Former high school sensation Kosei Yoshida returned to Akita, the city next to his hometown of Katagami, to face the Rakuten Eagles, and got off to a heck of a start Tuesday for the Fighters on a day when pitchers’ duels were the thing.
We learned Tuesday that during the four days between the ending of interleague play and the resumption of league play, Hawks chairman Sadaharu Oh stepped in and oversaw practices, imparting some wisdom in his role as the team’s tactical advisor.
The Hawks also lost one of their new imports, who never got a chance to throw a pitch for the big-league club. I also published my first projected finishes for the season, which some of you will enjoy.
And just so the news isn’t all about SoftBank, another team has entered the bidding for the services of outfielder Shogo Akiyama following the Hawks and Seibu Lions.
Shall we get started?
Eagles 3, Fighters 0 : At Akita Stadium, Kosei Yoshida (1-2) allowed two runs in the fifth inning as catcher Hikaru Ota singled in Ginji Akaminai and Ryosuke Tatsumi with one out. Eagles starter Takahiro Norimoto (5-2) allowed three hits, a walk and hit a batter over 6-2/3 innings while striking out five. Three relievers completed the Eagles’ four-hit shutout with Yuki Matsui earning his 17th save.
Hideto Asamura also belted his 17th home run.
Buffaloes 4, Hawks 3: At Osaka Dome, Hiroya Miyagi (6-3) worked into the eighth inning, when he allowed his second run, and Kotaro Kurebayashi broke a 1-1 seventh-inning tie with his second home run, off Shuta Ishikawa (2-3).
Torai Fushimi and Shuhei Fukuda singled. A sacrifice and an intentional walk loaded the bases. Yutaro Sugimoto singled in an insurance run and another scored on a ground out. Yoshihisa Hirano allowed a run in the ninth but recorded his 18th save.
Lions 3, Marines 0: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Wataru Matsumoto (4-2) no-hit Lotte for seven innings, while Kazuya Ojima (1-6) did the same before seventh-inning singles by Sosuke Genda and Brian O’Grady set up Hotaka Yamakawa’s ice-breaking RBI single.
When I dug into the most likely causes of Japan’s no-hit epidemic, it seemed that the most likely teams to be no-hit would be either the Lotte Marines with a .209 batting average on the road, and the Lions (.214 on the road).
The Lions may be in danger tomorrow, however, with Roki Sasaki on the mound.
BayStars 3, Giants 1: At Tokyo Dome, Thyago Vieira (0-2) walked the bases loaded before surrendering Kazuki Kamizato’s two-out two-run single. Gregoy Polanco doubled with two outs in the eighth against Hiromu Ise, but was picked off second to end the inning.
Giants starter Shosei Togo gave the BayStars precious few chances through seven as he pitched out of two jams, but surrendered Neftali Soto’s fifth home run, in the fifth. BayStars starter Shinichi Onuma allowed eight hits, three to Adam Walker, including his game-tying 14th home run in the sixth.
Kenjiro Tanaka pitched out of a two-on one-out jam he inherited that inning, and Edwin Escobar (4-0) worked a scoreless seventh to earn the win, and Yasuaki Yamasaki saved his fifth straight game and his 13th of the season.
Dragons 2, Swallows 1, 10 innings: At Nagoya Dome, career reserve Daiki Mitsumata fell behind 1-2, was looking for lefty Kazuto Taguchi’s best pitch, a slider, but adjusted to a fat fastball and lined it over short for the game-winning RBI single, snapping Yakult’s eight-game win streak.
Dragons lefty Shinnosuke Ogasawara and Swallows right-hander Yasuhiro Ogawa both did a great job in the zone with an umpire who cut them few breaks on the edges. A borderline 3-2 pitch put Toshiki Abe on with Ogawa’s second walk over the past month. Failing to bunt the runner to second, Takuya Kinoshita instead singled him to third, from where he scored the tying run on a double play.
Jose Osuna led off the third inning with his sixth home run, and Ogawa made it stand up for seven innings. Thanks to his fielders’ costing the Dragons a pair of hits, the right-hander allowed two hits, and a walk while striking out six over nine innings.
Ogasawara struck out nine, walked two and allowed three hits over eight innings. Raidel Martinez struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth for Chunichi, and Yariel Rodriguez stranded two in the 10th to improve to (3-2), when Hideki Nagaoka failed to get the ball in the air against the drawn-in Dragons’ outfield.
In the bottom of the 10th, Ryuta Konno (1-1) allowed Ariel Martinez’s one-out single. A sacrifice pulled the Swallows outfield in, and that delayed the game’s outcome for a moment as Hayato Mizowaki grounded it through the infield. Taguchi came in and got ahead 0-2, but lost Mitsumata.
Carp 5, Yusuke Oyama 3: At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Yusuke Oyama hit a two-run home run, his fourth in four games and 17th of the season, and singled in a run in the ninth, but Yuki Nishi (4-5) surrendered five runs over four innings, while Hiroshima’s Hiroki Tokoda (7-3) held the Tigers to a pair of singles through the first six innings and that was the game.
Ryan McBroom singled in Takayoshi Noma in the first. Nishi retired the next 11 batters before Kaito Kozono and Takashi Uemoto singled. Nomo singled in one after Tokoda bunted the runners over, Koki Ugasa singled in two more, and Ryosuke Kikuchi’s double made it 5-0.
Oh gets involved
The Hawks finished interleague getting swept in three home game by the Swallows, whom they haven’t beaten since 2019.
According to Sports Hochi, Oh is now being credited with the Hawks’ turnaround in a three-game sweep in their return to league play against their closest pennant rivals, the Rakuten Eagles, including hitting four homers off Masahiro Tanaka in the series opener.
“It’s frustrating to have lost, but Yakult is a good team. But perhaps losing might have been a good thing, because losing gives you a chance to learn,” Oh told the players in a 7-1/2 minute talking to before he ran his first practice.
“We need to regroup so that we can beat a team like that and seize become No. 1 in Japan.”
Manager Hiroshi Fujimoto said, “If the chairman speaks, it’s going to be about something that drives results.”
Chatwood likely done with Hawks
SoftBank Hawks right-hander Tyler Chatwood, who was poised to be one of two Redlands East Valley High School teammates to make their Japan debuts this season along with Giants pitcher Matt Andriese, has returned to the United States to have right-shoulder surgery, Nishihon Sports reported Tuesday.
According to a team official, Chatwood is apparently done for the season and might be released.
The 32-year-old, who was expected to fill the void left after Nick Martinez returned to the States this year, was 2-0 in six Western League starts with a 2.59 ERA.
Carp go after Akiyama
The Hiroshima Carp joined the bidding for outfielder Shogo Akiyama following his release by the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A club, the El Paso Chihuahuas Sponichi Annex reported Tuesday.
Akiyama failed to adjust to MLB pitching, which was not really a surprise. His results in Japan suggested his skills had been slowly eroding, and it’s a tough challenge for everyone not accustomed to either the speed and style of the pitching, the different strike zone and working conditions.
Robert Whiting, in a discussion of Akiyama, rejected the idea that age was a factor, that some players simply “had what it takes” to play in MLB, and certainly there are some players, particularly extreme introverts who match that and some who are too inflexible to make the needed adjustments to their conditioning regimens.
Wednesday’s starting pitchers
Eagles vs Fighters: Morioka 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Marines vs Lions: Chiba Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Hawks: Osaka Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Giants vs BayStars: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Dragons vs Swallows: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Carp vs Tigers: Hiroshima Citizen’s Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 6/21/2022
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/1