NPB news: July 29, 2022

We had news of Roki Sasaki Friday, when we learned that the Yomiuri Giants have produced a note from their mother asking for special treatment, doubleheaders might be back, and there were all-star games during the week. And then we had real baseball on Friday.

A pretty busy day, so let’s get to it!

Golden slumbers

I woke up after Japan’s All-Star games put me to sleep for a couple of days. During the week, the PL won both games with solo homers by two different players, ostensibly with the same bat.

Nippon Ham Fighters first baseman Kotaro Kiyomiya spared us a tie with a ninth-inning walk-off homer on Tuesday, and Hawks star Yuki Yanagita, who worked out with Kiyomiya last winter, broke a tie with his home run, hit with Kiyomiya’s bat, on Wednesday.

Kiyomiya also pitched to Yanagita in the home run derby final, when he lost to Brandon Laird of the Lotte Marines. It’s a dumb contest, and I wish they’d replace it with a base running and throwing competition.

The two all-star game victories improved the PL’s record in the competition to 88-80. The PL is 8-2 since 2016, which dovetails with its Japan Series and interleague dominance.

Sasaki on the way back

Roki Sasaki is not ready to pitch after breaking a blister on his pitching hand on July 1, but he started Game 2, threw mostly fastballs that were mostly straight as string and gave up a run. The appearance probably set his timetable back, as Lotte said Friday he is not quite ready to pitch yet.

“We’re thinking next Wednesday (Aug. 3), but I’m afraid he’ll be on a pitch limit,” said manager Tadahito Iguchi, who hasn’t let the 20-year-old throw more than 110 pitches this season, perhaps indicating it will be a more severe limit.

“(The finger) is steadily getting better, but it’s not completely healed.”

Having Sasaki pitch in the All-Star game is reminiscent of when his namesake, BayStars relief ace Kazuhiro Sasaki pitched in the 1999 All-Star game with a dead arm because he was expected to do so and it effectively wiped out the remainder of his final season before free agency.

While Roki Sasaki is probably champing at the bit, the Yomiuri Giants are trying to delay their resumption of play.

Giants want more days off

Yomiuri, has undoubtedly had the biggest outbreak in NPB. They canceled last weekend’s three-game series against Chunichi and already have already been allowed to skip the first two games this weekend in Yokohama.

On Friday, the Giants presented NPB with a note from their mother, asking to be excused on Sunday as well. The team said it has players who have not had sufficient time to train since coming out of quarantine and asking them to play might risk injury.

Forty-five of the Giants’ 68 major league roster players were infected, meaning they should be able to find enough athletes to get their butts kicked on Sunday, like Yakult did when the Swallows lost most of their active major league players earlier in the month.

NPB’s board of directors told them to wait until Saturday to make a decision about Sunday’s game, which was probably a good way to handle Japan’s most entitled team. If it’s REALLY a problem, they can cancel Sunday, but probably won’t dare stretch their vacation to seven games.

Sick days

Eagles2April 2, 3
BayStars4April 7-10
Buffaloes3April 12-14
Hawks2June 29, 30
Swallows2July 9, 10
Giants5July 21-30

Double trouble

Double headers long a feature of Sunday pro baseball in Japan, have essentially become extinct since the union complained about it in the 1990s. That was a time when NPB was learning that going to court to fight union demands by making shit up as they went along because, after all, they were the owners, was not a winning tactic.

So when the union complained about routine double headers, NPB slammed on the breaks and messed up its schedules rather than get their take on the union, whose secretary generals have told me, was never dead set against all doubleheaders, but just wanted to limit them.

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Because of the Giants’ playing hooky so long, NPB announced Thursday that it will be open to having double headers to allow the season to end in a timely fashion. About F-n time.

Friday’s games

Tigers 6, Swallows 0: At Koshien Stadium, Yakult hit the ball hard twice in the first inning off Yuki Nishi (7-6), and the Tigers hit the ball hard twice in the first inning against Yasuhiro Ogawa (5-5), but took a 3-0 lead because three other weakly hit balls found space, and the Swallows were hit right to Tigers fielders.

That was pretty much the game before Aderlin Rodriguez hit his first homer as a Tiger to drive in his first run, and Yusuke Oyama added an eighth-inning homer to his first-inning RBI flare single, and Rodriguez singled in Kento Itohara in the eighth to complete the scoring.

