NPB news: April 4, 2023

We had an ugly troll attack, the Hawks and Swallows are playing like they intend to go 143-0, with three shutouts in their first four games, while Hanshin pulled out a close on to join them at 4-0 to keep Takahiro Arai the last of this year’s rookie managers without a win.

Before the games, I need to mention an embarrassment that happened Sunday. An internet troll posted an obscene, racist diatribe against DeNA lefty Edwin Escobar. In addition to the obligatory racial slurs, the message included a wish that his family die in an auto accident.

The BayStars said they would look into the matter and would consider legal action against excessively abusive social media attacks on their players.

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Tuesday’s games

Rookie Ryosuke Kodama‘s first big league hit

Lions 4, Eagles 0: At Miyagi Stadium, Tatsuya Imai (1-0) struck out eight and had two double plays turned behind him as he scattered three singles, four walks and a hit batsman over seven innings. Rookie Ryosuke Kodama, starting at short in place of captain Sosuke Genda, doubled in Shohei Suzuki with his first pro hit and scored on an Aito Takeda single as the Lions broke up a scoreless tie in the fifth against Takahiro Norimoto (0-1).

Jesus Tinoco, who surrendered a home run on his first regular season pitch in Japan on Friday, worked a scoreless eighth for the Lions.

Swallows 1, Dragons 0: At Nagoya Dome, Cy Sneed (1-0) retired Dayan Viciedo with two outs and the bases loaded en route to six scoreless innings before Yakult scored a seventh-inning unearned run off Yudai Ono (0-1) on an error, a single and a two-out Munetaka Murakami double off the wall.

Three Swallows relievers, Taichi Ishiyama, Noboru Shimizu and Kazuto Taguchi each worked a perfect inning to close it out as Taguchi notched his third straight one-run save, to preserve Yakult’s third shutout.

Hawks 6, Buffaloes 1: At Osaka Dome, the Hawks came within one out of recording their third shutout, because when Shuta Ishikawa (1-0) doesn’t walk anyone SoftBank’s opponents are in for a long night.

Ryoya Kurihara continued to hurt baseballs, with a two-run homer, his third of the season, and an RBI single, while Kensuke Kondo also belted a two-run shot. Ishikawa struck out seven over seven innings. Tomoya Mori hit his second homer as a Buffalo with two outs in the ninth.

Kensuke Kondo’s third HR.

Giants 9, BayStars 0: At Yokohama Stadium, new import Lewis Brinson, who’s throwing arm pushed Yoshihiro Maru out of Yomiuri’s center field job, got it done with the bat, finishing a triple shy of baseball’s most popular idiot stat, with his first homer in Japan and six RBI. He doubled in three runs in the ninth and reached third on the play, but was denied the cycle – although Shinjiro Hiyama completed his July 2003 cycle on a similar play thanks to a scorer’s generosity.

Shosei Togo (1-0) in his first game since throwing two scoreless innings against the United States in the World Baseball Classic final, scattered five hits, two by Japan teammate Shugo Maki, over six innings. Another new Giants import, right-hander Yoan Lopez, worked a scoreless eighth.

Marines 6, Fighters 4: At Chiba Marine Stadium, new Marine Gregory Polanco started Lotte’s comeback from a three-run deficit with a two-run second-inning home run. Nippon Ham’s Yuki James Nomura hit a three-run first-inning homer and doubled and scored to break a 3-3 fourth-inning tie before Lotte scored two more in the home half off Cody Ponce (0-1).

Yuji Nishino (1-0) started for the Marines and allowed four runs over five innings, but four relievers combined to retire 12 of the last 13 Fighters batters. The win was the first as a manager for former MLB pitcher Masato Yoshii.

Tigers 5, Carp 4: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Yusuke Oyama broke a 4-4 ninth-inning tie with an RBI double off closer Ryoji Kuribayashi (0-1), who was to be Japan’s WBC closer until he was sidelined with lower-back stiffness.

Hanshin’s Atsuki Yuasa, who did make it with the team to Miami, retired two of the three batters he faced in the ninth but a botched stolen-base attempt helped seal new manager Takahiro Arai’s fourth loss.

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