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Kizuka Retires

Discussion in the Bayside West: Yokohama forum
Kizuka Retires
The Yokohama offense was still hopeless last night (October 6, 2010), only managing 4 hits off of Hanshin starter Yasutomo Kubo. Yoshimoto Tsutsugoh went 0 for 3, striking out once (right after a loooooong line drive that was just a couple decimeters right of the right field foul pole).

Rookie Shigeru Kaga started for Yokohama and threw 6 strong innings, allowing just 3 runs on 6 hits - none of them home runs - and striking out 5. The 6 innings puts Kaga over 144 innings (by 1) to appear with the pitchers who have qualified for a title. Where does his 3.66 ERA place him? In 10th out of 12 pitchers in the Central League. Looking at the list in today's Nikkan Sports (paper edition), Kaga is the only qualifying pitcher with single digit wins - 3 and 12 on the season after his loss to the Tigers on this evening. He really has pitched better than that looks. Honest.

But the big story on the mound for the day was Atsushi Kizuka coming in to pitch with 2 down and a runner on in the 8th inning. Kizuka announced last month that he plans to retire at the end of this season to become a ni-gun coach for Yokohama next year. So this became his retirement game. Takahiro Arai hit an RBI double over the center fielder's reaching glove on the second pitch. While it wasn't the result Kizuka or the fans wanted out of a retirement game, Kizuka gave it his all for both pitches.

Today's Nikkan Sports reports that all of Kizuka's 490 games, from his first appearance on March 31, 2000, have been in relief. That's a Nippon Professional Baseball record.

Kizuka has long been a favorite for fans (myself and my son included) with his ground keeping before taking the mound. My son always refers to him as 「浜の穴掘り名人」 ("Hama no ana hori meijin" - "Yokohama's famous hole digger"). I'm afraid that Kizuka just hasn't been very effective since 2007, so it was his time. Still, he'll be missed.

As an aside, former BayStar Yuji Yoshimi was in attendance along with a group of Chiba Lotte Marines. Supposedly they were there to scout out the Tigers as a possible Nippon Series rival, but I like to think that he was there to cheer on Kizuka. I would like to say that the Yoshimi I saw on the Marines' second to last game (September 29) appeared to have a lot more self confidence than the Yoshimi who pitched at Yokohama Stadium for 9+ years. Tapping his glove in a "guts pose" after almost every out, he was seriously fired up. (He didn't figure in the decision, leaving after 5 innings with the score tied 1-1.) I wish him and the Marines well in the playoffs, a little piece of this side of The Bay.

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Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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