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NPB games, news of Aug. 7, 2019

More than a week after winning his 1,000th game, Giants manager Tatsunori Hara won his 1,001st, allowing Yomiuri to hang on to its half-game CL lead.

Pacific League

Marines 5, Hawks 3

At Zozo Marine Stadium, Leonys Martin hit his fourth home run since coming to Japan at the end of last month, while Brandon Laird had an extra helping of sushi with a pair of two-run shots. With 31 home runs, he now trails league-leader Hotaka Yamakawa of the Lions by one.

Lotte starter Seiya Dohi pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning and finished with seven scoreless innings but did not figure in the decision after reliever Takahiro Matsunaga (2-2) blew a three-run lead in the eighth.

Game highlights are HERE.

Buffaloes 6, Fighters 4

At Sapporo Dome, lefty Takayuki Kato (5-5) was left in the game a little longer than his usual two trips through the batting order, and allowed two more runs in the fourth in Nippon Ham’s loss to Orix.

The Buffaloes bullpen delivered four scoreless innings to help July pitcher of the month Taisuke Yamaoka (9-3) to a fortunate win.

Stefen Romero and Steven Moya each had three hits and drove in a run for the Buffaloes, while Brandon Dickson recorded his 11th save.

Johnny Barbato returned to the mound for the Fighters, working two scoreless innings in his first outing since July 4.

Game highlights are HERE.

Lions 4, Eagles 3

At MetLife Dome, Takeya Nakamura returned from a minor injury to go 3-for-4 with a double a run scored and a tie-breaking, seventh-inning RBI infield single to lift Seibu past Rakuten.

Facing an early 2-0 deficit on a first-inning homer by former Lion Hideto Asamura, Tomoya Mori homered in the first and Takumi Kuriyama put the Lions ahead in the fourth with a two-run shot.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Giants 9, Dragons 3

At Nagoya Dome, Cristopher Mercedes (7-6) held Chunichi hitless for five innings, while Yoshihiro Maru and Shinnosuke Abe hit two-run home runs in the fifth inning, helping Yomiuri snap its season-longest six-game losing streak.

Stocky slugger Kazuma Okamoto flashed some credible base running skills to go from second to third on a fourth-inning fly and then score on a sacrifice fly with a nifty slide to open the scoring for the Giants.

Dayan Viciedo capped the Dragons’ three-run fifth, but Yomiuri iced it in the seventh when left fielder Zoilo Almonte failed to make a two-out, bases-loaded shoe-string catch. The ball rolled past him and three runs scored.

BayStars 4, Carp 0

At Mazda Stadium, Haruhiro Hamaguchi (6-3) struck out 11 over six innings, and Neftali Soto hit his 29th home run as second-place DeNA remained a half-game back of the CL-leading Giants.

Soto, who led the CL in home runs last year in his debut season, pulled into a tie with the Giants’ Hayato Sakamoto for the league lead. The Two RBIs gave him 77 and kept him one ahead of Swallows’ teenager Munetaka Murakami.

Swallows 11, Tigers 2

At Jingu Stadium, 39-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa (5-5) allowed a run on two hits and a walk over six innings, and 19-year-old rookie Munetaka Murakami broke a 1-1, fourth-inning tie with his 24th home run, a three-run shot.


NPB names July players of the month

There was one surprise in July’s monthly honor roll. Having discussed the matter on this week’s podcast with @JBWPodcast, we expected DeNA closer Yasuaki Yamasaki and Orix’s Taisuke Yamaoka and Masataka Yoshida to bag monthly honors, but I never expected DeNA’s Jose Lopez to win.

For years, batting average has been the most consistent qualifier for the Monthly MVP award — where walks, on-base percentage and defense are essentially ignored.

But this time, the selectors went for the payoff numbers as Lopez led the CL in home runs and RBIs despite batting .271, playing first base and posting a .314 batting average.

I’m not saying the award should be tied to batting average, because every year in the past selectors have picked one guy who did nothing but hit singles and post a .370 average. But pay attention guys. Yoshiyuki Kamei, Seiya Suzuki and Hayato Sakamoto all had much better months than the wonderful Mr. Lopez.

NPB games, news of Aug. 6, 2019

Tuesday was not a good day for the guys on top, as only one first-division team, the Hiroshima Carp, won, to tighten the Central League pennant race up a turn, while the Rakuten Eagles moved into the PL’s top three

Central League

Dragons 6, Giants 0

At Nagoya Dome, veteran lefty Yudai Ono (7-6) pitched out of trouble, making big pitches and big plays in the field as he pitched nearly the entire game with men on base, while Nobumasa Fukuda went 4-for-4 with a double and two home runs to pace Chunichi past Yomiuri.

