NPB news: Aug. 20, 2022

On Saturday in Japan, Orix’s Elmore Leonard gang stole the Lions lunch money, while Munetaka Murakami continues to swing for the fences and beyond.

The home run was Murakami’s 148th, moving him past Kazuhiro Kiyohara on the list of career home runs by a 22-year-old. He is now second on the list and 30 behind Kiyohara for career homers by a 23-year-old, and third behind Kiyohara (212) and Sadaharu Oh (180) for career homers by a 24-year-old.

If you want a refresher course on every overgeneralization attributed to Japanese baseball, have a listen to Ben Verlander does Japanese baseball. Verlander is currently in Japan marveling at the game we know and love, and I guess it’s kind of fun to remember what it was like the first time we saw it.

Let’s get to the games shall we?

Saturday’s games

Buffaloes 6, Lions 0: At Seibu Dome, the Lions got run over by the 8:20 to Yuma, as the Elmore Leonard gang, Yuma Mune and Yuma Tongu, rode again to back the eight shutdown innings from Hiroya Miyagi (8-6), lifting the defending champs to within 1-1/2 games of the first-place Lions.

Mune was hit by a pitch from Kaito Yoza (9-4) with one out in the second and scored on a Tongu double. The gang made it 2-0 on back-to-back seventh-inning doubles, and Mune iced it with a three-run eighth-inning homer off Bo Takahashi, his third.

Hawks 9, Fighters 3: At Fukuoka Dome, SoftBank blew up Naoyuki Uwasawa (6-6) in a seven-run fourth inning, as the right-hander squandered a two-run lead against Shota Takeda (2-0). Yuki Yanagita led off the fourth with a single and capped the rally with a two-run single.

SoftBank moved to within a half-game of the Pacific League-leading Lions, with Orix a game back in third.

Eagles 5, Marines 2: At Miyagi Stadium, Masahiro Tanaka (7-9) allowed a pair of unearned runs on six hits and a walk, and Rakuten came from behind against Enny Romero (8-7) in a five-run sixth to stay three back of the Lions in fourth place.

Trailing 2-0 in the sixth, Hiroto Kobukata singled, stole second and scored on Daichi Suzuki’s single. Hideto Asamura’s double tied it, and Hiroaki Shimauchi put the Eagles in front with a two-run homer, his 12th to chase Romero. Louis Okoye, making his season debut, singled with two outs and scored after a wild pitch and a Yoshiaki Watanabe single.

Rakuten’s Naoto Nishiguchi and Yuki Matsui each worked a scoreless inning of relief with Matsui getting his 25th save.

BayStars 6, Carp 5: At Yokohama Stadium, Neftali Soto doubled with one out in the eighth to set up the go-ahead run that scored on pinch-hitter Hikaru Ito’s single, and Yasushi Yamasaki saved his 28th game as DeNA won a season-high fifth straight and extended its home winning streak to 16 games.

The BayStars took a 3-1 first-inning lead on back-to-back homers by Shugo Maki and Toshiro Miyazaki, who each went deep for the second night in a row. Keita Sano, who singled and scored in the first, capped a two-run fifth inning rally to make it 5-1.

Shogo Akiyama singled off Kenta Ishida in the first, and scored the opening run on a Ryan McBroom single. With a four-run lead and still under 90 pitches, Ishida batted for himself with two on in the sixth and made the final out before the Carp chased him in the seventh.

Ishida left after a one-out walk and a single, and Shingo Hirata allowed three hits and three runs to score before ending the inning. McBroom homered off Taisei Irie (3-0) to tie it in the eighth.

Tigers 5, Giants 1: At Tokyo Dome, Shintaro Fujinami (1-2) became the last of NPB’s 12 Opening Day starters to earn a win, allowing a run over seven innings in which he struck out five without issuing a walk to snap a personal seven-game losing streak against Yomiuri.

Kento Itohara singled with two outs in the second and scored on a Ryutaro Umeno single off rookie Kenshin Hotta (2-3), who surrendered Teruaki Sato’s two-run homer, Sato’s 18th, in the third. Itohara singled and Umeno walked in the fourth off former gambling man Kyosuke Takagi, and came around to score.

Yoshihiro Maru scored a consolation run for the Giants with his 23rd home run in the sixth.

Giants-Tigers highlights

Swallows 7, Dragons 2: At Nagoya Dome, Murakami hit a pair of long home runs, walked, singled, scored three and drove in three, and Juri Hara (7-4) overcame being hit with a pitch on his left forearm to allow a run over six innings. Chunichi’s Shinnosuke Ogasawara (6-7) walked Murakami to open the Swallows’ two-run second, surrendered his 43rd home run in the third and was chased by his 44th, a two-run shot that capped a three-run seventh inning.

Rookie Hironori Miyoshi hit his first career homer for the Dragons, while Masami Ishigaki had three hits for the Dragons and homered in the ninth.

Murakami’s 44th homer tied him with Akinori Iwamura for the most in a season by a domestically registered player in team history. Asked about it after the game, Murakami said, another foreign player (Wladimir Balentien) hit 60, so I’m aiming higher.”

By going 3-for-4, Murakami took over the CL batting-average lead. He already leads the CL in home runs, by 21 over the Giants’ Yoshihiro Maru and Kazuma Okamoto, and RBIs, by 36 over Hanshin’s Yusuke Oyama.

Here’s more on Murakami’s swinging for home run history and his thoughts on the triple crown.

Sunday’s starting pitchers

Eagles vs Marines: Miyagi Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Shoma Fujihira (0-0, 4.20) vs Kazuya Ojima (2-8, 2.87)

Lions vs Buffaloes: Seibu Dome 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Dietrich Enns (7-6, 2.80) vs Ren Mukunoki (2-0, 0.00)

Hawks vs Fighters: Fukuoka Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Tsuyoshi Wada (3-4, 3.05) vs Takayuki Kato (5-4, 1.78)

Giants vs Tigers: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Matt Shoemaker (4-7, 4.36) vs Hiroto Saiki (2-1, 1.90)

BayStars vs Carp: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Masaya Kyoyama (1-1, 3.68) vs Haruki Omichi (0-0, 4.50)

Dragons vs Swallows: Nagoya Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Kotaro Ueda (0-3, 3.43) vs Reiji Kozawa (2-1, 4.20)

Active roster moves 8/20/2022

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/30

Central League


SwallowsP16Juri Hara
DragonsP41Akiyoshi Katsuno


SwallowsIF6Hiyu Motoyama

Pacific League


MarinesP91Enny Romero
EaglesP20Tomohiro Anraku
HawksP39Shuto Ogata
HawksIF3Freddy Galvis
HawksOF31Tomoya Masaki
FightersP15Naoyuki Uwasawa


MarinesP52Naoya Masuda
EaglesP30Shinri Komine
HawksP34Arata Shiino
HawksIF68Masaki Mimori
HawksOF32Tatsuru Yanagimachi

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