NPB 2020 8-14 GAMES AND NEWS

Yanagita does it again

Sachiya Yamasaki (2-2) was pitching a heck of a game until he tried to get out of the eighth inning with a 2-2 inside fastball to Yuki Yanagita, who drilled it well back in the right-field stands for a three-run homer as the SoftBank Hawks beat the Orix Buffaloes 4-1 in the Pacific League on Saturday afternoon.

Yamasaki had allowed a run in the first on a Yanagita double and an Akira Nakamura single. But the lefty cruised through the next six innings before issuing his first walk to open the eighth. With two outs, he walked Seiji Uebayashi to bring up Yanagita. The lefty started him away to get to 2-2 before trying to surprise Yanagita inside.

The only surprise was in how far Yanagita’s 15th homer of the year traveled.

Yanagita said he was looking for something away, but he never even flinched in that direction and cranked the belt-high pitch on the inside edge well back into the right-field stands.

Hawks starter Nao Higashihama also allowed a run in the first, on doubles by Yuma Mune and Masataka Yoshida. He pitched out of a third-inning jam after Adam Jones lined out to short for the second out with two men on.

The right-hander appeared to have ruptured a blister since there were bloody smudges on his uniform pants when he walked off the mound for the last time. He allowed four hits and four walks while striking out six.

Takahiro Okada doubled off Yuki Tsumori to open the sixth, and the right-hander issued a one-out walk, but the Buffaloes ended the inning on the bases when Okada took off for home when catcher Takuya Kai faked a throw to second on a delayed double steal.

This play, and the incessant sacrifice bunting when trailing by a one or two on the road are two of the Buffaloes trademarks.

Rei Takahashi worked a scoreless seventh, and lefty Shinya Kayama did the same in the eighth to earn the win in relief. Closer Yuito Mori allowed two no-out singles in the ninth but retired the next three hitters to record his 13th save.

Marines rout Fighters

This game was over after a six-run third gave the Lotte Marines an 11-0 lead over the Nippon Ham Fighters in a game that finished 12-5 at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

With a huge lead, Lotte ace Ayumu Ishikawa pitched to the score, avoiding walks and giving up five runs on nine hits over six innings as he improved to 3-2.

Lions crush Eagles bullpen in slugfest

This game started from the fourth inning after both Opening Day starters were gone and the game was tied 6-6 as the Seibu Lions crushed the Rakuten Eagles bullpen for seven more runs in a 13-8 win at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.

The Eagles’ Eigoro Mogi, who homered in each of his first two at-bats, fired the first shot in the fourth. Daichi Suzuki tripled off Tatsuya Imai (3-3) and Mogi plated him for the third time, this time with a single.

Corey Spangenberg tied it with the third of the Lions seven hits in a six-run fifth. Yuji Kaneko singled in the tie-breaking run, and Wataru Takagi drove in his second run of the game. The rookie leadoff man had three hits and scored three times for Seibu.

Rookie Morishita shuts out Tigers

Masato Morishita (4-2), the HIroshima Carp’s top pick in last autumn’s draft, struck out 12 without issuing a walk in a two-hit 6-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Hanshin right-hander Shintaro Fujinami (0-4) allowed six runs on eight hits and four walks over six innings while striking out six.

The Carp took a three-run first-inning lead after back-to-back singles by Ryoma Nishikawa and rookie Ryutaro Hatsuki. Seiya Suzuki singled in one run, and Ryuhei Matsuyama doubled in two more.

With Carp leading 4-0 in the sixth, the Tigers filled first base with an intentional walk to get out of the inning against Morishita, but the rookie hit a grounder past the third-base bag for a two-run double.

Nakajima ices Dragons with 200th career HR

Hiroyuki Nakajima homered for the second-straight day, his three-run shot putting the finishing touches on the Yomiuri Giants’ 6-1 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Tokyo Dome.

Singles by Hayato Sakamoto and Gerardo Parra set up the hosts’ score in the first off lefty Takahiro Matsuba (2-3). Sakamoto came home when Zelous Wheeler grounded out. Wheeler made it 3-0 in the third with his fifth homer.

Giants starter Shosei Togo (5-2) struck out seven over 5-2/3 scoreless innings, and Nakajima put the game out of reach with a three-run shot in the sixth off Luis Gonazalez. The home run was the 200th of his career.

Onuki outduels Swallows rookie

Shinichi Onuki (5-2) held the Yakult Swallows to a run over 5-2/3 innings in a close duel with Swallows rookie Daiki Yoshida before the DeNA BayStars blew this one open against the visitors’ bullpen in a 6-2 win at Yokohama Stadium.

Yoshida (1-2) allowed two runs over six innings, but Onuki only allowed three hits and a walk. Yakult’s run off him came from a mammoth blast from 20-year-old Munetaka Murakami, who hit it well up into the right-field wing seats that were installed before last season.

BayStars captain Keita Sano singled home leadoff man Kazuki Kamizato in the first, and Kamizato doubled in a run in the second. Kamizato reached base four times and scored twice.

Spencer Patton and Edwin Escobar each worked a scoreless inning of relief for the BayStars. The game got out of hand for the visitors in the seventh after right-hander Scott McGough walked two batters and hit one.

He surrendered a sac fly to Sano for the second out. Lefty Masato Nakazato came on and failed to retire any of the three batters he faced.

