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Pro Yakyu This Week: Sayonara Hanshin

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Pro Yakyu This Week: Sayonara Hanshin
I've just completed the broadcast for Pro Yakyu This Week for the week of September 8-14, 2008. You can get the full podcast here [184.5KB MP3 approximately 25 minutes].

There have been some people who have had trouble downloading this to their MP3 players as clicking on the link will often open a player that starts playing the podcast rather than saving it. To save the file to copy to an external device, right-click ([Control]+[click] on a Mac) and select "Save as..." from the context menu. It's up to you to remember where you save the file on your hard drive, and how to copy it to your portable device.

If any sound experts wish to clean up the broadcast (like with GarageBand), I'd gladly accept the help.

Kudos to Ken D. who not only suggested a Who's Hot/Who's Not segment, but also spent the necessary time to prepare the segment for us.
Transcript Part 1
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Sep 16, 2008 11:51 PM | YBS Fan ]

Pro Yakyu This Week
September 8-14, 2008

Standings for the week:

Start of play September 8: End of play September 14: The week's results:

1 Hanshin 70 47 1 .598 - 1 Hanshin 74 49 1 .602 - vs YAK 3-0, vs HIR 1-2 = 4-2
2 Giants 66 51 2 .564 4 2 Giants 70 53 2 .569 4 vs CHU 1-2, vs YAK 3-0 = 4-2
3 Chunichi 58 57 5 .504 11 3 Chunichi 61 60 5 .504 12 vs YOM 2-1, vs YOK 1-2 = 3-3
4 Hiroshima 56 59 4 .4869 13 4 Hiroshima 60 61 4 .496 13 vs YOK 2-1, vs HAN 2-1 = 4-2
5 Yakult 55 58 3 .4867 13 5 Yakult 55 64 3 .462 17 vs HAN 0-3, vs YOM 0-3 = 0-6
6 Yokohama 40 75 1 .348 29 6 Yokohama 43 78 1 .355 30 vs HIR 1-2, vs CHU 2-1 = 3-3

1 Seibu 56 52 4 .567 M14 1 Seibu 70 55 4 .560 M10 vs NIP 1-2, vs RAK 1-1 = 2-3
2 Orix 64 60 1 .516 6 2 Orix 67 62 1 .519 5 vs LOT 3-0, vs NIP 0-2 = 3-2
3 Lotte 62 62 0 .500 8 \ / 3 Nippon Ham 65 64 2 .504 7 vs SEI 2-1, vs ORX 2-0 = 4-1
4 SoftBank 59 60 3 .496 8.5 \X 4 Lotte 64 65 0 .496 8 vs ORX 0-3, vs SFT 2-0 = 2-3
5 Nippon Ham 61 63 2 .492 9 /\ 5 SoftBank 60 64 3 .484 9.5 vs RAK 1-2, vs LOT 0-2 = 1-4
6 Rakuten 51 66 2 .436 15.5 6 Rakuten 54 68 2 .443 14.5 vs NIP 2-1, vs SEI 1-1 = 3-2
Sayonara Hanshin!

Hanshin their first card of the week 3-0 against Yakult with three sayonara victories in a row.

On Tuesday, leading off the bottom of the 9th with the scored tied 2-2, Yano came up for the first time in the game (he had entered as a defensive replacement for Noguchi) and hit a solo home run to center field on the first pitch by Oshimoto for the first sayonara win.

On Wednesday, it was Katsuragi drawing a bases loaded, two out walk in the bottom of the 9th allowing the Tigers to walk off with the victory 4-3.

And on Thursday, down 2-4 in the bottom of the 9th, the Tigers rally against Lim for three runs, capped off by yet another sayonara walk, this time to Okamoto, just returning to ichi-gun and having hit a 2-run home run in his first at bat back in the first.

