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Updated: November 10, 2018
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(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photo by Henk Seppen)

MLB All Stars empty-handed against Samurai Japan

BUNKYŌ, TOKYO (Japan) - The Major League Baseball All Star Team has lost the first two games against Samurai Japan during the MLB Japan All-Star Series. On Friday (November 9), the Japanese All Stars won 7-6 and on Saturday, the team recorded a convincing 12-6 victory.

The two teams will face each other four more times in the coming days. On Sunday, the third game will be played at the Tokyo Dome, where the first two games also were played. The next three games will be played on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the first one in Hiroshima, the next two in Nagoya.

Last Wednesday, Samurai Japan played an exhibition game against the National Team of Taiwan at Fukuoka and lost 6-5. The next day, the MLB All Stars played an exhibition game against Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo and won 9-6.

It is the twelfth MLB Japan All-Star Series since 1986. In that year, a MLB All Star Team first traveled to Japan to play against an All Star Team from the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). From 1986 on, the Series was on the agenda every two years through 2006. Except for 1994 when the trip was cancelled due to the players strike in the Major League.

Of the 10 Series that were played between 1986 and 2006, the MLB All Stars won nine. The only time that the NPB All Stars won the Series was in 1990. Of the 75 games played in this period, the MLB-team won 48. Seven games ended in a tie.

After an eight-year absence, the All-Star Series resumed again in 2014. Instead of the NPB All Star Team, the National Team of Japan played against the MLB All Stars. For Samurai Japan, the Series was part of its preparations for the 2017 World Basebal Classic. In this Series, Samurai Japan won three of the five games.

Before 1986, many other Major League-teams have played games in Japan since 1908.

In the first game on Friday at the Tokyo Dome, the MLB All Stars took the lead three times, but lost in the ninth inning. Almost 45,000 spectators attended the game.

The MLB Team opened the score in the top of the third inning when Amed Rosario homered. But Samurai Japan came alongside in its third at bat.

In the fifth, the MLB All Stars scored three runs, which were all scored on a homerun by Carlos Santana. Again, Japan answered immediately with three runs in the bottom of the fifth when Shogo Akiyama hit a baseclearing, 3-run double.

...The Tokyo Dome was one of the playing sites in all four...
...editions of the World Baseball Classic...
...In 2013 and 2017, the Netherlands played its games... the Second Round in this stadium...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
The MLB Team then scored twice in the sixth inning to take the lead for the third time when Juan Soto hit a 2-run homerun. This time, Japan not only came alongside, but also won the game by scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Seiji Uebayashi hit a single with one out and stole second base. With two outs, he scored on a single by Tsubasa Aizawa. Hereafter, Yuki Yanagita (Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks) connected well off of closer Kirby Yates (San Diego Padres) and hit a walk-off, 2-run homerun. Or 'Sayonara Homerun' as it is called in Japan.

On Saturday, also in the Tokyo Dome, Yuki Yanagita again was the hero for Samurai Japan. He again homered and contributed with four runs batted in to lead Japan to a 12-6 victory.

Yanagita batted in the first run with a single in the first inning. Japan rallied for four runs in the top of the third, with two of them being scored on a homerun by Yanagita.

In the fifth inning, Japan again scored four runs to raise its lead to 9-0! In this at bat, Yanagita delivered another runscoring single.

The MLB All Star Team, which was the home-team in this game, then scored its first run in the bottom of the fifth when Juan Soto homered. However, Japan expanded its lead to 12-1 in the top of the seventh. The MLB Team avoided a huge loss by scoring twice in the bottom of the seventh and three more in the eighth. J.T. Realmuto hit a 3-run homerun in the eighth.

Samurai Japan outhit the MLB Team, 17-8. Yanagita was 4-for-4, while Shogo Akiyama was 3-for-4 and Sosuke Genda was 3-for-3. J.T. Realmuto and Kevin Pillar both had two hits for the Major Leaguers.

(November 10)

Related Article:
Hensley Meulens Bench Coach MLB All Stars for Japan Tour. (October 31)

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