Active roster moves 8/14/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/24

Central League

Activated

TigersP67Suguru Iwazaki
CarpP98Emailin Montilla
DragonsP29Daisuke Yamai
DragonsP98Yusuke Kinoshita
DragonsOF42Zoilo Almonte

Dectivated

SwallowsIF60Ryusei Takeoka

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP40Ichiro Tamura
LionsC37Sena Tsuge
LionsOF7Yuji Kaneko

Dectivated

LionsP36Sho Ito
LionsP44Kaito Yoza
LionsOF72Seiji Kawagoe

Starting pitchers for Friday, Aug. 14, 2020

Pacific League

Lions vs Eagles: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Wataru Matsumoto (1-3, 6.11) vs Takahiro Shiomi (3-3, 3.67)

Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Kota Futaki (1-1, 7.71) vs Kohei Arihara (1-5, 4.82)

Hawks vs Buffaloes: PayPay Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Akira Niho (3-3, 4.71) vs Kazumasa Yoshida (1-0, 4.19)

Central League

Giants vs Dragons: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Kazuto Taguchi (2-1, 3.60) vs Yariel Rodriguez (0-0, 2.84)

BayStars vs Swallows: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shota Imanaga (5-2, 2.90) vs Yasuhiro Ogawa (4-2, 4.07)

Tigers vs Carp: Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yuki Nishi (2-3, 2.44) vs Daichi Osera (4-1, 2.66)

NPB 2020 8-13 games and news

Otake frustrates Buffaloes in season debut

Kotaro Otake made a lot out of a little on Thursday as his low-velocity deliveries frustrated hitters and helped earn him the win in his belated season debut as the SoftBank Hawks beat the Orix Buffaloes 3-1 to remain in a tie for first place in the Pacific League.

Otake, who has been with the minor league squad since feeling stiffness in his left elbow in camp and was 4-0 in the Western League, allowed five hits and a walk while striking out three over 5-2/3 innings. Although it was an impressive effort, Otake got off to a rocky start.

In the first inning, he challenged leadoff hitter Tatsuya Yamaashi with a 1-0 fastball down the pipe. But it wasn’t a very good one, and the light-hitting reserve showed what a professional hitter can do when giving a cookie, driving it well back in PayPay Dome’s left-field stands for his third career home run.

But otherwise, the Buffaloes hitters struggled to time Otake’s speeds: slow, slower, and molasses, as he mixed his 136-kph (84.5 mph) fastball with a two-seamer, a changeup and a curve. His occasional high misses didn’t hurt him as much as they perhaps changed batters’ eye levels. The end result was a lot of soft contact. Orix didn’t hit anything reasonably hard until Jones doubled with two outs in the fourth.

The Hawks wasted two walks in the first inning against Taiwanese right-hander Chang Yi but made up for it in the second. Kenta Imamiya led off with his fifth home run, Takuya Kai walked with one out and scored on leadoff man Ukyo Shuto’s two-out triple. Akira Nakamura singled and scored an insurance run in the fifth after a Ryoya Kurihara single and a Kenji Akashi double.

Chang (0-1) allowed six hits and three walks over his five innings. The right-hander, a cousin of NPB veterans Yang Dai-kang and Yang Yao-hsun, was taken by the Buffaloes in the first round of the 2016 developmental draft out of Japan University of Economics.

Otake issued his only walk of the game in the sixth and after retiring slugging left-handed hitters Masataka Yoshida and Takahiro Okada, was pulled for a righty with Jones coming to the plate. Arata Shiino got out of the inning on five pitches, and Yugo Bando, Livan Moinelo and Yuito Mori finished up with a scoreless inning each. Mori earned his 12th save.

Eagles keep pace with win over Lions

Rookie Hiroto Kobukata reached base four times and scored three runs for the Rakuten Eagles in their 7-4 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo. The win kept the Eagles tied with the Hawks for the PL lead.

Former closer Yuki Matsui allowed three runs on six hits over three innings. He left the game with a 4-3 lead and right-hander Tomohito Sakai retired all six batters he faced over two innings to earn the win. Ryosuke Tatsumi broke a 1-1 tie in the third with his fifth home run, a leadoff shot off Lions rookie Kaito Yoza (2-4).

Yoza allowed four runs over 2-1/3 innings as the Lions needed eight pitchers to get them through the night.

J.T. Chargois worked a scoreless eighth for Rakuten, while submarine right-hander Kazuhisa Makita worked the ninth to earn his first save in Japan since he saved three in 2015 for the Lions.

Marines power past Fighters

Leonys Martin’s fifth home run in six games was one of three solo shot the Lotte Marines hit in a three-run fifth en route to overcoming a five-run deficit in their 8-5 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

After Tsuyoshi Sugano doubled home Seiya Inoue with the tying run in the sixth, Martin reached on an error in the seventh and scored the go-ahead run.

The Marines comeback made a winner out of Jose Flores (1-1). The 31-year-old right-hander from Venezuela spent 10 years in the minors with the Cleveland Indians, Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants. The Marines acquired him from the Toyama Thunderbirds of Japan’s independent Baseball Challenge League.

Giants bang, bloop their way to comeback win

Yoshiyuki Kamei’s ninth-inning pinch-hit single lifted the Yomiuri Giants to a 4-3 walk-off win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo Dome.

Lefty Cristopher Mercedes allowed three doubles and a walk in a three-run first, and spent his remaining five innings on the mound pitching with me on base but allowing no more runs.

