NPB Wrap 4-8-21

I wrote this after learning that Japan is working on a plan to vaccinate Olympic athletes ahead of its most vulnerable senior citizens, which should come as a surprise to no one.

Japan loses its battle against the coronavirus to the Olympics.

and now back to baseball.

Yamamoto rolls over Marines

Buffaloes 5, Marines 1

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, age met youth on Thursday as 22-year-old ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto (2-1) allowed a run over seven innings to earn the win for the Orix Buffaloes. Orix’s fourth pitcher, 37-yaer-old former Diamondback and Mariner Yoshihisa Hirano needed six pitches to end a ninth-inning bases-loaded jam and earn his first save in Japan since he racked up 29 in 2017 for the Buffaloes.

Lefty Fumiya Motomae (1-1) started for the Marines and allowed a run on two no-out singles in the first and a groundout. Fumiya Sugimoto hit his first homer, with red-hot Yuma Tongu on base in the second for the visitors. After Brandon Laird’s second homer, leading off the second, Tongu delivered a two-run double with no outs in the third that completed the scoring early.

Eagles 4, Lions 0

At MetLife Dome, Ryota Takinaka (1-0), the Rakuten Eagles’ sixth starter, bounced back from allowing 10 runs in his season debut by going seven innings striking out five and not allowing a runner through five as the Pacific League leaders swept the Lions in their yard.

Lions right-hander Towa Uema (0-1), a seventh-round pick in 2019, retired the first four batters he faced in his pro debut before giving up Eigoro Mogi’s fourth home run with one out in the second. He walked a pair of batters in a scoreless fifth before the Eagles knocked him out in the sixth. Ryosuke Tatsumi opened with his fourth homer.

Uema left with one out and two on after a jam shot by Hideto Asamura, and Mogi doubled over rookie left fielder Gakuto Wakabayashi on the third pitch from Bangkok-born Yasuo Sano to drive in two.

Tanaka throwing

Masahiro Tanaka, whose season debut has been delayed by a calf-muscle injury, threw 33 pitches in the MetLife Dome bullpen and appeared to be ready to return to action within a week.

Hawks 4, Fighters 2

At Sapporo Dome, Akira Nakamura’s two-run eight-inning single capped a three-run Hawks rally against veteran lefty Naoki Miyanishi (0-1 ) to complete a three-game sweep. It was Nippon Ham’s seventh straight loss.

Second-year Fighters lefty Ryusei Kawano allowed a run over five innings, while Hawks starter Shota Takeda allowed two runs on three walks and nine hits, including two RBI singles by Ryunosuke Higuchi over 5-1/3 innings. Takeda couldn’t have been helped by getting smacked by the barrel of a broken bat when he fielded a comebacker between Taishi Ota’s leadoff triple and Higuchi’s first single.

The Fighters, who stranded 11 runners through six innings, stranded three more in the seventh. Yuki Yanagita singled to open the eighth off Miyanishi, who then dropped a sharp comebacker for an infield single. After a walk loaded the bases, Alfredo Despaigne tied it with a sac fly, and Nakamura hit a flair over the drawn-in infield to put the Hawks in charge.

LIvan Moinelo, making his second appearance of the season, struck out two of the three batters he faced to raise his total to five over two innings so far.

Giants 3, Tigers 0

At Koshien Stadium, Yuki Takahashi (2-0) worked seven-plus innings, and lefty Kota Nakagawa kept two inherited runners from scoring and tying the game as Yomiuri salvaged the final game of the series.

Hayato Sakamoto made it 1-0 in the first off Takumi Akiyama (1-1) with his first home run. Fourth-inning one-out singles by Takumi Oshiro and Shinnosuke Shigenobu and a fumble by left fielder Jerry Sands set Ginjiro Sumitani up for a sac fly that made it 2-0.

Shigenobu homered in the top of the ninth and Rubby De La Rosa worked around a Jefry Marte leadoff single in the bottom of the inning with three strikeouts to notch his third save.

Akiyama struck out 10 over six innings. He gave up six hits and two walks.

Swallows 11, Carp 7

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, 19-year-old rookie Yasunobu Okugawa (1-1) allowed five runs in five innings and weathered a 54-minute rain delay to earn his first pro win as Yakult twice came from behind to beat Hiroshima.

