NPB news: Sept. 21, 2023

I need to apologize for being AWOL for the past few days as some big games took place. Since I came back from vacation, both league pennants were settled, and for the first time since the Nankai Hawks and Hanshin Tigers won their leagues in 1964, two Kansai teams are champions in the same year – largely because the Tigers have never had a dynasty the way the Hawks did in Osaka and the Hankyu Braves did up the hill at Nishinomiya Stadium before both franchises were sold after the 1988 season.

With the Buffaloes clinching on Wednesday, attention turned to the two tight battles for second and third in each league, while a player, who was at the forefront of a revolution in Japanese baseball, called it quits.

Thursday’s games

Hawks 4, Marines 2: At Fukuoka Dome, SoftBank’s former Fighters, Kensuke Kondo and Kohei Arihara (9-4) were the difference. Kondo’s 23rd home run made it 4-1 in the first inning after Gregory Polanco retained his share of the PL home run lead with his 25th in the top of the inning.

Atsuki Taneichi (10-6) struck out five straight after Kondo’s home run, and his seven Ks over five innings pushed him into the league lead with 153, ahead of Yoshinobu Yamamoto‘s 148.

The third-place Hawks, whose only losing records this season are against the two teams they’re tussling with for two playoff spots, the Marines and Eagles, moved to within a game of the Marines, and pulled 1-1/2 in front of the Eagles.

Continue reading NPB news: Sept. 21, 2023

Jet lagged: Sept. 20, 2023

Tonight I’m counting my blessings and praising the Buffaloes.

Jet lag sucks

We’ve been back from vacation now for as long as we were on vacation, and for the first time in three days I was alert until nearly midnight. For the past two days, I intended to blog as games went on, when at the stroke of 8 pm, my head would become leaden.

Tonight it got me on the walk back home from the subway. The legs began feeling like rubber, and I literally had to remind myself to put one leg in front of the other in order to get home.

My first thought was that I’d become something like a zombie, but the zombies portrayed in the media all seem more vivacious than I feel at this moment.

The Buffaloes win the pennant

Orix clinched at home Wednesday with a 6-2 come-from-behind win over the Lotte Marines at Osaka UFO dome. Afterward, manager Satoshi Nakajima acknowledged that his pitchers were the team’s bedrock.

“They do outstanding work, but the position players make it come together in wins with their good fielding and hitting at big moments,” Nakajima said.

Yutaro Sugimoto had a big game for the Buffaloes, throwing out a runner on the bases from left field, singling in Orix’s first run and scoring the tying run.

After winning the pennant by two games or so in 2021 and finishing in a dead heat with SoftBank last year, the Buffaloes clinched by moving 14-1/2 games ahead of the second-place Marines.

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writing & research on Japanese baseball