Friday, June 15, 2007

Uehara Starting Pitcher???

Reports today from Sanspo are speculating that Koji Uehara may have been giving the nod as starting pitcher for the Giants tonight against the SoftBank Hawks, as he was called over to Manager Hara for a 2 minute conference. Uehara appeared to be preparing himself early for the game with a warmup and stretching routine that would lend credence to the theory. I will keep my eyes on this game tonight and provide a recap for you in the event that he in fact has returned as a starter.

In his last outing, Uehara struck out 2 of 3 batters, working a 1-2-3 for his 9th save of the season and now sports an 18-2 K/BB ratio. It makes sense to get him back into the rotation and send one of the back end guys back to the pen. Big move.

UPDATE: Uehara isn't starting tonight. It will be Takahashi taking on SoftBank's Sugiuchi. That doesn't mean that Uehara won't get one of the starts against the Hawks though. I'll keep checking this weekend to update you when we know more.

UPDATE2: Uehara entered the game in the bottom of the 9th to save a 3-2 contest. The Giants scored 3 runs in the top of the 8th only to see the Hawks punch back in the bottom of the frame with 2 of their own. In the bottom of the 9th Uehara jammed Mitsuru Honma and got him to pop out to 3rd. He then got Nobuhiro Matsuda to bounce out to short, and ended the game with his 10th save by getting Japan's premier shortstop Munenori Kawakami to fly out to center. Outstanding again. You have to wonder if this appearance kills any chance of seeing Uehara start a game this week.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Another Day, Another Save

I had the pleasure of watching an interleague matchup between the 1st place Giants and the hottest team in Japan, the Nippon Ham Fighters. Until losing an extra innings affair a few days ago, the Fighters had won 14 straight. They went from the cellar in the Pacific to 2nd place in a hurry and look like the team that won the Japan Series last season. The Giants sent rookie sensation Kaneto to the mound against Nippon Ham's Takeda. The game was a pitching duel that went into the bottom of the 8th inning scoreless.

For the 2nd time in about a week, Kyojin bench man Yano hit a game winning, pinch hit home run. With the score 1-0 Giants, Uehara entered the top of the 9th looking to nail down a win with his 8th save. Pinch hitting, Tomohika Tsuboi put a charge into Uehara's belt high fastball and sent Damon Hollins to the wall to make the catch. Hollins had just shifted to right from center to make way for some defensive substitutions and the ball found him. Uehara spun his head furiously when the ball left the bat and watched, wincing, as it sailed for the wall. When Hollins hauled it in, he wiped his brow and exhaled. The former ace then struck out Oda looking, and induced a pinch hitting Kimoto to ground out to second. Another 1-2-3 inning for Uehara, a save, and a big win for Kaneto and Kyojin. Excellent pitching all around, and a very entertaining game.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Since my last post, we've seen Koji Uehara participate in two contests for the Giants as the closer. The season of intrigue continues as the impending free agent works from the pen to put opponents to bed. Don't mess with success must be the motto of the Yomiuri braintrust, and Uehara hasn't disappointed. Here are details of his two recent appearances:

June 3rd vs. Seibu

Uehara entered the 9th inning against Seibu with a 4-1 lead and the bottom half of the lineup coming up. He induced shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima to fly out to left before giving up a line drive double to third baseman Norihito Ishii. That was all she wrote for Seibu as pinch hitting Oshima grounded out to the pitcher and center fielder Sato grounded to short.

1 IP, 1 hit, no walks, no strikeouts, no runs, SAVE

June 8th vs. Rakuten

This one is simple. Uehara faced "Rick", Ramirez, and Teppei and struck out "Rick", Ramirez, and Teppei. The first two were swinging and the final out was looking.

1 IP, no hits, no walks, 3 strikeouts, no runs, SAVE

Now, on the season, Uehara has appeared in 13 games and has the following line:

13.2 IP
9 hits
1 walk
15 strikeouts
0-1 with 7 saves
3.29 ERA
0.732 WHIP
5.9 hits/9
9.87 K/9
15.00 K/BB