Nippon Professional Baseball is entering the final stages of the regular season.
I haven’t been paying attention to the Tigers recently, so I thought I should get myself a little up to date. Nothing has changed, really. They still sit in 2nd place of the Central Division behind the Giants and are 12 games ahead of third place Hiroshima, who, if the season ended now, whould be their opponent for the 1st stage of the Climas Series.
What’s interesting is that in a year in which the ball seems to fly out of every stadium the Tigers aren’t hitting a lot of long balls. Takahiro Arai leads the pack with just 14 (which is good for a tied 9th in the league leaders table), his brother Ryouta has 12, Murton sits at 11 and that’s been it. Fascinating. Especially if you take into account that Murton, I believe had 2 sayonara homeruns.
So what’s carrying them? Has to be their pitching, right? Standridge (2.28) and Nohmi (2.73) are still in the Top 5 of the Central League ERA leaders and the rest of the rotation looks fine as well (Fujinami 2.59, Enokida 2.58, Messenger 3.36). Everybody has a WHIP between 1.08 and 1.26 and they seem to be striking out people a lot.
Well, there’s still a few games to go, but I’m already looking forward to the Tigers’ postseason.
Meanwhile, over in the Pacific League, Masahiro Tanaka is continuing to drive up the price MLB teams will have to pay to bring him over to the States. Just, really, just for the moment, let those numbers sink in:
20 G, 158 IP, 17-0, 1.20 ERA, 22 BB, 13 K, 0.91 WHIP, 5.91 K/BB
Ridiculous. That is one heck of a season he’s playing. Needless to say Rakuten is leading the Pacific League, although the race is tighter than in the Central. Lotte is only 3.5 games back, and Softbank only sits 3.0 games behind them. Even last place Orix are only 5.5 games out of third place.
One more word on Tanaka: I stand corrected, today he recorded his 18th win, extending his season spanning streak without a loss to 22 consecutive wins. This means he hasn’t lost since last season and over that span (including a few no decisions) he recorded 22 wins. He had himself his usual 7 IP, 6 H, 8 K, 2 BB, 0 ER start, a 5-0 win against the Marines. Amazing. Here’s a video from last week’s win against the Lions which raised his wins to 21.
It’s going to a close race and a great postseason, I’m sure.
One last thing: Deanna (@marinerds) is in Japan at the moment and providing lots and lots of baseball info. be sure to follow her.