Saturday, July 25, 2009


This marks the final edition of “World Baseball Today.” After 16 months and 87 programs since November 2007, we will become “Baseball Mexico,” beginning August 2.

“Baseball Mexico” will be very similar to “World Baseball Today” in length and format, and will continue to air every Sunday at 10:30AM Eastern on Radio Miami International at 9955 kHz and online at However, there WILL be changes.

The obvious change will be the narrowing of programming focus to Mexican professional baseball. Mexico is the world’s only country in which pro ball is played all year long, and BBM will focus on both the Mexican League during the spring and summer and the Mexican Pacific League during the fall and winter, as well as Mexican players in Major League Baseball. BBM will also include features such as the “Mexican Baseball Road Trip,” in which all 24 Mexican baseball cities are profiled, histories of Mexico and Mexican baseball, and “Maestros of Mexico,” where 50 of Mexico’s most important figures in baseball (on and off the field) will be profiled.

Thanks to everyone who has followed WBT, and I hope you’ll make the move to BBM.  Our new email address is


Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox tossed a perfect game Thursday, blanking the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-0, in Chicago to become the sixth pitcher in Major League Baseball history to throw a perfect game and a no-hitter in his career. He authored a 6-0 no-hitter against Texas in 2007. Ironically, Eric Cooper was the home plate umpire for both of Buehrle’s gems.

Buehrle did need a little late defensive help. Gabe Kapler drilled a ninth-inning pitch deep to left-center field, but Sox centerfielder DeWayne Wise was able to track the ball down and make a leaping catch at the fence to steal a homer and save the perfecto. Buehrle then got Jason Bartlett to hit a grounder to shortstop for the final out of the game.

The win pulled the 50-45 White Sox into a tie for first with Detroit in the American League Central Division. The 57-37 New York Yankees lead the AL East, and the 55-38 Los Angeles Angels are best in the West. In the National League, the 53-39 Philadelphia Phillies lead the East Division, the 51-46 St. Louis Cardinals lead the Central (where just two games separate the top four teams); and in the West, the 61-34 Los Angeles Dodgers are on top.


The New York Times is reporting the use of DNA testing by Major League Baseball on some Latin American prospects and their families. According to a written statement from the MLB office, DNA testing was used in the Dominican Republic “in very rare instances, and only on a consensual basis to deal with the identity fraud problem that the league faces in that country.” An MLB spokesman declined to say how many prospects have been tested.

In recent years, a number of Latin prospects have been found to be older than they claimed upon signing with Major League teams, some of whom received fairly large bonuses. According to the Times, some experts and at least one scout raised the possibility that DNA testing could also be used to predict a player’s medical future, and that baseball’s use of such information has alarmed genetics and bioethics professionals.

One of the hottest unsigned prospects in the Dominican, shortstop Miguel Sano, underwent a DNA test and a bone scan to verify that he is, indeed, 16 years old.


The Yucatan Leones and Quintana Roo Tigres began an important three-game series by splitting the first two games in a matchup of the top two teams in the Mexican League’s Southern Zone in Merida’s Estadio Kukulcan.

The Tigres won the opener, 4-1, Tuesday night by scoring one run in the top of the eighth inning and two more in the ninth. Alex Sanchez was 3-for-5 for the Tigres, scoring one run and driving in another. The Leones came back Wednesday night for a 5-4 win, thanks in no small part to a three-run homer by Luis Matos in the sixth.

With the win, the 30-16 Leones went 2.5 games ahead of the Tigres in the LMB South. In the North, the 32-13 Mexico City Diablos Rojos are seven games up on Saltillo.


Ace Yu Darvish tossed his sixth complete game win of the season to lead the Nippon Ham Fighters to a 2-1 win over the Lotte Marines Wednesday night, completing a three-game sweep and helping keep the Fighters in first place in Japan’s Pacific League standings.

The 12-3 Darvish allowed just two hits and struck out six in joining Seibu’s Hideaki Wakui as Japan’s only 12-game winners as Nippon Ham won their fifth game in a row to go to 48-32-1 on the season. The second-place Softbank Hawks kept pace by outlasting Seibu, 7-6, as Hiroki Kokubo’s tiebreaking RBI single off Lions pitcher Marcus Gwyn in the seventh was the difference-maker. Tadashi Settsu won in relief while closer Takahiro Mahara earned his 19th save of the year. Seibu fell to 42-39-3, and are currently in third place.

