Sun Spots: Mainly Baseball

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Some sports updates compiled by Rafu intern Trevor Wong.

ESPN reports: Japanese teenage golfer Ryo Ishikawa has announced his intentions to play in the Scottish Open.  The 18-year-old finished 33rd in the U.S. Open last week and has eight Japanese Tour titles on his resume, but his talent was on full display when he shot a record-breaking 12-under-par final-round 58 to capture the Crowns tournament in Nagoya last month.  The round was the lowest total compiled on any major golf tour.

Two weeks ago, the 2010 FIFA World Cup kicked off in South Africa, much to the delight of soccer – or football fans – all over the world.  Japan was placed into Group E, along with the Netherlands, Denmark and Cameroon. Japan narrowly squeaked out a 1-0 victory in its first match against Cameroon but then came up just short in its second match, losing 1-0 at the hands of the Netherlands.  Because the Netherlands has already clinched a spot to move into the second round, the final spot in the group will be determined when Japan faces Denmark today.  And the Japanese have to like their chances if Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner misses the game due to a long-term groin injury.

Pitcher Kenshin Kawakami became the first Atlanta Braves starter to begin a season 0-9 after losing to the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday night.  Though Kawakami’s earned run average (ERA) stands at 4.78, he also has been the unlucky victim of erratic run support.  Coupled with inconsistent pitching at times on his part, Kawakami is having a season where nothing seems to be going right.

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Takashi Saito was activated from the 15-day disabled list.  The former Los Angeles Dodger had been sidelined since June 4th with a strained left hamstring.  Prior to going on the disabled list, Saito had inherited the set-up role and had a 2.92 ERA; he had 34 strikeouts in 25 appearances and opponents were only batting .176 against the Japan native.

Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Akinori Iwamura was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis June 16th to clear room for up-and-coming prospect, Pedro Alvarez.  Iwamura’s demotion was not surprising as the former Tampa Bay Ray failed to show any production at the plate – he was hitting .182 and only had nine RBI through 54 games – that warranted a contract to make him the Pirates highest-paid player this season at $4.85 million.

Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki scored the 1000th run of his Major League career, becoming the third player in Mariner history to achieve such a feat.  On June 5th, Suzuki crossed the plate in the 5th inning against the Los Angeles Angels to become the eighth-fastest active player to reach the milestone.

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