NPB games, news of Sept. 8, 2019

Tough to Swallow

Junji Ogawa announced Sunday for the second time in six years that he no longer wants to manage the Central League’s Yakult Swallows. The team is in last place and has been eliminated from playoff contention. Ogawa took over last year and led the Swallows to second place. In six seasons over two terms, he has led them to the postseason three times.

Head coach Shinya Miyamoto, who was expected to take over after a brief coaching stint, said he wants no part of the job either. One potential candidate to manage is current farm manager and former pitching coach Shingo Takatsu.

If Takatsu does take over, he’ll become the second Japanese former major leaguer to manage a top-flight NPB club after fellow former White Sox infielder Tadahito Iguchi took over the Pacific League’s Lotte Marines in 2018.

Pacific League

Hawks 9, Marines 6

At Yafuoku Dome, Lotte’s Brandon Laird homered, reached base four times and drove in four runs, but SoftBank came back against starter Atsuki Taneichi to tie it in the seventh inning on a pinch-hit RBI single by Keizo Kawashima. Kenji Akashi’s eighth-inning pinch-hit double put the Hawks ahead in the eighth before Kawashima doubled in an insurance run.

Hawks starter Shota Takeda put the home team in a bind by allowing four runs over four innings. Taneichi allowed six runs in 6-1/3, and the Marines bullpen let the game get away further.

Game highlights are HERE.

Lions 3, Eagles 2

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Takeya Nakamura doubled in two runs for Seibu and Hotaka Yamakawa doubled in another run in the eighth after Rakuten’s Jabari Blash tied it in the sixth with his 31st home run.

Game highlights are HERE.

Fighters 2, Buffaloes 0

At Sapporo Dome, the future and past crossed paths as former Orix ace Chihiro Kaneko (6-4) matched his season-high of six innings to outpitch the Buffaloes best young pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (6-5), who held Nippon Ham to an unearned run over six innings.

Yamamoto was on the mound for the first time since straining his left oblique muscles on Aug. 3. He allowed three hits and struck out six without issuing a walk.

The Fighters’ future and past also collided as their former closer, Hirotoshi Masui surrendered a solo homer to up-and-coming slugger Kotaro Kiyomiya.

Game highlights are HERE.

Let’s pretend it never happened

For some reason, Nippon Ham Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama has decided to ditch the idea of openers and short starters. On Sunday, Chihiro Kaneko worked six innings, marking the first time this season that Fighters starters have worked six innings or more in three consecutive games.

They have also equaled the team’s longest streak of consecutive five-plus inning starts.

Mizuki Hori, who had been dynamite as the opener, has been demoted to the farm, where he is pitching occasionally and striking out batters, something one imagines would be more useful on the first team.

It’s almost as if there was a purge and evidence of the experiment, Hori, has been sent into exile in the team’s Kamagaya gulag.

Central League

Dragons 5, BayStars 2

At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi’s Yudai Ono (8-8) lost his bid for a shutout when DeNA’s Neftali Soto hit his 36th home run, a two-run shot in the ninth. The win was Chunichi’s sixth straight after sweeping the league’s top two teams, the Giants and BayStars.

As they have for the past week or so, the Dragons continued to be tenacious at the plate and on the bases. Yota Kyoda legged out a triple in the fourth inning and scored from third on a foul pop down the first base line. With Ono cruising, Nobumasa Fukuda essentially put the game away in the sixth with a two-run double.

Carp 3, Tigers 2

At Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima’s Hisayoshi Chono singled in two runs and made a good catch in left field to help Kris Johnson (11-7) earn the win over Hanshin with six scoreless innings.

Geronimo Franzua entered the game with two outs in the eighth and a runner on second. He surrendered an RBI double to make it a 3-2 game and walked the next batter before retiring the last four he faced to earn his 11th save.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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