Monday, March 05, 2007

Cactus League Crap, and Softbank's Almost-Perfecto

Well, if you're a Mariners fan, there's not a lot of joy to be had in Mudville yet, or in the Cactus League, as the case may be. The Mariners have lost all of the games they've played this preseason so far -- counting the exhibition on March 1, they're a collective 0-5. The good news, on the other hand, is that they lost four out of those five games by only one run, and the other game by two runs. The Pythagorean Runs equation suggests that a team that's been outscored 13-19 in five games usually will not have lost all five of those games as well, so things should hopefully regress to the mean soon. Maybe even in today's game against the Cubs.

Or not. It's spring training, after all. I mean, who would predict something like Greg Dobbs leading the Phillies in home runs at this point (and getting his second one off of now-RedSox-player Joel Pineiro)?

Here's an actual good article on Masumi Kuwata, which even mentions his indentured servitude to Yomiuri. Kuwata finally made his spring training debut for the Pirates on Sunday, pitching one inning, giving up no hits and striking out 2. The Pirates have also not yet won a preseason game.

Of course, in my opinion, the most interesting game this weekend -- possibly even of the entire preseason -- was the Softbank Hawks vs. Yomiuri Giants game on Sunday, where the Softbank Hawks pitchers Tsuyoshi Wada, Keisuke Kattoh, CJ Nitkowski, Kazuhiro Takeoka, and Yoshiaki Fujioka combined to retire the first 26 batters of the game before Ryota Wakiya, the 27th Giants batter of the game, hit a single up the middle to break up the perfect game, making it a one-hitter instead.

More discussion of the game in English is here and the Japan Baseball Daily recounting of it is here. The Hawks pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts, Wada striking out the side in the first and eventually notching 5 in 4 innings, and Takeoka striking out the side in the 8th inning. Also, and I know this is petty, but Ogasawara's clean-shaven doppleganger struck out in all three of his at-bats. Nyah. Seung-Yeop Lee also fanned twice and Yoshitomo Tani grounded out weakly to second to end the game. If the rest of the season goes this way for the Giants, it'll be pretty funny.

Ironically, Wakiya was the only base runner in Kazumi Saitoh's almost-perfect-game last year on Kenji Johjima's birthday, also against the Giants during interleague play. In that game, Wakiya beat out an infield hit in the 6th inning but was picked off, so Saitoh finished the game having faced 27 batters, throwing 115 pitches, walking none and striking out 12.

At any rate, the Hawks scare me. A lot. What sucks even more is that now that the Fighters and Marines have won Japan Series championships recently, I have no real reason to hate the Hawks so much anymore, and may even have to stop pretending not to be a closet fan. Well, aside from the fact that it looks like their internet broadcasts are only going to work in Japan this year as opposed to everywhere as they did in the past, of course.

Fighters pictures of the week: グリンとグリーン ("Glynn and Green"), and er, Hichori is home!

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