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Kinjoh Wins it Twice in a Row - May 1, 2013

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Featuring Michael Westbay (a.k.a. westbaystars)

Michael Westbay has been blogging about Pro Yakyu since before the word "blog" entered the vernacular. Here he writes about Pro Yakyu in general, and the Yokohama BayStars in particular.


Kinjoh Wins it Twice in a Row - May 1, 2013

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After being absolutely blown out the first game of the current three game series with Yakult in Yokohama, the BayStars have managed to salvage two 1-run games in a row to take the series. While long balls off of Norihiro Nakamura's and Tony Blanco's bats accounted for a bulk of the runs, this afternoon (yes, we had a workday day game) it all came down to Tatsuhiko Kinjoh giving us a sayonara home run in the bottom of the 10th to provide the victory. And with an RBI single up the right field line in the bottom of the 8th the night before, Kinjoh has provided that winning RBI two games in a row.

Kinjoh has had a rocky career. He first came on the scene as a replacement for Yokohama's regular third baseman Tatsuya Shindoh when he got hurt in 2000. The team then faced the somewhat enviable problem of what to do with Shindoh after he recovered but while Kinjoh was hitting so well. The team elected to keep Kinjoh in the lineup, and were rewarded with the Central League leading hitter with a .346 batting average in 419 at bats. With a season that was 135 games long, that made the requirement for a batting title 418 at bats, Kinjoh just clearing that requirement. But even if he hadn't, if given that the difference in required at bats from actual at bats were added in as all outs, he would have still had a higher batting average by a good margin over the second place contender.

The outstanding hitting performance in 2000 won Kinjoh a regular position, but a third baseman he did not turn out to be. Kinjoh was moved to the outfield where he played full time for most of the next 8 seasons despite not coming close to the batting performance of that first season. In fact, Kinjoh has kind of become a pinch hitter/late inning defensive replacement the past several seasons.

This season started off looking to be much of the same for the veteran outfielder. However, with Nyjer Morgan and Alex Ramirez both struggling, Kinjoh has seen his starts increase. And with more playing time, it's starting to show dividends with late game RBIs. I realize that the sample size is still kind of small, but 4 of Kinjoh's runs batted in have occurred in the 8th inning or after, and except for the 6-10 loss at Jingu on April 7, have been in close victories.

Kinjoh has had to earn his way back into the starting lineup. I now notice that Morgan has been called back up to the top team after a stint to work things out on the farm. I'm going to say that right field is now Kinjoh's to lose, but that isn't going to happen so long as he keeps coming through with clutch hitting like today.
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