Translation – Murton Gets “Modasho” for the 12th Time

The original article can be found here.

MurtonModasho

Murton went three-for-four to pick up his twelfth “modasho*” of the year. Murton’s outburst accounted for three of the team’s five hits, as he improved his batting average to .337 on the year, surpassing Luna (Chunichi) for the league lead. “I felt good up there, but unfortunately we lost.” He hit a double to left with one out in the second, outsmarted the pitcher in the fifth with no outs and a runner on first, and knocked one up the middle for a single with two outs in the ninth and a runner on first. With Gomez out of the lineup, it was great to see Murton (The M-Bomb) playing at his best.


Modasho”  (猛打賞 – hard hitter award) is unique to Japan. In pro baseball, according to Wikipedia, it is a prize/award given out by game sponsors to a player who records three or more hits in a game. It has been in existence since 1949. 

Translation – Why Did the Tigers Lose?

The original article can be found here.

Carp6Tigers1
(Central League, Hiroshima Carp 6, Hanshin Tigers 1)

wadaarticleWada’s mad. The Tigers’ lacklustre play on offence and defence resulted in a 6-1 blowout at the hands of Hiroshima. Manager Yutaka Wada, 51, was fuming as he could not figure out what caused pitcher Randy Messenger’s lack of hustle covering third and home. They had just lost their series against the Carp, and lost back-to-back games for the first time in July. The first place Giants’ lead extended to 2.5 games. Time to cut out preventable mistakes and regroup at home this week!

Talking about “what ifs” or “should have-could have” in baseball is a no-no, but there are still times when you say, “if they hadn’t scored that one run.” Bottom of the second, bases loaded. Starter Randy Messenger, 32, failed to back up the relay throws, resulting in a deluge of runs. When you don’t make the simple basic plays, you can’t expect to win games.

After the game as the team headed to their bus, the media scrum approached the players. The big righty* simply said “No thank you” and proceeded on to the bus without an answer to the many questions being asked. His translator added, “No questions today, please” and, unable to hide his annoyance, Mess boarded the bus.

He brought this upon himself, though. He lost control of the game early. After allowing three straight singles starting with Ka’aihue, he plunked the next batter, allowing the tying run to cross the plate. That’s when things unraveled. Carp slugger Kikuchi hit a ball into shallow right, which Fukudome stopped and attempted to throw out the second baserunner at home. As the ball got past catcher Tsuruoka, Messenger was seen standing near third base, looking lost. The white ball bouncing around in foul territory was a symbol of the aloofness of the ninth fielder.

MessengerLossWhether the runner from second would have been thrown out is questionable, but the runner from first should not have scored. It should not have been a bases-clearing single. The result was a big bold 4 on the scoreboard.

Wada called it the game’s turning point. “It was the lack of back-up. That one run could have been prevented. It (the difference between being down 2 runs and 3) is huge.” It was a bone-headed play that took the wind out of the team’s sails.

The whole reason they brought Messenger in on four days’ rest was to put a dent in the Giants’ division lead. The team needs Messenger to give a full-out effort in order to come from behind and win the division. In fact, they are staking their hopes on him. If the man tied for the team lead with 8 wins has a mental breakdown, it will result in the team’s demise.

It seems the bad vibe even rubbed off on others. Reliever Saiuchi’s error in the sixth with two outs and a runner on first brought in the sixth run of the game, sealing the Tigers’ fate. In a continuation of Saturday’s parade of errors, the team’s sloppiness resulted in their first losing streak of the month. The Giants defeated Chunichi to extend their lead to 2.5 games, and by winning this series 2-1, the Carp narrowed the gap between them and the Tigers to 0.5 games.

“When we play like that, we are bound to lose,” lamented a downcast Wada, who prides himself on putting a good defensive team on the field. “We’ll just have to dig deep and play hard when we get back to Koshien.” If they don’t get a grip on things again, this could go from bad to worse.


* The term used in Japanese in the article was 背信 (haishin) which translates as “backstabber” or “betrayer”. As a supporter and fan of Messenger, I could not justify the word choice and refused to translate the article verbatim in this case.

