NPB news: July 5, 2024

On Friday in Japan, the Lions made another trade for another unwanted player with a decent track record, the DeNA BayStars signed left-handed-hitting import, and sent one of their dreadnoughts back to “the Dock” for a refit. The SoftBank Hawks meanwhile deactivated their closer due to physical issues.

On the field, we had yet another Maddux, Seibu’s sauna left another pitcher suffering symptoms of heat stroke.

Friday’s games:

Dragons 2, Carp 0: At Nagoya Dome, Hiroto Takahashi (5-1) threw a 99-pitch, four-hitter to outduel Hiroshima lefty Hiroki Tokoda (7-5). Takahashi struck out seven and walked one, after getting some early run support. Orlando Calixte singled in a run off in the first and Christian Rodriguez did the same in the second.

Calixte was pulled after feeling ill in the sixth inning.

Eagles 5, Hawks 1: At Fukuoka “Your company’s name can go here” Dome, Daichi Suzuki hit a three-run homer off Tsuyoshi Wada (2-2) as Rakuten came back in a four-run fourth inning. Takahisa Hayakawa (5-3), surrendered the early lead in the third after Ukyo Shuto singled, stole second and scored on a Kenta Imamiya single, but the lefty controlled the damage of allowing seven hits and four walks over six innings by striking out 11.

The game marked the first time this season that SoftBank had lost consecutive home games.

Giants 10, Swallows 3: At Jingu “Tokyo’s sacrifice to corporate greed and governmental malfeasance” Stadium, Shosei Togo (7-4) allowed three runs over 6-1/3 innings, and Yukinori Kishida drove in six runs.

Togo reached 50 career games in the second fewest games of any other pitcher turning pro out of the high school with the Giants.

Elier Hernandez singled home Yoshihiro Maru with no outs in the first off Yasuhiro Ogawa (2-4), and Kishida capped the four-run rally with a two-run single. Takumi Oshiro doubled and scored on a Kishida sacrifice fly in the Giants’ third. Kishida completed the blood-letting with a three-run ninth-inning homer.

Yakult’s big gun this season, Domingo Santana, left the game in the second, when he was replaced with a pinch-runner after cruising gingerly into second base on a double. Santana had reported some stiffness in his lowr body before the game.

“When I saw the way he was running, I figured he should come out,” Yakult manager Shingo Takatsu said.

Santana’s currently a viable Triple Crown candidate.

Marines 6, Lions 3: At the domed stadium formerly known as “Prince,” Kazuya Ojima (6-6) allowed three runs over 6-2/3 innings in which he struck out nine. He left the game because he was having trouble breathing in the seventh inning at the venue that could be listed in the Guiness book as the world’s largest open-air sauna, and where the temperature at game time was 35 C.

“When I got on the mound I had no problems at all at first. But then I couldn’t breath every time I threw a pitch, so I thought I was going to die, but I was fine,” Ojima said.

Manager Yoshii said, “It’s dangerous. I think it’s probably heat stroke, but I haven’t heard anything about it so I don’t know. The health of the players is important, and I wanted to change him midway through.”

Lions ace Kona Takahashi left his first start of the season in April due to heat stroke.

Neftali Soto had a pair of RBI doubles and an eighth-inning sacrifice fly as he drove in three. Gregory Polanco singled him home in the fifth to make it 3-0 Lotte. Lions starter Tatsuya Imai (4-5) allowed just three runs, two earned, on five hits, six walks and a hit batsman over five innings.

BayStars 2, Tigers 1, 10 innings: At Koshien Stadium, DeNA’s Andre Jackson worked six scoreless innings, while Hanshin’s Jeremy Beasley gave up a run in six innings on eight hits and a hit batsman while striking out nine. Beasley stopped play

DeNA left the bases loaded in the second when Beasley fanned Jackson for the third out, but Shugo Maki‘s two-out double plated Koki Kajiwara in the second to open the scoring. The Tigers got even in the seventh when the leadoff runner reached on an error and scored on a Koji Chikamoto sacrifice fly.

Tyler Austin‘s 10th-inning single set up the tie-breaking run that scored on a one-out Keita Sano single.

When Beasley went out to the mound in the fourth inning, he summoned the ground crew when he noticed a hole in the mound where the base of the pitcher’s plate was visible. It took the Koshien crew about five minutes to replace the dirt and the bricks and stiffen them into playing condition.

Lions get Hawks infielder Nomura

The SoftBank Hawks sent the last-place Seibu Lions a care package Friday in the form of 23-year-old utility guy Daiju Nomura and received Hiromasa Saito, a 29-year-old pitcher. Saito was the Lion’s first-round signing out of Meiji University in the 2017 draft after they lost a lottery for the rights to Daiki Tajima. Saito is currently on a non-roster developmental contract after undergoing left-elbow cleaning surgery.

Nomura, a career .218 hitter with a .261 on-base percentage in 165 career major league at-bats had appeared in just two games this season.

“I’m happy someone wants me,” Nomura said. “I might even be able to earn a starting job.

Hawks manager Hiroki Kokubo said, “If he stayed here he wasn’t going to get any playing time so it’s probably for the best.”

While he hasn’t had much major league playing time, Nomura has been a right-handed-hitting Western League on-base machine with a smattering of extra-base hits. Since 2022, he has slashed .292/.410/.418 in the minors. He’s struck out 61 times in 428 at-bats with 85 walks.

BayStars sign Mike Ford

First baseman Mike Ford has signed with the DeNA BayStars, the club announced Friday. Ford, who turned 32 on July 4, has played in 251 MLB games with a .205 average in 687 career at-bats, with 37 homers, 78 walks and 203 strikeouts for the Yankees, Giants, Braves, Angels, Mariners and Reds over six seasons, with four different teams in 2022. He has produced well in Triple A the past year and a half, which sometimes happens when a player in his prime with MLB experience gets to hit Triple-A pitching. 

Tsutsugo sent down with fractured rib

Yoshitomo Tsutsugo has been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his ribs. The DeNA BayStars departed for Kansai Friday but left the slugger behind at “the Dock,” their minor league facility in Yokosuka, appropriately named since it’s down the road from the U.S. and Japanese naval bases. In 38 games since returning from the States, Tsutsugo is batting .206 with six home runs and 18 RBIs.

Osuna sent down for physical issues

The SoftBank Hawks deactivated their closer, Roberto Osuna, who as far as is known is still unapologetic about his history of domestic abuse. Osuna apparently is suffering from poor lower-body conditioning.

“It feels like somebody I loved beat the shit out of me,” he is not known to have said.

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