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NPB wrap 9-12-21

Another week is a wrap, in which the Pacific League’s Lotte Marines were the clear winners, going 1-1-1 against their closest rival, the Orix Buffaloes and then dealing a body blow to the third-place Rakuten Eagles, while the SoftBank Hawks got beat on in Sapporo.

The Buffaloes pennantless streak is now the longest in NPB, running back to 1996. Although Lotte has won two Japan Series since then, Lotte last finished the regular season in first place in 1974. The Marines’ 2005 PL championship–and the Lions’ in 2004–came after they finished second and beat the regular-season leaders, the Hawks, in the PL playoffs.

The Hanshin Tigers finished Sunday three games ahead of the Swallows and Giants in a week when Seiya Suzuki’s home run streak was the league’s biggest news.

Marines 9, Eagles 2

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Lotte rookie Tokito Kawamura (2-0, 4.32) improved to 2-0 as a starter after his second straight five-inning, one-run outing, while Shogo Nakamura homered in the third off Ryota Ishibashi (0-1, 3.46), tying it 1-1 with eighth homer and Brandon Laird followed a Leonys Martin double with a two-run homer, his 23rd and third of the series. The Marines swept the third-place Eagles to move two-games ahead of second-place Orix.

Laird, who reached base four times a day after his 34th birthday, had a two-run single in the fourth. Eagles captain Hideto Asamura hit his 11th homer in the sixth off former teammate Frank Herrmann.

Lions 3, Buffaloes 1

At MetLife Dome, Cory Spangenberg homered for the second straight day, driving in three with his seventh, off Sachiya Yamasaki (5-9, 3.83), and 20-year-old Seibu rookie Yutaro Watanabe (3-3, 4.44) needed 106 pitches to get through five innings, but allowed only two walks and three hits, including Yutaro Sugimoto’s 26th home run. 

Kaima Taira earned his 14th save for the Lions, while deposed closer Tatsushi Masuda retired Takahiro Okada to end the eighth with two on.

Fighters 3, Hawks 0

At Sapporo Dome, right-hander Kazuaki Tateno (2-1, 3.12) allowed three walks and two singles over 6-1/3 innings and fellow Nippon Ham rookie Yuma Imagawa had his first career hit, a one-out, two-run homer off 40-year-old former Cub Tsuyoshi Wada (5-6, 4.38), who worked five and also surrendered Yuto Takahama’s eighth homer in the third.

Toshihiro Sugiura, the Fighters’ fourth pitcher, completed the three-hit shutout as he worked the ninth for his 18th save.

BayStars 8, Tigers 1

At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA lefty Shota Imanaga (4-4, 2.96) surrendered a first-inning run but struck out 11 over eight innings without issuing a walk. Koji Chikamoto had three of Hanshin’s six hits, starting with a double to lead off the game. He scored from third after a sacrifice and a Jefry Marte infield single.

The BayStars took the lead off Joe Gunkel (7-2, 2.86) in the home half on a walk and Keita Sano’s 12th home run. Tyler Austin made it 4-1 in the third with his 24th, and stuck a fork in the Tigers with a three-run seventh-inning homer.

Dragons 9, Swallows 5

At Vantelin Dome Nagoya, 44-year-old Kosuke Fukudome’s two-run home run, his third, tied the game 5-5 in the seventh, and catcher Takuya Kinoshita broke the tie leading off Chunichi’s four-run eighth with his 10th home run.

The Dragons, with the fewest runs this season in NPB, won their third straight game and have now scored 40 runs in six games.

The Swallows took a first-inning lead on Munetaka Murakami’s three-run home run, his 33rd, off Yariel Rodriguez, who allowed four runs, three earned in four-plus innings.

Trailing 4-0 in the third, Dayan Viciedo singled in a run and starting Dragons catcher Ariel Martinez drew a bases-loaded walk. Shuhei Takahashi trimmed Yakult’s lead to a run with a fifth-inning RBI single, but Shingo Kawabata’s two-out pinch-hit RBI single made it 5-3 in the top of the seventh.

Yohei Oshima, who had two hits and scored three runs, singled with one out in the seventh off Kazuto Taguchi, who surrendered Fukudome’s 284th homer in Japan.

