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NPB 2020 7-9 games and News

Bour opens Koshien account with home run

Justin Bour may have been typecast as the second coming of Randy Bass because of his left-handed power to left and center, but on Thursday, he looked the part in his first regular-season game at Koshien Stadium.

Bour ruined what had been a terrific start by Yomiuri Giants lefty Cristopher Mercedes (0-2) by blasting a high 1-0 slider well past the center field fence with a man on. Bour’s third home run made it 2-0, and the Hanshin Tigers went on to win their home opener 2-1.

Tigers starter Onelki Garcia dodged his share of bullets after walking six over six scoreless innings, but it was Mercedes, who struck out eight while allowing five hits and a walk over 6-2/3 innings who was left holding the bag.

Suguru Iwazaki (1-0) earned the win with a scoreless inning of relief, a feat duplicated by Robert Suarez in the eighth. Kyuji Fujikawa, who has been shaky this season after a remarkable 2019 campaign, allowed a run on a walk and two, two-out singles to cut it close before securing his second save.

Here’s Bour’s hero interview:

Intentional walk costs Dragons again

For the second time in three games, a late-inning intentional walk came back to bite Chunichi Dragons manager Tsuyoshi Yoda in the butt in an 8-6 loss to the Yakult Swallows at Nagoya Dome.

Leading 5-4 after the Dragons scored twice against right-hander Scott McGough in the eighth, Dragons lefty Toshiya Okada surrendered a leadoff double to Norichika Aoki and issued a walk to Swallows’ on-base machine Tomotaka Sakaguchi. A 1-2 wild pitch to superstar Tetsuto Yamada opened first base, and Yoda ordered the free pass.

Okada, who walked in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning of Wednesday’s 2-1 loss after an intentional walk had loaded the bases, fell behind 2-0 to Kotaro Yamasaki, who has led a charmed existence this season, where seemingly every ball coming off his bat finds a hole.

He put a good swing on a high pitch for a two-run single, and slugger Munetaka Murakami piled on with a two-run double through the drawn-in outfield.

Swallows closer Taishi Ishiyama surrendered a run in the ninth but earned his third save.

Swallows lefty Keishi Takahashi allowed two runs through five innings, and was barely recognizable, without his transformer-like leg-kick, arm-raise, leg-lower, leg-raise delivery. He looked like an ordinary lefty with a longer-than-usual leg lift. Takahashi located a fastball that had a lot of spin on it and combined that with a slider he kept at the bottom of the zone.

Martinez unstoppable

Cuban catcher Ariel Martinez came off the bench as a pinch-hitter and tied the game with an RBI single. He lined out to second to end the game, keeping his average at .500.

BayStars’ Austin, Ino fillet Carp

Tyler Austin singled to with one out to help set the table in a two-run first inning, doubled and homered in the eighth to put the game out of reach in the DeNA BayStars’ 5-1 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Shoichi Ino (2-0) allowed a run in six innings as he scattered four hits and two walks while striking out four. The BayStars bullpen was solid, allowing four hits over the final three innings.

Rookie Carp right-hander Masato Morishita struggled with hanging breaking balls and straight fastballs in the heart of the zone, but never lost his composure in driving rain and allowed just two runs on four walks and eight hits over five innings.

Sharp Shiomi slices up Hawks

Right-hander Takahiro Shiomi (1-2) survived a first-inning scrape with just a run scored and cruised through the next six innings for the Rakuten Eagles in a 9-1 hammering of the SoftBank Hawks at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Shiomi was able to command his slider and splitter and locate his fastball as he struck out seven, walked one while allowing four hits.

Hawks starter Rick van den Hurk (1-1) allowed a run through four innings but his stuff deserted him in the fifth. Straight fastballs, floating changeups and hanging sliders set the visitors up for a four-run inning. The Eagles scored four more in the sixth after Yuya Ogo reached on a two-out bunt single.

Jabari Blash delivered a first-inning sacrifice fly and had a two-run fifth-inning single and drew a bases-loaded walk in the sixth.

Fighters blow late lead in tie with Buffaloes

Nippon Ham Fighters cleanup hitter Sho Nakata did his utmost to give his team the lead, but the bullpen and defense gave it away under pressure from pinch runner Kodai Sano in a 4-4, 10th-inning tie with the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Takahiro Okada, who has been hitting the ball hard a lot this year, homered with Masataka Yoshida on in the fourth off Fighters’ starter Drew VerHagen to put Orix in front in the fourth inning.

Buffaloes lefty Sachiya Yamasaki was on thin ice through five innings with five walks but no runs allowed. He was yanked after a leadoff walk and two singles in the sixth and right-handed slugger Sho Nakata coming up.

Nakata was rewarded for a great at-bat against righty Keisuke Sawada with a three-run homer. After missing high with a 1-2 splitter on his seventh pitch, Sawada tried again with another splitter but left it in the zone. Nakata saw it coming and launched it well back into the second deck at Kyocera Dome.

