Sports: Weekly recap of Asian players in MLB
Seattle Mariner Hisashi Iwakuma followed up his worst start of the season on July 28 versus the Arizona Diamondbacks with two of his best of the season. On August 2 against the Minnesota Twins on the road, Iwakuma went 8.2 innings and gave up only one run, which was a home run to second baseman Brian Dozier that unfortunately for Iwakuma tied the game and prevented him from getting a complete-game victory.
The best word to describe Iwakuma’s start is masterful. The most pitches he threw in an inning was 14, and he only allowed two base runners in the third inning until allowing the home run in the ninth. After getting through the first two innings on 19 pitches with three strikeouts, he gave up a double to shortstop Eduardo Escobar and then walked Dozier before getting out of the inning; it still only took him 14 pitches. He then got through the next five innings without a base runner on 44 pitches with five strikeouts, but the Twins starter Mike Pelfrey was able to match him. He went eight innings and had only allowed four hits and a walk, so heading into the ninth the game was tied at 0-0.
The Mariners took the lead with a solo home run from designated hitter Nelson Cruz, and they left Iwakuma in to get the complete-game win. But with one out Dozier took him deep and tied the game. He then got another out, but after giving up a single to first baseman Joe Mauer, he was pulled. The Mariners eventually got the win after scoring three runs in the 11th inning to win 4-1.
On August 7 at home versus the Texas Rangers, Iwakuma went seven innings and this time had enough offense from his team to get him the victory 4-3. He was not as sharp as in his last start, allowing three runs on six hits, but he was able to outpitch the recently acquired Cole Hamels.
He gave up two runs in the second inning after already getting the first two outs. Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo doubled and shortstop Elvis Andrus was hit by a pitch and then catcher Bobby Wilson doubled to left to score both of them. The third run scored by the Rangers happened in the fourth on a wild pitch by Iwakuma. With runners on first and third and two outs, the wild pitch allowed first baseman Mitch Moreland to score.
In the next three innings he only allowed one hit. Then in the bottom of the sixth, the Mariners got him the lead on back-to-back home runs by Cruz and second baseman Robinson Cano. The homers gave them a 4-3 lead, and Iwakuma pitched a one-two-three seventh to finish his night. He definitely labored through the seven innings, throwing 118 pitches, which is a new career high. It topped his previous career high of 112, which he set on July 23 against Detroit. He’s now 3-2 with a 4.41 ERA.
Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka picked up his eighth win of the season at home against the Boston Red Sox on August 4 in what turned out to be a blowout win for the Yankees 13-3. For much of the game the score was very close as Tanaka and Red Sox pitcher Henry Owens started off well. In the first four innings, the only base runner Tanaka allowed was on a two-out double by first baseman Mike Napoli in the second, and the Yankees had scored one in the bottom of the first.
The fifth inning was where Tanaka finally ran into trouble. After one quick out, he gave up another double to Napoli and then a bunt single to right fielder Alejandro De Aza. An RBI single by catcher Blake Swihart and then a sacrifice fly by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in two and gave the Red Sox a one-run lead. After a rebound inning for Tanaka in the sixth, the Yankees scored three in the bottom of the inning to retake the lead 4-2 and they would keep it for the rest of the game.
Tanaka came out for the seventh but a leadoff home run by third baseman Pablo Sandoval knocked Tanaka from the game. He finished with a line of six innings pitched, five hits, three runs and three strikeouts on 88 pitches, which was the fewest pitches he had thrown in nine starts since June 9. However, the Yankees erupted for nine runs in the bottom of the seventh and won 13-3, giving Tanaka his eighth win. He is now 8-4 with a 3.84 ERA.
Blue Jays second baseman Munenori Kawasaki was brought back up to the team on August 1 for the fourth time this season. He was recalled from the minors after starting second baseman Devon Travis was placed on the disabled list on July 31 with a left shoulder strain. However, after going 0-3 on August 1 in a start against the Kansas City Royals, he has not played, save for coming in as a pinch runner in the top of the ninth on August 7 against the Yankees but not getting an at-bat.
The starts at second base have gone to Ryan Goins, who has been playing well. Because the Blue Jays have won seven in a row, it seems unlikely Kawasaki will be inserted into the lineup to change things up and will probably serve time on the bench with occasional playing time. Travis is not expected back any time soon, so it appears Kawasaki will remain with the team for at least a couple more weeks.
After one of the worst starts of his career, Oriole Wei-Yin Chen was able to slightly bounce back and help get Baltimore a 7-3 win against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland on August 5, but he still struggled mightily with his command. He gave up four walks in five innings, the most he has given up this season since five on April 20 at the Red Sox, and only the sixth time in his career he has walked at least four batters.
After getting through the first two innings, Chen got into trouble in the third. He gave up a leadoff double to first baseman Ike Davis and then walked two consecutive batters. Despite having the bases loaded and no outs though, Chen was able to limit the damage to just one run. After a groundball got the force out at home, second baseman Brett Lawrie hit a sacrifice fly, driving in the only run.
The fourth inning was just as troublesome. After a leadoff walk, left fielder Mark Canha doubled, leaving runners at second and third. Shortstop Marcus Semien then doubled in both runners to give the A’s a 3-1 lead. Five innings is all Chen was allowed to go, meaning he left on hook for the loss. But the Orioles were able to tie the game in the sixth inning and then eventually win because of a grand slam by first baseman Chris Davis in the top of the tenth inning. Chen is now 5-6 with a 3.32 ERA.
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