Today the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks took on the Nippon Ham Fighters in Sapporo. On the mound for the team from Fukuoka was Rick van den Hurk, who was on pace to break the record of consecutive win for a new pitcher in the NPB and for a foreign pitcher in the NPB. With a 4-0 record this season with a 1.80 ERA and with thirteen wins since his debut, the expectations were high. Rick was one of the few glimmers of hope as the Hawks came off a bad start. But in the mean time the team is back in the spot where they finished the past two seasons in the Pacific League: first place.
Perhaps it was the jitters that he was bothered by, but Rick started the game with giving up a lead off homerun to left field, hit by Hajime Asama.
In the next inning, with two outs, Rick gave up another solo shot on a 3-0 offering to former Kansas City Royal, Brandon Laird.
In the fifth inning, Rick started with giving up a five pitch walk to Brandon Laird, who advanced to second on a sac bunt and scored on a single to center field hit by Takuya Nakashima.
In the seventh Brandon Laird was the bully for Van den Hurk again as he hit another solo shot to make it 4-0 Fighters. After the seventh Rick was pulled. He threw 111 pitches, walked two, fanned nine and gave up three earned runs.
After leaving the game trailing 4-0, Rick must have been sweating bullets a bit, but his team mates came to the rescue as they rallied for three runs in the eight inning. Two consecutive hits, a sac bunt and a walk loaded the bases before Seiichi Uchikawa hit a two run single towards center field. Nobuhiro Matsuda followed with another single to drive in one more run in the eighth inning.
In the ninthSeiichi Uchikawa drove in the game tying run on a single, so extra innings were needed. Eventually Rick had a no-decision behind his name.
The Softbank Hawks scored the go ahead run in the tenth when Nobuhiro Matsuda hit a lead off homerun which appeared to be the winning run.
So no win today for Rick, but his streak still stands as he hasn’t lost a game yet.
The other Dutchie in Japan, Curacao native Wladimir Balentien is doing very well lately. Today he played a big role in the Yakult Swallow’s 6-0 win over the Yokohama DeNA BayStars. Wladimir went 2 for 4 with four RBI as he hit an RBI single and a three run homerun.
After today’s game, Wladimir is hitting a very respectable .333 with eight homeruns and twenty-one runs batted in.