NPB 2020 Sept. 24

Eagles repulse Marines

Yuki Matsui and a quartet of relievers turned back the Lotte Marines in a 3-0 victory on Thursday to complete a three-game sweep of their closest Pacific League rivals.

The win lifted Rakuten to within 2-1/2 games of the second-place Marines, who trail the SoftBank Hawks by two games. The Marines remain nine games above .500 despite being outscored this season 344-360.

Matsui was yanked after needing his 114th pitch to notch his 12th strikeout and leave the bases loaded in the fifth inning at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Matsui, who saved 30-plus games in four of the last five seasons, improved to 3-3 as a starter. He gave up five hits and had trouble getting some close calls as he walked four.

Reserve catcher Takahiro Shimotsuma opened the scoring with his first career homer and Eigoro Mogi singled in runs in the third and fifth off Daiki Iwashita (5-6), who also went five for the Marines.

After four homers over the first two games in Sendai, Hideto Asamura failed to reach the seats but reached base three times to contribute to two of the Eagles runs.

Kanji Teraoka worked the sixth for the Eagles, D.J. “Bearded Thunder” Johnson the seventh, Tomohito Sakai the eighth, and Alan Busenitz the ninth, when he earned his 15th save.

It was a tough night for the Marines’ Leonys Martin, who after striking out for the fourth time, was hit by Busenitz in the ninth, raising his Japan-leading hit-by-pitch total to 14, leaving him in pole position to join a fairly large club of imported players who lead their league in being hit with baseballs.

No broom at the inn for Buffaloes

The Orix Buffaloes came within one pitch of sweeping the league-leading SoftBank Hawks on Thursday, only for Akira Nakamura to put a good swing on a hanging 2-1 curve for a game-tying two-run homer as the teams played to a 3-3, 10-inning tie at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Moments after the Buffaloes took a 3-1 lead against Yutaka Wada in the top of the fifth, Nakamura evened things up. Orix starter Chang Yi, whose cousin Yang Yao-hsun used to pitch for SoftBank, fell behind Nakamura with two outs and a man on in the fifth. The home run was Nakamura’s sixth of the season.

Yurisbel Gracial opened the scoring in the second with his eighth home run, only for Orix’s Aderlin Rodriguez to tie it in the sixth with his fourth homer.

Wada gave away the lead after a scratch single, a wild pitch, a walk. Kenya Wakatsuki doubled beyond the reach of Gracial to make it a 2-1 game. The drawn in infield failed to prevent the runner on third from scoring, but a diving stop by shortstop Taisei Makihara robbed Ryo Ota of a single and Wada was able to get out of the inning trailing by two.

The real highlight of the game was an electric inning by Hawks lefty Livan Moinelo in the eighth. He overpowered Rodriguez on four fastballs. Masataka Yoshida was able to foul off his hard stuff, but was looking fastball and watched helplessly as a 3-2 curve floated through the zone. Steven Moya grounded out on four pitches to end it.

Uehara shuts down Lions

Nippon Ham Fighters lefty Kenta Uehara (1-1) allowed two runs over seven innings while striking out nine in a 12-2 butt kicking of the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome.

Lions right-hander Sho Ito (0-2) allowed four runs over 3-1/3 innings, and reliever Ken Togame was shelled for six runs in 1-1/3 innings.

Active roster moves 9/24/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/4

Central League

Activated

None

Dectivated

CarpP16Takeru Imamura
DragonsP36Yuichiro Okano

Pacific League

Activated

LionsOF68Junichiro Kishi
HawksP11Yuki Tsumori
HawksP21Tsuyoshi Wada
BuffaloesP98Chang Yi

Dectivated

LionsIF0Daichi Mizuguchi
HawksP49Yuto Furuya

Starting pitchers for Sept. 22, 2020

Pacific League

Lions vs Eagles: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Zach Neal (3-6, 5.18) vs Takahiro Shiomi (4-6, 4.46)

Marines vs Hawks: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kota Futaki (4-2, 3.86) vs Matt Moore (3-1, 2.65)

Buffaloes vs Fighters: Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Taisuke Yamaoka (1-3, 3.07) vs Nick Martinez (1-4, 3.81)

