Playing in Japan is probably a unique experience for many of the players on the U.S. team at the Premier12.
The same can’t be said for American reliever Brandon Dickson.
The 35-year-old Montgomery, Alabama, native might be wearing the red, white, and blue, like the rest of his teammates, but he’s also spent the last seven seasons in Japan as a pitcher for the Orix Buffaloes.
Dickson has pitched well for the United States out of the bullpen during the Premier12. He’s made four appearances and has recorded three saves, including on Friday afternoon in a 3-2 win over Taiwan. Dickson has allowed one run and two hits (both of which came in his first appearance) in 3⅔ innings. He also has eight strikeouts.
One of his saves came against Japan, when he retired fellow NPB stars Shuta Tonosaki, Yoshihiro Maru and Tetsuto Yamada to nail down America’s 4-3 victory.
“He’s been incredible. He’s been terrific for us,” said U.S. manager Scott Brosius. “A veteran presence to close out game. He’s shown, like today, a lot of presence on the mound and has pitched extremely well for us.”
Dickson is among the longest-tenured foreign players in Japanese baseball. He’s 49-54 with 3.32 ERA for the Buffaloes since 2013. He was an All-Star in 2015 and became the 23rd pitcher to strike out four batters in one inning, which he did against the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, on July 8, 2018.
He moved to the bullpen this season and made 37 appearances for the Buffaloes, converting 18 saves and registering two wins and five holds. He struck out 38 in 35⅔ innings.
He was hoping to get another chance to pitch in Japan after the Americans’ win over Taiwan on Friday afternoon, though the U.S. needs help from other teams to remain in the tournament. One thing the Americans need is for South Korea to get past Mexico Friday night.
“We want them to have the best-case scenario for them and for us,” Dickson said.
Dickson watched the South Koreans beat the U.S. 5-1 on Nov. 11 at Tokyo Dome. Now he’ll be watching them again and hoping they can pull off another win at the Big Egg.
“I think it’s cool to see different styles of baseball, and obviously they have a little bit different style than we do,” he said. “But it’s cool to see that anybody can win, anybody can make anything happen.”
Staff writer Kaz Nagatsuka contributed to this report.
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