Hijinks ensued in the eighth when veteran Fighters lefty Naoki “I got an MVP vote in 2016” Miyanishi issued two two-out walks. Sano, running for Okada, stole second and then third. Aderlin Rodriguez walked, and tried to draw a throw on a delayed steal. Fighters catcher Yushi Shimizu wasn’t fooled and tried to throw behind Sano at third. His throw, however, sailed into left field, and the game was tied.

Two scoreless innings from Hirotoshi Masui and one each from Brandon Dickson and Tyler Higgins kept the Fighters quiet and paved the way for the Buffaloes comeback.

Jackson leaves Lotte

Right-handed reliever Jay Jackson will be released by the Lotte Marines, with the team saying Thursday it received a request from the pitcher to be let out of his contract the day before.

The team has declined to explain the situation at the current time. The 32-year-old pitched with the Hiroshima Carp from 2016 to 2018. When he was not offered an extension for 2019, Jackson wound up with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2019.

“We can’t elaborate at this time,” the Marines’ director of baseball operations Naoki Matsumoto said according to the Daily Sports.

This season, Jackson has allowed three runs over seven innings. He has struck out 12 of the 29 batters he’s faced.

Swallows’ Suarez, Dragons’ Yanagi dropped

The Yakult Swallows deactivated right-handed starting pitcher Albert Suarez on Thursday, with the team saying he needed to makes adjustments.

The 30-year-old Suarez is 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA in three starts, although he walked seven batters in Tuesday’s game against the Chunichi Dragons. The Swallows won the game 2-1 in 10 innings.

The Swallows replaced Suarez on the active roster with Keiji Suzuki, who may have Japan’s funkiest left-handed delivery.

The Dragons starter on Tuesday, Yuya Yanagi, was also deactivated. Yanagi, who struck out 10 but allowed a run in six innings, complained of stiffness in his right obliques during practice on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old right-hander led the Dragons in wins last year, when he posted an 11-7 mark with a 3.53 ERA. This season, he’s allowed four runs in 20 innings, while striking out 25.

As expected, the Yomiuri Giants activated flame-throwing Brazilian right-hander Thyago Vieira to take the roster spot opened when closer Rubby De La Rosa, who suffered a left oblique strain on Sunday.

NPB 2020 7-10 Pitchers

Announced starting pitchers in Japanese pro baseball for Friday, July, 10, 2020.

Pacific League

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

Ayumu Ishikawa (0-1, 3.50) vs Zach Neal (1-0, 2.95)

Buffaloes vs Fighters: Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Tsubasa Sakakibara (0-0, 1.80) vs Kohei Arihara (0-3, 4.95)

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

Nao Higashihama (1-0, 2.25) vs Takahiro Norimoto (3-0, 0.87)

Central League

Giants vs Swallows: Hotto Motto Field 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shosei Togo (2-0, 2.77) vs Masanori Ishikawa (0-1, 5.65)

Dragons vs Carp: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yudai Ono (0-2, 5.82) vs Daichi Osera (2-1, 2.86)

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

Koyo Aoyagi (1-1, 0.75) vs Shinichi Onuki (0-1, 4.50)

NPB 2020 7-8 GAMES AND NEWS

Dobayashi powers Carp to 1st home win

Despite having struggled to field and hit for the bulk of his career, one-time prospect Shota Dobayashi has people talking about his future again.

On Wednesday, he singled in a run and belted a grand slam in the Hiroshima Carp’s 6-3 win over the DeNA BayStars at Mazda Stadium.

So far this season, Dobayashi is playing third base with confidence, chasing less, forcing pitchers to throw strikes and making better contact — although he is still striking out a lot.

The BayStars took a 3-2 lead into the eighth after a scoreless inning of relief from lefty Edwin Escobar. But Spencer Patton hit Seiya Suzuki with one out, allowed a single to Ryuhei Matsuyama and another walk loaded the bases for Dobayashi. The one-time would-be wunderkind belted a 1-1 fastball that got too much of the outside half of the plate and drilled it over the center field fence.

In the ninth, the Carp turned to 30-year-old journeyman right-hander Yasunori Kikuchi, and he held on to earn his first save, partly thanks to a big play from his namesake, Ryosuke Kikuchi, who turned what looked like an infield single that would have loaded the bases with no outs into a force at second.

Carp lefty Kris Johnson allowed three runs over seven innings on six hits and two walks. BayStars lefty Haruhiro Hamaguchi allowed just two runs despite surrendering nine walks and six hits and hitting a batter in his 5-1/3 innings on the mound.

Swallows, Dragons draw after 10

There were few points of interest about this game at Nagoya Dome that was tied 5-5 after four innings and stayed that way until the coronavirus 10-inning limit ended it. The main one was the red-hot start of 24-year-old Chunichi Dragons catcher Ariel Martinez.