The three sayonara victories in a row mark the 11th time that such a feat has been accomplished, the first time dating back to the 1939 Tokyo Senators. Hanshin has done it in 1947, 1980, 2002, and now 2008. But this marks just the third time a team has swept the card (a series of games against the same opponent):

Yakult: September 19-21, 1978 vs. Chunichi
Nippon Ham: April 22-24, 1997 vs. Daiei
Hanshin: September 9-11, 2008 vs. Yakult

After losing to Hiroshima on Friday, Hanshin won their fourth sayonara victory on Saturday. This match up between Hanshin and Hiroshima turned out to be a 10 inning, 1-0 affair with the only run of the game coming on a 1-out double to left by Yano to score Sekimoto from first base.

Despite winning their Magic Number back early in the week, Hanshin ends the week again with the Magic Number going dark for the 6th time this season, shattering all other on/off streaks by a good margin.

Mura Brothers Hitting Hard

While the BayStars dropping to 30 games under the first place Tigers isn't much to celebrate, there have been a few bright spots in Yokohama. Uchikawa, for instance, driving to become the top hitting right handed batter in NPB history, hitting .380 on Saturday before a 1 for 4 outing on Sunday dropped him back to .379. But the really big hitters of the week have got to be the Mura brothers: Murata and Yoshimura. Murata taking over the Home Run Title by a good margin with a big home run hitting binge.
                     Murata  Yoshimura
Tuesday vs. HIR - - Defeat HIR 8-3 with no home runs
Wednesday #35 - Lose to HIR 4-3 (Murata HR a jinx?)
Thursday - #28 Lose to HIR 3-4 (Yoshimura also jinxed?)
Friday vs. CHU #36,37 #29 Avec arches to defeat CHU 7-1, match Rami@37
Saturday #38 #30 Avec arches defeat CHU 5-4, solitary King
Sunday #39,40 #31 Avec arches in 8-4 loss, 3 PA HR in a row
Murata's 40th home run of the season marks the 4th time a Yokohama player has reached this landmark. Previously Woods (now with CHU) did it in 2003-'04 with 40 and 45 home runs respectively, and Tamura hit 40 home runs in 2004.

The three consecutive avec games for the Mura brothers. The record for most consecutive games where a pair has hit home runs in each of the games was when Hankyu's Ishimine and Boomer hit avec arches in 4 consecutive games from September 6-10, 1987.

Murata has also caught up to and surpassed the Giants' Ramirez who had stalled at 37 home runs as of Friday.

The only down side, as mentioned in last week's Pro Yakyu This Week, is that the BayStars are still at or below .500 when Murata and/or Yoshimura hit the long ball. The pitching staff just can't seem to keep a lid on the opponents despite the help these two have been on offense.
Transcript Part 2
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Sep 16, 2008 11:53 PM | YBS Fan ]

Nippon Ham Wins at Seibu Dome

Darvish breaks Nippon Ham's winless streak at Seibu Dome on Tuesday with a 4-1 victory over the front running Lions. Seibu Dome has just been a demon's den for the Fighters this season, losing 7 in a row at the covered stadium after an initial tie on April 15. The Fighters then made it two in a row with a tight 6-5 victory on Wednesday before losing on Thursday 3-5. A losing record for the Fighters against Seibu has already been decided as the Fighters are 7 and 14 (with 1 tie) against the Pacific League leaders.

Iwakuma Wins 18th

Like the BayStars, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles have had very little to cheer about this season. But rather than having a pair of home run hitters providing the excitement, it's been pitcher Iwakuma, and his lack of allowing home runs, that has really been a bright spot for the Eagles.

Winning his 18th game on Tuesday, Iwakuma is on his way to becoming the first 20 game winner since Igawa (Hanshin) and Saitoh (Daiei) both won 20 in 2003. But what is more impressive is that Iwakuma has not given up a single home run to any of the other five Pacific League teams so far this season. The only home runs he's allowed were in inter-league play, one on May 23 to Yokohama's Murata and one one May 31 to Hiroshima's Kura. After that, Iwakuma has gone 95 innings without allowing a home run.

Since two-league play began, the fewest home runs allowed during a season by a pitcher qualifying for a title has been Nishitetsu's Inao Kazuhisa in 1956. (Inao is mentioned a number of times in Fitts-san's Wally Yonamine biography. It's amazing how much more meaningful some of these records are after being put into context by a historical book like that.)

