NPB 2020 6-26 GAMES AND NEWS

Saturday’s announced starting pitchers are HERE.

Live blog: BayStars vs Tigers

Go to today’s LIVE BLOG.

Look out Shohei, Daichi Osera’s coming for you

The most productive hitter in the Hiroshima Carp lineup had two hits for the second straight game, although as their ace pitcher, Daichi Osera has also been busy throwing complete games.

By stopping the Chunichi Dragons on a run over the distance, Osera has allowed two runs over 18 innings, while striking out eight. Although talk of limiting starters pitch counts apparently have not gotten to new Carp manager Shinji Sasaoka, whose arm barely survived the awful pitch counts that aces were forced to endure in the 1990s.

After allowing Osera to throw 116 pitches on Opening Day, Sasaoka thought it was OK to let him throw another 132 on Friday in Nagoya, when he allowed eight hits.

At the plate, Osera is 4-for-7 with a home run, three RBIs, three runs and a sacrifice, although Seiya Suzuki has been the Carp’s batting star. Suzuki, who some scouts think is a sure bet to be posted this winter, has 10 hits and half have cleared the fence.

https://twitter.com/nuremoh/status/1276455651963633666

Another “empty blast” for Jones

Adam Jones mashed his second home run this week for the Orix Buffaloes, who blew a three-run lead en route to their sixth loss of the season, a 6-5 defeat at the hands of the Lotte Marines.

The “empty blast” in the headline comes from how the Japanese sports papers used to describe home runs in a losing effort.

The hosts came from behind in a four-run eighth in which Leonys Martin doubled and scored. Yudai Fujioka capped the rally with two-run double. Brandon Laird hit his fourth home run of the year for Lotte.

Kimura slam rescues Lions

Fumikazu Kimura’s eighth-inning grand slam brought the Seibu Lions from behind in a 7-4 win at their home park, MetLife Dome, over the SoftBank Hawks. The blast took Zach Neal off the hook for the loss that would have been just his second in Japan.

Neal entered the game having won his last 12 decisions but had uncharacteristically walked three batters on Opening Day. On Friday, he took a 3-1 lead into the seventh, when he allowed three runs, one earned. He struck out eight and walked one, but his command was inconsistent.

Two-time defending PL home run king Hotaka Yamakawa homered twice to drive in three early runs. The first was on a fat mistake from Nao Higashihama, the second on a breaking ball outside that he simply put a really good swing on.

With the Lions trailing 4-3 in the eighth, Reed Garrett took the mound. Garrett had allowed a run over two innings in his first two games in Japan, but struck out the side in the eighth to help set the stage for the comeback and earn his first win.

Eagles hammer Arihara, Norimoto fans 10

The Rakuten Eagles beat the Nippon Ham Fighters 7-1 behind seven innings from Takahiro Norimoto (2-0), who allowed a run, while striking out 10. Fighters ace Kohei Arimura (0-2), who is hoping to move to the majors this winter via the posting system, allowed five runs, four earned, over six innings.

Stefen Romero homered, singled twice, walked and scored three runs for the Eagles.

Giants torch Swallows pen

The Yomiuri Giants scored five late runs against the Yakult Swallows bullpen in a 6-5 win over their local rivals at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium. Taishi Ishiyama (0-1), who saved 35 games in 2018 surrendered a two-run, ninth-inning home run to pinch-hitter Shinnosuke Shigenobu.

Rubby De La Rosa, who joined the Giants last summer, worked a scoreless ninth to earn his third save. Scott McGough, who took over as Swallows closer last summer when Ishiyama was hurt, surrendered two runs in the eighth.

Edwards sent down for “poor condition”

The Hanshin Tigers deactivated right-handed reliever Jon Edwards on Friday, with the Nikkan Sports reporting it was due to “poor condition of his shoulder.”

Edwards worked one inning of relief in the Tigers’ 11-1 Opening Day loss to the Yomiuri Giants, allowing only a single to new Giant Gerardo Parra. But in a June 2 practice game against the Hiroshima Carp, Edwards walked five straight batters.

