NPB games, news of Sep. 3, 2019

Pacific League

Hawks 3, Eagles 2

At Yafuoku Dome, SoftBank survived some late-inning relief anxiety when Livan Moinelo loaded the bases in the eighth inning of a one-run game and Yuito Mori put two on in the ninth but recorded the save in a win over Rakuten.

Rei Takahashi (11-3) cruised through 7-1/3 innings before surrendering back-to-back homers. Kenta Imamiya crushed a straight fastball from Takayuki Kishi (2-5) in the second for his 14th home run and a one-run Hawks lead, and Seiichi Uchikawa put two on the board with his 12th in the fourth inning.

Mori’s save was 28th.

Game highlights are HERE.

Stupid analysis, chapter 137

On Tuesday’s “Pro Yakyu News” analyst and former catcher Mitsuo Tatsukawa explained Uchikawa’s solid day by saying the 37-year-old plays better on Tuesday’s because as an older player — Uchikawa is 37 — he moves better after NPB’s customary Monday day off.

It sounded like utter nonsense to me, so I looked, and Tatsukawa was, not surprisingly, just making stuff up. He himself may have felt better when as an older player he was playing after an off day, but Uchikawa has not.

Since 2011, Uchikawa has a .766 OPS on days other than Tuesday, and a .701 on Tuesdays — a span in which he collected 741 at-bats.

I admired Tatsukawa’s ability to work with his pitchers when he played for the Hiroshima Carp. He was a remarkable defensive catcher. But the guy can be something of a jerk — or at least that’s my impression since he interrupted an interview I was doing with Takahiro Arai about 13 years ago in Okinawa.

Arai and I were speaking in Japanese in a quiet corner of the Carp’s team hotel and my Japanese was pretty mediocre at the time. Tatsukawa, who was in town covering the Carp’s spring training, came up and said in a kind of bad Hollywood impression of a Japanese speaking English

“You speak Japanese? You are really a very strange foreigner aren’t you?” — the last big was in Japanese (凄く変な外人ですね). He then rattled off a few phrases in English and laughed loudly at his wit as he walked away.

Lions 5, Buffaloes 1

At Hotto Motto Field Kobe, Zach Neal (9-1) allowed five hits and a walk over 6-1/3 scoreless innings to win his fourth-straight start and his eighth-straight decision in Seibu’s win over Orix. He left with a runner on in the seventh and a 2-0 lead from Takeya Nakamura’s 26th home run.

Tomoya Mori and Takumi Kuriyama gave Seibu some ninth-inning breathing room with a pair of RBI doubles. Shogo Akiyama singled to open the inning and became the third player in NPB history to score 100 runs in three-straight seasons after Hall of Famer Yutaka Fukumoto and future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki.

Buffaloes starter, 27-year-old rookie Yudai Aranishi (1-3) regrouped after his rough first inning to work seven innings, in which he allowed three hits but no walks and struck out four.

Game highlights are HERE.

Marines 2, Fighters 0

At Zozo Marine Stadium, Nippon Ham used Bryan Rodriguez (6-5) like a typical starter, allowing him to face 26 batters over 5-2/3 innings. Unfortunately, he could have used an opener, since the two runs he allowed were both in the first inning in a loss to Lotte.

Ayumu Ishikawa (5-5) allowed seven hits and three walks but also got three double plays behind him and a runner thrown out on the bases — Leonys Martin’s fourth outfield assist in 34 NPB games. The Marines bullpen was better, allowing one walk over two innings.

Nippon Ham, which has lost seven straight, has now been shutout in two of its last three games.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Dragons 4, Giants 3

At Hardoff Eco Stadium, Masanobu Fukuda hit his 16th home run, a two-run shot in the first inning off Cristopher Mercedes (8-8), who was pulled after facing 14 batters, and the Yomiuri bullpen gave up another two runs to Chunichi.

Rookie Kodai Umetsu (3-0) allowed a run over five innings to earn the win. He gave up four hits and a walk while striking out five. Lefty Toshiya Okada surrendered two in the ninth but recorded his 10th save.

Game highlights are HERE.

Carp 3, Swallows 0

At Jingu Stadium, Hiroshima’s Kris Johnson (10-7) allowed two hits and a walk over eight innings in a win over Yakult, whose starter, Keiji Takahashi (3-6) struck out six over five innings but also walked five and allowed two runs.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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