Each team scored four runs in the first inning before the center of Tokyo was given a thunder-and-lightning show. After a scoreless second Seiya Suzuki hit the first of his two home runs, only for the Swallows to come back for two in the home half against right-hander Yuta Nakamura (0-2), who was charged with six runs over three innings.

Swallows leadoff man Kotaro Yamasaki went 4-for-5, reached on an error, homered and doubled to power the hosts’ offense, while Naomichi Nishiura drove in three runs on three RBI singles.

Okugawa, whom the Swallows signed after winning his rights in a three-way first-round draft lottery in 2019 and who only pitched two innings on the first team last season, struck out four without a walk, but gave up 10 hits.

BayStars 5, Dragons 2

At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, a ninth-inning error on a hard grounder with one out and the infield in by third baseman Shuhei Takahashi allowed the go-ahead run off Dragons set-up man Daisuke Sobue (0-1) as the BayStars left Nagoya with two wins.

With the game tied 2-2 in the eighth, troubled former closer Yasuaki Yamasaki (1-1) worked recorded his first 1-2-3 inning of the season and earned the win after Sobue was tagged for three unearned runs and Kazuki Mishima recorded his second save in the ninth.

Ryosuke Hirata tripled and scored off BayStars starter Kentaro Taira in the second. Taira left after five innings as the pitcher of record after rookie Shugo Maki took veteran lefty Takahiro Matsuba deep with a man on in the sixth for his third homer. The Dragons, however, tied it straight away against 23-year-old Hiromu Ise, who gave up a Hirata leadoff single and an RBI pinch-hit double to 43-year-old Kosuke Fukudome.

Starting pitchers

Friday is ace day, ostensibly, and tomorrow will bring some interesting matchups. The Pacific League-leading Rakuten Eagles will send their Opening Day starter, Hideaki Wakui (2-0) against the SoftBank Hawks first-game pitcher, Shuta Ishikawa (1-1). The Seibu Lions’ Kona Takahashi (2-0) will go for his third victory in Chiba, and former Orix Buffaloes ace Chihiro Kaneko will start at his old home park for the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Shintaro Fujinami, the Hanshin Tigers’ surprise Opening Day starter will go for his first decision, in Yokohama, while the Hiroshima Carp will send their ace, Daichi Osera (1-0) against Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano, who reportedly hurt his knee on Opening Day.

Pacific League

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

Hideaki Wakui (2-0, 1.29) vs Shuta Ishikawa (1-1, 4.85)

Marines vs Lions: Zozo Marine Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Kota Futaki (1-1, 3.75) vs Kona Takahashi (2-0, 2.93)

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

Taisuke Yamaoka (0-2, 6.30) vs Chihiro Kaneko (-)

Central League

BayStars vs Tigers: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Haruhiro Hamaguchi (0-1, 7.00) vs Shintaro Fujinami (0-0, 2.45)

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

Daichi Osera (1-0, 1.26) vs Tomoyuki Sugano (0-0, 4.50)

Viciedo out

The Chunichi Dragons deactivated cleanup hitter Dayan Viciedo on Thursday to the dreaded “lack of upper-body fitness.” Hiroshima Carp newcomer Kevin Cron is currently beginning rehab since he is suffering from that ailment’s partner in crime, “lack of lower-body fitness.”

The Orix Buffaloes have deactivated Steven Moya after he fouled a pitch off his right foot in Friday’s game against the Marines.

Active roster moves 4/8/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/18

Central League

Activated

DragonsIF55Nobumasa Fukuda
BayStarsP59Kentaro Taira
SwallowsP11Yasunobu Okugawa

Dectivated

DragonsIF66Dayan Viciedo
BayStarsP94Takamasa Kasai
SwallowsIF60Ryusei Takeoka

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP66Yuki Matsumoto
LionsP64Towa Uema
LionsOF53Aito Takeda
FightersP29Kazutomo Iguchi

Dectivated

LionsIF63Ryusei Tsunashima
BuffaloesOF1Steven Moya

Olympics 1, Japan 0

This result just in, the residents and citizens of Japan have been defeated by the national Olympic team.