Martinez’s first-inning double.

Martinez, who had been crushing balls in the minors, struck out in his July 3 debut as a pinch-hitter. In 12 at-bats, he’s had five singles, a double and a walk, while looking competent behind the plate. Having been in Japan for two-plus seasons, he appears able to have some conversations in Japanese.

Fighters’ Martinez rock solid against Buffaloes

Nippon Ham’s Nick Martinez (1-2) located and executed all his pitches in a dominant effort against the Orix Buffaloes in a 10-4 Fighters win at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

The right-hander, who missed all of last season, allowed a run over six innings on five hits and a walk while striking out five. His fastball was crisp and he mixed in his splitter and curve for effect. The one run he surrendered was on a mammoth sixth-inning homer from Adam Jones that reached the third deck.

Lions’ Imai rides tailwind in win over Marines

Seibu Lions right-hander Tatsuya Imai came in hoping the gusting winds at Zozo Marine Stadium could give his pitches extra life, and it worked out in a 3-0 win over the Lotte Marines.

Imai walked five and hit a batter, but few Marines got good swings as he located his hard stuff while letting his two-seamer and breaking pitches knuckle and twist in the wind off Tokyo Bay.

Lotte lefty Kazuya Odajima (1-2) who tends to work away to everyone and continued to be troubled by left-handed hitters. Cory Spangenberg doubled to the fence in the first and scored from third on a Shuta Tonosaki single.

Imai faced a couple of tough situations, but both times was able to get out of trouble on miss-hit balls off well-located fastballs.

Asamura blast helps Wakui survive beating

Hideto Asamura homered for the fourth-straight game with his ninth home run of the season, a second-inning two-run shot off inexperienced 23-year-old Shunsuke Kasaya in the Rakuten Eagles’ 12-8 win over the SoftBank Hawks.

Kasaya (0-1) surrendered seven runs over two innings, allowing Rakuten starter Hideaki Wakui (3-0) to pick up a win in which he threw a lot of straight pitches and gave up six runs in a five-inning, 124-pitch effort.

Yuki Yanagita had three hits and two home runs for the Hawks.

Hawks’ Moore, Fighters Nomura deactivated

The SoftBank Hawks on Wednesday deactivated right-handed starting pitcher Matt Moore. The 31-year-old Moore suffered an injury to his left calf muscle during pregame practice on Tuesday at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome according to a Nikkan Sports report.

“I get a sense this might take some time but we need him to pitch,” Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo said. “It isn’t going to heal all of a sudden, but I told him I want him back as soon as possible.”

The Hawks are replacing Moore on the active roster with 22-year-old rookie right-hander Kazuki Sugiyama.

Meanwhile, the Fighters will be without impressive 20-year-old rookie Yuki James Nomura after a batted ball broke his right pinky while he was playing third base in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game against the Orix Buffaloes in Osaka.

Nomura is expected to miss about three months.

NPB 2020 7-7 GAMES AND NEWS

baseball and robots

Go to today’s LIVE BLOG.

Senga opens with a win

Kodai Senga threw hard at the start, hitting 161 kph against his first batter but was missing all over, especially with his splitter, but it was good enough for a winning debut as the SoftBank Hawks beat the Rakuten Eagles 4-3 in the Pacific League on Tuesday.

Senga had been out with a calf injury compounded by arm issues, and only went five innings. Yuki Yanagita tied it with a two-run first-inning homer at PayPay Dome off Hayato Yuge (2-1). Ryoya Kurihara homered in the second to make it 3-2 only for Hideto Asamura to hit his ninth home run and tie it in the third. Yanagita broke the tie in the fifth with a hard-hit RBI single.

Albers corners Fighters in Buffaloes’ win

Andrew Albers (1-1) allowed two hits but no walks over seven innings while striking out eight for the Orix Buffaloes in their 7-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Aderlin Rodriguez opened the scoring against right-hander Toshihiro Sugiura (1-1) in the second with his second homer in three games, and Adam Jones’ two-run double made it 3-0 through three. Masataka Yoshida went 4-for-4 with a homer, two RBIs and two runs.

Former San Diego Padre Christian Villanueva went 1-for-3 in his Fighters debut.

Fighters activate Villanueva

The Nippon Ham Fighters activated third baseman Christian Villanueva on Tuesday. The infielder, who did not re-sign with the Yomiuri Giants over the winter following his first season in Japan, had an appendectomy in May.

In his place, the Fighters have played rookie Yuki James Nomura.

Marines wear down Lions

Seibu’s Kona Takahashi struck out nine batters but ran into a buzz saw in the fifth and sixth inning in the Lions’ 8-6 loss to the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s wind-swept Zozo Marine Stadium.

Leonys Martin’s two-out, two-run fifth-inning double broke a 1-1 tie, and rookie Hisanori Yasuda’s two-run homer capped a three-run sixth for the Marines.

