NPB news: June 1, 2023

The Yakult Swallows, 0-12-1 in their last 13 games, did a little lineup shuffle Thursday, putting slugging second baseman Tetsuto Yamada into the leadoff spot and putting ace pinch-hitter Shingo Kawabata in the No. 3 hole as the season’s first interleague series wrapped up.

Fighters 5, Swallows 2: At Kitahiroshima Taxpayers’ Burden Field, Shingo Kawabata was pushed into the starting lineup as the No. 3 hitter and had three hits that led to runs. A first-inning error and a Kawabata infield single set the table for Munetaka Murakami‘s RBI single off Takayuki Kato (4-3).

Kawabata singled again in the third, before Murakami hit his 10th homer to make it 3-0 on a pitch and a swing that really had no business producing a home run. Kawabata singled in another run in the seventh, and Cy Sneed (4-2) struck out six over seven innings.

Continue reading NPB news: June 1, 2023

NPB news: May 31, 2023

On Thursday, Gosuke Kato homered in a big league game for the first time, veteran Takumi Kuriyama hit his first homer of the season, Masahiro Tanaka won a game for the first time since April 14, while Kenta Bright, a day after getting his first start of the season, continued to shine for Chunichi.

Off the field entirely, the players union and NPB opened working group sessions to attempt to resolve their differences over management of players’ image rights.

DeNA’s Neftali Soto has been deactivated with inflammation in the second toe of his left foot, which I learned yesterday is also known in Japanese as a person’s “index toe.”

And lastly, the SoftBank Hawks have, according to multiple reports citing sources, agreed to terms with Cuba’s sports authority to bring back outfielder Alfredo Despaigne, who has 184 Japan home runs under his ample belt but was released after last season.

Wednesday’s games

Lions 4, Tigers 0: At Seibu Dome, the Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers’ nine-game winning streak came to an unlikely end as Keisuke Honda went four innings for and combined with five relievers to shut out the Tigers on five hits and five walks.

Seibu scored small-ball style in the first, a Sosuke Genda leadoff single, the obligatory sacrifice and a one-out Kento Watanabe single. Takumi Kuriyama, who left two on in the first, opened the fourth with his first homer of the year. Shuta Tonosaki singled in two in the seventh.

Continue reading NPB news: May 31, 2023

writing & research on Japanese baseball