Major League Baseball is supposed to be the end-all, be-all of professional baseball leagues. However, someone consistently forgets to send that memo to the international competition. In this case, it was in terms of faxing the memo ahead of its annual, not so annual Japan Series.
For the first time since 2006, Major League Baseball is playing an exhibition series in Japan again the best and brightest the Japanese leagues have to offer. The two sides kicked off the event early Tuesday morning (4:00am Eastern Time) and while it looked like an MB blow-out was about to handed out, a fantastic baseball game ensued with our MLB heroes coming out on top by an 8-7 score.
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The MLB squad got on the board first in the top of the fourth inning when Carlos Santana grounded into a bases loaded double-play, scoring Alcides Escobar from third. Yasiel Puig would cash in the second run of the inning when he followed with an RBI single to score Robinson Cano.
The game appeared to a get a bit out of hand when MLB tagged on four more runs in the top of the 5th inning on the back of a two-out grand slam by Evan Longoria. MLB would add a solo shot from Salvador Perez in the top of the 6th to go up 7-0.
However the Japanese team, made up of players from the Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants, started clawing back into it in the bottom of the 6th inning. After being shut down and held to a single hit over the first five innings off of the pair of Chris Capuano (4IP, 1H, 1BB, 3K) and Jeremy Guthrie (1IP, 0H, 0BB), the Japanese team got to reliever Randy Choate for their first run, using a two-out double from Hiroki Uemoto to cash in a walk to Yamato Maeda.
After surrendering a lead-0ff home run to Dexter Fowler in the top of the seventh, Japan would take a big chunk back in the bottom half of the inning, battering around new pitcher Franklin Morales for 6 hits and 5 runs, trimming the lead to 8-6. Japan would add another run in the bottom of the eighth on an unearned run and would load the bases in the ninth, but Jeff Beliveau finally closed the door.
Call to the Pen
The results for the Houston Astros representatives were somewhat mixed. Center fielder Dexter Fowler went 2 for 4 in the contest with the solo home run and a pair of runs scored. That solo home run would prove to be the game-winner.
Altuve would slide into shortstop , which was obviously an odd spot for him as he committed a fielding error that led to the unearned run in the 8th. He also struck out twice and scored a run.
MLB and Japan will begin the official five-game series at 4:00am tomorrow morning.