The Giants closed within a run on back-to-back two-out solo homers in the fourth inning from Yoshihiro Maru and Hiroyuki Nakajima. The hosts tied it in the fifth on a two-out bloop RBI single by cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto. Swallows right-hander Hirotoshi Takanashi allowed three runs over six innings, and two relievers kept it tied until right-hander Yuma Oshita (0-1) allowed a leadoff single.

After a stolen base, Kamei pinch hit and got enough of the first pitch thrown by Scott McGough to hit a fly into shallow center that won it.

ToSpo pandering to the populists

There’s always some writer somewhere who’ll put a populist or racist spin on something they probably don’t understand. The Tokyo Sports used to have a pretty sordid reputation for writing the most loathsome stuff and one writer of theirs seems keen to resurrect that image when he wrote a story titled “Manager Hara spills the real truth behind Parra’s substitution.”

Hara pulled Gerardo Parra out of the game during the top of the sixth inning, and Tokyo Sports would like us to think because he was solely because he wasn’t hustling on a foul fly that dropped safely.

The manager said, “You saw what happened. It looked he was favoring his leg,” although the Tokyo Sports neglected to mention that last bit. Instead, it implied Parra was fit because no trainer came out and didn’t look hurt. They then reminded readers of the time when a Japanese star was not hustling and was sent home by Hara, implying that was the reason here.

The real truth is the thing that story wasn’t interested in when a pile of made-up shit made a better headline.

Yamada rejoins Swallows

Yakult Swallows second baseman Tetsuto Yamada was activated on Thursday and practiced as usual with the team before their game against the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome, according to the Nikkan Sports.

He was deactivated on July 27, ostensibly due to lack of upper body fitness, whatever that means.

Despaigne, Gracial to start on farm

Big-hitting Cubans Alfredo Despaigne and Yurisbel Gracial practiced with the Hawks Western League farm team on Thursday, and are scheduled to play in Friday’s home WL game against the Hiroshima Carp, the Nishinihon Sports reports.

The pair had gone to Cuba train with the national team in March ahead of World Baseball Classic qualifying. After qualifying was canceled, they were unable to travel to Japan until Havana’s airport re-opened for international travel in July.

The two arrived in Japan last month despite Japan’s ban on foreign nationals entering the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. After they completed quarantine they were to train with the farm team until minor league operations were suspended after infections were discovered at the minor league facility. Instead, they traveled to Sendai last week and trained with the first team.

Tigers drop Fujikawa

The Hanshin Tigers have deactivated 40-year-old reliever Kyuji Fujikawa. According to the Hochi Shimbun, the move was made due to the dreaded “lack of upper body fitness” although the article specified the afflicted area to be the right side of his upper body.

Fujikawa, who converted every save opportunity he faced after being restored to the closer’s role last summer for the first time in seven seasons, has been largely ineffective this year. He was deactivated on July 12 due to right shoulder fitness.

Active roster moves 8/13/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/23

Central League

Activated

SwallowsIF1Tetsuto Yamada

Dectivated

TigersP22Kyuji Fujikawa
CarpP58DJ Johnson
DragonsP25Yu Sato
DragonsP59Takumi Yamamoto
DragonsIF7Akira Neo
SwallowsP24Tomoya Hoshi

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP10Kotaro Otake
MarinesP24Yusuke Azuma
BuffaloesP98Chang Yi

Dectivated

HawksP21Tsuyoshi Wada
MarinesP41Kakeru Narita
BuffaloesIF31Ryo Ota

Starting pitchers for Friday, Aug. 14, 2020

Pacific League

Lions vs Eagles: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Zach Neal (2-2, 4.47) vs Takahiro Norimoto (3-3, 3.66)

Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Ayumu Ishikawa (2-2, 3.83) vs Ryuji Kitaura (-)

Hawks vs Buffaloes: PayPay Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Nao Higashihama (2-1, 3.02) vs Sachiya Yamasaki (2-1, 4.40)

Central League

Giants vs Dragons: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shosei Togo (4-2, 2.86) vs Takahiro Matsuba (2-2, 2.42)

BayStars vs Swallows: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shinichi Onuki (4-2, 1.91) vs Daiki Yoshida (1-1, 5.40)

Tigers vs Carp: Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shintaro Fujinami (0-3, 2.57) vs Masato Morishita (3-2, 2.87)

NPB 2020 8-12 games and news

Eagles’ Ota backs Wakui in win over Lions

The Seibu Lions snapped their former ace’s scoreless-inning streak but that was small consolation in their 6-2 loss to Hideaki Wakui (7-0) and the Rakuten Eagles at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.

Hiroaki Shimauchi doubled with one out in the second and opened the scoring off 21-year-old right-hander Sho Ito (0-1) on a one-out single by Eagles catcher Hikaru Ota. Shimauchi doubled and scored in the fourth on Ota’s second homer of the year.

Coming off a one-hit shutout in his previous start, Wakui had not allowed a run since the first inning of his start on July 29. He was in complete command until a couple of lazy fastballs resulted in seventh-inning solo homers by Tomoya Mori and Ernesto Mejia, who had homered twice on Tuesday. Wakui left the game hurt with two outs and 40-year-old right-hander Yuya Kubo had to finish off pinch-hitter Hotaka Yamakawa for the final out.

Wakui allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out two and started a season 7-0 for the first time in his career.

