FULL COUNT: No surprises as baseball season winds down

With less than two weeks left in the regular season, the Japanese and JA players are performing as expected.

Kurt Suzuki has been part of Oakland’s backstop platoon with Stephen Vogt and Derek Norris since his return to the Athletics via an Aug. 23 trade with the Washington Nationals. He’s appeared in 11 games batting .321 with a home run, five RBIs and five runs scored. Suzuki should be a lock for the A’s postseason roster.

Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish (12-9) went seven strong innings against the A’s on Sept. 14, giving up just one run on four hits and one walk while striking out 10, but suffered his fourth consecutive loss. He still leads the majors with 256 strikeouts. It’s hard not to rank him as one of the top five pitchers of 2013.

Seattle Mariners hurler Hisashi Iwakuma (12-6) continued an excellent season on Sept. 13, tossing seven scoreless innings and allowed just three hits and two walks with one strikeout but came away with a no-decision. Iwakuma maintains a 1.03 WHIP with 170 strikeouts.
Chicago Cub Darwin Barney leads all National League second basemen with a .993 fielding percentage, but his .211 batting average shows no sign of improving this year.

New York Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki continues his respectable season hitting .262 with seven homers and 34 RBIs while teammate Hiroki Kuroda (11-11) allowed five runs on eight hits in an 8-4 loss to the Red Sox on Sept. 13. Kuroda has 138 strikeouts thus far.

The Boston Red Sox have the lead in the American League East, thus right fielder Shane Victorino has been resting as of late. He’s batting a consistent .293 with 14 home runs, and 58 RBIs. If this were the playoffs, he’d be playing.

Set-up man Junichi Tazawa (5-3) has 25 holds, 69 strikeouts and a 1.16 WHIP for Boston while countryman and teammate Koji Uehara (4-1) has been outstanding recording 19 saves and a 0.56 WHIP. This is a seriously good combination.

Kansas City starter Jeremy Guthrie (14-11) gave up three runs on 13 hits and one walk, while striking out four in eight innings, during his second complete game of the season for the Royals in a 3-2 loss against the Detroit Tigers on Sept. 15.

Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Brandon League (6-4) allowed two runs on four hits against the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 14, pushing his ERA to 5.72 in continuing his horrendous season.

Angels starter Jerome Williams (8-10) has strung together three consecutive wins for Anaheim and looks to finish 2013 very strong.

Norichika Aoki remains a key contributor in the Milwaukee Brewers lineup, but he is just 3-for-22 over the last six games with four walks.

Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-3) won his first game of the season on Sept. 15, as the New York Mets beat the Miami Marlins 3-1.

NPB sensation Masahiro Tanaka of the Rakuten Eagles continues to be heavily scouted by major league clubs seeking a front rotation starter, with the Yankees and Angels in heavy pursuit. Tanaka (21-0) has won 25 consecutive decisions, surpassing Carl Hubbell’s major league record streak of 24 for the New York Giants in 1936-37.

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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