Tigers’ Weekly Wrap-up – July 21-27, 2014

Heading into the All-Star Break, the Tigers were the hottest team in Japanese baseball. They took 11 of their 13 matches in the first half of July. Waiting for them out of the gates for the second half were key matchups against the Giants at home and the Carp on the road. Let’s look at how they fared.

The team’s winning ways continued in their first game against the Giants as Iwata and Oh combined on a 3-0 shut out. (Oh recorded his 300th career save: 277 in Korea, 23 in Japan.) Ever-improving rookie catcher Ryutaro Umeno hit a two-run double in the second, and that’s all the team needed as the Giants never really threatened in this one.

The second game was one of the more dramatic games this year, with the Tigers leading 2-1 heading to the ninth inning. With one pitch to go to seal the victory, Seung-Hwan Oh gave up a home run to pinch hitter Takahashi and the Giants tied things up. The game continued into the twelfth, when the Giants threatened to score the go-ahead run with a runner on base and only one out. Enokida was pulled for Kaneda, and the reliever threw just one pitch, inducing a ground ball double play. In the bottom of the inning, with two outs, the bases empty and a tie looming over the team, Kosuke Fukudome hit a long home run into the right field stands, and the crowd went wild!

That’s when the week started to fall apart. As I highlighted in an earlier article, the team lost a very winnable game on Wednesday, falling 3-2 after a terrible ninth inning.

The Tigers needed to regroup with some good play in Hiroshima over the weekend, and they responded well in game 1, coming from behind late with an Uemoto two-run home run in the seventh, followed by an RBI double in the eighth by Imanari. Oh came in and sealed the game off, mowing down three straight batters.

Saturday and Sunday were less kind to the Tigers. They could have won the former, but fell 7-5 after giving up two runs in the bottom of the eighth. Sunday’s game was never even close, as the Tigers scored just one run in the top of the first, and never threatened after. The Carp attack was strong all night, chasing Messenger in the fifth inning, and some poor defence by pitcher Saiuchi gave the Carp one more run in the sixth, as the game ended in a disappointing 6-1 loss.

Here is the week that was.

July 21 Week

Three wins, three losses is not terrible, but one more win would have been nice. The Tigers hold second by a thread, and gained just one game on the slumping Giants. Here are the standings as of the end of play on July 27th:

July 27 Standings

Here are this week’s stat lines for our foreigners:

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
Gomez 6 21 2 4 1 0 1 3 3 3 0 0 .190 .320 .381 .701
Murton 6 23 1 7 2 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 .304 .360 .391 .751
What do the hitters’ stats mean? Check here for details!
Player GP GS W L SV BS HLD CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
Messenger 2 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 11.0 13 6 5 1 2 12 4.09 1.36
Oh 3 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 3.0 4 1 1 1 0 4 3.00 1.33
What do the pitchers’ stats mean? Check here for details!

Due to the upcoming high school baseball tournament, the Tigers play home games this week and then do not return to Koshien until the end of August. They host the Yakult Swallows for three and then the DeNA Baystars for three more. Great week to pad the stats and make a charge for first! GO TIGERS!

Opinion Piece: Why’d the Tigers Lose?

Giants3Tigers2

When the baseball game ends in a loss, another game starts immediately following the last out. Why did we lose? Who fell short? The name of the game is “Find the Scapegoat.” After watching last night’s unfortunate loss to the first place Giants, it was easy to join in the game and look for the culprit.

Let’s look at the culprits:

1) Starting pitcher Atsushi Nohmi: He was the only Tigers pitcher to throw, and he earned a loss for it, so he is an obvious target. We have to mention the disaster of a ninth inning, in which he walked three hitters, gave up a hit to another, threw two wild pitches, and allowed two runners to steal second base. Clearly Nohmi was laboring the entire frame, and did not have enough gas in the tank. Ball after ball was in the dirt, and were it not for solid play by catcher Ryutaro Umeno, there would have been a couple more wild pitches. Nohmi threw well all game until that final inning, when his pitch count was getting high and his control was off. So perhaps the blame falls more accurately on…

2) Manager Yutaka Wada: This is a man who has been notorious for keeping pitchers in games too long all season. He did the same thing to Shintaro Fujinami a couple of starts ago, hoping to get a complete game out of his young ace, instead watching a comfortable lead get down to a single run. On one hand, I think it’s easy to blame the manager for holding on too long. But with a bullpen like the Tigers’, in which every guy has blown a game or two in the past two months, it is hard to have a lot of faith that they would have done any better. Let’s not forget the ninth inning could have ended a lot earlier if it weren’t for…