Ito, the Lions’ third draft pick in 2017, suffered his first pro loss. He allowed three runs on two walks and seven hits over four-plus innings.

J.T. Chargois and Alan Busenitz each worked a scoreless inning for the Eagles, who are locked in a tie for first place in the Pacific League with the SoftBank Hawks.

Buffaloes still can’t solve Wada

Tsuyoshi Wada is 39-years-old and in his 13th season in Japan, but at the speed their going, the Orix Buffaloes may never figure him out. The lefty allowed three singles and no walks while striking out five over 6-2/3 scoreless innings in the SoftBank Hawks’ 6-0 win at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

“This has been going on for a long time,” Buffaloes manager Norifumi Nishimura said of Wada, who shut them out over six innings on July 15. “We have to find a way to hit him.”

Nobuhiro Matsuda, dropped to the No. 9 spot for lack of hits, went 2-for-4 with three RBIs to raise his batting average to .205.

Nakata routs Marines

Nippon Ham Fighters cleanup hitter Sho Nakata hit his 14th and 15th home runs and drove in six runs in a 12-4 rout of the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Nakata opened the scoring in the first inning with a two-out, two-run homer off lefty Kazuya Oda (3-4), who gave up six runs over 6-2/3 innings to take the loss. Leading 4-1 in the seventh, Nakata iced it with a three-run shot.

Side-arm Fighters lefty Naoki Miyanishi (35) reached 350 career holds. No. 2 on the list is former Giants lefty Tetsuya Yamaguchi, who had 273.

Sakamoto powers Giants as Sugano wins 7th

Hayato Sakamoto homered twice and Tomoyuki Sugano (7-0 ) allowed a run over x innings for the Yomiuri Giants in an 8-1 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo Dome

The Swallows took the lead on two-out second-inning doubles by Takeshi Miyamoto and Alcides Escobar, but the Giants effectively put the game out of reach in the home half against Juri Hara (2-1).

A leadoff walk, an error, and a sacrifice put two in scoring position and No. 8 hitter Naoki Yoshikawa singled in both of them. With two outs, Sakamoto hit his eighth home run, and Gerardo Parra followed with his fourth to make it 5-1. Prior to his first homer, Sakamoto had been hitless in 20 plate appearances.

Vieira brings the heat

Brazilian flame thrower Thyago Vieira became the second pitcher recorded at 163 kph (101.3 mph). The NPB record is 165 kph, set by Shohei Ohtani.

 

Dragons’ Yanagi shuts down Carp

Yuya Yanagi (2-2) allowed a run over 7-2/3 innings for the Chunichi Dragons in their 4-1 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Yanagi allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four. Lefty Kris Johnson (0-4) gave up four runs, three earned, on five hits and four walks without a strikeout over 5-1/3 innings.

Nobumasa Fukuda drew a leadoff walk in the fourth and opened the scoring on a Dayan Viciedo single and a groundout. Masataka Iryo singled in another run to make it 2-0 Dragons. Fukuda opened the Dragons’ two-run seventh with a single and scored when Iryo drew a bases-loaded walk.

Raidel Martinez worked the ninth to earn his seventh save.

Tigers hold off BayStars

Masahiro Nakatani’s three-run fourth-inning home run brought the Hanshin Tigers from behind and they held on for a 7-6 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

Jerry Sands followed Nakatani with his eighth home run to make it 6-3, while Joe Gunkel pitched a scoreless inning of relief for the Tigers. Robert Suarez allowed a run on three hits in the ninth to nail down his seventh save.

Hawks superstar Yuki Yanagita apparently finds the Orix Buffaloes’ Lucky Seven fight song catchy too.

BayStars Austin diagnosed with concussion

DeNA BayStars outfielder Tyler Austin has been diagnosed with concussion and whiplash the Hochi Shimbun reported Wednesday. The 28-year-old in his first Japanese season, slammed into the outfield wall at Koshien Stadium on July 31.

He was deactivated on Aug. 5 and rules would allow him to return as early as Aug. 15, but BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said he he didn’t expect Austin to return that soon.

The player is now being treated at the club’s farm and rehab facility in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, to return this week.

In 22 games, Austin has posted a .393 on-base percentage and a .627 slugging average.

Murakami joins monthly MVP frequent flyers

Yakult Swallows corner infielder Munetaka Murakami, the Central League’s 2019 Rookie of the year, was named the league’s hitter of the month for June and July–Ok it’s the (position) player of the month–but the selectors don’t seem to understand defense is part of the game.

It was the first monthly award for the 20-year-old, although had some veteran company as Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano was named pitcher of the month for the seventh time. The Pacific League’s awards went to four-time winning pitcher Hideaki Wakui of the Rakuten Eagles and six-time winning center fielder Yuki Yanagita of the SoftBank Hawks.

The awards have traditionally gone to hitters with the best triple crown stats and the starting pitcher with the most wins and no more than one loss.

Murakami led the CL with 37 RBIs, had the league’s second-best on-base-percentage (.441). Sugano went 5-0 to lead the league in wins while throwing two complete games, including a one-hit shutout.

The NPB blurb babbles on about how Sugano was entrusted with starting on Opening Day for the sixth time, and how he was the winning pitcher in the franchise’s 6,000th win which have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not he was the best pitcher in the league.

Wakui became the first PL player to win a monthly award with three teams after winning with Seibu and Lotte, and is the second after current DeNA BayStars manager Alex Ramirez to win with three different clubs (Yakult, Yomiuri, DeNA). The award is his first in four years.

