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[j-ball] Hasegawa comes through again

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  • Bob Timmermann
    While Irabu, Yoshii, and Nomo get all the ink, perhaps the most effective Japanese pitcher in the US is in Anaheim From: Los Angeles Time Monday, August 31,
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 1998
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      While Irabu, Yoshii, and Nomo get all the ink, perhaps the most
      effective Japanese pitcher in the US is in Anaheim

      From: Los Angeles Time
      Monday, August 31, 1998

      Man in Middle Stands Tall for the Angels
      Baseball: Hasegawa's relief role doesn't draw Japanese
      limelight, but his
      impact preserves Anaheim's 8-6 win.
      By MIKE DIGIOVANNA, Times Staff Writer

      BO STON--Relief pitchers in Japan are deemed
      about as
      newsworthy as utility players in the United
      States, their lightly
      regarded roles virtually ignored by a Japanese
      press that is
      infatuated with starting pitchers.
      So while Japanese reporters flocked to Dodger
      Stadium for Met
      right-hander Masato Yoshii's start and to Yankee
      Stadium for
      Yankee right-hander Hideki Irabu's start Sunday,
      not one Japanese
      reporter was in Fenway Park to monitor Angel
      reliever Shigetoshi
      Hasegawa.
      That's too bad--they're missing a great
      story.
      Hasegawa, who has become as vital to the
      Angel bullpen as
      Darin Erstad is to the lineup, came through with
      what Manager
      Terry Collins called a "brilliant" performance
      Sunday, throwing 3
      1/3 shutout innings to key the Angels' 8-6 victory
      over the Boston
      Red Sox before a crowd of 31,476.
      The right-hander replaced starter Jeff Juden
      with two outs in the
      fifth after Juden was rocked by Mo Vaughn's
      442-foot, three-run
      homer, which trimmed the Angel lead to 7-6.
      Hasegawa retired most-valuable-player
      candidate Nomar
      Garciaparra, who homered in the fourth, on a
      grounder to end the
      inning, then gave up only two hits over the sixth,
      seventh and eighth
      innings to earn the victory, improving to 7-3 with
      a 2.85 earned-run
      average in 53 appearances.
      Troy Percival pitched a scoreless ninth for
      his American
      League-leading 38th save, Garret Anderson hit a
      two-run homer in
      the second and an RBI groundout in the third, and
      Gregg Jefferies'
      two-run double highlighted a four-run third for
      the Angels.
      Combined with Texas' loss to Chicago, the
      Angels moved three
      games ahead of the Rangers in the West and
      improved to 5-3 on
      this demanding, 10-game trip through New York,
      Boston and
      Cleveland, assuring that they'll be in first place
      when they return to
      Anaheim after Wednesday night's game against the
      Indians.
      "We're on a roll," Angel designated hitter
      Tim Salmon said.
      "We've gotten some breaks, no question, and we've
      taken
      advantage of them. This is it, the road trip of
      the year, but we still
      have two more games in Cleveland. If we can win at
      least one
      there, it will make it a successful trip."
      Hasegawa has been a smashing success for the
      Angels in his
      second season, making up for the loss of injured
      setup man Mike
      James by filling a variety of bullpen roles, from
      middle relief to setup
      to closer. In his last six appearances, Hasegawa
      has given up no
      earned runs in 12 1/3 innings.
      "It's scary to think where we'd be without
      him," Collins said.
      "Outside of Percival, he's been the most valuable
      player of the
      bullpen."
      You'd never know that reading the Japanese
      newspapers and
      sports magazines. When it was apparent Hasegawa
      would not start
      this season, the Japanese press, which numbered 72
      reporters and
      photographers for Hasegawa's first spring training
      workout in 1997,
      began disappearing like Dodger tradition.
      "I think someone should finally acknowledge
      that it's not just
      Irabu and Yoshii from Japan," Angel catcher Phil
      Nevin said. "If
      you ask me, this guy is the best of the Japanese
      pitchers and no one
      knows about him."
      Hasegawa doesn't seem to care.
      "I understand the Japanese media," he said.
      "No one is here
      today because Irabu and Yoshii are pitching.
      That's OK with me.
      Maybe now that will change."
      Hasegawa went 3-7 with a 3.93 ERA last season
      but has been
      more consistent in 1998, hitting the corners with
      his fastball and his
      vast array of breaking balls and off-speed
      pitches. He is not making
      the mistakes over the heart of the plate that he
      did in 1997, and he
      seems more confident.
      "I know American hitters better," Hasegawa
      said. "Some power
      hitters, their weak point is inside. Others, their
      weak point is
      outside, or the changeup. I didn't know that last
      year."
      Hasegawa, who struck out John Valentin with a
      runner on third
      to end the seventh Sunday and got the dangerous
      Vaughn to ground
      out to start the eighth, has been a pleasure for
      Phil Nevin to catch.
      "He's been one of the most consistent
      pitchers on the staff, he
      has command of his pitches, and his ability to
      throw any pitch at any
      time is impressive," Nevin said. "You can use the
      scouting report on
      every hitter because he sticks to it like a T. We
      wouldn't be where
      we are right now without him, that's for sure."

      Copyright 1998 Los Angeles Times. All Rights
      Reserved

      --
      Bob Timmermann
      South Pasadena, CA



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