NPB news: June 25, 2024

On Tuesday in Japan, there was one of those trades that make one wonder, a Giants call up of their multi-position catcher, Takuya Kori, while the Seibu Lions’ best player, Shuta Tonosaki, returned to the active major league roster for the first time in three weeks. On the field, we had another Maddux, a batting milestone, some refreshing non-bullshit, and a no-hit bid.

Tuesday’s games:

Carp 3, Swallows 0: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Masato Morishita (6-3) threw a two-hit 91-pitch shutout Maddux, while going 3-for-3 at the plate. Hiroshima opened the scoring with three unearned runs in the sixth. With two on, Swallows starter Keiji Takahashi (2-4) got a two-out popup with his 100th pitch that shortstop Hideki Nagaoka dropped. One run scored, and two more scored on Tsubasa Aizawa‘s single, and that was the ballgame other than Morishita’s third single, which raised the career .176 hitter’s average to .429 this season.

Giants 3, BayStars 2: At Niigata, Elier Hernandez drew a fourth-inning leadoff walk and scored on Takumi Oshiro’s double off Haruhiro Hamaguchi (1-3), who struck out seven over six innings in his first action since April 24. Iori Yamasaki (6-1) retired the first 12 BayStars before Shugo Maki doubled to open the fifth-inning and scored on a Toshiro Miyazaki single. Yamasaki untied the game in the seventh. With Yukinori Kishi on second after a single and a sacrifice, the pitcher slapped a little liner into the gap in right for an RBI double. Yamasaki worked eight innings before leaving for pinch-hitter Hisayoshi Chono in the ninth, who singled in an insurance run. Yomiuri’s Alberto Baldonado surrendered a Tyler Austin RBI single in the ninth but hung on for his ninth save.

Chono’s RBI single was his 1,500th career hit, a lot for a player who declined to sign out of university and then declined to sign in his first draft as a corporate leaguers so he could play for the Giants. At 36 years, 5 months, he’s the third oldest player to reach that plateau behind Takeshi Yamasaki (40 years, 8 months) and former Hiroshima manager Koichi Ogata (40 years, 4 months).

Hayato Sakamoto didn’t start for the second Giants’ game, didn’t come off the bench, and afterward manager Shinnosuke Abe said his former teammate is going to get a chance to “get refreshed” on the farm team. Sakamoto, to his credit, cut through the bullshit.

“This is no time to talk about being ‘refreshed,'” Sakamoto said. “I’ve got to get things squared away.”

Dragons 1, Tigers 0: At Kurashiki Muscat Stadium, Hiroto Saiki (8-2) struck out eight, raising his total for the season to 71, tying him for the league lead with Yomiuri’s Shosei Togo as Hanshin was shut out for the 10th time this season.

Mikiya Tanaka tripled and broke up a scoreless pitchers’ duel on former Tiger Yutaro Itayama‘s third hit of the game. Shinnosuke Ogasawara (3-6) worked seven innings to pick up the win, and Raidel Martinez stranded two runners in the ninth to record his 23rd save.

Lions 1, Fighters 0: At the domed stadium formerly known as “Prince,” two-out first-inning doubles by Takumi Kuriyama and Junichiro Kishi scored the first run off Nippon Ham’s Shoma Kanemura (1-4) who went seven innings. Yutaro Watanabe (1-2) led a five-pitcher Lion relay with Albert Abreu pitching the ninth for his 13th save.

Marines 10, Eagles 2: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Neftali Soto‘s two-run single got Lotte started in the first after a Hiromi Oka leadoff double and a Katsuya Kakunaka single. Toshiya Sato, starting at first base after his “little league play” Sunday, followed with a single off Seiryu Uchi (3-5) that saw Soto put out on the bases. Oka singled and Kakunaka homered to open the third before a Sato single and Shogo Nakamura‘s double made it 5-0. RBI singles in the fourth and sixth from former Marines captain Daichi Suzuki made it 5-2 against Yuji Nishino (5-5) who didn’t make it out of the inning. Rakuten reliever Hayato Yuge took

Hawks 7, Buffaloes 2: At Osaka UFO Dome, Kohei Arihara (7-3) nearly let this one get away after his no-hit bid crashed in the seventh. That two-run Orix inning would have been huge without a candidate for error of the season.

Ryuhei Sotani (4-3) retired the first seven Hawks hitters before Ryuta Hirose‘s double and Naoki Sato’s single broke the ice in the third. An Ukyo Shuto line single, and the ensuing sacrifice added two more runs, when Sotani’s throw to first got past his second baseman and right fielder and rolled to the right-field wall.

Arihara’s second walk of the game saved his no-hit bid in the sixth, when Hirose was barely able to backhand a bouncer up the middle and his only play was a glove toss for the force at second. His luck ran out in the seventh. Ryo Ota singled with one out and scored on Ryoma Nishikawa‘s double. A Kotaro Kurebayashi single made it a one-run game, and Tomoya Mori‘s single put the tying run on second, but Arihara pitched out of trouble.

Instead of keeping the game close, Orix’s bullpen put the game out of reach as Hitomi Honda surrendered four runs in the eighth.

Lions and Giants swap outfielders

The struggling Seibu Lions on Tuesday sent 26-year-old right-handed-hitting outfielder Gakuto Wakabayashi to the Yomiuri Giants for 29-year-old left-handed hitter Seiya Matsubara, who played regularly in 2020 and 2021, when he was the fifth most productive regular. Since then, however, Matsubara has primarily been used off the bench. Both have some speed without much power.

If Wakabayashi has value, he hasn’t proved it, while Matsubara has succeeded in the minors and in the majors. Perhaps Matsubara wore out his welcome at Yomiuriland, and the Giants can’t send him to Devils Island and Seibu is the next worst destination. Either that or the Giants are demonstrating that charity actually exists in Japanese pro baseball. I wish both of those guys the best of luck.

Giants bring up catcher of all trades Kori

Yomiuri on Tuesday recalled 26-year-old catcher Takuya Kori, who has yet to pitch in his career but has played in the outfield and everywhere else around the infield in his career. Kori was acquired in a trade over the winter from the Fighters, who have more catchers and former catchers on their roster than probably any other two teams put together. He’s expected to catch with regular catcher Takumi Oshiro moving to first and Kazuma Okamoto going back to third in place of slumping Hayato Sakamoto. The Giants being the Giants and not the Fighters, Kori has not played in the middle infield this year, unlike his last season with Nippon Ham.

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