The 34-year-old right-hander, who was sold by the Marines to the Eagles over the winter, had 9.88 strikeouts per nine innings, the highest figure among ERA leader eligible pitchers.

Yanagita scored 38 runs in 37 games, a rare reference in these awards to runs scored and also led the PL in hits, triples, total bases, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging average. Because of a leg injury last season, Yanagita lacked the plate appearances needed to lead the league in on-base percentage and slugging average for the fifth-straight time.

Only Hall of Famer Sadaharu led his league in both categories more than three years straight. Here’s another look at his one-handed home run on Tuesday:

Active roster moves 8/12/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/22

Central League

Activated

GiantsP12Rubby De La Rosa
GiantsIF51Shunta Tanaka
GiantsOF36Shingo Ishikawa
CarpP26Ren Nakata
SwallowsP16Juri Hara
SwallowsIF60Ryusei Takeoka
SwallowsOF51Taiki Hamada

Dectivated

CarpP30Ryuji Ichioka
SwallowsOF9Yasutaka Shiomi

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP23Shogo Noda
FightersP14Takayuki Kato
FightersP31Toru Murata
FightersOF26Daiki Asama

Dectivated

LionsP34Yasuo Sano
FightersIF91Yuto Takahama
FightersOF4Yuya Taniguchi

Starting pitchers for Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020

Pacific League

Lions vs Eagles: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kaito Yoza (2-3, 4.79) vs Yuki Matsui (0-1, 5.27)

Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Daiki Iwashita (3-3, 3.48) vs Ryusei Kawano (2-3, 4.05)

Hawks vs Buffaloes: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kotaro Otake (-) vs Chang Yi (-)

Central League

Giants vs Swallows: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Cristopher Mercedes (2-4, 3.72) vs Hirotoshi Takanashi (1-2, 4.73)

NPB 2020 8-11 games and news

Tuesday’s live blog: Hawks vs Buffaloes

One-handed home run of God

Yuki Yanagita has scary power. When he connects, the ball can go a long way to any field. This wasn’t one of those, but rather what happens sometimes when he is fooled. In the spring he hit an opposite field home run when he was fooled by a breaking pitch off balance and with his top hand off the bat.

On Tuesday, he did it again with a three-run shot that powered the SoftBank Hawks to an 8-7 win over the Orix Buffaloes. Here’s the home run. Anyone see a guy fooled on a swing so much that his helmet came off? Anyone ever seen such a swing produce a home run? You have now.

Yanagita hit two home runs and was seen in the dugout cheering up second baseman 22-year-old infielder Hikaru Kawase, whose two sixth-inning errors opened the door for six unearned Orix runs off ace Kodai Senga (4-1).

Asked what he told the youngster in the hero interview, Yanagita said, “I told him, it’s not your fault. It was Senga’s. Just come out tomorrow play baseball like you know you can.”

Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto allowed five runs in five innings, while Akira Nakamura homered for the Hawks, and Takahiro Okada hit a grand slam for the Buffaloes.

Marines Mima, Martin destroy Fighters

Free agent acquisition Manabu Mima (3-2) allowed a run in five innings, and Leonys Martin hit a three-run home run, his fifth homer in four games to lift the Lotte Marines to a 3-1 victory over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Naoyuki Uwasawa (2-2) allowed three runs on four walks and three hits over six innings.

Kobukata saves the day for Eagles

Rakuten rookie Hiroto Kobukata brought the Rakuten Eagles from behind with a two-run seventh-inning double and doubled in another run in the ninth in their 7-5 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.

Ernesto Mejia, a one-time home run champ relegated to reserve status since the ascendance of first baseman Hotaka Yamakawa, started in place of Yamakawa on Tuesday and turned back the clock.

The 34-year-old Mejia hit two home runs, doubled, drove in three runs and made a couple of terrific plays at first. His first homer gave the Lions a 4-3lead in the fifth, but Kobukata doubled in two with two outs in the seventh to put Rakuten ahead for good.

Note: The original story had the Lions winning 7-5.

Tigers’ Garcia, Sands eclipse BayStars

Lefty Onelki Garcia (1-4) allowed a run over seven innings, and Jerry Sands drove in a pair of big runs for the Hanshin Tigers in their 9-2 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

Garcia allowed four hits and walked four while striking out seven. With the game tied 1-1 in the sixth, Sands delivered an RBI double to break the tie and scored on Ryutaro Umeno’s double.

Leadoff man Koji Chikamoto opened the game with a double and scored the first of his three runs on a sacrifice fly by Sands.

Fukutani, Takahashi lift Dragons over Carp

Right-hander Koji Fukutani (1-1) allowed a run over 5-2/3 innings, and captain Shuhei Takahashi opened the scoring with his second home run of the season, a two-run fourth-inning blast off Yusuke Nomura (2-1) in the Chunichi Dragons’ 8-1 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Although the game was already a rout by the ninth inning, the Dragons had more than just two runs to celebrate in the final frame when Akira Neo, the Dragons’ top draft pick in 2018, had his first hit in the top flight after starting his career 0-for-17 with nine strikeouts.

