NPB news: May 1, 2024

There were six games in Japan on Wednesday, as the country went back to work in the middle of the “Golden Week” holidays that started last Friday. On a night when a closer was going for his 250th save in Japan, a ninth-inning defensive replacement playing behind him had an inning to forget. And is it just me or does it seem like the Carp are tying at least one game a week?

We also had non-news that I’m guessing is actual news concerning the Yomiuri Giants and whether they will still be playing at Tokyo Dome in 2032.

Wednesday’s games

Swallows 4, Giants 0: At Tokyo Ugly Dome, Jose Osuna put Yakult in front with a three-run first-inning homer off Yuji Akahoshi (0-3), and Munetaka Murakami added a solo shot in the third. It kept them one behind Chunichi’s Seiya Hosokawa, who hit his seventh.

Kojiro Yoshimura (2-2) struck out six while walking one and two relievers combined to complete the seven-hit shutout and Yakult’s first three-game win streak and mark the first time the Giants have been swept in three this year.

Lions 3, Fighters 1: At the domed stadium formerly known as “Prince,” Seibu was involved in a walk-off win for the fourth straight day, but this time came out on the right side of the ledger. Gakuto Wakabayashi hit a solo homer off Ren Fukushima (0-1) in the second, and won it with a two-run “sayonara” homer in the ninth after Yuya Gunji tied it in the seventh off Wataru Matsumoto.

Albert Abreu (1-2) stranded a runner on third in the ninth inning to earn the win as Seibu snapped a four-game losing streak.

BayStars 12, Dragons 1: At Nagoya Dome, DeNA took BP after the game started against Hideaki Wakui (2-1) with six straight hits. Three singles, capped by Keita Sano, made it 1-0. Shugo Maki hit Wakui’s next pitch for a three-run homer, his third. The first batter not to reach, hit a smoking liner that was caught. A walk loaded the bases, and RBI singles from Masayuki Kuwahara and Tatsu Ebina made it 7-0 and marked Wakui’s exit. Keita Sano capped the rally with a two-run double.

Kenta Ishida (1-0) struck out seven over seven innings in his first game since deciding over the winter to remain with DeNA as a free agent. The only run he allowed was from former teammate Seiya Hosokawa’s seventh homer of the season.

Eagles 4, Hawks 3: At Fukuoka Dome, Ryosuke Tatsumi and Hiroto Kobukata did the offensive heavy lifting as Rakuten snapped SoftBank’s seven-game winning streak.

Yuya Ogo doubled to open the game off Tomohisa Ozeki, was sacrificed to third and came home on a Hideto Asamura single. In the bottom of the second, Kensuke Kondo was tagged out trying for a leadoff inside-the-park home run, and Rakuten added a run in the third on a Kobukata single, a stolen base, a sacrifice and groundout. The Eagles made it 3-0 in the fourth on a Ryosuke Tatsumi home run. The Eagles broke the tie in the ninth against Roberto Osuna when Tatsumi singled and scored on a Kobukata single.

Richard Sunagawa, making his first start of the season, doubled in the Hawks’ first run, with his third hit of the game as SoftBank tied it in the seventh against the Eagles’ bullpen.

Masaru Fujii started and worked five scoreless innings for Rakuten, while Ozeki was done after four innings.

Marines 6, Buffaloes 3: At Kobe Green Stadium, the Orix Buffaloes found their scoring touch, unfortunately it came on a night when the Lotte Marines found theirs against a closer going for his 250th save in Japan, and got an assist from second baseman Ryoichi Adachi, who set a PL record for errors in one inning. Two players in the CL have also been charged with three, while the Japan record is four, set during the single-league era.

Orix’s Yuma Tongu led off second with his fourth home run, off James Dykstra, whose throwing error on attempted bunt single contributed to a third-inning run after he walked leadoff man Ryo Ota. The home run snapped Orix’s 21-inning scoreless streak. Kotaro Kurebayashi homered for the Buffaloes in the fifth, before Ryusei Ogawa‘s third single of the game plated Shogo Nakamura in the seventh with Lotte’s first run.

Ogawa reached to open the ninth when Adachi over-ran a tough dribbler and dropped it. Singles by Katsuya Kakunaka and Shingo Ishikawa off closer Yoshihisa Hirano (1-1) made it a one-run game. Ryoichi Adachi’s second error, a more routine fumble, loaded the bases with no outs. Hirano got a strikeout before Hisanori Yasuda chased him with a two-run double. Toshiya Sato singled in an insurance run before Adachi dropped another grounder from Ogawa to let in the sixth run.

When Adachi came up, he had some of the best tools in the league at shortstop, but his Achilles heel was his occasional lapses on the most routine plays. He was a kind of one-man microcosm of the Buffaloes teams from 2015 to 2020, talent constantly being overshadowed by weird plays.

 When manager Satoshi Nakajima moved Adachi to second base in 2021, his defense once more became his calling card. You’ve got to really feel for the guy and hope he can put this behind him. He fielded a routine roller for the final out of the inning.

Carp 2, Tigers 2, 12 innings: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Hanshin and Hiroshima each tied for the fourth time this season, so it’s not just the Carp.

Koji Chikamoto singled to open the game, stole second and scored on a Yusuke Oyama single. Sheldon Neuse singled to open the second and scored on a Seiya Kinami single. The Carp loaded the bases with one out in the fifth but settled for a run before tying it in seventh on a Kaito Kozono RBI single. Hiroshima had a chance to win it in the ninth but Chikamoto made a game-saving catch in center field for the final out.

Giants deny they’re leaving Tokyo Dome

At a Wednesday press conference, the Yomiuri Shimbun Group President Toshikazu Yamaguchi, whose company is involved in a huge real estate development project on the Tokyo bayside that will include a 50,000-seat stadium, opening in 2032, and capable of hosting baseball games, denied there are any plans to move the company’s ball club, the Yomiuri Giants there.

“It’s only natural to want to try to use it (the new stadium), but no plans have been made around the concept of changing the team’s main stadium,” Yamaguchi said.

If you believe that, I’ve got a stadium to sell you.

Yomiuri, the dome and the new stadium

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