The Yomiuri Giants continue to lead the Central League with a 50-28-7 record, but the 51-34-1 Chunichi Dragons have been quietly closing in on the Kyojin. The Giants bopped the Yokohama BayStars, 6-2, Wednesday night as Michihiro Ogasawara hit two of Yomiuri’s four home runs to support pitcher Wirfin Obispo’s first complete game of the season. Chunichi also won Wednesday, topping the Hiroshima Carp, 3-2. Masaaki Koike’s eighth-inning single drove in Atsushi Fujii from second base with the game-winning run.


The Korea Baseball Organization’s 34th annual All-Star Game was scheduled for Saturday, July 25 in Gwangju, returning to that KBO city for the first time in eleven years.

The game is an East-versus-West affair. The West team consists of players from the Kia Tigers, Hanwha Eagles, LG Twins and the Heroes, and was managed this year by Hanwha skipper In-sik Kim. The East squad is drawn from the SK Wyverns, Doosan Bears, Lotte Giants and Samsung Lions, and was skippered by SK dugout boss Sung-geun Kim. The East led the all-time series, 21 games to 11, heading into Saturday’s contest. Seventeen first-time players were on the two All-Star rosters.

Defending champion SK leads the KBO at the All-Star Break with a 49-36-2 record, just ahead of traditional rival Doosan, who is 47-36-2. Kia holds down third place at 46-36-4 in what is now shaping up as a three-team race after the Wyverns and Bears were well ahead of the six other KBO teams for most of the season.


After holding off the La New Bears to win the Chinese Professional Baseball League’s first-half title, the defending Taiwanese champion Uni-President Lions have lost eight of the first ten games of their second-half schedule to drop into the CPBL cellar. The Lions won the first-half crown with a 34-24-2 record, just ahead of the 33-26-1 Bears.

Sinon defeated the Lions, 6-4, last Sunday to even the Bulls’ second-half record at 5-5, thanks to Da-hong Cheng’s three-run walkoff homer at Taipei County Stadium. The loss marked the first time in 19 seasons that Uni-President has dropped seven straight games as the Lions fell to 2-8 in the standings.

In other CPBL action last Sunday, the Brother Elephants pulled back into a first-place tie with the Bears following a 12-inning, 4-3 win in Tianmu. A fielding error by La New rookie Chih-ping Lin let in the winning run to snap a six-game Bears winning streak. Elephants reliever Jia-rei Mai tossed two scoreless innings to earn the win in relief as Brother avoided a three-game sweep at the hands of the Bears and moved back into a first-place tie with both teams at 6-3. The Elephants finished a distant last in the first half with a 21-38 record.


The Italian League Serie A1 playoffs began this weekend after Fortitudo Bologna and Telemarket Rimini tied for first place in the regular season standings with identical 30-12 records. However, it took a three-game sweep over Rimini by Bologna to pull Fortitudo into the deadlock.

Richard Austin socked his sixth and seventh homers of the season in last Sunday’s 7-4 Bologna victory to complete the broom job. Eddy Garabito also homered for the winners and Matthew Stocco added three RBIs as both teams gave a number of pitchers a workout as a prelude to the postseason. Defending champion T&A San Marino finished third, four games behind at 26-16, two games ahead of fourth-place Cariparma Parma, who was 24-18. Parma nudged out 23-19 Danesi Nettuno for the fourth and final playoff berth, while Montepaschi Grosseto, De Angelis GODO and Palfinger Reggio Emilia were all well out of contention.

This weekend’s best-of-3 semifinals pitted Bologna and Parma in one series, while Bologna squared off against San Marino. The winners will open the Italian Series next weekend.


DOOR Neptunus and the defending champion Amsterdam Pirates were just one game apart in the Dutch Major League standings when they opened their important three-game series last weekend in Rotterdam. However, after pulling out three wins, Neptunus is now 27-8-1 and has a four-game lead over 23-12-1 Amsterdam.

Neptunus opened the set with a 6-5 win on July 17, and followed up with a 10-8 victory on July 18 before finishing the sweep with an 8-2 triumph on July 19. As if the three straight losses weren’t bad enough for the Pirates, they now have two other Hoofdklasse teams chasing them for second place in the standings.

The Konica Minolta Pioniers took three straight games from last-place MediaMonks RCH last weekend to move into third place at 22-12-2, while Sparta/Feyenoord won two in a row over Corendon Kinheim to slide past last season’s runners-up into fourth with a 21-13-1 mark. Kinheim dropped to fifth at 21-14. Mr. Crocker HCAW, ADO and Media Monks are all out of playoff contention with a combined 25-80-3 record.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Baltimore’s Adam Jones lofted a sacrifice fly to score Detroit’s Curtis Granderson from third base in the eighth inning to give the American League a 4-3 win over the National League at the 80th Major League All-Star Game last Tuesday in St. Louis. With the victory, the American League has now won or tied the past 13 Midsummer Classics.

