All posts by Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

NPB news: April 7, 2024

In Japan on Sunday, Roki Sasaki turned things around without his famous heat, Yakult’s bullpen didn’t blow up, Hiroshima completed a quiet weekend, the Giants are enjoying their newly acquired submarine and the Seibu Lions’ hitters took no prisoners in Hokkaido.

Sunday’s games

Swallows 3, Tigers 1: At Jingu “Tokyo’s Sacrifice to Corporate Greed and Governmental Malfeasance” Stadium, Yakult’s bullpen failed to lose its fifth straight game, providing scoreless relief after starter Miguel Yagure (2-0) went 5-2/3 innings

Yakult’s Jose Osuna scored Haruki Nishikawa with his first home run, in the first off Hiroto Saiki (0-1). Hanshin got a run back against new import Yagure on a Seiya Kinami leadoff single and a Koji Chikamoto one-out triple. Yagure issued five walks and left with two runners on base in the sixth, whom Taishi Ishiyama stranded before working another inning.

Setup man Noboru Shimizu, who took the loss in both of Yakult’s games in Hiroshima this week, allowed one hit to record his first save in three years.

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Japan opts for slow and small

On Wednesday, Nippon Professional Baseball Commissioner Sadayuki Sakakibara said Japanese baseball is in no hurry to pursue its goal of more quickly played games if it means introducing a pitch timer.

For years, NPB has put up posters in every clubhouse and dugout urging teams to “Be Play Fasters!” And now when Major League Baseball has ostensibly come up with a solution in the form of the pitcher timer, demanding the batter and pitcher be ready to go for the next pitch in a hurry, NPB has no interest.

“Nothing has been decided, but I think the best thing is to play brisk games of baseball without a timer,” said Sakakibara, who added that he is in favor of requiring the next hitter to be in the box and ready to hit within 30 seconds.

This time last year, there was a ton of interest from Japan in the new rule from MLB, especially when the average time it took to play a nine-inning game dropped by 24 minutes in 2023.

You could hear the officials at the commissioner’s office drooling and preparing memos to the owners about this solution to their decades-long problem. Then after closer observation, the whole idea got tossed.

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