NPB news: June 29, 2022

This past week, Yakult Swallows games have taken on the tone of classic Japanese monster movies. Everyone knows the monster is coming and going to destroy a city or two, and there’s little to do but enjoy the carnage while mortals do their best to brave the dangers.

This past week, Yakult Swallows games have taken on the tone of classic Japanese monster movies. Everyone knows the monster is coming and going to destroy a city or two, and there’s little to do but enjoy the carnage while mortals do their best to brave the dangers.

Shall we see how this plays out?

Lions 6, Fighters 2: At Seibu Dome, Seibu has allowed three runs or fewer for 12 straight games, a streak last accomplished in 1965 by the Fukuoka-based Nishitetsu Lions.

Dietrich Enns (5-4) left after allowing no runs on one hit and no walks over five innings because after being struck on the left foot during the inning. Tomoya singled in two runs in the first, doubled in a run in the third, tripled and scored in the sixth and walked in his final trip to the plate.

Nippon Ham’s Kosei Yoshida (1-3) allowed three runs over three innings to take the loss.

Buffaloes 6, Eagles 1: At Kobe Green Stadium, Mastaka Yoshida brought Orix from a run down with a two-run fourth-inning home run off Takayuki Kishi (5-3), Yoshida’s seventh of the year and his third in five games.

The Eagles did what they do best, get on base, against Daiki Tajima (4-3) putting 10 runners aboard over the first five innings but bringing only one home, allowing Orix to take the lead in the fourth after Keita Nakagawa opened with a single and Yoshida went deep. Nakagawa doubled in two in the fifth and a Yoshida sac fly made it 5-1 and the Buffaloes cruised from there.

Swallows 9, Carp 2: At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Munetaka Murakami singled, stole a base and scored Yakult’s second run but turned the game into a rout with two-run home runs in the eighth and ninth, his 28th and 29th of the season.

Yakult have now won 13 consecutive series.

Tetsuto Yamada broke up a scoreless game by leading off the fourth with his 15th home run, off Atsushi Endo (3-5). Murakami singled and scored on a Yuhei Nakamura sac fly. Yakult right-hander Juri Hara (6-3) pitched well but also got lucky. With two on and two out in the sixth, Ryan McBroom’s smoking liner to left was somehow caught by rookie shortstop Hideki Nagaoka to end the inning.

The Swallows got a seventh-inning insurance run via a Jose Osuna leadoff single and Taiki Hamada’s pinch-hit triple. Hiroshima’s Shogo Sakakura opened the bottom of the inning with his seventh home run, off Yugo Umeno to make it a two-run game before Murakami left Hiroshima in tatters.

I tweeted that Murakami will likely pass Kazuhiro Kiyohara for career home runs by a 22-year-old this year. But because Kiyohara’s birthday is Aug. 1 and Murakami’s is Feb. 2, Kiyohara will have a big lead among the 23-year-olds until mid season when Murakami catches him next year.

The real question is whether or not Murakami will play long enough in Japan to push Sadaharu Oh out of the career home run leader by a 27-year-old.

When I first wrote this post, I had it in mind that Murakami was a fourth-round draft pick, but in fact he was tied with Lotte’s Hisanori Yasuda for fifth overall in 2017. Players with a lot of teams chasing after them have pull when it comes time to talk to the club that wins their negotiating rights.

This is important because unlike MLB, Japanese amateurs can pretty much ask for everything and anything when negotiating their first contract, including an agreement about when and how they might be posted.

The only way we’re going to know if Murakami has a written commitment from the team to post him is if he tells people he’s asked the team to post him before he turns 26. If that doesn’t happen, we can only assume that the Swallows will keep him until he’s 28, which should allow him to push Oh off one or two lines of the record books.

Dragons 3, Giants 2, 10 innings: At Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, Chunichi’s Toshiki Abe went 5-for-5, drove in two runs and kept the Giants under constant pressure as a threat to score, which finally came out in the 10th when he had the second of three Dragons singles. Takuya Kuwahara (1-1) then hit ubiquitous career scrub Daiki Mitsumata, who has repeatedly been the focal point of late Dragons rallies, to force in the go-ahead run.

Chunichi closer Raidel Martinez (2-1) got the win and 37-year-old Keisuke Tanimoto got his first save since 2017. He got that with Nippon Ham before joining Chunichi midseason.

Giants-Dragons highlights

BayStars 4, Tigers 2: At Yokohama Stadium, Teruaki Sato singled in Takumu Nakano in the first inning, but Joe Gunkel (3-5) couldn’t hold the lead, hitting a batter with one out in the first before surrendering Keita Sano’s ninth homer. Utility man Yasuhiro Yamamoto’s second homer tied it in the second off Kenta Ishida (2-1).

DeNA broke the tie in the fourth on no-out singles by Shugo Maki, Toshiro Miyazaki and former Tiger Yamato Maeda with the runs coming home on sac flies from Neftali Soto and Hiroki Minei.

Brooks Kriske got Nishida out of the sixth by retiring two batters with two on, before Edwin Escobar, Hiromu Ise and Yasuaki Yamasaki locked it down. Yamasaki earned his 15th save.

Thursday’s starting pitchers

BayStars vs Tigers: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Katsuki Azuma (1-5, 6.42) vs Aaron Wilkerson (4-3, 3.11)

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

Drew Anderson (2-2, 4.46) vs Masanori Ishikawa (4-3, 2.82)

Active roster moves 6/29/2022

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/9

Central League


GiantsP19Iori Yamasaki
DragonsP19Hiroto Takahashi


GiantsP30Yohei Kagiya

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