Marines right-hander Yuki Ariyoshi (1-0) allowed two runs over six innings, but the bullpen coughed up four runs to make it close.

Dragons lose in 10th with no hitters left

The Chunichi Dragons loaded the bases in the bottom of the 10th inning but lost 2-1 to the Yakult Swallows. Dragons manager Tsuyoshi Yoda burned through his nine reserve position players and sent reliever Takuya Mitsuma up to pinch-hit with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th.

Mitsuma fouled off one two-strike pitch before swinging and missing to end the game.

Norichika Aoki led off the Swallows’ 10th with a walk. With one out and first base open, Yoda ordered an intentional walk of red-hot Naomichi Nishiura. But Taishi Hirooka walked with two outs, and 36-year-old career minor leaguer Suguru Ino walked on six pitches to force in the run.

With two outs and runners on the corners in the bottom of the 10th, Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu ordered the bases loaded to bring the Dragons pitcher’s spot up with no position players left on the bench.

“It was 100 percent my mistake,” Yoda said according to Sports Nippon. “I mean one has to have at least one position player on the bench. I was conflicted about that last change and it came back to bite me.”

There are days when robots might be preferable.

And then there was Takatsu’s turn…

Takatsu himself had one of Japan’s most famous relief pitcher pinch-hitting appearances. In 1995, Central League manager Katsuya Nomura ordered Takatsu to pinch-hit for Hideki Matsui after Pacific League skipper Akira Ogi called Ichiro Suzuki in from right field to face the future major leaguer. Suzuki pitched to future big leaguer, just not the one people wanted to see.

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

Live blog: Hawks vs Eagles

The Rakuten Eagles made it look easy last week taking five of six against the Lotte Marines in Sendai — when the Marines entered on the back of an eight-game win streak. The Hawks went 3-2 with a tie at Sapporo Dome against the Fighters.

Tonight will be the 2020 season debut of Hawks ace Kodai Senga. He injured his right calf on the first day of spring training, and hurt his right forearm when he was on the verge of returning to fitness.

Top 1st

Senga starts out Eigoro Mogi with hard stuff, hitting 161 kph on his 4th pitch and gets him looking at a 159 kph inside fastball. If he can keep this location up when he starts with his secondary stuff it could be a long night for the Eagles but a fast game.

Daichi Suzuki hits the first pitch that isn’t a four-seam fastball, a 1-2 cutter away down the line in left for a single. Blash is rung up checking his swing on a low 3-2 slider. That’s about the closest call I’ve seen on a checked swing strike this year. The umps have been pretty forgiving unless a guy has gone well around.

Senga and Kai try to get Hideto Asamura to chase on 3-2 but he’s not biting. It’s two on with two outs for Hiroaki Shimauchi, who survives a close call on a low 1-2 fastball to stay alive. Shimauchi fouls off a cutter inside. Senga misses straight and down the pipe and Shimiuchi drills it over Yuki Yanagita’s head in center for a two-run double. Eagles 2, Hawks 0.

Stefen Romero pops up a first-pitch fastball, and the Eagles are done in the first at the Casa de Pepe.

Bottom 1st

Ryoya Kurihara, who is in left today, to lead off for the Hawks against the 1.93-meter lefty Hayato Yuge. The lefty clips him on the arm and the leadoff man is on. Mr. “300 sacrifice-bunts” Kenta Imamiya is up, and the announcers, of course, have to mention that, although no show of displeasure that he’s not squaring around.

Imamiya misses a fastball and rolls to short, not hard enough for a GDP. Yuki Yanagita takes a big swing on a first-pitch cutter that floats up in the zone and he miss-hits it just a little but still propels it into the home run terrace in left. We’re tied. Hawks 2, Eagles 2.

Yuge tried so hard to stay away from Yanagita, and he had no business swinging at that pitch, but what are you going to do. He strikes out Coco Balentien on a bouncer that gets away from catcher Hikaru Ota for “furinige” as Balentien reaches on an uncaught swinging third strike.

Keizo Kawashima, the right-handed-slap-hitting utility infielder is batting behind Coco and playing first. It’s like manager Kimiyasu Kudo lost a bet with someone. Kawashima reaches on an infield single, and Nobuhiro Matsuda smashes a bouncer into left and the bags are juiced.

Yuge appears to have regained his composure and strikes out the lefty-swinging Seiji Uebayashi, and the pops up Takuya Kai on the first pitch and the Hawks leave them loaded.

Top 2nd

Ginji Akaminai leads off with a four-pitch walk, and now with the speed and the hit-and-miss location, it feels like Kodai Senga is REALLY back. Senga hangs a splitter up in the zone, but Eagles catcher Hikaru Ota looks at it for Strike 3.

