Category Archives: Baseball

NPB news: May 19, 2024

It was sayonara Sunday in the Pacific League. Yomiuri got off to a good start in search of its first win this season in Hiroshima, 40-year-old Yoshihisa Hirano got another chance at recording his 250th save in Japan, 43-year-old Masanori Ishii got his first chance at extending his streak of consecutive seasons with a win to 23, and Dragons manager Kazuyoshi Tatsunami did something weird, again.

Sunday’s games:

Dragons 3, BayStars 2: At Yokohama Stadium, Chunichi snapped a four-game losing streak behind five innings of one-run ball from their No. 8 hitter, Yuya Yanagi (3-2) as the bullpen escaped trouble long enough to get it to Raidel Martinez so he could seal his 12th save with 11 pitches.

Tatsuo Ebina doubled in the third and scored on a Tyler Austin single as DeNA took a 1-0 lead against Yuya Yanagi, but the Dragons tied it soon after on an error, a Seiya Hosokawa single and a fielder’s choice against Shingo Onuki.

The Dragons took the lead against Onuki in the sixth, when Yohei Oshima, batting for Yanagi, singled in a run with two outs. Hosokawa’s second single of the game made it 3-1 in the seventh against his former team. Yudai Yamamoto singled in a run for DeNA in the eighth.

The weird thing Tatsunami does is bat pitcher Yuya Yanagi eighth when reserve catcher Takuma Kato starts. Tatsunami does this out of the belief that Yanagi, a career .151 hitter, who entered the game batting .273, is a better hitter than Kato, who is of course a better hitter, but who hasn’t hit over .200 since 2019.

If you do the math, you quickly realize that one should bat most pitchers eighth, not because they are better than the No. 9 hitter, but because they are worse. The most efficient offense doesn’t bat the worst hitter in front of the team’s best hitters, that are presumably placed at the top of the lineup. Although, it is likely that Tatsunami doesn’t grasp the idea of putting the best hitters at the top of the order. In which case, it probably doesn’t matter.

Tigers 7, Swallows 2: At Koshien Stadium, Yakult loaded the bases in the first against Hiroto Saiki (5-1) and made it 2-0 on a Domingo Santana sacrifice fly and a Jose Osuna single. An error and a Sheldon Neuse double off Masanori Ishikawa (0-1) set up back-to-back second-inning sacrifice flies and a tie game.

Hanshin took the lead in the most uncharacteristic fashion against Ishikawa, on a bases-loaded walk to the pitcher. Koji Chikamoto hit the next pitch for a run-scoring single and that was it for the 44-year-old lefty. Seiya Kinami, who went 2-for-3 with a sac fly, doubled in two runs in the Tigers’ eighth before Fumihito Haraguchi‘s pinch-hit single completed the scoring.

Carp 9, Giants 3: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, the Giants got off to a good start in their bid for a first win in Hiroshima this year after three losses and two ties, but unraveled faster than you can say Shigeo Nagashima.

Long at-bats from Yoshihiro Maru and Naoki Yoshikawa against Makoto Aduwa (4-1) set the table for a first-pitch RBI double. Rookie Masaya Hagio won another long at-bat for a two-out, two-run single.

Rei Takahashi  (2-2) then blew the three-run lead. After a four-pitch leadoff walk, Takayoshi Noma fouled off three two-strike pitches before singling. Kaito Kozono singled in one run, and Shota Suekane blasted a three-run homer. Giants manager Shinnosuke Abe pulled Takahashi for a pinch-hitter with one out and none on in the second, resulting in Takahashi’s shortest career start.

“This game was lost by that four-pitch leadoff walk,” Abe said in explaining his decision to send Takahashi to the farm team.

Giants lefty Haruto Inoue retired the first six batters he faced before allowing two runs on four hits in the fourth. Two unearned runs followed in the fifth when Hagio in center overran a Suekane one-out single, allowing the runner on first to score against Ryuta Heiuchi and setting up a sacrifice fly.

