FULL COUNT: Everyone’s doing well except Barney, League

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Leading off the not-good list is Los Angeles Dodgers closer Brandon League, who is in danger of losing his job. In three appearances this month, League has faced 18 batters giving up six hits, five earned runs, and three walks for a 6.28 ERA. Kenley Jansen is set to take over if his struggles continue.

Not far behind League is Chicago Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney; marvelous in the field (1.000 fielding percentage), and horrendous at the plate (.159 batting average). No improvement expected anytime soon.
There’s good news around the Bay Area, as Athletics shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima is batting .241 with seven hits and three RBIs in seven games during his 20-day rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento. If he’s called up to Oakland before the end of the month, he’s likely headed for a backup utility role.

Lefty specialist Hideki Okajima (0-1) is ready to return to the majors whenever the A’s have room on the active roster. The former All-Star has a 2.16 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 14 games with the Sacramento River Cats, allowing no runs in his last nine appearances.

Meanwhile A’s general manager Billy Beane was in Japan recently, possibly looking at pitcher Masahiro Tanaka of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. The five-time All-Star has won six straight starts this season, and is regarded as one of Nippon Professional Baseball’s best pitchers.

Giants’ second baseman Kensuke Tanaka continues to excel in Triple-A Fresno. He’s batting .338 with 31 runs scored, 13 RBIs, and 12 stolen bases.

Elsewhere, Texas Rangers starter Yu Darvish (6-1) is the hottest pitcher in baseball. Darvish has a 2.73 ERA and leads the majors with 80 strikeouts in 52.5 innings. The 26-year-old is clearly an All-Star and Cy Young candidate.

Kansas City Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie improved to 5-0 on the season with six solid innings at Baltimore on May 9. He allowed two runs — one earned — and seven hits with three strikeouts, and has posted a 2.28 ERA in seven starts with 30 strikeouts and a 1.18 WHIP.

Seattle Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (4-1) is quietly having a great season with a 1.74 ERA, 51 strikeouts, and 0.74 WHIP in eight starts.

New York Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda (5-2) earned his fifth win of the season May 12 against the Royals, allowing just two runs on six hits and one walk, while striking out one in 7.2 innings. On May 10, Ichiro Suzuki went 3-for-5 with a home run, two RBI, three runs scored and a stolen base against the Royals. He had been hitless in four games since.

Jerome Williams (2-1) has returned to the Los Angeles Angels starting rotation, making two starts. He has a 3.06 ERA and 20 strikeouts.

Washington Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki is batting .241 with two homeruns, and nine RBIs. The usually mild mannered Suzuki was ejected in the ninth inning of the May 12 loss to the Cubs after arguing a called strike three.

Red Sox eighth-inning setup man Koji Uehara struck out all three batters he faced in Boston’s 5-3 loss to the Twins on May 9. Uehara has eight holds and 20 strikeouts. With several relievers on the DL, Junichi Tazawa (2-2) has stepped in as the Red Sox closer. Tazawa has nine holds and 21 strikeouts thus far. Outfielder Shane Victorino is batting .308 with two homers, and 10 RBIs.

Milwaukee Brewers lead-off man Norichika Aoki had a huge game May 13 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, going 3-for-5 with three RBI, two runs scored, two doubles and two stolen bases. Aoki is hitting .299 with four home runs, and 11 RBIs.

Toronto Blue Jays infielder Munenori Kawasaki has improved his batting average to .250 while filling in for the injured Jose Reyes.

Drew Morita, a Yonsei from the island of Kaua‘i, grew up rooting for the Oakland A’s but is now a loyal San Francisco Giants fan. He writes from San Francisco. Follow him @drewmorita or e-mail him at drew_morita@yahoo.com.

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