Giants 2, Carp 1 

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, the up-and-down season of Yomiuri ace Tomoyuki Sugano (4-6, 3.72) continued as he allowed a run over seven innings in his second straight start on five-days rest.

The Giants scratched out a run on two singles and two groundouts, and Seiya Suzuki, after a two-game home run hiatus, tied it leading off the second with his 28th. Carp starter Hiroki Tokoda (3-3, 3.12) didn’t allow a third hit until Seiji Kobayashi hit his first home run with two outs in the seventh.

He started the season 2-2 after five quality starts, was hurt in his sixth, missed a month, came back but was mediocre to bad in four straight starts. He was dynamite on Sept. 1, then allowed seven runs over 4-1/3 innings.

Seishu Hatake, Yomiuri’s third pitcher, earned his first career save as the Giants stopped their six-game losing streak, and remained third, three back of the Tigers and trailing the Swallows on winning-percentage points.

Monday’s starting pitchers

Dragons vs Swallows: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Shinnosuke Ogasawara (6-7, 3.30) vs Masanori Ishikawa (3-2, 2.40)

Active roster moves 9/12/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/22

Central League

Activated

GiantsP63Yuri Furukawa
DragonsP25Yu Sato
BayStarsP46Kenjiro Tanaka
SwallowsIF46Kengo Ota

Dectivated

GiantsOF2Yang Dai-kang
DragonsC27Shota Ono
BayStarsP64Ren Kazahari
SwallowsP26Koshiro Sakamoto
SwallowsP54Cy Sneed

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP67Shunsuke Kasaya
MarinesP58Tokito Kawamura
FightersOF61Yuma Imagawa
BuffaloesP11Sachiya Yamasaki
BuffaloesP58Kazuyuki Kaneda
BuffaloesIF31Ryo Ota

Dectivated

FightersOF8Kensuke Kondo
BuffaloesP26Atsushi Nomi
BuffaloesP59Cesar Vargas
BuffaloesIF5Masahiro Nishino

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NPB wrap 9-11-21

Saturday saw no lead changes in Japan, although the Pacific League’s last-place Nippon Ham Fighters did lay an epic beating on the SoftBank Hawks, leading the manager of the run-starved Fighters to say, “If we score runs like that, we absolutely have to win.”

We had a couple of complete-game wins in the PL, with Seibu’s Tatsuya Imai throwing 142 pitches to get out of a ninth-inning bases-loaded jam to secure his second career shutout, while Lotte lefty Kazuya Ojima needed just 109 pitches to finish his first complete-game win.

Tigers 4, Carp 1

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Hanshin’s Takumi Akiyama (10-5, 2.81) made the most of his 85 mph fastball to retire 19 of the first 20 batters he faced, Jerry Sands reached base three times, Jefry Marte hit a three-run home run, his 17th, Mel Rojas Jr. had a pinch-hit RBI single and Robert Suarez saved his CL-leading 31st game.

Akiyama struck out three and hit a batter while allowing one hit, Ryoma Nishikawa’s 10th home run, over seven innings. Hiroshima starter Koya Takahashi (3-5, 5.26) allowed three runs in five-plus innings seven hits and two walks.

Dragons 5, Giants 4

At Tokyo Dome, leadoff man Yota Kyoda primed Chunichi’s pump, again. A day after homering twice, he reached base three times and scored on Nobumasa Fukuda’s first-inning RBI double and minor league reserve Masaru Watanabe’s three-run second-inning homer off C.C. Mercedes (7-2, 3.02), who lasted three innings. 

Yuya Yanagi (9-5, 2.12) worked 5-1/3 innings. He left one batter after Seiya Matsubara’s two-run homer, his ninth. The Giants got two runners on with no outs in the seventh, on a single and Hayato Sakamoto walk on a 3-2 pitch in the zone. With two outs, Hiroyuki Nakajima and Matsubara singled.

Giants-Dragons highlights

Raidel Martinez worked around Hayato Sakamoto’s leadoff double and a two-out hit batsman (Nakajima) in the ninth to earn his 17th save. Nakajima appeared to want a word with Martinez after getting hit, but when the pitcher approached the baseline and the ump got between them, they bumped fists and went their separate ways.

Swallows 9, BayStars 2

At Jingu Stadium, Yakult’s Domingo Santana and Jose Osuna each homered and drove in three runs, while Cy Sneed (3-2, 4.34) allowed two runs on five hits and no walks over 5-2/3 innings to collect the win. 

