Put a hold on earlier explanation of the ‘hold’ rule


You may recall in the column of July 19 I explained what is a “hold” and how a relief pitcher gets credit for one. I quoted Boston Red Sox play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo, who on a Red Sox telecast had coincidentally defined the conditions under which a middle reliever or setup man qualifies for the hold.

“A hold is awarded to a pitcher who comes into a game while his team is leading, gets at least one out and leaves with his club still ahead. Conceivably, a guy could enter a game with his team leading by 15 runs and give up 14 but, as long as he got one out, he would get the hold,” Orsillo said.

At least, I think that is what he said but, either he got it wrong or I mistook what I thought I heard. As it turns out, that is not correct.

A review of the hold rule indicates it is similar to conditions necessary for a closer to be awarded a save. The reliever must come in with his team leading by no more than three runs, he must record at least one out and leave with his club still ahead.

Just as a closer would not get a save for protecting a 15-run lead, a middle reliever or setup man does not get a hold for doing the same and would not get one if he entered the game with even a four-run lead.

However, there is one interesting addendum to the hold rule. Relievers who come into tie games get credit for a hold if they keep the game tied in extra innings, but the final pitchers for both teams do not get the “H.”

Got that?

Just wanted to set the record straight, and my apologies to Orsillo if it was me who got it wrong.

Diamond Dust: Remember when Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda was hit in the head with a line drive on Aug. 15 in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks?


Regular season

Oct. 2 — Giants vs. BayStars, 6 p.m., Tokyo Dome; Swallows vs. Carp, 6 p.m., Jingu.

Oct. 3 — Giants vs. Carp, 2 p.m., Tokyo Dome; BayStars vs. Dragons, 2 p.m., Yokohama; Tigers vs. Swallows, 6 p.m., Koshien.

Oct. 4 — Swallows vs. Giants, 6 p.m., Jingu; BayStars vs. Carp, 2 p.m., Yokohama; Tigers vs. Dragons, 2 p.m., Koshien.

Oct. 5 — Swallows vs. Giants, 6 p.m., Jingu.

Oct. 6 — BayStars vs. Swallows, 6 p.m., Yokohama.

Oct. 7 — Swallows vs. BayStars, 6 p.m., Jingu; Carp vs. Tigers, 6 p.m., Mazda.

Oct. 8 — Swallows vs. Tigers, 6 p.m., Jingu.

Oct. 9 — Swallows vs. Tigers, 6 p.m., Jingu.

Recall the identity of the batter who hit the ball, and did his name sound familiar?

It was D-Backs infielder Rusty Ryal who slammed the liner off Kuroda’s noggin, and he is the son of Mark Ryal, an outfielder with the Chunichi Dragons in 1991-92.

The Nikkan Sports paper reported the Hanshin Tigers, apparently already looking at foreign players for 2010, are rumored to be considering Australian lefty reliever Brad Thomas, who played in South Korea this season.

If they get Thomas, we would see yet another recycled foreign player in Japan. Brad threw for the Nippon Ham Fighters in 2005-06.

Watching the Japan National High School Tournament last month and some recent Hanshin Tigers home games, I believe when they renovated Koshien Stadium, they should have put in a grass infield.

Koshien is the only one of the franchise home ballparks in Japan that still has a dirt or “skin” infield. It may have been kept for tradition or for the high school kids to scoop up handfuls of the earth to put in their sports bags as a souvenir after losing, but the other nostalgic elements of Koshien are gone.

There are new light towers, press box and broadcast booths, those gaudy electronic message boards and other additions that give Koshien the modern look, and the dirt infield looks out of place. They should have put in a nice grass infield to make it look like a major league stadium.

What do you think?

Not only has the seventh-inning balloon launch been suspended again at the various stadiums for fears of spreading the H1N1 flu virus, but also many of Japan’s ballparks have put out squirt containers of soap or hand sanitizer near the stadium entrances and concession stands in an effort to encourage fans to wash up.

In the past two weeks, I have attended games at Tokyo Dome, Kyocera Osaka Dome, Seibu Dome and Jingu Stadium. All had tables set up with the plastic dispensers and paper towels.

Good idea.

Believe it or not, when the Hiroshima Carp-Yomiuri Giants game scheduled at Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium was rained out Sept. 12, it marked the first rainout in the new ballpark. That game will be rescheduled some time after Oct. 8.

In the meantime, the last 14 games have been added to the 2009 Central League schedule. These are not makeups of previous rainouts, but games whose dates were not set when the original schedule was released prior to the beginning of the season.

Check the Scoreboard for the schedule of additional games.

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Finally this week, a fan of Japanese baseball named Molly Reed in Nashville, Tenn., wrote in response to my (rhetorically intended) question last week about a Seattle Pilots fan club. She is not sure about a club, but Molly told us there is a Lowe’s store where Sick’s Stadium (the Pilots home park in 1969, the only season of the franchise existence) used to sit with home plate painted on the floor.

“I haven’t been there, but I understand there is a mini-museum in the store, too,” she said.

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Contact Wayne Graczyk at: wayne@JapanBall.com