Tigers throw one away
The Yomiuri Giants scored twice on bad throws from Hanshin Tigers center fielder Koji Chikamoto and held on to a 3-2 at Koshien Stadium on Monday.
Cristopher Mercedes (3-4) worked six scoreless innings to earn the win and left with a 3-0 lead after allowing two hits and no walks. He fell afoul of Japan’s three-second balk convention that requires pitchers to pause that long before delivering his pitch or be called for a balk.
The Giants opened in the scoring in the third. Takumi Oshiro saw two-straight high 2-2 fastballs from Haruto Takahashi. He fouled off the first one that had more life on it but lined the second to left for an opposite field single. Takahashi left an 0-1 pitch up to Naoki Yoshikawa and he chopped it past first for a single. A bunt and a walk loaded the bases.
Oshiro tagged up on a fly to shallow center but it was just for show. He returned to third, but turned around and scored when Chikamoto’s throw hit the backstop on the fly.
Oshiro delivered a sacrifice fly to the same spot in shallow left center in the fourth, and Kazuma Okamoto hustled home to score. Chikamoto took no chances with this throw, making it so low that it rolled the last 30 feet to the plate and Okamoto easily outran it.
Okamoto doubled in a run in the fifth, and Takahashi (2-2) left after six having allowed three runs, one earned, on nine hits and three walks.
The Tigers didn’t supply all the weirdness, though. Tigers captain Kento Itohara, starting for the first time since July 22 because of a broken hamate bone, singled to open the Tigers seventh, and scored on Justin Bour’s two-out single off the third Giants pitcher in the inning — and the second one he faced in the at-bat.
With two on and two outs, Kan Otake got ahead of him 1-2. But the right-hander was yanked after his third pitch was hit foul into the upper reaches of Koshien Stadium’s right-field stands. Lefty Ryusei Oe took over with a 2-1 count and gave up an RBI infield single but the Tigers settled for a run.
Itohara homered to lead off the ninth against Rubby De La Rosa, but he held on to earn his ninth save.
Giants dump Sawamura in trade
The Giants made news earlier in the day by announcing they had sent former closer Hirokazu Sawamura to the Lotte Marines for unheralded 24-year-old outfielder Kazuya Katsuki in a deal that looks like nothing more than a salary dump.
The 32-year-old Sawamura was reportedly making 154 million yen this year, roughly $1.4 million. He was the Giants’ closer in 2015 and 2016 after failing to make a huge impact in the starting rotation. Katsuki is a minor leaguer whose only apparent skill is some raw power — he hit 12 Eastern League home runs in 2018. His salary is reported as 6.5 million yen, roughly $60,000 which is just barely above the 4.4 million yen minimum for 70-man roster players.
Katsuki’s physique has drawn comparisons to that of fellow Osaka Toin HS graduate and six-time PL home run king Takeya Nakamura. The Seibu Lions slugger is known as “Okawari-kun,” which means literally the kid who goes back for another helping and is kind of Japan’s version of “Country Breakfast.”
Active roster moves 9/7/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/17
Starting pitchers for Sept. 4, 2020
Eagles vs Hawks: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Lions vs Buffaloes: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
BayStars vs Tigers: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Dragons vs Giants: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Carp vs Swallows: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT