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Saito disappointed Braves’ season ends

Kyodo

Takashi Saito failed to make an appearance for the Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series on Monday, ending a stretch of 10 years for Japanese major league players in the postseason.

The Braves were eliminated from the playoffs after losing 3-2 to the San Francisco Giants in Game 4.

Saito was the only Japanese player on a playoff roster this year. Since Masato Yoshii pitched for the New York Mets in 1999, at least one Japanese had played in the postseason each year.

Saito, who was out for two weeks late in the regular season with a sore right shoulder, had replaced closer Billy Wagner on the roster a day earlier. Wagner suffered a left oblique injury in the 10th inning of Game 2.

The Braves’ exit also marked the end of Bobby Cox’s 29-year managerial career. Saito was disappointed he and the team were unable to send the Hall of Fame-bound skipper out on a winning note.

“I’m honored to have had the opportunity to work with a great manager like him,” Saito said. “I really wish we could have taken him to the World Series, though.”

Saito, who labored through his last outing Oct. 2, was warming up in the bullpen when Melky Cabrera grounded out for the final out of the game.

“I was praying I could get an opportunity to pitch, but it didn’t happen. It’s a shame I couldn’t contribute to the team,” the 40-year-old right-hander said.

Under Cox, the Braves won the 1995 World Series and five NL pennants.

“We played a really good ballgame,” the 69-year-old Cox said. “I’m proud of the team. I told them that a while ago. They’ve come a long ways with this team. They played their hearts out, and I’ll miss them.”