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Baseball Analysis Home   Gary Garland / the japanese insider

April 6, 2002

Saturday’s Games

Lopez Suspended After Confrontation with Maeda in 8-6 Loss to Chunichi

     Apparently unhappy that teammate Tomonori Maeda, who had been at second, held up at third instead of trying to score on singles he hit during the second and eighth innings of Saturday's game, Hiroshima first baseman Luis Lopez got into a shoving match with Maeda behind the team bench and Carp manager Koji Yamamoto decided to suspend Lopez for ten days after the game for interfering with the harmony of the team. The suspension hurts the Carp offense, as Lopez is hitting .417 and with runners in scoring position has put up a mind boggling .833.

     Lopez, 37, is making $822,500 base salary with incentives for homers and RBIs, so it is believed that he may have thought that Maeda's hesitance to run fullout to the plate was hurting him economically. He has told the press that since he is in the final year of his contract he wants to win a Triple Crown (which hasn't been done since Randy Bass of Hanshin did it in 1985). Maeda had an Achilles tendon rupture in 1995 and had it operated on again in 2000 and has missed the better part of the last two seasons due to various injuries, so the sympathy from the fans and team management is clearly with him and not Lopez.

     According to stories in the Japanese press, Maeda, a great athlete who has Hall of Fame talent but has had various maladies hinder him from fully blossoming, making him Japan's answer to Eric Davis, has been hesitant to run at top speed for fear of hurting the tendon again. Hiroshima's management knows about Maeda's problem, but Lopez apparently thought that he was jaking it. However, it should also be said that Japanese baserunners are much more conservative than their MLB counterparts anyway, so part of this incident may be attributable to cultural difference.

     Hiroshima's front office reportedly has no intention of releasing Lopez. At his age, Lopez really has nowhere else to go, so he is pretty much at the mercy of club management. He has already expressed his apologies to club officials. but we'll have to see what this means for the rest of his career, if there is one. It could be that if Takahiro Arai breaks out big offensively and isn't too much of a defensive liability, Lopez will either be confined to a bench role or he will be released.

     Now on to the game itself. Chunichi starter Kenta Asakura did not pitch well, giving up four earned runs on 12 hits in seven innings plus. However, he was fortunate that Carp starter Hiroki Kuroda had an even worse time on the mound. Thus, the Dragons were able to get out to an early lead when Araki beat out a bleeder to third with one gone. Rightfielder Kosuke Fukudome doubled down the leftfield line. First baseman Leo Gomez then came up and drilled a three run homer into the leftfield seats and it was 3-0 visitors.

     Kuroda recovered and struckout the side in the second and Maeda's timidity may have cost his side a run in the bottom of the frame. With one out, Maeda seared a double to leftcenter. Lopez then singled to center and Maeda pulled up at third. Arai followed by whiffing. Catcher Shuji Nishiyama walked to load the bases. The pitcher's spot was next and Kuroda fanned to strand everybody.

     In the top of the third and with two away, Gomez singled to left. Third baseman Kazuyoshi Tatsunami legged out a ball toward short, but in endeavoring to get Tatsunami, Carp shortstop Akihiro Higashide threw the ball away and Gomez came around to score and it was 4-0 Chunichi.

     An inning later, Dragons catcher Motonobu Tanishige unloaded his first homer of the year to the big part of the yard to make it 5-0.

     The Dragons went back on the attack in the fifth, second baseman Masahiro Araki singling to center to lead it off. Fukudome did likewise. Gomez lined out to third. Hiroshima manager Koji Yamamoto then went to the bullpen and brought in Tsuyoshi Kikuchihara. Tatsunami grounded to third, where it was booted by Arai to load the bases. Out went Kikuchihara and in walked Rob Stanifer. Pinch hitter Toshio Haru singled to center to drive in both Araki and Fukudome to expand the Dragons advantage to7-0. Leftfielder Jun Inoue grounded to short, which was converted into a double play to spoil any further fun.

     In the bottom of the fifth, Yamamoto let Stanifer hit and he singled to left. Centerfielder Koichi Ogata walked. Higashide beat out a tapper toward first to pack the sacks. Second baseman Eddie Diaz grounded to his opposite number to plate Stanifer and it was 7-1 Chunichi.

     Then in the sixth, the Carp tacked another one on due to a shot to the centerfield fence by Arai for two bags and another double by pinch hitter Takuya Kimura to crawl within 7-2.

     But a miscue in the top of the seventh by Maeda enabled the Dragons to get that run back. Fukudome leadoff the stanza with a single to right that Maeda let get through him and Fukudome motored around to third. Gomez then lifted a fly ball to, ironically, Maeda and it was 8-2 Chunichi.

     In the eighth, Asakura fell apart and had to be replaced when Maeda clobbered one into the rightcenterfield gap for a double. Lopez singled to center and saw that Maeda didn't score, angering him. Dragons manager Hisashi Yamada nominated Shinichiro Koyama to take it from there. The first hitter he encountered, Arai, walked to pack the sacks. Backup catcher Kazuyoshi Kimura then bounced a shot off the leftfield wall that went for a long single and two RBIs. While Takuya Kimura and pinch hitter Shinjiro Nomura were striking out, Lopez had a fistful of Maeda's uniform top. Higashide singled to push Arai in and it was now 8-5 Chunichi.

     Hiroshima managed one more tally when Maeda's third double of the night sent in leftfielder Tomoaki Kanemoto, who had gotten on thanks to an error by Araki, but that was all and Eddie Gaillard earned the save.

     Gomez was 2-4 with four RBIs and is now at .333 for Chunichi.

Pitching Lines:


Asakura (W, 1-1)        IP 7.0 PC 123 H 12 HR 0 K 4 BB 2 R 4 ER 4 ERA 5.11
Koyama                        IP 0.0 PC   11 H  1 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 1 ER 1 ERA 5.40
Endo                             IP  .1 PC     4 H   0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 5.40
Iwase                            IP  .2 PC   14 H  1 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 2.80
Gaillard (S, 2)               IP 1.0 PC  26 H  1 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 4.50


Kuroda (L, 1-1)     IP 4.1 PC 75 H 9 HR 2 K 6 BB 0 R 7 ER 6 ERA 8.71
Kikuchihara          IP 0.0 PC  6 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 27.00
Stanifer                 IP 1.2 PC 18 H 2 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 27.00
Kobayashi           IP 2.0 PC 26 H 1 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 1 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Sakai                     IP 1.0 PC 16 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

E: T. Maeda (1), Arai (2), Higashide (1), Araki  (1)
2B: Fukudome (4), T. Maeda 3 (4), Arai (1), T. Kimura (1)
HR: Gomez (3) Tanishige (1)
RBI: Gomez 4 (6), Tanishige (1), Haru 2 (3), Higashide (3), Diaz (4), K. Kimura 2 (2), T. Kimura (1)
SF: Gomez (1)
WP: Sakai (1), Asakura (1), Gaillard (1)
GIDP: Arai, Inoue
LOB: Chunichi 4, Hiroshima 11

 Game Time: 3:30
Attendance: 9,000
Umpires: Mori (HP), Arisumi? (1B), Sasaki (2B), T. Kobayashi (3B)

Moore Spins Another Masterpiece for Seventh Consecutive Hanshin Win

     In the 66 year history of the Hanshin Tigers, they have won seven in a row coming right out of the gate only once and that was in 1938. Thanks partly to Trey Moore, they have done it again, as the ex-Atlanta Braves lefty went all the way in a 3-1 victory at Meiji Jingu Stadium in Tokyo Saturday with 45,000 on hand.

     Indeed, you would have thought it was Koshien Stadium, the Tigers homeground, rather than enemy territory judging by the tens ofthousands of Tigers faithful who made the trip east to Japan's capital to be a part of history.

     Moore allowed just three hits and a run, even forcing 2001 Central League MVP Roberto Petagine to don the golden sombrero (four strikeouts) with a steady diet of sliders. Moore was clocked at a maximum of 89mph, so he was getting them out not with velocity, but with guile. See batter's eye view of Moore in the game at:

     And just to add to the fun for Moore, he rapped out three hits in four at bats. Manager Senichi Hoshino might want to use him as an extra inning pinch hitter someday if he keeps that up. The last time a Hanshin hurler did that was in 1990, when ex-Oakland A's moundsman Matt Keough pulled that off. In the majors, Moore had been to bat 26 times and knocked out six hits, a .231 clip, considered excellent for a pitcher. His batting form isn;t exactly going to be mistaken for TedWilliams' though. See pic at:

     The Hanshin offense hasn't been all that productive overall, generating just 24 runs in its seven victories, 11 less than the Nankai Hawks in 1954, the previous club with the smallest amount of scoring over a seven game winning skein at the beginning of the season. Furthermore, the Tigers are only hitting .179 with runners in scoring position. But their pitching has been so dominant, allowing 0.97 runs per game and nine walks total including Saturday's wingding and thus the thin attack has been just good enough to carve out triumph after triumph. As a team, the Tigers already have three complete games, whereas they threw just seven in all of 2001. One thing that helps that are the low walk/HBP figures so far, compared to the 562 the staff free passed or plunked last year. Their defense has also been super, making one error so far, compared with a next to league worst 86 last season

     Alan Newman pitched solidly, surrendering two runs in five innings on six hits, and one of those tallies came about only because he was called for a balk in the third. Moore was aboard on a leadoff squibber he legged out and was then sacrificed to second. The balk was called to move him to third, from where he was plated on a single to left from third baseman Atsushi Kataoka.

     In the inning before that, Hanshin had gotten out in front when Newman hung a curve ball and catcher Akihiro Yano, who was focuing on hitting the ball back up through the middle, crushed it into the centerfield seats.

     It remained at 2-0 until the eighth, when Hanshin leftfielder Derrick White mortared a shot into the centerfield bleachers himself and it was now 3-0. See pic of his swing after making contact at:

     Moore had  a little trouble in the bottom of the ninth before closing it out. The first two hitters of the inning struckout, but catcher Atsuya Furuta singled to center. For whatever reason, despite the gimpy knee, Furuta wasn't pinch run for. Third baseman Akinori Iwamura walked. Leftfielder Alex Ramirez singled to left and White dover for it, but trapped the ball and Furuta labored around third and to home to make it 3-1. Second baseman Noriyuki Shiroishi then hammered a Moore offering, but right at White and that was the ballgame.

     It's hard to believe this is a guy who had a career MLB ERA of more than 5.00, but he's found a second life in Japan and Hanshin fans are loving it, as this pic shows:

     "His fastball was really moving," said Yakult shortstop Shinya Miyamoto. "It's hard to see the ball when he comes sidearm," revealed rightfielder Atsunori Inaba.
     By the way, the record for most consecutive wins right out of the gate is eleven, by the Nishitetsu (now Seibu) Lions in 1954 and the 1999 Chunichi Dragons, the latter managed by Hoshino.

     For Hanshin, White was 2-4 with an RBI and is now at .412. George Arias was 0-4 and is at .103.

     For Yakult, Ramirez was 2-4 with an RBI and is now at .250. Petagine is now at .259 and has struckout seven times in his last seven official at bats against Hanshin.

Pitching Lines:


Moore (W, 2-0)  IP 9.0 PC 128 H 6 HR 0 K 9 BB 3 R 1 ER 1 ERA 1.20


Newman (L, 1-1)  IP 5.0 PC 74 H 5 HR 1 K 4 BB 1 R 2 ER 2 ERA 2.45
S. Iriki                   IP 3.0 PC 36 H 4 HR 1 K 2 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 3.00
Sakamoto            IP 1.0 PC 13 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 4.50.
E: Shiroishi (1)
2B: Manaka (1)
HR: Yano (2), White (3)
RBI: Ramirez (2), Kataoka (4), White (4), Yano (3)
GIDP: Furuta
Balk: Newman (2)
LOB: Hanshin 8, Yakult 7

Game Time: 2:27
Attendance: 45,000
Umpires: Watamari? (HP), Kasahara (1B), Suginaga (2B), Watada (3B)

Pedro is the Man as Daiei Destroys Nemisis Yarnell 10-3

     Daiei Hawks hitters were not looking forward to facing Orix' Ed Yarnell Saturday at Kobe Green Stadium. Last season, the destructive Daiei order was all but suffocated by the ex-Red and Yankee to the tune of a .175 team average and were 1-3 against him.

     Well, it's a new year and the Hawks generated nine hits and seven earned runs in just short of five innings against Yarnell, who threw wild pitches in the third and fourth to inadvertantly aid the Daiei cause. Leftfielder Pedro Valdez then homered twice in the late innings off of Satoshi Tokumoto to turn what had merely been a nice lead into a near thrashing, the final score being 10-3. The Hawks have now taken all six of their games for the first time since the days of the late revered manager Kazuto Tsuruoka back in 1955, when the nine were called the Nankai Hawks.

     Before the Valdes longballs, though, the early part of the context was what Sankei Sports termed, "timely on parade' and they were spot on. With Orix in front thanks to a walk to rightfielder Ikuro Katsuragi and a triple to right from catcher Takeshi Hidaka, Daiei came up in the third and tied it. With one out, first baseman Morgan Burkhart was plunked by Yarnell, who then threw a wild pitch to put Burkhart on second. One out later, centerfielder Hiroshi Shibahara walked. Valdez spanked an RBI single to left and the inning concluded at 1-1.

     In the top of the fourth, the Hawks put a three spot up with a concentrated barrage. Third baseman Hiroki Kokubo walked to lead it off. DH Nobuhiko Matsunaka singled to center. Catcher Kenji Johjima singled to center, too and Kokubo hit the dish for a Daiei lead. Rightfielder Koji Akiyama sacrificed Matsunaka and Johjima along to second and third. Burkhart went up the middle of the diamond, too for two RBIs and it was 4-1 Hawks after four.

     Then in the fifth, they disposed of Yarnell altogether. Second baseman Tadahito Iguchi singled to right. Kokubo walked. One out later, Johjima slammed a double up the rightcenterfield gap and Iguchi was home. Akiyama singled to left to send Kokubo across and it was now 6-1 Hawks. Shortstop Yusuke Torigoe singled to left and Johjima was back in the dugout for a 7-1 Daiei lead.

     In the bottom of the seventh, Daiei starter Keisaburo Tanoue hung a changeup and Orix first baseman Fernando Seguignol went yard for the third time in three games to make it 7-2.

     A half inning later, Valdez replied with a jack to center and Daiei was in the driver's seat with an 8-2 score. Valdez then repeated the feat in the top of the ninth with Shibahara on first via a baseknock while the Blue Wave only got one of those back on a leadoff single to centerfielder Yoshitomo Tani, a walk to Seguignol, and a single to left by Katsuragi before Aikawa flied out to end it, the final 10-3.

     In losing his first six in a row at the start of the regular schedule, Orix manager Hiromichi Ishige has set a record for most consecutive season opening losses by a new field boss, breaking the previous mark of five held by three men, Hitoshi Tamaru of the 1966 Tokyo Orions (now the Chiba Lotte Marines), Shozo Doi, the man who thought Ichiro would never hit, in 1991 with Orix, and Akihito Kondo in 1993 with Yokohama.

     Kind of interesting story about Tamaru. He went right from coaching at Hosei University right into managing for one season for Tokyo. I couldn't find any info on how or why that happened since even in Japanese information seems to be rather thin about him. If anyone knows, I would appreciate knowing it.

     For Daiei, Burkhart was 1-3 with two RBI, a walk, an HBP and two strikeouts and is now at .381. Valdez was 3-6 with four RBIs and is at .385.

     For Orix, third baseman Scott Sheldon was 0-4 and is at .292. Seguignol was 1-3 with an RBI with a walk and is at .182.


Tanoue (W, 1-0) IP 9.0 PC 136 H 7 HR 1 K 4 BB 2 R 3 ER 3 ERA 2.20


Yarnell (L, 0-2)   IP 4.2 PC 114 H 9 HR 0 K 0 BB 5 R 7 ER 7 ERA 10.38
Iwashita              IP 2.1 PC  38 H H HR 0 K 4 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 2.25
Tokumoto          IP 2.0 PC  32 H 4 HR 2 K 1 BB 1 R 3 ER 3 ERA 15.43

2B: Johjima (1)
3B: Hidaka (1)
HR: Valdez 2 (4), Seguignol (3)
RBI: Valdez 4 (9), Johjima 2 (5), Akiyama (4), Burkhart 2 (8), Torigoe (1), Seguignol (5), Katsuragi (2), Hidaka (2)
WP: Yarnell 2 (2)
HBP: Burkhart (Yarnell)
LOB: Daiei 11, Orix 6

Game Time: 3:12
Attendance: 30,000

Matsui Homers Twice to Upend Bay Stars 9-5

     Yomiuri Giants starter Koji Uehara was great for eight innings Saturday at Yokohama Stadium, allowing no runs on three hits. Unfortunately, baseball is a nine inning sport and Uehara got knocked around for five runs, four earned, on five hits and a sac fly in the bottom of the fifth before getting back in the groove and stifling the Stats offense the rest of the way.

     Little that it mattered, though, as Hideki Matsui homered twice and leftfielder Takayuki Shimizu went bombs away for the first time this season, all off of three different pitchers and by the bottom of the fifth inning to help down the Yokohama Bay Stars 9-5.

     Jason Turman started for Yokohama and got the Giants out in order in the first two innings, but thanks to an error by Stars shortstop Takuto Ishii, a door was opened to a five run third for the Giants and Turman went to the showers. Yomiuri shortstop Daisuke Motoki singled to right to lead it off and catcher Shinnosuke Abe singled to right as well. Uehara hit a little groundball that Turman got a force at third on. Leftfielder Takayuki Shimizu popped to second. Second baseman Toshihisa Nishi singled to left and Abe scurried in with a 1-0 Giants lead. Rightfielder Yoshinobu Takahashi hit a ground ball to short that Ishii made a wild throw on and Abe and  Nishi were able to both make it to home on, 3-0 Giants. Centerfielder Matsui then checked in and got an 86mph fastball on the inner half of the plate and rocketed it into the rightfield seats and the inning ended with Yomiuri up 5-0.

     In the fourth, Motoki leadoff with a single to center off of reliever Masahide Yone. Two outs later, Shimizu ripped an inside fastball and just got it inside the rightfield foul pole to widen his team's advantage to 7-0.

     Then an inning later, Takahashi singled off of Masao Morinaka. Matsui stepped in again and obliterated a first pitch heater and  went stage right to make it 9-0. The Stars pitching staff has been taken deep 12 times in seven games, which would project to 240 homers over a full season, an awful pace that has to be slowed if Yokohama would like to finish in the upper part of the league this year.

     Yokohama made it at least respectable in the fifth, but they definitely shot all the bullets they had in that at bat. Second baseman Hitoshi Taneda, First baseman Takahiro Saeki and catcher Ryoji Aikawa all singled to left, the latter getting the RBI. Pinch hitter Hitoshi Nakane doubled down the leftfield line to drive in Saeki. Ishii carromed an Uehara offering off the rightfield wall to plate Aikawa and Saeki. Centerfielder Tatsuhiko Kinjo flied to center to usher in Nakane and make it 9-5 Giants.

     For Yokohama, third baseman Mike Gulan was 0-4 with two strikeouts and is now at .214. Rightfielder Boi Rodrigues was 0-4 and is now at .227.

Pitching Lines:


Uehara (W, 1-1) IP 9.0 PC 139 H 8 HR 0 K 6 BB 0 R 5 ER 4 ERA 3.71


Turman (L, 0-2)  IP 3.0 PC 68 H 4 HR 1 K 4 BB 1 R 5 ER 1 ERA 7.71
Yone                   IP 1.0 PC 18 H 2 HR 1 K 1 BB 0 R 2 ER 2 ERA 18.00
Morinaka           IP 1.0 PC 16 H 4 HR 1 K 0 BB 0 R 2 ER 2 ERA 5.40
Taniguchi          IP 3.0 PC 48 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 3.68
Takeshita           IP 1.0 PC 11 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

E: T. Ishii (2), Taneda (1), Aikawa (1)
2B: Nakane (1), T. Ishii (2)
SF:Kinjo (1)
HR: Matsui 2 (3), Shimizu (1)
RBI: Shimizu 2 (3), H. Matsui 4 (8), Nishi (3), T. Ishii (2), Kinjo (2), Aikawa (1), Nakane (2)
PB: S. Abe (2)
Catcher's Interference: Aikawa
GIDP: S. Abe
LOB: Yomiuri 5, Yokohama 3

Game Time: 3:02
Attendance: 30,000
Umpires: Manabe (HP), Honda (1B), Kamimoto (2B), Kittaka (3B)

Kazuo Matsui, Matsuzaka Combine to Slip by Nippon Ham 4-3

     Seibu Lions shortstop Kazuo Matsui leadoff Saturday's game by putting a big hurt on a first pitch fastball from Nippon Ham starter Tsutomu Iwamoto and leaving it more than 400 feet away in rightcenter for his first dinger of the season and the fifth leadoff longball of his career to help his club to a 4-3 victory at Tokyo Dome.

     Daisuke Matsuzaka started for the Lions and went 7.1 innings of three run ball on three hits, two of them leaving the yard and the other a double, while fighting off pain from a blister on the part of the inside of his thumb that connects with the palm that burst in the fifth inning. The 22 year old righthander struckout 11, walked two and hit a batter.. He was finally taken out after being victimized by a two run homer from Fighters centerfielder Tatsuya Ide.

     Following Matsui's homer, it remained 1-0 until the bottom of the second, when Nippon Ham leveled things by having DH Sherman Obando go downtown on the righthand side to make it 1-1. Leftfielder D.T. Cromer then howitzered a Matsuzaka pitch to the centerfield wall, but he was stranded  when Matsuzaka tempted third baseman Yukio Tanaka to fly out and struckout second baseman Kuniyuki Kimoto and rightfielder Toshihiro Noguchi.

     Seibu restored their one run lead in the top of the third, Matsui walked with one out, as did rightfielder Tatsuya Ozeki and DH Ken Suzuki singled to center to drive in Matsui and it was 2-1 Lions.

     Next time up, Nippon Ham starter Iwamoto made a bad choice and it perhaps cost his club the game. Seibu Third baseman Scott McClain leadoff the inning with a double to leftcenter. Centerfielder Susumu Otomo hit a ball back toward the mound that Iwamoto fielded and threw to third to try to get McClain, who snuck in under the tag. Catcher Tsutomu Itoh sent a sac fly to center to make it 3-1, While pitching to second baseman Hiroyuki Takagi, Iwamoto threw a wild pitch and Otomo moved into second. Takagi then cracked a single to right and Otomo was in at home with a 4-1 lead. Iwamoto walked Matsui and that was it for him, as manager Yasunori Oshima took the ball from him and handed it to Tatsuhito Kato.

     Seibu had one more scoring opportunity in the fifth, first baseman Alex Cabrera tattooing a double up the rightcenterfield gap to lead it off. He moved to third on a groundball to first, but couldn't go anywhere else since McClain popped to second and Otomo struckout.

     Matsuzaka was pretty much humming along until the eighth, when he just ran out of gas. With one away, pinch hitter Hiroshi Narahara walked. Centerfielder Tatsuya Ide then homered to right to  carve two runs off the Seibu lead and make it 4-3.

     In the ninth, the ballgame ended in a way that would make any manager livid and if Oshima ripped his charge a new one it would be understandable. Obando leadoff the inning with a single and was pinch run for by Hichori Morimoto. Cromer popped out to third and Tanaka flew out to right. Seibu reliever Toyoda then picked Morimoto off to end it.

     For Nippon Ham. Cromer was 1-4 and is now at .273. Obando was 1-3 with an RBI and a walk and is now at .160.

     For Seibu, Cabrera was 1-4 with a walk and is now at .308. McClain was 1-3 with a walk and is now at .318.

Pitching Lines:


Matsuzaka (W, 2-0)  IP 7.1 PC 118 H 3 HR 2 K 11 BB 3 R 3 ER 3 ERA 2.76
Mori                            IP  .2 PC  13 H 0 HR 0 K  1 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Toyoda (S, 1)            IP 1.0 PC   6 H 0 HR 0 K  0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

Nippon Ham:

Iwamoto (L, 0-1)     IP 3.1 PC 81 H 5 HR 1 K 1 BB 4 R 4 ER 4 ERA 6.48
Kato                         IP 3.0 PC 50 H 3 HR 0 K 4 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Tateyama                 IP 1.2 PC 39 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Sasaki                       IP  .2 PC 12 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Shibakusa                IP  .1 PC  2 H 0  HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 6.00

SB: Ozeki (1), Furuya  (1)
2B: Cromer (2), McClain (4), Cabrera (3)
HR: K. Matsui (1), Obando (2), Ide (1)
RBI: K. Matsui (3), K. Suzuki (3), Ide 2 (5), Obando (5), T. Itoh (4), H. Takagi (2)
SF: T. Itoh (1)
WP: Iwamoto
HBP: Ogasawara (Matsuzaka)
LOB: Seibu 10, Nippon Ham 3

Game Time: 3:34
Attendance: 30,000
Umpires: Yamamoto (HP), Sakaemura (1B), Yamazaki (2B), Akimura (3B)

Nakamura Clout Paces Buffaloes Over Lotte 7-1

     Kintetsu Buffaloes third baseman Noirhiro Nakamura got a fourth inning 1-1 fastball down and in from Chiba Lotte Marines starter Natahan Minchey and reamed it real good, banging it off the seats in straightaway centerfield for a two run homer to power the Buffs to a 7-1 romp over the Chiba Lotte Marines. The loss was a new club record for consecutve defeats from opening day for Lotte, now at seven and counting.