The victory, not by athletes but by bureaucrats, politicians, monied interests and grifters, was probably never in doubt. But it pulled clearly into view Wednesday night with a report of the latest move by Japan’s government to put the Olympics ahead of the people.

Kyodo News (English) reported that Japan’s already delayed vaccination program could be put further behind schedule so that Olympic athletes can be vaccinated before the most vulnerable members of society, those aged 65 or older.

We knew this was coming. Thirteen months ago, Japan’s government made every effort to make it look like the nation would be a safe haven from the virus, denying testing to all those without the most severe cases of specific symptoms.

At first, Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker numbers had to come from local websites because Japan didn’t publish nationwide figures. It didn’t want to know and didn’t want others to know. People who died without being tested were considered to be not infected.

Japan’s second state of emergency officially ended on Sunday, March 21, but we were told to be wary, and local governments, particularly in Osaka, which has become a hotspot, have begun begging for emergency status.

So why was the state of emergency lifted?

I’m sure there were a number of reasons, but Japan’s Olympic organizers have planned the longest re-enactment of Nazi Germany’s torch relay propaganda stunt in history, and there was no way in hell it was going to be canceled or run out of public view. The 121-day relay kicked off from Fukushima Prefecture on March 25, the fourth day after the state of emergency.

One hundred and twenty-one days. That’s 10 times longer than Hitler’s relay, likely a point of pride for Japan’s vice prime minister Taro Aso, an avowed admirer of der Fuhrer.

With roughly 80 percent of the public against holding the Olympics, the relay of the Olympic flame–known as “seika 聖火, the sacred flame”–it was felt, was a crucial tool in putting the Olympics in a positive light, and we all know the pandemic will be over by July, right?

Yet, even that has not gone without a hitch. On Wednesday, the torch relay was banished from the streets in Osaka Prefecture, with that leg still being held, but away from prying eyes at Expo ’70 Commemorative Park in the Suita, the site of the 1970 Worlds Fair.

In January, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, in solidarity with the people of the world, said it encouraged nations not to put Olympians at the head of the line.

“We always made it clear we are not in favor of athletes jumping the queue. In the first lines must be the high-risk groups, the healthcare workers and the people who keep our society alive. That is the first priority and this is a principle we have established.”

–IOC President Thomas Bach, January 2021

But like tolerating openly sexist remarks from former Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee, Yoshiro Mori, the IOC has shown world-class flexibility in its values regarding vaccines: “If Japan wants its athletes to be vaccinated ahead of its senior citizens for the sake of Olympic gold medals? Well, that’s none of our business, really.”

All this time, Japan and the organizers have stressed the need to get the public on board for holding the Olympics when it is not considered safe for non-residents to enter Japan and watch.

These Olympics have been a con from Day 1. To gain support for them, Japan’s real Olympic team, politicians, grifters and influence peddlars, renamed it the “reconstruction Olympics,” as if it would benefit the three prefectures decimated by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear disaster.

Yet the games are all about Tokyo, about spending lots and lots of money in and on Tokyo and to influential businesses, and to secure it after numerous past failures, millions of dollars flowed down suspicious avenues, with the head of the bid committee now being investigated in France for corruption.

But it now seems the idea of getting the taxpayers to understand this scam is no longer a necessary part of the con, and Japan is going to get its Olympics one way or another. So if people have to die before they get vaccinated so Japan can have an Olympics, well, so be it.

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Musings 4-7-21

Silly things people say on TV

Masayuki Kuwahara had three singles a walk and a sacrifice in the leadoff spot for the BayStars in their 7-3 win over the Dragons on Tuesday. “Former manager Ramirez didn’t use him very much but he’s a good player, but a new manager gives him a new attitude.”

— Yasushi Tao

Kuwahara did fall out of favor with Ramirez, who used him as his No. 1 center fielder from his age 22 season in 2016 to 2018. During those three seasons alone, Ramirez played Kuwahara in 403 games and gave him 1,607 plate appearances. Kuwahara is an adequate player, but to say Ramirez didn’t use him very much is kind of silly. Kuwahara was adequate as a starter but has not played well as a reserve.

I don’t think it was a dig on Ramirez as much as it was an explanation of why Kuwahara is playing decently. The answer is probably that he responds to being an everyday player, and that Ramirez felt he had better options.