Mogi grounds to first and Kawashima — can’t get used to him wearing No. 99 — gets the force at second for the second out. Daichi Suzuki up with runners on the corners but quickly down 0-2 and looks at a strike on the outside corner — that Senga was trying to go inside with.

Bottom 2nd

With one out, Ryoya Kurihara barrels up a straight 1-0 fastball in the heart of the zone and pulls it into the permanents seats in right. Hawks 3, Eagles 2.

Yuge’s location is also kind of here and gone. He loses Imamiya on a 3-2 pitch, to put a man on for Yanagita. Yuge misses in the zone with his first pitch, but Yanagita misses, too, and fouls it off. Two hard ones inside and Yanagita grounds out to first.

Balentien, who pretty much never saw anything over the plate in Sapporo, gets a fastball in the zone and one inside for 1-1. Yuget gets him on a changeup low in the zone that Balentien lines softly to short.

Top 3rd

Blash opens the third with a smash to short that nearly knocks Kenta Imamiya off his feet for the first out. But just like that, Hideto Asamura hits his eighth home run and we’re tied. That’s a decent curve from Senga, but Asamura is all over it and drives it 12 rows back in the permanent seats. Hawks 3, Eagles 3.

Very rare for the announcing crew to comment on the umpiring, but they do when Romero takes an 0-2 pitch down the middle and umpire Kunio Kiuchi dutifully gives the batter the benefit of the doubt. Romero hammers the next pitch through the box for a single, that Senga does well to duck. But Senga recovers by getting Akaminai on a pair of curves, that he apparently calls sliders.

Bottom 3rd

Kawashima grounds out to open the Hawks’ third and the Hawks go down in order.

Fun fact: On Jan. 1, 2008, Kawashima was traded by the Nippon Ham Fighters with pitcher Yoshitaka Hashimoto and Takehiko Oshimoto to the Yakut Swallows for lefty Shugo Fuji, right-hander Yataro Sakamoto and current Rakuten manager Hajime Miki. On July 20, 2014, the Swallows sent him and lefty Ryo Hidaka to the Hawks for Nagisa Arakaki and submarine right-hander Hirofumi Yamanaka — who has the distinction of being the only player to still be active after a trade involving Kawashima.

I was thinking about that last week, when Kawashima was starting against the Fighters, playing for a team that had won five of the last six Japan Series after being a middling piece in a trade over 12 years earlier.

Top 4th

With one out, Ryosuke Tatsumi walks for the second time but is cut down on a throw from Kai that reminded us what he was like back in 2018 as the Japan Series MVP basically for his ability to gun down runners.

Bottom 4th

Yuge needs 11 pitches, six of them on Kai, to get a 1-2-3 inning.

Top 5th

Senga gets Suzuki to fly out on an 0-1 fastball but runs the count full to Blash, who entered the game third in the league in strikeouts and second in walks. But Blash actually swings and misses this time for the second out.

Senga’s location is getting incrementally better as the game goes along. Asamura is up and he fouls a 1-1 fastball in the zone, and a high slider, too. Asamura nearly gets hit with a splitter that gets away and it’s 2-2. The inning ends with a strike zone as Senga hangs a splitter up high and Asamura misses it.

Bottom 5th

A throwing error by shortstop Eigoro Mogi allows Kenta Imamiya to start the inning at second, and Yuki Yanagita drives a fastball over the inside half of the plate toward the gap in right-center. What a beautiful swing, balanced, compact. Oh if it weren’t for service time manipulation. Hawks 4, Eagles 3.

Yuge gets Balentien to hit into a double play and survives a two-out Kawashima single. Yuge is up to 75 pitches.

Top 6th

Submarine right-hander Rei Takahashi, the PL’s 2019 rookie of the year, is on in relief for Senga, who allowed three runs on four hits and four walks while striking out six.

Bottom 6th

The first two Hawks go down on three pitches, and they have to rush Takahashi out of the clubhouse to start throwing on the sideline. Taisei Makihara goes up there and apparently has been ordered to take some time up there. He fouls off three, two-strike pitches before grounding out on Yuge’s eighth delivery.

Top 7th

The Eagles bat for catcher Hikaru Ota, and Yuya Ogo flies out on the first pitch. Umpire Kiuchi has not been a big fan of pitches at the bottom of the zone, and lets Tatsumi draw his third walk on a low 3-2 pitch.

Mogi flies out on the first pitch, but Suzuki smashes a hanging 0-1 breaking ball down the pipe and pulls it into right for a single, bringing Blash to the plate with Asamura on deck. Blash reaches when Kawashima can’t hang on to a low throw from Imamiya.

The bases are loaded for Asamura. He misses an 0-1 pitch in the heart of the zone, and Takahashi gets a perfect strike on the outside edge for 1-2. A fastball inside misses, 2-2. The right-hander misses up in the zone, and Asamura fouls out to Kawashima.

Bottom 7th

Right-hander Tomohito Sakai on for the Eagles. Yuge allows four runs, three earned, over six innings. He gave up six hits and a walk and hit a batter while striking out three.

