NPB news: July 16, 2022

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There were five games in Japan on Saturday, but the big news was once more public health.

A month and a half ago, the government pushed to allow non-resident foreign nationals to travel to Japan in order to give the economy a boost. In order to make that palatable, the government, without any reasoning based on research, said “don’t worry about wearing masks outdoors,” and so little by little people have stopped doing so, and more and more people are going unmasked indoors and on trains.

And low and behold, Japan reported more than 110,000 new positive test results for the first time on Saturday.

Three teams are currently struggling with infection-related absences, with most of the Yakult Swallows’ first team currently in isolation, while the Seibu Lions are slightly better off and the SoftBank Hawks are beginning to get most of their players back. This is going to be a tough pennant race for reasons that have nothing to do with baseball.

Saturday’s games

Fighters 1, Lions 0: At Sapporo Dome, the duel between Nippon Ham’s best pitcher, Naoyuki Uwasawa (6-5), and Seibu’s best, Kona Takahashi (6-7), went according to form, with the Fighters winning their seventh straight and keeping the Lions from taking over first place with the Hawks and Marines idled by rain in Chiba.

Daiki Asama defused a fifth-inning Seibu rally. Shuta Tonosaki doubled to open the inning and tried to take third on a fairly deep fly from Jantzen Witte, but Asama gunned him down on a one-hop throw to third baseman Yuki James Nomura.

Nomura, voted by the fans to the PL all-star team, looked every bit deserving. After singling his first two times up, he came up after Kensuke Kondo’s one-out double and drove a pitch to the wall in center to drive in the game’s only run. Uwasawa pitched out of a couple of late jams before leaving in the eighth with one out and none on.

Eagles 7, Buffaloes 3: At Koshien Stadium, Masahiro Tanaka (5-7) scattered three singles, three walks and a hit batsman to work seven scoreless innings, win his matchup with Yoshinobu Yamamoto (9-5) for his first victory since his four-hit shutout on May 10.

Yamamoto left the bases loaded and the game scoreless in the fourth, but a one-out fifth-inning walk started him down a slippery slope. A ground ball found a hole and the Buffaloes failed to get an out at the plate on a Ginji Akaminai flare single. Yamamoto left a 2-1 fastball up over the outside corner and Hideto Asamura drove it out to right for an opposite-field three-run homer, his 15th.

Yutaro Sugimoto hit a two-run homer, his 11th for the Buffaloes.

Dragons 3, Tigers 1, 11 innings: At Koshien Stadium, Dayan Viciedo led off the 11th inning with a booming double off Raul Alcantara (1-3). Pinch-runner Wataru Takamatsu was sacrificed to second and scored when the Dragons’ late-inning Forrest Gump, 30-year-old journeyman Taiki Mitsumata delivered a sacrifice fly. Ryosuke Hirata scored an insurance run with his first home run of the season.

Hanshin’s Koji Chikamoto manufactured the tying run in the ninth inning off closer Raidel Martinez, He singled for his third hit of the game, stole second, took third on a groundout and scored on a ground ball to the drawn-in infield when rookie shortstop Ryuku Tsuchida juggled the ball and failed to get the out at home, something that would have gotten Yota Kyoda sent to the minors yet again.

Yudai Ono got a second-inning lead when Ariel Martinez drew a one-out walk and scored from first when left fielder Naomasa Yokawa misplayed a Shuhei Takahashi double.

Carp 6, Giants 3, 11 innings: At Tokyo Dome, Hisayoshi Chono second homer of the game against his old team, a grand slam, highlighted Hiroshima’s nine-run second inning. Ryan McBroom doubled in the third and homered to lead off the fourth.

Masato Morishita (7-5) allowed four runs over 6-2/3, while Yomiuri’s Matt Andriese (0-2) allowed six runs in two-plus innings.

The Giants didn’t get on the board until Yoshihiro Maru opened the seventh inning against his former team with his 17th home run.

Giants-Carp highlights

BayStars 3, Swallows 2: At Yokohama Stadium, Masayuki Kuwahara drew a one-out walk in the ninth off Yakult’s Ryuta Konno (1-2), stopped at third on Keita Sano’s double high off the wall in center, but scored when Swallows shortstop Naomichi Nishiura made a play that would have seen him playing in the Western League tomorrow if were with Chunichi.

Nishiura, who lost his job this year to rookie Hideki Nagaoka, got the relay throw and then pulled a hidden-ball trick on himself. After cocking his arm to throw home, he tried to pull it back but failed. The ball floated away, Kuwahara sprinted home and beat Nishiura’s high throw to the plate.

Neftali Soto opened the scoring with a two-run second-inning homer off Juri Hara, his ninth, and Munetaka Murakami tied it with a two-run shot in the fourth, his 31st, off Shota Imanaga.

The Swallows’ only other scoring chance came when they loaded the bases in the sixth following a two-out walk to Murakami, but the last 10 batters made out against Imanaga, Edwin Escobar, and Hiromu Ise (2-2).

Sunday’s starting pitchers

Fighters vs Lions: Sapporo Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Hiromi Ito (7-6, 2.73) vs Katsunori Hirai (4-4, 1.48)

Eagles vs Buffaloes: Miyagi Stadium 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Wataru Karashima (2-1, 1.79) vs Daiki Tajima (5-3, 2.17)

Marines vs Hawks: Chiba Marine Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Enny Romero (7-4, 2.34) vs Shuta Ishikawa (3-4, 2.74)

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

Yuki Takahashi (1-4, 4.24) vs Yusuke Nomura (1-1, 2.31)

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

Haruhiro Hamaguchi (3-3, 2.77) vs Cy Sneed (4-2, 3.47)

Tigers vs Dragons: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Joe Gunkel (3-5, 2.98) vs Yuya Yanagi (6-6, 3.31)

Active roster moves 7/16/2022

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/26

Central League


SwallowsP16Juri Hara
TigersP35Hiroto Saiki
TigersP48Yukiya Saito

Pacific League


EaglesP18Masahiro Tanaka
FightersP63Ryuji Kitaura
FightersC10Yushi Shimizu
FightersOF3Wang Po-jung
FightersOF61Yuma Imagawa
LionsIF4Kakeru Yamanobe
LionsOF46Shohei Suzuki


HawksC62Takashi Umino

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