The prisoner of No. 2, chapter 2

Swallows catcher Yuhei Nakamura was installed as the No. 2 hitter after Norichika Aoki was deactivated due to coronavirus concerns on March 31. In his first game in the spot generally reserved for light-hitting middle infielders, he transformed into a No. 2 hitter, sacrificing twice and striking out twice.

From then until Tuesday, April 7, when his qualifications to bat second were raised, he went 6-for-20 with a walk, two doubles, three runs, a sac fly, three RBIs and no sac bunts.

Mitsuru Manaka, his former Swallows manager started by following the script for batters hitting well in the No. 2 hole, “Nakamura in the No. 2 spot is doing a great job of advancing runners,” before he caught himself.

“Actually, he’s doing a great job of getting on base and creating scoring opportunities,” Manaka said, correcting himself and amending his statement to add that reaching base was an acceptable part of the No. 2 hitter’s job.

Kenichi Yazawa: “When I saw him batting second I did a double-take. I think maybe he’ll find his good batting form and (when he’s good enough) he can bat fifth.”

The exchange tells you that what’s important to Japan’s old school, even though Yazawa is a bit of an iconoclast.

To most talking heads, it’s less important what the No. 2 batter actually does, but whether he matches the proper image. If he’s successful, the knee jerk analysis – such as Manaka’s — is to say he’s doing his part in a small-ball offense by sacrificing. The other giveaway is Yazawa’s impression that a hitter good enough to bat fifth is wasted in the No. 2 hole.

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NPB wrap 4-7-21

Breaking: Tanaka will pitch when he’s ready

Wednesday’s pregame news about Masahiro Tanaka was that he won’t be ready to pitch on Saturday, as Rakuten Eagles general manager suggested might be possible last week.

The rest of that story, other than the part that Tanaka might be ready in 10 days instead of 21 from his calf-muscle injury was, surprisingly enough, that the Eagles would bring him back when he was fit.

Today’s was more of the same.

“It might not be the 10th. It might be the 11th. It’s up to him. We’re not going to rush him in to get him one day earlier when our goal is to have him pitch 20-plus games without trouble,” Ishii said according to the Yomiuri Shimbun.

Tatsumi powers Eagles

Eagles 6, Lions 3

At MetLife Dome, Rakuten Eagles leadoff hitter Ryosuke Tatsumi walked, homered to the opposite field, tripled, scored twice and drove in three runs in a win over the Lions that pushed the Eagles past Seibu and into first place in the Pacific League.

Eagles starter Takahiro Norimoto (2-0)  allowed two runs over seven innings on seven hits but no walks while striking out four. He allowed the Lions to make it a 3-2 game in the fifth, but struck out 2019 MVP Tomoya Mori to end the inning with two runners on.

Rookie Gakuto Wakabayashi, the Lions’ fourth pick out of Komazawa University singled twice and hit his first pro homer.

Lions starter Tatsuya Imai (0-1) worked five innings. He allowed three runs on five walks, a hit batsman and five hits. With two on and two outs in the seventh, the Eagles scored twice off Reed Garrett when Tatsumi tripled over the drawn-in outfield. The Lions combined two walk seven, a significant improvement over their 13 on Tuesday.

Hawks 6, Fighters 2

At Sapporo Dome, there was good news and bad news for the Nippon Ham Fighters. Rookie Hiromi Ito (0-1) struck out 11 batters over seven innings and the team got its first home run of the year, then reality struck.

Yurisbel Gracial opened the scoring in the second with his first home run. The hosts took the lead in the fourth on Taishi Ota’s two-run homer off Shunsuke Kasaya, who walked six in his 4-1/3 innings.

A leadoff walk to Alfredo Despaigne and an error put Ito on the spot in the fifth but the rookie struck out the tail of the Hawks’ order only for his teammates to waste more walks in the home half.

Gracial singled off the wall in right to lead off SoftBank’s “lucky seven” seventh inning. With runners on the corners, Ito fielded a comebacker and threw to second to start a double play, but the ball was dropped, everyone was safe. Gracial scored and Ito threw a high 0-1 fastball to Nobuhiro Masuda, who put a good swing on it and broke the 2-2 tie with a double off the wall.