Central League

Giants vs Dragons: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Angel Sanchez (4-3, 2.60) vs Yuya Yanagi (3-5, 3.64)

Swallows vs Tigers: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hirotoshi Takanashi (3-4, 4.55) vs Yuki Nishi (7-3, 2.12)

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

Hiroki Tokoda (1-6, 6.75) vs Shoichi Ino (6-4, 2.92)

NPB 2020 Sept. 23

Asamura wrecks Marines again

One day after Hideto Asamura routed the Lotte Marines single handed with three home runs, his 28th home run of the year broke a 3-3 tie to lift Hideaki Wakui (9-3) and the Rakuten Eagles to a 5-3 win at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi on Wednesday.

With a man on in the seventh, a ferocious swing launched a high two-strike straight-as-string cutter from reliever Yuki Karakawa (0-1) well beyond the center-field fence.

“I was only trying to set the table for the hitters coming up behind me,” said Asamura, who now leads both leagues in home runs.

Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi, speaking more out of frustration than logic, said, “He burned us with the home run again, and at a time when the only thing we couldn’t afford to give up was a home run.”

Considering there was indeed more meat coming up after Asamura, despite his claims of trying to play small ball, a walk or any kind of hit could easily have sunk the Marines at that stage.

Wakui, who last won on Aug. 19, allowed four hits and hit a batter and gave up three runs, all in the sixth inning with Leonys Martin’s two-run double tying it.

Kazuhisa Makita torpedoed the Marines in the eighth and Alan Busenitz worked the ninth to record his 14th save as the Eagles won four straight for the first time this season.

Buffaloes hand Hawks 5th straight loss

Daiki Tajima (3-4) allowed two runs in five innings, while Steven Moya drove in three runs and hit his third home run in five games as the Orix Buffaloes beat the SoftBank Hawks 10-5 at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

With Yuki Yanagita not on the game roster for the first time this season due to stiffness in the neck. Hawks right-hander Shota Takeda (2-1) walked four and hit one as he allowed six runs over three innings.

Alfredo Despaigne drove in two consolation runs in the seventh with his fourth home run of the season and the 2,000th of the Hawks’ franchise.

Kimura leads Lions comeback

Fumikazu Kimura produces some electrifying swings as he hit a three-run homer and added an RBI single as the Seibu Lions overturned a 3-0 deficit in their 6-5 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at MetLife Dome.

Rookie lefty Shota Hamaya (2-0) looked poised for a 21-year-old. He allowed four runs over 5-1/3 innings. Fighters starter Drew VerHagen (6-4) allowed six runs, five earned, over 4-1/3 innings.

Six-time PL home run champ Takeya Nakamura was back for the first time since Sept. 1, having missed 19 games due to pain in right wrist.

Fighters rookie Ryunosuke Higuchi went 1-for-2 with a walk and was hit by a pitch in his debut. Drafted in the second round of the 2019 developmental draft from independent Albirex Niigata, the 26-year-old Higuchi has been demolishing Eastern League pitching this summer, slashing .342/.441/.651.

Seibu closer Tatsushi Masuda earned his 21st save.

Taguchi flashes old form for Giants

Lefty Kazuto Taguchi (5-3) came within two outs of his first complete game in two years but earned the win in the Yomiuri Giants’ 7-3 victory over the Hiroshima Carp at Tokyo Dome.

For eight innings, the 25-year-old Taguchi looked like the guy who was a mainstay of the Giants rotation in 2016 and 2017 until Jose Pirela chased him in the ninth with a two-run homer. Takumi Oshiro drove in two runs for the Giants and Hayato Sakamoto’s three hits moved him to within 39 of 2,000 in his career.

What are his chances of reach 3,000? Find out in today’s members notes.

Kamichatani shuts out Tigers

Taiga Kamichatani (2-1) threw his second career shutout, and Neftali Soto hit his 17th home run, a three-run shot in the seventh as the DeNA BayStars beat the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium.

