NPB news: May 15, 2022

Japan’s baseball week ended in a trio of blowouts, two won by last-place teams. There was one riveting tie, and another one that leaves us wondering what’s up with the umpires and the Lotte Marines when they play in Osaka.

Let’s get to them shall we?

Sunday’s games

Buffaloes 8, Marines 5: At Osaka Dome, the Lotte Marines may have thought they caught a break with the umpires when Roki Sasaki‘s nemesis, inflammable umpire Kazuyuki Shirai, was not behind the plate on Friday or Saturday in the first two games against Orix.

Manager Tadahito Iguchi, however, was warned for coming out to argue after Saturday’s game ended in a 1-0 Lotte defeat on a low called 3-2 strike that would have loaded the bases. Iguchi came back to have one last word, said it, turned his back on the umps and, as he was walking away, was ejected.

The umpiring crew announced to the Osaka Dome crowd that Iguchi was ejected for “insulting language” but afterward told the media it was because arguing balls and strikes, which could have earned him an automatic ejection, left him with just a warning, but his coming back for a second helping got him tossed. I’m guessing the insulting language came afterward.

On Sunday, Shirai WAS behind the plate, and this time it was Brandon Laird‘s turn. With an 0-1 count leading off the second inning, Laird took two pitches that might have nipped the front inside corner of the zone from lefty Hiroya Miyagi (2-2). Laird faced Shirai, uttered a few words and walked away.

I suppose the lesson for the Marines is don’t turn your back on the umps, when you’re angry. Because either Shirai was weighing what Laird had already said, or Shirai heard Laird make an assertion about the ump’s oral sex preferences as he walked away.

Either way, Laird thought it was over only to hear Shirai have the last word and eject him.

The Buffaloes broke the ice in the bottom of the inning after a disputed call involving Shirai. With no outs and a runner on first, catcher Toshiya Sato swiped at a bunted ball to stop it in foul territory, but it bounced fair, which is what Shirai called it, allowing the runner to advance. Lefty Enny Romero, who had a word with the umpire about the call and still remained in the game, left two sliders in the heart of the zone, and Orix catcher Torai Fushimi hit the second off the wall in center.

Shuhei Fukuda bunted his way on, and Yuma Mune singled in Fushimi. Romero, who walked five batters in his five innings, survived walking two in the fourth, and his teammates got him the lead in the top of the fifth

Singles by Koki Yamaguchi and Hiromi Oka set the table. Adeiny Hechavarria, who took the called third strike that triggered his manager on Friday, doubled in one, and two consecutive runners scored on fielder’s choice plays at the plate, before Miyagi pitched out of further trouble.

Orix took the lead in the home half. Keita Nakagawa walked with one out, stole second and beat the throw home on a single by Kotaro Kurebayashi, who took second. With Lotte center fielder Oka cheating in for a possible play at the plate, he was unable to track down Fushimi’s high fly to the gap in right. Instead of hitting into the third out, the Marines gifted him an RBI triple.

The game got away from the Marines in the sixth. A Mune leadoff double, an error, and a one-out walk loaded the bases, and Nakagawa tripled in three when Oka dove for his drive in the gap and came up empty.

Miyagi allowed five runs over 6-1/3 innings, but Taisuke Kondo, Jesse Biddle, and Hitomi Honda shut the door with the rookie Honda earning his first career save.

Eagles 3, Lions 1: At Seibu Dome, Takahiro Norimoto (2-1) allowed an unearned run over seven innings, and José Marmolejos brought Rakuten from a run down in the fourth with a two-run home run, his fourth, off Dietrich Enns (2-2).

With Alan Busenitz deactivated after being hit by a batted ball on Saturday, Sung Chia-hao worked the eighth for Rakuten and Yuki Matsui pitched the ninth for his 11th save. Marmolejos made it a 3-1 game with a ninth-inning sacrifice fly.

Fighters 10, Hawks 2: At Sapporo Dome, SoftBank, shut out in the first two games 1-0 and 2-0, snapped that streak in the first inning on a two-run home run, Yuki Yanagita‘s sixth, off former closer Toshihiro Sugiura (2-3).

