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MLB stars looking to break out big bats in Japan

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

TOKYO -- For Major League Baseball's traveling band of All-Stars, the statistics are both telling and troubling. Through three games of the best-of-five Japan All-Star Series -- which MLB has already lost by dropping all three -- the team is batting a collective .103. MLB's All-Stars have four extra-base hits in three games, resulting in a .380 combined OPS. Ten of the 15 position players on the roster do not have a hit. Two of the games were shutouts by Japan, including a no-hitter in Game 3.

Blame jet lag, too much off time or Samurai Japan's standout stable of starting pitchers. Whatever the case, MLB's All-Stars will look to salvage something when they return to Tokyo Dome for Game 4 of the series, scheduled for Sunday at 6 p.m. JT/4 a.m. ET on MLB Network and MLB.TV.

Full Game Coverage

TOKYO -- For Major League Baseball's traveling band of All-Stars, the statistics are both telling and troubling. Through three games of the best-of-five Japan All-Star Series -- which MLB has already lost by dropping all three -- the team is batting a collective .103. MLB's All-Stars have four extra-base hits in three games, resulting in a .380 combined OPS. Ten of the 15 position players on the roster do not have a hit. Two of the games were shutouts by Japan, including a no-hitter in Game 3.

Blame jet lag, too much off time or Samurai Japan's standout stable of starting pitchers. Whatever the case, MLB's All-Stars will look to salvage something when they return to Tokyo Dome for Game 4 of the series, scheduled for Sunday at 6 p.m. JT/4 a.m. ET on MLB Network and MLB.TV.

Full Game Coverage

"There's no easy answer," Rays outfielder Ben Zobrist said of his team's offensive struggles. "You've just got to keep swinging."

Things will not necessarily get any easier in Game 4, which will pit another of Japan's young pitching stars -- 20-year-old right-hander Shintaro Fujinami of the Hanshin Tigers -- against free-agent left-hander Chris Capuano. Like Takahiro Norimoto, who kicked off Samurai Japan's combined no-no in Game 3, Fujinami is capable of throwing in the upper 90s.

"We'll take a look at that and have a chance to visit with our coaching staff, try to put together a lineup that … has the ability to go up against Fujinami, who we know is going to be a tough challenge for us as well," MLB manager John Farrell said. "I don't know that we're necessarily trying to make adjustments. We're trying to battle in each and every at-bat."

Video: MLB@JPN: Cano exits after being hit by pitch in 7th

Two deep:
Increasing MLB's degree of difficulty is the fact that Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, according to a source, is done for the series with a fractured right pinkie toe, which Yuki Nishi hit with a pitch during the seventh inning of Saturday's loss. But at least Farrell has a ready-made replacement in Astros infielder Jose Altuve, who had just five at-bats to Cano's 10 over the series' first three games.

Second base was perhaps MLB's strongest position coming into the series, with Cano coming off his fifth straight All-Star campaign and Altuve fresh off the American League batting title.

Sayonara, Tokyo
Game 4 will be the last 2014 Japan Series game at the Tokyo Dome. MLB and Samurai Japan will depart on Monday morning for Sapporo, where they will play Game 5 of the series Tuesday, before traveling to Okinawa for an exhibition on Thursday. Neither the Okinawa exhibition nor the one that MLB won last Tuesday in Nishinomiya are part of the official five-game All-Star Series.

Japan All-Star Series schedule
• Exhibition: MLB 8, Hanshin-Yomiuri 7 | Box
• Game No. 1: Japan 2, MLB 0 | Box
• Game No. 2: Japan 8, MLB 4 | Box
• Game No. 3: Japan 4, MLB 0 | Box
• Sunday: Game No. 4 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo (6 p.m. JT/4 a.m. ET)
• Monday: Travel day
• Tuesday, Nov. 18: Game No. 5 at Sapporo Dome, Sapporo (7 p.m. JT/5 a.m. ET)
• Wednesday, Nov. 19: Travel day
• Thursday, Nov. 20: Exhibition game vs. Samurai Japan, Okinawa Cellular Stadium, Okinawa (6 p.m. JT/4 a.m. ET)

MLB Network will broadcast all seven games of the Japan All-Star Series, and MLB.TV subscribers in the U.S. and around the world can watch live and on-demand streams of every game as well.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.