Using an absolutely wicked cutter, Kamichatani struck out 10. He allowed six hits and walked three in his 144 pitches, causing Pro Yakyu News analyst Takenori Emoto and former pitcher to praise manager Alex Ramirez: “Ramirez-san understands how important it is to get complete games.”

Dragons bash Swallows

The Chunichi Dragons overcame home runs by Tetsuto Yamada and Munetaka Murakami grinding out a 14-hit 11-5 win over the Yakult Swallows at Nagoya Dome.

Shuhei Takahashi drove in three runs and Dayan Viciedo four with an eighth-inning grand slam for the Dragons as the Swallows lost after holding a lead for the 21st time this season.

Active roster moves 9/23/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/3

Central League

Activated

GiantsIF98Estamy Urena

Dectivated

GiantsOF88Gerardo Parra

Pacific League

Activated

LionsIF60Takeya Nakamura
HawksP18Shota Takeda
MarinesOF7Shuhei Fukuda
FightersIF32Ryota Yachi
FightersIF93Ryunosuke Higuchi
BuffaloesP48Koki Saito

Dectivated

LionsOF58Masato Kumashiro
EaglesP58Wataru Karashima
MarinesC53Naoya Emura
MarinesIF67Kenta Chatani
FightersIF38Kazunari Ishii
FightersOF26Daiki Asama
BuffaloesP14Kazumasa Yoshida

Starting pitchers for Sept. 22, 2020

Pacific League

Eagles vs Marines: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yuki Matsui (2-3, 4.05) vs Daiki Iwashita (5-5, 4.52)

Lions vs Fighters: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Sho Ito (0-1, 3.15) vs Kenta Uehara (0-1, 1.04)

Hawks vs Buffaloes: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Tsuyoshi Wada (5-1, 2.83) vs Chang Yi (1-2, 3.71)

NPB 2020 9-23 members notes

Talking the talk in Japan

One element of Japanese verbal communication is known as “tatemae.” Although it is a topic about which volumes have been written, in my experience it is noticeable when someone says something that is obviously not true that is not a lie so to speak but a signal. It indicates that pursuing a topic further might force one to confront awkward truths or accept responsibility in a public fashion that would be better hashed out in private or not at all.

I once made the mistake of asking my Japanese boss when I was teaching English at Pepsicola Japan 30 years ago if I could leave early since none of my last class had shown up. She was completely annoyed with me, and didn’t want the responsibility of having given me permission to go, so she taught me why I should never ask her that question again. She followed me around both floors of the office asking everyone we could find regardless of who they were if they would like an impromptu English lesson. After that embarrassing 10-minute shame tour, she made me swear I had no more students in the office, and then ordered me home, with steam coming out of her ears.

In the wake of the Fernando Tatis Jr, 3-0 grand slam, a Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast listener asked if there are unwritten rules in Japanese baseball. The one that first came to mind was how pitchers should indicate remorse when hitting a batter by tipping their cap. Another one, as Hideto Asamura showed on Wednesday after he hit his Japan-best 28th home run and his fourth in two days, is to act as if one wasn’t trying to hit the ball hard.

In the postgame on-field interview he did what guys without real power tend to say, “I was playing for the team, not trying to do too much – see tsunagaru.

“I was only trying to set the table for (Eigoro) Mogi and the great hitters coming up behind me,” he said describing a swing that was custom built to put a baseball into orbit.

Why home run hitters do this is a good question, but it is pretty common. He did say later that he was “prepared to put a good swing on a fat pitch, and that’s what you saw,” but it is perfectly in line with the expectation that one acts humbly. It doesn’t keep guys from flipping their bats or pumping their fists or pimping their home runs but when the moment is over, one is expected to remember one’s place.

Trey Hillman, currently the Miami Marlins bench coach, once expressed an opinion that Japan’s sacrifice bunt dogma was often just an out, a socially acceptable way for individuals to evade accountability for trying to put a good swing on the ball and risking failure.

Of course, Japanese small ball is much more than that. It does, however, share that notion with tatemae that says we’re going to play this in an approved manner and no one will be hurt by it. Asamura was reasserting the social need to play for the team in the prescribed fashion even while being praised for a big swing that left no doubt about his intention. When he said he wasn’t swinging for the fences, he wasn’t denying it, but rather delivering a public service announcement: “Don’t try this at home kids.”

