NPB news: March 30, 2022

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Going south

We had nine southpaw starting pitchers on Wednesday, which is pretty weird, and a 2 pm weekday start in Chiba, which is also unusual outside of Sendai. In Sapporo, manager Tsuyoshi Shinjo may have let on that he is a fan of the musical “Annie.”

So let’s get to it, shall we?

Carp 8, Tigers 2: At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Mel Rojas Jr. opened the scoring with his first hit of the season for the winless Hanshin Tigers, a fifth-inning leadoff homer off Carp southpaw Hiroki Tokoda (1-0).

Tigers lefty Masashi Ito (0-1) allowed two hits through the first five innings but ran into a buzzsaw with two outs and a runner on in the sixth. Ryoma Nishikawa ripped a leadoff single but was still on first when Ryan McBroom singled and Shogo Sakakura tied it with a smash to first that Jefry Marte couldn’t backhand for a single.

Tsubasa Aizawa appeared to be looking for a 1-2 changeup and stroked it for an RBI single. Tigers shortstop Takumu Nakano let a ball get past him for a run-scoring error. Ito was charged with six runs, five earned after the Carp banged out four hits in the seventh, including a Ryosuke Kikuchi RBI double, a McBroom RBI single, and a Sakakura sac fly.

Giants 3, Swallows 1: At Jingu Stadium, low-velocity lefty Masanori Ishikawa (0-1) walked five batters, which is pretty much a headline in itself, but pitched out of trouble for 6-2/3 innings, allowing only three runs on, two scoring on Gregory Polanco’s and Zelous Wheeler’s solo homers.

C.C. Mercedes (1-0) was also less than stellar, with four walks but just two hits over 5-1/3 scoreless innings. Thyago Vieira allowed the Swallows’ lone run in the eighth when he walked two and made a throwing error after catching a liner for the first out.

Yuhei Takanashi retired Munetaka Murakami, and Seishu Hatake struck out Domingo Santana to escape further damage, and rookie Taisei Ota pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his fourth save.

BayStars 7, Dragons 6: At Nagoya Dome, 19-year-old rookie right-hander Hiroto Takahashi (0-1) allowed four runs in his five-inning pro debut, while DeNA lefty Kenta Ishida (1-0) won as a starter for the first time since Aug. 17, 2019, allowing two runs on four hits and no walks over seven innings. He singled in the BayStars’ second run and contributed to their three-run sixth with a sacrifice.

Toshiro Miyazaki and Daiki Sekine singled and scored in the second, with Yasutaka Tobashira’s sac fly breaking the ice, and Ishida making it 2-0. With one out and the bases loaded in the third, Sekine singled in two more.

Dragons rookie Kosuke Ugai plated Yohei Oshima with his first pro home run in the fourth, but DeNA tacked on three more in the fifth against lefty Yuki Hashimoto.

DeNA’s bullpen didn’t wait until the ninth to initiate the customary chaos. Takuya Kinoshita doubled to open against reliever Taisei Irie, who walked the bases loaded with one out. Lefty Yoshiki Sunada gave up back-to-back RBI singles to Oshima and Ryosuke Hirata, before sometimes closer Kazuki Mishima gave up an RBI single to Ugai that made it a one-run game.

Closer Yasuaki Yamasaki, who has been a disaster waiting to happen for most of the past two seasons, survived a leadoff walk to register his first save.

Hawks 4, Marines 3: At Chiba Marine Stadium, SoftBank southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada did well to allow just three runs when his control was not nearly its best.

Lotte lefty Kazuya Ojima allowed two runs in the second. One scored on three straight singles by Hawks stalwarts Ryoya Kurihara, Yurisbel Gracial and Akira Nakamura, whose ball was overrun by Hiromi Oka, allowing a second run to score.

The Marines got one back in the third on two walks, a single and an Akito Takabe sac fly. With Wada missing up in the fourth, Brandon Laird and Toshiya Sato smashed singles through the infield, and Oka beat out a bunt single. A Taiga Hirasawa sac fly and a throwing error by catcher Takuya Kai made it 3-2 Marines.