3) Second base umpire Shimada: With one out in the ninth and Giants speedster Naohiro Suzuki running on a pitch in the dirt by Nohmi, Umeno made a perfect throw to second for what would be the second out and a rally killer. The safe call that ensued was questionable, and eventually resulted in the game winning run for the Giants (two wild pitches later). Many a Tigers fan saw the baserunner as out, but the umpire said otherwise. Of course, none of this would have mattered if not for the anaemic hitting by…

4) The Tigers hitters: Take away the first inning in which they scored two runs on two hits (including Mauro Gomez‘s home run), and you got a grand total of 3 hits the rest of the way. Yes, they also got four men on board via walks and hit batsmen, but that is also part of the problem: they could not produce a single run despite seven base runners over the final eight innings.

THE VERDICT:

I’m going to be bold and say this one falls on the hitters. Even if the first three suspects had done their jobs properly (Nohmi did for 8 of 9 innings), the game still would have been a tie after nine. However, the hitters need to deliver more than five hits and two runs, especially against a formidable opponent.

Unfortunately that one run in the top of the ninth is the difference between the Tigers being just 0.5 behind the first-place Giants and the current reality of being 2.5 down. Either way, the Tigers have been impressive of late and have gained 4.5 games on first since the end of interleague play. Let’s keep it going, Tigers! The only game we want to think about after the final out is guessing who will be named Hero of the Game! GO TIGERS!

Stats – What they Mean: Pitching

Here are some simple definitions for the statistics you can find in weekly updates and player profiles.

GPGames Played (登板): Any time a pitcher makes an appearance on the mound and throws a pitch, he adds to his games played total.

GS – Games Started (先発): When the pitcher is the first to appear on the mound for his team, he is credited as the starting pitcher.

W – Wins (勝利): The pitcher who is on the mound when the team scores the run that results in the team winning, and it is beyond the fifth inning, he gets credit for the win.

L – Losses (敗戦): The pitcher who allowed the opponent’s game-winning runner to get on base will be credited with a loss. Sometimes, he might allow the runner on base, get pulled for another pitcher, who allows that runner to score. Still, if he put the man on base, he gets the loss.

SV – Saves (セーブ): Various conditions apply to this statistic. A pitcher who (a) enters the game as a reliever and (b) faces enough hitters that the other team could tie the game, and (c) throws no more than three innings, and (d) closes the game successfully (i.e., his team wins), receives credit for a save. The most common form of save has the final reliever (the closer) coming in to pitch the ninth inning (hence, facing three batters) with a lead of three or fewer runs.

BS – Blown Saves: When a pitcher costs his team the lead in the seventh inning or later, he is charged with a blown save.

HLD – Holds (ホールド): When a relief pitcher comes in after the starter but before the closer and keeps his team in the lead, he is credited with a hold. It does not matter if he surrenders runs, as long as he does not give up the lead.

CG – Complete Games (完投): When a pitcher throws every pitch for his team in a game, he is credited with a complete game. Whether or not he wins or loses is irrelevant, he still records a CG.

SHO – Shutouts (完封): If the pitcher completes the game without surrendering a single run (earned or unearned), he gets credited with a shutout.

IP – Innings Pitched (投球回): The number of innings a pitcher completes. The number after the decimal indicates the number of outs he recorded in a partial inning. For example, 7.2 innings pitched means he completed seven innings and recorded two outs in the eighth.

H – Hits (被安打): The number of base hits the pitcher allowed to his opponents.

R – Runs (失点): The number of runs the opponents score as a result of runners who reached base during a pitcher’s time on the mound.

ER – Earned Runs (自責点): The number of runs the opponents score as a result of runners who reached base safely (not via an error or a wild pitch on strike three) during a pitcher’s time on the mound.

HR – Home Runs (被本塁打): The number of home runs the opponents score during a pitcher’s time on the mound. While inside the park home runs count here, a player who rounds the bases on their hit due to a fielding error will not be credited with a home run, hence it does not count as a home run against the pitcher, either.

