NPB games, news of Aug. 13, 2019

Things got ugly in Tokorozawa on Tuesday, when five batters were hit by pitches the benches cleared three times, two pitchers were ejected for hitting batters while under a warning, and one coach was tossed for charging the mound.

Only one pitch really looked dangerous, when Kaima Hirai left a mark on Shuhei Fukuda with a 152-kph fastball to the ribs in the ninth. After the benches cleared for the last time, Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji put his arms around Buffaloes skipper Norifumi Nishimura’s shoulders and must have said something positive, since Nishimura was laughing when he got back to the visitors dugout.

The whole thing reminded me of a clip from Saturday Night Live, when a clip of a “thrilling chase sequence” by comedians Bob and Ray was aired. You can see it in the final 1-1/2 minutes of the following Youtube video.

Pacific League

Lions 11, Buffaloes 4

At MetLife Dome, Shuta Tonosaki set a career high in home runs with his 19th, a first-inning, three-run shot that set Seibu on the road to a bizarre, one-sided victory over Orix.

The game became an encore of the feisty on-field confrontation that flared nine days earlier in Osaka. On Tuesday, Buffaloes outfield and base running coach Manabu Satake was tossed for charging the mound after Orix catcher Kenya Wakatsuki was struck by a pitch in the fourth inning.

On Aug. 4, an Orix hitter was hit in the bottom of the first inning and Lions first base coach Tomoaki Sato started jawing with the Buffaloes bench after Lions catcher Masatoshi Okada was hit in the second — a scenario that repeated itself on Tuesday.

Things were clearly on edge in Saitama Prefecture when Shunta Goto was hit in the third inning. And hen several Orix coaches came out to see to him, the Lions were expecting something, because the Seibu bench and bullpen both emptied.

After Satake was ejected the umpires issued a warning, and with the Lions leading 5-2 in the bottom of the fourth, it looks like Wakatsuki decided to get some payback. He called for three pitches well inside against Lions catcher Tomoya Mori. The third one hit him, and Buffaloes pitcher Daiki Tajima was ejected.

All told, the Lions officially hit four Buffaloes batters. Shuhei Fukuda might just have had a close call in the first inning when he was awarded first, but he did get hit in the ninth by reliever Kaima Taira — who was also ejected and instigated the final bench clearing.

“We’re getting hit too many times,” Orix manager Norifumi Nishimura said with anger in his voice — although the only two of the whole bunch that may have been intentional was the Buffaloes hitting the Lions catchers — and might go some ways to explain why Satake was so incensed when Orix’s catcher got hit.

Lions skipper Hatsuhiko Tsuji said he was embarrassed by the whole thing.

“This leaves a bad taste in your mouth,” Tsuji said. “As a professional, I think it’s an embarrassment. It’s all our fault.”

Lions cleanup hitter Takeya Nakamura then put the game to rest by clearing the bases with a three-run double.

Game highlights are HERE.

Hawks 3, Eagles 0

At Rakuten Seimei Park, rookie Rei Takahashi (10-3) surrendered seven singles but got three double plays turned behind him in 6-2/3 scoreless innings.

Rakuten rookie Hayato Yuge (2-1) gave up a run in each of the first two innings, and left having struck out six in his six innings on the mound. Hawks leadoff man Keizo Kawashima opened with a walk, was doubled to third by Seiichi Uchikawa and scored on a ground out.

Hawks catcher Takuya Kai doubled with two outs in the second, went to third on an infield single and scored on a delayed double steal. the Hawks final run came on Alfredo Despaigne’s 30th home run. Fellow Cuban Livan Moinelo worked the ninth to record his fourth save.

Game highlights are HERE.

Marines 6, Fighters 1

At Tokyo Dome, Nippon Ham closer Ryo Akiyoshi (0-3) surrendered five runs in the ninth inning, as Lotte came from behind to hand the Fighters their sixth-straight loss.

In an unusual pitching progression — even for the Fighters – Mizuki Hori put up his fourth-straight scoreless first inning as an opener, and Johnny Barbato walked two over his two innings before giving way to Toru Murata. The former Cleveland Indian allowed a single over three innings.

The Marines tied it in the seventh off Naoya Ishikawa, who gave up a leadoff double to Seiya Inoue and a Katsuya Kakunaka RBI single.

Ayumu Ishikawa started for the Marines and allowed a run over 6-1/3 innings while striking out five. Three relievers retired the next five batters, before the Marines broke the game open in the top of the ninth.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Carp 2, Giants 1, 11 innings

At Mazda Stadium, Seiya Suzuki doubled and came home in the 11th on a sacrifice fly by reserve catcher Yoshitaka Isomura to earn a walk-off win that snapped Yomiuri’s five-game win streak.

Suzuki singled in the second and scored from first with no outs when Ryuhei Matsuyama lined one into the wide-open gap in right-center for an opposite-field double.

The Giants tied it in the eighth, when Hayato Sakamoto outsmarted the Carp on the bases. With one out and runners on the corners, Sakamoto stopped halfway to second, allowing the lead runner Shinnosuke Shigenobu to score before the Carp could complete the double play.

Swallows 8, BayStars 7

At Jingu Stadium, Wladimir Balentien decided a see-saw game with a seventh-inning RBI double that plated Norichika Aoki, and three relievers sealed the win with scoreless innings over DeNA.

Scott McGough, who gave up runs in his previous three outings as closer, worked a scoreless eighth to set up David Huff, who earned his first save in Japan.

Tigers 0, Dragons 0, 12 innings

At Nagoya Dome, Hanshin had two runners on in an inning seven different times thanks to eight hits and seven walks, but was unable to score against Chunichi.

News

Welcome No. 104 Kiyomiya

I wonder how many people knew that through Aug. 12, the Nippon Ham Fighters’ franchise had 103 different players bat fourth in their order. Sports Nippon did, so the paper alerted the public on Twitter that second-year slugger Kotaro Kiyomiya, their first-round pick in 2017, would make his debut in the four hole on Tuesday, becoming No. 104 in team history.

I’m sure someone must know or care, but I can’t quite guess whether one could count that community on one hand or not.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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