Yuki Yanagita was the MVP of the last Japan All-Star Series in 2014. With his play in the first two games against the MLB All-Stars, he's making another bid for that honor.
Yanagita went 4-for-4 with a two-run homer and four RBIs to lead Samurai Japan to a convincing 12-6 win at the Tokyo Dome on Saturday. The 30-year-old designated hitter, who plays for the SoftBank Hawks, opened the scoring against the MLB All-Stars with a first-inning RBI single off right-hander Erasmo Ramirez, most recently of the Mariners, who allowed five runs on six hits over three frames, and Japan never looked back to go up 2-0 in the six-game series.
Samurai Japan took advantage of a few lapses in the field by the MLB All-Stars. During a four-run third, Mets shortstop Amed Rosario could not hold onto a perfect throw from J.T. Realmuto, who was attempting to nab outfielder Kazuki Tanaka stealing second. Shogo Akiyama tripled to plate Tanaka, and in the ensuing at-bat, Ramirez didn't help his cause by not covering first base, allowing another run to cross. Two batters later, Yanagita, who hit a walk-off homer in Friday's dramatic victory, went deep for the second time in as many days.
Japan had another big inning in the fifth, thanks to Dodgers third baseman Enrique Hernandez's throwing error to first. As part of his three-RBI, three-hit performance, Akiyama made the MLB stars pay with a two-run single to cap the four-run outburst.
Nationals outfielder and National League Rookie of the Year finalist Juan Soto got the MLB All-Stars on the board in the fifth, mashing a homer down the left-field line for the second straight game. Realmuto, who hit 21 homers during the regular season, added an opposite-field, three-run blast to right in the eighth to cap the scoring for the night.
The MLB All-Stars will try to capture the Tokyo finale on Sunday at 7 p.m. local/5 a.m. ET on MLB Network before the series shifts to Hiroshima on Tuesday.
Japan All-Star Series schedule (watch games live on MLB Network, with replays at 8 p.m. ET)
• Thursday: MLB All-Stars 9, Yomiuri Giants 6
• Friday: Samurai Japan 7, MLB All-Stars 6
• Saturday: Samurai Japan 12, MLB All-Stars 6
• Sunday: 7 p.m. local/ 5 a.m. ET
• Tuesday: 6:30 p.m. local/4:30 a.m. ET
• Nov. 14: 7 p.m. local/5 a.m. ET
• Nov. 15: 6 p.m. local/4 a.m. ET