     Buffaloes first baseman Yuji Yoshioka slammed three doubles and drove in two runners in five at bats and shortstop Masahiro Abe cannonaded a screamer into the leftcenterfield gap to plate two in the bottom of the second before Nakamura applied the coup de grace in the fourth.

     Takamura started for Kintetsu and went eight strong innings, giving up an unearned run on three hits and striking out five while walking four to cadge the win, his first of the season.

     Minchey, by contrast, only held out for 3.2 innings and was abused for seven runs, six earned, on seven hits and three walks while striking out three. Just one of those days for the big righthander.

     For Kintetsu, leftfielder Tuffy Rhodes struckout twice in four hitless at bats and is now at .217. DH Nigel Wilson went 1-3 with two walks and is now at .364.

     For Lotte, DH Glenn Bolick 0-3 with an RBI and a walk and is now at .950.

Pitching Lines:


Takamura (W, 1-0) IP 8.0 PC 119 H 3 HR 0 K 6 BB 4 R 1 ER 0 ERA 0.79
Miyamoto               IP 1.0 PC  19 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 4.50.


Minchey (L. 0-2) IP 3.2 PC 78 H 7 HR 1 K 3 BB 1 R 7 ER 6 ERA 7.15
Takagi                  IP 1.2 PC 27 H 2 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
K. Yamasaki        IP 1.1 PC 23 H 0 HR 0 K 2 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Tak. Tanaka        IP 2.1 PC 28 H 1 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 4.15

E: M. Abe (2), Hatsushiba 2 (3), Hori (1)
SB: S. Omura (1)
2B: Yoshioka 3 (5), M. Abe (3), N. Nakamura (3), Sakai (1)
HR: Nakamura (2)
RBI: N. Nakamura 2 (3), Bolick (1), Yoshioka 2 (6), Abe 2 (1), Fujii (1)
HBP: Wilson 2 (Minchey), Takano (Tak. Tanaka)
SF: Bolick (1)
LOB: Kintetsu 11, Lotte 7

HBP: Wilson 2 (Minchey), Takano (Tak. Tanaka)

Game Time: 3:05
Attendance: 29,000
Umpires: Kawaguchi (HP), Nakamura (2B), Iizuka (2B), Tsugawa (3B)

Trivia Time

     Who is the winningest manager of all time in Japanese pro baseball? Answer at bottom of the article.

Wayne Graczyk on Player Movement Between Japan and MLB

     This article is a little over two years old, but it's interesting nevertheless for those who haven't seen it.

Ishii Looks Like His Old Self in Dodgers Victory

L.A. Times story at:

White Sox Fan Obsessed with Ichiro

     See Seattle Times story at:

This Day in Japanese Baseball History

     The above games took place April 6th, so what happened on that day in Japaneese baseball history?

     On that day in 1974, a member of the Japanese royal family, Ms. Atsuko Ikeda, threw out the first ball in a game at Okayama Prefectural Stadium before a game between the Taiyo Whales (now the Yokohama Bay Stars) and Hanshin. That was the first time that any woman had thrown out the ceremonial first pitch before a pro game in history.

In KBO Action....

     The Korea Times has the action for Saturday's games in the Korean pro baseball league in english, so stop on over at:

A Note of Gratitude

     In all the articles I've brought you, I've had to amass information from a lot of different sources for each one since I live in the U.S. and not Japan. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the folks who do the actual heavy lifting in a reporting sense and I hope  that you readers will patronize their websites since there is a lot more on each one than what I convey each time out.

     Below are those organizations and their website addresses. All are in Japanese except the last five.

Sports Nippon Tokyo Edition:
Sports Nippon Osaka Edition:
Nikkan Sports Tokyo Edition:
Nikkan Sports Osaka Edition: http://www.nikkansports
Sankei Sports:
Chunichi Sports:
Baseball Monthly:
Japan Times:
Asahi Shimbun English Edition:
Yomiuri Shimbun English Edition:
Japanese Baseball:
Japan Today:

Trivia Answers

     The field boss whosw clubs have seen in the most victories was Kuzuto "oyabun" Tsuruoka, who managed the Nankai (now Daiei) Hawks for 23 seasons from 1946 to 1968, proving victorious 1773 times while losing on another 1140.

     Btw, since you're no doubt wondering, the head man with the most defeats is former Yomiuri Giants, Taiyo Whales, Nishitetsu Lions, Kintetsu Buffaloes and Yakult Swallows skipper Osami Mihara, who dropped 1453 against 1687 wins. He also managed the most games, 3248.

     For those who want to judge by winning percentage with at least 1,000 games under his belt, Tsuruoka owns that as well with a .609 mark. Tetsuharu Kawakami, who managed the Yomiuri Giants to their nine straight Japan Series titles, was second at .591.

     Total wins stack up like this (top five): Tsuruoka, Mihara, Sadayoshi Fujimoto (Yomiuri, Hanshin twice, Hankyu Braves, Shochiku Robins, Daiei Unions) 1657, Shigeru Mizuhara (Yomiuri, Chunichi, Toei Flyers) 1586, Yukio Nishimoto (Hankyu, Daimai Orions, Kintetsu) 1384.

     Among active managers, the leader is Daiei's Sadaharu Oh, with 812 triumphs going into this season. Senichi Hoshino of Hanshin is second with 767. Katsuya Nomura, who got canned to make room for Hoshino, had been tops with 1309.


April 5, 2002

Friday’s Games

Igawa Looking Like a Sawamura Award Contender in Shutout of Yakult

     Southpaw Kei Igawa, who is only 22 years old, just missed out on an ERA title last season, though he had a losing record since he was on a Hanshin Tigers team that finished last for its fourth year in a row and had no offense. This season for the resurgent Osaka favorite sons, Igawa appears if he is taking the role of a number one starter to heart since he is absolutely dominating right now, as he allowed a mere three singles and hit a batter over eight spectacular innings against a high powered Swallows attack while ringing up 11 strikeouts and walking one in combining with closer Mark Valdez to shutout Yakult 2-0. See pic at:

     Shugo Fujii started for Yakult and while giving Hanshin one major chance to break through in his seven innings, nevertheless rendered Hanshin scoreless on four hits and four walks in seven innings while striking out five. That missed opportunity for the Tigers came in the top of the second inning when, with one gone, Derrick White walked. Outfielder Osamu Hamanaka singled to center. Catcher Akihiro Yano got his ancient legs going and outlegged a ball toward short and the bases were juiced. But the speedy shortstop Yoshinori Okihara pinged one on the ground to his opposite number, Shinya Miyamoto, who went to Shiroishi and then on to Roberto Petagine at first and Fujii was out of the inning.

     Having thrown 110 pitches in seven innings, Yakult pitching coach Itoh thought it best that he shut his Fujii down for the night and brought in Tadashi Honma from the pen. Unfortunately, that didn't work too well. Hanshin second baseman Makoto Imaoka leadoff the eighth with a double to leftcenter. He was pinch run for by Taichiro Kamisaka. Honma then threw a wild pitch with third baseman Atsushi Kataoka up at the plate. Kataoka walked and that brought up George Arias, who has gotten off to a slow start. Tigers manager Senichi Hoshino, before the at bat, told Arias in english to "hit to center." Arias didn't do that, but he did lift a fly ball to left deep enough to bring in Kamisaka with the first run of the night.

     Yakult was overpowered by Igawa in the bottom of that frame, as Takahiro Ikeyama and Hirobumi Watarai struckout and centerfielder Mitsuru Manaka popped out.

     In the top of the ninth, Hanshin got a leadoff double to leftcenter from Yano off of Swallows reliever Naoya Shimada. Okihara sacrificed him to third. Shimada is then substituted for Tatsuki Yamamoto, who came in to face Hiroshi Yagi. But Yamamoto balked and Yano jogged in and it was 2-0 Hanshin. Yamamoto induced a ground ball from Yagi, but he then hit centerfielder Norihiro Akahoshi with a pitch. Akahoshi tore out for second with Akahoshi at the dish and he was safe. Kamisaka singled to right, but Akahoshi didn't want to challenge Atsunori Inaba's arm and held at third. Kataoka grounded out to second to end the inning.

     Mark Valdez climbed on the hill for the ninth and got two groundballs and a whiff for his third save.

     Hanshin has usually found Meiji Jingu Stadium a house of horrors, as they were 2-9-1 there last year and Yakult has taken every season series between the two clubs since 1992. Itoh allowed that by replacing Fujii, who wanted to stay in the game, he feels responsible for the team losing the game, but I beg to differ. The blame lies on the offense's inability to do anything with Igawa, who was 0-4 last season against them. In fact, Igawa had never won a game against the birds.

     Igawa said after the game that he was concentrating on Yano's mit and not anything else. However, he also said that he had some shoulder discomfort in the wake of his effort, as he did in the aftermath of his first start. Is his shoulder going to go kablooey? We'll see.

     For Yakult, Petagine struckout three times in three official at bats and is now at .304.. The 2001 CL MVP is now 0-17 against Igawa over the last two seasons. Leftfielder Alex Ramirez was 0-3 and is now at .200.

     For Hanshin, Arias was 0-3 with an RBI and is now at .120. Leftfielder Derrick White was 0-2 with two walks in four times up and is now at .385.

Pitching Lines:


Igawa (W, 2-0)     IP 8.0 PC 114 H 3 HR 0 K 11 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.53
Valdez (S, 3)        IP 1.0 PC  10 H 0 HR 0 K  1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


S. Fujii                      IP 7.0 PC 110 H 4 HR 0 K 5 BB 4 R 0 ER 0 ERA 2.51
Honma (L, 0-1)        IP 1.0 PC   20 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 1 ER 1 ERA 5.40
Shimada                   IP  .1 PC     4 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 5.40
Yamamoto               IP  .2 PC   14 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 2.70

E: Furuta (1)
SB: Akahoshi (6)
2B: Okihara (1), Imaoka (3), Yano (3)
RBI: Arias (4)
SF: Arias (2)
WP: Igawa (1), Honma (1)
HBP: Kataoka (S. Fujii), Petagine (Igawa)
PB: Yano (1)
GIDP: Okihara
LOB: Hanshin 10, Yakult 4

Game Time: 3:03
Attendance: 36,000
Umpires: Tomoyori?(HP), Suginaga (1B), Watada (2B), Watamari (3B)

Yokohama Fianlly Wins One as They Scrape by Yomiuri 3-2

     Daisuke Miura, who pitched well enough to win his first time out this regular season but lost, threw another good one Friday and this time got what he deserved, as he parked himself on the group W bench Friday with an outstanding and dogged outing against the Yomiuri Giants at Yokohama Stadium.

     The Giants Masumi Kuwata, trying to join Keiichi Yabu on the guys who looked washed up but are attempting to reach deep down for at least one more good season list, twirled six fine innings himself, but some sloppy defense on the part of his third baseman, Akira Etoh, ultimately did him in during the second inning. Yokohama third baseman Mike Gulan leadoff that fateful frame with a groundball to Etoh, who booted it. Takahiro Saeki then sacrificed Gulan to second. One out later, rightfielder Boi Rodrigues checked in and Kuwata hung a forkball in the middle of the plate and the 2001 Mexican League home run and RBI champ torched it, spraying the horsehide remnant amongst the good folks in the centerfield seats to make it 2-0.

     In the third, the Bay Stars came by their scoring in a more conventional way, as shortstop Takuro Ishii beat out a roller to second to leadoff the inning. Tatsuhiko Kinjo sacrificed him to second. Now I don't understand this: you got a contact hitter at the plate, a guy who has already won a batting championship in his career plus a man with a couple of steals titles in his pocket in Ishii. So you play hit and run, right? Nope, not to the fossilized thinking of Yokohama manager Masaki Mori. Anyway, after Mori gave Yomiuri a free out, leftfielder Takanori Suzuki moved the runner to third with a grounder to second. Mike Gulan, who has been in a slump so far, then unloaded a "timely two base" into the leftfield corner and it was now 3-0 home team.

     In the fifth, though, Yomiuri threatened to get all those runs back at a single stroke. Shortstop Daisuke Motoki walked to begin the inning. Kuwata was surprisingly allowed to swing away and singled to center. Leftfielder Takayuki Shimizu singled to center and now the bases were loaded with nobody out. But Miura is a resourceful and steely and induced second baseman Toshihisa Nishi to pop to first. He then struckout rightfielder Yoshinobu Takahashi. He got behind to Godzilla Matsui 3-1 and still had the gall to thrown him a forkball that sunk out of the strike zone. Matsui took the bait, though, and grounded weakly to first and he survived with his lead intact.

     In the top of the eighth, Nishi leadoff with a double down the leftfield line. He moved to third on a groundout to second and scored on another groundout to first by Matsui. Thus, Miura departed ahead and now it was up to closer Takashi Saito to ensure the victory.

     Saito took the mound and was greeted by having Etoh take his first pitch way out to leftcenter to make the game razor close at 3-2. But catcher Shinnosuke Abe hit a comebacker to Saito for the first out, Motoki went down hacking for the second and pinch hitter Takayuki Saito tapped to second, where it was gobbled up by Hitoshi Taneda, who flipped to first and it was over, Yokohama's first win of the season.

     For Yokohama, Gulan was 1-3 with an RBI and is now at .250. Rodrigues, an Indiana University product who has practically toured the world playing baseball, was 1-2 with two RBIs and is at .278.

Pitching Lines:


Kuwata (L, 0-1)       IP 6.0 PC 76 H 5 HR 1 K 1 BB 0 R 3 ER 1 ERA 1.50
Nishiyama               IP 1.1 PC 15 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Y. Maeda                 IP  .2 PC  7 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Miura (W, 1-1)           IP 8.0 PC 123 H 7 HR 0 K 4 BB 2 R 1 ER 1 ERA 1.72
T. Saito (S, 1)              IP 1.0 PC  11 H 1 HR 1 K 1 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 3.00

E: Etoh (1)
SB: T. Ishii (2), Shimizu (1)
2B: Gulan (2), Nishi (2), Shimizu (3), Aikawa (2)
HR: Rodrigues (3) Etoh (1)
RBI: Rodrigues 2 (5), Gulan (3), Matsui (4), Etoh (3)
GIDP: Gulan, Rodrigues
LOB: Yomiuri 7, Yokohama 2

Game Time: 2:40
Attendance: 26,000
Umpires: Tani (HP), Kamimoto (1B), Kittaka (2B), Manabe (3B)

Sasaoka Dominant in 4-0 Shutout of Dragons by Hiroshima

     Shinji Sasaoka, Hiroshima's number one starter, was pretty fabulous his last time out, giving up just an unearned run in seven innings, and he was even better in this one against the Chunichi Dragons Friday at Hiroshima Municipal Stadium in a 4-0 complete game shutout. Sasaoka limited the Dragons to six hits, one of the infield variety, and didn't walk anyone while striking out seven and has now gone 16 innings without anyone scoring an earned run off of him.

     The big blow of the game was in the sixth inning with Hiroshima already leading 2-0. Carp shortstop Akihiro Higashide was on second via a single to center and a sac bunt. Chunichi starter Masahiro Yamamoto had already been through an 11 pitch at bat with leftfielder Tomoaki Kanemoto, who ultimately grounded out to first. Now with Higashide on third, Yamamoto tried to get a screwball in under the hands of rightfielder Tomonori Maeda, but it just rolled up to the plate and Maeda crushed it more than 400 feet over the centerfield fence to make it 4-0 and the Dragons really had no chance after that, since Sasaoka was giving the opposition batters fits.

     Chunichi manager Masashi Yamada started Sekikawa in center in this game since he's had pretty good success against Sasaoka in the past, but while Sekikawa only had a single in four at bats, he made a highlight play when he robbed Takahiro Arai of a three run homer with a leaping catch over the top of the wall that instead became a sacrifice fly. See pic at:

Pitching Lines:


M. Yamamoto (L, 0-2) IP 5.2 PC 98 H 7 HR 1 K 4 BB 0 R 4 ER 4 ERA 5.56
Endo                              IP 1.1 PC 16 H 0 HR 0 K 3 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 6.00
Shotsu                           IP 1.0 PC  9 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Sasaoka (W, 1-1)       IP 9 PC 106 H 6 HR 0 K 7 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

2B: Lopez 2 (3), Araki (1), Fukudome (3)
HR: T. Maeda (1)
RBI:  Maeda 2 (2), Arai (3), Lopez (4)
SF: Arai (1)
GIDP: Araki
LOB: Chunichi 3, Hiroshima 2

Game Time: 2:34
Attendance: 10,000
Umpires: Ino (HP), T. Kobayashi (1B), Sasaki (2B), Mori (3B)

Trivia Time

     Which team has gone the longest since its last Japan Series appearance? Answer at the end of the article.

Irabu vs. Ichiro April 12

     With Chan-ho Park now on the shelf due to a bad hamstring, it appears that the Texas Rangers are going to put Hideki Irabu into the rotation. Of course, this has resulted in articles in the Japanese press about how Irabu did against the seven time batting champ (eight if you count his American League title) and Ichiro did okay, though he hardly lit Irabu up. While with the Orix Blue Wave, Ichiro faced "the Jellyfish" 41 times between 1993-1996, did him for 12 hits but never took him deep and drove in two runs for a .293 batting average. Of course, that was when Irabu could run it up there at nearly 100mph (and that was legitimate) and not the 92mph he does now. I haven't seen any stats on how many times Ichiro whiffed against Irabu. But Chunichi Sports pointed out that Irabu went at Ichiro mostly with sliders, so it may be a non-issue.

Ichiro Seat Plan Extended

     One thing people don't know about Ichiro is that he has made seats available at Orix' home ballpark, Kobe Green Stadium, for little leaguers and others for free since just after the earthquake there in 1995. In fact, not only a couple of seats, but its been expanded to 20. No word on how much this all costs, but if you figure that the average ticket to a Japanese ballgame is about $40 a ticket, that's $800 a game multiplied by 70, or $56,000. Ichiro's base pay this season is slightly less than $3.7 million, so it doesn't exactly hurt him, but he doesn't have to do that, either.

Korean League Starts Season

     The KBO opened its season Friday with a four game slate. The Kia Tigers, who had a losing record in 2001, beat the Korea Series champion Doosan Bears 4-1. Jong-beom Lee, an infielder now back with Kia (which used to be owned by Haitai) who was that country's version of Ichiro before he went to the Chunichi Dragons and had three largely undistinguished seasons with them, reportedly had a decisive RBI double. The Korean season is 133 games in a single league and the top four clubs qualify for a playoff that culminates in the Korea Series.

Today in Japanese Baseball History

     On April 5th, 1958, Shigeo Nagashima, fresh out of Rikkyo University, made his regular season debut at third base for the Yomiuri Giants against the Kokutetsu (now Yakult) Swallows and their future 400 game winner and Hall of Famer Masaichi Kaneda . Nagashima took home a golden sombrero (four strikeouts in four at bats). Nagashima, after batting .305 for his career and slugging 444 homers, is now both a Hall of Fame inductee and Japan's Mr. Baseball.

Trivia Answer

     The team that has not been back to the Japan Series the longest is the Chiba Lotte Marines, who last went to the championship faceoff in 1974, when it was known as the Lotte Orions. The second longest is Nippon Ham, which hasn't won a pennant since 1981.

     In any event, the Orions played the Chunichi Dragons in 1974 and won it all, four games to two.



April 4, 2002

Thursday’s Games

Tenacious Hanshin Approaches 64 Year Old Record

     The Hanshin Tigers just keep on rolling along, as they locked up their fifth consecutive win to open the regular season by beating the Yokohama Bay Stars 2-1 in 11 innings Thursday at Yokohama Stadium. It was in the spring of 1938 when the club, which was known as the Osaka Tigers, last accomplished that feat. And by throwing a perfect inning of relief in the tenth, Kanazawa won his first game since turning pro four years ago.

     The veteran Nobuyuki Hoshino sparkled as the starter for Hanshin in this one, as he spun six innings of one run ball on two hits while hitting a batter but otherwise not walking anyone and striking out six and even got himself an infield hit, too.

     Hoshino was staked to an early 1-0 lead in the aftermath of centerfielder Norihiro Akahoshi getting a walk off of Yokohama starter Takeo Kawamura and then one out later stealing second and third and then coming home thanks to third baseman Atsushi Kataoka spanking a double a down the leftfield line. Hoshino then went on to retire the first nine men he faced in order before permitting his first hit of the ballgame in the fourth and then disposing of the next six in a row, including striking out the side in the fifth.

     But in the bottom of the sixth, Hoshino left a pitch in catcher Ryoji Aikawa's wheelhouse and he scalded it down the leftfield line for a double. Yokohama centerfielder Tatsuhiko Kinjo moved him up 90 feet with a sac bunt. Hoshino then plunked shortstop Takuro Ishii. Second baseman Hitoshi Taneda flew to center and Aikawa tagged and jogged in  to deadlock it at 1-1.

     The following stanza, Yokohama had a golden opportunity to go ahead and let it escape. Hanshin reliever Masashi Date nailed leftfielder Takanori Suzuki to begin the inning. Third baseman Mike Gulan singled to right. Ishii then grounded out to Date and the next two men whiffed.

     In the top of the ninth and two out, Hanshin leftfielder Tomochika Tsuboi hit a bazooka shot to the centerfield wall, the ball missing going over the fence by inches. Running hard all the way, Tsuboi rounded second and headed for third, but he was cut down, violating the old axiom of not making the last out of an inning at third.

     In the bottom of the same frame, Gulan doubled to leftcenter with two gone. Ishii walked. But then rightfielder Hitoshi Nakane grounded to Kataoka and it went to overtime.

     A baserunning blunder by catcher Akihiro Yano may have cost the Tigers a chance at winning it in the tenth. Yano lead off with a single to right. One out later, pinch hitter Hamanka walked. When Yokohama reliever Takashi Saito turned his back to Yano, the veteran receiver attempted to sneak into third, but was tagged out for a totally unnecessary out. Akahoshi then hit a grounder to Ishii at short and he booted it. No redemption for Yano, though, as second baseman Makoto Imaoka struckout to conclude the inning.

     In the top of the eleventh and Guzman now toiling for Yokohama, Kataoka leadoff with a single to center. First baseman George Arias singled to left. Both men were advanced by rightfielder Shinjiro Hiyama's sacrifice. Tsuboi was then intentionally walked to set up a force at every base. With the infield in, Yano grounded to second and Kataoka was out at home. Derrick White was then sent up to pinch hit for shortstop Atsushi Fujimoto. Guzman quickly got behind to White 3-0. White then took two called strikes. Guzman then ran a fastball up to the plate and it was ruled a ball and Arias trotted in with what became the game winning run. Mark Valdez put away three of the four hitters he saw in the bottom of the eleventh for his second save.

     Seeing a picture of that last pitch to White, it appeared to be a strike to me, but it was definitely bordeline. Have a look for yourself at: For his part, White said of the Guzman delivery, "I know what I can hit and that was definitely a ball."

     Hanshin manager Senichi Hoshino was elated after the game about equaling the 64 year old mark and credited White with using his head out there.

     In contrast, Yokohama manager Masaki Mori was livid, sharply deriding that call as well as one made earlier on a check swing by one of his charges. I'm not going to go into what Mori said specifically, but it did include the use of a word which in translation isn't heard on television.

     For Hanshin, Arias was 1-5 with two strikeouts and is now at .136. White walked in his one at bat and had an RBI and is at .455.

     For Yokohama, Gulan was 2-5 with two strikeouts and is now at .238. Rodrigues was 0-2 and is at .267.