The Fighters tied it against Shuta Ishikawa (2-1) on two second-tinning walks, a Go Matsumoto RBI single, and a delayed double steal of home. Daiki Asama‘s two-run third-inning double put the Fighters ahead for good after Kotaro Kiyomiya led off with a walk and Chusei Mannami singled.

Kiyomiya tripled, walked twice, was hit by a pitch and scored twice, while Mannami had a two-run triple and a two-run home run, his fifth.

Sugiura struck out seven without issuing a walk over five innings, and four relievers retired three batters apiece to close it out.

Dragons 9, Giants 3: At Tokyo Dome, Chunichi salvaged the final game of the series as Dayan Viciedo and Ariel Martinez each had a single, double and home run. Viciedo scored twice and drove in three. Martinez, who also drew a walk in a 3-for-3 game, scored three and drove in two.

Yuya Yanagi (4-1) struck out eight, walked two, and allowed a pair of solo home runs in the sixth to Gregory Polanco, his seventh, and rookie Riko Masuda, the first of his career.

Giants-Dragons highlights

Tigers 8, BayStars 1: At Yokohama Stadium, Aaron Wilkerson (2-2) delivered his fifth straight useful start, allowing a run in six innings and Teruaki Sato hit a pair of solo homers, his eighth and ninth, as Hanshin completed a sweep of DeNA in their two-game rain-shortened series.

Swallows 5, Carp 5, 12 innings: At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium we had, what would in football be called a “pulsating draw” as the Carp twice came from behind in a game that began as a duel between slow dart-throwing lefty Masanori Ishikawa and hard-throwing new Carp import Drew Anderson that only ended after 4 hours, 44 minutes.

Each team had a two-run homer, Munetaka Murakami‘s third homer in two games in the first, and the first of Carp rookie Kento Nakamura‘s career when Hiroshima took the lead in a three-run fifth. After the Swallows pulled ahead 5-3 in the sixth, the only reliever to allow a run in the game entered.

Former closer Taichi Ishiyama allowed Ryan McBroom‘s leadoff single and walked Shogo Sakakura on eight pitches. Ishiyama struck out Nakamura for the second out, but veteran Ryuhei Matsuyama came off the bench and smacked a 1-0 pitch past first for a two-run double.

The biggest chance of the game went wanting when put runners on the corners with one out in the 10th. McBroom drew his second walk, off rookie Naofumi Kizawa with one out and Sakakura singled the pinch-runner to third. With two outs, Kizawa walked Nakamura, and new Swallows reliever A.J. Cole struck out Kosuke Tanaka to end the threat.

Kazuki Yabuta allowed a pair of two-out Swallows runners in the 11th, and Cole stranded two in the home half. Nik Turley, who took the loss on Saturday after allowing two runs, including a solo homer to Tetsuto Yamada worked the 12th and came through with flying colors.

The lefty surrendered a single to Yamada but struck out Murakami as Yamada was caught stealing before striking out Yasutaka Shiomi. Scott McGough than pitched out of a 12th-inning jam after Nakamura’s pop fly fell safely in shallow left center with the infield at double play depth.

McGough struck out Tanaka, who fanned three times with runners in scoring position after entering as a pinch-runner, and retired pinch-hitter Shosei Nakamura when Murakami snagged a pop up after evading the barrel of his shattered bat.

Active roster moves 5/15/2022

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/25

Central League


SwallowsP19Masanori Ishikawa
GiantsP45Seishu Hatake
GiantsIF52Takumi Kitamura
BayStarsIF51Toshiro Miyazaki


SwallowsP56Yuta Suzuki
GiantsP96Taiki Kikuchi
GiantsIF32Taishi Hirooka
DragonsP19Hiroto Takahashi
BayStarsOF52Seiya Hosokawa

Pacific League


BuffaloesP13Hiroya Miyagi
BuffaloesP45Shota Abe
MarinesP33Akira Yagi
EaglesP53Hosei Takata


MarinesP64Shoma Sato
EaglesP32Alan Busenitz

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