So it's 3:47 am Saturday morning. I've stayed awake to watch a live stream of Yu Darvish's start for the Nippon-Ham Fighters in the first game of their Climax Series matchup with the Seibu Lions which started about two hours after the St. Louis Cardinals won the seventh game of their World Series matchup with the Texas Rangers. Darvish threw (unofficial count, the broadcast was in Japanese online) 101 pitches in 7.0 innings, striking out seven and allowing just one run, which was an earned one.
The 25-year-old right-hander left the game with the Fighters ahead 2-1 after allowing a leadoff double and RBI single in the seventh. A strike'em out, throw'em out double play got Darvish out of trouble in his final inning on the mound in what could be his last start for Hokkaido Nippon-Ham's Fighters if he does indeed make the jump to the major leagues next season.
Darvish left the mound then watched from the dugout as the crowd chanted constantly, in unison through two more innings in which the Lions threatened to tie it, and they finally did in the top of the ninth, officially handing the Fighters' ace a no-decision. Darvish finished his seventh season pitching for Hokkaido Nippon-Ham in the Pacific League (18-6) with a 1.44 ERA, 276 K's (10.71 K/9), 36 BB (1.40 BB/9), 5 HR's and 42 runs (37 ER) allowed in 232.0 IP and 28 starts, 10 of them complete games, six of them shutouts.
In an interview earlier this week with the D.C. baseball writers covering the Nats, Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters that Washington had scouted the right-hander this season, though he hadn't seen the pitcher in person in two years. "We've scouted him over the years," Rizzo said, "I've scouted him personally over the years, our pro scouts have scouted him this year specifically."
The Rangers, Blue Jays, Yankees and Nationals have all been mentioned as teams that will be interested in the right-hander should he posted when the post season ends. Yet another report out of Japan, this one in the Japan Times on Saturday in an article by staff writer Kaz Nagatsuka entitled, "Fighters, Lions looking to draw first blood", suggested that Darvish would make the jump to the majors. The First Stage of the Climax Series is a three-game series.
• Things I Learned:
1. Darvish's fastball sat around 93-94 most of the night and he was still hitting 94 in the seventh.
2. Rangers fans from LoneStarBall.com travel in packs and type "LSB" into chats all the time.
3. A good deal of the people in the chat which accompanied the stream of the game didn't seem to think Darvish would be leaving Japan this year. Everyone was impressed with the filthy slider he was throwing.
4. Sapporo, where the Fighters' home the Sapporo Dome is located, is the capital of Hokkaido prefecture, and it is also the home of the Sapporo brewery, which was founded in 1876.
5. When you leave breaking balls up in MLB or NPB they get hit hard.
6. It's 4:43 am. The Seibu Lions just took the lead in the top of the 11th. 4-2.
7. Players for the Lions do the Brewers' "Beast Mode" Morse-rip-off thing just like the Brewers.
8. After Yu Darvish strikes batters out, he will do a fist pump in big situations and they play "Who Let The Dogs Out."
• Meanwhile in the AFL: Bryce Harper homered again Friday night, his third home run in three games, and the left-handed hitting Nats' outfield prospect went 1 for 4 to stretch his current hit-streak to nine games, over which the 19-year-old 2010 no.1 overall pick is 13 for 35 with two doubles, a triple, four home runs and 15 RBI's. Derek Norris was 1 for 4 with a walk and three K's, and he's hit in seven-straight and nine of the last 10. Zach Walters was 1 for 3 with a double and 3 RBI's. None of the Nats' pitching prospects threw Friday night. The Scottsdale Scorpions beat the Salt River Rafters 9-5.
• Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional: Jesus Flores was 0 for 3 with a walk and a K last night in the Navegantes del Magallanes' 3-1 loss to the Tigres de Aragua. Gregor Blanco was 2 for 4 with a triple and a run scored in the 3-0 Tiburones de la Guaira win over the Leones de Caracas. Liga de Beisbol Dominicano: Eury Perez was 2 for 4 with 2 RBI's for the Leones de Escogido in a 4-3 loss to the Tigres del Licey. Tigres' first baseman Chris Marrero was 2 for 3 with a run scored, a walk and a K. Atahualpa Severino threw 1.1 IP, hitless and scoreless, struck out two and earned the win for Licey.