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Standridge, Tanaka lead top July performers

by Jim Allen (Aug 5, 2011)

Things have just been going Jason Standridge's way. At least that's how he explained his second straight Central League Pitcher of the Month Award on Thursday.

"I've been lucky," the Tigers right-hander told The Daily Yomiuri at Tokyo Dome before Hanshin's game with the Yomiuri Giants.

Standridge was 3-0 with a 0.55 ERA in four July starts. His one no-decision was a 1-0 shutout defeat to the Chunichi Dragons on July 5 in Nagoya.

The Pacific League's pitcher of the month was also a repeater from June, Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.

Tanaka, whose 1.16 ERA leads the PL, went 3-1 in July with a 1.10 ERA. It was the fifth monthly MVP of his career.

The honor for best PL position player went to Atsunori Inaba of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

The 38-year-old batted .377 with three doubles, two triples, three homers, 10 runs and 13 RBIs to win for the fourth time in his career.

An outfielder for most of his career, Inaba has spent most of this season at designated hitter, although he took over the Fighters' first base job at the end of June.

Chunichi Dragons third baseman Masahiko Morino was the CL's position player of the month. Morino batted .344 with four doubles, four homers, 13 runs and 10 RBIs to win for the first time.

Although the award was Standridge's second in two months, he had never won before June.

Standridge who first came to Japan with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks for 1-1/2 seasons starting in June 2007, has had a rebirth with the Tigers, who brought him back in April 2010.

Since joining Hanshin, the 1.91-meter 32-year-old has gone 19-7, although he struggled to find his form in April and May.

There is more to his Hanshin renaissance than just good luck, however. Standridge also gives Tigers pitching coach Yasuo Kubo a share of the credit.

"He's been great, ever since I got here," Standridge said. "I have a tendency of coming off the mound toward first base. He's given me a number of simple drills that have helped me correct that. When I come off the mound square, I find I have much better location on my fastball. It's all about location."

With location came success and with success, confidence. That in turn has helped him be more aggressive.

"I find I'm less afraid of failing," he said. "When things aren't working that well, I remember my success."

When he came to the Tigers, he said Kubo gave him an attitude adjustment that has also been a contributing factor.

"He's been a great help, even considering that I don't have the same thought process as a Japanese pitcher," Standridge said.

"I used to think I had to be aggressive just with my fastball. I've learned [from Kubo] that I can be aggressive with my changeup and my curve and my slider.

"He changed some of the stupid thinking I had as an American."


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