Irabu with the New York Yankees in 1997

September 28 in Detroit
It's the final game of the season for the Yankees--that's of course, excluding the playoffs. Irabu was given a chance to start it. The Yankees scored constantly against the Detroit Tigers. His teammates hit in 2 runs already in the 1st inning. Catcher Jorge Posada homered in the 2nd. Then Paul O'Neill and Bernie Williams each single a homer the following inning. It was only in the 5th inning that Irabu gave up a homer. He finished that inning, and since the Yankees won 7 to 2, Irabu collected his 5th win.

September 23 in Cleveland
Irabu pitched the 7th inning all right. At that point, the Yankees were ahead of the Cleveland Indians But in the 8th, he was homered by David Justice, then doubled by Sandy Alomar. He made a negative contribution, allowing the Indians to reverse the game. The Indians won it 10 to 9.

September 20 in New York
The Yankees have found their place in the playoffs by defeating the Toronto Blue Jays in the 11th inning 4-3. Irabu pitched the 6th inning, and hurled a speed ball which marked 156 kilos. He lost a base hit and walked one.

September 18 in New York
It was at a crucial point--in the 7th inning, with the Yankees tied 6-6 to the Detroit Tigers, that Irabu was appointed to pitch. It's been 13 days since he pitched in a game. Perhaps, his daily training at the gym had gotten him in better shape, for he had 2 good innings, stiking out 4. When he finished the top of the 8th, the fans gave him a big hand. Unfortunately, the Yankees were defeated in the 11th inning, 7 to 9.

September 5 in New York
Irabu had not been a relief pitcher even in Japan since Sept. 1995, and it was the first time for him in the US. He took over after Andy Pettite who was hurt from a line drive attacking his face. Irabu pitched from the bottom of the 2nd inning against the Baltimore Orioles. He was as bad as he has been during the past games and lost a whooping 9 RBIs in 5 1/3 innings. The game went on for 4 hours 22 minutes, making it the longest 9 inning game in the history of the US Major Leagues.
Michiyo's note: Irabu has contributed very much for making it a record breaking game. But I'd rather see him pitch like a real pro.

September 1 in Philadelphia
It was unusual that the Yankees played in Philadelphia. They faced the Phillies of the National League. Irabu again pitched terribly. He lost 2 RBIs in the 1st inning, and was unable to take even an out in the 4th inning, where he lost another 3 RBIs. Scores lost in both innings included wild pitches. The Yankees finished the game 1 to 5. For Irabu, this became his 3rd game lost. The poor performance has agreeably stripped him from his status as a starting pitcher.

August 27 in Oakland
Already in the 1st inning, Irabu succumbed to a 2 run homerun by Oakland Athletics' Matt Stairs a former Chunichi Dragons player. Then he was homered by Dave Magadan in the 2nd, and by Ernie Young in the 4th inning. Irabu was over in just 3 1/3 innings. The Yankees, in the 6th inning reversed the score, but the Athletics won the game in the end 8 to 7.

August 20 in Anaheim
Irabu was the starting pitcher for this game. From the middle of the 2nd inning, the opposing pitcher was Shigetoshi Hasegawa, another Japanese, former member of the Orix Blue Wave. It was only the 2nd time Japanese players were pitching on opposing teams. Irabu again behaved badly. He was called for a balk in the 7th inning for the second time in this game. Irabu hyper reacted by kicking the sand on the pitcher's mound. He was warned by the umpire for his action. All in all, Irabu pitched 6 2/3 innings, struck out 8 and lost 3 RBIs, and clinched his 4th victory. The Yankees won the game 8 to 5.

August 13 in New York (comeback game with the Yankees)
It was believed that Irabu would play another AAA game after Aug. 6, but he was called back to the Yankees on Aug. 10, joined them for practice the next day, and started the game against the Kansas City Royals on the 13th. Irabu, in 5 1/3 innings struck out 5 and lost 3RBIs. The Yankees won 9 to 3.
Michiyo's Note: I decided to go to the Yankee Stadium after he pitched this day. At least, I got to see Irabu seated in the dug out.

(AAA) August 6 in Ohio with the Columbus Clippers
Irabu hurled again in the Triple A, this time against Richmond. He struck out 11 times in 8 innings and lost 2RBIs. He again was accused for rubbing his saliva onto the ball.

(AAA) August 1 in Ohio with the Columbus Clippers
Irabu seemed lost at what to do to boost his performance during his first few days of practice right after being demoted to the minors. He pitched badly to the Single A players in practice. Thank goodness, in his first comeback game in the Triple A on Aug. 1 in Columbus Ohio, he pitched all right against the Rochester. He had 7 shutout innings, struck out 3, and his maximum speed reached 154 kilos.

July 26 in New York
Irabu was finished in just 2 innings. The Seattle Mariners, Jose Cruz smashed a 3 run homer and Alex Rodriguez doubled a homer. Irabu not only ruined the game from the beginning, he was also punished for spitting into his hand and rubbing the ball with it. That is, the umpire called an extra ball. That has affected Irabu, because he walked the batter, and eventually came along the homeruns. The Yankees, after Irabu was gone, batted in runs in vane. The Mariners won 9 to 7. He has lost his position as a starting pitcher as a result, not only that, it was announced on July 28 that he is demoted to Triple A.

July 20 in Milwaukee
It was Irabu's first starting game away from New York. The Yankees kicked off the game well. In the first inning, they batted in 2 runs. However, Irabu was unable to keep the team's lead. In the 3rd inning, he lost 4 RBIs. It included a 2 run homer by David Nilsson who turned out to be Irabu's worst enemy of the day. Irabu lost a total of 6 RBIs during 6 2/3 innings that he pitched. He took on his first loss in the Majors. Even worse was his attitude. He was about to smash his met on the ground at one point, and when he was leaving the mound for good that day, he spit towards the spectators.