Sakai jams Kurihara, and Imamiya chases a low 2-2 pitch and flies out. Yanagita swings at a first-pitch strike and flies out to center.

Top 8th

Cuban lefty Livan Moinelo on for SoftBank to take on the Eagles’ fifth, sixth and seventh spots. He strikes out two in a 1-2-3 inning.

Bottom 8th

Sakai on for his second inning of work and he keeps it close, retiring Balentien, Kawashima and Matsuda.

Top 9th

Yuito Mori is on to close out the one-run game against the bottom of the Eagles’ order. Kazuya Fujita offers at a first-pitch breaking ball up and grounds to short. Tatsumi grounds a 1-1 fastball to second, and Mogi flies out to short to end it.

Final score: Hawks 4, Eagles 3

NPB 2020 7-8 PITCHERS

Announced starting pitchers for NPB’s games of Wednesday, July 8, 2020.

Pacific League

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

Kazuya Ojima (1-1, 9.00) vs Tatsuya Imai (0-2, 8.18)

Buffaloes vs Fighters vs : Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yu Suzuki (1-0, 2.25) vs Nick Martinez (0-2, 4.91)

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

Shunsuke Kasaya (0-0, 0.00) vs Hideaki Wakui (2-0, 3.00)

Central League

Dragons vs Swallows: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Takumi Yamamoto (1-1, 4.09) vs Gabriel Ynoa (0-1, 9.00)

Tigers vs Giants: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Koyo Aoyagi (1-1, 0.75) vs Cristopher Crisostomo Mercedes (0-1, 5.19)

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

Kris Johnson (0-2, 5.40) vs Haruhiro Hamaguchi (1-0, 1.32)

NPB 2020 7-7 PITCHERS

Announced starting pitchers for NPB’s games of Tuesday, July 7, 2020.

Pacific League

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

Yuki Ariyoshi (0-0) vs Kona Takahashi (2-0)

Buffaloes vs Fighters vs : Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

ANDREW ALBERS (0-1) vs Toshihiro Sugiura (1-0)

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

Kodai Senga (-) vs Hayato Yuge (2-0)

Central League

Dragons vs Swallows: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yuya Yanagi (1-0) vs ALBERT SUAREZ (2-0)

Tigers vs Giants: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Koyo Aoyagi (1-1) vs Shosei Togo* (2-0)

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

Masato Morishita* (1-0) vs Haruhiro Hamaguchi (1-0)

npb 2020 7-6 games and news

De La Rosa out with oblique strain

The Yomiuri Giants are expected to deactivate Rubby De La Rosa due to a left oblique strain suffered in the ninth inning of Sunday’s 6-4 loss to the Chunichi Dragons the Hochi Shimbun reported Monday.

The 31-year-old right-hander, who joined the club last summer, leads Japan’s Central League with four saves. He left the mound after facing one batter in the ninth. His sixth pitch to Dayan Viciedo ended up in the seats.

The Giants are expected to replace De La Rossa on the roster with Brazilian flame thrower Thyago Vieira.

The show must go on

Despite a rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 infections in Japan, Nippon Professional Baseball said Monday it is still planning to admit up to 5,000 fans per game starting Friday and allow crowds of around half-capacity from Aug. 1.

At least they tried

The Hiroshima Carp and Hanshin Tigers were rained out in Hiroshima on Monday. The date was scheduled as a make up game and was activated after Friday’s first game of their series was rained out.

NPB 2020 7-6 PITCHERS

The announced starting pitchers for NPB’s games of Monday, July 6.

Central League

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

Hiroki Tokoda (0-1) vs Kenichi Nakata (0-1)

A makeup game for Friday’s rainout, at a time of year when Central League makeup games are virtually unheard of. The only times CL teams usually play makeups before September is during interleague. The CL just doesn’t schedule makeups — which is odd considering that four of its six stadiums are outdoors. But this is an unusual season.

NPB 2020 7-5 GAMES AND NEWS

Martinez makes his mark in Dragons’ win

Ariel Martinez became the first import to start a game at catcher in one of NPB’s top leagues since June 1991 on Sunday and had three singles for the Chunichi Dragons in their 6-4 Central league win over the Yomiuri Giants.

The game highlights are HERE.

The 24-year-old Martinez, who was signed to a regular contract on July 1, had been with the Dragons since 2018 on a non-roster developmental deal, which allow up to three years of team control.

He was activated on Saturday, ostensibly because of left fielder Zoilo Almonte’s fitness issues. Martinez came off the bench at Tokyo Dome on Saturday, when he drew a walk and cut down a would-be base stealer.

Dayan Viciedo, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Cuba, homered twice, walked twice, singled and drove in four runs to power Chunichi’s offense, while 23-year-old right-hander Kodai Umetsu (2-1) allowed three runs over six innings to earn the win.

