NPB games, news of Aug. 8, 2019

I may have a new favorite player, Taiwan right-hander Chang Yi, a cousin of current Giants outfielder Yang Dai-kang. Taken by Orix as an outfielder out of the Japan University of Economics in the first round of the 2016 developmental draft, the Buffaloes asked him to begin pitching practice a year ago and like his cousin Yang Yao-hsun, Chang converted from the outfield to the mound.

Chang struck out 33 batters this spring in 41-1/3 Western League innings and was signed to a standard contract on May 2. The 25-year-old pitched twice in relief before making his starting debut on Thursday on a rainy night in Asahikawa, Hokkaido.

There, he retired the first 12 Fighters he faced before Kensuke Kondo singled into left under the glove of shortstop Ryoichi Adachi. After five scoreless innings, Kotaro Kiyomiya homered off him. Chang finished allowing two hits, no walks and one run, while striking out six.

“I was able to concentrate on each batter and one pitcher at a time,” said Chang, who had good command of his fastball, curve and splitter.

“On the farm, it also happened that I’d give up hits in the sixth inning, so I didn’t let it bother me and just pitched. I was (more) nervous when I pitched before in middle relief. Of course, I was nervous here, but I was able to focus on executing my pitches and enjoying myself.”

Asked whether Hokkaido — where his cousin Yang Dai-kang played for many years would be special to him, Chang said, “Yes. I am so lucky I followed my cousin to Japan.”

Pacific League

Buffaloes 5, Fighters 2

At Asahikawa Starffin Stadium, Stefen Romero opened the scoring in the first with an RBI single led off the fourth with a home run before Steven Moya followed with his fifth since joining Orix in July as the Buffaloes completed a three-game sweep of Nippon Ham behind Chang Yi’s marvelous starting debut.

Game highlights are HERE.

Hawks 5, Marines 3

At Zozo Marine Stadium, Kenta Imamiya hit the second of three SoftBank home runs, a three-run, pinch-hit shot that overturned a 3-1 deficit in a win over Lotte that prevented a three-game sweep in Chiba.

Game highlights are HERE.

Eagles 11, Lions 7, 11 innings

At Omiya Stadium, Hideto Asamura drove in two runs in regulation, and had two extra-inning sacrifice flies as Rakuten scored four 11th-inning runs on four walks, an error, a hit batsman and a sac fly to beat Seibu, which twice came from behind to tie it.

Kyle Martin (2-5) took the loss in the painful 11th inning, while 39-year-old Yuya Kubo earned the win in relief.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Carp 4, BayStars 1

At Mazda Stadium, Xavier Batista surpassed last year’s career high in home runs with his 26th, a three-run shot, and Yusuke Nomura (6-3) won his third-straight start since returning from the farm on July 25 as Hiroshima closed to within a half-game of second-place DeNA.

Giants 3, Dragons 3, 12 innings

At Nagoya Dome, Zoilo Almonte drove in all three Chunichi runs with a two-out, sixth-inning single, and a two-out, eighth-inning double, and neither team managed to score after that in a game that was called after 12 innings. Kazuma Okamoto hit a two-run homer for Yomiuri, his 19th of the season.

Tigers 5, Swallows 3

At Jingu Stadium, Yakult’s Hiroki Yamada (4-1) failed to pitch out of his second jam of the game, allowing three runs, two earned, in the fifth inning as the 31-year-old failed to notch the first five-start winning streak of his career as Hanshin came from behind.

Rookie Koji Chikamoto put the game out of reach in the ninth inning with a two-run home run, and Kyuji Fujikawa struck out three batters after surrendering a leadoff homer in the bottom of the inning to record his fifth straight save.

News

BayStars likely lose Miyazaki for season

The DeNA BayStars deactivated third baseman and 2017 CL batting champion and two-time Best Nine-winning third baseman Toshiro Miyazaki on Thursday with a broken hamate bone in his left wrist that will require surgery and likely keep him from returning this season.

Miyazaki struggled out of the gate this season. He’s currently batting .279 for the season, but .320 since May 1. Last week, he said he was flying open too quickly and unable to stay back on break pitches like usual. In the middle of April, he turned to the trackman and video data and discovered his head was a few centimeters farther forward than it had been, throwing his swing off balance.

Igarashi pitches in 900th top-level game

Forty-year-old Yakult Swallows reliever Ryota Igarashi pitched in the 900th game of his career on Thursday — a total that includes 83 in the major leagues, mostly spent with the New York Mets.

He’s the third Japanese pitcher with 900 games under his belt, after one Hall of Fame lefty, Masaichi Kaneda, and one future Hall of Fame lefty, Hitoki Iwase.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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