July 15 in New York
Number 35 started his 2nd game with the Yankees. He faced, this time, the Cleveland Indians. Irabu had succumbed to losing his first homerun in the Major Leagues in the 3rd inning. Tony Fernandez blasted his 4th homerun. Then in the 5th inning, Marquis Grimmson homered, and Matt Williams smashed a 3 run homer. Although Irabu lost 5 RBIs in the 5 innings he pitched, his team hit so well that he earned another win. The Yankees defeated the Indians 12 to 6.

July 10 in New York
Irabu made his Major League debut, starting against the Detroit Tigers. Fans at the Yankees Stadium reacted to practically every strike he took. In the 3rd inning, he lost his first RBI. His teammates immediately recovered the lost. Tino Martinez's great big 3 run homer crashed to the second floor of the stadium. Irabu lost another run in the 5th inning. But that's all during the 6 2/3 innings. He hurled 98 pitches and struck out 9. The Yankees won the game 10 to 3, and Irabu became the first Japanese pitcher to win the first game in which he played.
Michiyo's Note: Irabu is incredible. One thing that annoyed me was the way he'd go on chewing gum.

Final game in the Minors
Irabu shut out the Toledo Mud Hens in his final triple A game on July 5, as a member of the Colombus Clippers. Surprisingly, Irabu had not balked in the game at all. His total standing in the minors is a 3 win 1 loss with an ERA of 2.32.

Irabu succumbs to his first defeat
Irabu wasn't able to continue his incredible hurl on June 25 as a member of the double A Norwich Navigators. He lost points, a homerun and the game too, for the first time since pitching in the US minor leagues. He's responsible for losing 5 RBIs in 5 full innings.

Irabu brings the largest turnout to a double A stadium
Irabu pitched 5 innings in his first double A game on June 20 as a member of the Norwich Navigators. The Dodd Stadium in Connetticut attracted 7386 spectators, the most ever. He has already pitched in 2 single A games before this one, and he has not lost a RBI in 14 innings. By the way, Irabu joined another Japanese in the Navigators. He's the orange haired Katsuhiro Maeda a former Seibu Lions pitcher who signed with the Yankees in 1996.

Irabu is officially a Yankee
On May 30, Irabu has been formally accepted into the Yankees. He was happily helped on the Yankees uniform at the press conference held at the Yankees Stadium that day. The Yankees is said to have agreed to invest a total 12.8 million dollar for a 4 year contract with Irabu. The tremendous sum makes Irabu the highest paid rookie in the US. Irabu immediately flew to Florida and practiced pitching on June 1. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner looked on.

The Yankees finally okays Irabu's demand
The 2 sides have finally come to an agreement on what sum Irabu would receive for playing with the Yankees according to a report on May 22. Irabu is supposedly to earn 13 million dollars during his 4 year contract with the Yankees. There are other issues that must be solved, though, for example, what percentage the team should receive when Irabu makes a TV commercial, or whether Irabu had contacted the US Major Leagues illegally.

Irabu starts negotiations with the Yankees
An American newspaper reported on May 3 that the Yankees have already suggested paying Irabu 10 million dollars for a 3-year contract. However, Irabu, or rather, his agent Don Nomura is asking for an annual wage of 5 million dollars. So they were unable to reach an agreement.

Padres gives up on Irabu to the Yankees
The mess is likely to be settled very soon. It was learned first on Apr.9, that the San Diego Padres decided to give up Irabu to the Yankees. The relationship between these teams and the Lotte Marines were in a turmoil in March. The Padres turned to the New York Mets and have tried to trade Irabu to that team. But Irabu insisted that he'd play only for the Yankees. If Irabu doesn't go, then Padres won't get anything in return. So finally it was disclosed on Apr.22 that the Padres have come to an agreement to trade to the Yankees, that's Irabu plus 3 Padres players for 2 players and 3 million dollars from the Yankees.
Michiyo's Note: I can't believe Irabu can get away with all the mess he's been causing.

A synopsis of Irabu's struggle with US teams and the Marines
Hideki Irabu had until Mar. 18 to sort things out with the Padres, but he did not. He declares that he will not play in the US unless its with the New York Yankees. In any case, it seemed definite that he will not be able to play in the US Major Leagues for the '97 season. He returned to Japan on Mar.20, in hopes of find a way to play in the independent leagues in Canada. Irabu spoke to the press saying that the baseball commissioner is hindering his way there as well.

Major League Baseball's executive council has made it clear on Feb.27, that the San Diego Padres is the only US team that has the right to sign with Hideki Irabu of the Lotte Marines. The council has ratified the exclusive contract under the 1966 treaty between the US Major League and Japan. The US players union has been criticizing the exclusive right given to the Padres--that it is not fair that a player does not have the freedom of choice.

The Marines made an official announcement on Jan. 13, that they will grant the San Diego Padres the right to their ace pitcher Hideki Irabu. The Padres has agreed to sending two players of their own to the Marines in return.

Irabu has been expressing his desire to play in the US for some time now. The Marines would not let him go even though Irabu strongly protested against their holding on to him. The Marines finally started to give in later last year. It's been reported as early as Nov. 26, that the Padres and Marines have come to an agreement. But Irabu has not been happy with this move, because he strongly desired to play with the New York Yankees. At one point, it seemed like he would actually play for the Yankees. USA TODAY reported on Jan.3, that Irabu is likely to tie the knot with the New York Yankees for an overwhelming 2.5 million dollars.