NPB news: April 28, 2022

Two Pacific Leaguers continued on a home run tear Thursday, Seibu’s 2018 MVP Hotaka Yamakawa, and Nippon Ham’s Yuma Igawa, who’s taken full advantage of a Fighters’ home series at the Tokyo Dome launching pad.

Meanwhile, we had a huge comeback in the Central League, while the Nikkan Sports reminded us that no comebacks can be expected in the CL pennant race since all 21 teams in Japanese pro baseball history to win 20 of their first 29 game have gone on to win the pennant.

So let’s get to the news:

Santana completes knee surgery

Domingo Santana had the meniscus in his left knee cleaned out on Tuesday in Florida, the Yakult Swallows announced Thursday according to Daily Sports. Santana returned to the United States for consultation after the team deactivated him due to “lack of lower body fitness.” The team said he would begin his rehab in the States, and that his return to Japan would be considered after he finishes the first stage of his comeback abroad.

In 10 games this season, Santana batted .343 with four home runs and 10 RBIs.

2 Buffaloes culled after COVID tests

The Orix Buffaloes, who had a rash of illnesses after being no-hit by Roki Sasaki on April 10, deactivated two players Thursday after they tested positive for COVID-19, infielder Tatsuya Yamaashi and pitcher Shota Abe.

Wednesday’s games

Lions 4, Hawks 2: At Fukuoka Dome, Kaito Yoza (1-1) pitched in an emergency and held the fort for 3-1/3 innings of long relief after Seibu starting pitcher Burch Smith was hurt to secure the Lions’ second straight win over SoftBank.

Smith called for the trainer after throwing his 48th pitch and walking Takuya Kai to load the bases and left the game. He appeared to be laboring and left with one out and the bases loaded. Yoza walked into the predicament and dispatched the top two Hawks’ hitters to preserve the two-run lead. Smith, who did not allow a hit over seven innings in his April 19 debut, surrendered a first-inning single to Yuki Yanagita.

Smith took the mound with a 3-1 lead after Hotaka Yamakawa hit his third home run in two games and his eighth of the season, off Colin Rea (1-2). Rea threw seven straight cutters away, and had Hotaka going after several out of the zone, but his eighth pitch, a straight belt-high fastball away ended up well back in the seats in right for an opposite-field home run.

With one out in the second Tatsuru Yanagimachi walked and scored after singles by Seiji Uebayashi and Kenta Imamiya. Yanagita’s second home run made it 4-2 in the third, but Sosuke Genda and Brian O’Grady, who singled and walked, respectively, in the first, combined for another run in the fifth. Genda tripled with one out and scored on an O’Grady single.

Four Lions relievers held the Hawks to two hits and a walk over the final four innings with Tatsushi Masuda earning his fifth save.

Fighters 6, Buffaloes 2: At Tokyo Dome, Yuma Imagawa had four hits, including his fourth and fifth homers, scored three and drove in three, while Yuki James Nomura went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and his second home run for Nippon Ham. Fighters starter Hiromi Ito (3-2) worked seven scoreless innings to get the win.

Two-time defending PL batting champ Masataka Yoshida went 3-for-4 with a double and singled in both of Orix’s runs.

Eagles 2, Marines 1: At Chiba Marine Stadium, lefty Masaru Fujii (1-0) threw six scoreless innings in his pro debut to outduel former Eagle Manabu Mima (0-3). Rakuten leadoff man and Nippon Ham discard Haruki Nishikawa homered to open the game and singled in the seventh as the visitors scored a crucial insurance run. Tomohiro Anraku worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save.

Giants 7, BayStars 0: At Yokohama Stadium, Yomiuri rookie Iori Yamasaki (1-0) worked six innings for his first career win, Kazuma Okamoto hit a two-run first-inning home run, his Central League-leading ninth as the Giants got production up and down the lineup including an RBI single from Yamasaki as four pitchers combined on the four-hit shutout.