Pitching Lines:


N. Hoshino                    IP 6.0 PC 76 H 2 HR 0 K 6 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 1.50
Date                                IP 3.0 PC 43 H 2 HR 0 K 2 BB 2 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Kanazawa (W, 1-0)       IP 1.0 PC 11 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
M. Valdez (S, 2)            IP 1.0 PC 14 H 1 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Kawamura             IP 6.0 PC 101 H 4 HR 0 K 5 BB 2 R 1 ER 1 ERA 1.50
Kizuka                   IP 1.0 PC  19 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Takeshita              IP 1.0 PC  15 H 0 HR 0 K 2 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Saito                       IP 2.0 PC  33 H 2 HR 0 K 3 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Guzman (L, 0-1)    IP 1.0 PC  31 H 2 HR 0 K 0 BB 2 R 1 ER 1 ERA 5.40

E: T. Ishii (1)
SB: Akahoshi 3 (5)
2B: Kataoka (2), Tsuboi (1), Aikawa (1), Gulan (1)
RBI: Taneda (1), Kataoka (3),White (3)
HBP: Tsuboi (Kawamura) T. Ishii (N. Hoshino), T. Suzuki (Date)
GDIP: Yano, Tsuboi
LOB: Hanshin 10, Yokohama 6

Game Time: 3:53
Attendance: 22,000
Umpires: Honda (HP), Kittaka (1B), Manabe (2B), Tani (3B)

Ishikawa Dominates Carp in Win, But Iida Comes Up Injured

     Judging by his spring training performances, rookie lefthander Masanori Ishikawa seemed as if he would need more seasoning before being able to take a place in the Yakult Swallows rotation. Well, so much for that, as Ishikawa and the young reliever Ryota Igarashi scattered a total of six hits over nine innings in the Swallows 4-0 whitewash Thursday of the Hiroshima Carp at Meiji Jingu Stadium in Tokyo on a gusty, windy day.

     Ishikawa, who was doing a fine job of keeping his pitches down, had taken some advice about how to use his changeup from Shugo Fujii before the start and along with the usual outstanding guidance provided by Atsuya Furuta, who loaded up on painkillers for his ailing left knee just for this start, the Aoyama Gakuin University grad mixed it in well with his screwball, slider and mid-80's fastball to baffle the Carp order, inducing them to hit the ball on the ground, 17 of his 20 outs not leaving the infield. You can see a pic of Ishikawa's delivery at:

     In the top of the sixth, though, with two gone and a man on second, Carp catcher Shuji Nishiyama hammered a ball back to the mound, where it bounced off Ishikawa's leg and into shallow leftfield. Seeing that, manager Tsutomu Wakamatsu came out to the mound and immediately waved in fireballing reliever Ryota Igarashii, who got Kojiro Machida to ground out to second to end the inning and then threw two more scoreless innings for his first save of the season.

     Yakult did most of its damage its damage in the fifth, as third baseman Akinori Iwamura leadoff the inning with a walk off of Carp starter Ken Takahashi. Leftfielder Alex Ramirez lasered a double down the leftfield line to get Iwamura over to third. Two outs later, centerfielder Mitsuru Manaka, not really a power guy, then dialed long distance and connected with a three run homer to right and now it was 3-0 Swallows. Shortstop Shinya Miyamoto scorched a double down the leftfield line, but rightfielder Atsunori Inaba grounded to short to end the inning.

     In the bottom of the sixth, first baseman Roberto Petagine cracked a double to leftcenter to kick things off. One out later, Iwamura singled to right and Petagine came across to make it 4-0. Hiroshima never mounted a substantial threat off of Igarashi and it was soon "game setto."

     For Yakult, Petagine was 1-3 with a walk and is now at .350. Ramirez was 103 and is at .235.

     The Swallows got some bad news about outfielder Tetsuya Iida, who is going to be out two months with a ligament injury to his knee. This is going to give Wakamatsu fewer outfield options and weaken the bench a little. Here's to hoping for a speedier than expected recovery.

Pitching Lines:


Takahashi (L, 0-1) IP 5.1 PC 85 H 6 HR 1 K 3 BB 2 R 4 ER 4 ERA 6.75
Stanifer                   IP  .2 PC  9 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Beltran                   IP 2.0 PC 28 H 2 HR 0 K 2 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


M. Ishikawa (W, 1-0)   IP 6.2 PC 96 H 4 HR 0 K 4 BB 2 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Ryo. Igarashi (S, 1)      IP 2.1 PC 30 H 2 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

SB: Iwamura (1)
2B: Nishiyama (1), Lopez (1), Diaz (3), Inaba (2), Ramirez (2), Miyamoto (2), Petagini (1)
HR: Manaka (2)
RBI: Manaka 3 (5), Iwamura (1)
WP: Igarashi (1)
GIDP: Furuta, Lopez
LOB: Hiroshima 7, Yakult 4

Game Time: 2:31
Attendance: 18,000
Umpires: Arisumi (HP), T. Kobayashi (1B), Mori (2B), Ino (3B)

Takahashi Homer in Tenth Defeats Dragons

     Third year lefthander Hisanori Takahashi had a bad outing Thursday at  Nagoya Dome against the Chunichi Dragons, lasting just 2.2 innings and being screwed, blued and tattooed for five earned runs against a club with not much offense. But the Giants relief staff held firm and was able to wait until Yomiuri began to chip away at Kenshin Kawakami until they were able to tie it in the seventh, partially thanks to centerfielder Masahiro Araki's uncertain handling of the leadfooted Akira Etoh's liner that went for a gift triple. The game eventually went into extra innings and was decided on Giants rightfielder Yoshinobu Takahashi's homer to right in the top of the tenth, as the Giants pulled out a much harder than it should have been 6-5 victory.

     The Giants go off to an early lead in the top of the first, as Kawakami issued a one out walk to second baseman Toshihisa Nishi. The slumping Yoshinobu Takahashi then ripped a single to left, as did centerfielder Godzilla Matsui, and Nishi loped home. One out later, Etoh walked to load the bases, but catcher Shinnosuke Abe flied to left to extinguish the rally.

     Chunichi took its turn in the bottom of the inning and some batting averages became a touch more robust off of Hisanori Takahashi. Shortstop Hirokazu Ibata leadoff with a double into the rightfield corner. Araki singled to right and it was runners on first and third with nobody out. The sizzling Kosuke Fukudome then cranked a double down the rightfield line to tie it at one all. Third baseman Leo Gomez walked to juice the bags. Tatsunami grounded to second and Nishi got the force at the plate. But leftfielder Jiro Fujitate then took a Takahashi  sinker and blistered it to left to plate two to make it 3-1 Dragons. However, Takeshi Yamasaki killed off the uprising when he rolled to Etoh, who whipped it around the horn for the inning ending double play.

     The Giants got two men on to commence the third on a single and a walk, but first baseman Kazuhiro Kiyohara hit a sharp groundball at Tatsunami, who flipped to Ibata, who sent it along to first and now nobody was on. Etoh walked, but Abe popped out and that was that.

     On that note, the home team then expanded its advantage. With one gone, Leo Gomez clobbered a Takahashi delivery into the leftfield seats. Tatsunami doubled down the leftfield line. Fujitate then got a cut fastball that didn't do anything and he seared it down the leftfield line, too, for a double and it was 5-1 Chunichi.

     In the fifth and one gone, Matsui smacked his first longball of the regular season halfway up the rightfield stands to cut it to 5-2.

     In the sixth, the Giants got it back to equilibrium, but Kiyohara had to be taken to hospital in the process. Yoshinobu Takahashi singled to right to lead it off. One out later, Kawakami nailed Kiyohara on his right hand and the brawny first sacker was removed from the game and taken to hospital for x-rays, which showed no fracture, just a bruise. Tomohiro Nioka came in to pinch run for Kiyohara. Etoh then got a fastball over the outer half of the plate and he hit it on the screws to center, where it got by Araki and two runs scored while Etoh stopped in at third. Dragons manager Hisashi Yamada went to the bullpen and Shigetoshi Yamakita struckout Masahiro Kawai. Yamada then summoned Eiji Shotsu and shortstop Daisuke Motoki singled to center off of him and it was now knotted at 5-5.

     The bottom of the seventh would then prove pivotal for the Dragons. The first two hitters, Fukudome and Gomez, each  singled to right off of second year Giants reliever Tsuyoshi Jobe. Tatsunami then walked to pack the sacks. But Fujitate, who had earlier driven in three runs, swung at the first pitch he saw from Jobe and tapped a combacker to Jobe, who went to Abe, who then winged it to Etoh, who was now at first, for the twin killing. Jobe then struckout Hiroyuki Watanabe to snuff the fire.

      Both teams went relatively quietly the next two frames, but in the top of the tenth and two away, Takahashi connected and then Kawahara put the Dragons to bed on two grounders to first and a strikeout to save the 6-5 Yomiuri triumph.

     Yoshinobu Takahashi's 4-6 night raised his previously subpar average to a more distinguiahed .348. Nevertheless, he also says that his batting mechanics are still messed up, so we'll see if he replicates last season, when he didn't so well in the first half but the picked it up Johnny Damon-like in the last six weeks or so of the campaign.

     Godzilla Matsui was 2-4 with two RBIs and is now at .444.

     Yomiuri got some good news and some bad news today. Reliever Hector Almonte is going to be out for a few days with a back problem. Fortunately, they could replace him with Hiroki Sanada, who threw seven shutout innings on one hit down on the farm in his most recent start this week.

Pitching Lines:


H. Takahashi            IP 2.2 PC 59 H 8 HR 1 K 2 BB 1 R 5 ER 5 ERA 16.88
Sakai                          IP 2.1 PC 40 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Nishiyama                IP 1.0 PC 10 H 1 HR 0 K 2 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Jobe                          IP 2.0 PC 28 H 3 HR 0 K 1 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Okajima (W, 1-0)     IP 1.0 PC 11 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 2.80
Kawahara (S, 2)       IP 1.0 PC  7 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Kawakami              IP 6.1 PC 122 H 10 HR 1 K 4 BB 4 R 5 ER 5 ERA 7.11
Yamakita                 IP  .1 PC     5 H  0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Shotsu                     IP  .2 PC  14 H  2 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Iwase                       IP  .2 PC  15 H  0 HR 0 K 1 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Koyama                  IP 2.0 PC  34 H  2 HR 1 K 0 BB 1 R 1 ER 1 ERA 2.70
E: Sakai (1)
SB: Nishi (2), Araki  (1)
2B: Ibata(2), Fukudome (2), Tatsunami (1), Fujitate (1)
3B: Etoh (1)
HR: H. Matsui (1), Gomez (2), Y. Takahashi (1)
RBI: Fujitate 3 (3), Fukudome (3), Gomez (2), Takahashi (1), Matsui 2 (3), Etoh 2 (2), Motoki (1)
HBP: Kiyohara (Kawakami), Araki (Sakai)
GIDP: Yamasaki, Fujitate, Ibata, Kiyohara

Game Time: 4:21
Attendance: 40,000
Umpires: Kasahara (HP), Watada (1B), Watamari (2B), Tomoyori? (3B)

Nippon Ham Says Sayonara to Orix
     The Orix Blue Wave fought back from a 3-0 first inning deficit to take a one run lead in the ninth on first baseman Fernando Seguignol's two run homer, only then to have Masanobu Okubo blow it and pile on another "kuroboshi (loss), " 5-4 at Tokyo Dome Thursday.

     Hiroyuki Sekine started for Nippon Ham and went five shutout innings on 74 pitches, allowing two hits and striking out seven while walking none. In the meantime, his side was bleeding and nubbing its way to three first inning runs. With two out, Seguignol booted a grounder. DH Sherman Obando, not a speed merchant, legged out a ball toward third. Leftfielder D.T. Cromer then tapped one near second and he beat it out. Third baseman Yukio Tanaka singled to right off of Orix starter Masahiko Kaneda to drive in Obando and rightfielder Toshihiro Noguchi plated two more with a shot up the leftcenter gap to make it 3-0. But any further damage was limited by Noguchi trying to go to third and getting tagged out.

     Kaneda struckout the side in the second and went on to handcuff the Fighters until the fifth. In that inning, catcher Kazunari Sanematsu rifled a double down the leftfield line to start things off. Centerfielder Tatsuya Ide walked and one out later so did first baseman Michihiro Ogasawara to load the bases. With the infield in, Obando grounded to short for a force at the plate. Cromer then grounded out to second to strand everybody.

     In the eighth and with Satoru Kanemura now on the mound for Nippon Ham, Orix put a couple of runs on the board. Third baseman Tatsuya Shindo struckout but the ball got away from Sanematsu and he was able to reach. Rightfielder Ikuro Katsuragi singled to right and  pinch hitter Yasuo Fujii then singled Shindo in to make it 3-1 Fighters. Catcher Takeshi Hidaka sacrificed to move Katsuragi and Fujii up 90 feet. Shortstop Makoto Shiozaki grounded to third, Tanaka's only play being to first as Katsuragi scored. Second baseman Oshima walked. Centerfielder Yoshitomo Tani grounded out, though, and the inning concluded with a 3-2 Fighters lead.

     Nippon Ham went out "sansha bontai" (three up m three down) in the bottom of the eighth and Orix came to bat. DH  Scott Sheldon singled to left off of Fighters closerTomokazu  Iba. Ryota Aikawa jogged in to pinch run for Sheldon. Seguignol then parked an Iba pitch into the leftfield seats and now the Blue Wave was looking at its first win of the season.

     In the bottom of the ninth, though, backup second baseman Shigeyuki Furuki singled to lead it off. Sanematsu sacrificed Furuki to second. Ide walked. Shortstop Makoto Kaneko singled to right to push the tying run in. Okubo intentionally walked Ogasawara, a good idea, to load the bases. Obando then hit one toward Shindo at third and he booted it in trying to make the relay to the plate for a "timely error," as the Japanese say and Orix is still winless on the season in five tries.

     For Nippon Ham, D.T. Cromer was 1-4 with an RBI and two strikeouts and is now at .278. Obando was 1-5 and is now at  .136.

     For Orix, Sheldon was 1-4 with three strikeouts and is now at .350. Seguignol was 1-4 with two RBI s and two strikeouts and is now at .158.



Kaneda               IP 6.2 PC 104 H 8 HR 0 K 4 BB 3 R 3 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Yamaguchi        IP 1.1 PC  19 H 0 HR 0 K 2 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Okubo (L, 0-1)   IP  .1 PC  25 H 2 HR 0 K 0 BB 2 R 2 ER 1 ERA 27.00

Nippon Ham:

Sekine                 IP 5.0 PC 74 H 2 HR 0 K 7 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Kanemura          IP 3.0 PC 52 H 2 HR 0 K 4 BB 1 R 2 ER 2 ERA 3.86
Iba (W, 1-0)      IP 1.0 PC 20 H 2 HR 1 K 2 BB 0 R 2 ER 2 ERA 9.00

E: Seguignol (1), Shindo (1)
2B: Noguchi (2), Sanematsu (1)
HR: Seguignol (2)
RBI: Shiozaki (3), Seguignol 2 (4), Fujii (1), Kaneko (1), Cromer (2), Y. Tanaka (1), Noguchi (2)
HBP: Ogasawara (Kaneda)
WP: Kanemura (1), Iba  (1)
GIDP: Kimoto,
LOB: Orix 4, Nippon Ham 10

Game Time: 3:07
Attendance: 10,000

Trivia Time

     Former Hankyu Braves third baseman Hiromi Matsunaga and Seibu Lions shortstop Kazuo Matsui are the only players in Japanese baseball history to share three accomplishments. What are they?

Asahi Shimbun: Japanese Baseball More Popular by More than 2-1 Margin

     One of Japan's big three national newspapers, the Asahi Shimbun, recently did a poll asking which brand of pro baseball are fans more concerned with, the domestic teams or MLB? By a 42%-17% disparity, the local nines come out ahead of their overseas counterparts bigtime. 12% stated that they liked both equally. 28% weren't fans of either, with 37% of all women quizzed revealing that they don't care for baseball. By comparison, only 18% of males had the same apathetic attitude.

     Furthermore, and maybe most alarming to pro yakyu owners, the pollsters discovered that those in their 30's and under are roughly split (33% pro yakyu, 26% MLB) while the higher one goes the less well MLB does, which means that the NPB has a lot of work to do marketing itself to a younger demographic. Men in their 50's are apparently the most beholden to the Japanese league, the study concluded, as 55% pronounced themselves as preferring their native country's hardballers.

     The Asahi poll also found a positive reception as to the idea of Japanese playing in MLB, with 53% off all respondents saying they want their players to gradually filtrate overseas while 33% are opposed to this development. Among just the pro yakyu enthusiasts, though, nearly 40% view their stars leaving as a negative while 51% say they don't mind, so there is a schism among the hardcore pro yakyu devotees in that regard.

     When asked if they had a positive or negative impression of MLB, an overwhelming 81% averred that they look kindly toward MLB while 15% held the opposite opinion.

Terahara Has First regular Season Start in Minors

     In front of 5,000 in a game for the Daiei Hawks Western League affiliate against Kintetsu's minor league branch, 18 year old phenom Hayato Terahara went three innings and allowed just one hit, hitting 92mph on the radar gun. Terahara will train with the big club in between pitching appearances on the farm.

Hotoku Gakuen High Goes All the Way at Koshien Tournament 8-2

     Congratulations to Hotoku Gakuen High School, which beat Tokushima Prefecture's Naruto Kogyo High School 8-2 Friday to win the Koshien Spring Invitational High School Baseball Tournament at Koshein Stadium, Osaka in front of a packed house.

     Hotoku Gakuen, a private school in Hyogo Prefecture that boasts former Yomiuri Giant Tadashi Matsumoto as one of its alumni, got out to a 2-0 early lead and then added five more in the third to put it in the refrigerator. Starter Tomohisa Otani went all the way in getting the victory, hitting 91-92 on the radar gun. This was Hotoku's third overall Koshien tournament win, but its first in 28 years.

     Naruto Kogyo was playing in its first ever Koshien final when it lost.

     About the picture: playing at Koshien is considered a big honor for the teams that make it there. Thus, many of the players take home bits of dirt from the ballpark as a souvenir.

Baseball Still King in Japan, But is That Changing?

     Some interesting facts and figures put up by the Asahi Shimbun's Takeshi Fujitani in that paper's english language edition, which you can read at:

Trivia Answer

     They are the only pair of players to have a stolen base title, homered in a game from both sides of the plate twice and to have hit for the cycle at least once during their careers. Both have Gold Gloves, as well.

April 3, 2002

Hanshin Wins First Four for First Time in 46 Years

     Thanks to a five homer barrage against the Yokohama Bay Stars Wednesday, including two by leftfielder Derrick White, the Hanshin Tigers have taken their initial quartet of regular season contests for the first time since 1956, when the club was managed by Hall of Famer and "Mr. Tigers," Fumio Fujimura. Your humble scribe wouldn't even be conceived for another year, that's how much time has passed since  the Tigers pulled that off.

     Hanshin starter Shinji Taninaka went 7.2 innings, giving up two runs on eight hits, walkiing one and striking out three and emerged as the winner. Taninaka, while limiting Yokohama's run production, complained after the game that he had left too many pitches up in the strike zone and wasn't all that happy with his performance.

     But even less statisfied, for reasons that are rather clear, with his showing was Yokohama starter Shigeo Inamine, who was shelled for four runs on five hits, three of them homers, and definitely didn't help his cause with three walks in his three innings of work.

     Hanshin broke through first in a splashy way in the top of the second. Rightfielder Osamu Hamanaka leadoff by crushing an Inamine delivery over the leftcenterfield wall. Catcher Akihiro Yano also got something he could handle and lost it in the leftcenterfield bleachers for a lightning quick 2-0 Tigers lead.

     In the bottom of the inning, Taninaka's defense saved him from perhaps really getting roughed up. With one away, Yokohama first baseman Hiroo Ishii singled. One out later, Rightfielder Boi Rodrigues singled to center. Catcher Nakamura then singled to center, but Rodrigues made a wide turn at second and centerfielder Norihiro Akahoshi threw behind him, Rodrigues being tagged out before Ishii could score to get out of the inning and preserve the 2-0 advantage for Hanshin.

     A half inning on, Hanshin tacked another run on when Derrick White obliterated a hanging changeup and rainbowed it 420 feet into the upper reaches of the leftfield bleachers for his first longball in Japan. Hamanaka followed with a single and Yano walked. Shortstop Yoshinori Okihara then cracked an RBI single to left and it was 4-0 Tigers after three complete.

     Third baseman Atsushi Kataoka then unveiled his initial roundtripper of 2002 on a curve ball on the inner half of the plate to the folks in the rightfield stands in the fourth with nobody on off of Kazushi Hosomi to make it 5-0. Then White went long in the top of the fifth for a 6-0 Tigers lead. Hamanaka then almost followed suit, bouncing a ball off the leftfield wall for a two bagger, but he was ultimately stranded.

     Taninaka was in a groove by now, not having allowed a baserunner since the third. But in the home half of the seventh, Rodrigues stepped up and with one swing of the bat did away with Taninaka's shutout. Taninaka then hung something to Hirofumi Ogawa, who rocketed it off the centerfield fence for a double, but Taninaka then got catcher Ryoji Aikawa to fly out to center and shortstop Takuro Ishii to bounce to first to end the inning, the score 6-1 Tigers after seven. Yokohama added a run in the eighth on three singles, but went peacefully in the last inning and that was the ballgame.

     For Hanshin, White was 2-5 with two RBIs and is now at .455. If you want to see pics of White's homers, they are at: and

     Hanshin first baseman George Arias got the golden sombrero (four strikeouts) as part of an 0-5 night and is now at .118. Arias' slump has Hanshin manager Senichi Hoshino contemplating putting White into the cleanup spot in the order, pretty heady stuff for the 32 year old San Francisco native who has bounced around four MLB organizations plus Korea and Mexico. Hoshino likes White's aggressiveness at the plate, though off the field the former Expo is said to be quiet by nature.

     For Yokohama, Rodrigues was 2-4 with an RBI and is now at .308. Third baseman Mike Gulan was 1-4 and is at .188.

     Hanshin's success has also extended to its Western League team, which has won its first four battles of the regular season as well. Tetsuro Kawajiri atarted Wednesday for that team and went seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits.

Pitching Lines:


Taninaka (W, 1-0) IP 7.2 PC 99 H 8 HR 1 K 3 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 2.35
Date                      IP 1.1 PC 12 H 1 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Inamine (L, 0-1)  IP 3.0 PC 69 H 5 HR 3 K 4 BB 3 R 4 ER 4 ERA 12.00
Hosomi               IP 2.0 PC 31 H 4 HR 2 K 1 BB 0 R 2 ER 2 ERA 5.40
Morinaka            IP 2.0 PC 49 H 2 HR 0 K 1 BB 2 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Guzman              IP 1.0 PC 12 H 0 HR 0 K 2 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 3.86
Kizuka               IP 1.0 PC 11 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

E: Arias (1)
SB: Akahoshi (2)
2B: Hamanaka 2 (2)
HR: White 2 (2), Hamanaka (1), Yano (1), Kataoka (1), Rodrigues (2)
RBI: White 2 (2), Hamanaka (2), Yano (2), Kataoka (2), Rodrigues (3), Okihara (1), Nakane (1)
WP: Taninaka (1)
HBP: H. Ishii (Taninaka), Akahoshi (Inamine)
GIDP: Arias (1)
LOB: Hanshin 10, Yokohama 7

Game Time: 3:04
Attendance: 26,000
Umpires: Kamimoto (HP), Manabe (1B), Tani (2B), Honda(3B)

Takatsu Can't Close the Deal and Yakult Loses

     Yakult closer Shingo Takatsu, looking for his third save of the young season, came on in the ninth inning of Wednesday's faceoff with the Hiroshima Carp to protect a 2-1 lead. Takatsu disposed of the first two hitters on comebackers, but Carp rightfielder Tomonori Maeda singled to center and was pinch run for by Kazuki Fukuchi, who proceeded to steal second. Takatsu then unleashed a wild pitch and was taken for a single to center by first baseman Luis Lopez to tie the game and Yakult then went on to lose it in the 12th on a pinch hit homer off the bat of Shinjiro Nomura 4-3.

     Both of the starters in this one were outstanding, Futoshi Yamabe for Yakult and Masayuki Hasegawa for Hiroshima, but neither was involved in the decision.

     The Swallow jumped out first in the bottom of the second when centerfielder Mitsuru Manaka leadoff with a single to center. Shortstop Shinya Miyamoto sacrificed Manaka to second. Rightfielder Atsunori Inaba singled to center, but Manaka didn't want to challenge Koichi Ogata's arm and held at third. First baseman Roberto Petagine then singled to right and Yakult was on the board at 1-0.

     Hiroshima evened it, though, in the third. Catcher Shuji Nishiyama walked to lead it off. Hasegawa then sacrificed him along. One out later, shortstop Akihiro Higashide singled to right and Nishiyama came in and it was 1-1 after three complete.

     It stayed that way until the bottom of the fifth, when Manaka got real gone into the umbrella laden cheering section in right off of Hasegawa to put Yakult up 2-1.

     Neither side did much at all offensively until Lopez, Fukuchi and Maeda performed their heroics to tie it. So let's go on to the top of the eleventh. With one out, Higashide beat out a roller toward short. Second baseman Eddie Diaz sacrificed his double play partner to second. Leftfielder Tomoaki Kanemoto hit one back right at Yakult reliever Tatsuki Yamamoto, who booted it and everyone was safe. Fukuji then tapped a bleeder toward short and Higashide hurried in from third and it was 3-2 Carp.

     Oyamada came on to save it for Hiroshima in the home half of the inning and left a fat one over the heart of the plate for Petagini, who parked it stage right to knot it at three apiece.

