NPB news: May 28, 2023

Roki Sasaki returned and was not razor sharp, while Hanshin got another big start on Sunday Japan’s two league leaders head into the start of interleague Tuesday on a high note, while Yakult is hitting all sour notes as they went into their series finale with Hiroshima having dropped nine straight decisions.

I want to apologize for not posting anything yesterday, but I was dead tired after a busy shift at the salt mine before recording a podcast and spending the rest of my free time working out a program to create 1,000s of simulated results from normally distributed six-team leagues.

This is a tool I created to find out whether we should or shouldn’t be surprised by the Yomiuri Giants’ surprising success at 0-0 and 1-0 counts over the past 14 seasons, and now that it’s done, I’ve gotten some interesting results.

But enough of that for now…

Sunday’s games

Marines 9, Hawks 5: At Fukuoka Dome, Roki Sasaki (4-0), pitching for the first time in over three weeks and threw mostly fastballs and splitters, and as usual, the command of his splitters was an issue, although he had good movement on them, two bad ones and a fly out resulted in two fourth-inning runs on a fluke single, a triple and a sac fly.

Otherwise he was simply too good for SoftBank, striking out nine over six innings while walking one and allowing three hits.

Marines captain Shogo Nakamura hit his third homer in the first with a man on against Koya Fujii (4-3) and singled in a run in the second. Gregory Polanco’s fifth homer, with two on in the seventh, made it 6-2 and manager Masato Yoshii took that as his cue to pull Sasaki after 82 pitches.

Polanco hit a two-run eighth-inning double and SoftBank got some redemption on Ryoya Kurihara’s three run, ninth-inning homer, his sixth.

Continue reading NPB news: May 28, 2023

NPB news: May 27, 2023

We only had five games on Friday, with the Hawks and Marines taking the day off ahead of their two-game series in Fukuoka, where ostensibly Roki Sasaki will return to the mound on Sunday for the first time since he started a 12-inning 0-0 tie with SoftBank in Chiba on May 5 and developed a blister.

I had the day off from the day job, and went up to Seibu Dome for the first time since the summer of 2019, and would never have been able to get in if another reporter I knew hadn’t showed me how to navigate the hidden media entrance and the labyrinth that followed.

The good news is that the Lions allow reporters on the field unlike most NPB teams.

In the games we did have, Sosuke Genda returned for the Lions and Yutaro “Rao” Sugimoto returned for Orix to start their three-game series, we had one game decided by a botched play, a couple of pitching duels and a slugfest, so let’s get to it.

Friday’s games

Tigers 2, Giants 1: At Koshien Stadium, Yomiuri rookie lefty Kai Yokogawa threw six shutout innings in which he’d allowed three singles and no walks on 80 pitches. He left with a 1-0 lead thanks to Hayato Sakamoto’s third-inning RBI single, but the lead evaporated in the seventh, when Kohei Suzuki hit a batter with one out and surrendered three straight singles to tie it.

Yuhei Takanashi (0-1) surrendered a sac fly to Seiya Kinami that put Hanshin in front and made a winner out of the Tigers’ left-handed rookie starter, Takuma Kirishiki (1-0), who struck out 10 and walked one over seven innings, while allowing five singles.

Japan WBC reliever Atsuki Yuasa returned to the big league mound for the first time since April 13, and stranded two runners in the eighth, and Suguru Iwazaki struck out three of the four he faced in the ninth for his ninth save. The win was the Tigers’ sixth straight.

Tigers-Giants highlights
Continue reading NPB news: May 27, 2023

writing & research on Japanese baseball