Longoria's third homer isn't enough in Japan finale
Morneau adds seventh and eighth RBIs of trip, but MLB heads home with 6-4 loss
Lucas Duda had three hits and Evan Longoria capped an impressive trip with his third home run in seven games as the MLB All-Stars wrapped up their tour of Japan with a 6-4 loss in an exhibition game against Samurai Japan at Okinawa Cellular Stadium on Thursday.
The big leaguers head home with a 3-4 record during the barnstorming showcase. They won the final two contests of the five-game Japan All-Star Series and their exhibition against a team of Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants that preceded the matchups against the Japanese national team.
The All-Stars certainly had their chances early on in their trip finale, stranding the bases loaded in the first, second and fifth innings. They finished 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position and left 16 runners on base.
MLB strikes first
After a quick 1-2-3 top of the first by Angels lefty Hector Santiago, the MLB All-Stars got on the board early. Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar reached on an errant throw by Japan starting pitcher Shota Takeda, then Jose Altuve singled on a swinging bunt that went just out of Takeda's reach.
That brought up Rockies designated hitter Justin Morneau, who lofted a sacrifice fly to center field. Escobar raced home, beating the throw to put the big leaguers up, 1-0.
Samurai Japan pulls ahead vs. Santiago
After Santiago gave up a two-out RBI single to Kenta Imamiya to tie the game at 1 in the second inning, Samurai Japan took advantage of some sloppy MLB defense to take the lead in the fourth.
Santiago allowed a one-out single to Seiichi Uchikawa, then induced what could have been a double-play grounder to third base by Nobuhiro Matsuda, but Longoria made an errant throw to second base. That allowed Matsuda to reach safely as Uchikawa took third. Tetsuto Yamada then flied out to center fielder Dexter Fowler, who tried to throw behind Matsuda, but the ball was wide of first baseman Carlos Santana, allowing Uchikawa to score and give Japan a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
That was the final inning for Santiago, who gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks while striking out two.
Longoria returns, goes deep once again
Longoria left Game 5 of the Japan Series on Tuesday as a precaution after being hit by a pitch. He returned in style in Thursday's exhibition, adding to his big trip with a line-drive solo homer that cut MLB's deficit in half in the fifth inning, making it 3-2.
Longoria hit a grand slam in the MLB All-Stars' exhibition victory that opened the trip, then he went deep in a Game 4 win not long after witnessing the birth of his second child back in America via his smart phone.
In addition to his first-inning sac fly, Morneau scored Altuve with a single in the eighth inning for the reigning National League batting champ's eighth RBI of the Japan trip.
Duda was responsible for three of the Major Leaguers' 10 hits. The Mets first baseman (playing right field on Thursday) finished 3-for-3 with a walk before being lifted for pinch-hitter Ben Zobrist in the ninth inning.
Duda played in four games on the trip, going 4-for-10 with two walks. The 28-year-old is coming off a breakout year with the Mets in which he hit .253/.349/.481 with 30 homers and 92 RBIs in 153 games.
Takeda followed a series of strong Samurai Japan pitching performances by allowing one run on four hits while striking out three over three innings on Thursday. Takeda's pitch count ran up near the 80-pitch limit in a hurry thanks to four walks. The right-hander posted a 1.87 ERA over nine regular-season starts with the Softbank Hawks.
In five official Japan All-Star Series games, Samurai Japan's starting pitchers threw 23 innings and gave up nine earned runs while striking out 20. That includes a five-inning gem from Takahiro Norimoto, who led a four-pitcher no-hitter in Game 3.
Just as impressive as the Japanese pitchers' performance is their youth. Game 1 starter Kenta Maeda is 26 years old. Norimoto is 23. Shintaro Fujinami (Game 4) and Shohei Ohtani (Game 5) are only 20, and Takeda is 21.
More from the Japan All-Star Series
• Sayonara: MLB stars head home after memorable trip
• Altuve puts final touches on impressive trip
• Winfield's legend is alive and well in Japan
• Japan trip extra special for MLB dads
• Puig reflects on first Japan Series experience
• Last off-day in Japan loaded with culture, goodwill
• Farrell, Francona and Hale thrilled to reunite
• Tour Sapporo Dome with Pirates' Melancon
• Impressive Ohtani biding his time in Japan
• O's Hunter values cultural exchange of Japan trip
• MLB continues support of Japan's earthquake victims
• MLB squad visits US embassy in Tokyo
• Japan trip hits home with Royals' Guthrie
• MLB roster for Japan full of stars
• Japanese broadcasters call best moments
• Watch the full Japan All-Star Series on MLB.TV
VIDEO: Highlights, interviews and analysis
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
• Game No. 4: MLB 6, Japan 1 | Box
• Game No. 5: MLB 3, Japan 1 | Box
• Exhibition: Japan 6, MLB 4 | Box