Norimoto-Yamamoto duel as advertised
Torai Fushimi hit a game-tying home run in the ninth inning off Rakuten Eagles closer Alan Busenitz as the Orix Buffaloes salvaged a 2-2 10-inning tie at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi in which the teams’ two aces delivered.
Fushimi’s home run took Yoshinobu Yamamoto off the hook for the loss after he allowed two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out 10 over seven innings.
The Eagles took a 2-1 lead after sixth-inning singles by Ginji Akaminai and rookie Hiroto Kobukata. Akaminai smacked a mistake from Yamamoto through the infield, and Kobukata, one of the few Eagles to get quality swings off the Buffaloes’ ace, smoked a liner to left. Hideto Asamura’s miss-hit ball off the end of his bat just fell for a two-run double.
Right fielder Yuya Oda, who came within a hair of ending the inning on that fly, cut down Asamura for the final out at the plate.
Norimoto pitched out of a couple of early pickles, and was cruising until Steven Moya crushed a curveball for his ninth home run with two outs in the sixth, giving Yamamoto a 1-0 lead. The right-hander allowed five hits and a walk while striking out six over seven innings.
Eagles lefty Yuki Matsui walked two in the eighth but ended the inning by overpowering Moya with a fastball for a swinging strikeout after Orix wasted one out sacrificing in an attempt to tie it on the road.
Fushimi led off the top of the ninth by hammering a straight fastball down the pipe nearly to the Ferris wheel behind the left-field seating for his sixth home run.
Tyler Higgins worked a scoreless ninth for the Buffaloes. Eagles submariner Kazuhisa Makita pitched out of a two-on one-out situation in the 10th before Brandon Dickson sealed the tie in the bottom of the 10th with a 1-2-3 inning.
Hawks blow out Fighters
Shunsuke Kasaya (4-3) threw six scoreless innings, while Yuki Yanagita had four hits and scored three runs, and Yurisbel Gracial and Nobuhiro Matsuda each drove in three as the SoftBank Hawks whipped the Nippon Ham Fighters 11-2 at Sapporo Dome.
The win, combined with the Lotte Marines’ 2-1 loss to the Seibu Lions, increased the Hawks’ Pacific League lead to 6-1/2 games.
Kasaya, who threw five scoreless innings in his previous start, allowed two hits and two walks while striking out eight. The Hawks blasted Fighters right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa (8-6) for seven runs over five innings.
Fighters right-hander Bryan Rodriguez allowed two runs in one inning of relief, marking his season debut after the team said in June he’d had surgery to clean out his left knee.
“He brought something and threw some really good pitches,” manager Hideki Kuriyama said of Rodriguez.
Christian Villanueva also returned to the Fighters lineup for the first time in two weeks and drew a walk in three plate appearances.
Wednesday’s game is going to see Hawks’ ace Kodai Senga take on first-year Fighters import Drew VerHagen.
Lions survive blown Masuda save
The Seibu Lions scored an unearned ninth-inning run to walk off 2-1 winners over the Lotte Marines at MetLife Dome after closer Tatsushi Masuda (4-0) allowed the tying run in the ninth.
Both starting pitchers went seven with Lotte’s Ayumu Ishikawa allowing a run, while Kona Takahashi left with a 1-0 lead.
Lions left fielder Corey Spangenberg helped keep the Marines off the board in the third by robbing Yudai Fujioka of a leadoff single. Marines second baseman Shogo Nakamura did the same in the home half with a good play to defuse a Lions rally.
Shuta Tonosaki broke the scoreless deadlock in the seventh. He singled with one out, went to third on a Kakeru Yamanobe run-and-hit single and scored on Yuji Kaneko’s booming sacrifice fly.
Lions right-hander Kaima Taira worked a scoreless eighth, but Masuda walked a batter and hit one before surrendering a Tatsuhiro Tamura RBI single.
Tonosaki, however, rescued the Lions in the home half when he doubled with two outs against the Marines’ Naoya Masuda (3-3) and scored when Leonys Martin and Nakamura collided in shallow right as Yamanobe’s fly fell untouched.
