2006 Japan All-Star Series
At the end of the 2006 baseball season, the MLB (Major League Baseball) and NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) gathered a team of All-Stars from their own associations. The two teams faced off in November in Japan. They played a five-game series with an exhibition game against the Yomiuri Giants at the Tokyodome. The following three games took place at the Tokyodome with a travel day and then a game in Osaka and the next day a game in Fukuoka. The series has intervals of every other year.
The MLB and Yomiuri Giants faced off at the Tokyodome with Chris Young pitching for the MLB and Chien-Ming Chang going for Yomiuri. The Giants shocked the MLB by leading 7-4 heading into the 9th inning. But, Andrew Jones led off the 9th inning with a home run to center field. Then, with two outs and a runner on-base, David Wright homered to tie the game. Th game ended up in a 7-7 tie. Ryan Howard also homered.
Japan All-Star Series Game 1
Game 1 began at the Tokyodome with John Lackey facing Testuya Utsumi. The MLB All-Stars beat the NPB All-Stars 3-2. MLB scored a run in the second and two in the third on a Jermaine Dye two-run blast. John Lackey pitched five innings and gave up one run on two hits. He struck out four. John Maine also lead up a run. Joe Nathan came in the ninth and closed it out.
Japan All-Star Series Game 2
Game 2 was again played at the Tokyodome with Bronson Arroyo facing Kentaro Nishimura. But the real story was Phillies' slugger Ryan Howard. Howard hit two homeruns and had three RBI's as the MLB All-Stars defeated the NPB All-Stars 8-6.
Japan All-Star Series Game 3
The Tokyodome was again the site for Game 3 of the Japan All-Star Series. Erik Bedard faced off against Horoyuki Kobayashi. Kobayashi retired the first 12 batters he faced. Meanwhile, Japan got off to a fast start with Norichika Aoki leading off the game with a homerun. Joe Mauer hit a two-run blast off Kobayashi in the fifth, and the MLB All-Stars never looked back, going on to win 11-4. Most of the runs were scored in the late innings, not the early ones.
The next day was a travel day where the MLB and NPB traveled to Osaka, the sight of the next game. Then, the following day they will travel to Kyoto to play in Fukuoka. Their unit of transportation was by bulletrains.
Japan All-Star Series Game 4
The venue changed to Osaka at the Kyocera Dome where Henshin Tigers' pitcher Kei Igawa dueled Padres' starter Chris Young. Andrew Jones scored in the second inning and David Wright hit a solo shot off Igawa in the fourth. But, NPB came back and tied the game at two. But, in the seventh and eith innings, MLB scored five runs and cruised on to win 7-2. Ryan Howard homered again in the eighth.
Japan All-Star Series Game 5
The site for game 5 was in Fukuoka at the Fukuoka Dome. John Lackey started for MLB and Tsuyoshi Wada for NPB. The game was scoreless until the fourth when NPB hit back-to-back solo homeruns off Lackey to take a 2-0 lead. But MLB came back as Johjima singled in a run in the fifth. Then in the sixth, Ryan Howard doubled in Reyes and Andruw Jones hit a sack fly to give the MLB All-Stars a 3-2 lead. They were still leading in the ninth with Brian Fuentes of the Colorado Rockies on to close it out. But with two outs, NPB singled to left field. Shuichi Murata, who was standing on second, would have just gone to third. But, leftfielder Bill Hall bobbled the ball, allowing Murata to score the tying run. In the bottom of the tenth, Jose Reyes stepped up to the plate with a man on first. He clubbed the ball into rightfield for a walk-off homerun. MLB won again 5-3. This was the first time the MLB had ever swept the NPB. Ryan Howard was named series MVP.