NPB news June 24, 2022

There was a bunch of Fighters news to take our minds off the carnage that is taking place seemingly every time Munetaka Murakami sees a pitch in the strike zone.

The Fighters are about to sign a new lefty, and may be giving their devoted fans a break from their skipper’s bullpen management, while Shinjo himself said that, for his team right now, winning is overrated.

Shall we get to it all?

Friday’s games

Swallows 16, Giants 6: At Jingu Stadium, we had Game 1 of what the Yomiuri broadcasters have been billing as a show-down series between the Giants and their Chuo-sen Tokyo Central League rivals.

Well, that series is here, and on Friday, Jingu was at its windiest and home run-hitting friendliest.

Veteran catcher Yuhei “Mucho” Nakamura hit a pair of wind-assisted home runs, his first two of the season off Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (6-5), who allowed seven runs over five innings before the bullpen coughed up nine more.

Sugano’s highlight was striking out Munetaka Murakami to end the fourth with the bases loaded. The right-hander bore down after Murakami, who is one shy of Hall of Famer Michio Nishizawa’s Japan record of five grand slams in a season, hit his first pitch clear out of Jingu Stadium but foul.

Murakami, who’d hit two homers on Thursday in Nagoya, added two more to run his Japan-best total to 25 in the later innings, while the league runner-up in the home run race, the Giants’ Kazuma Okamoto, hit his 20th in the ninth inning.

Swallows lefty Keiji Takahashi (6-1) allowed two runs over six innings to earn the win.

Tigers 6, Dragons 4: At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin starting pitcher Koyo Aoyagi gave himself a 2-0 lead in his duel with Dragons ace Yudai Ono, but allowed four runs over 7-1/3 innings.

With one out in the eighth, Taiki Mitsumata continued his heroics of late by chasing Aoyagi with a two-run single. Atsuki Yuasa (1-2) stranded two in the inning to preserve the 4-4 tie, and the Tigers took the lead for good in the home half.

Teruaki Sato opened Hanshin’s eighth against Tatsuya Shimizu (3-2) with his third hit of the game, Yusuke Oyama singled and after a sacrifice and a strike out, Ryutaro Umeno delivered a two-out RBI single.

Suguru Iwazaki allowed the tying runs on base with no outs, but did not allow a run to secure his 14th save.

Carp 7, BayStars 0: At Yokohama Stadium, Daichi Osera (6-4) struck out eight in a six-hit shutout, while Shogo Sakakura opened the scoring in the first with a two-run double off Shota Imanaga (3-2).

Ryosuke Kikuchi, denied a game-winning hit on Thursday thanks to some rough and tumble base running by a teammate, hit a two-run homer in the third, Kento Nakamura went deep to lead off the fourth. Ryan McBroom, who reached base three times, scored his second run in the seventh on a Shota Dobayashi double, and Sakakura homered in the ninth to put the icing on the cake.

The win moved the third-place Carp within two games of the second-place Giants, who trail Yakult by 11 games.

Lions 4, Eagles 3: At Miyagi Stadium, Masahiro Tanaka (4-7) allowed four runs over six innings, losing six straight decisions to equal his career worst skid from May to June 2017 with the Yankees.

He retired the first seven hitters he faced, while the Eagles scratched out single runs in the first and second against Kona Takahashi (6-6). With two outs in the third, Seiji Kawagoe tied it by doubling in Jantzen Witte and Sosuke Genda, Hotaka Yamakawa led off the fourth with his 22nd home run, and Kawagoe made it 4-2 in the sixth with his first home run.

Takahashi worked five innings. The Eagles put the winning run on second with one out in the ninth against Tatsushi Masuda, the Lions’ fifth pitcher, but he stranded three to earn his 19th save.

Hawks 5, Fighters 1: At Fukuoka Dome, Hawks catcher Takuya Kai snuffed out a first-inning rally when the Fighters by faking a throw to second on a delayed double steal of home and catching the runner off third in a rundown.