     Now with the 19 year old rookie Sakamoto on the hill for the Swallows, Hiroshima manager Koji Yamamoto sent up veteran infielder Shinjiro Nomura to pinch hit for Yasuhiro Oyamada. Nomura got a 1-1 fastball in the middle of the plate and up and hammered it through the wind into the rightfield stands to make it 4-3 visitors.

     Tamaki was sent in to finish this mess and got three of the next four hitters to put this baby to bed.

     For Yakult, Petagine was 3-5 with two RBIs and is now at .353. Leftfielder Alex Ramirez struckout all three of his at bats and is now at .214.

Pitching Lines:


Hasegawa                IP 7.0 PC 91 H 7 HR 1 K 4 BB 0 R 2 ER 2 ERA 2.57
Kobayashi               IP  .1 PC  4 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Beltran                    IP  .2 PC  5 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Sakai                      IP 2.0 PC 28 H 0 HR 0 K 2 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Oyamada (W, 1-0) IP 1.0 PC 28 H 1 HR 1 K 2 BB 1 R 1 ER 1 ERA 3.38
Tamaki  (S, 1)         IP 1.0 PC 17 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Yamabe                IP 6.1 PC 87 H 6 HR 0 K 2 BB 1 R 1 ER 1 ERA 1.42
Honma                  IP  .2 PC  6 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Ryo. Igarashi         IP  .2 PC 15 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
H. Ishii                  IP  .1 PC  1 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Takatsu                 IP 1.0 PC 13 H 2 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 3.00
Shimada               IP 1.0 PC  8 H 0 HR 0 K 2 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Yamamoto            IP 1.0 PC 15 H 2 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 3.38
Sakamoto             IP 1.0 PC 16 H 3 HR 1 K 0 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 9.00

E. Lopez (2), Hasegawa (1), Yamamoto
SB: Fukuji (1), Daita (2)
HR: Manaka (1), Petagine (2), Nomura (1)
RBI: Petagine 2 (4), Manaka (2), Lopez (3), Higashide (2), Nomura (1), Fukuji(1)
WP: Takatsu (1)
LOB: Hiroshima 9, Yakult 8

Game Time: 3:57
Attendance: 20,000
Umpires: Sasaki (HP), Mori (1B), Ino (2B), Arisumi (3B)

Obando Granny, Two Ogasawara Blasts Sink the Blue Wave 12-3

     Nippon Ham collected 15 hits, five of them homers, including a grand slam from DH Sherman Obando, Wednesday at Tokyo Dome to stomp the Orix Blue Wave 12-3. Fighters first baseman Michihiro Ogasawara, who hits in front of Obando,
slugged two out of the park and drove in four runs as part of a 4-4 night that raised his average to .412 and helped his club climb to .500.

     Despite the ultimate extent of the Nippon Ham offensive insurgency in this game, it was Orix who scored first. Scott Sheldon leadoff the top of the second with a single to center. Two outs later, rightfielder Ikuro Katsuragi mashed an RBI double to the centerfield fence to plate Sheldon and it was 1-0 Blue Wave.

     Nippon Ham saw that one and raised them one, however, in the bottom of the inning with a single from third baseman Yukio Tanaka and a jack to right from second baseman Kuniyuki Kimoto and to make it 2-1 Fighters after two.

     In the third, shortstop Makoto Kaneko cracked a single to left with one gone. Ogasawara then got a fastball on the outer half of the plate and mortared it into the rightfield bleachers to make it 4-1 Nippon Ham.

     In the fourth and with two down, Orix first baseman Fernando Seguignol creamed an offering from Fighters starter Carlos Mirabel to right to make it 4-2.

     Ogasawara was the first hitter of the bottom of the fifth and that was when he socked another blow into the seats, this time to centerfield, and Nippon Ham was up 5-2.

     Then in the sixth, the home team put this affair in the refrigerator. With one out and Fumiaki Imamura on the mound for Orix, catcher Kazunari Sanematsu singled to left. Centerfielder Tatsuya Ide walked. Kaneko singled to center to pack the sacks. Tsutomu Tamura was waved in to face Ogasawara, and he balked to score Sanematsu. Ogasawara walked. Rui Makino then took a turn at the center of the diamond as Obando stood in and unburdened the basepaths with a shot into the rightfield seats to open a 10-2 gap between the Fighters and the Blue Wave.

     Orix catcher Takeshi Hidaka homered to left off of Nippon Ham reliever Hiroshi Shibakusa in the seventh, only to have Nippon Ham score again in the bottom of the frame and then get a dinger to left from Hichori Morimoto in the eighth to expand its advantage further and that was the end of the carnage. You got to feel sorry for Blue Wave manager Hiromichi Ishige, who has had a lot to endure this first week of the season.
     For the Fighters, Obando was 1-5 with four RBIs and two strikeouts and is now at .118. D.T. Cromer was 0-3 with a walk and is at .286.

     For Orix, Sheldon was 3-4 and is now at .375. Seguignol was 1-4 with an RBI and two strikeouts and is at .133.

Pitching Lines:


Tokano (L. 0-1) IP 4.2 PC 84 H 9 HR 3 K 6 BB 1 R 5 ER 5 ERA 9.64.
Iwashita             IP  .1 PC  5 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 5.40
Imamura            IP  .1 PC 11 H 2 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 3 ER 3 ERA 9.00
Tamura             IP 0.0 PC  8 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 1 ER 1 ERA 27.00
Makino             IP 1.2 PC 48 H 3 HR 1 K 2 BB 2 R 2 ER 2 ERA 18.00
Okubo              IP  .1 PC  8 H 1 HR 1 K 1 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 27.00
Kase                 IP  .2 PC 10 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

Nippon Ham:

Mirabel (W, 1-0) IP 5.2 PC 88 H 6 HR 1 K 5 BB 0 R 2 ER 2 ERA 3.18
Sasaki                 IP  .1 PC  7 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Shibata                IP  .1 PC  4 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Shibakusa            IP 1.2 PC 33 H 3 HR 1 K 3 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 6.75
Tateyama             IP 1.0 PC 15 H 0 HR 0 K 2 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
2B: Sheldon (3), Katsuragi (2), Satake (1), Ogasawara (1),
HR: Ogasawara 2 (4), Seguignol, Hidaka (1), Kimoto (1), Obando (1), Morimoto (1)
RBI:  Obando 4 (4), Ogasawara 4 (6), Morimoto (1), Kimoto 2 (4), Hidaka (1), Seguignol (2), Katsuragi (1)
WP: Sasaki (1), Tokano (1)
HBP: Ide (Makino)
Balk: Tamura
GIDP: Tani
LOB: Orix 5, Nippon Ham 9

Game Time: 3:24
Attendance: 10,000
Umpires: Nakamura (HP), Yamamoto (1B), Yanagida (2B), Kawaguchi (3B)

Kokubo Crushes Two in Daiei Victory

     Daiei third baseman Hiroki Kokubo and his buddy across the diamond, Morgan Burkhart, combined for three homers and six RBIs between them in throttling the Chiba Lotte Marines 7-3 Wednesday at Fukuoka Dome. Lotte is still zero for the
season, but this was the first time in 41 years that Daiei has opened with five wins in a row.

     Hawks starter Akichika Yamada went six innings and gave up three earned runs on four hits and three walks while striking out seven to earn the victory. Over on the other side, Lotte starter Yasuhiko Yabuta didn't even get out of the second inning before he was yanked in favor of rookie Takashi Tanaka.`

     There was no time like the present for the home team, as centerfielder Hiroshi Shibahara doubled to lead off the first and second baseman Tadahito Iguchi singled to center to chase in Shibahara for a 1-0 lead. Kokubo then literally rifled  a Yabuta pitch into the leftfield bleachers and it was 3-0 Daiei after one complete.

     In the second, Daiei rightfielder Koji Akiyama walked to get the ball rolling. Burkhart went to the gap in leftcenter and Akiyama wheeled all the way around for the fourth Hawks run. Shortstop Yusuke Torigoe sacrificed Burkhart to third, but then the next two hitters lined out and popped out to strand the former Red Sox prospect.

     Lotte's Tomoya Satozaki homered to leftcenter to get his team on the board for the first time to make it 4-1 Hawks. Kokubo replied to that with a solo jack to leftcenter off of an 88mph fastball from Tobe and the inning closed out 5-1 Daiei.

     An inning later, Akiyama singled to left and Burkhart clocked a Hiroshi Tobe offering into the rightfield stands to widen it to 7-1 Daiei.

     In the top of the sixth, Lotte worked a couple of walks off of Yamada and then one out later first baseman Kazuya Fukuura drilled a double to the centerfield fence to score both runners to reduce the difference to four, 7-3 and that was the last time Lotte threatened.

     For Daiei, Burkhart was 2-4 with three RBIs and is now at .389. Leftfielder Pedro Valdez was 0-3 with a walk and is now
at .350.

     For Lotte, DH Derrick May was 0-3 with a walk and is at .067. Frank Bolick did not play due to back pain. He is not expected to miss any significant playing time.

Pitching Lines:


Yabuta (L, 0-1)          IP 1.1 PC 36 H 4 HR 1 K 0 BB 1 R 4 ER 4 ERA 27.00
Tak. Tanaka               IP  .2 PC 17 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 9.00
Tobe                          IP 2.0 PC 36 H 4 HR 2 K 1 BB 1 R 3 ER 3 ERA 8.10
Kawai                        IP 1.0 PC 16 H 0 HR 0 K 3 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 4.50
Sikorsky                    IP 1.0 PC 14 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Fujita                         IP  .1 PC 11 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Nao. Shimizu             IP 1.2 PC 22 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Yamada (W, 1-0)     IP 6.0 PC 100 H 4 HR 1 K 7 BB 3 R 3 ER 3 ERA 4.50
Iijima                        IP 2.0 PC  23 H 1 HR 0 K 4 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Watanabe                 IP  .1 PC  10 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Pedraza                    IP  .2 PC   6 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

SB: Iguchi (2)
2B: Fukuura (2), Shibahara 2(3), Burkhart (1)
HR: Satozaki (1), Kokubo 2 (4), Burkhart (3)
RBI: Kokubo 3 (8), Satozaki (1), Burkhart 3 (6), Fukuura 2 (3), Iguchi (2)
GIDP: Iguchi,  May
LOB: Lotte 3, Daiei 5

Game Time: 3:08
Attendance: 48,000
Umpires: Sato (HP), Maeda (1B), Kodera? (2B), Hayashi (3B)

Kintetsu Salutes the Three Run Homer in 11-7 Triumph Over Seibu

     You would have thought Earl Weaver was in the house after the Kintetsu Buffaloes batting order slugged a trio of three run homers and also got a two run circuit clout from leftfielder Tuffy Rhodes Wednesday at Osaka Dome as they finally beat the Seibu Lions 11-7. Seibu starter Hsu Ming-chieh got a good whipping from the Buffs, as he was rocked for three of those goners and eight earned runs in three innings.

     Not that Kintetsu Buffaloes starter Darren Oli, er, Katsuhiko Maekawa, did all that much better, as he got shaken down for five earned runs on ten hits in 4.1 innings to avoid scooping up a W when his club's offense was going hog wild. So instead, reliever Hisashi Aikyo vultured it by tossing 1.2 innings of shutout ball.

      In the bottom of the first, centerfielder Naoyuki Omura leadoff with a single to left.Second baseman Eiji Mizuguchi sacrificed Omura to second. Hsu pitched around Tuffy Rhodes, which pissed off third baseman Norihiro Nakamura, who thought he was being slighted, so when Hsu sent an 86mph heater up there, Nakamura murdered it, rocketing it on a line into the second deck for three runs.

     Next time around, Kenshi Kawaguchi singled to center to leadoff the second. Shortstop Masahiro Abe sacrificed Kawaguchi up 90 feet. Hsu then plunked catcher Tetsuya Matoyama. Omura then rode a Hsu pitch out to right to double the
Buffaloes lead to 6-0. Mizuguchi singled to center. Rhodes came up and showed Hsu what happens when one of his deliveries is turned around 420 feet away to center and it was 8-0 Kintetsu. DH Nigel Wilson then hit a nine iron to rightcenterfield for a double with two outs, but he was left behind when Hsu induced first baseman Yuji Yoshioka to ground to short.

     Maekawa couldn't stand prosperity, however, and the Lions got a big stack of six singles in the third to make it 8-4.

     In the bottom of the fourth, Kintetsu roused itself again against Seibu reliever Jun Takeshita, as Rhodes singled to right, Yoshioka doubled to rightcenter and then Kawaguchi redeemed the lot with a mortar into the rightcenterfield seats to make it 11-4.

     In the fifth Seibu combined doubles from first baseman Alex Cabrera and Kazuhiro Wada for a run, and then Cabrera doubled again in the seventh as did Wada to make it 11-6. Wada eventually came home on a groundball out to wear the
Kintetsu lead down to 11-7, but the Lions went down in order in the last two innings to lose it.

     For the Buffaloes, Rhodes was 2-4 with two RBIs and a walk and is now at .263. Wilson was 1-3 with a walk and is at .368.

     For Seibu, Cabrera was 3-5 with one RBI and is now at .318. Third baseman Scott McClain was 0-4 with two strikeouts and is now at .316.

Pitching Lines:


Hsu (L, 0-1)       IP 3.0 PC 64 H 8 HR 3 K 2 BB 3 R 8 ER 8 ERA 24.00
Takeshita            IP 1.0 PC 19 H 3 HR 1 K 1 BB 1 R 3 ER 3 ERA 27.00
Toriyabe             IP 3.0 PC 48 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Tomori               IP 1.0 PC 13 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Maekawa             IP 4.1 PC 90 H 10 HR 0 K 2 BB 2 R 5 ER 5 ERA 10.38
Aikyo(W, 1-0)     IP 1.2 PC 34 H  0 HR 0 K 3 BB 2 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Misawa                IP  .1 PC  7 H  2 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 2 ER 2 ERA 9.00
Sekiguchi             IP 1.2 PC 19 H  0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 3.86
Okamoto             IP 1.0 PC 12 H  0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

2B: Akada (1), Cabrera 2 (2), Wada 2 (3), Wilson (2), M. Abe (2), Yoshioka (2)
HR: Rhodes (1), Nakamura (1), Omura (1), Kawaguchi (1)
RBI: Rhodes 2 (3), N. Nakamura 3 (6), Omura 3 (3), Kawaguchi 3 (3), Inubushi 2 (3), Cabrera (8), Wada 2 (5), Otomo (3)
HBP: H. Takagi (Maekawa), Matoyama (Hsu)
WP: Sekiguchi (1)
LOB: Seibu 7, Kintetsu 5

Game Time: 3:13
Attendance: 15,000
Umpires: Tamba (HP), Kakigizono? (1B), Higashi (2B), Nagami (3B)

Giants Take Ten Innings to Get First 2002 Win

     A couple of new additons played a key role in this one for the Yomiuri Giants Wednesday at Nagoya Dome in their 3-2 ten inning ictory, their first of the season. John Wasdin went six innings and allowed one run on five hits and a walk while Yukinaga Maeda, who had a horrendous spring, got credit for the win with a scoreless ninth that was followed in the top of the tenth by a double to the centerfield wall from second baseman Tomohisa Nishi and a single off of a slider away from centerfielder Hideki Matsui to come out on top.

     The Giants threatened in the top of the first with a leadoff single to center from leftfielder Takayuki Shimizu, a single to left from rightfielder Yoshinobu Takahashi and a walk to Matsui with one out to load the bases. First baseman Kazuhiro Kiyohara lifted a fly ball to shallow left. Shimizu lit out for the plate, but leftfielder Jun Inoue's throw beat Shimizu to the plate for the
double play to end the uprising.

     In the bottom of the third, though, it was the Dragons that went to the front of the line, as shortstop Hirokazu Ibata, who had only four career pro homers coming into the game, went over the wall in left and it was 1-0 Chunichi after three.

     Dragons starter Takashi Ogasawara didn't really allow the Giants to get much else going after that first inning, and he left the game after five strong innings ahead.

     With two outs in the seventh, however, Yomiuri put themselves in the driver's seat  it up thanks to a pinch hit double to center from Takayuki Saito off of Masataka Endo, Shimizu's two base rebound off of the rightfield wall to tie it and then a hard shot off the rightfield wall for a long RBI single from Nishi and it was 2-1 Giants when the smoke cleared.

     Hideki Okajima strode in from the pen to try to hold the lead and was greeted with a drive into the rightfield seats by Tatsunami off of a fastball to knot it at two apiece. You can see a pic of the knock at:

     In the bottom of the eighth, the Dragons put themselves in a position to win this game with a leadoff single to right from Ibata, a sacrifice by centerfielder Toshio Haru and a walk to rightfielder Kosuke Fukudome. Unfortunately for the home team, third baseman Leo Gomez flied out to shallow center and Tatsunami popped up to second to blow a golden opportunity.

     So on to the tenth and Nishi leadoff by nearly crushing a pitch out of the ballpark that went for a double. One out later, Matsui was fooled on a slider heading for the outside corner from Iwase, but got the bathead on it and served it into center for the game winning RBI. Closer Kawahara then came on to get the Dragons out in order for the save.

     For Chunichi, Gomez was 0-4 and is at .286.

Pitching Lines:


Wasdin                     IP 6.0 PC 92 H 5 HR 1 K 3 BB 1 R 1 ER 1 ERA 1.50
Okajima                  IP 1.1 PC 30 H 3 HR 1 K 1 BB 1 R 1 ER 1 ERA 2.70
Jobe                        IP  .2 PC  3 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Y. Maeda (W, 1-0) IP 1.0 PC 13 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Kawahara (S, 1)      IP 1.0 PC 14 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Ogasawara           IP 5.0 PC 89 H 4 HR 0 K 4 BB 2 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Yamakita              IP  .1 PC  2 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Endo                     IP 1.2 PC 27 H 3 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 2 ER 2 ERA 10.80
Kito                      IP  .2 PC 11 H 1 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Iwase (L, 0-1)      IP 2.1 PC 34 H 2 HR 0 K 4 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 3.00

2B: Shimizu (2), Saito (1), Nishi (1)
HR: Ibata (1), Tatsunami (1)
RBI:  Shimizu (1), Nishi (2), H. Matsui (1), Ibata (2), Tatsunami (2)
PB: S. Abe  (1)
LOB: Yomiuri 9, Chunichi 7

Game Time: 4:05
Attendance: 40,000
Umpires: Suginaga (HP), Watamari (1B), Tomoyori? (2B), Kasahara (3B)

Trivia Time

     The last three no hitters that have been thrown by Yomiuri Giants pitchers have been against the same team. Moreover, four out of the last five Giants no-nos have been against this nine.  Which club has been the victim?

     Answer at the end of the article.

Ratings for Giants-Chunichi Low at 14.9%

     According to the Japanese press, following the series with Hanshin when tv ratings for those games hit 28.2% for opening day and 25.1% for day two, Yomiuri's ratings plummeted for their tilts with the decidedly less exciting Chunichi Dragons, coming in at a relatively lousy 14.9%.

     The declining ratings for Giants games have helped stoke many of the fears that the domestic brand baseball is on its way out in Japan, but that actually may not be true. Satellite tv and cable outlets are growing in popularity and people now have more choices about what to watch. Plus the Yomiuri conglomerate hasn't done its club any favors over the years by joining games late and leaving them before they are over on its owned and operated affiliates. So many viewers are choosing the wall to wall coverage of satellite providers.

CL Owners Say No to Interleague Play

     One of the solutions that has been proposed to help boost what is seen as the sagging popularity of pro yakyu is to commence interleague play, which proved popular in MLB, in 2003. However, concerns by Central League owners over then being able to play the hugely popular Giants fewer times a season as well as not every team facing the same clubs and thus causing a disparity in the level of competitiveness (something that MLB has failed to address) has resulted in a big "dame" (no way).

     Personally, I'm not a fan of interleague play since I think it takes some of the luster out of the World Series and the All Star Game. So I basically concur with CL bigwigs, though I don't entirely buy their reasons for rejecting the interleague play idea.

NPR Piece on Japanese Baseball

     National Public Radio recently did a report on Japanese players coming to MLB. Incidentally, while you are listening to it, keep in mind that the player they mention as coming to the U.S. next season, Norihiro Nakamura, has said that he isn't going to do so, though he and his club, the Kintetsu Buffaloes, are having a rough time getting together on a multi-year deal. My money is on him wisely choosing to stay in Japan. Anyway, the piece, which is in Real Audio, is at:

Dragons to Play in Cuba in November

     According to Sports Nippon, the Chunichi Dragons are definitely going to play two games against Cuban all star squads on November 6th and 7th. However, unlike the Yakult Swallows, who are aggressivley courting Cuba's Ministry of Sports to allow them to obtain fireballer Maels Rodriguez and/or that country's national team's number one starter, Jose Ariel Contreras, the Dragons insist that they are not interested in attempting to bring any Cuban players with them back to Japan.

KBO Season Preview

     For those of you curious about Korea's professional league, the Korea Times' Thomas St. John has a season preview at:

Sang-hoon "Samson" Lee Calls it a Career
     According to the Korea Times, Sang-hoon Lee, formerly of the Chunichi Dragons and Boston Red Sox and recently picked up by Oakland, is hanging up his spikes. The reason Lee has opted to give it up was that he is "tired." For those of you who can read Korean, Lee reportedly has a statement about this at:

     For those like me who haven't learned the language, you can view the Korea Times story at:

Darryl May on the DL

     Southpaw Darryl May, a former Angel who went to the Hanshin Tigers for a season and then on to the Yomiuri Giants for two more before signing with the Kansas City Royals this past winter, has been put on the disabled list with an undisclosed injury, according to the Seattle Times.

When Managerial Protests Backfire

     While researching another matter on the web, I came across the following story of an incident that occured at Meiji Jingu Stadium on August 15th, 1981 in a game between the Yakult Swallows and the Yomiuri Giants. In the top of the ninth inning, the Giants Tadashi Matsumoto was up and the count went to 1-2. On the next pitch, Matsumoto checked his swing and was rung up by plate umpire Matsubashi. However, the ball got by the Swallows catcher and Matsumoto made it to first safely (this is called a "furinige" in Japanese).

     So then Yakult manager Shiro Takegami came out to protest the strike call on the check swing since he didn't want Matsumoto on base. Takegami asserts that the pitch was a ball and that Matsumoto didn't go around. So the umpires talked
amongst themselves and decided that Takegami was correct and ordered Matsumoto back to the batter's box with the count
now 2-2.

     Matsumoto battled over the next four deliveries from Yakult's pitcher and the count became 3-2. The Yakult hurler then grooved one and Matsumoto launched a fly ball that just barely made it over the leftfield fence for a home run. And as Matsumoto circled the bases, the Giants bench laughed themselves silly over the outcome of the protest while Takegami reportedly sat on his club's bench sheepishly. Is this a great game or what.

Trivia Answer

     The last three no hitters that Yomiuri Giants hurlers have pulled off have been at the expense of the Hiroshima Carp, although this was over a 25 season period. And the Carp have been the outfit to go down in flames for four of the Giants last five no hitters. The dates, locations, pitchers and scores are thus:

October 10, 1967 at Korakuen Stadium, Tokyo (Tsuneo Horiuchi 11-0).
May 18th, 1970 at Korakuen Stadium, Tokyo (Hidetake Watanabe 2-0).
April 18th, 1976 at Hiroshima Municpal Stadium, Hiroshima (Hajime Kato 5-0).
May 18th, 1994 at Fukuoka Dome, Fukuoka (Hiromi Makihara 6-0).

     Breaking up the possibility of making these consecutive was a 16-0 no hitter spun by Kunio Jonouchi at Korakuen Stadium on May 16th, 1968 against the Taiyo Whales  (now the Yokohama Bay Stars). Ironically, that was Jonouchi's worst season to date with Yomiuri, as he went 11-7 with a 3.06 ERA and began a downhill slide that resulted in his being released by the team three years later. I'm guessing arm trouble. Lifetime, he was 141-88 with a 2.57 ERA. He was a three time 20 game winner and averaged less than two walks a game. It appears that he is now a scout for the Giants.

     Btw, the Whales were no hit again that season by Hiroshima great Yoshiro Sotokoba on Septemeber 14th at the Carp's homeground. Final score was 2-0.

April 2, 2002

Yabu Gets First Win in Two Years in 6-1 Hanshin Victory

     The Hanshin Tigers situational hitting Tuesday wasn't the greatest, scoring just six runs despite cracking out 17 hits, but it was good enough to make things work out in the end. However, 33 year old starter Keiichi Yabu has apparently rediscovered something to make himself an effective pitcher once again after being on the verge of civilianhood, and he took the complete game victory after limiting the Yokohama Bay Stars to just one run on six hits and one walk and a hit batter while striking out nine in the Tigers 6-1 win at Yokohama Stadium.

     Doing the biggest damage to the home team was second baseman Makoto Imaoka, who racked up four hits in this one, including a third inning solo homer and fourth inning RBI single. Centerfielder Norihiro Akahoshi also had four hits, all singles, and stole a base while his mate in the outfield, leftfielder Derrick White, had three safeties.