All a part of baseball.

Dragons 9, Carp 0: There was another one-sided score in Hiroshima, where Hiruto Takahashi (3-4) took a no-hitter into the eighth inning after throwing 105 pitches through the first seven. He surrendered a one-out double to Kaito Kozono before making his exit. Two relievers completed the combined one-hit shutout.

Dayan Viciedo was Chunichi’s other story with three home runs, five RBIs, a walk and four runs, as Daichi Osera (7-6) gave up four runs over three innings.

Lions 5, Hawks 2: At Fukuoka Dome, Kodai Senga (8-4) gave up a season-high five runs, Hotaka Yamakawa hit his league-leading 30th homer and drove in four, Brian O’Grady hit his 13th, and Tatsuya Imai (2-1) allowed just two runs over six innings despite walking six.

The win lifted the Lions a half-game ahead of the Hawks into first place.

Buffaloes 9, Marines 8, 12 innings: Orix’s Yutaro Sugimoto tied it 8-8 in the ninth with a three-run homer, his second of the game and his 13th of the season, off closer Naoya Masuda.

The Buffaloes won it in the 12th against Atsuya Hirohata (0-1) . Kenya Wakatsuki singled with one out, Ryo Ota stole second. Shuhei Fukuda reached on a two-out infield single and Ota scored on a throwing error charged to Marines captain Shogo Nakamura.

Sugimoto’s two-run homer capped a three-run Buffaloes’ first against Ayumu Ishikawa, but the Marines came back against Sachiya Yamasaki on Takashi Ogino‘s first-inning leadoff homer, a two-run Adeiny Hechavarria homer in the second and came from a run down in the third on Akito Takabe‘s three-run home run.

Fighters 2, Eagles 1: At Miyagi Stadium, Nippon Ham came from a run down in the sixth. Takuya Nakashima singled, and scored on a run-and-hit single by Yuma Imagawa and a throwing error. Kensuke Kondo broke the tie with a one-out single.

Cody Ponce (2-2) allowed a run on two hits and two walks while striking out five over 5-2/3 innings to earn the win for the Fighters.

Haruki Nishikawa, playing for the first time in 13 days, doubled and scored the Eagles’ run in the third.

Saturday’s starting pitchers

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

Masahiro Tanaka (5-7, 2.81) vs Eito Tanaka (1-1, 4.09)

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

Kazuya Ojima (1-7, 2.47) vs Kohei Azuma (-)

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

Tomohisa Ozeki (6-5, 2.70) vs Kaito Yoza (7-3, 2.44)

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

Hiroto Saiki (1-0, 0.00) vs Reiji Kozawa (2-0, 3.38)

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

Drew Anderson (3-3, 3.54) vs Shinnosuke Ogasawara (4-6, 3.58)

Active roster moves 7/29/2022

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/8

Central League


SwallowsP17Noboru Shimizu
SwallowsP34Kazuto Taguchi
SwallowsOF23Norichika Aoki
TigersOF7Yoshio Itoi
CarpIF7Shota Dobayashi
DragonsP19Hiroto Takahashi
DragonsP29Yariel Rodriguez
DragonsIF5Toshiki Abe
DragonsOF95Guillermo Garcia


SwallowsP56Yuta Suzuki

Pacific League


BuffaloesOF14Joe McCarthy
MarinesP30Atsuya Hirohata
MarinesP62Ryotaro Mori
MarinesIF68Kenji Nishimaki
EaglesOF6Haruki Nishikawa
HawksP20Hiroshi Kaino
HawksP57Shinya Kayama
HawksC62Takashi Umino
HawksIF12Kenta Kurose
HawksOF7Akira Nakamura
FightersP25Naoki Miyanishi
FightersP62Daiki Mochizuki
FightersC27Yudai Furukawa
FightersC65Yuki Umebayashi
FightersIF39Naoki Arizono
FightersIF44Uta Sakaguchi


EaglesIF22Keizo Kawashima
HawksIF0Tomoki Takata
HawksIF5Nobuhiro Matsuda
FightersIF31Yuto Takahama
FightersOF26Daiki Asama

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