All opponents are not created equal. The Giants’ Aaron Poreda is 5-1 in nine starts, three against Yakult and Hanshin, two against DeNA and 1 against Chunichi. In calculating how tough a pitcher is against a given team, one should only count his record against OTHER teams. Thus while Poreda is 5-1, he is 1-0 against Yakult and thus his quality as concerns Yakult is 4-1. Poreda is 3-0 against Hanshin, thus his record for calculating his difficulty against the Tigers is 2-1.
In the Yakult Swallows’ first 48 games, the opposing starting pitchers they have faced have a cumulative record against other teams of 102 wins and 69 losses or a .596 winning percentage. Of course, that is not entirely an accurate picture because the Swallows are below .500 in the Central League and haven’t had to face their own starting pitching, which combined for 93-153 record’s worth of difficulty on opponents. If we factor in 1/5 of the Swallows starters cumulative .378 win pct to adjust for the fact that the Swallows don’t play against themselves. That still leaves the difficulty of opposing pitchers vs Yakult at .561, the highest in Japan.
Francisco Caraballo, who won the triple crown last season in Japan’s independent Baseball Challenge League, showed off some awesome power on Friday night, when he broke his bat on a 1-2 pitch from former Pacific League MVP Mitsuo Yoshikawa — and knocked it over the fence at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome. If you can see the video above, take note of Yoshikawa’s priceless reaction. This stuff is not supposed to happen. The two-run shot didn’t change the outcome of the game, however, as the last-place Orix Buffaloes fell 8-3 at home to the Nippon Ham Fighters. Brandon Laird, who joined Nippon Ham this season, hit a two-run shot of his own, his fifth homer of the year.
Elsewhere in the PL, the league-leading Seibu Lions wiped out the Lotte Marines, winning on the road at QVC Marine Field in a game that saw former Atlanta Braves farmhand and 2014 PL home run leader Ernesto Mejia double in a run in a three-run first. The Lions’ DH, 19-year-old catching wannabe Tomoya Mori went 3-for-5 with his seventh home run and a pair of doubles.
In Fukuoka, former New York Mets reliever Ryota “formerly the pitcher known as ‘Rocket Boy” Igarashi did a little war dance when he escaped a two-on jam in the seventh for the Softbank Hawks in a 5-3 win over the Rakuten Eagles. Kazuo Matsui homered twice at Yafuoku Dome, which was made more home run friendly this season because Hawks ownership wanted the team to hit home runs the way they did when the balls were juiced. His second came off Hawks closer Dennis Sarfate, who hadn’t allowed a run until “Little” took him deep in the ninth.
In the Central League, the three-time champion Yomiuri Giants blew a four-run lead in a 6-5 loss in Yokohama to the surprising CL-leading DeNA BayStars in which rookie closer Yasuaki Yamasaki struck out the Giants in order in the ninth with his 146-kph fastball and a pitch he calls a two-seamer that looks for all intent and purposes like the nastiest splitter you’ve seen. It was his 13th save of the season.
In Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, freshly called-up lefty Takaya Toda continued his impressive spring by allowing two runs in six innings after winning six of his first seven games for the Hiroshima Carp’s Western League farm club. Toda (1-0) got the win in the Carp’s 8-3 victory over the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium. Tigers starter Shintaro Fujinami (1-4) bore the brunt of his club’s awful defense. The Tigers went into the game allowing opponents who put the ball in play to reach safely at an NPB-worst .365 clip. In his five innings on the mound, there were 18 balls in play and Carp batters reached safely eight times. It didn’t help that
In three Central League games this week between the Yomiuri Giants and the Hiroshima Carp at the Carp’s Mazda Stadium, we saw:
A play few of us had ever seen before in the opener, a Groundhog Day inning which seemingly went on for ever in Game 2, and new Giants first baseman Juan Francisco doing his best Bill Murray impression by making his fielding a focal point of all three games.
The video above is from the bottom of the ninth inning of Monday’s game, with the score tied 2-2 and the Carp batting with one out and the bases loaded. Facing Canadian right-hander Scott Mathieson, pinch hitter Tetsuya Kokubo hits a high pop in front of home plate. Francisco and third baseman Shuichi Murata converge on the ball, while third base umpire and crew chief Koichi Tanba calls Kokubo out on the infield fly rule, although nobody seems to notice other than Carp third base coach Takuro Ishii.
Murata stabs at the ball after taking his eye off to ensure he doesn’t collide with Francisco, who picks up the ball, steps on home, where home plate ump Hideto Fuke calls a force out on the runner from third. Francisco turns his back on the plate to check the bases. Saying later he thought he was being forced at the plate, rookie Takayoshi Noma headed home.
After Noma crossed the plate, Ishii dashed down the line to inform the ump that the Carp had scored because Kokubo’s out had eliminated the force at home and Francisco had neglected to apply a tag to the approaching Noma. Ishii was soon joined by rookie Carp skipper Koichi Ogata, who said he’d once played in a game against Ishii’s old club, Yokohama, when a similar play had unfolded. They convinced Fuke to consult with Tanba, who informed him the run should count. The home plate ump signaled safe.
When Francisco stepped on home, Fuke had no business calling Noma out, which contributed to the Giants’ confusion.
So the Giants come out the next afternoon and after being retired 1-2-3 in the top of the first, they have two on with one out, when Francisco drops a foul pop behind first. He was not charged with an error, so the 10 runs that scored in that inning, starting with a two-run double, were all earned as batter after batter reached base against some poor pitching by southpaw Toshiya Sugiuchi, who was charged with six runs, and his successor.
“When you give up so many hits in a row like that, I think the pitches are a problem,” was Giants’ catcher Kazunari Sanematsu’s appraisal.
On May 6, the Carp scored twice in the first after Kosuke Tanaka reached on a leadoff double and Ryosuke Kikuchi reached on a bunt back to pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano. The third inning started the same way. With the infield playing in against the speedy Kikuchi, Francisco was left on his own to defend against the bunt and cover first. Sugano fielded the ball, Francisco retreated to where he could tag Kikuchi going by but dropped Sugano’s poor throw as he tried to apply the tag.
Francisco was pulled for defense after the top of the fifth inning, and was dropped from Yomiuri’s the 28-man active roster the day after the 4-1 defeat. In the video above, you can see the Shinkansen running just behind Mazda Stadium’s left field stands.