     Hanshin got out in front in the top of the first, as the diminutive speedster Akahoshi beat out a bunt toward third. Hanshin manager Senichi Hoshino then started the runner and Imaoka singled to left to send Akahoshi to third. Third baseman Atsushi Kataoka grounded to first and Akahoshi held, but Imaoka moved up to second. First baseman George Arias then got Akahoshi in with a sac fly to center. White beat out a roller near the mound to put men on first and third with one out. Osamu Hamanaka, who became a father for the first time on March 22nd, shot a single to right and it was 2-0 Tigers after one.

     In the top of the third, Imaoka leadoff with his dinger off of Yokohama starter Hiroki Nomura. Kataoka  singled to center and that was all for Nomura, as Stars boss Masaki Mori brought in Kuniyuki Taniguchi to face Arias, who flied out to center. The next two batters grounded to third and it was 3-0 Hanshin after three.

     The next time at bat, the Tigers got to Taniguchi, too, as shortstop Yoshinori Okihara singled to right with one away. Yabu sacrificed Okihara to second. Akahoshi singled to center and the fleetfooted Okihara was in to make it 4-0. Akahoshi then took off for second with Imaoka at the plate and was safe. Imaoka wecomed Akahoshi home with a single to left and now it
was 5-0.

     Hanshin tacked another one on in the top of the seventh off of Guzman thanks again to good team speed. With one gone, Arias singled to right. One out later, Hamanaka legged out a ball near third. Catcher Akihiro Yano singled to right to expand Hanshin's advantage to 6-0.

     Meanwhile, Yokohama wasn't doing anything with Yabu while all this was going on until they got a run in the eighth thanks to Yabu hitting centerfielder Tatsuhiko Kinjo with two out. Leftfielder Takanori Suzuki the planted a ball against the rightfield wall and Kinjo sprinted all the way around and that was all for Yokohama, as the Tigers cruised to a 6-1 triumph.

     The three consecutive victories to begin the season is the first time Hanshin has done that since 1975. And they became the first club to finish last in a previous season to win its first three regular season games consecutively the following year since the Yakult Swallows did it in 1980.

     For Hanshin, White went 3-5 and is now at .500. Arias was 1-4 with an RBI and is now at .167.

     For Yokohama, third baseman Mike Gulan was 1-4 and is now at .167. Rightfielder Boi Rodrigues was 0-2 with a walk and is now at .222.

Pitching Lines:


Yabu (W,1-0)  IP 9 PC 127 H 6 HR 0 K 9 BB 1 R 1 ER 1 ERA 1.00


Nomura (L, 0-1) IP 2.0 PC 44 H 7 HR 1 K 0 BB 0 R 3 ER 3 ERA 13.50
Taniguchi          IP 4.0 PC 60 H 5 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 2 ER 2 ERA 6.23
Guzman              IP 1.0 PC 20 H 3 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 6.75
Takeshita          IP 1.0 PC 13 H 1 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Hosomi              IP 1.0 PC 14 H 1 HR 0 K 2 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 3.00

SB: Akahoshi (1), Hiyama (1)
2B: White (1), Imaoka (2), T. Suzuki (1), Taneda
HR: Imaoka (1)
RBI: Imaoka 2 (2), Akahoshi (2), Arias (3), Hamanaka (1), Yano (1), T. Suzuki (1)
SF: Arias (1)
HBP: Kinjo (Yabu)
LOB: Hanshin 10, Yokohama 7

Game Time: 2:58
Attendance: 28,000
Umpires: Kittaka (HP), Tani (1B), Honda (2B), Kamimoto (3B)

Giants Run into a Bunch of Trouble in 3-2 Loss

     The Yomiuri Giants have now lost all three of their games to commence the 2002 season, this one to Melvin Bunch and the Chunichi Dragons 3-2 at Nagoya Dome Tuesday. This was also the first "shiroboshi" (victory) for the Dragons in 2002.

     Bunch not only went eight innings and held the Giants order to seven hits and a run without walking anyone, but he also had two hits in earning his first victory of the year.

     Yusaku Iriki wasn't bad for the Giants, either, as he was  in for seven innings and gave up three runs on eight hits and a walk and struckout four. However, he just didn't get the necessary run support.

     In the bottom of the second, the home team put a pair of runs on the board to take the lead. Third baseman Leo Gomez banged a shot off the leftfield wall for a double to lead it off. Second baseman Kazuyoshi Tatsunami hit a ball out near first and Giants first sacker Kiyohara gloved it and tried to get Gomez going to third, but Gomez slid in before Giants third baseman Akira Etoh could get the tag down and everyone was safe. One out later, first baseman Takeshi Yamasaki hammered a double down the leftfield line to plate Gomez. Centerfielder Masahiro Araki then ushered in Tatsunami with a sac fly to right and it was
2-0 Dragons after two complete.

     The Giants tried to respond in the top of the third and got a run back, but blew a golden oportunity to perhaps tie it back up or more. Shortstop Daisuke Motoki careened a ball off of the rightfield fence to start the inning off with a double. Iriki, trying to sacrifice,  hit it too hard back to Bunch, who threw to Gomez and Motoki was meat at third. Leftfielder Takyuki Shimizu then doubled to the wall in center. Second baseman Toshihisa Nishi singled to center and Iriki scored to make it 2-1. Bunch then settled down and struckout rightfielder Yoshinobu Takahashi and induced a harmless fly to left from Godzilla Matsui.

     Chunichi retorted with single to right from shortstop Hirokazu Ibata to open the bottom of that frame. Two outs later, Gomez walked. Tatsunami singled to center and Ibata made the turn around third and headed for home and it was 3-1 Dragons with three stanzas in the book.

     In the bottom of the seventh, Bunch just missed a homer, cannonading an Iriki offering off of the centerfield wall with two away. Ibata singled to right and Bunch held at third. They were both stranded, though, when leftfielder Toshio Haru grounded to second to end the inning.

     Chunichi Manager Hisashi Yamada called on his closer, Eddie Gaillard, to end it and he got two outs before Kiyohara checked in and launched his third solo homer of the season to left to make it 3-2. Gaillard then got catcher Shinnosuke Abe to ground to second and it was "game setto." With that blast, his 445th lifetime, Kiyohara has now passed Shigeo Nagashima on the all time homer list.

     This loss also marks the first time in 22 years that the Giants have dropped the first three games of a season and is the first time that a new Giants manager, in this case Tatsunori Hara, has seen in his regime with a trio of defeats to begin the initial season. Furthermore, if Yomiuri loses the next two, Hara will set a record for Giants consecutive losses out of the gate.Right
now, the record is held by Shigeru Mihara, who lost his first four in 1958. However, Giants fans' hurt feelings were salved by the fact that the team went on to the pennant that year.

     For Chunichi, Gomez was 1-3 and is now at .400.

     After tearing it up in the pre-season, Dragons catcher Motonobu Tanishige is still hitless since the bell rang.

Pitching Lines:


Y. Iriki (L, 0-1)  IP 7.0 PC 103 H 8 HR 0 K 4 BB 1 R 3 ER 3 ERA 3.86
Y. Maeda         IP 1.0 PC   9 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Bunch (W, 1-0)    IP 8 PC 115 H 7 HR 0 K 7 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 1.13
Gaillard (S, 1)        IP 1 PC  15 H 1 HR 1 K 0 BB 1 R 1 ER 1 ERA 9.00

SB: Nishi (1)
2B: Gomez (1), Yamasaki (1), Bunch (1), Motoki (1), Shimizu (1)
HR: Kiyohara (3)
RBI: Kiyohara (3), Nishi (1), Tatsunami (1), Yamasaki (1), Araki (1)
GIDP: Motoki, Haru
LOB: Yomiuri 5, Chunichi 6
Game Time: 2:54
Attendance: 40,000
Umpires: Watada (HP), Tomoyori? (1B), Kasahara (2B), Suginaga (3B)

Seelbach Wild, But Also a Winner for Nippon Ham

     Chris Seelbach started for the Nippon Ham Fighters Tuesday at Tokyo Dome and didn't have what he would term a quality outing from a command standpoint, as he gave up six hits and walked four and hit a batter in seven innings. But he battled and battled and the Orix Blue Wave only hit him up for two runs, partly due to a bizarre Orix baserunning blunder, despite his lacking consistency controlwise to enable the Fighters to edge the Kobe contingent 4-2.

     Orix starter Koo Dae-sun wasn't on himself, and even though the Korean import only walked one and was done up for five hits in 5.1 innings, he was obviously laboring and getting into a lot of deep counts, delivering to the plate 102 times in that span.

     Seelbach got off to an inauspicious beginning in the top of the first, though he was victimized by an error that would have meant the third out before the trouble really surfaced. So it's two out and Orix centerfielder Yoshitomo Tani is at the plate. Tani hit a groundball right at Fighters second baseman Kuniyuki Kimoto, who booted it. Tani then stole second and came in on a single to center by Scott Sheldon for a 1-0 Blue Wave lead. Seelbach walked both first baseman Fernando Seguignol and DH Yasuo Fujii to load the bases. Fortunately, Seelbach then whiffed rightfielder Ikuro Katsuragi to finally get out of the inning.
     Manabu Satake made a bonehead play in the second that potentially cost Orix a run. Makoto Shiozaki hammered a shot over the outstretched glove of Fighter centerfielder Tatsuya Ide with one out and Satake on first. Satake thought that Ide was going to catch it, so he was tagging up when he was passed up by Shiozaki. That is illegal, so Shiozaki was called out. "I wasn't expecting to see him there,"said an embarrassed Shiozaki after the game.

     In the fourth, Seelbach was knocked around a little bit, though he got a key double play to suppress the extent of the damage. Sakuragi leadoff with by swatting a double off the leftfield wall. Catcher Takeshi Hidaka singled to right, Sakuragi holding at third. Leftfielder Satake then grounded to Makoto Kaneko at short, who turned the 6-4-3 double play while Sakuragi came home to make it 2-0 Blue Wave. Shortstop Shiozaki doubled up the rightcenterfield gap and Koichi Oshima walked. But then Seelbach fooled Tani, who popped out to first to terminate the uprising.

     Nippon Ham first baseman Michihiro Ogasawara was the first hitter of the bottom of the fourth and Koo made a mistake that Ogasawara corrected in the leftfield bleachers and it was now 2-1 Orix.

     Then Ogasawara leadoff the bottom of the sixth and he singled to center. DH Sherman Obando singled to left. Leftfielder D.T. Cromer grounded to first to move the runners up. Third baseman Yukio Tanaka walked to load the bases. Rightfielder Toshihiro Noguchi flew to center and it was a tie ballgame at two apiece. Koo nailed Kimoto to load them up again only to have catcher Kazunari Sanematsu fly to right for the third out.

     Seelbach, who had settled down since the fourth, getting nine of the ten men he faced into the seventh, now waited on the bench to see if he would be rewarded for hanging tough. Happily, he was, as he saw Makoto Kaneko crack a one out single to right in the bottom of the seventh. One out later, Obando walked. D.T. Cromer singled to left and Kaneko lit out for home to put the Fighters up 3-2.

     Nippon Ham reliever Kiyoshi Sasaki had a "sansha bontai " (three up, three down)  eighth inning, so the Fighters batting order came to the plate in the bottom of the eighth and with one out, Kimoto and Sanematsu worked Orix reliever Tokumoto for walks. Shigeyuki Furuki pinch ran for Kimoto. Ide then cannonaded an RBI double to rightcenter and now it would be up to closer Iba to defend a 4-2 advantage. Seven pitches later, Nippon Ham had its first triumph of the season in the bank.

     For Nippon Ham, Cromer was 2-4 with an RBI and is now at .364. Obando was 1-4 and is now at .083.

     For Orix, Sheldon was 1-4 with an RBI and is now at .250. Seguignol was 0-3 with a walk and two strikeouts and is now
at .091.

     Against the backgournd of the Yomiuri Giants lamenting problems they see with the new artificial turf and the manner in which the mound was groomed, Seelbach said he found Tokyo Dome to be an easy ballpark to play in and that the mound felt fine to him. Fwiw.

Pitching Lines:


Koo                             IP 5.1 PC 102 H 5 HR 1 K 7 BB 1 R 2 ER 2 ERA 3.38
Yamaguchi (L, 0-1)    IP 1.2 PC  45 H 2 HR 0 K 0 BB 2 R 1 ER 1 ERA 2.45
Tokumoto                   IP  .1 PC  26 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 3 R 1 ER 1 ERA 27.00
Tamura                       IP  .1 PC   1 H 0 HR 0 K 0 HR 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Imamura                     IP  .1 PC   3 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

Nippon Ham:

Seelbach (W, 1-0)   IP 7.0 PC 112 H 6 HR 0 K 2 BB 4 R 2 ER 1 ERA 1.29
Sasaki                      IP 1.0 PC  16 H 0 HR 0 K 3 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Iba                            IP 1.0 PC   7 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

E: Kimoto (1), Sanematsu (1), Sheldon (2)
SB: Tani (1)
2B: Katsuragi (2), Shiozaki (1), Noguchi (1), Ide (2)
HR: Ogasawara (2)
RBI: Ogasawara (2), Sheldon (2), Ide (3), Cromer (1), Noguchi (1)
SF: Noguchi (1)
HBP: Satake (Seelbach), Kimoto (Yamaguchi)
WP: Yamaguchi (1)
GIDP: Satake
LOB: Orix 8, Nippon Ham 12

Game Time: 3:15
Attendance: 40,000
Umpires: Sakaemura (HP), Tachibana (1B), Akimura (2B), Yamazaki (3B)

Kevin Hodges Thinks He's Gil, as He Homers Again to Defeat Hiroshima

     Boy, is Yakult Swallows righty Kevin Hodges hot right now. He went over the wall in his last spring start and now, in his first regular season game this year he did it again to tie the match until the Swallows offense woke up for four seventh inning runs to pull away and down the Hiroshima Carp, 6-2, at Meiji Jingu Stadium in Tokyo Tuesday.

     Hodges permitted just one Carp run in seven innings of work on four hits and it appears he is making an effort to lower his pitch count since he only threw home 87 times while he was on the hill.

     Yakult had an opportunity to take an early lead, as in the bottom of the first they got a one out long single to right by shortstop Shinya Miyamoto and a baseknock to right from rightfielder Atsunori Inaba, but then first baseman Roberto Petagine squirted a ball to Hiroshima shortstop Akihiro Higashide, who turned the double play to kill off the incipient rally. That was the Venezuelan's second GIDP in three total games thus far.

     Hodges got 12 of the first 13 men he faced, but then encountered some problems in the top of the fifth. Carp rightfielder Tomonori Maeda doubled up the leftcenter gap to lead it off. One out later, third baseman Takahiro Arai singled to center to plate Maeda and it was 1-0 visitors.

     But leading off the bottom of the sixth, Hodges took a pitch from Hiroshima starter Ryuji Yokoyama and tatooed it over the leftfield fence to knot it at one apiece.

     An inning later, Petagine lead off with a single to center. One out later and with Petagine now on second, third baseman Akinori Iwamura was intentionally walked. Second baseman Noriyuki Shiroishi taps a ground ball to third that should have been an inning ending double play, but Arai booted it to load the bases. Catcher Kosei Ono singled to left on a first pitch curve ball to drive in the lead run. Pinch hitter Takahiro Ikeyama then conked a single to right for two more. Yakult managet Tsutomu Wakamatsu calls for the squeeze and centerfielder Mitsuru Manaka doesn't miss the sign and now the Swallows are in front 5-1. Petagine then finished off the night's festivities by raining a bomb out near the big scoreboard in leftcenter off of Tsuyoshi Kikuchihara to make it 6-1 in the eighth. >From there, Hiroshima went down in order in the ninth to seal it.

     For Yakult, Petagine was 2-4 with an RBI on the homer and is now at .250. Leftfielder Alex Ramirez was 0-4 with two strikeouts and is now at .273.

     With Yakult taking all three of its games and the Giants losing every one of theirs, Yakult has a three game lead on their crosstown rivals already. Sweet!

Pitching Lines:


Yokoyama (L, 0-1) IP 6.1 PC 84 H 6 HR 1 K 3 BB 1 R 5 ER 3 ERA 4.26
Tamaki                    IP 0.0 PC  1 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Beltran                    IP  .2 PC  7 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Kikuchihara           IP  .1 PC  9 H 1 HR 1 K 0 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 27.00
Stanifer                  IP  .2 PC  6 H 1 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Hodges (W, 1-0)    IP 7.0 PC 87 H 4 HR 0 K 1 BB 1 R 1 ER 1 ERA 1.29
H. Ishii                    IP 1.0 PC 12 H 0 HR 0 K 2 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Shimada                  IP  .1 PC  5 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Yamamoto               IP  .2 PC  8 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

E: Arai (1)
SB: Higashide (2), Daita (1)
2B: T. Maeda (1), Shiroishi (2)
HR: Hodges (1), Petagine (1)
RBI: Arai (2), Manaka (1), Petagine (2), Ono (1), Ikeyama 2 (2), Hodges (1)
HBP: Arai (Hodges)
WP: Yokoyama (1)
GIDP: Petagine

Game Time: 2:25
Attendance: 22,000
Umpires: T. Kobayashi (HP), Ino (1B), Arisumi? (2B), Sasaki (3B)

Five Hawks Howitzers Shell Marines 10-0

     The Daiei Hawks exploded for five homers, three of them coming in the fifth inning, as they absolutely annihilated the Chiba Lotte Marines at intimate Kita-Kyushu Municipal Stadium in Kita-Kyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture Tuesday 10-0. Leftfielder Pedro Valdez slugged two of those taters, both two run shots, to spearhead the attack.

     Junji Hoshino went all the way for the shutout on six hits, striking out six and walking one.

     Daiei warmed up before the main event off of Lotte starter Hiroyuki Kobayashi by mugging him for singles to center by Valdez andsecond baseman Tadahito Iguchi and a walk by DH Nobuhiko Matsunaka to load the bases, Valdez scoring on a Kobayashi wild pitch to make it 1-0 Hawks after one.

     Now let's fast forward to the fifth with the score still 1-0. Shortstop Yusuke Torigoe leadoff with a single to left. Centerfielder Hiroshi Shibahara rammed a double to right, Torigoe out at the plate. Valdez then pounded a Kobayashi curve over the rightfield bleachers and out of the ballpark to make it 3-0. One out later, third baseman Hiroki Kokubo made his an extra grande to rightcenter and just like that it was 4-0. Kobayashi then nailed Matsunaka with a pitch. Catcher Kenji Johjima, not pleased by seeing his former MVP teammate so rudely received, relocated a Kobayashi fastball nearly 400 feet to the righthand side and now there was a six run gap between the two clubs.

     An inning later, first baseman Morgan Burkhart singled to left to lead it off and two outs later waited at home plate as Valdez circled the bases after reaching the people in the leftfield bleachers, 8-0 Hawks.

     Burkhart the leadoff the eighth with a solo jack to left off of Takashi Tanaka, the first time Tanaka has been scored upon since joining up with the Marines. One out later, Tanaka hit Shibahara with a pitch. After Valdez popped out, Iguchi and Kokubo both singled to left to move Shibahara around and make it 10-0. I wonder if Lotte DH Frank Bolick taught the rest of his team the meaning of the words "utter devastation" and "debacle," as this game would have been a good concrete

     The ballpark where this game was played (and the Hawks have just a few games a year at it) has quite small dimensions, 390 to straightaway center and 301 down the lines, so the job that Hoshino did is even more remarkable and Kobayashi's showing a little more excusable, though the Valdez three run homer would have been out of Yellowstone, so there is no glossing over that one. In any event, this was the first shutout tossed there since April of 1992.

     For Lotte, Frank Bolick was 1-4 and is now at .067. Rightfielder Derrick May was 0-4 with two GIDP and a strikeout and is now at .083.

     For Daiei, Burkhart was 2-4 with an RBI and is now at .357. Valdez was 3-5 with four RBIs and is now at .412.

Pitching Lines:


Kobayashi (L, 0-1) IP 5.0 PC 105 H 8 HR 3 K 5 BB 2 R 6 ER 6 ERA 10.80
Kawai                      IP 2.0 PC  31 H 3 HR 1 K 2 BB 0 R 2 ER 2 ERA 5.40
Tak. Tanaka           IP  .2 PC  14 H 2 HR 1 K 0 BB 0 R 2 ER 2 ERA 13.50
Tobe                       IP  .1 PC   1 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


J. Hoshino (W, 1-0) IP 9.0 PC 102 H 6 HR 0 K 5 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

2B: Bolick (1), Shibahara (1), Kokubo (1)
HR: Valdez 2 (2), Kokubo (2), Burkhart (2), Johjima (1)
RBI: Valdez 4, Kokubo 2 (5), Burkhart (3), Johjima 2 (3)
HBP: Matsunaka (Kobayashi), Shibahara (Tak. Tanaka)
WP: Kobayashi (1)
GIDP: May 2
LOB: Lotte 5, Daiei 6

Game Time: 2:46
Attendance: 24,000
Umpires: Yoshikawa? (HP), Hayashi (1B), Maeda (2B), Sato (3B)

Powell Wiobbly in 6-2 Loss to Lions

     Jeremy Powell showed a little bit of everything Tuesday in this tilt between his Kintetsu Buffaloes and the Seibu Lions at Osaka Dome, as he had a balk and a wild pitch that lead to first inning run, coughed up a three run homer to aging catcher Tsutomu Itoh, and then hit rightfielder Tatsuya Ozeki with a pitch to force in a run later on. Powell admitted that his control was terrible when he talked with reporters and hopes that he can regain it in his next outing.

     Takashi Ishii was steady for Seibu, giving up two runs on five hits and walking none while striking out five. He also survived two errors in one inning. He dedicated the triumph to his four month old daughter Yurika.

     In that first inning, .Ozeki legged out a ground ball to third. During the at bat to the next hitter, DH Ken Suzuki, Powell balked to put Ozeki on second. Ozeki then scored on a wild pitch, so I'm assuming that he took off for third when Powell unleashed the bad ball and he managed to score on it. The log doesn't indicate anything else that would allow him to move to third before Powell threw it by his catcher. Suzuki and the next hitter, Alex Cabrera, struckout.

     In the bottom of the inning, Kintetsu recovered by converting an infield hit, a sac bunt, and a single to center by leftfielder Tuffy Rhodes to draw even at 1-1.

     The second inning killed Powell and the Buffaloes, though. With one out, Seibu third baseman Scott McClain singled to left. Centerfielder Susumu Otomo singled to right. Itoh then got a fastball that was supposed to get in on him but hung out over the middle of the plate instead and Itoh hacked it into the leftfield bleachers to make it 4-1 Seibu, who never looked back afterward.

     Seibu got active again in the fourth. McClain doubled down the leftfield inning to lead it off. Otomo walked. One out later, second baseman Hiro Takagi out ran a bleeder toward third to pack the sacks. Shortstop Kazuo Matsui grounded to first baseman Yuji Yoshioka, who threw to the plate for the force on McClain. Powell then plunked Ozeki to force in a run.

     Kintetsu reacted with a tally on doubles by Rhodes and Yoshioka, the balls hitting the centerfield and leftfield walls respectively, though even if they went out it wouldn't have made a difference as to who won the game, especially since the Lions scored again in the fifth  Cabrera walked to lead it off. Leftfielder Wada then seared a double into the rightcenterfield alley, which gave the not what you would call speedy Cabrera time to tour the bases and go back up by four at 6-2.

     For Kintetsu, Rhodes was 2-4 with an RBI and is now at .200. DH Nigel Wilson was 0-4 and is now at .375.

     For Seibu, Cabrera was 0

April 1, 2002

Cabrera's Three Homers, Six RBIs Make Mince Meat of Buffaloes, 10-1

     Alex Cabrera only had two homers this spring but he surpassed that in his third game of the regular schedule with a 420 foot three run blast to left in the first off of a hanging slider, a two run 420 footer to leftcenter in the second off a slider up and over the outer half of the plate, and a solo missile to leftcenter again in the seventh that was gone in the blink of an eye to help the Seibu Lions to an easy 10-1 rout of the Kintetsu Buffaloes at Osaka Dome Monday. Before he hit the third longball, he clouted a foul drive of nearly 500 feet in that at bat.

     Cabrera, the night before the game, had come to the conclusion, according to Sports Nippon, that he was getting his hands out in front of his body and that's why he wasn't striking the ball with any authority. So Monday, he concentrated on keeping his hands back and obviously got tremendous results. That was the first three roundtripper game of Cabrera's pro baseball life.

     The rest of the Seibu order generated eleven hits, including a solo jack from DH Ken Suzuki, to take their first three regular season battles for the first time since 1991. Last season, the Lions were 10-18 against the pennant winning Buffs, 3-11 in Osaka Dome, so this is a good start for the Tokorozawa team.