Ryoya Kurihara’s two-run eighth-inning double put the game away for SoftBank, who saw Livan Moinelo make his season debut. The lefty faced three batters, threw 12 pitches and struck them all out. That’s an entrance.

Marines 9, Buffaloes 2

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, the Orix Buffaloes wasted a useful start from Hirotoshi Masui (1-1). The former closer left a 2-1 game against the Lotte Marines after throwing 96 pitches, and allowing two runs over five innings.

Lotte starter Daiki Iwashita (1-1) allowed two runs on two walks and two hits while striking out seven through 6-1/3 innings. Yuki Karakawa inherited Iwashita’s one-out bases-loaded jam in the seventh and let in just one of those runners in before the Marines played home run derby against right-hander Yu Suzuki in the home half.

Hisanori Yasuda, Leonys Martin and Yudai Fujioka each went deep in the five-run inning to turn the game into a rout.

Marines leadoff hitter Takashi Ogino doubled in each of his first two at-bats and scored both times. Takashi Toritani “doubled” on a ball that Takahiro Okada stumbled on but couldn’t stop and scored Lotte’s third run. Frank Herrmann followed Karakawa and retired all three batters he faced in the eighth.

Tigers 7, Giants 1

At Koshien Stadium, rookie left-hander Masashi Ito (1-0) earned his first pro win as the Hanshin Tigers bruised the defending Central League champion Yomiuri Giants. Giants starter Seishu Hatake (0-1) gave up a lot of sharp ground balls that just missed gloves and was stuck for four runs, three earned, over 3-2/3 innings.

While the Giants had trouble with their catching and throwing, the Tigers were alert on the bases and at the plate, when Yomiuri’s third pitcher, Toshiki Sakurai couldn’t stop himself from throwing straight fastballs.

There were so many bullets hit off him that one expected Giants infielders to ask for hazardous-duty pay, or for the umpires to eject the right-hander for throwing “kikenkyu“–literally “dangerous balls” and the expression used with the automatic ejection that comes when a batter is struck in the head with a pitch.

Jerry Sands hit his fourth homer of the season, a two-run blast off Sakurai in the fourth inning.

With the game still scoreless in the bottom of the first, Tigers shortstop Seiya Kinami, whose 15 errors in 2019 were the most in either league since 2017, missed a routine play, causing former Tigers manager Akinobu Mayumi, the TV broadcast analyst to say, “Oh man, that was your homework assignment.”

Dragons 3, BayStars 1

At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, DeNA BayStars rookie Taisei Irie (0-2) allowed a double, two singles and a walk, but surrendered three runs, one earned, over five innings as his teammates spent a lot of time cooling their heels on the bases but not scoring against Akiyoshi Katsuno (1-0), who gave up six hits and walked four over five innings. The hosts scored in the second on a Dayan Viciedo walk, a single by catcher Takuya Kinoshita and a two-out error.

Akira Neo, whose batted ball resulted in a two-run throwing error, singled home a run in the fifth after Kinoshita opened with a double. The Dragons, who are without Cuban closer Raidel Martinez, were saved by set-up man Daisuke Sobue, who recorded his third save.

Swallows 3, Carp 2

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Yakult’s defense made the difference in a game where both starting pitchers, Yakult’s Hirotoshi Takanashi and Hiroshima lefty Hiroki Tokoda, allowed two runs over 5-2/3 innings.

Yakult catcher Yuhei Nakamura, the Swallows’ emergency atypical No. 2 hitter, doubled twice, singled and scored twice. Munetaka Murakami doubled him home in the fourth, and the Carp took the lead on homers by catcher Tsubasa Aizawa and Ryosuke Kikuchi.

With two outs and two on in the sixth, Seiya Suzuki stole third against new pitcher Hiroki Kondo and tried to score when Nakamura’s throw sailed off the tip of Murakami’s glove at third. The ball went straight to shortstop Naomichi Nishiura whose strike to home barely beat Suzuki for the third out. The Swallows tied it in the bottom of the inning on singles by Nakamura and Murakami, and a safety squeeze.