Offsetting penalties

The Hawks-Buffaloes game had a first for me, a balk that was called a balk and then wasn’t. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Orix lefty Daiki Tajima was delivering a pitch to Yurisbel Gracial with runners on first and second, when instead of releasing the ball he held on to it.

Gracial had asked for time and stepped out of the batter’s box without the umpire calling for play to stop. Tajima saw it and stopped and was in the process of being charged with a balk until the umpires decided, reasonably enough, that since Gracial had also broken the rules by stepping out of the box, no balk would be charged.

Hayato Sakamoto in toyland

With three hits on Wednesday, Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto moved to within 39 hits of Japan’s iconic 2,000-hit milestone.

What no one mentions is that the 31-year-old Sakamoto has an outside chance of becoming the second player with 3,000 hits in Japan.

Bill James’ Favorite Toy formula for calculating the chances of achieving certain career numbers, Sakamoto entered the 2020 season with a 30 percent chance of joining Isao Harimoto in the 3,000-hit club. It didn’t say what the chances were of Sakamoto becoming a Sunday morning TV talking head, however.

NPB 2020 Sept. 22

Asamura barrage routs Marines

Hideto Asamura homered three times, walked, hit an RBI single and drove in seven to power the Rakuten Eagles to 12-4 come-from behind win over the Lotte Marines at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Asamura homered to lead off the Eagles’ third against Ayumu Ishikawa (6-3) and trim Lotte’s lead to a run. Daichi Suzuki’s RBI single tied it in the fifth, and Asamura followed with a two-run shot.

His RBI single opened the scoring in the Eagles’ three-run seventh, and his three-run shot in the eighth capped the scoring.

Johnson gets Sendai hero’s welcome

One day after he was acquired by the Eagles K.J. “Bearded Thunder” Johnson walked off the mound after one inning of relief to the kind of reception teammates normally reserve for pitchers throwing complete-game victories.

Perhaps, the Eagles players knew something the rest of us didn’t. Johnson (1-0) worked a 1-2-3 fifth to keep the game tied and ended up the winning pitcher one day after he moved over from the Central League’s Hiroshima Carp on a cash deal.

The last three Eagles relievers kept the Marines off the board as the game turned into a rout. Kazuhisa Makita worked a scoreless seventh. Journeyman right-hander Hiroaki Fukuyama, signed from the developmental roster following his release last winter, worked a scoreless eighth to protect a four-run lead.

Yamamoto beats Senga in 4th matchup

In a pitchers’ duel worthy of the hype Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto (6-3) beat SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga (6-5) 1-0 at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

The only run came, fittingly on a home run by the Buffaloes’ best hitter, Masataka Yoshida in the second inning. Senga allowed five hits without a walk while striking out nine over eight innings.

Yoshida, who now has 12 homers, had three of the Buffaloes’ six hits in the game.

Yamamoto allowed three singles and two walks over seven innings and struck out seven. Tyler Higgins got out of a tight spot in the eighth after a leadoff double and a sacrifice put the tying run at third with one out. Pinch-hitter Keizo Kawashima lined out to first and pinch-runner Taisei Makihara was doubled off third to end the inning.

Closer Brandon Dickson retired the heart of the Hawks order–thanks to a nice catch by shortstop Ryoichi Adachi to rob Akira Nakamura of a hit — and earn his 10th save.

Uwasawa tames Lions

Two inning-ending double plays helped Naoyuki Uwasawa (7-3) hold the Seibu Lions to a run over seven innings in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 5-1 win at MetLife Dome.

Uwasawa scattered six hits and two walks while striking out seven. Sho Nakata hit a two-run first-inning homer off Kona Takahashi (5-7) and Fighters catcher Yushi Shimizu, who helped give away a Fighters victory on Sunday, hit a two-run home run in the second.

Ono throws 3rd shutout, 7th complete game

Yudai Ono (6-5) responded to the end of his complete-game streak last week by starting another, striking out 11 in a two-hitter as the Chunichi Dragons beat the Yakult Swallows 3-0 at Nagoya Dome.