     During the offensive barrage, Seibu starter Fumiya Nishiguchi, despite saying that he was having commmand problems, was tossing a nice six innings of one run, six hit ball, the lone score coming on a homer to left in the second by Kintetsu first baseman Yuji Yoshioka, his second of the 2002 campaign. Nishiguchi has now won 12 in a row at the Buffaloes homeground. That puts him within reach  of a record held by one of Japanese baseball's immortals, Tadashi Sugiura of the Nankai (now Daiei) Hawks, who beat the Buffaloes at the old Nihon Seimei Stadium in Osaka on 13 consecutive occasions. For anyone curious about how that ballpark looked, go to:

     Nishiguchi has never been tagged with a defeat, though, in Osaka since the dome opened in 1997.

     For Kintetsu, leftfielder Tuffy Rhodes was 0-4 with three strikeouts and is now at .091. DH Nigel Wilson was 2-4 and is now at .500.

     For Seibu, Cabrera was 3-5 with six RBIs and is now at .308. Third baseman Scott McClain was 0-4 with a walk and three strikeouts and is now at .273.

Pitching Lines:


Nishiguchi (W, 1-0)  IP 6.0 PC 105 H 6 HR 1 K 8 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 1.50
T. Hashimoto            IP 1.0 PC  23 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Mori                           IP 1.0 PC  15 H 0 HR 0 K 3 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Toyoda                      IP 1.0 PC   8 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Kato (L, 0-1)           IP 1.2 PC 54 H 8 HR 2 K 0 BB 1 R 6 ER 6 ERA 32.40
Takamura                IP 3.1 PC 44 H 1 HR 1 K 6 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 2.70
Yoshida                   IP 1.0 PC 17 H 1 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 9.00
Miyamoto               IP 3.0 PC 58 H 4 HR 1 K 3 BB 0 R 2 ER 2 ERA 6.00

SB: Wada (1), H. Takagi (1)
2B: K. Matsui (2), Ozeki (1), Otomo (1), Omura (1)
HR: Cabrera 3 (3), Yoshioka (2) Suzuki (1)
RBI: Cabrera 6 (7), K. Matsui (2), K. Suzuki 2 (2), Otomo (2), Yoshioka (3)
SF: K. Suzuki (1)
LOB: Seibu 5, Kintetsu 6

Game Time: 3:12
Attendance: 17,000
Umpires: Higashi (HP), Tamba (1B), Nagami (2B), Yamamura (3B)

Submariner Watanabe Hammered Again in Lotte Defeat to Daiei Hawks

     With Tomohiro Kuroki out for the first half of the season and Chiba Lotte Marines manager Koji Yamamoto wanting to use rookie Takashi Tanaka as a specialist to get lefthanded hitters, the Lotte skipper has resorted to putting submariner Shunsuke Watanabe in the starting rotation and it hasn't worked at all. Watanabe got knocked around quite a bit in the pre-season and now, in his start against the team that released him after last season, he was likewise cuffed around, going for just four innings and being taken down for six runs, five of those earned, on four hits, five walks and two hit batters as the Hawks cruised Monday to a 6-2 victory at Fukuoka Dome behind the stellar performance of 21 year old number three draft choice Toshiya Sugiuchi.

     Watanabe was in hot water from the beginning. After striking out Daiei centerfielder Hiroshi Shibahara to leadoff the bottom of the first, leftfielder Pedro Valdes singled to left. Second baseman Tadahito Iguchi struckout, but Watanabe then walked the next two hitters to load the bases and bring up catcher Kenji Johjima. Johjima walked, too and Daiei had a 1-0 lead. Watanabe then plunked first baseman Morgan Burkhart for another Hawk score. The inning finally ended when shortstop Mitsuru Honma tapped one out in front of the plate and was thrown out.

     While Sugiuchi had just finished his third perfect inning, Daiei went back to work in the third. With one out, third baseman Hiroki Kokubo walked for the second time in the game. DH Nobuhiko Matsunaka then beat out a ball he sent near second. Johjima walked to pack the sacks. And Burkhart got nailed again and it was 3-0 home team. Honma then grounded to short and Matsunaka crossed the plate and it was 4-0 after three complete.

     In the fourth, the Hawks completed their onslaught for the night with a one out single to center by Valdez and a two run cannon shot to left one out later by Kokubo off of a curve ball down in the zone that just kind of spun up there to widen the Hawks advantage to 6-0.

     Sugiuchi had allowed just one hit in four innings, but in the fifth, he faced his first jam when he walked both Takashi Tachikawa and Kiyoshi Hatsushiba. But then Sugiuchi got Akira Otsuka to rollout to short and struckout Tomoya Satozaki and Masato Watanabe to extinguish the fire.

     Lotte avoided being shutout in the sixth thanks to a double to rightcenter by Saburo Omura and the second of first baseman Kazuya Fukuura's three hits to make it 6-1. Frank Bolick then stepped in and whiffed for the third time against Sugiuchi to stop the bleeding. Sugiuchi came out for the seventh, but the first two men reached, so manager Sadaharu Oh brought in Suzuki from the bullpen to quell the uprising.

     After the game, Sugiuchi told reporters that he was able to get his slider in on the hitters and then finish them with his curve ball. He rang up eight hitters during his stint while walking three. He also said that he had watched the Yomiuri Giants Kimiyasu Kudoh on tv the night before and had absorbed what the great veteran southpaw was doing. Furthermore, Seibu Lions righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka had called Sugiuchi to offer him encouragement before the start. Sugiuchi was clocked at a high of 89mph.

     Bolick then hit into a double play to kill a potential rally for Lotte in the eighth when the first two men reached on an error by Iguchi and Fukuura's third single. Just one of those days for the ex-Angel, who has actually done fairly well in Japan.

     Catcher Tasuku Hashimoto homered to right off of Shintaro Yoshitake in the top of the ninth for Lotte for their last tally. Yoshitake struckout the side otherwise.

     Lotte shortstop Makoto Kosaka, a multiple Gold Glove winner, was lost for a month when he broke his right foot during a close play at second base in the third.

     For Daiei, Burkhart was 1-2 with the two HBPs and the RBI and is now at .300. Valdez was 2-4 and is now at .333.

     For Lotte, Bolick's 0-4 kept him hitless on the season. Leftfielder Derrick May struckout in one at bat and is at .125.

Pitching Lines:


Shun. Watanabe (L, 0-1)  IP 4.0 PC 98 H 4 HR 1 K 5 BB 7 R 6 ER 5 ERA 11.25
Kawai                                  IP 2.0 PC 27 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 3.00
Yoshida                              IP 1.1 PC 17 H 2 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 7.71
Tak. Tanaka                       IP  .2 PC  6 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Sugiuchi (W, 1-0)  IP 6.0 PC 117 H 4 HR 0 K 8 BB 3 R 1 ER 1 ERA 1.50
Suzuki                     IP 1.0 PC  14 H 0 HR 0 K 2 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Yoshida                  IP 1.0 PC  14 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Yoshitake               IP 1.0 PC  17 H 1 HR 1 K 3 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

E: Masa. Watanabe (1), Iguchi (1)
2B: S. Omura  (1)
HR: Kokubo (1) Hashimoto (1)
HBP: Burkhart 2 (2)
WP: Sugiuchi (1)
GIDP: P. Valdez, Bolick
LOB: Lotte 7, Daiei 7

Game Time: 3:15
Attendance: 47,000
Umpires: Kodera (HP), Sato (1B) Hayashi (2B), Yoshikawa? (3B)

Trivia Time

     There is only one Japanese player in history to ever hit two grandslams in one game and in one of those innings drive in seven runs with a granny and a three run blast. Moreover, that also gave him the all time mark for RBIs in a single game. Who was it?


     Best wishes to Yomiuri Giants first baseman Kazuhiro Kiyohara and his wife Aki, who just found out that they are going to have their first child in September.

Opening Day Just Another Game for Ichiro

     Well, will there be any sophomore jinx for Ichiro? Monday, he faced Mark Buerhle, who is a pleasure to watch unless your team is facing him, and what did he do? He went 3-5 and scored a run. He was also presented with the Silver Slugger Award, a Gold Glove and his MVP trophy.
     Tuesday, the M's salute Jay Buhner, who was the previous occupant in rightfield for the M's. Much like the guy who had to succeed Roberto Clemente and Dave Parker in right for Pittsburgh or Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle in center for the Yankees, anybody who comes after those two is destined to suffer by comparison.

Hansell, Er, Sitting Out with Hemmorhoids

     Hanshin Tigers minor league pitcher and former Dodger Greg Hansell is hurting right now, but not for the usual reasons. It turns out that he has a raging case of hemmorhoids and won't be able to practice for a few days while they heal. Geez, I bet his ex-L.A. teammate, Mike "gotta take a day off 'cuz I have a hangnail" Marshall wished he had thought of that one.

Yakult Gets Good News About Furuta

     Catcher Atsuya Furuta, even if he has won a batting title during his career, isn't nearly the offensive force that Jason Giambi or now retired Jay Buhner were for their ballclubs, but similar to those two gentlemen, he has been kind of a spiritual leader for the Yakult Swallows, so manager Tsutomu Wakamatsu and his charges are relieved to hear that Furuta won't have to miss more than two or three days with a ligament problem in his knee that was aggravated Sunday in a collision with Chunichi Dragons outfielder Toshio Haru during a play at the plate. He was diagnosed with a bruise from blocking the plate, but there was no further damage to a minor tear he has in the ligament. In typical Japanese style, Furuta apologized to his teammates for causing them worry.

Chunichi Passes on Felix Jose After KBO Claims Rights to Him

     Boy, this is wacked. Felix Jose played for the Lotte Giants last season and had a fine year, contending for a homer title. However, there was a problem with his contract, what the Japanese press is terming a "nijuu keiyaku," or "double contract," so Lotte (which makes a damned good frozen pizza, btw) released him and Jose was then invited by the Montreal Expos to spring training. Jose doesn't fit into that club's plans right now, so the Chunichi Dragons intended to buy his contract from Montreal, but now the KBO, Korea's pro baseball organization,  is insisting that any rights to Jose belong to it.

     Chunichi has had a lot of dealings with the KBO over the years, having made aquisitions of Korean players such as Son Dong-yol, Sang-hoon "Samson" Lee and Jung-beom Lee, who was Korea's Ichiro at the time, though his short career in Japan really didn't pan out. So not wanting to offend the Koreans, the Dragons are going to pass on Jose and now are reportedly looking into getting outfielder Karim Garcia from the Cleveland Indians.

Oshima Suspended for Bumping Umpire

     As expected, the Commissioner's Office handed down a two game suspension for Nippon Ham manager Yasunori Oshima for his confrontation with first base umpire Masami Yoshikawa Sunday. The suspension will beging Wednesday JST.

Mori Not Satsified with Aikawa's Handling of Pitchers

     Ryoji Aikawa, the man who was looked to as the replacement for Motonobu Tanishige, has been demoted by Yokohama Bay Stars manager Masaki Mori, who will go to a three catcher system. Mori said that Aikawa hasn't been handling the pitching staff too well in the club's first two games even if his defense in general is very good, so Aikawa has lost his designation as the "it" boy behind the plate.

Today in Japanese Baseball History

     Today, April 1st, in Japanese baseball history in 1979, the speed gun was intoduced into Japanese baseball games, with the Yomiuri Giants and Hanshin Tigers being measured at Korakuen Stadium (which has since been torn down and replaced with Tokyo Dome).

     And on this date in 1975, Fuji Television's way fab "Pro Baseball News" (think "Baseball Tonight" pre-ESPN) went on the air for the first time.

Trivia Answer

     It was Shigeya Iijima, a first baseman and outfielder with the Daiei Stars (later the Nankai Hawks and then Daiei Hawks; the first Daiei was a movie company not related to the supermarket chain that owns the Hawks now) on October 5th, 1951 against the Hankyu Braves (now the Orix Blue Wave). He slugged a grand salami, as M's announcer Dave Niehaus likes to say, to left in the top of the first and then in the seventh bashed one over the leftfield fence with two on and later in the same inning ripped another bases loaded shot, this time to center. He had two other at bats in that game, flying out to left and walking.

     He was only the third player at the time to have gone yard twice in a single inning. The first time THAT was done was by Japan's so-called "God of Hitting," Tetsuharu Kawakami, a first baseman with the Yomiuri Giants (Kawakami also managed that team when it won its nine straight pennants and Japan Series), who did it against Goldstar (or Kimboshi, take your pick, but it means "Gold Star," who no longer exist) on May 16th, 1948 in the first inning.
     The seven RBIs in one inning stood as a record for a single frame until Yakult Swallows shortstop Takahiro Ikeyama tied that mark on May 19th 1993 in the third inning of a game against Hiroshima, when he cranked a granny and then connected for a three run homer his second time around that stanza.

     The thing about the Yakult game was that it was a wild one, as an all time record was tied for most combined hits by two teams in a game (42; Hiroshima had been involved in the earlier one as well, which was in 1986 against the Taiyo Whales), most total runs in a Central League game (33, tying a faceoff between the Taiyo Whales and Chunichi on October 17th, 1950). The all time record is 35. The game took 5 hours and 46 minutes to play, the fourth longest in history at that time.

     Iijima himself had a ten year career starting in 1946 with the Tokyo Senators when there was still only one league. He then moved on to the Tokyu (also called Kyuuei at one time) Flyers, Daiei, and was with the latter when they turned into the Nankai Hawks.

     He had his best season in 1950, the first year of the two league system, when he batted .322 and hit 27 homers and drove in 77 runs.

     The following season, when he set the record the trivia question was about, he batted .294 with 18 homers and 63 RBIs. So he had about one-sixth of his total production for the year in that one game, though it needs to be said he only played in 85 games in 1951, having 313 official at bats.
      He won a batting title in 1952 with a .336 average, but his power numbers were down to 13 homers.He did have a career high in walks, though with 78.

     His lifetime numbers were G 953 AB 3196 H 901 BA .282 HR 115 RBI 484 OPS .842. One interesting thing was that he had only six sacrifice flies in his entire career, which is pretty amazing. He was also an all star game MVP in 1952.

     The most RBIs in a game by a foreign player is ten, and that has been done three times, once each by three different players: Leon Lee (Taiyo), Bobby Rose (Yokohama), and Tony Solaita (Nippon Ham). Solaita had four homers in his game, one to right, one to center and two to left against the Nankai Hawks on April 20, 1980. When Lee got his ten spot, it was, and still is, the CL record.

     Rose, that same season (1999), was also the first player ever to accumulate 100 RBIs before the all star break and ended the season with 153. The Japanese record is 161 by Makoto Kozuru, who was also the first player to hit more than 50 homers in a season when he was with the Shochiku Robins in 1950. With a better than .460 OBP and a .729 SLG, that's an 1.189 OPS that season for Kozuru, perhaps THE career year in Japanese history in terms of disparity with his other 14 seasons, since he never hit more than 24 homers in all his other years, and he only reached that figure twice. Maybe Jim Albright, if he's so inclined, can come up with a formula for career year disparities, if he becomes so inclined. Anyway, Roses best OPS was around 1.100 and, aside from the RBIs, the disparities with the rest of his career are nowhere near Kozuru's.
     Incidentally, here is a short article from the Asahi Shimbun's english edition about some of the name changes that Japanese ballclubs have been through.

March 31, 2002

Giants Don't Want Any Moore as Hanshin Wins 2-1

     There was a headline in Monday's Osaka edition of Nikkan Sports that said, "Moore Gets First Win! New Foreign Pitcher's Ability is for Real." And to the dismay of the Yomiuri Giants batting order, it was. Hanshin Tigers southpaw Trey Moore made only one bad mistake in his six innings, a changeup he left up in the strike zone that Yomiuri first baseman Kazuhiro Kiyohara punished into the leftfield seats at Tokyo Dome in the bottom of the fourth to breakup what had then been a scoreless duel between the ex-Atlanta Brave and the great veteran lefty Kimiyasu Kudoh. But Hanshin rallied for single runs in the sixth and seventh and another former Atlanta product, Mark Valdez, then got the last five hitters in order to give the Tigers their second consecutive win to open the season, the first time in 23 years the club had done that.

     Aside from the sparkling outing, which saw him have only one inning in which he was in anything that resembled a jam, Moore also picked off Yomiuri third baseman Akira Etoh, who came up in the wake of Kiyohara's dinger. Etoh hit a bouncer to first that took a funny hop and then skipped by Hanshin first baseman George Arias for a fluky hit. Moore also picked up his first hit in Japan, a third inning leadoff single to right, but was then erased when Hanshin centerfielder Norihiro Akahoshi tapped a grounder right at Giants shortstop Daisuke Motoki, who flipped to Nishi, who whipped it over to Kiyohara for a double play.
     Anyway, with Yomiuri up 1-0, Hanshin came up in the sixth and knotted it back up. With one out, Second baseman Makoto Imaoka  cracked a double down the rightfield line. Third baseman Atsushi Kataoka then collected his first hit as a
Tiger, whistling an RBI two bagger into the leftcenterfield gap and it was 1-1 after six complete.

     In the top of the seventh, Hanshin got to Kudoh again, with catcher Akihiro Yano cannonading a double off the leftfield wall with one out. Derrick White was sent up to pinch hit for shortstop Atsushi Fujimoto. Kudoh threw a delivery in the dirt that catcher Shinnosuke Abe couldn't handle and Kudoh was charged with a wild pitch, allowing Yano to move to third. White  fouled out to Abe. Kudoh then chose to walk Hiroshi Yagi, who was pinch hitting for Moore. Akahoshi singled to right to plate Yano and now it was just a  matter of holding on to defend a 2-1 Hanshin lead.

     Tigers manager Senichi Hoshino then began a relay of relievers. Atsunori Itoh came in and induced a grounder to second from Motoki. Hoshino said thank you very much to Itoh and gave the ball to Tatsuhiro Yuminaga, who was touched for a single to left by pinch hitter Masahiro Kawai. So Hoshino called on Masashi Date, who got leftfielder Tomohiro Nioka to ground to third and tempted second baseman Tomohisa Nishi into popping out to second.

     For the eighth, Hoshino put Shoji Toyama in and he made Giants rightfielder Yoshinobu Takahashi ground out, but was done up for a basehit to center by Godzilla Matsui. Valdez was summoned and got the last two men in the inning using sliders interpsersed with cut fastballs and then hosed the Yomiuri batting order for three grounders to first in the bottom of the ninth for his first save.

     Kiyohara reached a milestone with that homer, as it was the 444th of his career, tying him with his former manager, Shigeo Nagashima, for 11th on the all time list. Kiyohara leads all active players in that category. The burly graduate of PL Gakuen High School now needs just 22 more to pass up Masahiro Doi for tenth and 31 more to put now Hanshin batting instructor Koichi Tabuchi in his rearview mirror. Koji Akiyama, a former teammate of Kiyohara's with Seibu and presently with the Daiei Hawks, is second among current players with 432 lifetime jacks.

     Hoshino praised his players after the game for being focused. He also congratulated Kiyohara on reaching his milestone, but said he was glad that his team won in spite of it.

     According to Sankei Sports, the most Hanshin has ever won in a row to begin a season was seven in 1938 in the one league
era, when the club was called the Osaka Tigers. In the post-1950 two league epoch, the Tigers took their first four in 1956.

     For Hanshin, Moore was 1-2 and is at .500. Arias was 0-4 with two strikeouts and is at .125. White was 0-1 and is at .000.

Pitching Lines:


Moore (W, 1-0) IP 6.0 PC 88 H 6 HR 1 K 6 BB 2 R 1 ER 1 ERA 1.50
A. Itoh               IP  .1 PC  2 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Yuminaga           IP 0.0 PC  2 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Date                   IP  .2 PC  7 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Toyama              IP  .1 PC  7 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
M. Valdez          IP 1.2 PC 15 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Kudoh (L, 0-1) IP 6.2 PC 102 H 6 HR 0 K 4 BB 3 R 2 ER 2 ERA 2.70
Jobe                 IP  .1 PC   3 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Okajima           IP 2.0 PC  27 H 1 HR 0 K 2 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

2B: Kataoka (1), Imaoka (1), Yano (2)
HR: Kiyohara (2)
RBI: Kiyohara (2) Akahoshi (1), Kataoka (1)
HBP: Etoh (Moore), Hiyama (Kudoh)
WP: Kudoh (1)
GIDP: Akahoshi, Hamanaka
LOB: Hanshin 6 Yomiuri 8

Game Time: 3:01
Attendance: 55,000
Umpires: Mori (HP), Arisumi (1B), Sasaki (2B), T. Kobayashi (3B)

Mitsui Just Misses a No Hitter as Seibu Slaps Lotte Around 8-0

     A fifth inning single to right by Chiba Lotte Marines third baseman Kiyoshi Hatsushiba was all that separated 28 year old Seibu Lions southpaw Koji Mitsui from writing his name into the Japanese baseball history books, as he went on to throw a complete game one hitter at the Chiba Lotte Marines at Sapporo Dome Sunday in the Lions 8-0 victory over their Kanto region neighbors. In addition to the baseknock, Mitsui also walked three while striking out six.

     After Mitsui, who said he had excellent command of his screwball and was keeping the ball down consistently, whiffed the first two hitters he faced and induced a ground ball to kick off the contest, Seibu checked into the batter's box and lent the second year hurler some early run support. Shortstop Kazuo Matsui leadoff with a single to right. Rightfielder Tatsuya Ozeki sacrificed him to second. DH Toshiaki Inubushi singled to left. First baseman Alex Cabrera then rolled out to second to get Matsui in with the only run the Lions really required in this one. Leftfielder Kazuhiro Wada followed with a single to right and third baseman Scott McClain peeled off a two RBI double against the centerfield fence, the inning concluding with the Lions up 3-0 with one inning in the books.

     In the third, Ozeki leadoff with a single to center. Inubushi clobbered a double to rightcenter and Ozeki sprinted in to make it 4-0 Seibu, Inubushi making it to third on the unsuccessful relay to the plate. That was all for Lotte starter Kosuke Kato, and in his stead Brian Sikorsky took the mound. Wada then lifted a sacrifice fly to left and it was now 5-0.

     The score remained that way until the bottom of the seventh with Takashi Kawai on the mound for Lotte. Centerfielder Susumu Otomo walked.Two outs later, Matsui hit the ball about two feet from the top of the centerfield wall for a double as Otomo scampered home to widen the Lions advantage to 6-0.

     They then tacked on two more in the eighth off of Atsushi Yoshida thanks to a two out bomb to left from Wada, McClain's second double of the game and an RBI single to right by Otomo that scored pinch runner Hiroaki Ueda to finish the day's scoring.

     Lotte shortstop Makoto Kosaka lauded Mitsui for the movement he was getting on his pitches, asserting it was often hard to know whether a pitch was going to be a strike or not. Obviously,. Lotte hitters were feeling crossed up all afternoon..

     Matsui went 2-4 to raise his average to .250. His teammate, Cabrera, was 0-4 with an RBI and is now at .125. McClain, who was pathetic in the spring but is now on fire, elevated his average to .428 with a 2-4 showing and a pair of RBIs.

     For Lotte, DH Frank Bolick was 0-3 with a walk and is at .000. Rightfielder Derrick May was 0-3 and is now at .143. Sikorsky got all eight hitters he faced in his 2.2 innings of work.

Pitching Lines:


Kato (L, 0-1) IP 2.1 PC 51 H 6 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 5 ER 5 ERA 19.29
Sikorsky        IP 2.2 PC 25 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Tobe             IP 1.0 PC 19 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
T. Kawai       IP 1.0 PC 22 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 1 ER 1 ERA 9.00
A. Yoshida    IP 1.0 PC 19 H 3 HR 1 K 1 BB 0 R 2 ER 2 ERA 18.00


Mitsui (W, 1-0) IP 9 PC 115 H 1 HR 0 K 6 BB 3 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

2B: McClain 2 (2), Inubushi (1), Matsui (1),
HR: Wada (1)
RBI: Matsui (1), Inubushi (1), Cabrera (1), Wada 2 (2), McClain 2 (3), Otomo (1)
LOB: Lotte 4, Seibu 3

Game Time: 2:30
Attendance: 28,000
Umpires: Yanagida (HP), Nakamura (1B), Kawaguchi (2B), Yamamoto (3B)

Oshima Blows His Top in 7-3 Nippon Ham Loss and May Face Suspension

     Sunday's game at Fukuoka Dome saw the Daiei Hawks smoke Nippon Ham 7-3. That's going to happen a lot to a dire Fighters nine this season, but the capacity crowd at the Hawks nest got a bonus, as they saw Nippon Ham manager Yasunori Oshima, generally not a bad guy at all but definitely passionate, had his anger go to his head (that's "atama ni kita" in Japanese) over what was called a trap on a ball Daiei DH Nobuhiko Matsunaka hit near first base and he pushed the umpire while making his point, necessitating him having to be restrained by his players and other umpires.