Orix is Hot

While the Seibu Lions have been playing .500 ball for the past several month, the Orix Buffaloes have really come on strong of late. After winning 7 in a row to jump from 4th place to 2nd at the end of August to the first week of September, Orix lost one then won 4 in a row, sweeping the Chiba Lotte Marines for the first card of the week. The sweep included a dramatic come from behind victory on Wednesday and Caburho (is this spelling better than Caburo?) hitting avec arches in a 6-1 win on Thursday.

With a number of injuries to Seibu and the huge resurgence of the Buffaloes, there are those who are starting to think that Orix just might have a shot at both the pennant and league championship. Those bulls sure do look like they're charging strong.
Re: Pro Yakyu This Week: Sayonara Hanshin
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Sep 16, 2008 11:56 PM | YBS Fan ]

Finally, let's take a look at who's hot and who's not around the NPB. This week we'll take a wide view to find one team on the upswing and one on the downswing.

Let's begin with in Hiroshima, where third-year skipper Marty Brown is keeping his squad in Climax Series contention after years of B class finishes. In fact, the Carp are on pace for their first 70 win season since 1996 if they can play .500 baseball the rest of the way. For a team that doesn't slug very many home runs and has been outscored all season long, Hiroshima's tenacity may come as a surprise to some fans. However, a closer look reveals a competent starting staff and enough offense to just barely get by; many nights by just a single run. Foreign import Colby Lewis has set the tone this season with his 14-6 record and a 2.34 ERA. Ken Takahashi has contributed 8 wins of his own and kept the Carp in many games with a 3.20 ERA. On other nights Kenta Maeda and Kan Ohtake have been solid if not quite spectacular, both keeping their season ERAs hovering in the mid- to high-3 run range. A perfect example of how Hiroshima's pitchers are keeping them in games is the 9 innings of shutout ball Maeda threw this week against Hanshin before the Carp lost 1-0 in 10 innings. And let's not forget the work of the bullpen, especially closer Katsuhiro Nagakawa's career high 34 saves coupled with a minuscule 1.76 ERA. Brown-kantoku has adapted enough to keep the Carp in the hunt this season, whether it's been giving youngster Yuki Saitoh some starts or utilizing foreigners Mike Shultz and Jim Brower.

On the offensive side, middle of the lineup mainstays Kenta Kurihara and Alex are both hitting above or near .300 with relative power, and this season Akihiro Higashide has been used in various batting slots, responding with a .323 average and a team leading 69 RBIs. Overall, the team is hitting at a .271 clip, which has them tied for the best batting average in the Central League. The fact that defending champions Chunichi have been streaky has helped open the playoff door for the Carp; it will be interesting to see if Brown-kantoku can lead his team through it.

Conversely, venerable Oh-kantoku's Hawks squad has been sleepwalking of late, losers of 9 of their last 11 games. After curiously tying Seibu in three straight contests to end August, September has started badly and only gotten worse. The pitching has been erratic of late, allowing an average of 8 1/2 runs per game over their last 4 games alone. However, it seems that on nights when they get a good start they don't score enough runs, and when they score enough the pitchers can't hold the leads. All of this has added up to a plummet in the standings of the Pacific League, all the way from 2nd place down to their current 5th spot. Orix, Nippon Ham, and Lotte have all scurried past the Hawks recently, and the Fukuoka side, as of the end of play on the 14th, find themselves 2.5 games out of a playoff spot. Despite welcoming back Hitoshi Tamura's bat back to the lineup this week to protect Nobuhiko Matsunaka and his 24 homers, answers have been hard to find for the birds of prey. Unless Oh-kantoku can find some answers quickly, the last handful of games in his storied career may dwindle away and leave him with a B class team for the first time in 11 years.

For more on the Hawks, Jim Nelson's writes frequently on The SoftBank Source blog right here on

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

It is my sincere hope that once you learn a bit about what we're about here that you will join the community of contributors.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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