If Maximo Nelson loses his next start, it'll mean he ties the record for most consecutive losses by a foreign pitcher. Nelson has currently lost 8 straight.
Tony Blanco took extra fielding practice (about 30 minutes) at first base during practice yesterday. He also spent some time working with general coach Hatsuhiko Tsuji.
If Randy Messenger wins his start tonight, he'll become the first Tiger to win 10 games this season. It will also make him the first foreign Tiger (4th overall) to do that since Matt Keough in 1989.
The Tigers have decided to go with a regular starting rotation of (in no particular order) Jason Standridge, Messenger, Atsushi Nomi, Yasutomo Kubo, and Minoru Iwata. While the Tigers did want to find a 6th man, none of their candidates, like Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi, Takumi Akiyama, Kai-Wen Cheng, and Naoto Tsuru, pitched well enough to secure the job.
Fortunately for the Tiger, the scheduling in September is a bit inconsistent (this month: 6 games, day off, 3 games, day off, 5 games, 2 days off, 3 games, day off, 4 games), meaning they may be able to get away with a 5-man rotation with an occasional spot start by one of their 6th-man candidates.
As for the potential rotation for the next 6 games: Messenger, Nomi, Standridge, followed by Iwata, Kubo, Messenger (4 days of rest).
The media learned yesterday that the Tigers worked out calculations that place the team at a crossroads in 2014, primarily due to the team growing old -- Kenji Jojima will be 38, Takahiro Arai 37, Hiroyuki Kobayashi 37, Kentaro Sekimoto 36, and both Keiichi Hirano and Atsushi Nomi 35. So now it seems they'll will spend the next three seasons working on strengthening the team for the 2014 season via draft, free agency, position conversions, and Ikusei players.
Today's Ni-gun game against Chunichi:
Cheng started the game and tossed 5 shutout innings while scattering 2 hits. ... H. Kobayashi did not allow a run over an inning of work in relief, but did allow a hit and a walk. He also hit a batter.
Kenji Jojima is scheduled for periodic visits to the hospital (to check on his progress). He has the day off today.
The media learned yesterday that Rusty Ryal retired to the clubhouse during the middle of a game on 9/3 (vs Yakult at Jingu). Ryal was removed from the active roster the following day. While the Giants said his removal was to give him more time for adjustments at Ni-gun, it seems part of their decision may have had something to do with his actions on the 3rd. There's also a chance Ryal will be issued a fine by the Giants.
The media learned yesterday that team mascot Slyly will be traveling with the team and will be at the games at Koshien Stadium and Tokyo Dome. The team apparently went 8-0 when Slyly traveled with them earlier during the season (7/15 and 7/16 vs Chunichi at Nagoya Dome; 8/2 and 8/3 vs Yokhama at Yokohama; 8/16 and 8/17 vs Hanshin at Kyocera Dome; and 8/30 and 8/31 vs Yakult at Jingu).
The team has already received approval from the Hanshin Tigers and will soon be seeking permission from the Yomiuri Giants.
Yokohama Bay Stars
Terrmel Sledge is in the final year of a 2-year deal. He told reporters yesterday that he'd like to continue playing for the Bay Stars next season.
22 grand slam were hit in the CL last season. So far, only 7 have been hit this year. Last year, the Giants paced the league with 7 grand slams, but they have yet to hit on this year (despite leading the league with a .314 average with the bases loaded). If the Giants finish the season without a grand slam, it'll be a first in franchise history since 1958 (and just the second time overall for the team).