DeNA’s Masaya Kyoyama (2-5, 5.08) surrendered four runs in the first. With two on and one out, Munetaka Murakami and Osuna each singled in a run, and Santana capped the rally with a two-run double. Santana made it 5-0 in the third with his 11th homer. With Yakult leading 7-2 in the eighth, Osuna polished off the BayStars with a two-run homer, his 10th.

Fighters 17, Hawks 5

At Sapporo Dome, Nippon Ham left a mark on SoftBank’s Shuta Ishikawa (5-9, 3.36), who threw 54 pitches but didn’t make it out of an 11-run first inning, allowing 10 runs, three earned. One of the two errors was pretty harsh, when a tougher-than-routine catch was dropped to put the leadoff man on. Ishikawa, however, should have gotten out of the inning trailing 4-0 but a double play ball was dropped, and the scoring continued until Wang Po-Jung’s second two-run double.

The Fighters batted around again in a five-run second, causing Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama to say, “With this many runs, it was a game we absolutely had to win.”

Fighters starter Takayuki Kato (4-6, 4.04) allowed five runs over seven innings to earn the win. The Hawks had two solo home runs. Wang and Haruki Nishikawa, who had a three-run first-inning triple, each drove in five runs for the Fighters.

Richard Sunagawa, who made the error that really blew up the first inning, hit his third, and Nobuhiro Matsuda his 12th.

Lions 7, Buffaloes 0

At MetLife Dome, Seibu’s Tatsuya Imai (7-5, 3.44) struck out 13 in a 142-pitch three-hit shutout in which he walked four.

Orix’s Cesar Vargas (1-0, 11.00), making his first start, surrendered six runs in 4-1/3 innings. The Mexico international worked out of a first-inning bases-loaded jam and didn’t allow a run until Shuta Tonosaki singled with one out in the fourth and scored on Hotaka Yamakawa’s two-out double. Cory Spangenberg made it 3-0 against his former Padres teammate with his sixth home run.

Vargas left with an injury in the fifth after Takeya Nakamura singled in Sosuke Genda with one out. Kohei “K” Suzuki took over and surrendered back-to-back doubles to Tonosaki and Takumi Kuriyama.

Marines 4, Eagles 1

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Lotte’s Kazuya Ojima (7-3, 4.57) allowed a run on four hits over the distance while striking out eight in his first career complete game as Lotte moved a full game ahead of second-place Lotte.

Rakuten veteran Takayuki Kishi (7-8, 3.62) surrendered a first-inning run on Takashi Ogino’s leadoff triple and a sacrifice fly. Kishi retired 10 straight before Shogo Nakamura and Leonys Martin doubled with one out in the fourth to make it 2-0. After eight straight outs, Kishi surrendered no-out seventh-inning doubles to Martin and Brandon Laird with Lotte’s fourth run scoring on a sacrifice fly.

Hiroaki Shimauchi’s 17th home run accounted for Rakuten’s eighth-inning run.

Sunday’s starting pitchers

Fighters vs Hawks: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Kazuaki Tateno (1-1, 4.12) vs Tsuyoshi Wada (5-5, 4.32)

Lions vs Buffaloes: MetLife Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Yutaro Watanabe (2-3, 4.44) vs Sachiya Yamasaki (5-8, 3.83)

Marines vs Eagles: Zozo Marine Stadium 4 pm, 3 am EDT

Tokito Kawamura (1-0, 4.95) vs Ryota Ishibashi (0-0, 1.80)

BayStars vs Tigers: Yokohama Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Shota Imanaga (3-4, 3.16) vs Joe Gunkel (7-1, 2.52)

Dragons vs Swallows: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Yariel Rodriguez (0-2, 3.90) vs Juri Hara (1-1, 1.98)

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

Hiroki Tokoda (3-2, 3.19) vs Tomoyuki Sugano (3-6, 3.97)

Active roster moves 9/11/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/21

Central League

Activated

GiantsOF28Scott Heineman
BayStarsP53Sota Ikeya

Dectivated

GiantsIF10Sho Nakata

Pacific League

Activated

None

Dectivated

HawksP16Nao Higashihama
MarinesP17Roki Sasaki