There were five games on Saturday, because more than half the Yomiuri Giants’ roster is now infected along with 26 others including their manager, coaches, and other staff. So while they technically could probably field a team, that would only be if none of the other people in the organization have been deemed close contacts.
Saturday was the fourth day in which Japan set new highs for infections, and indicators suggest this wave still has at least a little more to go before it peaks. Meanwhile, teams are admitting full crowds, and more and more people are following the government’s cover-your-ass guidance that masks outdoors are no longer necessary, which wasn’t really true, but many people would prefer to believe that rather than look at the numbers and draw the obvious conclusion that they are too necessary.
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Prior to the Giants, the Swallows were the hardest team hit by COVID-19, and they missed just two games before resuming play last week in order to receive some serious butt kicking. They’re still without second baseman Tetsuto Yamada, but one by one guys are coming back. But on Saturday, they played like they need more testing, as Shogo Akiyama feasted on their pitching for a second straight day.
Blasts from an artificial past
As part of my delving into the 150 years of Japanese baseball, I’ve discovered some extremely cool stuff about how the game here is constantly looking backward.
In a way, Japanese baseball’s present is largely shaped by an idealized past that closely mirrors the way of the warrior, or bushido, that was itself an effort at social reform based on a romanticized, sanitized version of history.
Carp 15, Swallows 3: At Jingu Stadium, Shogo Akiyama got the Carp started with his second home run in two nights, a three-run blast with no outs in a six-run first against Juri Hara (6-4), who retired just one of the eight batters he faced. Four of Hiroshima’s starters, Akiyama, Ryosuke Kikuchi, Shogo Sakakura and Tsubasa Aizawa each reached base their first three times up en route to a 14-0 fourth-inning lead.
Tigers 3, BayStars 1: At Koshien Stadium, Takumu Nakano doubled and scored in the first off Shota Imanaga (4-3), singled and scored in the third, and Masashi Ito (7-2) allowed a run over seven innings as Hanshin replaced DeNA in third place, a game back of the Carp. Suguru Iwazaki earned his 21st save.
Marines 7, Fighters 6: At Sapporo Dome, back-to-back fifth-inning solo homers by Lotte’s Seiya Inoue and Brandon Laird overturned a 5-4 deficit. On Fighters bullpen day, side-arm lefty Ryusei Kawano left after allowing a run on four hits and no walks over three innings, before the Marines clawed their way back.
Marines leadoff man Takashi Ogino reached base five times and drove in three runs, while career minor leaguer Kenta Chatani, starting at third, singled, doubled, tripled, walked, scored one run and drove in three.
Buffaloes 5, Hawks 0: At Osaka Dome, Yoshinobu Yamamoto (10-5) struck out nine over eight innings and never had more than one runner on base at a time. Shuta Ishikawa (3-5) had one of his games where his command deserted him. He walked three, hit two and gave up five runs on eight hits over five innings.
Lions 3 Eagles 3, 12 innings: At Seibu Dome, the Lions, wearing the ugliest uniforms I’ve seen this side of the Pacific, came from two down in the seventh when Masahiro Tanaka loaded the bases on two walks and a single. Seiji Kawagoe’s two-out two-run single tied it, and Shuta Tonosaki scored on a wild pitch.
Kaima Taira blew the lead in the eighth when rookie Atsuki Muto took him deep with no outs for his first career home run.
The Eagles took a two-run fourth-inning lead off Kona Takahashi after there were two outs. Hiroaki Shimauchi hit his seventh home run, Eigoro Mogi singled, stole second, went to third on a throwing error from catcher Tomoya Mori and came home on a Takero Okajima single.
Sunday’s starting pitchers
Fighters vs Marines: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Lions vs Eagles: Seibu Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Hawks: Osaka Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Swallows vs Carp: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Tigers vs BayStars: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 7/23/2022
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/2