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07/21/2008 Archived Entry: "World Baseball Today (July 20, 2008)"

by Bruce Baskin
Radio Miami International

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Scott Kazmir had to wait until the 15th inning to get into the 2008 Major League Baseball All-Star Game at New York's Yankee Stadium. Kazmir made the most of it by tossing a scoreless inning and picking up the win when Minnesota's Justin Morneau's sacrifice fly gave the American League a 4-3 win in the longest game in All-Star history, a contest that lasted four hours, 50 minutes.
Kazmir allowed no hits in the 15th, striking out one batter and walking another. In making his second All-Star appearance, Kazmir was one of four players from Florida's two major league teams to play in the Midsummer Classic. Joining him were Rays teammate Evan Longoria and Florida Marlins infielders Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla.
Longoria was the 28th and final player selected to the American League team by way of Final Voting. The rookie third baseman entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Milton Bradley of Texas in the eighth inning, and stroked a two-out RBI double to tie the game at 3-3. He went hitless the rest of the way in the designated hitter slot.
Ramirez was the National League's leadoff hitter and shortstop, and went 2-for-3 with a run scored while playing errorless ball in the field. Uggla did not come out of the game in similar fashion. After replacing Philadelphia’s Chase Utley at second base, Uggla committed three errors (tying an All-Star record) and was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and grounding into a double play. None of the errors by the usually steady Uggla cost the National League any runs, although two of them came on consecutive plays in the tenth inning. Afterwards, the second-time All-Star said of playing in the final All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, “I still had a lot of fun. Wouldn't trade it for the world.”

Jared Clark of Cal State-Fullerton drilled a sixth inning leadoff homer to break a 1-1 tie and Baylor's Kendal Volz notched yet another save as the USA Baseball National Team went on to beat Cuba 4-1 last Sunday to win the championship game of the 2008 Haarlem Baseball Festival in The Netherlands. In doing so, the Americans ran their tournament record to 7-0 by winning their second game against the Cubans, whose roster was full of veterans from the 2004 Athens Olympic gold medal winners.
Vanderbilt's Mike Minor pitched the first six innings for the win, allowing one unearned run on four hits with six strikeouts (four of his whiffs coming consecutively in the first and second innings). Minor beat Cuba 1-0 the first time the USA faced them. Cuba's only score of the game came in the fourth inning when an Alfredo Despaigne single was misplayed by left fielder Josh Fellhauer of Cal State-Fullerton, allowing a runner at second to score.
The Americans came right back when Cal's Blake Smith led off the top of the fifth with a solo homer to tie the game at 1-1, leading to Clark's game-breaking heroics one frame later. Team USA scored two more runs in the top of the ninth, and Volz came in for a 1-2-3 effort in the bottom of the inning for his sixth save to nail down the win. It was the first time a team of American collegians have ever beaten Cuba in the title game of a tournament.

The rosters have been set for the upcoming Japanese All-Star Series. Central League manager Tatsunori Hara of the Yomiuri Giants and his Pacific League counterpart, Nippon Ham Fighters skipper Masataka Nashida, announced their selections last week in filling out their 28-man teams.
League-leading Hanshin has the most players on the Central League squad with six Tigers getting the call from Hara, while Nashida selected six members of the Seibu Lions, who also top the standings in their league. Seibu outfielder Takahiko G.G. Sato will make his first All-Star appearance for the Pacific League after leading in fan voting, while Yokohama's Seiichi Uchikawa makes his All-Star debut by virtue of his .363 batting average, best in the Central League. He was a manager's pick.
Among the foreign players selected to the All-Star Series are Hiroshima pitcher Colby Lewis, Yomiuri hurler Mark Kroon, Chunichi first baseman Tyrone Woods, Yomiuri outfielder Alex Ramirez, Rakuten first baseman Rick Short and Orix designated hitter Karl Rhodes.
The All-Star Series will take place July 31 in Osaka's Kyocera Dome and August 1 at Yokohama Stadium.