The Americans handed starter Roy Halladay of Toronto a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, and Halladay responded by retiring the first five National League batters he faced. The Nationals eventually took a 3-2 lead on a pinch-hit double from Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder in the third. Minnesota’s Joe Mauer tied the game in the fifth with an RBI double of his own, setting up Granderson’s one-out triple in the eighth prior to Jones’ sac fly.

Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon got the win with a scoreless seventh inning. San Diego’s Heath Bell, who gave up Granderson’s triple and Jones’ sac fly, was pinned with the loss for the National League.


Three-time Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez has finally signed a contract with a big league team after months in limbo. The 37-year-old Martinez agreed a one-year deal with the defending world champion Philadelphia Phillies last week for $1 million, plus another $1.5 million in incentives. Martinez had been seeking a $5 million contract after a good showing in March’s World Baseball Classic, but four months passed before the right-hander bit the bullet and signed with the Phils.

Martinez pitched twice at the Phillies’ Dominican academy before the team sat down to talk business with him. He was immediately placed on the disabled list, and will begin his season pitching a rehab assignment for a Phillies farm team. Martinez won the Cy Young Award three times between 1997 and 2000, and has a career record of 214-99 with a 2.91 ERA and 3,117 strikeouts over 17 big league seasons. Last year, he went 5-6 with a 5.61 ERA for the New York Mets before becoming a free agent in the offseason.


Mexico’s counterpart to Cooperstown, the Salon de la Fama in Monterrey, was scheduled to induct four new members this weekend. A Saturday night ceremony prior to the Reynosa-Monterrey Mexican League game at Monterrey Baseball Stadium introduced inductees Arturo Gonzalez, Juan Jose Pacho, Salvador Colorado and Jose Domingo Setien.

Gonzalez was 232-169 over 27 years pitching in the Mexican League (all for Monterrey), Pacho was a shortstop who batted .278 over 1,891 Liga games in his career before becoming a successful manager, Colorado was 181-125 in 18 Mexican summers between the Seventies and Nineties, and Setien has been a baseball writer and TV commentator in Mexico since 1972.

Gonzalez was elected in his first year on the ballot.


After losing the first contest of their three-game series, the Nippon Ham Fighters took two straight wins over the Softbank Hawks to come to within a half-game of the league-leading Hawks in Japan’s Pacific League standings.

Jose Ortiz whacked a two-run homer to give the Hawks a 2-1 win in Tuesday night’s opener to snap the Fighters’ three-game win streak. Nippon Ham came back to win the final two games of the set, however. Fighters ace Yu Darvish tossed his fifth complete game of 2009 in Wednesday’s 9-1 win over Softbank as Darvish’s record was lifted to 11-3. One night later, the Fighters won the rubber match, 3-2, thanks to Eiichi Koyano’s two-run triple in the sixth inning.

The Hawks are clinging to the PL lead with a 45-31-2 record, while the Fighters are right on their heels at 45-32-1. Seibu is third at 40-38-3. In the Central League, the Yomiuri Giants have all kinds of breathing room with a 47-25-7 record, 5.5 games ahead of 45-34-1 Chunichi and six games up on 42-32 Yakult.


Samsung veteran Joon-hyuk Yang swatted the 350th homer of his 17-year career last Tuesday night in Daegu, but the Lions still lost a 14-9 slugfest to the Doosan Bears in a Korea Baseball Organization game.

The 40-year-old Yang walloped his three-run shot off Bears start Jae-woo Lee in the first inning. Yang, who has eleven homers this year, has never won a single-season home run title and has never hit more than 23 dingers in a year. Even so, Yang is the only KBO player ever to top 300 career homers, although SK Wyverns catcher Kyung-oan Park is knocking on the door at 299. Not just a swing-for-the-fences slugger, Yang is a career .318 hitter over 2,059 games since his 1993 debut (including a .326 average this year). He played the first six years of his KBO career for the Lions, then spent a season with the KIA Tigers and two more with the SK Wyverns before returning to Samsung in 2002.

Despite the win, second-place Doosan was not able to close the gap between the Bears and the league-leading Wyverns. SK is 48-33-5 this year, good enough for a 2.5-game lead over the 45-35-2 Bears. KIA is in third at 43-35-4, one game behind the Bears.


