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9/14/2011: Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui, Hisanori Takahashi

by on Sep.14, 2011 @ 3:21 pm, under MLB

Games from the 13th:

New York Yankees 3 - Seattle Mariners 2
Ichiro Suzuki started in right and batted first.  He went 1-for-5: strikeout swinging, ground out to first, ground out to first, strikeout looking, single to left (caught trying to steal second).  Ichiro now needs 30 hits in 14 games for 200.

LA Angels 6 - Oakland A's 3
Hideki Matsui started in left and batted third.  He went 1-for-1: single to right, walk, walk, walk.

Hisanori Takahashi got the final 2 outs of the bottom of the 5th inning (entered with runners on second and third and the score tied at 3) and retired the side in order in the 6th.  Final line: 1.2 IP, 6 BF, 24-13 NP-S, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0 HR.

Texas Rangers 10 - Cleveland Indians 4
Kosuke Fukudome started in right and batted first.  He went 2-for-4: fly out to left, single to left, single to left (run scored), ground out to second, HBP.

Boston Red Sox 18 - Toronto Blue Jays 6
Junichi Tazawa entered the game in the top of the 9th, with the Red Sox up 18-5, and allowed a run over an inning of work.  Final line: 1 IP, 6 BF, 27-15 NP-S, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO, 0 HR.

Milwaukee Brewers 2 - Colorado Rockies 1
Takashi Saito entered the game in the top of the 7th, with the game tied at 1, and tossed a shutout inning in relief.  Final line: 1 IP, 3 BF, 8-8 NP-S, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO, 0 HR.

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The latest on Tsuyoshi Nishioka, via MLB.com's Adam Holt:

Tsuyoshi Nishioka is beginning to feel better and could pinch-run soon, but isn't quite ready to return to the lineup.

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The latest on Hiroki Kuroda, via the Press-Enterprise's David Lassen:

Mattingly said Hiroki Kuroda remained scheduled to start Friday, and said Monday was the first time he'd heard a neck problem could have been an issue during the pitcher's start Sunday in San Francisco.

"We're not going to let him keep going out there if it's something that's bothering him," Mattingly said.

Conte characterized the neck as "not a major issue," saying it had been tight two or three starts earlier, and that the pitcher has been receiving physical therapy daily.

Kuroda did throw 36 pitches in the bullpen on the 13th in preparation for his next start on the 16th and said to reporters, "It's getting better.  Each day is different though, so I can't say for sure, but if it's like it is now, then I should be ok to pitch. ... I want to pitch in as many games as possible."

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Via Nikkan Sports: ESPN's Jim Caple has posted an article on Ichiro Suzuki's drop this season, entitled "Ichiro playing like an impersonator."  A snip:

For the past decade, Ichiro slapping a hit has been as reliable a part of the Seattle summer as sunsets over the Olympic mountains. After hitting a career .331 with two batting titles and at least 200 hits, a .300 average and an All-Star appearance every season in his first 10 years in the majors, Ichiro has plummeted to .275 with a .313 on-base percentage and a .652 OPS in 2011. He needs 32 hits in Seattle's remaining 16 games to reach the 200-hit mark with which he is obsessed. That was possible for the old Ichiro -- he had 40 in a 17-game stretch in 2004 -- but Fake Ichiro might have almost as good a chance of reaching it this year.

Meanwhile, after winning a Gold Glove in every previous season and covering as much ground as summer road construction, Ichiro's fielding has been subpar this summer. He has been prone to slow jumps, and his range appears reduced. His ultimate zone rating has gone negative to minus-7, further signs that Area 51 is shrinking in Seattle.

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Junichi Tazawa was called up by the Red Sox on the 13th.  It'll be his first stint with the parent club since 9/2009.

A snip about the call-up from ESPN's Joe McDonald:

Tazawa, a right-hander, began the year on the DL after having Tommy John surgery and was activated on June 27. He combined to go 4-3 with a 3.86 ERA with 46 strikeouts and only 10 walks in 16 appearances (two starts) between Double-A Portland and Pawtucket.

"You're certainly not going to see him pitch every day, but since we have enough bodies we have the ability to pick and chose where we pitch him," Francona said. "He can impact us, too."

And a snip from WEEI's Matt Goisman:

But Tazawa followed a different – albeit similarly common – pattern. When he started pitching in games this year, first in extended spring training in Florida, and then on his first rehab assignment in High-A Salem in May, his fastball velocity was regularly in the mid-80s, well short of the low-90s velocity (topping out at 94 mph) that he showed before surgery.

That diminished velocity, in turn, led Tazawa to struggle. He allowed 12 runs in his first two rehab outings with Salem. However, after those initially poor outings, he turned the corner. He allowed one run in his next 11 2/3 innings, and his velocity started to creep back into the 90s.

...

"He's getting swings and misses. The slider's coming back. The split's coming back. The life, finish and command are coming back. That's the big separator," said Red Sox farm director Mike Hazen. "He's impressive. That's what he was doing before he got hurt."