Category Archives: Baseball

NPB games, news of Aug. 29, 2019

“He’s just like any other man, only more so.”

Rick Blaine in the movie “Casablanca”

To a certain extent, that was the Seibu Lions’ win over the Nippon Ham Fighters on Thursday. It was a game like any other Lions game, only more so.

Pacific League

Lions 5, Fighters 2

At Obihiro Stadium, Seibu’s starting pitcher didn’t allow over three runs, but other than that, the Lions series-finale win over Nippon Ham showed off the things Seibu does a lot of.

The exception was starting pitcher Keisuke Honda (6-5), who did not issue a walk or hit a batter. That marked the sixth time a Lions starter had managed to do that. He allowed one run though six, but left after allowing two-straight singles in the bottom of the seventh.

The Fighters’ second run scored on Seibu’s Japan-leading 53rd wild pitch. It was also the 16th time an opposing runner had scored on a wild pitch against the Lions. The next two teams in that ranking (prior to Thursday night’s games) were the Fighters with eight and the Yakult Swallows with seven.

The three players with the PL’s RBI totals, each drove in at least a run. PL leader Hotaka Yamakawa (105) improved his Japan-best home run total to 38 and drove in two runs, as did Takeya Nakamura (101), while Tomoya Mori (85) homered and drove in one.

With the Lions leading 4-2 in the seventh with two outs and the bases loaded, Katsunori Hirai made his 66th appearance, the most in either league, and got four straight outs.

Game highlights are HERE.

Wild things

Even though you didn’t ask for it and at risk of setting off those Lions fans who think I pick on them, here is the NPB ranking for run-scoring wild pitches. Anyway, the Lions are making lots of runners’ hearts sing this season.

PLSeibu Lions16
PLNippon Ham Fighters8
CLYakult Swallows7
CLHanshin Tigers6
PLOrix Buffaloes6
CLChunichi Dragons5
PLRakuten Eagles5
CLDeNA BayStars3
CLHiroshima Carp3
PLSoftBank Hawks3
PLLotte Marines3
CLYomiuri Giants2

Marines 5, Eagles 4, 10 innings

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Daichi Suzuki hit a two-run homer as Lotte tied it in a three-run sixth, and Seiya Suzuki homered in the 10th in a win over Rakuten.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Giants 12, Carp 4

At Tokyo Dome, Yoshihiro Maru drove in five runs in the third inning with an RBI single and a grand slam as Yomiuri slapped Daichi Osera (10-8) for 10 runs, while Toshiki Sakurai (8-3) allowed three runs over seven innings to pick up the win.

Game highlights are HERE.

BayStars 4, Swallows 2

At Yokohama Stadium, Tatsuhiro Shibata’s two-run single tied it in the sixth inning, Takayuki Kajitani singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh as DeNA came from behind to beat Yakult.

BayStars manager Alex Ramirez switched into postseason mode in the fifth inning when he brought in starter Kenta Ishida to relieve in the sixth inning. The lefty had been pitching out of the bullpen until July 7. Since then, he’d been 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP in the starting rotation.

Ishida (4-0) inherited a two-on, one-out pickle, and allowed one runner to score. He pitched himself into and out of a jam in the seventh and wound up the winning pitcher.

Yakult second baseman Tetsuto Yamada stole two bases, giving him 31 on the season and running his record successful attempt streak to 36 and become the first player in Japan to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season four times.

NPB games, news of Aug. 28, 2019

We can be heroes…

I know it’s not of any importance, but I love Takeya Nakamura’s matter-of-fact hero interviews, which never quite get to the level of the “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” segments I grew up with in Mad Magazine, but are often worthy considering the silly things the interviewers sometimes ask.

In one game a few years ago, Nakamura was asked: “What was the mood on the bench when you came up to the plate with a chance to win the game?” Answer? “I don’t know. I wasn’t on the bench at the time.”

On Wednesday, Nakamura was the star of the Lions’ win over the Nippon Ham Fighters and was summoned to the sidelines for the postgame interview.