It took a shortstop’s error in the eleventh inning of the deciding game, but Japan was able to pull out a 3-games-to-2 win in their collegiate baseball All-Star series with the United States last week in Japan. The series was tied at two games apiece going into the fifth and final contest at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Game Five was knotted up at 4-4 going into the ninth inning when the Americans scored three runs to take a 7-4 lead, but when Japan notched three counters of their own in the bottom of the frame, the game went into overtime. With two out in the bottom of the eleventh, Masayoshi Kato’s grounder was bobbled by USA shortstop Christian Colon, bringing in the winning run from third base to end the game with an 8-7 Japan victory. The series itself was a see-saw affair, as the USA and Japan swapped wins back and forth over the first four games.

Asia University outfielder Keiji Nakahara was named the series MVP after recording at least one hit in all five games, including a homer in Game Three, as Japan extended their winning streak at home to 13 straight series.


Giorvis Duvergel’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning broke a 3-3 tie as Cuba went on to pound The Netherlands, 9-3, last Sunday in the title game of the World Port Tournament in Rotterdam. Cuba dominated the tournament by winning or tying nine of the ten games they played. Conversely, the host Dutch reached the final despite a 4-5 record in the preliminary round in which the four national teams played one another three times each. Taiwan finished third with a 3-5-1 record, while Japan brought up the rear at 3-6.

The Japanese did capture a measure of glory on July 11 by handing the Cubans their only loss in a 2-1 win for pitcher Syogo Suenaga, who let in one unearned run on four hits in a complete game victory.

Cuba’s Yoelvis Fiss was voted the tourney’s MVP after going 15-for-35 at the plate with two homers and 12 RBIs. Teammate Maikel Folch earned Best Pitcher honors after tossing 18 scoreless innings, including four shutout frames in the title game with The Netherlands to earn the victory.


To the surprise of nobody, the Puerto Cruz Marlins have clinched the Spanish Division of Honor regular season championship following a two-game sweep of the Vigo Halcones last weekend at home in Tenerife. Vigo took a 3-0 first inning lead in the opening game via a three-run homer by Marco Marques. The Marlins came back with one run in the first before pounding out five more in the second, highlighted by two-run bombs from Juan Macias and Daniel Martinez. Leslie Nacar ran his record to 14-1 by settling down after Marques’ blast and letting in no more Halcones runs through the eighth frame. Ivan Granados saw his record lifted to 12-1 in the second game by tossing a 5-0 shutout.

With the sweep, Puerto Cruz is now 30-2, four games ahead of 26-6 Barcelona with four games left on the schedule. Remember that Barca road trip to Puerto Cruz that was cancelled because nobody bothered to book a team flight to Tenerife earlier this season? Even if the Marlins lose all four of their games and Barcelona wins their last four games, Puerto Cruz will get the nod for first because of those two 9-0 forfeit wins over Barca.


The German Baseball League playoffs have winnowed down to four teams after all first round Bundesliga series wrapped up last weekend. The Solingen Alligators will meet the Heidenheim Heidekoepfe in one semifinal series, while the defending champion Regensburg Buchbinder Legionaere will take on the Manheim Tornados in the other. Solingen and Regensburg won their respective division titles during the regular season.

Solingen eliminated the Mainz Athletics in three straight games, including a 10-0 win last weekend as Enorbel Marquez-Ramirez combined with Jens Cornelsen and Andre Hughes to limit Mainz to two hits and a walk. Heidenheim allowed just one run in 23 innings of their three-game sweep of Dortmund, including a 13-0 Markus Winkler one-hitter last Saturday.

Regensburg won their third straight over the HSV Stealers, 9-7, last week as Matt Vance was 4-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Manheim needed four games to knock out Paderborn, scoring a 14-4 clincher win last Sunday. The Tornados’ Marvin Appiah homered for the third straight game, while pitcher Martin DeWald earned his third postseason win.

The best-of-5 semis will begin Saturday, August 1 because the German National Team will be in Canada for the World Baseball Challenge this weekend.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals racked up 5.4 million fan votes in balloting for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game this week at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Pujols easily led all vote-getters in receiving the second-highest number of tallies in MLB history.

He’ll be joined by teammate Yadier Molina, who’ll start as catcher for the National League as the two Cardinals stay at home for the All-Star Break. Philadelphia Phillies manager Charley Manuel will be the National League skipper.

Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees led American League players in votes, and will start at shortstop for Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon. The AL team includes ten first-time All-Stars, and the Boston Red Sox lead both leagues with six players in Tuesday night’s game, which will be televised in the USA on the FOX Network.


