NPB news: April 6, 2024

In Japan on Saturday, Teruaki Sato did in the Swallows again, a SoftBank rookie had a heck of a homecoming in Sendai, where Livan Moinelo once more came up empty after a solid performance and Yuki Yanagita won a Hiroshima-connection throw-down. Seiya Hosoka, who started the season 0-for-14, helped out a favorite veteran teammate with his third homer, and new Orix import Anderson Espinoza continued to deal.

On a future programming note, I was at Jingu Stadium today, where I talked with Munetaka Murakami, Domingo Santana and Sheldon Neuse, where despite the crappy situation for the media, I got a few interesting bits to share with you in the coming weeks.

Saturday’s games

Tigers 4, Swallows 3: At Jingu “Tokyo’s Sacrifice to Corporate Greed and Governmental Malfeasance” Stadium, the Tigers’ Teruaki Sato sank the Swallows for the second straight day with a tie-breaking home run.

The Swallows loaded the bases in the third against Kotaro Otake (1-1) with a one-out walk and two singles for Domingo Santa to single in Norichika Aoki and Hideki Nagaoka‘s sac fly to plate Jose Osuna. After facing the minimum over three innings, Kojiro Yoshimura (0-1) surrendered a leadoff homer to Koji Chikamoto in the fourth. Takumu Nakano then singled and scored the tying run on a Yusuke Oyama single, but Yoshimura followed with three straight outs to keep it tied.

The Tigers untied it in the seventh. Ukyo Maekawa singled and came home when Sato, whose 10th-inning homer proved decisive Friday, repeated the feat.

Takeshi Miyamoto drew a leadoff walk in the home half, went to third on an Aoki double and scored on a ground out, but that was it for the Swallowers.

Buffaloes 9, Marines 1: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Anderson Espinoza (2-0) surrendered his first run in Japan, on a walk and five hits over seven innings, but struck out six and appeared in complete control from start to finish, partly with the help of an umpire calling low strikes like nobody’s business.

Orix’s Ryoma Nishikawa and Masahiro Nishino singled to open the game against Atsuki Taneichi (1-1), and scored on a double by Keita Nakagawa, who came in on a Tomoya Mori single. Mori was hit by a pitch to open the fourth, and scored after singles by Yuma Mune and Kotaro Kurebayashi.

Leandro Cedeno made it 5-0. After striking out his first two times up, he followed Nakagawa’s leadoff walk with an RBI double.

The Marines scored in the seventh on a walk, a single by Atsuki Tomosugi after fouling off four two-strike pitches and a Toshiya Sato sacrifice fly.

Dragons 4, Carp 0: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Hideaki Wakui (1-0) scattered eight hits over 6-1/3 innings, leaving with a 4-0 lead and a runner on third that lefty Koki Saito stranded.

New Hiroshima import Thomas Hatch (0-1) survived three two-out second-inning singles but surrendered the first run after Hironori Miyoshi singled to open the third and scored on a Sho Nakata sacrifice fly. Seiya Hosokawa made it 3-0 when he plated Mikiya Tanaka with his third home run. Tanaka singled in reserve catcher Takuma Kato in the sixth and reliever Tatsuya Shimizu pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth.

Wakui’s win was the 160th of his career, and Hosokawa, who had three hits, said he was happy to contribute.

“I’m glad I could help him get that. It seems like he’s got my back on a daily basis, always helping me with something. He’s a good person.”

-Chunichi Dragons outfielder Seiya Hosokawa

Hawks 5, Eagles 4: At Miyagi Stadium, Rakuten’s Kosei Shoji and SoftBank’s Livan Moinelo each threw six hitless innings, but once the hits started in the seventh, the game got really interesting.

Shoji was pulled after allowing a hit and a run in the seventh, and Moinelo, who struggled to get out of the sixth with two runners on, came out after the Hawks took the lead.

Kensuke Kondo broke up one half of the twin no-hitter on a one-out seventh-inning single off Shoji. Kondo stole second and kept going to third on a wild pitch before a one-out walk took the right-hander’s pitch count to 92.

Rookie Yuto Kawamura, playing in his third major league game since being signed to a developmental contract out of Sendai University, supplied the ice-breaking sacrifice fly, but the long-awaited lead had a short-shelf life.

Two walks from Koya Fujii and a sacrifice put the go-ahead run on second. With the infield playing shallow, pinch-hitter Takero Okajima, smashed a ball past Hotaka Yamakawa and struck the first-base bag as two runs scored.

Former Hiroshima Carp Nik Turley took over in the top of the eighth for the Eagles, issued a one-out walk and a two-out two-run homer, the first of the year for Hiroshima native Yuki Yanagita. Kondo doubled in the ninth and Kawamura drove him in again, this time with his first pro hit.

The Hawks’ fourth sacrifice, and their second with one out, set up Kawamura to score a big insurance run to make it 5-2 on an Akira Nakamura pinch-hit single.

Lions 5, Fighters 2: At Kitahiroshima Taxpayers Burden Field, Chihiro Sumida (2-0) threw seven scoreless innings, Ryusei Sato and Junichiro Kishi hit back-to-back fourth-inning homers off Takayuki Kato (0-2), and new import Albert Abreu came in to get the final out and secured his third save with two pitches.

After two-out singles by new imports Jesus Aguilar and Franchy Cordero, Sato drove a cutter over the outside corner out to right off Kato, who then served up a batting practice fastball down the pipe that Kishi launched high and deep down the left-field line.

Fighters right fielder Chusei Mannami kept the game scoreless by throwing out a runner at the plate in the first for his second assist of the season, but the excitement for the Fighters’ fans was muted until the hosts scored twice in the ninth off 2022 rookie of the year, Yoshinobu Mizukami.

BayStars 6, Giants 4: At Tokyo Ugly Dome, DeNA lefty Anthony Kay allowed three runs over four innings in his Japan debut, and Toshiro Miyazaki drove in four runs as the BayStars twice came from behind to win their third straight and improve to a CL-best 6-2. Taiga Kamichatani (2-0) got the win for three scoreless innings of relief.

The Giants scored in the first on one-out walks by Makoto Kadowaki and Yoshihiro Maru and a Kazuma Okamoto single, and Foster Griffin retired the first 10 batters he faced until a fourth-inning Hayato Sakamoto throwing error, two singles and a Miyazaki two-run double.

Singles by Sakamoto, Hisayoshi Chono set the table in a two-run Giants’ fourth, but a Taiki Ishigami double and another error, by Kadowaki, Sakamoto’s successor at shortstop, opened the door for a three-run DeNA fifth off lefty Haruto Inoue.

Tyler Austin walked, Keita Sano singled in the tying run. A two-out pitching switch to rookie right-hander Hayate Matsui delivered consecutive five-pitch bases-loaded walks. Sano’s third hit set up Shugo Maki to score DeNA’s sixth run, in the seventh, on Miyazaki’s second double.

With closer Yasuaki Yamasaki not on the game-day roster, Kohei Morihara entered in the ninth and allowed a run on a series of well-hit balls before popping up Okamoto for the final out and his second save.

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