Category Archives: Baseball

NPB games, news of Oct. 6, 2019

Two streaks ended on Sunday, the second day of the Central and Pacific leagues’ Climax Series. In Fukuoka, the SoftBank Hawks defeated the Rakuten Eagles in Game 2 of a postseason series for the first time in three tries, while in Yokohama, the DeNA BayStars snapped the Hanshin Tigers’ win streak at seven.

That left both series tied 1-1 with Games 3 scheduled for Monday.

Hawks 6, Eagles 4

At Yafuoku Dome, Shuhei Fukuda hit a tie-breaking fourth-inning home run and uttered the required disclaimer, “I was the leadoff hitter so I was only trying to reach base.”

Yuki Yanagita and Alfredo Despaigne each homered as well for the Hawks, whose bullpen was solid after Shinya Kayama flubbed his lines in the fourth inning, allowing the Eagles to tie it after starter Rick van den Hurk was pulled.

Hideto Asamura drove in three of the Eagles’ runs for the second-straight day, but starting pitcher Manabu Mima allowed five runs over four innings to take the loss.

On Monday, the Hawks will send rookie side-armer Rei Takahashi against veteran Takayuki Kishi.

Game highlights are HERE.

BayStars 6, Tigers 4

At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA once more blew a late lead only for Tomo Otosaka to hit a game-winning pinch-hit homer in the ninth to beat Hanshin. Otosaka showed bunt on the first pitch before driving the second pitch into the stands to even the series.

This time the hosts lost the lead with closer Yasuaki Yamasaki on the mound. A day after the CL saves leader was left in the bullpen as Hanshin came from behind with two outs in the eighth, Yamasaki was tasked with a two-inning save but surrendered a ninth-inning home run to 42-year-old Kosuke Fukudome.

“Unbelievable,” BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said. “Who was expecting that, especially after he showed bunt on the first pitch? He set the pitcher up. Incredible in that situation. Great job.”

“I wanted him to hit. What he did, he did on his own.”

Game highlights are HERE.

The BayStars will start Kentaro Taira in Game 3 against Tigers lefty Haruto Takahashi.

Masaichi Kaneda and Jim Traber

NPB’s all-time wins leader Kaneda dies at 86

Four-hundred-game winner Masaichi Kaneda died on Sunday at the age of 86 of acute cholangitis at a Tokyo hospital. Kaneda spent 15 seasons with the Kokutetsu Swallows after turning pro at the age of 17 in 1950. He finished his career with the Yomiuri Giants, who retired his No. 34.

Kaneda was a fiery competitor whose last five seasons — coincided with the first five years of Yomiuri’s V-9 dynasty under manager Tetsuharu Kawakami.

Kaneda was famous for mixing it up on the field with opposing players or even going after rude fans in an era when the game was much more violent than it is now. In the early 1970s when the commissioner at the time tried to curb fighting on the field and abuse of umpires, Kaneda argued that it would be bad for the game.

The skipper of the Lotte Orions for two stints, one incident I remember was his going after Kintetsu Buffaloes’ slugger Jim Traber and putting the boot in.

Here’s another where Kaneda instructs Mike Diaz in how to deal with inside pitches by giving the offending battery the old one-two.

NPB games, news of Oct. 5, 2019

Playoff baseball is underway in Japan, or rather the unfortunately named Climax Series — which represents the climax of nothing — is underway.

The rules are relatively simple. The home team wins all series that are tied. The first stage is a best-of-three set, with each league’s second-place team hosting all games against the third-place team. The final stage is a best-of-seven series in which the league champions host every game and begin with a one-win advantage.

On Saturday, both hosts lost meaning they are one loss or two 12-inning ties away from elimination.

Tigers 8, BayStars 7

At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA hosted its first Climax Series games, the format having started in 2007 and both times the BayStars have reached the postseason since then, they have finished third and had to play all their games on the road.

The BayStars, managed by former major leaguer Alex Ramirez, opted not to bring closer Yasuaki Yamasaki in with two outs in the eighth inning. Fumiya Hojo, who had hit a three-run homer in the seventh off Edwin Escobar, tripled in two runs off Yuki Kuniyoshi to put Hanshin up for good.

Kenta Ishida, who had been coming out of the bullpen for much of the second half, started and went four innings before ace southpaw Shota Imanaga pitched two innings for the BayStars. Edison Barrios inherited a 7-1 lead. He surrendered a one-out double and an RBI pinch-hit single from rookie Seiya Kinami.

Escobar took over and gave up an infield single before Hojo took him deep, hammering a high straight fastball well back into the left field stands.

In the eighth, Kuniyoshi left a lazy cutter up in the zone and with the outfield playing in as Japanese teams do to prevent the runner from second scoring on a single, Hojo’s little liner just got over center fielder Kazuki Kamizato’s head for a triple.

“It was a very good game up until that point (when Barrios entered). ” Ramirez said. “Unfortunately, 7-1 until that point, and then Barrios and Escobar gave up a couple for runs. They kept the momentum and kept coming back.”

“I think there was no regret about how I used the pitchers today. That happens. They hit and sometimes they don’t hit. That’s part of the game.”

“To win two more games, we have to win tomorrow. So first tomorrow and we have to just focus on the next game and win tomorrow.”

Tomorrow will see Haruhiro Hamaguchi start for the BayStars against Koyo Aoyagi.

The Tigers’ seven-game win streak is their longest of the year.

Game highlights are HERE.

Eagles 5, Hawks 3

At Yafuoka Dome, Takahiro Norimoto outpitched Kodai Senga and Rakuten regained the lead on its fourth solo homer of the game and manufactured an insurance run in the ninth with the help of some defensive mistakes by SoftBank.

In the third postseason series between the two clubs, the Eagles have yet to lose either a Game 1 or 2, which could prove problematic for the Hawks if that trend continues on Sunday.

Rick van den Hurk has been announced as the Hawks’ Game 2 starter, while Manabu Mima is set to start for the Eagles.

Game highlights are HERE.