The signing period for Major League teams to reach contract agreements with undrafted international players has begun. Players inside the USA, Canada and Puerto Rico are subject to MLB’s June draft, but the rest are considered free agents (although they can’t be signed to deals until July 2).

Several young international players have already made deals with MLB teams, but none have topped last year’s record $4.25 million signing bonus the Oakland Athletics gave Dominican pitcher Michael Ynoa. The top figure this year is the reported $3.1 million shelled out by St. Louis for Dominican outfielder Wagner Mateo, while the Yankees gave Dominican catcher Gary Sanchez $3 million.

The top two unsigned international prospects are said to Dominican shortstop Miguel Angel Sano and Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who may get an eight-figure signing bonus.


A pair of pitchers from India signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates after appearing on an Indian television show called “The Million Dollar Arm” made their pro baseball debuts recently. Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel became the first players from India to play in an American professional baseball game on July 4 by appearing back-to-back in a 4-2 Pirates’ Gulf Coast League loss to the Yankees in Bradenton, Florida. The GCL is a Rookie-level league based at spring training complexes throughout Florida.

Singh pitched the seventh inning, allowing a run on two hits before retiring the last three Yankees batters he faced. Patel came on in the eighth, turning in a hitless, nine-pitch effort on the mound. Singh is left-handed, while Patel is a righty.

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington, who signed the duo last November, said, “This is going to be a long process, but they continue to make progress.” Huntington added that Patel and Singh will pitch out of the bullpen for the rest of the year and probably in 2010 as well.


The Softbank Hawks defeated the Orix Buffaloes, 3-2, last Wednesday night to take a narrow 1.5-game lead over the Nippon Ham Fighters in their neck-and-neck battle for the lead in Japan’s Pacific League standings. Nobuhiro Matsuda went 3-for-3 with two RBIs for the Hawks, while starter Yoshiaki Fujioka let in one run over 5.2 innings for the win as Softbank raised their record to 41-28-2.

The Fighters are right behind the Hawks at 40-30-1 after dropping a 4-3 decision to the Seibu Lions Wednesday night. Yu Darvish took the loss for Nippon Ham to fall to 10-3 for the season after giving up four runs in seven innings, the most tallies he’s allowed in a start this year. Seibu pinch-hitter Tatsuyuki Uemoto touched Darvish with a two-run homer in the seventh to put the Lions ahead for good. Seibu is third in the PL at 36-35-2.

In the Central League standings, the Yomiuri Giants are 43-24-6 and hold a comfortable lead over the 39-29 Yakult Swallows. The Giants beat the Yokohama BayStars, 3-2, Wednesday night as Hayato Sakamoto hit his second walkoff homer of the year in the ninth inning. The Swallows kept pace with an 11-6 win over the Chunichi Dragons. Norichika Aoki stroked a two-run single in the sixth to break a 6-6 tie as Yakult scored the final five runs of the game. Chunichi is in third place in the CL with a 40-32-1 record.


Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates have not had a winning season since 1992, and the organization is leaving no stone unturned pursuing prospects that might help turn things around. The Bucs last week signed three high school players from Taiwan to minor league contracts. Two of them are from the same school.

Xiyuan Taichung City High School produced right-handed pitcher Sheng-qin Hong and outfielder Pin-hong Ji. Hong is a 165-pound six-footer who throws a 90 MPH fastball along with a curveball and changeup. His velocity is expected to increase as his body fills out. Ji is only 5-7 and 143 pounds, but very fast on the bases and a starter on both the 2005 Pony League World Series winners and Taiwan’s 2007 IBA Senior League champions. Both Hong and Ji are 18 years old.

Also signed was first baseman Ji-wei Xu, a 17-year-old from Kuang Fu High School. Xu is just shy of six feet tall and weighs 202 pounds. He has been compared to Jim Thome and Jason Giambi by scouts who spotted him crushing a long homer in a game last December.

All three signees will be sent to Australia’s Major League Baseball Academy for at least a couple months. Xu could be assigned to a Pirates minor league team as early as September, while Hong and Ji may not be assigned until next spring.


The Batangas Bulls capped off a near-perfect Baseball Philippines Series 5 season by destroying the Manila Sharks, 12-3, last weekend to wrap up the BP finals and cop the pennant. Bulls starter Vladimir Eguia held Manila to two runs on five hits in a complete game effort en route to picking up the Finals MVP award as Batangas picked up their second title. The Bulls won the opener of the best-of-3 series, 13-4, in Manila.