Taiki Tojo came out to work the top of the seventh for Lotte, struck out the last two batters in the order but was yanked after walking leadoff man Masaki Mimori. Lefty Shota Suzuki (0-2) gave up a ground single, but had no stomach to throw strikes to Yuki Yanagita, and then failed to get Gracial to chase after getting ahead 0-2 and walked him, too. Suzuki tried harder to get Kurihara but again missed a 3-2 pitch to put SoftBank in front.

Koya Fujii, a former Carp farmhand whom the Hawks signed to a developmental contract out of the Shikoku Island League and promoted in March, earned his second win in relief. Yuki Tsumori, Livan Moinelo, and Yuito Mori then finished up with one scoreless inning each as the Hawks improved to 5-0.

Lions 5, Fighters 3: At Sapporo Dome, winless Nippon Ham struck first, loading the bases against Wataru Matsumoto (1-0) with one out on a Ryo Watanabe triple and two walks, but settled for a single run on Kazunari Ishii’s sac fly.

Fighters southpaw Takayuki Kato (0-1) breezed through 5-2/3 innings before giving up seven straight two-out singles. Tomoya Mori, Hotaka Yamakawa, and Takeya Nakamura each plated one run, although Yamakawa left after hurting himself running the bases. Takumi Kuriyama capped the rally with a two-run single.

Hopefully, this will turn out better for Yamakawa than it did last season when he also got off to a hot start before rolling his ankle in April.

The Fighters chased Matsumoto with two runs in the sixth. Kensuke Kondo singled with one out, Kotaro Kiyomiya doubled. After a run-scoring groundout, Arismendy Alcantara singled off reliever Ken Sasaki to make it a two-run game.

The Lions bullpen, however, retired the next 10 batters, with Kaima Taira striking out the side in the eighth and Tatsushi Masuda getting his second save.

Like the sun, Shinjo will come out tomorrow

The Fighters’ loss marked the first time that new manager Tsuyoshi Shinjo did not have a postgame media availability. In its place, the team released a two-word statement from the skipper: “Tomorrow! Tomorrow!” Perhaps on Thursday, he’ll make his entrance sporting a red dress and curly blonde wig.

Eagles 6, Buffaloes 1: At Osaka Dome, Rakuten lefty Takahisa Hayakawa (1-0) allowed a run over seven innings. Last year’s PL RBI leader, Hiroaki Shimauchi, doubled in Haruki Nishikawa and Hideto Asamura in the first and scored on an error by third baseman Yuma Mune as the Eagles took a three-run lead off Cesar Vargas (0-1), who allowed four runs over five innings.

Nishikawa reached three times and scored twice, while Asamura had four hits, scored twice and drove in one run.

Trailing 6-0 in the sixth, Mune singled and scored Orix’s only run on a Masataka Yoshida double.

Thursday’s starting pitchers

Fighters vs Lions: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kazuaki Tateno (4-3, 2.45) vs Kaito Yoza (1-1, 2.79)

Marines vs Hawks: Zozo Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Manabu Mima (6-7, 4.92) vs Tomohisa Ozeki (0-0, 2.35)

Buffaloes vs Eagles: Osaka Dome) 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Sachiya Yamasaki (8-10, 3.56) vs Ryota Takinaka (10-5, 3.21)

Swallows vs Giants: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Juri Hara (3-1, 2.30) vs Kenshin Hotta (-)

Dragons vs BayStars: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Takahiro Matsuba (6-5, 3.20) vs Haruhiro Hamaguchi (5-7, 3.94)

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

Shogo Tamamura (4-7, 3.83) vs Takumi Akiyama (10-7, 2.71)

Active roster moves 3/30/2022

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/9

Okugawa deactivated

A day after he was pulled from his start “for a reason” that Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu declined to disclose, pitcher Yasunobu Okugawa was deactivated with the latest case of Japanese sports medicine’s latest epidemic, “lack of fitness,” in this case afflicting the right-hander’s upper body.

Central League


SwallowsP19Masanori Ishikawa
TigersP27Masashi Ito
GiantsP42C.C. Mercedes
CarpP28Hiroki Tokoda
DragonsP19Hiroto Takahashi
BayStarsP14Kenta Ishida


SwallowsP11Yasunobu Okugawa

Pacific League


BuffaloesP57Nobuyoshi Yamada
BuffaloesP59Cesar Vargas
EaglesP21Takahisa Hayakawa
HawksP21Tsuyoshi Wada
LionsP17Wataru Matsumoto


BuffaloesP98Chang Yi

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