Active roster moves 8/11/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/21

Central League

Activated

BayStarsOF1Masayuki Kuwahara

Dectivated

BayStarsP35Tomoya Mikami

Pacific League

Activated

LionsIF39Wu Nien-ting
LionsOF73Wataru Takagi
MarinesP86Jose Flores
BuffaloesIF42Aderlin Rodriguez

Dectivated

LionsC78Masato Saito
LionsIF52Haruka Yamada

Starting pitchers for Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020

Pacific League

Lions vs Eagles: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Sho Ito (0-0, 0.90) vs Hideaki Wakui (6-0, 2.33)

Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kazuya Ojima (3-3, 4.23) vs Takayuki Kato (0-1, 4.96)

Hawks vs Buffaloes: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Tsuyoshi Wada (3-1, 3.58) vs Daiki Tajima (1-2, 2.62)

Central League

Giants vs Swallows: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Tomoyuki Sugano (6-0, 1.81) vs Juri Hara (2-0, 3.60)

BayStars vs Tigers: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Haruhiro Hamaguchi (3-1, 3.10) vs Koyo Aoyagi (4-2, 3.43)

Carp vs Dragons: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kris Johnson (0-3, 5.81) vs Yuya Yanagi (1-2, 2.42)

NPB 2020 8-11 live blog

Live blog: Hawks vs Buffaloes

Go to NEWEST.

For those of you who are curious, you can read a little about these teams in my Japanese pro baseball guide.

Tonight we have two of Japan’s premier pitchers, Kodai Senga of the SoftBank Hawks against Yoshinobu Yamamoto of the Orix Buffaloes.

Top 1st

Buffs leading off with Tatsuya Yamaashi, whose liner to right holds up long enough to be caught. Shuhei Fukuda the shorter strikes out looking at a pitch away. Masataka Yoshida takes a pitch low for Ball 4, bringing up Adam Jones, who sat out his first game of the year on Sunday.

Jones goes down swinging at a splitter. A pitch that is usually a nightmare for hitters has been mediocre this season for Senga. But that 0-2 pitch was a beauty.

Bottom 1st

Two good fastballs followed by a good curve and Ukyo Shuto is Yamamoto’s first strikeout victim of the evening.

Yuki Yanagita is batting second. He’s jammed but loops it into shallow right for a single. We were talking on the Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast about manager Kudo’s lineup selection.

Akira Nakamura, batting third, hits one high and far down the line for a two-run home run. We’re going to get a video review of the ball. It was hit high over the foul pole, so I don’t know how they were going to dispute it.

Nakamura, of course, famously hit a home run on a foul ball against the Buffaloes thanks to a video review that overturned the correct call. Hawks 2 Buffaloes 0

The curse of the live blog continues as Ryoya Kurihara walks and Kenji Akashi doubles him home from first. Hawks 3 Buffaloes 0 Yamamoto settles down and gets a pair of groundouts to leave Kurihara at second.

Top 2nd

The broadcasters are saying that the difference between good Senga and bad Senga is that when he’s having trouble, he’ll give up runs right after his team scored. I don’t think it’s that simple. He’s missing bats with his fastball and splitter. I think that’s probably a better indicator.

Takahiro Okada and Aderlin Rodriguez back after missing 10 days with a contusion on his arm where he was hit by a pitch make easy outs. Senga issues his second two-out walk of the game.

Senga caught a huge break when he missed with a splitter up in the zone with too much spin and Ryoichi Adachi takes it for Strike 3, and he’ s out of the inning. Hawks 3, Buffaloes 0

Bottom 2nd

Two easy outs for Yamamoto in the second. Then a straight fastball that misses up in the zone and Shuto singles. Yanagita hits another straight fastball and drives it into the home run terrace in right center. Hawks 5, Buffaloes 0

Top 3rd

The Buffaloes go down in order in the third.

Bottom 3rd

A one-out single by Kenji Akashi puts a man on, but Aderlin Rodriguez catches a low liner at first and gets an easy double play.

Top 4th

Masataka Yoshida singles to center for Orix’s first hit. Jones chases a cutter away and misses for Senga’s sixth strikeout. Takahiro Okada tees off on a high fastball and doubles to the gap in right to put runners on second and third for Rodriguez.

Good split for the second strike and Rodriguez swings under a good fastball. That’s seven K’s for Senga. Ryo Nishimura can’t hold up on a 2-2 pitch Senga buries on outside and that promise of an inning is gone.

Bottom 4th

Takuya Kai miss-hits a cutter and grounds into an easy out. Nice cutter, fastball combination gets the No. 8 hitter Hikaru Kawase going down swinging. Matsuda swings under a high fastball and fouls out. Triumph of a sort for Yamamoto in his first 1-2-3 inning.

Top 5th

Tough spot for Senga after his second baseman Kawase fumbles a grounder, and Kenya Wakatsuki gets enough of an 0-2 fastball up and in to get it through the infield for a single. Kawase drops the throw from short on a double play ball for his second error of the inning and the bags are juiced.

A groundout brings in one run, and Yoshida puts an easy swing on a cutter at the letters and hits it into left for an RBI single. Hawks 5, Buffaloes 2

A good at-bat by Jones taking two borderline low pitches, and a badly missed 3-2 fastball results in a walk and the bases loaded with one out.

Senga misses another fastball up in the zone and straight to Okada who lines it into the home run terrace for his sixth homer of the season. Buffaloes 6, Hawks 5

Bottom 5th

A good at-bat by Ukyo Shuto gives the Hawks a leadoff walk. Yamamoto gets ahead of Yanagita and goes inside with a fastball. Shuto takes off on the 2-2 pitch and steals second as Yanagita chases a splitter for Strike 3.