Scott McGough (1-0) pitched a 1-2-3 seventh for the Swallows and got the win after Kotaro “Norichika Aoki light” Yamasaki singled in the tie-breaking run in the home half. Noboru Shimizu gave the Swallows another 1-2-3 inning before closer Taichi “Mr. Adventure” Ishiyama put the tying and go-ahead runs on in the ninth before recording his third save.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Fighters vs Hawks: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Ryusei Kawano (0-1, 12.00) vs Shota Takeda (0-1, 1.42)

Lions vs Eagles: MetLife Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Towa Uema (-) vs Ryota Takinaka (0-1, 54.00)

Marines vs Buffaloes: Zozo Marine Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Fumiya Motomae (1-0, 7.20) vs Yoshinobu Yamamoto (1-1, 0.56)

Central League

Swallows vs Carp: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT

Yasunobu Okugawa (0-1, 5.40) vs Yuta Nakamura (0-1, 7.50)

Dragons vs BayStars: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Takahiro Matsuba (0-1, 3.60) vs Kentaro Taira (0-0, 0.00)

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

Takumi Akiyama (1-0, 2.57) vs Yuki Takahashi (1-0, 0.00)

Active roster moves 4/7/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/17

Central League

Activated

GiantsP45Seishu Hatake
GiantsC38Yukinori Kishida

Dectivated

GiantsC22Seiji Kobayashi

Pacific League

Activated

None

Dectivated

HawksP41Kodai Senga
LionsP41Hiroki Inoue
FightersP63Ryuji Kitaura

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NPB wrap 4-6-21

Marines’ Sasaki on track for 1st team

Rocket-armed teenager Roki Sasaki is currently on track to start sometime around Japan’s Golden Week holidays from the end of this month through the first week of May, Lotte Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi revealed according to the Nikkan Sports.

“If he stays on the right course, and does well, our program for him will have him with the first team by Golden Week,” Iguchi said of the 19-year-old.

Sasaki struck out three of the six batters he faced in his minor league debut on Friday. The club has been bringing him along slowly after a first season in which the team did not allow him to pitch in a game, citing the amount of time it took his body to recover from bullpens and simulated games.

Some video from Sasaki’s pro debut.

Hawks ace ends season debut on stretcher

Hawks 7, Fighters 0

At Sapporo Dome, Kodai  Senga (1-0) ended the SoftBank Hawks losing streak with 5-2/3  impressive innings before his final out ended his season debut. The right-hander gloved a liner bound to hit him in the face but fell over backward awkwardly and appeared to be in pain as he clutched his left ankle. Ryoya Kurihara capped a three-run first off journeyman Takahide Ikeda (0-2). Hawks rookie Yuki Tsumori took over for Senga and struck out all four batters he faced.

Eagles 13, Lions 2

At MetLife Dome, Rakuten Eagles right-hander Takayuki Kishi (2-0) allowed two runs over six innings against his old team, while Seibu Lions starter Wataru Matsumoto (1-1) issued four one-out walks in the first, allowed a tie-breaking solo homer in the third.

Trailing 2-1, the Lions pulled their starter after 90 pitches through four innings, and brought in former PL MVP Mitsuo Yoshikawa, purchased over the winter by Nippon Ham. Hijinks ensued with eight runs scoring in one-plus inning with the lefty on the mound. Four Lions pitchers combined to walk 13 batters.

Buffaloes 3, Marines 3

At Zozo Marine Stadium, Leonys Martin hit a three-run home run, his fourth, for the Lotte Marines off Orix lefty Daiki Tajima, who struck out seven over seven innings. Marines starter Kazuya Ojima gave up three runs, two earned over six innings.

Moya tags himself out

The most Buffalo play of the day was from Steven Moya, running on a one-out full count to Yuma Tongu, was tagged before he reached the base without realizing Tongu had walked. Marines second baseman Shogo Nakamura willingly tagged Moya out as he left the base en route to the visitors’ dugout.

Tigers 6, Giants 2, 7 innings, rain

At Koshien Stadium, after playing their weekend home series indoors at Osaka Dome, the Hanshin Tigers returned home to Koshien Stadium and the rain. Yuki Nishi (1-1) allowed two runs over the seven-inning distance. Jerry Sands singled to lead off the Tigers’ two-run second against Angel Sanchez (0-1) and doubled in their four-run third.