The Giants have lost six straight for the first time this year.

Carp 8, BayStars 4

At Mazda Stadium, Makoto Aduwa (3-4) shook off some early bad luck to work seven innings, as Hiroshima came from three runs down to beat DeNA and move within one game of the CL lead.

With one out in the second, the BayStars hit four straight rollers through the left side of Hiroshima’s infield and left fielder Ryuhei Matsuyama misplayed the third one, allowing two runners to score and the batter to get to third, from where he scored.

But the Carp came back with contributions up and down the lineup against rookie Taiga Kamichatani (6-4), taking the lead in the fourth when Aduwa beat out a two-out infield single and scored on Ryoma Nishikawa’s 11th home run. Kamichatani missed too many locations.

The game was eerily quiet as musical instruments were not allowed into the stadium on “Peace Night,” the 74th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. But to show that some things don’t change, Carp manager Koichi Ogata called on closer Geronimo Franzua to pitch the ninth with a five-run lead with his team playing the first of nine-straight days.

The BayStars announced that Spencer Patton suffered a self-inflicted fracture in his right hand as a result of his using a dugout refrigerator as a punching bag after a disappointing outing.

Serious bunts

Analyst Akihito Kaneishi jumped on the bunt bandwagon in the first inning when Hiroshima’s Ryosuke Kikuchi bunted after Nishikawa reached base to open the inning.

Kaneishi: “Manager Ogata is showing how important this crucial series is to him by sacrificing in order to get that all-important first run.”

To be fair, Kikuchi is a good bunter and nearly beat it out, so it was hardly a waste, but that is the side that no one ever talks about. It’s always the idea that getting ahead by making outs is the Japanese way.

Swallows 4, Tigers 3

At Jingu Stadium, Hanshin began its annual exile from Koshien Stadium with a loss, thanks to six solid innings from Yakult’s David Buchanan (2-6), who allowed two runs, one earned, while striking out seven, and a two-run, come-from-behind homer from catcher Yuhei Nakamura.

Yangervis Solarte homered for the fourth time in 10 games and doubled in the ninth as Hanshin scored a run off current closer Scott McGough, who recorded his sixth save in the absence of Taichi Ishiyama despite loading the bases with no outs.

Pacific League

Marines 4, Hawks 2, 11th inning

At Zozo Marine Stadium, Ikuhiro Kiyota hit a two-run, sayonara home run to lift Lotte over SoftBank in the 11th inning after former Marine Alfredo Despaigne tied it with his 26th home run in the eighth.

Game highlights are HERE.

Buffaloes 5, Fighters 0

At Sapporo Dome, lefty Daichi Tajima (3-3) scattered four walks and four hits over six innings, and Orix’s No. 8 hitter Ryoichi Adachi smacked a three-run home run off Yuki Saito (0-2) in the fourth inning.

Mizuki Hori returned as Nippon Ham’s opener for the second-straight game with a 1-2-3 first. Saito worked a 1-2-3 second but had to pitch out of trouble in the third and couldn’t get out of a two-on, no-out jam in the fourth.

NPB’s last consecutive starts by the same pitcher

The Pro Yakyu News guys were puzzling about how Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama could use Hori as his starter for two-straight games. This is something that hasn’t happened since Sept. 6, 2009, when Yokohama’s Ryan Glynn started for the second-straight day.

Glynn faced one batter, retiring Hirokazu Ibata, because he had been inadvertently listed as the starting pitcher on the lineup card. Glynn started the following day, but the game of Sept. 5 was more noteable for the performance of Stephen Randolph. The intended starter, Randolph came on with one out in the first and struck out 15 over 8-2/3 innings to complete the shutout.

The time before that also happened to a Yokohama pitcher, Futoshi Kobayashi, who started July 23, 2008, a day after he was ejected for hitting the second batter he faced in the head.

The shift goes on

The Fighters continued to shift against Orix’s left-handed slugger Masataka Yoshida. In the first inning, they tried a new one, placing their third baseman in left field to guard against extra bases with two outs and none on. Shota Hiranuma made the catch for the “infield fly” out to third.

Early in the season, Yoshida had grounded out to third — when the Fighters third baseman was playing in shallow right between first and second, and later in the game, the Fighters had their shortstop playing right of the bag against him.

Game highlights are HERE.

Eagles 10, Lions 0

At MetLife Dome, 25-year-old Rakuten rookie lefty Hayato Yuge (2-0) won his second-straight start, allowing four hits and no walks, while striking out four in the win over Seibu.

Ginji Akaminai capped a three-run first inning against Tatsuya Imai (6-9) with a two-run homer and went 4-for-5 with three RBIs.

Game highlights are HERE.