Tigers 3, Dragons 2: At Koshien Stadium, Chunichi ace Yudai Ono (1-3) went the distance but couldn’t preserve the lead he got from rookie Takaya Ishikawa’s two-run second-inning home run. Hanshin took the lead in the fourth, tying it on four straight no-out singles, and going ahead on an RBI groundout.

Takumi Akiyama (1-2) worked five innings, and four relievers picked up the slack, striking out seven over the final four innings while allowing just two hits. Suguru Iwazaki earned his second save in two days.

Swallows 9, Carp 5: At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Hiroshima’s bullpen squandered seven scoreless innings from starting pitcher Allen Kuri as Shota Nakazaki (1-3)             took over in the eighth set off a nine-run inning.

Nakazaki retired pinch-hitter Shingo Kawabata to open the eighth, but walked the bases loaded. Munetaka Murakami tied it 2-2 with a single to chase the former Carp closer. Sotaro Shimauchi took over and missed with eight of his first nine pitches to make it 3-2.

Jose Osuna chased Shimauchi with a two-run single. Naoki Matsumoto singled in a run off rookie Takumi Kurohara. The rookie retired Kawabata for the second out, but allowed Yakult to reload the bases on a Kengo Ota single. Kotaro Yamasaki then cleared them with a double before Tetsuto Yamada struck out to end the inning. The Carp got three runs in the home half to close out the scoring.

Friday’s starting pitchers

We’ve got some tasty matchups for Friday. In Sendai, two guys who were both on MLB scouts’ “must-watch” lists will face each other. Takahiro Norimoto dropped off because he signed a longterm deal to stay with Rakuten, while Kodai Senga is still very much on it.

In Chiba, Enny Romero puts his 23-inning scoreless streak on the line against Nippon Ham, where Naoyuki Uwasawa goes for his first win. In Osaka former Blue Jay Jacob Waguespack will make his Japan debut against Seibu’s Opening Day starter, Kona Takahashi.

In the CL, we’ve got Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano against Hanshn’s best starter this season, Koyo Aoyagi.

Eagles vs Hawks: Miyagi Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Takahiro Norimoto (0-1, 5.06) vs Kodai Senga (3-0, 0.95)

Marines vs Fighters: Chiba Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Enny Romero (2-0, 0.34) vs Naoyuki Uwasawa (0-3, 4.18)

Buffaloes vs Lions: Osaka Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Jacob Waguespack (-) vs Kona Takahashi (2-2, 2.18)

Giants vs Tigers: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Tomoyuki Sugano (3-2, 3.56) vs Koyo Aoyagi (2-0, 0.53)

Swallows vs BayStars: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Cy Sneed (1-0, 5.87) vs Yuki Ariyoshi (-)

Dragons vs Carp: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hiroto Takahashi (2-1, 4.24) vs Daichi Osera (3-1, 2.83)

Active roster moves 4/28/2022

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/8

Central League


SwallowsP47Keiji Takahashi
TigersP21Takumi Akiyama
GiantsP12Rubby De La Rosa
GiantsP19Iori Yamasaki
CarpOF55Ryuhei Matsuyama
DragonsC44Yuya Gunji
BayStarsOF8Kazuki Kamizato


SwallowsP64Yuma Oshita
TigersP69Daichi Ishii
GiantsP54Daisuke Naoe
GiantsIF52Takumi Kitamura
CarpP45Ryuya Matsumoto
CarpOF38Koki Ugusa
DragonsP41Akiyoshi Katsuno
DragonsC68Iori Katsura
BayStarsIF55Hayato Tanabe

Pacific League


BuffaloesP26Atsushi Nomi
BuffaloesP28Ryoga Tomiyama
BuffaloesP56Atsuya Kogita
BuffaloesIF31Ryo Ohta
MarinesP24Yusuke Azuma
EaglesP47Masaru Fujii


BuffaloesP45Shota Abe
BuffaloesIF36Tatsuya Yamaashi
MarinesIF13Taiga Hirasawa
HawksP40Kazuki Sugiyama

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