The big news of the weekend was Samurai Japan clinching the Japan All Star Series by having four pitchers combine to no-hit the MLB All Stars yesterday. Takahiro Norimoto of the Eagles started and threw five perfect innings, striking out six. Yuki Nishi of the Buffaloes (no stranger to no-hitters himself), followed with two no-hit innings, although he walked one and hit a batter (breaking the toe of Robinson Cano). Kazuhisa Makita of the Lions and Yuji Nishino of the Marines finished up with a single inning apiece.
Here's Norimoto's first BBM card from the 2013 Rookie Edition set (#65):
I've been enjoying watching the games this week except that I've been watching the English broadcasts from MLB. I almost wish I was listening to the Japanese broadcasts so that I wouldn't understand what they were saying. The mis-pronunciations have been grating (Yomiuri has a long "o" sound and Kenta Maeda's surname is pronounced My-da, not May-eeda) and the factual errors have been pretty bad as well - the Tokyo Dome does not seat 70,000, it's more like 46,000. MLB broadcaster Mark Derosa was bragging during the first game (the one at Koshien against the combined Tigers-Giants team) that he had done some research on Shuichi Murata and discovered that Murata had hit "20 home runs ten times in his 12 year career with the Giants". Apparently Derosa's "research" didn't reveal that Murata had only played three years with the Giants - the other nine were with the Yokohama Baystars. What would be nice is if they had someone in the booth like John Gibson or Jim Allen, someone who speaks English and is knowledgable about both NPB and MLB and could ensure they pronounced names correctly and didn't make egregious factual errors.
Of course, that would take the MLB broadcasters caring. I've felt they've had a very condescending attitude towards the Japanese players, fully expecting the MLB Stars to beat them handily. I've been hearing a steady stream of excuses and alibis all week - "they're not familiar with the ballpark", "you know it's been a long time since some of these guys have played any meaningful games", and "the MLB All Stars are doing a lot of tourist-y stuff and the baseball's kind of secondary on this trip". During yesterday's game, Paul Severino actually tried to bring up jet lag as an excuse but Daryl Hamilton pretty much shot it down. While I agree with the folks who say that this isn't a particularly star-studded MLB line up, I also think they've run into a much better Samurai Japan team than they were expecting.