I am mystified why catcher Wakatsuki and Yamamoto think a disciplined hitter like Nakamura is going to become a hacker after all these years and chase pitches when he’s ahead in the count. Now they HAVE to work the edge and hope for a strike and walk him. Two on and one out and their feet are in the fire.

Another disciplined hitter in Ryoya Kurihara, and they start him off with a splitter out of the zone. Madness. Surprised him with a curveball away that hung up a bit and Kurihara flies out.

Visit from the pitching coach as Yamamoto misses badly with a couple of pitches and the bases are loaded with two outs. Seiji Uebayashi puts a good swing on an inside pitch but hits a soft liner to second, and Yamamoto escapes.

Top 6th

Senga is missing still but gets three easy outs. Yamamoto is done after 106 pitches.

Bottom 6th

Rookie right-hander Ryo Yoshida on the mound for the Buffaloes. The announcer said “He did well on the farm but didn’t get results on the first team.” That’s true, but I’d wager it’s hard to get any kind of good results in just 4-1/3 innings. Yoshida strikes out Kai on three pitches, but walks the next batter, Kawase, so if anything, he’s being efficient.

The Buffaloes’ center fielder, Nishimura, is pulled well over toward right center against Nobuhiro Matsuda, as if to rub it in that he’s batting ninth.

Matsuda walks and Senga really wants to pitch the seventh, since out in front of the dugout warming up with one out.

Pitching change: Ryo Yoshida leaves for lefty Koki Saito to face Yanagita.

The Hawks star nearly comes out of his shoes trying to hold up on a slider but gets the bat on it and hits a one-handed home run as his helmet flies off. That’s home run No. 14 for him and it’s Hawks 8, Buffaloes 6.

Top 7th

With a two-run lead, Senga is done after six innings and 114 pitches.

Rei Takahashi on for the Hawks. Masataka Yoshida doubles with one out for his third hit. He also walked. Adam Jones singles Yoshida home. Hawks 8, Buffaloes 7.

Hawks skipper Kudo pulls the plug on his submarine righty with Okada coming up from the left side.

Pitching change: LHP Shinya Kayama on for Rei Takahashi with one out and one on.

Given manager Nishimura’s propensity to play for one run when behind and sort of wish for the best, I’m surprised he’s not gone to a pinch-runner for Jones on first.

Pitching change: LHP Shinya Kayama on for Rei Takahashi with one out and one on. Okada pops up for the second out, and with Aderlin Rodriguez up, the Hawks go with a right-hander, so lovers of the one-point relievers nonsense that passes for strategy can be happy.

Pitching change: Rookie RHP Keisuke Izumi on for LHP Shinya Kayama and gets Rodriguez to ground out.

Bottom 7th

It’s the Hawks’ “Lucky Seventh,” and lefty Nobuyoshi Yamada is on for Orix to face Ryoya Kurihara. Yamada misses the target slightly on a 3-2 pitch. A leadoff walk and a sacrifice and the insurance run is at second. I’m sure there’ s reason for asking your pitcher to locate perfectly against a leadoff hitter instead of focusing on throwing a 3-2 strike, but I don’t see it.

Another walk and my favorite right-handed-hitting grinder is up. Keizo Kawashima pinch-hits and smokes the first pitch to center but lines out. Yamada unpickles himself by getting pinch-hitter Kenta Imamiya to ground out to third.

Top 8th

Changes: LHP Livan Moinelo on the mound, while Hiroaki Takaya is catching and Shuto moves over from short to second and Tetsuro Nishida comes off the bench to play short.

Moinelo strikes out Nishimura. Five outs to go.

A walk on another pitch at the knees that ump Yuta Suyama is not buying. Moinelo, like Senga and Yamamoto before him, mouths his displeasure in Japanese, causing the announcers to comment on his language skills.

A double-play ball to first, but the Hawks infield are not on the same page and only get one out. Nishida tags the runner thinking first baseman Kenji Akashi stepped on the bag when he didn’t. There’s a little meeting to figure out what went wrong. But all’s well that ends well for the Hawks as pinch-runner Yuya Oda is thrown out stealing.

Bottom 8th

Buffaloes right-hander Tyler Higgins on and strikes out Matsuda on a called third strike away. It looks like one of those egregious outside strikes that have been very common this year. Higgins has been very tough this year, his first in Japan. He records three easy outs, so it’s going to come down to whether Orix can score off closer Yuito Mori in the ninth.

Top 9th

Here’s Mori and he misses the first two pitches to pinch-hitter Torai Fushimi, who miss-hits a ball to second for the first out. The right-hander missing the target with about half his pitches but is executing with two strikes.

Masataka Yoshida has yet to make an out tonight. Mori can’t hit the low target but gets the diminutive slugger out on high fastballs. It’s Mori’s 11th save.

Final score: Hawks 8, Buffaloes 7

Wasn’t the pitchers’ duel we were hoping for, but it was fun.

Return to TOP

NPB 2020 8-10 games and news

Kuri’s escape artist act lifts Carp over Dragons

Allen Kuri repeatedly pitched out of trouble on Monday to work seven scoreless innings and earn the win in the Hiroshima Carp’s 6-1 Central League victory over the Chunichi Dragons at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

“It’s like I put runners on in every inning. Thanks to big plays by my teammates I was able to keep them off the board,” Kuri said, who twice retired Dragons No. 3 hitter Toshiki Abe to end innings with runners on.”