The Hawks then took a first-inning lead off Naoyuki Uwasawa (4-5) on a two-run Yuki Yanagita home run, his 10th. Leadoff man Masaki Mimori, who walked and scored in the first, singled in a run in the second to make it a 3-1 game and singled, stole a base and scored in the fourth.

Fighters manager Tsuyoshi Shinjo said he was excited by the effort his players are putting out. The manager who said he’d never say he was fighting for a pennant until it became a late-season possibility, was talking about next season—after his contract expires.

“Sure, we’re on a losing streak but the players are giving their all and day in and day out in their way, as they fight to win regular playing time next year. Without regard to winning or losing, I’m really enjoying watching players get better as they strive their hardest.”

–Tsuyoshi Shinjo

The Fighters indicated that from Friday, the pitching coaches would handle pitching changes, which may come as a welcome relief to Fighters fans after Shinjo fiddled while his relievers got burned to a crisp in a couple of close games that became unsalvageable wrecks.

Hawks ace Kodai Senga (6-3) allowed a run over five innings, but left with tightness in his right elbow after his sixth-inning warm-up tosses.

Buffaloes 5, Marines 0: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Meat Loaf had better luck in “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” than the Marines did as they never got to third against Taisuke Yamaoka (5-3) in his four-hit shutout.

Fumiya Motomae (2-1) kept it a 1-0 game by stranding seven runners through five innings. A leadoff walk and an error opened the door for a two-run Buffaloes sixth with Kotaro Kurebayashi driving in the first insurance run. Masataka Yoshida capped the scoring in the ninth with his fifth homer, plating Yuma Mune in the process.

Fighters come to terms with Conner Menez

Nippon Ham announced Friday it has come to terms with 27-year-old lefty Conner Menez on a 30 million yen one-year contract through the remainder of the season. The figure reported does not included additional incentives. Menez was with the Cubs this season, where he continued the pattern of bouncing between Triple-A and the U.S. majors he had been doing for three seasons with San Francisco.

“He’s not overpowering with a fastball that averages 145 kph (90 mph) but he has a delivery that makes him difficult to time. He has a nasty changeup and is good working with his slider and curve.”

–Atsunori Inaba

Saturday’s starting pitchers

Eagles vs Lions: Miyagi Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Wataru Karashima (2-0, 0.82) vs Katsunori Hirai (3-4, 1.71)

Marines vs Buffaloes: Chiba Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Shoma Sato (1-3, 2.77) vs Yoshinobu Yamamoto (7-3, 1.55)

Hawks vs Fighters: Fukuoka Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Tomohisa Ozeki (4-3, 2.19) vs Hiromi Ito (5-5, 3.25)

Swallows vs Giants: Jingu Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Cy Sneed (4-1, 3.26) vs Matt Shoemaker (3-4, 3.17)

BayStars vs Carp: Yokohama Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Haruhiro Hamaguchi (2-2, 2.76) vs Masato Morishita (4-5, 3.48)

Tigers vs Dragons: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Masashi Ito (3-2, 2.49) vs Koji Fukutani (1-2, 8.05)

Active roster moves 6/24/2022

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/4

Central League

Activated

TigersP48Yukiya Saito
GiantsP35Toshiki Sakurai
GiantsC94Ryusuke Kita
CarpP39Yasunori Kikuchi
DragonsP28Hiroto Mori
DragonsC39Ayatsugu Yamashita
DragonsIF00Ryota Ishioka

Dectivated

TigersP44Raul Alcantara
GiantsP49Thyago Vieira
GiantsC67Shinnosuke Yamase
CarpC95Taiki Mochimaru
DragonsP33Daisuke Sobue
DragonsP36Yuichiro Okano
DragonsIF32Masami Ishigaki
DragonsIF55Nobumasa Fukuda

Pacific League

Activated

BuffaloesIF10Koji Ohshiro

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