NPB news: July 19, 2022

We had baseball on Monday this week. I didn’t report on it but we had baseball. From those games, you should know: 1) the Yomiuri Giants became the first Japanese major league team to surrender grand slams in four consecutive games, 2) they still handed the Yakult Swallows their sixth straight loss and their eighth out of nine, 3) the Seibu Lions took over first place in the Pacific League, and 4) the Nippon Ham Fighters became the latest team to suffer a raft of infections, with manager Tsuyoshi Shinjo among those in quarantine.

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Tuesday, two days after Tokyo reported a coronavirus positivity rate of nearly 50 percent, I saw a line waiting to get into a free PCR testing site near the station next to mine. I’ve passed by there once or twice a week for the past four months, and this was the first time they didn’t have staff standing in front urging people to come in and get tested.

The big news Tuesday was not baseball, even Shohei Ohtani bowing out of pitching in the All-Star game, but the retirement of figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu. That had been looming since yesterday but after a hard Sunday, I kind of shutdown on Monday, so I’m just sort of restarting before my day job picks up again on Wednesday.

The pennant race projections are back for the first time in a while, so check it out, and if they hold up, people are going to have to check out the Pacific League’s tie-breaking format.

Tuesday’s games

Tigers 3, Carp 0: At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Aaron Wilkerson (5-4) pitched out of just one tough inning as he struck out seven over 5-2/3 innings. Fumiya Hojo drew a two-out walk in the second and scored the first run on a Ryutaro Umeno single off Carp starter Hiroki Tokoda (8-6).

Takamu Nakano singled to lead off the third and scored, before Hojo doubled in Teruaki Sato in the sixth. Suguru Iwazaki earned his 20th save as the Tigers edged past the Giants into fourth place.

The win was the Tigers’ second against the Carp this season, and their first in Hiroshima.

Swallows 5, Giants 3: At Jingu Stadium, Reiji Kozawa (2-0) improved to 2-0 as a starter in a career that appeared wiped out by neck and back injuries in 2018 that saw the SoftBank Hawks drop him into their third team primeval swamp of triple-digit developmental players and eventually release him.

Kozawa threw six scoreless innings on the mound for a team that is gradually getting back to full strength with the return of injured Domingo Santana, closer Scott McGough, rookie shortstop Hideki Nagaoka and rookie catcher Soma Uchiyama.

Jose Osuna doubled in the game’s first run off Shosei Togo (9-4) in a two-run second, rookie Ryusei Takeoka, filling in for Tetsuta Yamada, tripled and scored on a Yudai Koga double. Takeoka then plated two with an infield single that wound up in shallow right field.

Ryuta Konno escaped a one-out bases-loaded jam he inherited from A.J. Cole in the seventh, but Yugo Umeno gave up back-to-back homers to Sho Nakata and Adam Walker in the eighth before McGough recorded his 24th save.

The win was the first for head coach Daniel Yuichi Matsumoto, whom I first met when he was a lisping Brazilian teenager toiling on the Swallows’ Eastern League farm club, but who went on to fashion a career as a dependable reserve and pinch-hitter. Congratulations.

Dragons 3, BayStars 2: At Nagoya Dome, Dayan Viciedo hit a three-run homer, his eighth, in the first of Kenta Ishida (3-2), and Shinnosuke Ogasawara (4-6) allowed two runs on nine hits over five-plus innings to eke out the win with the help of his bullpen.

Neftali Soto singled in a run in the third to make it 3-2 and chased Ogasawara with a no-out single in the sixth, but Daisuke Sobue worked out of a two-on, no-out jam before an inning each from Kento Fujishima, Tatsuya Shimizu and Raidel Martinez ended it with Martinez getting his 21st save.

Marines 5, Lions 3: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Jantzen Witte’s three-run first-inning double off Kazuya Ojima staked Seibu’s Wataru Matsumoto to a lead. He allowed two runs over 5-2/3 innings.

Yudai Fujioka hit a flare double and scored on a third-inning Katsuya Kakunaka infield single. Takuma Kato doubled and scored on a fifth-inning Akito Takabe triple. An error opened the door a crack for the Marines in the seventh against Ryosuke Moriwaki (1-1). A one-out Takabe single in the seventh pried it open some more, and Shogo Nakamura brought Lotte from behind with his seventh home run.

The loss, the Lions first this season after they led by three runs or more dropped Seibu out of first place, trailing SoftBank on winning percentage.

Buffaloes 7, Fighters 1: At Osaka Dome, Joe McCarthy opened the scoring with a two-run second-inning homer, his third, Eito Tanaka (1-1) before Kotaro Kurebayashi doubled and scored on a Yuma Mune single.

Kensuke Kondo trimmed the lead to two when he singled in Ryo Ishikawa in the third Taisuke Yamaoka (6-5)

Orix got back on track through Fighters errors in the third. Masataka Yoshida singled, Yutaro Sugimoto stole second, went to third on the ensuing throwing error and scored on a balk. McCarthy walked to open the fourth and scored on a Kurebayashi double.

The Bufaloes tacked on eighth-inning insurance runs via doubles from Yoshida and Sugimoto, a Ryoichi Adachi single and McCarthy sac fly.

Pennant race projections as of July 19:

Central League


Pacific League


Wednesday’s starting pitchers

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

Ayumu Ishikawa (5-4, 1.88) vs Dietrich Enns (6-4, 1.98)

Buffaloes vs Fighters: Osaka Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Ren Mukunoki (1-0, 0.00) vs Haruka Nemoto (1-1, 3.24)

Hawks vs Eagles: Kitakyushu Municipal Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Tomohisa Ozeki (6-4, 2.27) vs Ryota Takinaka (1-5, 4.35)

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

Keiji Takahashi (6-2, 2.75) vs C.C. Mercedes (5-3, 2.87)

Dragons vs BayStars: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shotaro Kasahara (1-0, 2.45) vs Shinichi Onuki (6-4, 2.33)

Carp vs Tigers: Hiroshima Citizen’s Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Drew Anderson (3-3, 3.38) vs Yuki Nishi (6-6, 2.23)

Active roster moves 7/19/2022

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/29

Central League


SwallowsP40Yuta Ichikawa
DragonsC44Yuya Gunji
DragonsIF55Nobumasa Fukuda
BayStarsIF38Shunta Tanaka


SwallowsP19Masanori Ishikawa
GiantsP15Taisei Ota
GiantsP96Taiki Kikuchi
CarpP68Nik Turley
DragonsP19Hiroto Takahashi
DragonsIF96Luke Wakamatsu
BayStarsP42Fernando Romero

Pacific League


BuffaloesP19Taisuke Yamaoka
BuffaloesP35Motoki Higa
FightersP35Takahiro Nishimura
FightersP54Taisho Tamai
FightersP93Eito Tanaka
FightersC64Yua Tamiya
FightersIF9Takuya Nakashima
LionsC22Yuto Koga
LionsOF51Manaya Nishikawa


BuffaloesP26Atsushi Nomi
BuffaloesP30Kohei Suzuki
MarinesP15Manabu Mima
EaglesP46Shoma Fujihira
EaglesP79Yuki Watanabe
HawksP39Shuto Ogata
FightersP40Suguru Fukuda
FightersP41Bryan Rodriguez
FightersC30Shingo Usami
FightersIF6Arismendy Alcantara
FightersIF32Ryota Yachi
FightersOF3Wang Po-jung
LionsP44Kaito Yoza
LionsIF56Ryota Kawano

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