After a solid season with the San Diego Padres, Kirby Yates has struggled over in Japan.
If you haven’t been watching the exhibition series between the Major League Baseball All-Stars and Samurai Japan, you have been missing some pretty good baseball. American baseball fans have been able to enjoy watching Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna, and J.T. Realmuto share the same field while Japanese fans get a taste of what lies ahead in the 2020 Olympics, a very good baseball team that will be a serious contender for the gold medal. San Diego Padres fans have even been able to watch one of their own in Kirby Yates.
With two games remaining in the series, Samurai Japan leads 3-1 and has looked impressive up and down the lineup. While the MLB All-Star lineup features many of the best hitters in baseball, the pitching staff is void of high-profile names and has struggled to get hitters out.
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San Diego Padres closer Kirby Yates has struggled the most. Yates entered the ninth inning of game one with a two-run lead and struck out two of the first three hitters he faced. Unfortunately, he would surrender three runs on three hits before he had the chance to record the third out. Japan’s Yuki Yanagita hit a three-run home run on a pitch over the middle of the plate to clinch game one.
Yates returned to the mound for game four, a contest that proved to be a struggle for the entire MLB squad, outside of Rhys Hoskins and his second inning solo home run that was one of just five hits for the MLB offense.
Yates once again entered with a lead and was credited with a blown save and his second loss of the series after giving up four runs (two earned) on two hits. He stuck out one and walked two in his 2/3 of an inning.
The 31-year-old veteran is coming off the best season of his career, finishing with a 5-3 record, a 2.14 ERA, and 12 saves after taking over the closer duties when Brad Hand was traded to the Cleveland Indians. He struck out nearly 13 hitters per nine innings, walked a career-low 2.43/9, and gave up less than one home run per nine innings for the first time in his five-year major league career.
The series continues Wednesday morning at 2 am PST on MLB Network with a re-air Wednesday evening at 5 pm PST.