Both teams were hit hard when BP suspended 24 Philippines National Team players for insubordination earlier this year. Batangas lost four players, including all-time home run leader Vio Roxas, while Manila was missing four players themselves. Still, the Series 5 season belonged to the Bulls, who won 13 of the 14 games they played. Series 6 begins this fall.


The defection of star pitcher Aroldis Chapman apparently hasn’t had a negative affect on the Cuban National Team, at least not on the field. Cuba opened the 2009 World Port Tournament in Rotterdam, Holland with six wins and a tie in their first seven games wins last week, and is the only team in the four-nation tourney above .500.

Cuba opened the World Port Tournament on July 2 with a 1-0 shutout of the host Netherland team as Miguel Gonzalez outdueled Diegomar Markwell for the win. Rolando Merino’s RBI single in the top of the third plated the game’s only run. Gonzalez came back six days later to combine with Yadiel Pedroso on a one-hitter for a 10-0 whitewashing of Japan. Taiwan won the second game on Opening Day, 4-3, over Japan as Kun-Sheng Lin’s single in the 11th inning gave Taiwan the lead and ultimately the win.

Cuba ran their record to 6-0-1 through last Thursday, when they tied Taiwan, 1-1, in a makeup game of an earlier rainout, then beat the Taiwanese team again, 5-4. Taiwan is now 2-4-1 for the tournament. The Netherlands topped Japan, 4-3, in the third game of the day in Rotterdam to bring their record up to 3-4. Japan brings up the rear at 2-5 as of Thursday.

The tournament is scheduled to conclude Sunday, July 12 with the title game.


Fortitudo Bologna stretched their Italian League Serie A1 winning streak to seven games last weekend to go to 26-10 for the season, good enough for a first-place tie with Telemarket Rimini. Bologna completed a three-game sweep of De Angelis GODO last Sunday with a 10-1 win. Richard Austin crashed a grand slam homer for Bologna, who scored 29 runs in the series. Claudio Liverziani also homered and reached base five times, while Eddy Garabito was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three more driven in for Bologna. De Angelis is in last place in Italy with a 7-29 record, and are on an eight-game losing streak.

Rimini lost the opener of their series with seventh-place Palfinger Reggio Emilia, but bounced back to win the final two to avoid slipping into second place. Telemarket won the rubber match last Sunday, 9-4, as Rimini starter Sandy Patrone gave up one run in seven innings while striking out seven batters. Rimini is now 26-10, while Palfinger is 8-28.


The German League playoffs have begun, and four teams wasted no time taking leads in their respective first round series, including defending champion Regensburg.

Regensburg opened with a pair of wins over the HSV Stealers. The Legionaere scored five runs in the first two innings of their opener with the Stealers, and went on to a seven-inning, 11-1 win over HSV. Regensburg needed extra innings to win Game 2, scoring four runs in the top of the tenth for a 7-3 victory. Michael Weigl sliced a two-run single to key the tenth for the champs.

Elsewhere in the German League, the Solingen Alligators won two games over Mainz as Solingen shortstop Chris Beck homered and finished with six RBIs in the opener, then reached base five times, scored four times and drove in three other runs during the second contest. Heidenheim topped Dortmund twice to begin their series, with Dusty Bergman tossing a two-hit shutout in the second game. Manheim took two from Paderborn but the Tornados had to hold off Paderborn in the first game as the Untouchables overcame a 9-2 deficit with seven runs in the top of the ninth. Craig Pycock’s walkoff double in the bottom of the ninth handed Manheim the 10-9 victory.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Although Mariano Rivera has been arguably the American League’s most dominant reliever over the past decade, there is one thing that makes him no different than any other pitcher: He loves to bat. When Rivera recorded the 500th save of his standout career last Sunday, he was more excited about collecting his first RBI in 14 years with the New York Yankees.

The 39-year-old Rivera batted for only the third time since 1996 because the Yanks were playing their crosstown rival New York Mets at Citi Field. Rivera came up to bat against Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez with the bases loaded in the ninth inning. Rivera worked a seven-pitch walk to drive in an insurance run and went on to wrap up the Yanks’ 4-2 win over the Mets, thus becoming the first American League pitcher to reach 500 saves. Milwaukee’s Trevor Hoffman is tops all-time with 571 saves.

Afterwards, Rivera said, “The RBI was the best. It was my first RBI. I’ve had 500 saves.”


It was unusual enough when there was a rain delay at a San Diego Padres home game earlier this season, since the city near the California-Mexican border averages fewer than 2 inches of precipitation during baseball season. However, what happened last Thursday was really unusual.