     The conflagration occured in the bottom of the first inning with Daiei already ahead 1-0 and the bases loaded with nobody out. Matsunaka hit a grasscutter between the first  and second base hole and Fighters gold glove first baseman Michihiro Ogasawara dove and caught the ball , then dove for the bag and tagged it with the ball in his glove for what he thought was a double play. However, first base umpire Yoshikawa ruled that Ogasawara had trapped it on a shorthop and when Ogasawara went for the bag he only got Matsunaka. The runner sliding back to first then had to be tagged out, which Ogasawara didn't do. While all this was going on, Daiei leftfielder Pedro Valdez made it home for his team's second run. Oshima came out and the conversation got hot pretty quick, and he ended up bumping the umpire, who is named Yoshikawa,  two or three times while his arms were folded, causing  Yoshikawa to send Oshima to the showers. To prevent it from getting anymore violent than that, a couple of Nippon Ham players helped restrain their livid manager. Oshima refused to discuss the incident with reporters, so we have yet to hear his side of the story.

     According to Sports Nippon, on June 20th of 2000, in a game against Lotte at Tokyo Dome, Oshima got upset over a fair call on a ball launched by Akira Otsuka near the foul pole in left with two on and Nippon Ham up by six. He held the game up for 21 minutes jawing with the umpires about it.. The umpires then tossed him for delaying the game. When the game was over, Oshima became ill and was taken to hospital for what was ultimately diagnosed as a stomach inflammation exacerbated by high blood pressure. He was back in the dugout the next day, though.

     In any event, this is apparently the earliest in the season that any manager has gotten the thumb in Japanese history. Oshima has been asked to leave a total of five times in his managerial career now, tying him for fourth on the all time list with the otherwise pretty jovial Akira Ohgi, Ichiro's former boss at Orix.

     Okay, now that we've gottne the histrionics out of the way, let's go on to the game itself. Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi started for Nippon Ham and had the pressure put on him right away, as Hawks centerfielder Hiroshi Shibahara beat out an infield hit to lead off  the bottom of the first. Valdez singled to center. Second baseman Tadahito Iguchi walked to load the bases. Third baseman Hiroki Kokubo also conned a "four ball" out of Shimoyanagi to force in Shibahara. Then Matsunaka and the controversial  play and it was now 2-0 Daiei. One out later, rightfielder Koji Akiyama singled to center to plate Iguchi and it was 3-0 home team after one.

     Daiei starter Brady Raggio saw one of his pitches creamed down the rightfield line with two gone in the third and before Akiyama could get it back to the infield Fighters centerfielder Tatsuya Ide was sliding into third base. But Ide was stranded when shortstop Hiroshi Narahara grounded out to end the inning.

     In the fifth, though, Raggio gave in a little bit. With one out, second baseman Kuniyuki Kimoto blazed a double up the leftcenterfield gap. Rightfielder Seigo Fujishima singled to center and now it was 3-1. Catcher Kazunari Sanematsu singled to left. Ide then bonked a shot off the centerfield wall to bring in Fujishima. However, both Sanematsu and Ide were left at third and second respectively when Narahara grounded to short and Ogasawara struckout.

     So the Hawks came to bat in the bottom of the frame and Shibahara leadoff with a single to center. Two outs later, Kokubo walked. Matsunaka then guided a hanging Shimoyanagi slider to a seat in centerfield and Daiei was now pulling away at 6-3. Catcher Kenji Johjima singled to short and then stole second. Akiyama singled to center and Johjima crossed the plate to make it 7-3 Hawks. Matsunaka dedicated the longball to his late grandmother Matsue, who recently died of liver cancer at the age of 87.

     Nippon Ham got one back in the top of the sixth. With one down, leftfielder D.T. Cromer doubled to rightcenter. One out later, Kimoto singled to center to send Cromer in to reduce Daiei's lead to 7-3. That was it, since the Fighters couldn't get anything else going against the Hawks relief corps.

     For Daiei, DH Morgan Burkhart went 1-4 with two strikeouts to remain at .250. Valez was 1-4 and is also at .250.

     For Nippon Ham,.Cromer was 1-4 with three strikeouts and is now at .286. DH Sherman Obando was 0-4 and is at .000.

Pitching Lines:

Nippon Ham:

Shimoyanagi (L, 0-1)  IP 4.2 PC 78 H 5 HR 1 K 1 BB 4 R 6 ER 6 ERA 11.57
T. Kato                      IP 2.1 PC 39 H 3 HR 0 K 2 BB 0 R 1 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Tateyama                   IP  .2 PC  9 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Shibata                      IP  .1 PC  4 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Raggio (W, 1-0)       IP 6.0 PC 98 H 8 HR 0 K 6 BB 0 R 3 ER 3 ERA 4.50
Iijima                        IP 2.0 PC 28 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Kurano                    IP 1.0 PC   9 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

E: Narahara (2) , T. Kato (1)
SB: Johjima (1)
2B: Kimoto (2), Ide (1), Cromer (1)
3B: Ide (1)
HR: Matsunaka (1)
RBI: Matsunaka 4 (4) Kokubo (1) Akiyama (3) Kimoto (2) Ide (2)
HBP: Matsunaka (Shimoyanagi)
GIDP: P. Valdez
LOB: Nippon Ham 7, Daiei 6

Game Time: 3:04
Attendance: 48,000
Umpires: Maeda (HP), Yoshikawa? (1B), Sato (2B), Odera (3B)

Newman Cuts Up Dragons, But Yakult Loses Furuta

     Yakult Swallows southpaw Alan Newman limited the Chunichi Dragons to a run on six hits Sunday at Nagoya Dome in a 3-1 Yakult victory, one that was tempered by the fact that catcher Atsuya Furuta will be out for a month or more with a minor ligament tear in his left knee after a collision at home plate in the sixth with Chunichi centerfielder Toshio Haru aggravated his already aching bad leg. Haru was ruled out.

    The Swallows could have won this one in a walk if they had only converted even half of the scoring opportunities they had, putting men in scoring position in six of the nine innings. For example, in the top of the first, centerfielder Mitsuru Manaka walked. He was sacrificed to second. Rightfielder Atsunori Inaba walked to put two on with one out. But first baseman Roberto Petagine struckout and Furuta grounded to third to terminate the uprising.

     In the second, second baseman Noriyuki Shiroishi doubled to rightcenter with two gone, only to be stranded when Newman struckout. Then in the third, they wasted a men on second, one out opportunity when Petagine whiffed again and
Furuta grounded to second. And so on.

     Finally, after having him on the ropes so many times, Yakult broke through against Dragons starter Kenta Asakura in the top of the sixth. Inaba leadoff with a hotshot down the leftfield line for a double. Petagine walked. Furuta singled to center to make it 1-0 Swallows. One out later, leftfielder Alex Ramirez singled to center to plate another. Shiroishi then legged out a squeeze
bunt to get Furuta in and it was 3-0. Out goes Asakura and in comes Shigetoshi Yamakita, who inning ended by having  Newman hit a comebacker to him, and he went to third for the force and then Leo Gomez whipped it to first to complete an unusual double play.

     Newman hadn't been extended that much in spring training and was running out of gas, but got through the bottom of the inning with only a flesh wound. Centerfielder Masahiro Araki singled to start things off for Chunichi. Shortstop Hirokazu Ibata grounded out to Newman, who got the out at first. Haru doubled down the leftfield line to drive in Araki to make it 3-1. One out later, Gomez singled to center and Haru tried to go on Ramirez and was victimized both by a strong, accurate relay and an ace block of the plate by Furuta and was duly rung up by the umpire. Ramirez also had an assist earlier in the game when Chunichi first baseman Takeshi Yamasaki endeavored to go to second on a single down the leftfied line and the ex-Indian gunned Yamasaki down. In any event, the Ramirez throw took the wind out from underneath the Dragon's wings and the inning eventually concluded with Yakult still on top.

     Chunichi threatened again in the eighth, though. Ryota Igarashi fanned the first two hitters he saw in the inning, but then walked Haru. Swallows manager Tsutomu Wakamatsu took the ball and gave it to Hirotoshi Ishii, who was promptly mugged for a double to center from rightfielder Kosuke Fukudome. Ishii then intentionally walked Gomez to pack the sacks. Second baseman Kazuyoshi Tatsunami then grounded to second and that was the last gasp of the night for the home folks, as Shingo Takatsu came on in the ninth to breeze through three Dragons batters on ten pitches to secure his second save of 2002 and his 196th lifetime. 34 more will surpass Kazuhiro Sasaki's all time record of 229.

     For Yakult, Ramirez was 2-4 with an RBI and is now at .429. Petagine went 0-3 with two strikeouts, a walk, and grounded into a double play. He is now at .125. Newman struckout twice and hit into the aforementioned dp and is now at 0.00.

     For Chunichi, Gonmez was 1-3 with a walk and is now at .429.

Pitching Lines:


Newman (W, 1-0) IP 6.0 PC 75 H 6 HR 0 K 3 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 1.50
Yamamoto             IP 1.0 PC 15 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Ryo. Igarashi         IP  .2 PC 17 H 0 HR 0 K 2 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
H. Ishii                  IP  .1 PC 10 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Takatasu (S, 2)     IP 1.0 PC 10 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Asakura (L, 0-1)  IP 5.1 PC 101 H 6 HR 0 K 6 BB 4 R 3 ER 3 ERA 5.06
Yamakita             IP 1.2 PC   19 H 2 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Kito                     IP 2.0 PC   31 H 1 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

2B: Shiroishi (1), Inaba (1), Ramirez (1), Haru (1), Fukudome (1)
RBI: Furuta (1), Ramirez (1), Shiroishi (3), Haru (1)
Wild Pitch: Newman 2 (2)
Balk: Newman
GIDP: Newman, Petagine
LOB: Yakult 8, Chunichi 7

Game Time: 2:57
Attendance: 36,000
Umpires: Manabe (HP), Honda (1B), Kamimoto (2B), Kittaka (3B)

Turman Crushed by Hiroshima

     Jason "the big worm" Turman of the Yokohama Bay Stars, even at 6'9", couldn't stretch through the fifth Sunday against the Hiroshima Carp, as a three run homer by Carp second baseman Eddie Diaz and a two run roundtripper from centerfielder Koichi Ogata resulted in the former Mariner getting yanked early in Hiroshima's 7-6  win at Hiroshima Municipal Stadium. In all, Turman surrendered five earned runs on five hits and two walks in four innings plus.

     Things were looking good for Turman at the outset, as the Stars got an early lead. In the top of the first, shortstop Takuro Ishii leadoff with a walk against Hiroshima starter Hiroki Kuroda. Centerfielder Tatsuhiko Kinjo sacrificed him to second. Leftfielder Takanori Suzuki grounded to second to move Ishii over to third. Third baseman Mike Gulan rapped a single to center and it was 1-0 Stars.

     Then, in the top of the second, Yokohama second baseman Hitoshi Taneda drilled a double to leftcenter to get the Stars rolling again. Rightfielder Boi Rodrigues then socked a Kuroda delivery into the leftfield seats and the Stars were shining at 3-0. Well, until the bottom of the third, anyway. With one out, Turman committed the ultimate sin by walking the opposing pitcher. Ogata grounded to short to force Kuroda. Shortstop Akinori Higashide beat out a little ground ball near the mound. Diaz walked up and jerked a Turman pitch into the leftfield stands to tie the game at three apiece.

     Turman got through the fourth unscathed and his team would go up by a run in the fifth. With one away, Ishii doubled down the rightfield line. Kinjo then tripled to rightcenter to score Ishii, but Suzuki fouled out to third and Gulan struckout before Yokohama could go on further.
     Turman now had another lead, but he would be gone two hitters into the home half. Kuroda commenced the inning with a single to center. Ogata was next and he went "center backscreen" to put his side up by a 5-4 count. Yokohama manager
Masaki Mori dipped into the bullpen and pulled out Kuniyuki Taniguchi. Higashide singled to center. One out later and now with Masao Morinaka at the center of the diamond, leftfielder Tomoaki Kanemoto walked. Rightfielder Tomonori Maeda
grounded to third for the force on Higashide. Mori then called on Guzman, who was greeted with an RBI single to right by first baseman Luis Lopez to make it 6-4 Carp.

     The Carp then put up what proved to be the game winner in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, pinch hitter Itsuki Asai walked. Ogata singled to left and Asai, who must have been running on the play, made it to third. Higashide flied to left and Asai tagged up and ran on in for the seventh Carp tally.

     The succeeding half inning and with one out, Kinjo singled to center as Yokohama attempted a comeback against Hiroshima reliever Tsuyoshi Kikuchihara. Suzuki walked. Kanei Kobayashi came in for the Carp to face Gulan and struck him out. However, in so doing, he also unleashed a wild pitch during that at bat, which created an opportunity for Suzuki and Kinjo to move to second and third respectively. First baseman Takahiro Saeki then singled to center for two RBIs and now Yokohama had the tying run on first. Taneda, however, struckout against Daisuke Sakai and Hiroshima were never really threatened again, as Oyamada earned his second save in the  top of the ninth.

     For Yokohama, Gulan was 1-5 with four strikeouts and is at .125. Rodrigues was 2-4 and is at .286.

Pitching Lines:


Turman (L,0-1)  IP 4.0 PC 73 H 5 HR 2 K 1 BB 2 R 5 ER 5 ERA 11.25
Taniguchi           IP  .2 PC 11 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 27.00
Morinaka          IP  .1 PC  6 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Guzman            IP  .1 PC  6 H 1 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Hosomi            IP 2.0 PC 44 H 1 HR 0 K 1 BB 1 R 1 ER 1 ERA 4.50
Kizuka            IP 1.0 PC 13 H 0 HR 0 K 2 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Kuroda (W, 1-0)  IP 6.0 PC 97 H 8 HR 1 K 6 BB 1 R 4 ER 4 ERA 6.00
Kikuchihara          IP  .1 PC 10 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 2 ER 2 ERA 27.00
Kobayashi            IP  .1 PC 12 H 1 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Sakai                    IP  .1 PC  3 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Tamaki                 IP 1.0 PC 13 H 1 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Oyamada (S, 2)   IP 1.0 PC 12 H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

SB: T. Ishii (1), Higashide (1)
2B: Taneda (1), T. Ishii (1), Rodrigues (1)
3B: Kinjo (1)
HR: Diaz (1), Ogata (1), Rodrigues (1)
RBI: Rodrigues 2 (2) Ogata 2 (2) Diaz 3 (3) Kinjo (1)  Higashide (1) Lopez (2) Saeki 2 (2) Gulan (2)
SF: Higashide (1)
WP: Kobayashi (1)
LOB: Yokohama 7, Hiroshima 5

Game Time: 3:19
Attendance: 15,000
Umpires: Watamari (HP), Kasahara (1B), Suginaga (2B), Watada (3B)

Koike Spins a Gem Agaijnst Orix 4-2

     Kintetsu righthander Takuichi Koike went seven innings and shutdown the Orix Blue Wave Sunday on four hits, giving up a two run homer to Shiozaki in the third and that was all, as the Buffaloes went on to victory 4-2 at Osaka Dome.

     The Buffs went on the attack rightaway to give Koike an early cushion. In the bottom of the first, centerfielder Naoyuki Omura singled to left to lead it off. Second baseman Eiji Mizuguchi then hit one to Orix' Scott Sheldon at third and he muffed it. Leftfielder Tuffy Rhodes walked to load the bases. One out later, Koichi Isobe then cracked a two run single to center and it was 2-0. One out later, DH Nigel Wilson pounded a ball off of the leftfield wall. Isobe huffed and puffed his way around the bases and now it was 3-0 and that's how the inning ended.

     In the second, the Buffaloes scratched for another run. Shortstop Mssahiro Abe leadoff with a double to leftcenter. One out later, Omura sacrificed Abe to third. Mizuguchi then beat out a ball toward first and Abe crossed the plate for the fourth run.

     In the top of the third, Orix catcher Takeshi Hidaka was safe thanks to an error by Mizuguchi. One out later, Makoto Shiozaki whomped a Koike offering into the leftfield bleachers to reduce the Kintetsu lead to 4-2.

     Kintetsu had a couple of major threats afterward but couldn't convert. However, Orix was doing absolutely nothing at the plate in the meantime, so the rest of the game was pretty much a sleepwalk, with Okamoto ultimately recording the save.

     For Orix, Sheldon was 1-3 with a walk and is now at .250. First baseman Fernando Seguignol was 0-4 and is now at .125.

     For Kintetsu, Rhodes was 0-3 with a walk and two strikeouts and is now at .143. Wilson was 2-4 with an RBI and is now
at .500.

Pitching Lines:


Kawagoe (L. 0-1)  IP 6.0 PC 101 H 9 HR 0 K 4 BB 1 R 4 ER 2 ERA 3.00
Yamaguchi             IP 2.0 PC  26 H 0 HR 0 K 3 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Koike (W, 1-0)   IP 7.0 PC 88 H 4 HR 1 K 4 BB 1 R 2 ER 1 ERA 1.29
Aikyo                  IP 1.0 PC 14 H 2 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Okamoto (S, 2)   IP 1.0 PC 14 H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

E: Mizuguchi (1), Sheldon (1)
2B: Sheldon (2), Wilson (1), M. Abe (1), Fujii (1)
HR: Shiozaki (1)
RBI: Shiozaki 2 (2), Mizuguchi (1), Isobe 2 (2), Wilson (2)
GIDP: Tani
LOB: Orix 5, Kintetsu 6

Game Time: 2:29
Attendance: 20,000
Umpires: Kakigizono? (HP), Yamamura (1B), Tamba (2B), Higashi (3B)

Trivia Time

     Which ex-major leaguer holds the all time Japanese record for most consecutive games with at least one strikeout? Hint: he
played with the Mets, the Angels and the Mariners.

What's Wrong with Ishii?

     Former Yakult Swallows lefthander Kazuhisa Ishii started Sunday in the last exhibition game of the year for the Dodgers and could hardly do anything right. He couldn't throw his fastball, which was consistently at 93mph with a high of 94mph, for strikes and  he was inconsistent with his breaking pitches, which showed good movement. Ishii appeared to be tentative and was aiming  the ball (you can tell when it seems as if a hurler is throwing darts). Obviously, his mechanics were a mess and he wasn't the same pitcher I've seen in Japan. Mind you, Ishii was notorious for having three or four games every season where
he would get lit up like a Christmas tree. I just hope that he is getting the bad games out of the way early.

     With the Swallows, Ishii had a swagger, a "just try to hit this" kind of attitude on the  mound, but he didn't show any of that Sunday. Rather, I believe that he may have TOO much respect for big league hitters and is trying to be too perfect. If I were Jim Colborn, rather than monekying with Ishii's mechanics, I would tell him to go out there and just air it out.

     Ichiro had two hits and a walk off of Ishii, so the Mariners rightfielder is now 3-7 lifetime in 10 total plate appearances against the newest Dodger hurler.

Trivia Answer

     The man with the fan was Leroy Stanton, who went 34 contests in a row with a K as a member of the Hanshin Tigers in 1979.

     Btw, the world record for strikeouts in a season is 204 by ex-Dodgers outfielder Ralph Bryant in 1993 when he was with the Kintetsu Buffaloes. Cleveland Indians infielder Russell Branyan struckout 132 times last season in 315 at bats, so if Branyan, would get 500 at bats in 2002, not only does he have a chance to demolish the MLB record, but he could also set a new world mark.

March 30, 2002

Matsuzaka Opens 2002 Japanese Season by Handcuffing Lotte 3-2

     Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has lead the Pacific League in wins in each of his three pro seasons out of Yokohama High School, racked up another victory Saturday at Sapporo Dome, this time over the Chiba Lotte Marines, 3-2, in a complete game effort. The hardthrowing righthander was touched for eight hits and walked one while striking out ten. Both runs he gave up were earned.

     For the most part, Matsuzaka just simply overpowered a weak Marines offense, getting a lot of infield popups, though three of the hits he surrendered were hit to the wall, including one hammered to the rightfield fence in the top of the ninth with two away by Marines pinch hitter Tasuku Hashimoto that scored both leftfielder Derrick May, who leadoff the inning with a single to center, and pinch hitter Kiyoshi Hatsushiba, who Matsuzaka plunked with a pitch, to spoil the shutout. But Matsuzaka then induced a grounder to second and it was all over.

     The only real jam that Matsuzaka got into before the ninth was of his own making. In the top of the third, second baseman Tadaharu Sakai started the inning off with a single to right. Shortstop Makoto Kosaka then sacrificed Sakai to second. Centerfielder Kenji Morozumi then hit one back toward the mound and Matsuzaka muffed it to put men on first and third with one out. However, last season's PL batting champ, first baseman Kazuya Fukuura, could only manage a shallow fly ball to center and then Matsuzaka fanned DH Frank Bolick to cancel the threat.

     Lotte starter Nathan Minchey, the first foreign opening day starter in Lotte's long history, was on the beam, too, and the game was scoreless until the bottom of the fifth. Seibu DH Alex Cabrera came up and hit a tapper near third that he managed to leg out. Leftfielder Kazuhiro Wada cracked a single to right. Third baseman Scott McClain then ripped an RBI single to left and Seibu had a 1-0 lead. Centerfielder Susumu Otomo sacrificed both Wada and McClain along. One out later, Second baseman Hiroyuki Takagi rapped a single to left and in came Wada for a two run Lions advantage.

     In the bottom of the seventh, the Lions combined singles from Wada, Otomo and catcher Tsutomu Itoh to load the bases. Wada then trotted in when Minchey free passed Hiro Takagi and the Lions were in the driver's seat 3-0. Shortstop Kazuo Matsui, who went 0-4 in this one, short circuited the uprising, though, by grounding one to Kosaka, who flipped it to Sakai, who in turn fired on to first for the inning ending twin killing.

     According to Chunichi Sports, Matsuzaka hit 93mph on the radar gun just three times and felt a twinge in his leg in the seventh inning, but carried on anyway.

     For Lotte, Bolick was 0-4 with 2 strikeouts and is at .000. May was 1-4 and is at .250.

    For Seibu, Cabrera was 1-4 and is at .250. McClain was 1-3 with an HBP and is at .333.

Pitching Lines:


Matsuzaka (W, 1-0) IP 9 PC 133 H 7 HR 0 K 10 BB 1 R 2 ER 2 ERA 2.00


Minchey (L, 0-1) IP 7.2 PC 123 H 8 HR 0 K 2 BB 2 R 3 ER 3 ERA 3.52
S. Fujita                IP  .1  PC    6  H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

E: Matsuzaka (1)
2B: Fukuura (1) Morozumi (1) Hashimoto (1)
RBI: Takagi 2 (2), McClain (1) Hashimoto 2 (2)
GIDP: K. Matsui
HBP: McClain (Minchey) Hatsushiba (Matsuzaka)
LOB Lotte 8 Seibu 7

Game Time: 2: 39
Attendance: 40,000
Umpires: Tachibana (H), Kawaguchi (1B) Yamamoto (2B) Nakamura (3B).

PC=Pitch Count

Sasaoka Baffles Yokohama 2-1

     Both starters in this faceoff between the Hiroshima Carp and the Yokohama Bay Stars at Hiroshima Municipal Stadium Saturday deserved to take home a W, but the fact is neither did. Shinji Sasaoka was superb for the home folks, as he allowed only an unearned run on four hits in seven innings, but left the game trailing 1-0 before his club rallied with single tallies in the seventh and eighth to ultimately prevail.

     Yokohama ace Daisuke Miura wasn't quite as wonderful as Sasaoka, but Stars manager Masaki Mori would like his nine's chances if Miura put together a line everytime out similar to the one the threw up here, as he was in for 7.2 innings and gave up two earned runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out six only to have the loss hung on him.

     The match was scoreless until the sixth, when the Stars literally scratched out a run. Yokohama shortstop Takuro Ishii hit one to Carp first baseman Luis Lopez, who had made a nice stop on a two out, two on Takanori Suzuki smash earlier, that he booted. Centerfielder Tatsuhiko Kinjo then hit a slow roller toward second that he beat out for a hit. Leftfielder Takanori Suzuki grounded to second to push Ishii to third, from where he was cashed in on a Mike Gulan sacrifice fly to right. Small ball doesn't get much smaller than that.

     Hiroshima regrouped and evened it in the home half of the seventh. Centerfielder Koichi Ogata walked to lead it off. Rightfielder Tomonori Maeda singled to right and Ogata put it in gear for third. Lopez then redeemed himself with a sac fly to Kinjo and it was knotted at one apiece.

     The following inning and with two men gone, the Carp got active again. Ogata singled to right and stole second. Leftfielder Tomoaki Kanemoto was intentionally walked even though he had struckout in his three previous at bats. Pinch hitter Takahiro Arai then by shot one between short and third to plate the speedy Ogata to make it 2-1 Carp. Tsuyoshi Kikuchihara and Yasuhiro Oyamada kept  the ball on the infield for a three up, three down frame and it was "game setto." Hiroshima have now won five opening day home games in a row and during the 53 year history of the team they are now 28-23-2 for first regular season battles, 17-9-2 when those contests have been at Hiroshima Municipal Stadium.

