NPB news: May 14, 2022

The Yakult Swallows faced off against the Hiroshima Carp for the Central League lead on Saturday, Japan is talking about how a sacrifice bunt restored Sho Nakata’s home run power on a day when there were plenty to go around.

The Pacific League marked the return of Yoshinobu Yamamoto after a 10-day break in a game in which the final out was followed by an ejection, while the league’s top two teams, the Rakuten Eagles and SoftBank Hawks tried to bounce back from losses on Friday.

Ready? Let’s go.

Saturday’s games

Swallows 5, Carp 3: At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Yakult won a see-saw home run derby. Munetaka Murakami‘s 10th home run tied it 2-2 in the top of the sixth, before Shogo Sakakura put Hiroshima back in front in the home half with his third. Murakami re-tied it in the eighth with his 11th off new import Nik Turley (0-1).

With two on and one out, rookie shortstop Hideki Nagaoka singled in a run off reliever Daisuke Moriura to break the tie. Tetsuto Yamada‘s seventh homer in the ninth completed the scoring. and Scott McGough pitched a 1-2-3 inning, starting with Sakakura, to earn his 11th save.

The last three Swallows pitchers worked 1-2-3 innings, with A.J. Cole (1-0) getting the win and Scott McGough his 11th save.

Giants 7, Dragons 6: At Tokyo Dome, Gregory Polanco continued to provide the caffeine boost for Yomiuri’s offense, drawing two walks, doubling twice, driving in two and scoring one, while Sho Nakata‘s grand slam brought the Giants from two runs down in the seventh.

Ariel Martinez doubled twice and scored twice, and Shuhei Takahashi drove in two with his first home run as Chunichi went into the bottom of the sixth leading 5-0. Yoshihiro Maru batting leadoff, and Adam Walker batting second, opened the sixth with back-to-back singles.

Polanco doubled in one run, and Hiroyuki Nakajima‘s bases-loaded walk made it a 5-2 game. With one out in the seventh, the top three in the Giants order rinsed and repeated.  Polanco’s double scored Maru to make it 5-3, and Kazuma Okamoto was walked intentionally so Daisuke Sobue (1-1) could instead pitch to Nakata.

Nakata, if you listen to the pundits, turned his season around on Friday when he was ordered to sacrifice and the former Japan cleanup hitter executed for the first time in his 15 pro seasons.

Matt Shoemaker allowed four runs, three earned in five innings, while Rubby De La Rosa allowed a run in the ninth but stranded two runners to secure his first save.

Giants-Dragons highlights

Tigers 9, BayStars 2: At Yokohama Stadium, Takumu Nakano, who hit one home run as the Tigers regular shortstop in his 2021 rookie campaign, hit a pair of two-run shots, his second and third, reached base four time and scored four, while Koyo Aoyagi (4-1) allowed two runs on eight hits but no walks over six innings. BayStars starter Taiga Kamichatani (2-3) allowed seven runs over 4-2/3 innings.

Buffaloes 1, Marines 0: At Osaka Dome, Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s return from his worst career start on May 3 was the news, but the real story was Yuma Mune‘s defense at third, as he robbed two Marines of hits and recorded an unassisted double play.

Yamamoto (4-2) worked a 1-2-3 first, and Orix scored it’s only run in the first. Shuhei Fukuda doubled, and scored when center fielder Hiromi Oka failed to scoop up Mune’s single cleanly.

Rookie Shoma Sato (0-1) starting in his second career game, worked six innings allowing only one more walk and hitting a batter. Yamamoto gave up five hits and three walks while striking out nine. Yoshihisa Hirano walked two in the ninth, and came within a hair of walking the bases loaded but got a low 3-2 strike on Adeiny Hechavarria.

Hechavarria complained and stomped and shouted, and manager Tadahito Iguchi went after umpire Hideto Fuke. Iguchi pointed his finger at the ump while having his say, was separated by a coach, had a few more words, and then turned to walk away, when he was tossed.

Tetsuya Shimata, the crew chief, said that they warned Iguchi once and when he continued, he was ejected, and it was announced that the manager was ejected for “using insulting language.”

“I said, ‘What I want is for you to make diligent calls.’ That’s not something I should be ejected for.”

Lotte manager Tadahito Iguchi on his “insulting language.”

Fighters 2, Hawks 0: At Sapporo Dome, Naoyuki Uwasawa (2-4) scattered five hits, two walks and a hit batsman over eight innings, Yuma Imagawa hit a two-run third-inning double, and rookie Koki Kitayama recorded his fourth save as Nippon Ham shut out SoftBank for the second straight day.

Lions 5, Eagles 4: At Seibu Dome, With Rakuten leading 4-1 in the seventh, Alan Busenitz allowed a pair of one-out singles. Tomohiro Anraku (3-1) struck out one batter before giving up Seiji Kawagoe‘s RBI single and Natsuo Takizawa‘s game-tying two-run triple. A wild pitch scored Takizawa with the go-ahead run.

Rakuten’s Takahisa Hayakawa allowed a run over six innings as Rakuten lost its fourth straight, while Seibu’s bullpen allowed three runners to reach over the final four innings. Tatsushi Masuda recorded his ninth save.

Sunday’s starting pitchers

Fighters vs Hawks: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Toshihiro Sugiura (1-3, 5.63) vs Shuta Ishikawa (2-0, 0.71)

Lions vs Eagles: Seibu Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Dietrich Enns (2-1, 2.33) vs Takahiro Norimoto (1-1, 2.60)

Buffaloes vs Marines: Osaka Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Hiroya Miyagi (1-2, 4.15) vs Enny Romero (2-2, 2.12)

Giants vs Dragons: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Yuki Takahashi (1-2, 2.35) vs Yuya Yanagi (3-1, 2.82)

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

Katsuki Azuma (0-4, 6.12) vs Aaron Wilkerson (1-2, 2.42)

Carp vs Swallows: Hiroshima Citizen’s Stadium 1:30 pm, 0:30 am EDT

Drew Anderson (1-0, 0.00) vs Masanori Ishikawa (2-2, 2.78)

Active roster moves 5/14/2022

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/24

Central League


DragonsP19Hiroto Takahashi

Pacific League


BuffaloesP18Yoshinobu Yamamoto
BuffaloesOF99Yutaro Sugimoto
MarinesP64Shoma Sato
LionsP19Shunsuke Sato


BuffaloesIF4Breyvic Valera
MarinesP60Rikuto Yokoyama

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