In his previous start, the lefty got the hook after allowing four runs over four innings. He allowed a two-out singled and a walk in the first, and a two-out single in the second before retiring the last 22 batters he face in a 122-pitch effort.

Forty-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa (0-5) hung in for six innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk. Matt Koch, pitching for the first time since Aug. 29, allowed a run in the seventh, before Scott McGough finished up for the visitors.

For the second day in a row, Zoilo Almonte drove in Chunichi’s first run with a home run, making it 1-0 in the fourth.

Itoi wrecks BayStars

Yoshio Itoi swung a hot bat for the second straight day with three hits and three RBIs to lead the Hanshin Tigers to a 6-3 win over the DeNA BayStars at Koshien Stadium on Tuesday.

Although the 39-year-old’s power numbers dropped off precipitously last season, he continues to walk a lot and rarely strike out, so even when he’s batting an unusually low .256, he has an on-base percentage over .360. His two-run double broke a 3-3 eighth-inning tie when both teams were trying their best to play for one-run and failed.

After a leadoff single, Koji Chikamoto, who had homered and singled so far, sacrificed. Normally reliable lefty Kenta Ishida (1-2) failed to get the force at second. The ensuing sacrifice put runners on second and third. With the BayStars outfield pulled in, Itoi easily found the gap for a two-run double.

Tigers starter Haruto Takahashi allowed three runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out eight over six innings. He pitched out of a two-on, one-out jam in the fifth after Austin’s home run, and the BayStars managed just two infield singles over the final four innings.

Giants walk off against Carp

Geronimo Franzua (2-3) allowed the winning run to score in the ninth on two singles and an errant pickoff throw as the Yomiuri Giants took a 5-4 see-saw game against the Hiroshima Carp at Tokyo Dome.

Giants starter Tomoyuki Sugano’s streak for consecutive winning decisions from Opening Day remained at 11 after he allowed three runs over eight innings.

Hisayoshi Chono, taken by the Carp last year from Yomiuri as free agent compensation for the Giants signing two-time Central League MVP Yoshihiro Maru, belted a three-run homer in the fourth off his former teammate.

Giants cleanup hitter, Kazuma Okamoto, however, put the hosts ahead 4-3 in the fifth with his 22nd home run.

Giants closer Rubby De La Rosa (2-0) allowed the Carp to tie it. A leadoff single set the table and Ryuhei Matsuyama singled home pinch-runner Kaisei Sone, who had been running with the pitch.

A leadoff single and a wild two-out pickoff throw by Franzua in the bottom of the inning set the table for Naoki Yoshikawa to win it with a single.

Active roster moves 9/22/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/2

Central League

Activated

GiantsP49Thyago Vieira
BayStarsIF2Jose Lopez
TigersP61Atsushi Mochizuki
SwallowsP33Matt Koch
SwallowsIF46Kengo Ota

Dectivated

GiantsP54Daisuke Naoe
BayStarsIF4Yukiya Ito
TigersP21Minoru Iwata
SwallowsP20Kazuki Kondo
SwallowsP68Hirofumi Yamanaka

Pacific League

Activated

LionsOF9Fumikazu Kimura
EaglesP42DJ Johnson
EaglesP64Hiroyuki Fukuyama
MarinesC39Yuta Yoshida
FightersP39Ryo Akiyoshi

Dectivated

FightersP47Kenya Suzuki

Starting pitchers for Sept. 22, 2020

Pacific League

Eagles vs Marines: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hideaki Wakui (8-3, 3.07) vs Kazuya Ojima (5-6, 3.66)

Lions vs Fighters: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shota Hamaya (1-0, 6.14) vs Drew VerHagen (6-3, 3.69)

Hawks vs Buffaloes: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shota Takeda (2-0, 2.95) vs Daiki Tajima (2-4, 3.57)

Central League

Giants vs Carp: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kazuto Taguchi (4-3, 4.50) vs Yusuke Nomura (5-1, 3.72)

Dragons vs Swallows: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yuichiro Okano (2-2, 5.17) vs Hiroaki Saiuchi (0-0, 3.60)

Tigers vs BayStars: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Koyo Aoyagi (6-5, 3.95) vs Taiga Kamichatani (1-1, 3.69)

NPB 2020 9-21 members notes

What’s wrong with the Tigers’ imports

Watching Monday’s Pro Yakyu News with analysts Tadashi Matsumoto and Takenori Emoto, I was struck by how negative they were, pretty much toward everyone, but I wasn’t really listening until as my ex used to say, my “Dumbo ears” came out when Matsumoto and Emoto were taking turns praising first baseman Justin Bour and pitcher Jon Edwards.