I missed this news from Thursday, when the Hanshin Tigers deactivated right-handed starting pitcherJoe Gunkel along with right-handed reliever Koki Moriya, who felt pain in his right shoulder on Wednesday.

Gunkel faced 19 hitters in his start on Wednesday and allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks over four innings, so it’s not a surprise. I think he’s going to be effective in Japan once he makes adjustments to his approach with different hitters and has better luck with balls in play than he did in his debut.

Live blog: BayStars vs Tigers

Go to today’s LIVE BLOG.

For those of you who are curious, you can read a little about these teams in my Japanese pro baseball guide.

Going to pick this up in the bottom of the second. DeNA’s Neftali Soto singled with one out in the bottom of the first, and so far is the game’s only baserunner.

Bottom 2nd

Tigers starter Yuki Nishi was one of the two pitchers who homered on Opening Day. He allowed a run in six innings, scattering three walks and four hits.

Jose Lopez singles on the fourth running fastball Nishi throws him, and does well to muscle the inside pitch to left to open the inning. Nishi erases the runner when Toshiro Miyazaki miss-hits a slider to short, from where Fumiya Hojo starts a double play. Catcher Hikaru Ito, Nishi’s former teammate with the Orix Buffaloes, grounds to Jefry Marte at third.

Top 3rd

Shota Imanaga needs just three pitches to induce a fly to center from Naomasa Yokawa, and two more to retire Ryutaro Umeno. Imanaga’s fourth pitch to Nishi, an 0-2 fastball up and in causes the Tigers pitcher to look at his opposite number and say, “Watch that stuff” or something of that ilk before grounding out to second.

Bottom 3rd

Imanaga leads off from the No. 8 spot and starts an easy 1-2-3 inning. Manager Alex Ramirez has espoused a very complex rationale for when and how he bats his starting pitchers eighth, but it makes perfect sense to me, because instead of your worst hitter setting up your best three at the top of the order, you have a guy who actually gets on base.

Top 4th

Tigers’ No. 1 hitter Koji Chikamoto stays on a 1-2 changeup that gets too much of the plate and smashes it to right for Hanshin’s first hit. Hojo tries a slash bunt-and-run, but pops up to short.

Imanaga, however, does the job for the Tigers with a pickoff throw in the dirt, that gives the visitors a man in scoring position for Yusuke Oyama. In the starting lineup against the lefty in place of Justin Bour, Oyama waves at three changeups.

Marte bounces one to the right of Soto at second base and beats out an infield single. Lopez at first nearly nails Chikamoto after he overran third base, but Miyazaki was unable to get the tag on him. This gives 43-year-old Kosuke Fukudome a chance to do some damage, but he fouls out to Miyazaki at third.

Bottom 4th

Soto leads off from the No. 2 spot, which is increasingly becoming Americanized with big hitters instead of the prototypical slap-hitting bunter. The two-time home run champ grounds out, and Tyler Austin misses an 0-2 slider low out of the zone.

Keita Sano, named the BayStars captain following the departure of Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, hammers a hanging slider for a single. The weird thing about Sano being the captain is that it’s usually reserved for a veteran. Sano entered Friday’s game with 394 career plate appearances.

Lopez ends the inning when he gets jammed on a running fastball inside and pops it up into shallow left.

Top 5th

Imanaga’s changeup is giving the Tigers right-handed hitters fits as it just dies when it gets to the plate. After Hiroki Uemoto looks at a fastball inside for Strike 3. Yokawa fouls off the first change but flails at two well below the zone for Imanaga’s fifth strikeout. Umeno gets enough on a 2-1 changeup in the zone to ground it softly to third for the final out.

Bottom 5th

Miyazaki opens the scoring by driving a straight fastball in the middle of the zone out to right for opposite-field shot and his third home run of the year. BayStars 1, Tigers 0. Nishi missed with a couple of breaking balls to start and got burned aiming a 3-1 pitch.

After Ito flied out to Fukudome in right, Imanaga singled, bring up former TIger Yamato Maeda, whose bouncer between third and short is good for an infield single and two on for the power-laden top of the BayStars order.

