Apparently, there’s something about the Milwaukee Brewers that brings out the best in Kenta Maeda and Yu Darvish.
Maeda, in his first season with the Minnesota Twins, highlighted the fourth week of the major-league season by holding the Brew Crew hitless for eight innings on August 18 before Eric Sogard’s bloop hit to begin the ninth inning spoiled things.
That followed a performance the previous week by the Chicago Cubs’ Darvish, in which he no-hit Milwaukee until the seventh inning when Justin Smoak homered.
Maeda gave up just the one hit and one run while walking two batters and striking out 12. Despite missing out on the no-no, he still entered the Twins’ record books by striking out eight consecutive batters. Unfortunately, he did not get a decision, as the Twins’ bullpen allowed Milwaukee to tie the game before Minnesota won in extra innings.
Nonetheless, Maeda and Darvish have been the standouts among the Japanese import players during the first four weeks of the truncated season. Both have been very consistent.
With a 3-0 mark, 2.27 ERA and microscopic 0.63 WHIP, Maeda has validated the faith the Twins showed when they acquired him from the Los Angeles Dodgers in an off-season trade. In 31.2 innings, he’s allowed just 14 hits and six bases on balls.
Darvish is 4-1 with a 1.80 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. He’s walked just five batters and struck out 34 in 30 innings of pitching. In his one outing this past week, Darvish gave up one earned run in six innings to defeat St. Louis.
The two other Japanese import starters did not fare as well this past week.
Yusei Kikuchi of the Seattle Mariners went 4.2 innings in a loss to the Dodgers, giving up five earned runs. He’s 0-2 with a 5.19 ERA and 1.40 WHIP after four outings. Kikuchi had been bothered by neck spasms that caused him to miss his previous start.
Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees gave up eight hits and five earned runs in a loss to Tampa Bay.
For the year, he’s 0-1 with a 4.60 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.
Reliever Shun Yamaguchi of the Toronto Blue Jays continued his rebound from two difficult performances at the beginning of the season. He did allow an earned run against Baltimore but came back with 2.2 innings against the Philadelphia Phillies in which he did not give up a hit or run.
The non-pitchers among the Japanese MLB contingent had tough weeks.
– Designated hitter Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels was 2-24 at the plate, dropping his batting average to .171 and his OPS to .623.
– Outfielder Shogo Akiyama of the Cincinnati Reds was just 3-14 and is batting .226 overall.
The Reds’ schedule was thrown out of whack when one of their players tested positive for Covid-19, resulting in multiple postponements and four off-days in a row.
– Tampa Bay infielder Yoshi Tsutsugo was 2-9 in three games last week and is batting .194.
The remaining Japanese import on a Major League roster is reliever Yoshihisa Hirano, whom Seattle signed in January but who has yet to pitch after testing positive for Covid-19 in late June. He does not have a timetable for his 2020 debut.