“Bour’s great isn’t he? That great swing. A great attitude. He is trying hard to speak Japanese at the postgame hero interview,” Matsumoto said. “He’s really a good hitter, but you know what? He should have hit more home runs by now.”

Then it was Emoto’s turn to burn.

“Edwards has good stuff, but he needs to pitch a lot,” the former Tigers and Hawks pitcher said. “But he’s way too heavy. Jeez. He weighs 106 kilograms. That’s too heavy to pitch in Japan.”

Of course it wasn’t just the imports. Emoto complained about all the breaking pitches Carp right-hander Allen Kuri threw.

“He’s got a good fastball. Nobody could touch it,” Emoto said of Kuri. “Everything they hit was a breaking ball.”

Kuri might not be an import but his father is American, although I don’t think that had any part in Emoto’s analysis. Ironically, the video they showed of Hayato Sakamoto hitting one of Kuri’s offspeed pitches, was a good pitch that rolled the right way. That stuff happens.

Maybe it’s just those two, and maybe I’m too sensitive toward slights toward non-Japanese.

NPB 2020 Sept. 21

Justin time

Justin Bour hit a game-tying home run and then drove in the go-ahead run as the Hanshin Tigers came from behind to beat the DeNA BayStars 5-3 at Koshien Stadium on Monday.

Tigers starter Minoru Iwata got out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning with a perfect pitch to produce a double play, but bad pitches cost him his early lead.

Yoshito Itoi doubled and scored when DeNA Starter Masaya Kyoyama made a mistake to Jerry Sands and he drilled it for a first-inning single.

Tyler Austin’s seventh home run tied it in the fourth and more followed in the BayStars’ two-run fifth, but Itoi and Bour were too locked in for Kyoyama to keep the Tigers off the scoreboard. Itoi singled in a run in the bottom of the fifth and Bour tied it with his 14th homer in the sixth.

The left-handed hitter hammered a fastball high and away over the fence in center. BayStars reliever Yuki Kuniyoshi made a mistake in the eighth to Yusuke Oyama. A single and a passed ball put the runner on second, and some good base running allowed Oyama to score when Bour followed with a single.

Robert Suarez struck out two in the ninth en route to his 16th save. Jon Edwards, pitching on the top team for the first time since Opening Day, worked a scoreless sixth, the first of four Tigers relievers.

Giants blow up Kuri

Hiroshima Carp starter Allen Kuri (4-5) allowed six runs, five earned, over four innings to squander a two-run first-inning lead in a 10-3 loss to the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome.

Giants leadoff man Naoki Yoshikawa reached base three times, scored three runs and drove in one to lead the way, while Hayato Sakamoto had three hits and a pair of RBI doubles.

Swallows blow lead in loss for 20th time

Zoilo Almonte overturned a one-run deficit with his seventh home run, a third-inning, two-run shot off submarine right-hander Hirofumi Yamanaka (1-2) in the Chunichi Dragons’ 9-3 win over the Yakult Swallows at Nagoya Dome.

The Swallows opened the scoring off Akiyoshi Katsuno (2-3) in the second when Munetaka Murakami homered for the second straight game with his 16th of the season. But Toshiki Abe and Ryosuke Hirata also drove in two runs apiece to pace the Dragons’ attack.

It was the 20th time this season the Swallows have led a game only to lose, the most in the Central League.

Marines acquire former Marlin, Oriole Chen

Taiwan lefty Chen Wei-yin has signed with the Lotte Marines, the Pacific League club announced Monday. The 35-year-old has won 59 games in the majors and prior to that 36 for the Central League’s Chunichi Dragons.