Nishi wants nothing to do with the strike zone against athletic but injury prone Takayuki Kajitani but finally gets him on a beauty of a 3-2 running fastball that Kajitani misses badly. Nishi sets Soto up for a 2-2 slider away, but leaves it over the plate, and the slugger gets it off the end of the barrel and up the middle to load the bases for Austin.

NIshi throws a first-pitch running fastball that misses the barrel and results in a tapper back to the mound for the third out.

Top 6th

Nishi strikes out swinging to open the inning, and Chikamoto flies out to center on the second pitch before Hojo goes down swinging against more slow stuff. That’s eight strikeouts for the lefty.

Bottom 6th

Sano leads off with a single, pulling a straight 2-1 inside fastball to right. Lopez grounds softly to third, too softly for a double play. Miyazaki goest the other way again, but his fly is caught by Fukudome on the warning track. Marte makes a sure-handed grab of a grounder off the bat of Ito and the Tigers go into the seventh down by just a run.

Top 7th

Oyama finally gets the barrel on a changeup and singles to left to open the Tigers’ seventh. Marte is jammed by a cutter inside and the Tigers are lucky to escape a double play as Marte beats the throw to first.

The lefty sets up Fukudome with a cutter and fastball away before jamming and popping him up inside for a foul out to the catcher. Imanaga gets Uemoto off balance with fastballs and changeups, and he, too, fouls out to Ito.

Bottom 7th

An easy 1-2-3 inning for Nishi, who strikes out Imanaga and gets Maeda and Kajitani to fly out.

Top 8th

Oyama gets a ball through the infield for a single. Taiga Egoshi on to pinch run and Umeno sacrifices him to second. Tigers playing to tie on the road in the eighth inning because, well Japan.

Fumihito Haraguchi, one of the best stories in Japanese baseball, having battled his way onto the first team having been released and signed to a non-roster developmental contract. After establishing himself, he was diagnosed with cancer and has battled back from that, too.

Nothing cute or soft from Imanaga here: fastball, fastball, fastball, fastball. Maybe he lost his touch because he then bounced a change before getting Haraguchi to go after a second one out of the zone and foul out to the catcher.

Two outs for Chikamoto. Imanaga tries to paint and his brush is just not fine enough. He works carefully and loses him for the first walk of the game. Kento Itohara on to pinch-hit for Hojo and he grounds out to Soto at second.

Bottom 8th

Right-hander Ippei Ogawa, the Tigers’ 6th pick last autumn, on in relief of Nishi, who allows just one run in his second-straight start, but has yet to win one. Nishi works seven innings, walks three and allows eight hits but walks none.

Soto opens the inning by smashing a high fastball past first for a single, and Austin blasts a 1-1 fastball in the heart of the zone over the wall in center for his second home run in three games. BayStars 3, Tigers 0.

With one out, Seiya Kinami makes a good play after a smash off the bat of Jose Lopez trickles out of Marte’s glove. The Tigers shortstop scoops it up and fires to get the runner. A 5-6-3 out in the States is recorded 6-3 in Japan.

Ogawa throws hard but his fastball is a little straight and back-to-back singles by Miyazaki and Ito give the BayStars a chance for a safe lead. Pinch-hitter Tatsuya Shibata bats for Imanaga and walks. Bases loaded for Maeda.

The veteran fouls off a 150-kph two-strike fastball. When the rookie follows with a low slider, it seems that’s the one Maeda wanted. He goes down to get it and lines it into center for an RBI single. BayStars 5, Tigers 0.

Kajitani follows with an opposite-field liner over short. BayStars 6, Tigers 0.

Top 9th

Spencer Patton on in the ninth to wrap up the BayStars’ fifth-straight win. Marte singles with one out, but Fukudome strikes out swinging at a fastball away. Justin Bour up to keep the game alive for Hanshin.

Patton misses up and in and then just inside, but finds the corner with that one. All are pretty good pitches. Slider misses too far to get Bour to offer: 3-1. Patton gets close enough to the corner for former pitcher Norihiro Akimura calling the balls and strikes behind the plate. Patton finally gets Bour on a fly to left.

Final Score: BayStars 6, Tigers 0

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