NPB news: Aug. 24, 2022

In the Central League on Wednesday, DeNA closer Yasuaki Yamasaki owned up to sucking as he set a milestone, Munetaka Murakami didn’t hit a home run but did get walked four times, and we have a new Pacific League leader!

A day after I wrote about a player hitting a ball into the next zip code, Kensuke Kondo actually did that.

We also had a manager who is gaining a reputation, sending his slugging catcher to the minors for his pitch calling.

So let’s get to it shall we?

Tatsunami exiles another Dragon

First-year Chunichi Dragons skipper Kazuyoshi Tatsunami, who earlier this year lost his patience with shortstop Yota Kyoda over his fielding — when he failed to make a somewhat tricky play — and banished him to the minors, did the same with one of his better hitters, catcher Takuya Kinoshita.

“His pitch calling is confused,” Tatsunami said. “I want him to go to the farm and learn how to limit runs scoring off pitchers who aren’t as good as the ones here. So I sent him down.”

Wednesday’s games

BayStars 4, Tigers 0: At Osaka Dome, this one was closer than the day before’s 4-0 win, scoreless through six innings before Masayuki Kuwahara hit the first grand slam Masashi Ito (8-5) had ever surrendered. Haruhiro Hamaguchi (6-4) worked six innings to get the win.

Taisei Irie stranded two runners in the seventh, Edwin Escobar worked a 1-2-3 eighth, and Shingo Hirata set up a save situation by allowing the tying run to the on-deck circle after two two-out singles. Yamasaki needed two pitches to get Kento Itohara to fly out and end it for his 30th save of the season and the 200th of his career.

He’s the eighth pitcher to do it, and the youngest at 29 years, 10 months. Kazuhiro Sasaki was the previous youngest pitcher to get to 200 at 30 years, six months.

“I’m still making the fans and my teammates uneasy too many times when I come in to pitch in the ninth inning. I’m still not back to being able to summon my old overpowering stuff, but I’m trying to get back to that little by little.”

—Yasuaki Yamasaki
RankNameCareer Saves
1.Hitoki Iwase407
2.Shingo Takatsu286
3.Kazuhiro Sasaki252
4.Kyuji Fujikawa243
5.Dennis Sarfate234
6.Masahide Kobayashi228
7.Yoshihisa Hirano211
8.Yasuaki Yamasaki200

If you’re interested, Michael Westbay ran through his recent numbers and speculated on where he’s at in this week’s Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast.

Dragons 4, Giants 1: At Tokyo Dome, Takahiro Matsuba (6-4) allowed two hits and no walks over six scoreless innings, and the Dragons took the lead for good on three straight first-inning singles. Toshiki Abe singled in a run and with no outs and runners on the corners was caught off first but instead of getting one out, a botched rundown was followed by a wild throw and another run came in.

The Dragons bullpen was lucky to allow just a run in the seventh and eighth before Raidel Martinez entered to put this to bed in the ninth for his 28th save.

Giants-Dragons highlights

Swallows 6, Carp 2: At Jingu Stadium, the Swallows’ ballpark giveth and taketh away. Ryoma Nishikawa and Minoru Omori hit a pair solo homers off Hirotoshi Takanashi (7-6), one a jam shot down the line on an inside fastball and the other on a lazy fastball over the outside corner. Both just barely cleared the screen.

Allen Kuri (5-8) pitched well for a guy whose pitching hand was smashed by a batted ball to open the bottom of the first. He caught a break when the Swallows were denied the tying run in the second when catcher Yoshitaka Isomura blocked the baseline while waiting for a super throw from Omori in center. He could have made the play on Murakami without blocking the baseline, but it was textbook obstruction, but Yakult didn’t argue it. Takeshi Miyamoto, a career reserve, tied it with a third-inning RBI single and Yakult went ahead in the fourth on a Yasutaka Shiomi double and a Kotaro Yamasaki triple. Murakami singled in a run in his only at-bat.

Marines 5, Lions 2: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Seiya Inoue’s two-run seventh-inning double broke a 2-2 tie as Lotte snapped a three-game losing streak and knocked Seibu out of first place.

The Lions came back from a two-run deficit on home runs by Shuta Tonosaki in the fifth off Manabu Mima, and Takeya Nakamura in the sixth off Yuji Nishino. Rookie Chihiro Sumida worked three innings of relief and allowed two runs on three walks and two hits to take the loss.

Yuki Karakawa (1-8) got the win, Tayron Guerrero worked a 1-2-3 eighth and human trash got the save.

Hawks 4, Eagles 3, 11 innings: At Miyagi Stadium, the Hawks rookies beat the Eagles veterans. SoftBank came from a run down in a three-run third, starting with a walk to Alfredo Despaigne before three rookies took over. Daishu Nomura doubled, Shu Masuda singled in two to put SoftBank ahead, and Tomoya Masaki hit his first career homer.

The Eagles opened the scoring off Colin Rea when Hideto Asamura doubled in Haruki Nishikawa. Trailing 3-1 in the seventh, Ginji Akaminai and Daichi Suzuki singled and Ginjiro Sumitani singled both in.

Nomura doubled to open the 11th off Alan Busenitz (2-1). Kenta Tanigawara, a seventh-year pro and one of SoftBank’s fleet of converted catchers, delivered the go-ahead run in his 98th career plate appearance with a sacrifice fly. Yuki Tsumori recorded his first career save.

The loss left Rakuten fourth, a game behind Orix.

Buffaloes 5, Fighters 4: At Obihiro Stadium, Nippon Ham had four of its six hits with two outs in a three-run fourth to overturn a 2-0 deficit. Keita Nakagawa’s two-run homer in the fifth put Orix in front for good, with the only lapse after that was Kensuke Kondo’s sixth homer, leading off the ninth, before Yoshihisa Hirano saved his 27th game.

Quite a poke

In a ballpark that straddles the border between two Hokkaido municipalities, Kondo’s opposite-field shot left the plate, located in Memuro Town, and landed in Obihiro City, where the grassy left-field seating area is located, literally hitting it into the next zip code.

Thursday’s starting pitchers

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

Yoshinao Kamata (0-0, 0.00) vs Yugo Bando (1-0, 2.35)

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

Shota Suzuki (0-2, 16.20) vs Wataru Matsumoto (6-4, 3.46)

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

Shosei Togo (10-6, 2.89) vs Hiroto Takahashi (4-4, 2.32)

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

Keiji Takahashi (8-2, 2.61) vs Yusuke Nomura (2-2, 4.33)

Tigers vs BayStars: Osaka Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Junya Nishi (4-2, 3.63) vs Fernando Romero (4-6, 5.09)

Active roster moves 8/24/2022

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/3

Central League


SwallowsP44Hiroki Onishi
TigersP18Kosuke Baba
CarpOF59Minoru Omori
DragonsC58Kota Ishibashi


SwallowsP19Masanori Ishikawa
DragonsC35Takuya Kinoshita

Pacific League


BuffaloesP21Daichi Takeyasu
MarinesP20Taiki Tojo
MarinesP46Daiki Iwashita
MarinesOF7Shuhei Fukuda
EaglesP53Hosei Takata
LionsP34Yasuo Sano
LionsOF46Shohei Suzuki


BuffaloesP95Kohei Azuma
MarinesP92Yuki Kuniyoshi
MarinesOF79Leonys Martin
EaglesP60Ryota Ishibashi
LionsP42Bo Takahashi
LionsIF63Shinya Hasegawa

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