     For Yokohama, Mike Gulan started at third and was 0-3 with a sac fly and RBI and is at .000. Rightfielder Boi Rodrigues was 0-3 and is at .000.

Pitching Lines:


Miura (L, 0-1)  IP 7.2 PC 121 H 7 HR 0 K 6 BB 3 R 2 ER 2 ERA 2.35
Kizuka              IP  .1  PC    6  H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Sasaoka              IP 7.0 PC 80 H 4 HR 0 K 6 BB 0 R 1 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Tamaki (W, 1-0) IP 1.0 PC 13 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Kikuchihara       IP  .1  PC   3 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Oyamada (S, 1)  IP  .2  PC   7 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

E: Lopez (1), Kinjo (1)
SB: Ogata (1)
2B: Ogawa (1),
RBI: Gulan (1), Arai (1) Lopez (1)
SF: Gulan, Lopez
LOB: Yokohama 4, Hiroshima 8

Game Time: 2:27
Attendance: 20,000
Umpires: Tomoyori? (HP) Suginaga (1B) Watada (2B) Watamari (3B)

Burkhart Blast the Difference in 4-3 Daiei Victory

     Former Boston Red Sox prospect Morgan Burkhart stepped into the batter's box in front of a capacity crowd at Fukuoka Dome with one away in the eighth after having whiffed in his initial three regular season at bats in Japan and took a Hiroshi Shibakusa pitch deep into the rightfield bleachers for what was, in the end, the game winning hit, as Daiei closer Rodney Pedraza then eventually mosied in and struckout the final two batters of the contest to secure a 4-3 Hawks victory over Nippon Ham.

     Veteran Fighters infielder Yukio Tanaka definitely had no fun as the man designated in this one to fill the shoes of the departed Atsushi Kataoka at third, as his mishandling of a sac bunt lead to an unearned run and he commited two other miscues to finish with a total of three errors on the day. At bat, he was 1-4 with a strikeout.

     Keisaburo Tanoue started for the Hawks and he pitched pretty well, surrendering only an earned run over 7.1 innings on five hits, but his own fifth inning wild throw over to first on a comebacker cost him two unearned runs in the top of the fifth and permitted the Fighters to be in front 3-1 for a while.

     Daiei broke out on top in the bottom of the third. Shortstop Yusuke Torigoe leadoff with a single to center. Centerfielder Hiroshi Shibahara then attempted to sacrifice, bunting the ball toward Tanaka, who missed the target at first basel, which gave Torigoe  time to find his way to third. Leftfielder Pedro Valdez then lifted a sac fly to center and it was 1-0 Hawks.

     The succeeding half inning, however, Fighters first baseman Michihiro Ogasawara crushed a Tanoue offering over the 18 foot high wall in left and the game was tied at 1-1.

     In the top of the fifth, rightfielder Seigo Fujishima bounced one  back at Tanoue, who threw it down the first base line to enable Fujishima to reach second. Second baseman Kuniyuki Kimoto then sailed a double into the rightcenterfield gap and it was 2-1 Nippon Ham. Catcher Kazunari Sanematsu sacrificed Kimoto to third. Centerfielder Tatsuya Ide then hit one far enough to right to plate Kimoto to make it 3-1 Fighters.

     In the bottom of the sixth, though, second baseman Tadahito Iguchi leadoff the inning by airmailing a delivery by Nippon Ham starter Tsutomu Iwamoto into the leftfield bleachers. Third baseman Hiroki Kokubo followed with a single to center. DH Nobuhiko Matsunaka singled to right. Catcher Kenji Johjima bunted a ball toward third and Tanaka kicked it to load the bases. Rightfielder Koji Akiyama then got Kokubo in on a sacrifice fly to center and now it was deadlocked at three all. That was all Daiei got, though, as both Burkhart and Torigoe struckout to douse the fire.

     After failing to convert a two out, bases loaded opportunity in the seventh, Daiei took its turn again in the eighth and that's when Burkhart struck the signal blow of the afternoon.

     For Nippon Ham, leftfielder D.T. Cromer was 1-3 with a walk and is at .333. DH Sherman Obando was 0-4 and is at .000.

     For Daiei, Valdez was 1-4 with an RBI and is at .250.

Pitching Lines:

Nippon Ham:

Iwamoto                   IP 5.0 PC 82 H 8 HR 1 K 3 BB 1 R 3 ER 2 ERA 3.60
Kanemura                IP 1.2 PC 25 H 1 HR 0 K 2 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Tat. Kato                 IP 0.0 PC  4  H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Shibakusa (L, 0-1)  IP 1.0 PC 15 H 1 HR 1 K 0 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 9.00
Sasaki                       IP  .1 PC 17 H 1 HR 0 K 1 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Tanoue                   IP 7.1 PC 107  H 5 HR 1 K 4 BB 1 R 3 ER 1 ERA 1.23
H. Watanabe         IP   .1 PC   7    H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Suzuki (W, 1-0)     IP   .1 PC   5    H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Shu. Yoshida        IP   .1 PC   5    H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Pedraza (S, 1)        IP   .2 PC  21   H 1 HR 0 K 2 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

E: Tanoue (1), Tanaka 3 (3), Narahara (1)
2B: Kimoto (1)
HR: Ogasawara (1), Iguchi (1), Burkhart (1)
RBI: Ide (1), Ogasawara (1), Kimoto (1) Valdez (1), Iguchi (1), Akiyama (1), Burkhart (1)
SF: Valdez, Akiyama, Ide
GIDP: Johjima, Valdez
Balk: Iwamoto

Game Time: 3:33
Attendance: 48,000
Umpires: Hayashi (HP), Odera (1B) Yoshikawa (2B) Maeda (3B)

Tanishige More Sludge Than Pudge in Swallows Win Over Dragons

     Was it opening night jitters in a new uniform? Or just one of those days when nothing was working for him? Whatever the case may be, newly aquired Chunichi Dragons catcher Motonobu Tanishige, after a spring in which it looked like his arm had been manufactured by Remington the way it was shooting down wannabe base stealers and that he was about to prove that his career year at the plate in 2001 was no fluke, basically sunk his team all by himself, striking out three times in four at bats while making a critical error that enabled the Yakult Swallows to put two important runs on the board as the birds escaped with a 5-4 win at Nagoya Dome.

     On the mound for Yakult was Shugo Fujii, the young upstart who lead the Central League in wins last season while for the Dragons was Masahiro Yamamoto, the crafty screwball specialist. And in the early going, it appeared that things were going to go all Fujii's way.

     Yakult centerfielder Iida just missed taking Yamamoto downtown to lead off the game, easing in comfortably to second as the carrom was played off the leftfield wall. Shortstop Shinya Miyamoto then singled to right to move Iida to third. One out later, Roberto Petagine collected his first RBI of the new season by grounding to the pitcher to score Iida and put the Swallows in the catbird seat 1-0.

     Meanwhile, it appeared that Fujii was on his way to a high strikeout night, as he fanned five through three innings, but then he threw some strikes that were too good in the fourth. Rightfielder Kosuke Fukudome checked in to kick off the bottom of the inning and walloped an Fujii fastball 455 feet into into the rightfield bleachers to tie the ballgame. Next was third baseman Leo Gomez and he did some yardwork to left on a slider up and suddenly it was the Dragons at the head of the line 2-1. Fortunately for the Yakult marching and yogurt society, Fujii then struckout the last two men in the inning to wipe away any fears this was going to be something terminal.

     In the top of the fifth, though, the team's nickname became the "Ragons" (that's Dragons with no "D"). Swallows third baseman Akinori Iwamura singled to right to lead it off. Leftfielder Alex Ramirez, knowing a good thing when he sees one, followed suit, which also allowed Iwamura to sprint in to third. Second baseman Noriyuki Shiroishi rolled a double play grounder to Chunichi second baseman Kazuyoshi Tatsunami, who let the ball go through his legs as Iwamura crossed the plate with the tying run. Fujii then bunted an attempted sacrifice out in front of the plate that Tanishige, going for the force, made a
bad throw to third on and the bases were now packed. Iida lifted a fly ball to right to usher in Ramirez and now Yakult was back on top 3-2. Yamamoto then hung something and Miyamoto clotheslined it into the leftcenter gap that easily scored Shiroishi and thus the inning ended 4-2 visitors.

     An inning later, Iwamura bounced a ball off the leftfield fence with one out to light fuse for another Yakult rally. Yamamoto then chose to intentionally walk Ramirez. But Shiroishi answered that with a single to left and Iwamura galloped in with the fifth Yakult run.

     Fujii got through the next couple of stanzas with little trouble. Eiji Shotsu came on for Chunichi in the top of the eighth and struckout the side. Fujii, though, was beginning to tire. In the bottom half of that same inning, leftfielder Jiro Fujitate drilled a triple off the warning track in center. Shortstop Hirokazu Ibata then went shopping at the gap for an RBI and found what he was looking for, a two bag special. Centerfielder Toshio Haru singled to permit Ibata to jog to third. Fukudome grounded to second while Ibata touched home plate and now the difference between the two clubs had devolved down to one. Yakult manager Tsutomu Wakamatsu thought that Fujii had given as much as he could, so he summoned Ryota Igarashii to the pen, who has quite a bit more giddyup on his heater than Fujii does. Igarashi induces a shallow fly to right from Gomez for the second out. Hirotsohi Ishii is then waved in for Yakult and he gets Tatsunami on a fly ball to Ramirez.

     When it's the ninth inning, it's Shingo Takatsu time and he had the Dragons swinging at that lethal sinker, taking only five pitches for three outs and to earn one more save toward breaking Kazuhiro Sasaki's all time Japanese record of 229.

     Chunichi reliever Eiji Ochiai, after getting one out in the top of the ninth, came up with an oblique muscle strain on his left side while pitching to Swallows outfielder Atsunori Inaba and was taken out and then demoted to the minors to rehab it.

     But at least the Dragons are going to get Kenshin Kawakami back real soon, as he started in a minor league game Saturday while rehabbing a minor foot injury and gave up one run in three innings on three hits and was clocked at 91mph.

     Of his big blast, Fukudome told reporters that it might have been the farthest he's ever hit one in his career. He also revealed that Fujii had gotten him out earlier with a fastball, so he went up to the plate sitting on that pitch and then swung as hard as he could when he got it.

     For Yakult, Ramirez was 1-3 with a walk and is at .333. Roberto Petagine was 1-5 with and RBI and two strikeouts and is at .200.

     For Chunichi, Gomez was 2-4 with an RBI and is at .500.

Pitching Lines:


Fujii (W, 1-0)      IP 7.1 PC 105 H 8 HR 2 K 8 BB 0 R 4 ER 4 ERA 4.91
Ryo Igarashi      IP  .1   PC   6 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
H. Ishii                IP  .1   PC   4 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Takatsu (S, 1)    IP 1.0  PC   5 H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


M. Yamamoto (L, 0-1) IP 5.2 PC 102 H 7 HR 0 K 6 BB 1 R 5 ER 3 ERA 4.76
Koyama                        IP 1.1 PC  28  H 2 HR 0 K 1 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Shotsu                          IP 1.0 PC  16  H 0 HR 0 K 3 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
E. Ochiai                       IP  .1 PC   8    H 0 HR 0 K 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Iwase                             IP  .2 PC  4    H 0 HR 0 K 1 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

E: Tanishige (1), Tatsunami (1)
SB: Tatsunami (1)
2B: Iida (1), Miyamoto (1), Iwamura (1), Ibata (1)
3B: Fujitate (1)
HR: Fukudome (1) Gomez (1)
RBI: Iida (1), Miyamoto (1), Petagini (1), Shiroishi 2 (2), Ibata (1), Fukudome 2 (2), Gomez (1)
SF: Iida
HBP: Miyamoto (Ochiai)
LOB: Yakult 8, Chunichi 4

Game Time: 3:26
Attendance: 40,500
Umpires: Tani (HP), Kamimoto (1B), Kittaka (2B) Manabe (3B)

Igawa Complete-ly Stills Giants Attack for Hanshin

    Hanshin Tigers lefthander Kei Igawa struckout two of the mighty Giants lineup in the first and aside from a mistake to Yomiuri first baseman Kazuhiro Kiyohara in the fourth that ended up bouncing around the middle rows of the leftfield bleachers, he basically kept them in check the rest of the way in a masterful 3-1 complete game tour de force at Tokyo Dome Saturday. Igawa allowed a run on six hits while striking out nine and walking three. And in one hellaciously unbelievable stat, this is the first win on opening day for Hanshin since 1990! Now THAT is a drought! And even more incredibly, this was the first time in 39 years that the Tigers have bested Yomiuri on opening day and 40 years on since a Hanshin starter had gone all the way against the Giants to win an opener, that being by Hall of Fame inductee Masaki Koyama, a 320 game winner lifetime. Igawa, who was clocked at a high of 90mph, is still just 22, though I doubt that he will approach anything Koyama did.

     Giants starter Koji Uehara wasn't too shabby himself during his eight innings, but it was close enough that a second inning that a towering bomb to right from rightfielder Shinjiro Hiyama off of a hanging slider and a two run "center backscreen" job from first baseman George Arias off of an 86mph fastball were enough to hang him with the defeat. Really, there isn't much to say about this game since Uehara and Igawa were so good. Igawa owned the Giants last season, winning four games against them and posting an ERA in the 1.80 range. It looks as if things aren't going to change much.

     For those curious, Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui welcomed his 2002 campaign with a 1-4 night, striking out twice in the process.Ironically, Hanshin coaches had given a then slumping Arias a tape of Matsui  and asked Arias to watch how Godzilla uses his stride to time breaking balls. the ex-Angel reportedly took it to heart and just missed belting an Uehara slider out of the park in the second inning, the ball caught on the track by Giants leftfielder Tomohiro Nioka.

     Kiyohara's longball was the first one he hit out on an opening day since 1991, when he was with Seibu.

     There was some ceremonial rites on the part of both managers in the days leading up to this series. Tigers boss Senichi Hoshino and several of his coaches visited the grave of Hanshin Hall of Famer Fumio Fujimura and prayed for help in winning the opener.

     Giants shot caller Tatsunori Hara scattered purified salt and sake in front of both team's benches and also at home plate and the mound while praying for success this season the morning before that night's opener. Hara isn't known as a particularly spiritual guy, so this spontaneous little neo-Shinto exhibition was more surprising than what Hoshino and company did.

     For Hanshin, Arias was 1-4 with two strikeouts to go along with the dinger and the two RBIs and is at .250.

Pitching Lines:


Igawa (W, 1-0) IP 9 PC 125 H 6 HR 1 K 9 BB 3 R 1 ER 1 ERA 1.00


Uehara (L, 0-1) IP 8 PC 120 H 7 HR 2 K 10 BB 1 R 3 ER 3 ERA 3.38
Y. Maeda          IP 1 PC  14  H 1 HR 0 K   0 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

2B: Y. Takahashi (1), Fujmimoto (1), A. Yano (1)
HR: Kiyohara (1), Hiyama (1), Arias (1)
RBI: Kiyohara (1), Hiyama (1), Arias 2 (2)
GIDP: S. Abe
LOB: Hanshinn 5, Yomiuri 6

Game Time: 2:37
Attendance: 55,000
Umpires: Ino (HP) Sasaki (1B) T. Kobayashi (2B) Mori (3B)

Yarnell, Bergman Make Opening Day History as Nakamura Powers Kintetsu Over Orix

     Orix' Ed Yarnell and Kintetsu's Sean Bergman apparently made history if one of the Japanese sports dailies is correct that this was the first time in Japanese baseball history that two gaijin pitchers faced each other on opening day. Bergman got off to a rocky beginning when he hit Orix second baseman Koichi Oshima with one gone in the first and then saw a couple of his pitches get bazooka'd for doubles to quickly fall behind 2-0. But he was steady from there on in and came out of it with the victory as Yarnell faltered, in part thanks to two RBI doubles from Norihiro Nakamura, the Buffaloes upending the Blue Wave
6-3 at Osaka Dome Saturday.

     Nakamura, starting at third base, helped cut that Orix lead in the home half of the frame. Centerfielder Naoyuki Omura leadoff with a single to center. Second baseman Eiji Mizuguchi worked a walk out of Yarnell. Tuffy Rhodes then stunted his team's momentum somewhat as he grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, Omura advancing to third. Nakamura then scalded fastball that was up and on the outer half of the plate on a line to the rightcenterfield fence to bring Omura home and make it 2-1 Orix.

     In the bottom of the third, the Buffs stampeded again, catcher Akihito Fujii finagling a leadoff walk, followed by Omura's single to center and a sac bunt from Muzuguchi. Rhodes walked to juice the bags. Nakamura then wrapped his bat around an inside slider and careened it down the leftfield line to put Kintetsu in front to stay, 3-2.

     Two innings later and with Rui Makino now on the hill for Orix, Nakamura singled to start the fifth. Rightfielder Koichi Isobe struckout, but then First baseman Yuji Yoshioka got all of a Makino heater and rocketed it into the rightcenterfield stands. Makino got the hook in favor of Shuichi Iwashita, who then sent something sweeter than a ripe melon up to the plate and DH Nigel Wilson decided to share it with the folks in the centerfield area to make it 6-2 Buffaloes with the back to back jacks.

     Orix tacked on a meaning less run against Iori Sekiguchi in the ninth before being closed down for the day and the fans went home happy with a home team victory.

     For Orix, third baseman Scott Sheldon went 1-5 with an RBI and three strikeouts and is at .200. First baseman Fernando Seguignol was 1-4 with an RBI and is now at .250.

     For Kintetsu, Rhodes was 1-4 with a walk and is at .250. Wilson was 2-4 with an RBI and two strikeouts and is at .500.

Pitching Lines:


Yarnell (L, 0-1) IP 4.0 PC 93 H 6 HR 0 K 5 BB 4 R 3 ER 3 ERA 6.75
Makino             IP  .1  PC 18 H 2 HR 1 K 1 BB 0 R 2 ER 2 ERA 54.00
Iwashita           IP 1.1  PC 24 H 2 HR 1 K 2 BB 0 R 1 ER 1 ERA 6.75
Imamura           IP 2.1  PC 38 H 1 HR 0 K 3 BB 1 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00


Bergman (W, 1-0) IP 6.0 PC 96 H 6 HR 0 K 7 BB 0 R 2 ER 2 ERA 3.00
Misawa                 IP 1.2 PC 34  H 1 HR 0 K 0 BB 2 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00
Sekiguchi              IP  .2  PC 24  H 1 HR 0 K 2 BB 1 R 1 ER 1 ERA 13.50
Okamoto (S, 1)     IP  .2  PC  8   H 0 HR 0 K 2 BB 0 R 0 ER 0 ERA 0.00

E: M. Abe (1)
SB: Oshima (1) Goto (1)
2B: Sheldon (1), Seguignol (1), Hidaka (1), Oshima (1), Nakamura 2 (2),
HR: Yoshioka (1), Wilson (1)
RBI: Oshima (1), Sheldon (1), Seguignol (1), Nakamura 3 (3), Yoshioka 2 (2), Wilson (1)
PB: Hidaka (1)
GIDP: Rhodes
HBP: Oshima (Bergman)
LOB: Orix 10, Kintetsu 9

Game Time: 3:28
Attendance: 30,000
Umpires: Nagami (HP), Higashi (1B), Yamamura (2B), Kakigizono?(3B)

Trivia Time

     In all of Japanese history, there has been just one first pitch top of the first leadoff homer on opening day. Who did it? Answer at the end of the article.

Season Preview by Yomiuri Shimbun's Jim Allen

     Thanks to Russian pro yakyuu fan Sergei Borisov, I was able to come across this fine season preview from the Yomiuri Shimbun's Jim Allen. Please set your browser for Jim's story to:

     I also heartily endorse Sergei's site, which is in english, since it is packed with lots of good info, so stop by at:

SF Giants, Shinjo Unveil Keystone Kops Play

     There was an amusing "sandlot-like" play in the San Francisco Giants-Oakland Athletics game yesterday, according to Sports Nippon. Dave Justice came up for the A's in the third inning with one out and men on first and second and hammered the ball to deep center. Shinjo turned his back to the plate and ran the ball down, catching it over his shoulder. The former Hanshin Tiger wheeled and threw a strike to Rich Aurillia, who relayed the ball to the plate, where J.T. Snow cut it off at the mound and then threw to first trying to get the runner retreating back to the bag.  Trouble was, there wasn't anyone there, though Giants catcher Angel Pena flagged it down as he was backing up the play. The runner who was on second is now at third and seeing that nobody is home, lites out for the plate. However, the Giants third baseman beat the runner there and Pena got it to his teammate for a very strange double play.

     "That was an easy play," Shinjo told reporters after the game was over about his catch. Justice was less sanguine about it, grumbling, "I drove that ball a long way. Who else could have made that play?" With a big centerfield area, Shinjo's arm and speed will definitely cutting down the number of opposition extra base hits and keeping runners from scoring with two outs.

Irabu, Komiyama in Final Tuneup in Arlington

     Texas Rangers hurler Hideki Irabu put an exclamation point on his spring by coming in for the top of the ninth against the NY Mets at the Ballpark at Arlington Saturday and striking out the side and then getting the victory when his club came back to win it in the bottom of the inning, making "The Jellyfish," as he was nicknamed in Japan, a winner for the fourth time this spring against one loss.

     Irabu's former Chiba Lotte Marines teammate Satoru Komiyama started for the Mets and went one scoreless inning.

     Kazuhisa Ishii goes Sunday in Seattle at Safeco Field for L.A. against the Mariners. Ichiro was 2-3 in the DH role Saturday against the San Diego Padres in Seattle Saturday as the M's went on to victory behind a strong outing from James Baldwin. Both of Ichiro's safeties were singles. He also stole a base.

Former Dragons Hurler Samson Lee Picked Up by Oakland

     The Oakland A's have taken a flyer on former Chunichi Dragons southpaw Korean import Sang-hoon "Samson" Lee. Lee was with the Dragons for 1998 and 1999 and will begin the season in the A's minor league system. He told reporters in Japanese that  he liked playing for Senichi Hoshino, who is now running things for Hanshin. "Hoshino is a good man, I wish him the best," Lee cheered.

     Lee then signed with Boston for a signing bonus in excess of $1 million in 2000, but never fulfilled the promise they thought he had.

     One interesting fact about Lee was that the Dragons sent Kevin Jarvis, now a Padre, down to the minors in order to add Lee to their middle relief staff after Lee was signed away from the LG Twins, with whom he lead his league in wins two consecutive seasons (1994-1995), that 1995 20-5 record earning him an MVP. Lee broke in on a bad note, though, when the first batter he faced in Japan, Yomiuri utility man Daisuke Motoki, homered off of him.

More Proof That Bud Selig is a Liar

     Forbes Magazine just had a gander at MLB's books and to absolutely nobody's surprise, it looks like Bud Selig told one big old fib when he testified (some of us would say perjured himself) before Congress. Have a look:

     Btw, according to Forbes, who is more profitable: the Milwaukee Brewers or the New York Yankees? Guess again Skeezix, it ain't Swinebrenner's crew.

This Day In Japanese Baseball History

     On this day, March 30, 1978, Minoru Matsumoto of Maebashi High School pitched the first perfect game in Koshien tournament history against a high school from Shiga Prefecture.

And on this day in 1957, Yoshinobu Uemura of the Mainichi Orions (now the Chiba Lotte Marines) needed just 71 pitches to down the Nishitetsu (now Seibu) Lions at Heiwadai Stadium (which was torn down a few years ago). That is the fewest number of deliveries for a complete game in Japanese history.And for those of you who I know will ask, Uemura won in double figures just three times in his nine season career, going 74-69 with an ERA of 2.69. Best years were in 1955 (17-10 2.13 in 220 innings) and 1956 (19-5 2.01 in 232.2 innings, all career bests). Averaged about 2.5 BB/9 lifetime. 1957, though, was 8-16 despite a 2.84 ERA. Uemura is presently working in Lotte's front office.

     Info culled from: and (both sites are in Japanese).

Trivia Answer

     The sole batter to leadoff an opening day game with a first pitch dinger was the late outfielder Sukehiro Moroki of the Hankyu Braves (now the Orix Blue Wave) on April 7, 1962 against the Nankai (now Daiei) Hawks. The lucky hurler? Joe Stanka, whose MLB career with the Chicago White Sox consisted of two games, 5.1 innings total in 1958 before he shipped out to Japan in 1960 and became a pretty effective pitcher there, eventually becoming a 26 game winner in 1964. Stanka's career totals for Japan were 100-72 in seven seasons with an ERA of 3.03.

     Moroki, when he was going to Keio University, one of Japan's most prestigious private schools, was the first post-war Triple Crown winner in the Tokyo Big Six University League. He joined the Mainichi Orions in 1957 and then moved over to Hankyu in 1960. His numbers: batted .250 during eleven seasons, hitting 51 homers, driving in 313 and posting a lifetime OPS of .652. He appeared in two all star games during his career.





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