One has to wonder what was going through John Bowker’s mind as he rounded the bases after hitting a three-run home run during the fourth inning of Game 1 of the Japan Series.
Maybe as the ball sailed toward the seats in right, Bowker thought back to his time with the San Francisco Giants.
He’d played 183 games for the team from 2008-2010 and was on the field for Jonathan Sanchez’s no-hitter in July of 2010. Bowker played in 67 games for San Francisco that season but wasn’t on the postseason roster later in the year and limited to watching with the rest of the baseball community as the Giants went on the win the World Series.
Bowker is still in orange and black, but he’s with the Yomiuri Giants now, and he made his presence felt with a three-run home run and five RBIs in his Japan Series debut, an 8-1 Giants win, on Saturday.
“It was an unbelievable atmosphere,” Bowker said. “Sellout crowd, just being out there in that important of a game, it was just a really good feeling.”
A native of Sacramento, California, Bowker played in 240 games over parts of four MLB seasons for the Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies, but spent the majority of his time in the minors after being drafted by San Francisco in 2004.
Bowker participated in playoff games in the minors, but had never made it to the playoffs in the majors, calling the NPB postseason the biggest stage he’d been on thus far.
He’s made the most of it, recording a hit in each of the first five playoff games he appeared in, hitting .500 over that span.
This comes after a regular season during which Bowker hit just .196 with three home runs and 10 RBIs.
“Being over here is new,” Bowker said. “The more games I’ve played, the more I’ve been able to adjust to the style of baseball.”
Bowker had a few stints with the ni-gun squad this season and appeared in just 69 games for Yomiuri. Still, a strong showing in the Central League Climax Series prompted manager Tatsunori Hara to give him the start at first base to begin the Japan Series despite a .163 average against left-handers, like Nippon Ham’s Game 1 starter Mitsuo Yoshikawa, and a .111 against the Fighters overall this year. Bowker responded by going 2-for-4 with the aforementioned three-run homer and a two-run double.
“He’s has been good lately, and we faced a pitcher who has fast pitches,” Hara said after Game 1.
Bowker’s first year in Japan was frustrating at times, but everything seems to be coming together at the most opportune of times.
“I’m just getting a chance right now,” Bowker said. “Toward the end of the season I was starting to feel a lot better. I was starting to adjust a little bit more to the pitching. Just have to continue to make those adjustments.”
Bowker is enjoying his postseason success, but also trying to remain grounded. When one reporter suggested he could be on his way to becoming the “man of the series,” he quickly shrugged off the suggestion.
“You’re trying to jinx me” Bowker joked. “It’s one game. We have a lot of games ahead of us. I don’t want to get too carried away with one win.”