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NPB games of Aug. 15, 2019

The Seibu Lions take a walloping for the decade and the analysts on Pro Yakyu News suggest the Lions — with an ERA in August over 6.00 should try something like an opener or short starters, because they lack starting pitching.

That assumes the Fighters went to that tactic because of a lack of starting pitching, and not for another reason.

Should the Lions go short?

It’s hard to judge how effective the Fighters’ use of short starters and opener Mizuki Hori has been this season because we can’t compare them to themselves. The Fighters have allowed 4.48 runs per nine innings over the first five innings of their games this season, a figure second-worst to the Lions in the PL. Still, it is hard to know if manager Kuriyama’s plan to limit his pitchers’ overexposure is helping or hurting.

Through Wednesday, Fighters opponents had only 374 plate appearances against a pitcher past his 18th batter faced in a game, the fewest number in NPB by a huge margin — the BayStars at 560 are next fewest. Less than 31 percent of those batters reached safely by any means, the lowest in NPB while slugging .418 — NPB’s fourth-best figure.

Lions opponents, on the other hand, have sent 772 batters to the plate against a pitcher who had already faced 18 batters, the second-highest NPB total next to the Hanshin Tigers’. And the Lions’ results in those plate appearances, an NPB-worst.367 raw on-base percentage, and a second-to-worst .480 slugging average are probably a good indication that leaving their starters out there because it’s old school ain’t working.

So give credit to Chikafusa Ikeda and Yasushi Tao for bringing up the idea.

Pacific League

Buffaloes 20, Lions 8

At MetLife Dome, Stefen Romero homered twice, scored three runs and drove in six, while Steven Moya homered and drove in five as Orix knocked Seibu silly. Romero also singled twice and walked in his other three plate appearances.

Chang Yi (2-0) allowed four runs in five innings while striking out five to improve to 2-0 in two career starts. Lions starter Keisuke Honda (5-4) allowed seven runs and didn’t survive the second inning.

The 20 runs allowed by Seibu matched a franchise record, set twice in 2004 when the Lions won the PL pennant after finishing second in the regular season. After his team also hit four home runs, Lions manager Tsuji said his guys could put it behind them.

“I think we can move on, considering how well the hitters are doing,” he said.

Game highlights are HERE.

Eagles 4, Hawks 3, 11 innings

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Eigoro Mogi doubled to open the 11th against Jumpei Takahashi (2-1) and scored on Ginji Akaminai’s one-out, bases-loaded single as Rakuten snapped SoftBank’s winning streak at six. Alan Busenitz (3-2) struck out two in a scoreless 11th to earn the win for the Eagles.

Hawks catcher Takuya Kai went 3-for-4 with a two-run home run and two runs scored, while Hiroaki Shimauchi tied the game 2-2 in the fifth with a two-run home run.

With Mogi on second to open the 11th, the Eagles bunted him to third, and the Hawks ordered the bases loaded. Unfortunately, Takahashi fell behind 3-0 to Akaminai and missed down the pipe with a 3-2 fastball that ended the game.

Game highlights are HERE.

Marines 6, Fighters 0

At Tokyo Dome, Takashi Ogino lashed a three-run, second-inning triple as Lotte bashed Toshihiro Sugiura (2-3) for four runs in four innings and handed Nippon Ham its ninth-straight defeat.

Marines starter Chihaya Sasaki (2-1) worked five shutout innings while lefty Toshiya Nakamura struck out three in three innings of relief.

Two weeks after the Fighters were on the verge of taking over the PL lead, they have fallen into fourth place after their longest losing streak in two seasons. Afterward, Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama apologized.

“There are reasons why have not been able to win,” he told reporters after the game. “One can look at various factors, but simply put, I’m not putting us in position to win. I accept all the responsibility for this.”

Game highlights are HERE.

NPB games, news of Aug. 14, 2019

Half of Wednesday’s six NPB games were one-side butt-kickings, and another became so in the late innings as the league leaders improved their position.

Do it your self, Japanese style

Today, we introduce one of the pennant stretch words one begins hearing in the second half “Jiryoku’V’shometsu.” This dire situation –自力V消滅 in Japanese — is the status of a team that cannot win the pennant without help from other teams. On Wednesday, the Hiroshima Carp and Rakuten Eagles, both received this dire prognosis of their pennant chances.

They can now win all their remaining games and still not win the pennant unless the Yomiuri Giants in the Carp’s Central League or the SoftBank Hawks in the Eagles’ Pacific League lose at least once to another team between now and the end of the season.

A lot is made in Japanese baseball of the idea of being able to steam to a goal under your own power and this is essential to the almost religious seriousness that accompanies NPB magic numbers, which we’ll get to at another time.

I’m still not certain why anybody cares about being able to reach a goal without help when every team in your league still has 50 games to play is important.

Pacific League

Marines 9, Fighters 4

At Tokyo Dome, Takashi Ogino homered on a 3-2 fastball that Kosei Yoshida (1-2) threw down the middle of the strike zone like he was aiming for a bulls-eye, and Lotte never trailed against Nippon Ham.

The 18-year-old legend from last summer’s summer national high school championships was making his third start and his first against PL teams. He threw mostly fastballs in the first inning and when he missed in the zone with them the Marines crushed them. A walk and a Daichi Suzuki two-run homer got the Marines off to a 3-0 jump start.

Ogino hit another home run in the second inning, while Leonys Martin hit his seventh in 18 career NPB games.

Marines rookie Kazuya Ojima (1-3) allowed a run over six innings

Game highlights are HERE.

Lions 8, Buffaloes 7

At MetLife Dome, Seibu came from behind twice, the second time on a two-run, eighth-inning Hotaka Yamakawa homer, his 34th, to beat Orix. A night after five batters were hit by pitches and three were ejected, only one batter, Yamakawa, was plunked.

Game highlights are HERE.

Hawks 12, Eagles 3

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Shota Takeda (4-3) allowed three runs, two earned, over eight innings to win as a starter for the first time since April 11, while leadoff man Shuhei Fukuda and Yurisbel Gracial combined for seven hits, four runs and four RBIs in SoftBank’s win over Rakuten.

New Eagle Ren Wada tied it 3-3 in the bottom of the first with a two-run home run, but Rakuten starter Takahiro Norimoto (2-3) allowed six runs, five earned, over four innings to take the loss.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Giants 7, Carp 1

At Mazda Stadium, Tomoyuki Sugano (9-5), without a win since July 2, allowed a run over eight innings, and Yomiuri broke out of its scoring funk with him on the mound with six late runs in a win over Hiroshima.

Hayato Sakamoto doubled twice and walked, scored twice and drove in the Giants’ tie-breaking run in the seventh inning.

Swallows 15, BayStars 2

At Jingu Stadium, 39-year-old Masanori Ishikawa (6-5) allowed one hit and one walk over eight innings, while Yakult hammered Haruhiro Hamaguchi (6-4) for seven runs in the first inning.

Tetsuto Yamada opened the scoring with his 30th home run, while Wladimir Balentien hit his 25th and 19-year-old rookie Munetaka Murakami hit his 26th and took over the CL RBI lead.

Ishikawa had a no-hitter going until one out in the eighth when BayStars rookie Yukiya Ito hit his fourth homer in seven career games.

Tigers 6, Dragons 3

At Nagoya Dome, Hanshin rattled off six-straight hits after Daisuke Yamai (3-5) retired the first two batters in the fifth to overturn a 3-0 deficit in a win over Chunichi.

Tigers rookie Seiya Kinami sparked the fifth-inning rally with a pinch-hit single and homered in his next at-bat.