Kazuya Katsuki, the power-hitting minor leaguer acquired last summer for Hirokazu Sawamura, hit a two-run homer in the fifth for the virus-hit Giants. The Tigers’ Jefry Marte walked twice and was hit by a pitch.

The umpires called the game without first suspending play, which is not against the rules, as Pro Yakyu News’ Hiromoto Okubo asserted, but it is not common practice, causing Giants manager Tatsunori Hara to protest.

Carp 2, Swallows 0

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Masato Morishita (2-0), the Central League’s 2020 rookie of the year, was overpowering at times as he scattered five hits and two walks over the distance. Albert Suarez (0-1), deactivated last Wednesday in the Swallows’ coronavirus mass deactivation, returned and allowed a run over six innings.

Ryoma Nishikawa opened the scoring with a sixth-inning home run off a pretty good pitch from Suarez. Morishita ended a two-out, two-on jam in the bottom of the inning by throwing a fastball down the pipe past Munetaka Murakami that was worth the price of admission.

BayStars 7, Dragons 3

At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, Kazuki Kamizato hit a grand slam off Sawamura Award-winner Yudai Ono (0-1), who allowed five runs over six innings. BayStars starter Shinichi Onuki (1-0) struck out 6, while allowing three runs over 5-2/3 innings. Rookie Shugo Maki hit his second homer for the BayStars, who won their second game and their second straight.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Fighters vs Hawks: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hiromi Ito (0-0, 1.50) vs Shunsuke Kasaya (1-0, 1.50)

Lions vs Eagles: MetLife Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Tatsuya Imai (0-0, 0.00) vs Takahiro Norimoto (1-0, 1.42)

Marines vs Buffaloes: Zozo Marine Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Daiki Iwashita (0-1, 3.18) vs Hirotoshi Masui (1-0, 0.00)

Central League

Swallows vs Carp: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT

Hirotoshi Takanashi (1-0, 5.40) vs Hiroki Tokoda (1-0, 3.00)

Dragons vs BayStars: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Akiyoshi Katsuno (0-0, 8.10) vs Taisei Irie (0-1, 9.00)

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

Masashi Ito (0-0, 3.60) vs Seishu Hatake (-)

Active roster moves 4/6/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/16

Central League

Activated

GiantsP64Ryusei Oe
GiantsIF0Daiki Masuda
GiantsIF52Takumi Kitamura
GiantsOF9Yoshiyuki Kamei
CarpIF35Takumi Miyoshi
SwallowsP43Albert Suarez
SwallowsC33Soma Uchiyama

Dectivated

GiantsIF68Yuto Akihiro

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP35Livan Moinelo
HawksP41Kodai Senga
HawksC62Takashi Umino

Dectivated

None

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NPB wrap 4-5-21

Senga debut announced

SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga, who either led or tied for the 2020 Pacific League lead in wins, strikeouts and ERA, will make his first team debut on Tuesday at Sapporo Dome against the Nippon Ham Fighters. The four-time defending Japan Series champion Hawks are currently mired in a five-game losing streak.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Fighters vs Hawks: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Takahide Ikeda (0-1, 5.40) vs Kodai Senga (-)

Lions vs Eagles: MetLife Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Wataru Matsumoto (1-0, 5.40) vs Takayuki Kishi (1-0, 0.00)

Marines vs Buffaloes: Zozo Marine Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Kazuya Ojima (0-1, 7.50) vs Daiki Tajima (0-1, 3.00)

Central League

Swallows vs Carp: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT

Albert Suarez (0-0, 6.75) vs Masato Morishita (1-0, 0.00)

Dragons vs BayStars: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yudai Ono (0-0, 2.57) vs Shinichi Onuki (0-0, 1.29)

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

Yuki Nishi (0-1, 1.29) vs Angel Sanchez (0-0, 0.00)

Active roster moves 4/5/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/15. Those marked with an asterisk are coronavirus deactivations and can return earlier when they are cleared to play.

Central League

Activated

None

Dectivated

GiantsIF48Zelous Wheeler *
CarpIF10Kevin Cron
SwallowsP48Yuto Kanakubo
SwallowsIF58Hideki Nagaoka

Pacific League

Activated

None

Dectivated

HawksP63Hiroyuki Kawahara
HawksC12Hiroaki Takaya

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writing & research on Japanese baseball

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