BB – Walks (与四球): The number of times a player reaches first base after taking four balls (pitches outside the strike zone). This includes both intentional and unintentional walks, but not hit batsmen.

K – Strikeouts (奪三振): The number of times a pitcher gets three called strikes against a batter. This does not always result in an out, however. If the third pitch is not caught by the catcher, the batter has a chance to run to first base. If he reaches first before the throw, he is safe at first. However, the pitcher still receives credit for a strikeout. Also, if a hitter tries to bunt on third strike but hits a foul ball, it is ruled a strikeout.

ERAEarned Run Average (防御率): The number of earned runs allowed divided by the number of innings pitched, multiplied by nine (the number of innings in a regulation ball game) gives you a pitcher’s ERA.

WHIPWalks and Hits per Inning Pitched: The total number of walks plus the total number of hits (regardless of the number of bases earned) divided by the number of innings pitched gives you a pitcher’s WHIP.

Stats – What they Mean: Batting

Here are some simple definitions for the statistics you can find in weekly updates and player profiles.

GGames (試合): When a player makes an appearance (a) on the field as a defender, or (b) at the plate as a hitter or (c) on the bases as a pinch runner, he is counted as having played in the game.

ABAt Bats (打数): Not every plate appearance counts as an at bat! If a player (a) earns a walk, (b) gets hit by a pitch, (c) advances a runner with a bunt, or (d) brings a runner home on a fly ball, it does not count as an at bat.

RRuns (得点): Any time the runner crosses home plate safely, whether he hit the ball or got on base in some other way, or even if he replaced another runner, the run is credited to him.

HHits (安打): When a player reaches base safely after making contact with the ball, he is credited with a hit. Regardless of the base he stops at, the hit counts the same in this particular category.

2BDoubles (二塁打): When a player’s hit results in his advancing all the way to second base, it is called a double. Exceptions are made when a fielder’s error allows him to reach second, or when he advances when a fielder is trying to throw out a runner at a different base.

3BTriples (三塁打): When a player’s hit results in his advancing all the way to third base, it is called a triple. Exceptions are made when a fielder’s error allows him to reach third, or when he advances when a fielder is trying to throw out a runner at a different base.

HRHome Runs (本塁打): When a player reaches home plate on his own hit, without benefiting from a fielding error, it is called a home run. Typically, home run balls are hit over the outfield fence, although on occasion a player manages to run around all the bases before the outfielders can throw the ball back to home plate. (This is called an inside-the-park home run, not a “running home run” as it is called in the Japanese game.)

RBIRuns Batted In (打点): When a base hit, walk, sacrifice fly, or ground out results in a runner crossing home plate and scoring a run, the batter gets credit for a run batted in. Exceptions are when the hit ball results in a double play or an error.

BBWalk (四球・敬遠): When the pitcher throws four pitches outside the strike zone (balls) that are not swung at, the batter is allowed to take first base uncontested. This is called a walk. Sometimes, a pitcher will intentionally walk a batter, either because he poses a threat to do worse than reach first base, or because it allows the team to try to get a double play (two outs on one play) from the next hitter.

KStrikeout (三振): When a batter misses three good pitches (either by swinging at a pitch, not swinging at one in the strike zone, or hitting a foul ball), he strikes out. The third strike, though, cannot be a foul ball, unless it is a failed bunt attempt. If the batter has two strikes and hits a foul ball, he remains at two strikes until he swings and misses, lets a good pitch go past him, or the at bat ends with another outcome.

SBStolen Base (盗塁): When the batter reaches base safely, and then successfully takes another base by running to it while the pitcher is delivering a throw to the mound, he is credited with a stolen base.

CSCaught Stealing (盗塁刺): When the runner’s stolen base attempt fails, either by being thrown out by the catcher or another fielder, he has been caught stealing.

AVGBatting average (打率): A batter’s total number of hits divided by his number of at bats (not plate appearances!) gives us his average. Walks do not count for or against a hitter’s average, nor do sacrifice bunts or flies.

OBPOn Base Percentage (出塁率): A batter’s total number of times on base (excluding by error) divided by his total number of plate appearances.

