M's 1, Hanshin 5


IcebreakerX, a resident of Japan, says

Hanshin was a 4th place team in a six team league last season. However, they do have some pitching. The starter, Iwata, had a 2.29 ERA last season over 170 innings. The M's lone run came on Wells' HR, off Japan's best closer, Fujikawa (Career K/9 of 11.95!). In short, losing to them was an embarassment, but maybe not as awful as we might be led to think. 

Tonight was definitely Hanshin home field advantage with the songs and chanting that's all Japanese baseball, and I expect the same for the Giants when the M's play them tomorrow night. Easily 15K+ of the 40K that came out were for Hanshin. In contrast, I could cheer (and heckle) the M's all day long with it so quiet when the M's were up to bat. It was nice to see the Japanese baseball fans out in force though, as the NPB previously prevented the local fans from doing their thing. 

As for the ball, in these type of games, the MLB team will play with an MLB ball and the NPB team will play with the NPB ball. But having held both, the balls are extremely similar now, with the NPB ball feeling a little bit deader than the MLB one...!

Other things... Kawasaki looked great... Horrible situational hitting, and general offensive weakness we've come to expect... The M's loaded the bases in the 5th and had RISP in at least two other innings, but they couldn't execute at all... Noesi looked a bit disengaged... Olivo showed off his arm gunning down a runner who wandered too far off second...

Iwakuma tomorrow...! Giants will probably send out their ace, Utsumi.

Postgame quotes from Baker emphasized a pitching strategy that stepped around the vaunted MLB power.  The Japanese view of all things American runs along the lines of "powerful but unreliable" and, in this particular game with the LOB's everywhere, the Mariners fulfilled the stereotype.

No big deal for the M's in the scheme of things, but from an international perspective, the game was not trivial.  It's still not clear to me why it is to MLB's advantage to avoid televising these games, except perhaps fear of this type of ballgame.... 

Nor is it clear to me why the Tigers' cap would feature English-language characters.  :- )

Thanks Ice!


ghost's picture

Baker says not to worry about this loss...a number of individual players looked fine, but the team as a whole was drop-dead tired (massive jet lag after long travel and media frenzy) + no scouting reports on opposition = death. I would tend to agree.

ghost's picture

They didn't have the same pressure on their schedules that the Mariners did with all of their Japanese imports.

IcebreakerX's picture

They played at 8PM PDT, which is technically 7PM PDT.
Yeah, it was some. But I think it's more of a failed offensive approach at the plate.


Yeah, technically they were playing a game at a normal time, but walk that back.  Locally it was 9am right, so 4 hours earlier when they presumably woke up it was 4pm on the west coast, and 7 hours earlier when they went to bed it was 9am.  Not saying they get a pass, Oakland won, but that kind of sleep schedule flip is not good for the reflexes.

IcebreakerX's picture

TONIGHT was baaaaad.
A big mess from the M's. Sloppy defense, a bad bad bad AAA catcher in Quiroz (after Montero), and general offensive hiccups again.
9-3, the Giants didn't score in only 2 innings.
Iwakuma... Write him off. Let's hope he can put it back together in short relief. He has the control and location, but his stuff is pure mush. Can't throw much more than 135 kph.
Sherrill is not the Sherrill we knew... Lots of mush. Bad defense hurt him, but his stuff was as mushy as Iwakuma.
Figgins... Same ol', same ol'. What the heck are you doing swinging on a 2-0 pitch that was totally a ball with the bases loaded? This guy is gonna make a lot  of outs.
Ackley, Smoak, Carp, Seager... Looking good.
Ackley's HR was to left center field. It just kept going and going and going. Same with his triple. He was 2-3, 2R, 3B, HR. Only reminds you that this kid is gonna be a treat to watch.
Smoak, Carp and Seager were the only other pieces doing the moving. Smoak scored the only other run.
Now Montero... He seems a bit lost at the plate.
In all, I think this M's team is going to do real bad against the finesse teams of the AL. Hanshin and Yomiuri have both executed excellent NPB-style games and routed the young M's without much thought. This is even with MLB washout pitchers throwing tonight for the Giants. The M's are talented, but they are raw.
It'll be interesting to see how it shakes out with the King on the mound in two days.

IcebreakerX's picture

Local time was actually 12PM. The A's got throttled today, but the M's have looked a lot worse.

ghost's picture

He's not going to stick in ther regular line-up if he doesn't start hitting...there is tremendous back-pressure to get hi out of the way now with Cat and Seager hitting...so...unlike previous years...there's good reason to powerflush him. Montero I'm not worried about even if he slumps from time to time against finesse stuff. I'm more worried about the pitching. Iwakuma is toast...he needs to get the ehck out fo the way very VERY soon because we have a ton of bullpen arms to try.

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