The Marines on Monday are second in the PL pennant race, 1-1/2 games back of the three-time defending Japan Series champion SoftBank Hawks.

“I am very happy to join Marines,” he said in a statement released by the club. “I will do my best to be the best in Japan.”

“I have a strong impression of the Marines from 2010 when we lost the Japan Series to them. I remember how amazingly unique their supporters are.”

“My impression of Zozo Marine Stadium is that it is very windy, and I want to learn how to use that to my advantage on the mound. There are many players I am looking forward to facing but if I have to name one it would be Yuki Yanagita of the Hawks.”

Eagles acquire Carp reliever Johnson

The Pacific League’s Rakuten Eagles acquired 31-year-old reliever DJ Johnson D.J. Johnson on Monday from the Central League’s Hiroshima Carp for cash considerations.

Johnson, who signed this season with the Carp, has appeared in 14 games with one hold. In 13-2/3 innings, he has struck out 13, walked eight and allowed no home runs. He has a 4.61 ERA.

In 12 Western League games, he has allowed three runs in 12 innings, while striking out 13, walking six and hitting two. He has not allowed a home run in either the CL or WL.

Also on Monday, the Eagles added 31-year-old right-handed pitcher Hiroyuki Fukuyama to their 70-man roster, signing him from their developmental roster. Fukuyama was the Yokohama BayStars’ sixth pick in the 2010 draft, and pitched in the PL for the Eagles from 2013 to 2019.

Elsewhere, the Yomiuri Giants last week signed 21-year-old infielder Estamy Urena from their developmental roster. In 218 Eastern League plate appearances, Urena has posted a .358 on-base percentage and a .497 slugging average. In the minors this season, he’s played primarily at third base and in the outfield.

Eagles’ Chargois fined for verbal abuse

Former Los Angles Dodgers pitcher J.T. Chargois was fined 50,000 yen ($475) by Nippon Professional Baseball on Monday after the 29-year-old first-year Rakuten Eagles player was ejected from an Eastern League farm game on Sunday for abusive language toward an umpire.

Chargois, who also received a “severe warning,” is 0-3 in 29 Pacific League relief appearances for the Eagles with one save and a 6.29 ERA.

Active roster moves 9/21/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/1

Central League

Activated

GiantsP54Daisuke Naoe
GiantsOF36Shingo Ishikawa
BayStarsP48Masaya Kyoyama
TigersP21Minoru Iwata
TigersP42Jon Edwards
CarpP16Takeru Imamura
CarpP64Kyohei Nakamura
DragonsP41Akiyoshi Katsuno
SwallowsP68Hirofumi Yamanaka

Dectivated

GiantsP42Cristopher Mercedes
GiantsP45Nobutaka Imamura
BayStarsP58Yuta Muto
TigersP20Kenichi Nakata
TigersP36Masumi Hamachi
CarpP13Takuya Yasaki
CarpP46Mikiya Takahashi
SwallowsIF0Ryota Fujii

Pacific League

Activated

None

Dectivated

LionsOF73Wataru Takagi
HawksP29Shuta Ishikawa
HawksP61Masato Okumura
EaglesP11Takayuki Kishi
EaglesP43Sung Chia-hao

Starting pitchers for Sept. 22, 2020

Pacific League

Eagles vs Marines: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Wataru Karashima (0-3, 5.56) vs Ayumu Ishikawa (6-2, 3.81)

Lions vs Fighters: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kona Takahashi (5-6, 4.13) vs Naoyuki Uwasawa (6-3, 2.33)

Hawks vs Buffaloes: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kodai Senga (6-4, 3.39) vs Yoshinobu Yamamoto (5-3, 2.84)

Central League

Giants vs Carp: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Tomoyuki Sugano (11-0, 1.64) vs Atsushi Endo (2-3, 4.04)

Dragons vs Swallows: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yudai Ono (5-5, 2.59) vs Masanori Ishikawa (0-4, 5.12)

Tigers vs BayStars: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Haruto Takahashi (2-3, 2.03) vs Yuya Sakamoto (2-0, 5.51)

writing & research on Japanese baseball

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