads the league in slugging with a .909 and OPS with a 1.472. During the minor league season Winker hit .287 with 15 homeruns. At 6′3″ he is a big guy who may be limited to left field so he needs to continue to show power to be effective. Other players considered for the award included Greg Bird (Yankees), Francisco Lindor (Indians), Peter O’Brien (Diamondbacks) and Kyle Waldrop (Reds).