Umetsu scattered five hits and four walks while striking out seven, and went 2-for-3 with an RBI to raise his average to .500 for the season.

Giants starter Angel Sanchez (2-1) allowed three runs over two innings to take the loss.

Tigers’ Bour batters Carp

Justin Bour broke a 1-1 third-inning tie for the Hanshin Tigers with a grand slam in an 8-3 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Mazda Stadium.

Yusuke Oyama, who was starting at third and batting cleanup in place of Jefry Marte, who hurt a calf muscle on Saturday, hit a two-run homer in the fifth. Jerry Sands also went deep for the Tigers in the three-run inning.

Yuki Nishi (1-1), the Tigers’ Opening Day starter, allowed three runs over eight innings to earn the win. The right-hander struck out seven and walked one.

Taira, Soto lead BayStars rout of Swallows

Kentaro Taira struck out eight over seven scoreless innings to earn the win as the DeNA BayStars whipped the Yakult Swallows 8-1 at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Neftali Soto, who has won the CL home run title in each of his previous seasons in Japan, homered for the third time in two games with a fifth-inning grand slam.

Taira (2-0) allowed three hits but no walks.

Nomura lifts Fighters past Hawks

The Nippon Ham Fighters took a hammer to journeyman starting pitcher Akira Niho in a 5-3 win over the SoftBank Hawks at Sapporo Dome, with Yuki James Nomura breaking a 3-3 fourth-inning tie with his second career home run.

Niho (0-2) walked the first two batters he faced before surrendering RBI singles to Kensuke Kondo and Sho Nakata in a three-run first after his teammates opened the game with an unearned run off rookie Ryusei Kawano.

The rookie southpaw three primarily fastballs and sliders and missed barrels, but proved unwilling to challenge any of the Hawks big hitters and that proved costly.

He walked Yuki Yanagita with two outs in the first, and a good swing by Wladimir Balentien on a fastball well off the outside corner — he saw a lot of those this past week — was launched to the wall in center. Center fielder Haruki Nishikawa went to get it but failed to catch it for an error that scored Yanagita.

The Hawks tied it in the third when rookie Ryuhei Kuki turned on a straight inside fastball for his first career home run. A Kenta Imamiya double off the left field wall that Kensuke Kondo gloved after it struck the wall, and another walk to Yanagita brought up Balentien.

The former Dutch international slammed a 2-1 fastball, off the outside edge of course, to right. Right fielder Taishi Ota tried to make a leaping grab but missed. The ball hit the wall and Ota kicked it before recovering.

Yanagita tried to score from first but was nailed 9-4-2 thanks to an accurate throw from second baseman Ryo Watanabe and a super tag by catcher Yushi Shimizu.

The Fighters took the lead in the fourth on Yuki James Nomura’s second career home run. Watanabe singled in Kondo with Nippon Ham’s final run in the fifth.

Kawano struck out four and allowed four hits, but stayed away from his curve and change. His command was inconsistent but his fastball and slider were good enough to work with.

Yamamoto hits 4 in win over Lions

Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto worked seven innings and got plenty of run support in an 8-5 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.

Yamamoto (2-0) allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits. He hit four batters, including a record-tying three in one inning, and struck out four. A week after his secondary pitches deserted him, Yamamoto’s curve was back and he used it to effect.

He became the first pitcher to hit four or more batters and last more than six innings since the Hawks’ Kenichi Wakatabe on April 15, 1999. Daisuke Matsuzaka also did it in the 2006 playoffs — on Oct. 7, 2006 in his final game for the Seibu Lions before he signed with the Boston Red Sox.

Masataka Yoshida and Adam Jones each had three hits for the Buffaloes, while Takahiro Okada homered and drove in three runs. Aderlin Rodriguez singled, doubled, drove in two runs and walked twice.

Brandon Dickson earned his second save by getting the second batter he faced in the ninth to hit into a game-ending double play.

Asamura leaves Marine debris in his wake

Hideto Asamura hit his fourth home run of the series and his seventh of the season, a three-run, fifth-inning shot that broke a 1-1 tie and lifted the Rakuten Eagles to an 8-1 win over the Lotte Marines.

Trailing 1-0 in the third against former Eagle Manabu Mima (1-1), who joined Lotte as a free agent over the winter, former Lotte captain Daichi Suzuki, who moved to Sendai as a free agent, singled with two outs and scored on a Jabari Blash double.

Eagles starter Ryota Ishibashi (1-2) only struck out one batter over six innings, but only walked two and didn’t give up a hit after the first. Takashi Ogino doubled to open the game and scored on an Ikuhiro Kiyota double.

NPB 2020 7-4 GAMES AND NEWS

Sunday’s announced starting pitchers in NPB.

Wada gets assist from Fighters in 1st win

Former Cub Tsuyoshi Wada took a no-hitter into the seventh and ended up with his first win of the season as the SoftBank Hawks beat the Nippon Ham Fighters 8-3 at Sapporo Dome.

