FULL COUNT: Pitchers in All-Star form, but bats are mostly silent

With the MLB All-Star Game less than three weeks away, several Japanese hurlers should be on the mound at the New York Mets’ Citi Field on July 16; at least two of them. Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish (7-3) is sporting a 2.95 ERA with just 33 walks and a league leading 143 strikeouts while Seattle Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (7-3) owns a 2.26 ERA with a 46 percent groundball rate, a stellar 11 percent swinging-strike rate and 96 strikeouts through June 25. Those are wicked good numbers.

Over in Boston, Koji Uehara is first in line for the open closer’s role, which he deserves after posting a 2.10 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in 30 innings for the Red Sox thus far. If he struggles, Junichi Tazawa (4-2) who has recorded 13 holds and a 1.12 WHIP will get a shot.

New York Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda improved to 7-5 on June 19 with a win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in which he scattered eight hits, allowing two runs over 6.2 innings. His teammate Ichiro Suzuki hit his second career walk-off home run on June 25, and though he hasn’t replicated the success he had in Seattle, he now has a .292 average and four steals in June.

Milwaukee Brewers’ leadoff man Norichika Aoki went 3-for-4 with a run scored while stealing his seventh base June 21. He’d been out a few days to celebrate the birth of his second child.

Hawai‘i native Jerome Williams (5-3) is still pitching decently as the Los Angeles Angels long-man and spot starter with a 3.36 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, yet across town at Dodger Stadium fellow local boy Brandon League is no longer the Dodgers closer after four blown saves and Kenley Jansen now has that role. Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly has lost confidence in League.

As for the rest of the Japanese and JA ball players, they’re also underperforming.

Kansas City Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie (7-5) has pitched terribly over his last four starts, walking 12 batters while striking out five.

The bad hasn’t ended for Chicago Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney, who went 3-for-4 in the June 21 win over the Astros, finishing just a triple shy of the cycle, but is still batting a horrendous .232.
Washington Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki continues to struggle at the plate. He’s hitting .215/.282/.311 over 54 games this season.

Blue Jays infielder Munenori Kawasaki, who has a .225 average with one homer and 17 RBIs in 60 games, was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo on June 25 to make room for starting shortstop Jose Reyes.
Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino left Sunday’s game with back tightness after running into the outfield wall and remains day-to-day.

The Athletics sent lefty specialist Hideki Okajima back to Triple-A Sacramento on June 15. He made five appearances, posting a 2.25 ERA with two walks and one strikeout in 4.0 innings. There’s a chance he’ll be recalled later in the season, but shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima isn’t any closer to coming to Oakland.

Lastly, Giants fans may or may not be pleased to know that despite 16 fielding errors, Fresno Grizzlies second baseman Kensuke Tanaka continues to hit well, owning a .326 average with 21 RBIs, a .393 on-base percentage and 19 steals in 25 attempts. If the Giants need a speedster on the base path, this is their guy.

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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