“Abe hit a home run off me last time, so I was really focused on him. I wasn’t going to let him get me.”

Kuri (2-2) scattered six hits and a walk while striking out seven. He went to the mound in the seventh with a 3-0 lead having thrown 101 pitches with the end of his evening in sight when the leadoff batter grounded his first pitch to third but reached on a Shota Dobayashi throwing error.

A single brought the tying run to the plate, but Kuri made his pitches and got three straight outs, the third on a diving stop by first baseman Ryuhei Matsuyama.

“I was trying to keep them off the board, but I also thought that one run wouldn’t be the worst. I’m really grateful to him (Matsuyama) for that play,” Kuri said.

Carp lefty Atsuya Horie found himself in the same spot in the eighth after a throwing error by Dobayashi and a no-out single. Dragons captain Shuhei Takahashi put a good swing on a low fastball for an RBI single, but shortstop Kosuke Tanaka made a good stop to start a double play, and Horie ended the inning with a strikeout.

Hisayoshi Chono doubled and scored in the first on a Matsuyama single. He doubled home Ryoma Nishikawa in the third to make it 2-0. A walk, a single and a passed ball made it 3-0 in the fourth, and the Carp tacked on three more runs in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

Dragons lefty Shinnosuke Ogasawara (0-1) made his season debut and had trouble commanding his pitches. He allowed three runs, two earned on five hits, a walk and a hit batsman over four innings while striking out five. Trailing by a run in the second, Ogasawara had a chance to help his cause after catcher Takuya Kinoshita led off with a double, but his bunt went nowhere and the lead runner was out at third.

Reliever Yuki Kuniyoshi’s first hit in seven years, a two-run double, broke up an early tie and the DeNA BayStars held on for a 6-4 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Yokohama Stadium.

Kuniyoshi took the mound after Yuta Muto allowed a run over three innings and came out with two on and one out against Tigers lefty Yuta Iwasada.

Ramirez gambles on relief batting

Manager Alex Ramirez let reliever Yuki Kuniyoshi swing away and he delivered his first hit in seven years, a two-run double, broke up an early tie and the DeNA BayStars held on for a 6-4 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Yokohama Stadium.

Kuniyoshi took the mound in a BayStars bullpen day after Yuta Muto allowed a run over three innings and came out with two on and one out against Tigers lefty Yuta Iwasada.

“I thought of having him bunt, but I had a good feeling about him. He’s always taking batting practice, and he’s always hitting home runs, so I wanted to give it a try.” Ramirez said.

Kuniyoshi hit a first-pitch fastball from Iwasada and drove it into the gap in right.

“Just before that, coach Tsuboi (batting coach Tomochika Tsuboi) said, ‘It’s OK to swing at the first pitch.’  So, if he threw me a strike, I was going to swing at it. It’s been some years, I don’t remember how many, so I was pretty happy.”

Captain Keita Sano made it 4-1 in the fifth with his eighth home run, and Yamato Maeda, who had driven in the tying run in the first, drew a bases-loaded walk to make it a four-run game. Kuniyoshi surrendered RBI singles to Jerry Sands and Yusuke Oyama in the sixth, and closer Yasuaki Yamasaki, currently working in middle relief, gave up a run in the seventh.

Spencer Patton worked a scoreless eighth for DeNA, and Kazuki Mishima recorded his sixth save in the ninth.

Pacific League goes global

Pacific League Marketing on Monday announced its first partnership to broadcast Pacific League games in the United States through FTF (ftfnext.com). Until now, the PL has focused on cultivating its market in Taiwan, and previously had a broadcast deal in South Korea.

Games will be available via cable or streaming with live broadcasts and rebroadcasts and will include all PL games with the exception of the Climax Series playoffs. The Japan Series, whose rights are owned by Nippon Professional Baseball, are also not included.

The Central League does not have a marketing arm that can sell its games overseas, so it is up to each team to market its own rights as best it can.

A brief history of the Pacific League

Active roster moves 8/10/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/20

Central League

Activated

TigersOF9Shun Takayama
DragonsP11Shinnosuke Ogasawara
DragonsC44Yuya Gunji

Dectivated

GiantsP45Nobutaka Imamura
GiantsOF2Yang Dai-kang
GiantsOF43Shinnosuke Shigenobu
TigersOF53Kairi Shimada
DragonsP41Akiyoshi Katsuno
DragonsC57Ariel Martinez
SwallowsIF66Taisei Yoshida

Pacific League

Activated

None

Dectivated

MarinesP28Takahiro Matsunaga
BuffaloesOF1Steven Moya

Starting pitchers for Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020

Pacific League

Lions vs Eagles: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kona Takahashi (2-4, 6.23) vs Hayato Yuge (2-1, 3.26)

Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Manabu Mima (2-2, 5.71) vs Naoyuki Uwasawa (2-1, 3.57)

Hawks vs Buffaloes: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kodai Senga (3-1, 4.25) vs Yoshinobu Yamamoto (3-1, 3.33)

Central League

BayStars vs Tigers: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shoichi Ino (3-2, 2.48) vs Onelki Garcia (0-4, 4.19)

Carp vs Dragons: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yusuke Nomura (2-0, 0.86) vs Koji Fukutani (0-1, 2.45)

writing & research on Japanese baseball

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