FULL COUNT: Ishikawa and Guthrie make World Series history

The 2014 Fall Classic offered the Japanese American community a chance to see a few of their own on baseball’s biggest stage and witness a brief piece of history.

Travis Ishikawa. photo courtesy of mlb.com

Travis Ishikawa. photo courtesy of mlb.com

With two outs and Brandon Belt on first in the bottom of the second inning of World Series Game 3, San Francisco Giants left fielder Travis Ishikawa stepped into the left batters box to face Kansas City Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie

Jeremy Guthrie. photo courtesy of mlb.com

Jeremy Guthrie. photo courtesy of mlb.com

Their meeting marked the first time in history that two Japanese Americans faced off in the World Series.

Guthrie, a 35-year-old native of Roseburg, Ore., opened with a 92-mph four-seam fastball that Ishikawa, a 31-year-old native of Seattle, Wash. took for a ball. Ishikawa then swung at an 85-mph changeup to even the count, and Guthrie got him to chase a cutter on the next pitch. 

Facing a 1-2 count, Ishikawa watched a slow curveball drop away into Salvador Perez’s mitt for ball two. As Guthrie starred in, Perez put down the sign for a slider. Guthrie slung it in toward the plate, but Ishikawa lined it straight to Lorenzo Cain right field to end the inning with the Royals still up 1-0.

Ishikawa got a second shot at Guthrie in the bottom of the fifth. Guthrie threw the same curve that was a ball in the previous at bat, but this time Ishikawa swung and missed. A changeup fluttered toward the plate on the next pitch and Ishikawa hit a grounder to first baseman Eric Hosmer, who tossed the ball to Guthrie for the force out at first.

Guthrie and Ishikawa would not meet again in Game 3. Kelvin Herrera relieved Guthrie in the sixth and Ishikawa was subbed out in the seventh. 

Baseball will remember Guthrie for winning Game 3 in San Francisco and starting the decisive Game 7 while Ishikawa is forever a postseason hero for hitting the three-run walk-off home run at AT&T Park in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Oct. 16 that sent the Giants to the World Series for the third time in five seasons. 

After his first stint with the Giants from the 2006-2010 seasons, Ishikawa bounced around the Brewers, Orioles, Yankees and White Sox organizations. The journeyman spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons in the minor leagues on the East Coast. 

Cut by the Pittsburg Pirates earlier this season after just 15 games, he found himself playing with the Fresno Grizzlies, the Giants’ Triple-A club, for 71 games. Ishikawa, who was coming off the bench at Fresno by midsummer, spent some time mulling retirement. But an injury to Giants left fielder Michael Morse opened the door for him late in the season, switching him to a new position.

A member of the Giants’ 2010 World Series squad, during the NLCS, Ishikawa hit 5-for-13 for a .385 batting average with 7 RBI.

Guthrie was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year while a junior at Stanford University in 2002, leading the Cardinal to a 13-2 record with a 2.51 ERA. He was 13-11 this season for the Royals with a 4.13 ERA, which followed a successful 2013 campaign where he went 15-12 with a 4.04 ERA.

Drew Morita, a Yonsei from Kaua‘i, writes from San Francisco. Follow him @drewmorita or e-mail him at drew_morita@yahoo.com.

 

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