Swallows walk away with tie
Yomiuri Giants rookie of the year candidate Shosei Togo threw a career-high 134 pitches over six scoreless innings in which he struck out nine and walked six, but had nothing to show for it after three relievers combined to blow the save in the ninth in a 1-1 10-inning with the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
Rubby De La Rosa issued a five-pitch leadoff walk and left with two outs and two on after a sacrifice, a single and a strikeout. Lefty Ryusei Oe walked Norichika Aoki on five pitches to load them up and Toyoki Tanaka walked Tetsuto Yamada on four pitches to tie it.
The Giants lead the second-place Chunichi Dragons by 10-1/2 games and their magic number to clinch their second-straight Central League championship is seven.
Dragons 6, BayStars 1
Koji Fukutani (7-2) allowed one run over six innings, and the Chunichi Dragons cashed in three of their six sixth-inning base runners to come from behind in a 6-1 win over the DeNA BayStars at Nagoya Dome.
Fukutani allowed three hits, including Tyler Austin’s first-inning home run, and a walk, while striking out seven. Hiroto Fuku and Daisuke Sobue closed it out with one scoreless inning apiece for the Dragons. Dayan Viciedo went 3-for-5 with a double, a run, and two RBIs, while Toshiki Abe also had three hits, scored twice and drove in two.
Spencer Patton struck out three in the eighth for the BayStars, but allowed a run on an Abe double and a one-out Viciedo single.
Kuri holds off Tigers
Allen Kuri (7-5), who retired the first 14 batters he faced, allowed a run over 8-1/3 innings while the Carp scored four times in the third inning against Onelki Garcia (2-6), who was pitching for the first time in a month, in a 5-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium.
Kuri, who has allowed one run in each of his last three starts, gave up three of his four hits in the ninth inning, when Geronimo Franzua came in to record his 15th save.
Former Tigers closer Kyuji Fujikawa, who announced that this will be his last season, took the mound for the first time since Aug. 10 and worked a scoreless sixth inning.
Active roster moves 10/20/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/30
Starting pitchers for Oct. 21, 2020
Fighters vs Hawks: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Drew VerHagen (7-5, 3.47) vs Kodai Senga (8-6, 2.65)
Eagles vs Buffaloes: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Hideaki Wakui (11-3, 2.95) vs Tsubasa Sakakibara (1-2, 4.13)
Lions vs Marines: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Shota Hamaya (2-2, 6.19) vs Wei-Yin Chen (0-1, 3.00)
Swallows vs Giants: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Masanori Ishikawa (1-7, 4.92) vs Yuki Takahashi (1-0, 2.35)
Dragons vs BayStars: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Akiyoshi Katsuno (4-4, 3.70) vs Yuya Sakamoto (4-1, 5.24)
Tigers vs Carp: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Koyo Aoyagi (6-8, 4.08) vs Atsushi Endo (3-5, 4.45)
2 thoughts on “NPB 2020 Oct. 20”
Seems like NPB is playing at a very high level this year compared to MLB. While there are foreign position players and starters who are contributing, all the best hitters and starters are domestic this season, which isn’t typically the case. The only place where foreigners have been outstanding is in relief, which isn’t surprising for a couple of reasons.
First, the top two foreign relievers are un-defected Cubans, Livan Moinelo and Raidel Martinez, where NPB teams are taking advantage of bad U.S.-Cuban relations under Trump. Second, there are simply more just-barely-not-quite MLB regulars who are relief pitchers than anywhere else. Third, NPB teams have typically paid the best relief pitchers better relative to starters and position players than MLB teams do. That means it’s easier for NPB teams to lure away MLB relievers with salaries they can’t get in MLB.
I believe, without evidence, that the quality of play is getting incrementally better. Don’t remember an NPB season when I saw so many good fastballs, not velocity, although that is improving too. The real improvement seems to be more heaters with better effective spin.