NPB expands crowds
In a season that started behind closed doors on June 19, and welcomed in up to 5,000 per game starting from July 10, Saturday saw teams bring in somewhat larger crowds after a month and a half with no reported infections among spectators.
In the four day games played, only one was held out doors, where Yokohama Stadium welcomed 13,106 allowing fans to sit in the new left-field wing seats for the first time.
The other day games all saw smaller crowds: Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome had 11,937, Nagoya Dome 9,732 and Sapporo Dome 8,740.
“We were told it was only 13,000 people but it felt like 40,000 the way you guys cheered for the teams. Thank you so much,” BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said in his customary on-field interview after home games.
Hawks look to expand fans overseas
Starting Saturday, the SoftBank Hawks’ YouTube channel will be posting videos accessible in multiple languages in order to build their overseas fan base. Whether or not one is a fan of the Hawks, it’s kind of fun.
BayStars hand Giants 3rd straight loss
Neftali Soto hit his 100th home run in Japan, one of four hit by the DeNA BayStars in their 7-1 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Yokohama Stadium.
Lefty Haruhiro Hamaguchi (5-4) brought an unusually crisp fastball and abstained from his bread-and-butter changeup for much of the game as he allowed a run on two walks and two hits over 5-2/3 innings.
A run in the sixth snapped a 2x-inning scoreless streak for the Giants, who avoided a shutout but not a third straight loss.
Takayuki Kajitani reached on a first-inning error and scored on a Keita Sano single and then drove in three runs with his 13th and 14th home run. Soto, who is trailing in the race to win a third-straight home run title, hit his 16th.
Giants starter Nobutaka Imamura (3-1) lost the southpaw struggle, allowing three runs, two earned, over five innings.
In the end decided on two pitches in the sixth and six in the seventh. With DeNA leading 3-1 in the sixth, Giants right-hander Yohei Kagiya loaded the bases with one out. Tatsuhiro fouled out on one pitch, and Yasutaka Tobashira popped up lefty Ryusei Oe’s first pitch.
In the top of the seventh, the Giants loaded the bases on one out against Yuki Kuniyoshi. Lefty Edwin Escobar entered to face Gerardo Parra, who rolled the sixth pitch back to the pitcher and a 1-2-3 double play.
Carp squeak past Swallows
Shota Dobayashi hit an eighth-inning game-tying home run and scored the go-ahead run in the 10th-inning when rookie Minoru Omori bounced a two-out two-strike pitch past the reach of second baseman Tetsuto Yamada that lifted the Hiroshima Carp to a 3-2 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
The game was a duel between rookies, Carp right-hander Masato Morishita, a highly-sought after amateur who has been extremely solid, and Yakult’s second-pick last autumn, right-hander Daiki Yoshida, whose stuff and command has been a little less dominant.
Tomotaka Sakaguchi brought the Yakult Swallows from a run down with a second-inning home run.
With one out and a runner on first, Sakaguchi went after a low first-pitch fastball like he knew it was coming and pulled it into the right-field stands for his ninth home run. Prior to this season, Sakaguchi’s high was five home runs, in 2009 and 2010 with the Orix Buffaloes.
He then did what low-power hitters are supposed to say after they hit a home run, that they were trying to play small ball and trying hard not to be Mr. Big Shot home run hitter by using the word “tsunagu” – つなぐ.
“My focus was on batting aggressively from the first pitch so I could set the table for the batters behind me,” said Sakaguchi, who was followed by the seventh, eighth and ninth spots in a lineup that is fifth in a six-team league in runs scored and 10th worst in Japan.
Abe homer beats Tigers
Toshiki Abe hit a three-run home run and Koji Fukutani (4-2) worked 6-2/3 scoreless innings in a 4-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Nagoya Dome.
Tigers right-hander Takumi Akiyama (5-2) allowed five hits and committed two errors that made all four Dragons runs unearned.
Fledgling Eagle holds off Hawks
Ryota Takinaka, the Rakuten Eagles’ sixth pick in last year’s draft, held the SoftBank Hawks to a run over 5-1/3 innings in his pro debut and Hideto Asamura singled in the tie-breaking run in the seventh in a 3-1 win over the three-time defending Japan Series champs at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Takinaka a 25-year-old right-hander, scattered five hits and one walk while striking out one.
Former Padre Kazuhisa Makita worked 1-1/3 scoreless innings to protect a one-run lead, and Alan Busenitz worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 12th save for the Eagles.
Buffaloes beat misbehaving Lions
Sachiya Yamasaki (3-4) allowed a run over seven innings and Aderlin Rodriguez doubled in two runs to break a 1-1 sixth-inning tie in the Orix Buffaloes’ 6-3 win over the Seibu Lions.
Nolin left in the sixth with one out and the bags juiced. Rookie Tetsu Miyagawa hung a 1-2 slider that Rodriguez lined into the left-field corner. A wild pitch made it 4-1.
The Lions had two on with no outs in the seventh but shat themselves. Rookie catcher Sena Tsuge pulled back a first-pitch bunt attempt and the lead runner failed to make it back for the first out. A sharp grounder to third, which was not a mistake — except in the sense that people who write those dumb articles have to include them — was turned for a double play.
Roller coaster Arihara spills Marines
The roller coaster season of Nippon Ham Fighters ace Kohei Arihara (5-7) continued with eight scoreless innings in a 3-1 win over the Lotte Marines at Sapporo Dome.
Marines starter Tsuyoshi Ishizaki (0-1) allowed a run over three innings to take the loss without allowing a hit. He did, however, walk five and strike out five.
Arihara started the season 0-3, allowing 12 runs over 22 innings. He had another three-game stretch where he went 0-2 and allowed 16 runs 19-1/3 innings, and was coming off a start against the Rakuten Eagles on Sept. 13 when he gave up nine runs in 2-1/3. He improved to 3-0 against Lotte, however.
Active roster moves 9/19/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/29
Starting pitchers for Sept. 20, 2020
Fighters vs Marines: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Lions: Kyocera Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Hawks vs Eagles: PayPay Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Swallows vs Carp: Jingu Stadium 6:30 pm, 5:30 am EDT
BayStars vs Giants: Yokohama Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Dragons vs Tigers: Nagoya Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT