For the Japanese imports in Major League Baseball, the second week of the season was mostly good for the pitchers and not so good for the position players.
Starting pitchers Yu Darvish of the Chicago Cubs, Yusei Kikuchi of the Seattle Mariners and Kenta Maeda of the Minnesota Twins were very effective, while reliever Shun Yamaguchi of the Toronto Blue Jays had a good outing after two rough ones the previous week. In addition, Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees made his first appearance of the season after having been sidelined since July 4 when he was hit in the head by a Giancarlo Stanton line drive in an intrasquad game.
- Darvish defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals, allowing only seven hits and two walks in 13 innings of pitching. For the season, he is 2-1 with a 2.12 earned-run average and .088 WHIP.
- Kikuchi got a no-decision against Oakland, despite allowing no runs, three hits and a bases on balls in six innings. Overall, he’s 0-0 with a 4.66 ERA and has struck out 13 batters in 9.2 innings.
- Maeda defeated the Cleveland Indians with six innings of one-hit ball, and then got a no-decision against the Pirates, despite giving up just three hits and a walk in six innings. He was hurt in the latter by Gregory Polanco’s three-run homer. His season record is 2-0, and he has a 2.65 ERA and 0.65 WHIP. He has allowed only eight hits and issued three walks in 17 innings.
- In the season’s first week, Yamaguchi lost twice in relief, but he pitched a scoreless two-thirds of an inning against the Atlanta Braves this past week.
- Tanaka came off the injured list August 1 and started against Boston. He gave up four hits, a walk and a run in 2.2 innings while throwing 51 pitches, 32 of them strikes. Though he felt he was rusty after the layoff, his fast ball averaged 92.9 mph. His average last season was 91.5.
Of the pitchers, only Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels had a tough time. After not retiring a batter in his first outing, he came back last week against Seattle and pitched 1.2 innings before exiting. He did not allow a hit, but he hurt himself by issuing five bases on balls. Afterward, the Angels announced that Ohtani will not pitch again this season because of a strained flexor pronator mass in his right forearm. Ohtani did not pitch in the 2019 season because of Tommy John surgery (although he did play as a Designated Hitter).
Of the position players, outfielder Shogo Akiyama of the Cincinnati Reds is just 4-22 with nine strikeouts and is batting .216 after the first two weeks. Infielder Yoshi Tsutsugo of the Tampa Bay Rays played in just two games, going 0-7. He is batting .182 for the season. Akiyama has struck out 12 times in his first 37 at bats, and Tsutsugo 10 times in 33 at bats. Both are first-year major leaguers.
Ohtani, a two-way player, saw action in two games as a batter and was 1-7, though his one hit was a home run in his first at bat after learning that he won’t pitch again this year. He’s batting .167 for the season with three home runs and eight RBI.
Pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano of the Mariners reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus in late June, and Seattle then placed him on the injured list July 14 without disclosing the reason.
For more Japanese baseball news, check out JapanBall’s Articles and Features section!