The Padres’ game against Houston was delayed for nearly an hour in the top of the ninth inning when a swarm of bees began swirling around a ballgirl’s jacket near the left field line. A beekeeper who was on the PETCO Park groundskeeper’s speed dial (hey, you never know WHO you may have to call) was brought in to dispose of what one San Diego official estimated as a couple thousand bees.

The bees ended up showing a little more sting than the Padres, who lost, 7-2, to the Astros.


A 21-year-old left-handed pitcher who was clocked at 102 MPH earlier this year has left the Cuban National Team in Europe and is planning to sign with a Major League Baseball team.

Aroldis Chapman walked out of his hotel in Rotterdam, Holland, where Cuba was playing in a tournament, and never returned. Chapman is considered by many scouts to be the world’s number one lefty prospect, although some say his secondary pitches are only average. There are concerns about his maturity as well, but the young man DOES hit triple-digits on the radar gun.

Estimates are that Chapman could bring in up to $30 million and will likely draw an offer from the New York Yankees, who never met a defecting Cuban pitcher they didn’t like.


The Mexican League has suspended two players after league-wide testing for performance enhancing drugs. Out of 124 samples from players on the Liga’s 16 teams, Tabasco shortstop Luis Porchas and Monclova pitcher Sergio Valenzuela tested positive and have each been suspended for 50 games. Porchas is a 19-year-old rookie who was batting .194 with no homers in 22 games with the Olmecas, while the 24-year-old Valenzuela was 3-1 with a 3.11 ERA in nine starts for the Acereros. Valenzuela spent four years playing in the Atlanta Braves system before joining Monclova last season, where he was 8-4 with a 4.89 ERA in 18 starts.

Both Porchas and Valenzuela are Hermosillo natives.


Nippon Ham Fighters outfielder Atsunori Inaba has received the most fan votes of any player for the upcoming Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star series.

Inaba, who is in his fifth season with the Fighters after spending his first ten seasons with the Yakult Swallows, is presently seventh among Pacific League batters with a .329 average. He also has nine homers and 41 RBIs. Inaba received over 498,000 votes from fans, and was the top vote-getter among his fellow Japanese players with 484.

In all, eleven players from Japan’s World Baseball Classic champions were voted onto All-Star rosters, including Fighters right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish and Yakult outfielder Norichika Aoki. South Korea’s WBC closer, Chang-yong Lim, was picked for the Central League team. Lim has yet to give up an earned run in 2009 after 30.2 innings out of the bullpen. The Hanshin Tigers, who are one of the most popular teams in the country, had no players selected by fans for the first time in eight years.

Managers will pick remaining All-Star players on Monday. The All-Star Series will be held July 24 at the Sapporo Dome, home of the Fighters, and July 25 in Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, which opened in April.


Not all veterans of Major League Baseball enjoy success in Asia, but 2009 has been very, very good to Roberto Petagine of the Korea Baseball Organization’s LG Twins. The 38-year-old Venezuelan is fourth in the KBO with a .352 batting average, and Petagine’s 19 homers and 60 RBIs are both good enough to rank second in the league behind another import, the Heroes’ Cliff Brumbaugh.

Petagine has seen a lot in his 20 seasons of pro baseball after signing with the Houston Astros as a 19-year-old free agent in 1990. He bounced from the Astros to San Diego, the New York Mets and Cincinnati between 1994 and 1998 before moving to Japan’s Yakult Swallows in 1999. Petagine spent six seasons in Japan with the Swallows and the Yomiuri Giants, batting .317 with 223 homers and winning an MVP trophy and two home run titles along the way. After returning to America for parts of two MLB seasons with Boston and Seattle and a Mexican League stint with the Mexico City Diablos Rojos, Petagine came to Korea in May of last season.

Some KBO teams have tried employing a sort of “Ted Williams shift” on Petagine this year, moving infielders to the right side of the diamond, but he often thwarts that strategy by hitting balls into the seats (where fielders can’t reach them). Other teams have gone the more conventional route and walked Petagine to avoid pitching to him altogether. Given his numbers, it’s hard to blame them.


Mickey Callaway pitched five shutout innings of four-hit ball and Dai-chi Kuo cranked a long three-run homer to lift the Uni-President Lions to a 10-7 win over the Brother Elephants last Sunday to clinch the first half championship in Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League.

The 34-year-old Callaway, who has pitched in the major leagues for Tampa Bay, Anaheim and Texas, held the Elephants in check while his teammates built a 10-0 lead, including a six-run outburst in the fourth inning. Also last Sunday, the La New Bears lost a 13-5 contest to the Sinon Bulls as starter Shoda Itsuki allowed two runs over six innings for Sinon.