SLGSlugging Percentage (長打率): This statistic takes the number of bases a player advances on his own hits, and divides it by the number of at bats. Hence, if a player hits a single in his lone at bat, his average and slugging percentage will both be 1.000. However, if he hits a home run in his next plate appearance, he will have reached 5 bases in two at bats, giving him a slugging percentage of 2.500.

OPSOn Base Plus Slugging: Simply add the OBP and SLG to get this figure.

Translation – Seung-Hwan Oh Reaches 300 Saves

Article Translation – Seung-Hwan Oh Reaches 300 Saves

The original article can be found here.

Oh300SavesHanshin Tigers closer Seung-Hwan Oh, who recorded 277 career saves in Korean professional baseball, reached 300 career saves in Korea and Japan combined. “Today is a special day,” Oh said in one breath, while continuing, “But I didn’t come to Japan to reach 300 saves. This is just a landmark on the road to many more saves,” emphasising that this number is just a checkpoint.

Though he got into a jam by allowing two hits, Oh remained unfazed and managed to close out the game without allowing any runs. Manager Yutaka Wada praised him, saying “His ability to shut down the opponent is pivotal to our success.”

Translation – Hero Interview 7/16/2014

Randy Messenger – Hero Interview (July 16, 2014)

Note: The transcript for the interview was taken from this website. I did not hear the original, so I do not know exactly what Randy said in English.

messengerinterview1

Congratulations on the big win, Randy.

“Arigato, arigato!”

You pitched really well, but what made it all click tonight?

“All my pitches were working for me tonight. I mixed the curve in well with the other pitches, and my forkball was on as well. Umeno (the catcher) called a great game, and the team got me enough runs to win.”

It was a good pitching battle between you and Yoshimi, but in the end, you tied your personal best with 13 strikeouts…

“As I said earlier, Umeno called a great game. Fukudome made some nice plays in the field as well. The fielders bailed me out time and again.”

Now you’ve won three starts in a row, as have Iwata and Fujinami.

“Lately the guys have been putting up runs when I’m on the mound. All I have to do is protect the lead they are giving me.”

The first half of the season ended today. Tell us what you hope to see happen in the second half.

“We’ve been playing really good ball as a team lately. Hopefully we can keep this going in the second half, gain more ground on first place and hopefully we can win the championship.”

Tigers’ Weekly Wrap-up – July 14-16, 2014

This week was a short one because of the all-star break. The Tigers had just one 3-game series on the road against the Chunichi Dragons. It wasn’t long ago that they got humiliated by this very team and lost their tenuous hold on third place, falling out of the playoff picture for the first time all year. The Tigers in July are a different beast, folks.

They came out on Monday looking a little flat, allowing a huge lead early and falling easily, 8-4. Iwazaki, who had pitched well in his past few outings, struggled and did not even make it out of the second inning.

Young phenom Shintaro Fujinami took the mound on Tuesday and threw a whopping 143 pitches on his way to his first career complete game. The Tigers ran away with this one, 8-1, as Takashi Toritani hit a 3-run home run in the top of the first.

It was so important to finish the series strong, as the Giants and Carp were also playing good ball (against lousy teams) this week. Messenger brought his best stuff, scattering 3 hits over 8 innings and Oh Seung-hwan closed the game successfully and the Tigers won 2-0. Between the two imports, 15 of a possible 27 Dragons went down on strikes. Impressive indeed.

July 14 WeekThe Tigers gained just half a game on the Carp and failed to gain any ground on the Giants, but this week’s two wins gives them an 11-2 record this month! Here are the standings as of the end of play on July 16th:

July 20 StandingsHere are this week’s stat lines for our foreigners:

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
Gomez 3 11 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 5 0 0 .091 .167 .091 .258
Murton 3 12 2 5 0 0 0 1 1 2 0 0 .417 .462 .417 .878
Player GP GS W L SV BS HLD CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
Messenger 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 3 0 0 0 2 13 0.00 0.63
Oh 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 0.00 0.00

Fujinami looked shaky in his two innings during the all-star game (allowing 4 earned runs), but Murton played strong, driving in two runs before leaving early. The week coming up should be a challenging one: we host the Giants for three and then travel to Hiroshima for a weekend series. If we can hold strong this week, we can end the month confidently against the lowly Swallows. GO TIGERS!