The 39-year-old lefty frequently missed in the zone, but the Fighters only hit two balls hard off him through six, both drives straight to Hawks outfielders. Instead of playing “see the ball, hit the ball” against a pitcher whose fastball sat at 85 miles per hour, they guessed and watched and looked and waited.

Wada’s changeup was first rate, and it was if the Fighters were waiting for him to throw it up in the zone, something he refused to do. Instead, whenever they got a fastball up they either watched it, missed it or miss-hit it. He surrendered his first hit to Kensuke Kondo to open the seventh.

The Fighters’ most patient hitter had taken strike after strike in the zone in his first two at-bats, and should have been rung up on a low 0-2 changeup. But umpires are umpires the world over, Kondo got a second life and pulled an inside 1-2 fastball between first and second for a single.

In the seventh, the Fighters changed tactics and began taking easy swings at mistakes in the zone. They loaded the bases with three no-out singles and Wada was gone.

“They are professional hitters. It wasn’t a matter of if they would get a hit, but when,” Wada said.

The Hawks opened the scoring in the first, when Kenta Imamiya homered with one out and none on against Takayuki Kato (0-1). Imamiya, on Friday moved into a tie for seventh all-time in career sacrifice hits with 300. Three straight hits, including a Wladimir Balentien double gave the Hawks the lead for good.

Here are the game highlights:

Kishi wins season debut

The Rakuten Eagles won a seven-inning rain-shortened 3-1 game over the Lotte Marines at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi. Takayuki Kishi (1-0) allowed a first-inning run over five innings in his season debut by pitching out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the fourth.

Former Padre Kazuhisa Makita worked a scoreless sixth, and former Dodger JT Chargois pitched the seventh to earn his first save in Japan.

Here are the game highlights:

Yoshida homer lifts Buffaloes over Lions

Masataka Yoshida’s third home run of the season, a two-run shot in the eighth inning, brought the Orix Buffaloes from a run down and lifted them to a 4-3 win over the defending Pacific League champion Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.

Buffaloes starter Daiki Tajima (1-0) had one brush with trouble and it cost him in a three-run fourth, capped by Takeya Nakamura’s two-run double. Aderlin Rodriguez’s fifth-inning solo homer made it a 3-1 game in the fifth and Tajima left after seven.

A one-out walk, a wild pickoff throw and an RBI single by Koji Oshiro made it a 3-2 game before Yoshida homered with two outs.

Tyler Higgins worked the eighth for Orix and Brandon Dickson closed in the ninth to record his first save of the season.

Maru drives in 6 as Giants whip Dragons

Yoshihiro Maru homered twice and added an RBI double as the Yomiuri Giants beat the Chunichi Dragons 7-3 at Tokyo Dome.

Hayato Sakamoto walked twice, homered, singled and scored three runs, while Gerardo Parra doubled twice and singled.

Marte, Bour rip as Tigers gut Carp

Jefry Marte hit a two-run first-inning home run off Carp ace Daichi Osera (2-1) in a 9-3 Hanshin Tigers win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Justin Bour had three hits for the Tigers and a sacrifice fly, while starting pitcher Yuta Iwasada (1-1) allowed three runs over six innings to earn the win.

Osera, who entered the game having opened the season with back-to-back complete-game victories, allowed five runs on eight hits over four innings. Osera failed to score or drive in a run on Saturday, but did single in his only at-bat, raising his average to .625.

Marte did not return to third base in the bottom of the third inning after complaining of tightness in his left calf.

Martinez 1st import to catch in 20 years

A day after being called up, 24-year-old Cuban catcher Ariel Martinez saw his first duty behind the plate on Saturday. Coming on as a sixth-inning pinch-hitter, Martinez walked, scored and stayed in to catch.

In so doing, he became the first imported player to catch in an NPB game since former Australian big leaguer Dave “Dingo” Nillson caught in one game for the Dragons in 2020. Prior to that, Mike Diaz caught 21 games for the Lotte Orions from 1990 to 1991.

Martinez, who joined Chunichi as a non-roster developmental signing in 2018, was signed to a standard contract this past week and added to the Dragons’ 70-man roster. He looked good behind the plate and threw out the first runner who tried to steal against him.

Swallows walk the walk

The Yakult Swallows overcame home runs by Neftali Soto and Jose Lopez by drawing seven walks in a 10-8 win over the DeNA BayStars, who outhit the Swallows 15-6.

Soto had four hits, including two homers, but Naomichi Nishiura and Norichika Aoki each hit two-run shots for the Swallows. Nishimura, who had lost his shortstop job to Alcides Escobar, has grabbed it back by hitting four homers in four games.

Swallows closer Taishi Ishiyama entered the ninth with a four-run lead but allowed two runs on Soto’s third home run of the year.