After sitting out several weeks due to shoulder problems, 17-year-old female pitcher Eri Yoshida has made three more appearances for the Kobe 9 Cruise of Japan’s independent Kansai League.

The sidearming knuckleballer struck out the only batter she faced May 29 against the Akashi Red Soldiers in her first game since opening night in April. Yoshida struggled in another stint against Akashi on June 13, hitting two batters in the ninth inning of a 2-2 game, and things didn’t go better in a June 29 outing against the Osaka Gold Villicanes. She entered the game with two out in the eighth, and gave up a double, then hit and walked the next two batters to load the bases before being pulled.


Telemarket Rimini avoided a three-game sweep by T&A San Marino last weekend by thumping the defending Italian Serie A1 champions, 10-2, thanks to a solid pitching performance by starter Sandy Patrone and the bullpen. Patrone allowed two hits and both San Marino runs in 5.1 innings before the relief corps came on and turned in 3.2 hitless innings. Ivanon Coffie crunched his 8th homer for Rimini with a two-run blast in the eighth, while Mexican League alum Eduardo Rios and Mario Chiarini both had two RBIs. Max DiBiase’s sixth-inning single drove in both San Marino runs. Rimini is now 24-9 for the season, one game ahead of 23-10 Bologna.

Earlier in the series, San Marino’s David Sheldon became the eleventh player in Italian league history to play in 1,000 games. A native of New Orleans, the 46-year-old Sheldon spent two years in the Chicago White Sox farm system before coming to Italy in 1987. He has suited up for nine teams over 23 seasons since then.


Although the Puerto Cruz Marlins have seen their bid for a perfect season end, the defending Spanish Division of Honor champions are still on top of the standings following a two-game sweep of eighth place Baseball Navarra last weekend. Puerto Cruz won a tight 2-0 opener as Luis Perez’ homer and Nestor Perez’ RBI single in the fourth gave starter Leslie Nacar all the runs he needed en route to a complete game shutout. The Marlins had an easier time of it in the second game, pounding Navarra, 13-3, in an eight-inning mercy rule contest. Puerto Cruz batters collected 18 hits, including five homers, to run their record to 26-2.

The Marlins were swept by Barcelona in a June 20 doubleheader. Barca stayed within two games of Puerto Cruz at 24-4 with a pair of dominant wins over Pamplona last weekend. Barcelona scored 11 eighth-inning runs on the way to a 20-2 drubbing in the first game, racking up 24 hits on the way. The second game was closer than the final 18-3 score indicates. Pamplona took a 3-0 lead with three fifth inning runs and carried that score into another disastrous eighth inning, when Barca scored all 18 runs in a frame that had the scorekeeper reaching for his bottle of Maalox…at least.


It’s a good thing for the Rouen Huskies that the have an eight-game French Elite League winning streak going. They’ve needed all eight of those wins to stay ahead of the hard-charging Montpellier Barracudas, who’ve won ten in a row themselves.

Rouen lifted their league record to 17-3 last weekend with a double-shutout sweep of the Clermont-Ferrand Arvernes. Robin Roy allowed four hits while striking out 14 batters in the opener as Rouen beat the Arvernes 12-0 in seven innings. In the second game, Rouen’s Keino Perez gave up only one hit over seven innings as the Huskies drilled Clermont-Ferrand, 10-0.

Montpellier is 1.5 games behind Rouen following their doubleheader sweep of La Guerche. The ‘Cudas won the opener, 12-1, as pitcher Thomas Langlois pitched eight strong innings for the winners. Montpellier built a 10-1 lead after five innings in the nightcap, but the Hawks closed the gap and forced the ‘Cudas to hang on for an 11-9 victory to bring their Elite League record to 14-3. Savigny is in third place, five games behind Rouen with a 13-9 mark.


It certainly took long enough for the London Mets to get things going. The defending British National League champs were 4-4 and holding fourth place in the five-team circuit before reeling off six straight wins to take a slight lead over the Hertfordshire Falcons, who have four consecutive wins of their own. London swept the Richmond Flames in a doubleheader last week, while Herts did the same against the Croydon Pirates. The Bracknell Blazers had the weekend off.

While Herts is 12-6 and in a virtual tie for first with 10-4 London, the Mets are .44 percentage points ahead of the Falcons. Bracknell holds third place at 7-5, Richmond is 9-7 and Croydon is 0-16.