Interviewer: “It was a called game, but the Lions won. Can you share your thoughts?

Nakamura: “I’m glad we won.”

I.: “You drove in the game’s first runs with a two-run home run. How did it feel when you hit it.”

N: “It felt good when I hit it. I’m glad it was a home run.”

I: “In the fifth inning, you hit a go-ahead, three-run home run. How did you approach that at-bat?”

N: “The same as always. My plan was to bat as I usually do.”

I: “You handled it (the pitch) well?”

N: “Yes I did.”

I: “You also had a hand in the winning run, didn’t you?”

N: “Yes. (Nakamura is struggling to keep a straight face) I wanted to make contact somehow. Get the bat on the ball. “

I: “With this win, the Lions are now 2-1/2 games back of the first-place Hawks. How is the mood on the team right now?”

N: “The atmosphere is extremely good. Now we’ve come to Hokkaido and won two straight, now we want to go to Obihiro and complete the sweep. We want to keep hitting like this.”

Pacific League

Lions 10, Fighters 8, 8 innings, darkness

At Kushiro Stadium, Seibu won a see-saw game over Nippon Ham that the umpires ended with no outs in the top of the eighth on account of darkness at the game in eastern Hokkaido.

Takeya Nakamura moved within four RBIs of the league lead with a two-homer, five-RBI game, and was involved in seven of the Lions’ runs, his two-out smash off the foot of Fighters pitcher Tsubasa Nabatame (0-1) deflected to third baseman Kensuke Kondo. He had no chance to nail the portly Nakamura at first and his throwing error allowed two runs to score.

“Our inability to hold onto a lead is an issue,” Fighters skipper Hideki Kuriyama said. “It (the decision to call the game) was the umpires, so I can’t do anything about that.”

Under dark skies with intermittent rain, it became hard for the umpires to see the outfielders, and the game was called at 4:21 pm, 1-1/2 hours before sunset.

It was the first game in Japan called on account of darkness since June 20, 1999, when the Orix BlueWave and Kintetsu Buffaloes were also playing in Hokkaido, at Sapporo’s Maruyama Stadium. Game 1 of the 2005 Japan Series was also cut short because the umpires could not see the players–due to fog at Chiba Marine Stadium.

Game highlights are HERE.

Marines 5, Eagles 4

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Takahiro Norimoto (2-4) surrendered four runs over two innings to take the loss against Lotte. With one out and two on in the second, the Rakuten starter hustled after a chopper in the infield, but his throw to first went down the right field line for a two-run error.

The Eagles narrowed the gap to 4-3 on a two-run Jabari blash homer in the fourth, but Taiga Hirasawa squeezed home an insurance run for the Marines in the sixth.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Giants 6, Carp 2

At Tokyo Dome, Tomoyuki Sugano (11-5) surrendered a pair of solo home runs over seven innings, and Hayato Sakamoto homered with a man on in the fifth to give Yomiuri the lead for good against Hiroshima.

Game highlights are HERE.

Dragons 1, Tigers 0

At Koshien Stadium, Toshiki Abe homered in the sixth inning, as four Chunichi pitchers combined to shutout Hanshin on six hits.The Tigers have now been shut out 13 times, once by SoftBank and three times by every other CL club except Yakult.

BayStars 7, Swallows 6

At Yokohama Stadium, rookie Yudai Yamamoto’s two-out, two-strike, pinch-hit RBI single lifted DeNA to a sayonara victory over Yakult, preventing their game from ending in a 12-inning tie that would have cost them a half-game in the pennant race.

Wladimir Balentien hit two home runs for the Swallows, giving him 29 for the season and 284 in Japan and moving him out of a tie with Leron Lee for sole possession of fourth-place among foreign hitters.

The BayStars twice came back to tie it. Takayuki Kajitani hit a sixth-inning solo homer and Neftali Soto, who homered in the third, drew his second walk of the game in the eighth inning, allowing pinch-runner Takehiro Ishikawa to score the tying run on Kazuki Kamizato’s single.