Former big league outfielder Karim Garcia has amassed over 639,000 votes in balloting for the Korea Baseball Organization's All-Star Game, and is en route to becoming the first foreign-born player in KBO history to lead vote-getters. Garcia is playing for the Lotte Giants, for whom he had 21 homers and 64 RBIs with a .250 batting average through his first 81 games this season.
During his ten-year major league stint with seven teams, the 33-year-old Mexican-born Garcia hit .241 with 66 homers and 212 RBIs in 488 games. The nearest player to Garcia in the fan voting is teammate Lee Dae-ho, with almost 40,000 fewer votes.
Garcia's popularity in his first year of Korean ball has been aided by ballot-box stuffing among Lotte fans, as all ten East Division all-star vote leaders are from the Giants. Players from Lotte, Doosan, Samsung and SK will comprise the East team, while Kia, Hanwha, Woori and LG will provide the West Division roster. Fan balloting will last until Sunday, July 20. The KBO All-Star Game will be played Sunday, August 3 at the SK Wyverns' Munhak Baseball Stadium in Incheon.

President Lions star pitcher Pan “Du Du” Wei-luen just missed throwing a perfect game last Sunday against the Chinatrust Whales, settling for a no-hitter in the Chinese Professional Baseball League contest in Tainan Municipal Baseball Stadium. The only blemish in Pan's 7-0 whitewash of the Whales was a bobbled first inning catch by first baseman Kao Guo-ching, which allowed the only baserunner of the game against him. Pan became only the sixth pitcher in Taiwanese history to toss a no-hitter, and the first of the 21st century.
Pan was one of 24 players named to Taiwan's Olympic Team last week. The Taiwanese team includes 15 players from five of the six CPBL teams. The La New Bears contributed six players, while the dMedia T-Rex were the only CPBL team to not have any players picked.
Taiwan's first game in Beijing will be against The Netherlands on August 13, with games to follow against Japan, China, Cuba, South Korea, the USA and Canada.

Going into the Baseball Philippines postseason, the Batangas Bulls were one team everyone was keeping a watchful eye on. The Bulls finished in a tie for second with Cebu and Taguig with an 8-4 record, and the expansion team finished the spring season with a rush.
Batangas has carried that momentum into the playoffs, qualifying for the Championship Series with a 7-5 semifinals win over the Cebu Dolphins last Sunday at Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium in Manila. Bulls starter Vladimir Eguia retired 16 of the first 19 Cebu batters he faced and went on to go the distance for the win against the defending BP champions, who averaged 8.5 runs per game going into the contest.
The Bulls will face the winner of the Manila-Dumaguete series for the title. Dumaguete was considered a long shot at best after finishing the regular season with a 4-7 record, but the Uni-bikers pulled off a stunning 14-10 upset over the Manila Sharks, who won the season pennant by three games with a 10-1 record. Marion Caspillo hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning to break open a 5-5 game, and Dumaguete put the contest away for good with a five-run seventh inning. The Uni-bikers and Sharks were scheduled to play the third and deciding game of their series July 19, with the winner moving on to face Batangas one day later.

Five different European Championship Qualifiers came to a close last weekend. In Antwerp, host Belgium beat Austria 3-1 in their group title game as Dennis Van Hoof struck out 12 batters and scattered six hits. In Abrantes, Portugal, Thomas Lyons tossed a perfect game to lead Greece to a 5-0 win over Russia in their championship game. James Summers picked up his second win of the tournament for host Croatia, edging Lithuania in the final game of the five-team tilt at Karlovac. The Czech National Team shut out Slovenia 8-0 last Saturday to win the group qualifier tourney in Prague as Radek Prochazka pitched one-hit ball over seven innings. And in Slovakia, Ukraine scored in every inning to rout Romania 16-4 to win that qualifier.
In all, 23 nations competed in Qualifiers. The five winners will move on to play in the 2010 European Championships in Germany, along with seven previously qualified countries.

Right-handed pitcher Hideo Nomo announced his retirement from baseball last week, ending the career of the man who became the first Japanese player to find success in American major league baseball. The 39-year-old Nomo went to training camp with the Kansas City Royals this spring, but was released in April after pitching in three games for the Royals.
Nomo won 78 games in Japan before moving to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995, winning National League Rookie of the Year honors that season with a 13-6 record and a 2.54 ERA in 28 starts. He started for the National League in the All-Star Game that year, and led the league with 236 strikeouts. One year later, he pitched the first of two no-hitters in a 9-0 Dodgers win over Colorado. Nomo also led the American League in strikeouts with 220 in 2001 for Boston, for whom he pitched his second no-hitter that year in his Red Sox debut against Baltimore. In all, Nomo had a major league lifetime record of 123-109 with a 4.24 ERA in 323 games for seven teams.

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