Marines 4, Fighters 3: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Hiromi Oka hit a one-out walk-off homer against his former team as Lotte took a three-game series against Nippon Ham with two wins and a tie.

Lotte took a 2-0 first-inning lead on an Oka single, a Gregory Polanco double and Neftali Soto‘s two-run single off Hiromi Ito. The Marines made it 3-0 on three singles and a two-out third-strike passed ball, before Go Matsumoto doubled in the fourth and scored on an Ariel Martinez single off Marines starter Kazuya Ojima.

Yuki James Nomura homered in the seventh, and Ojima left with one out and two on in the eighth, bringing in Hirokazu Sawamura, who got out of the inning but not before two walks tied it.

Buffaloes 3, Eagles 2, 10 innings: At Osaka UFO Dome, Kazutomo Iguchi (1-0), a reliever cast off by Nippon Ham over the offseason, earned his first win with Orix, retiring the Eagles in a 1-2-3, 10th inning after Yoshihisa Hirano blew a two-run ninth-inning lead. Rakuten’s Tomohito Sakai got two outs before singles from Tomoya Mori, Sho Gibo and Yuma Mune ended it.

An unearned first-inning run and a Ryoma Nishikawa RBI double made it 2-0 Orix in the fifth against Takayuki Kishi. Kyosuke Saito worked 5-2/3 scoreless innings, and Andres Machado pitched retired four straight batters, escaping a two-out bases-loaded jam in the seventh and turning the ball over to Hirano in the ninth.

With 249 career saves in Japan, Hirano’s 250 celebration was put on hold again. Pitching for the first time in 18 days following a deactivation due to elbow stiffness, Hirano allowed two runs on four singles and a walk.

Hawks 2, Lions 1: At Fukuoka “Your Company Name Can Go Here” Dome, Kensuke Kondo put SoftBank in front again as the Hawks overcame a late one-run deficit in a walk-off victory, their fifth straight. Seibu rookie Natsuki Takeuchi left after allowing a leadoff single to Ukyo Shuto in the ninth, and Albert Abreu (1-3) was unable to close the Hawks down.

Shuto stole second, Yuki Yanagita singled him home and took second on the throw. Abreu hit Hotaka Yamakawa and with the outfield in tight, Kondo’s routine fly to right fell untouched for an RBI double that would otherwise have been the second out and left runners on the corners.

First-inning doubles from Sosuke Genda and Takuya Hiruma against Tomohisa Ozeki gave Seibu its second early lead in two days, but the Lions still dropped their fifth straight.

The Hawks’ walk-off marked the third time in league history that three games ended this way on the same day.

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NPB news: May 18, 2024

Submarine right-hander Hayate Nakagawa, now free to bat in the Central League after being discarded by Orix over the winter, showed off the power he hadn’t utilized since high school. Meanwhile, Hiroshima survived a late scare, Takashi Ogino had a game in Chiba, and Yakult did something it’s done a lot of this year.

Saturday’s games:

BayStars 3, Dragons 2: At Yokohama Stadium, Hayate Nakagawa (2-0) allowed two runs over six innings and hit a two-run homer as DeNA consigned last-place Chunichi to its fourth straight loss.

Toshiro Miyazaki doubled to lead off the second against Takahiro Matsuba, and scored on a sac fly by catcher Yudai Yamamoto. Former Dragon Yota Kyoda singled, and Nakagawa, who hit 26 home runs as the ace pitcher and cleanup hitter for Yokohama’s Toko Gakuin High School drove in the first two runs of his pro career.

The Dragons got on the board in the fifth on a Yuki Okabayashi RBI single and a Hironori Miyoshi sacrifice fly off Nakagawa, but Hiromu Ise, Yasuaki Yamasaki and Kohei Morihara combined to allow just two runners over the final three innings with Morihara getting his 10th save.

Continue reading NPB news: May 18, 2024