On Saturday, the SoftBank Hawks and Orix Buffaloes suffered injury hits and concerns, while infielder Akira Neo made his big league pitching debut, and we had some slight shifts in the standings.
Shall we get to it?
Tough day for PL stars
With interleague coming, up CL pitchers could be heard uttering a subtle sigh of relief after learning that slugging two-time PL batting champ Masataka Yoshida is out again as he gets treatment for a left thigh injury. According to Delta Graphs, Yoshida’s wOBA in the last three interleague seasons, 2018, 2019 and 2021, was .454. He was closer to .420 against PL pitchers in those seasons.
Carp 10, Dragons 1: At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Masato Morishita (4-1) threw seven scoreless innings, while Chunichi starter Yuichiro Okano (1-2) allowed nine runs over two innings behind three run home runs from Ryoma Nishikawa, his fifth, and reserve catcher Yoshitaka Isomura‘s first in two years.
The Dragons’ second straight blowout loss left their bullpen depleted and opened the door for infielder Akira Neo’s major league pitching debut. The shortstop hit 150 kph with his fastball as he worked around a leadoff single in a scoreless eighth before grounding out to start the Dragons’ ninth.
“Going forward, I see this as how his mound appearances will go,” manager Kazuyoshi Tatsunami said.
Dave Okubo on Pro Yakyu News said, “This was a gutsy move on the part of the manager because there’s a risk of injury,” but the real fear will come Sunday morning when the old baseball farts will get a head start rolling in their graves before they’re even dead.
Swallows 9, BayStars 2: At Yokohama Stadium, Yakult got some payback against Taiga Kamichatni (2-4), who tossed a Maddux the last time they faced him, starting with the the third pitch, when Yasutaka Shiomi reached the seats for an opposite-field leadoff home run, his fifth.
Ninteeen-year-old rookie catcher Soma Uchikawa doubled in a run, and 20-year-old sookie shortstop Hideki Nagaoka hit a two-run shot, his second, in a three-run second, allowing Juri Hara (4-2) to cough up two in the bottom of the second and shepherd a 4-2 lead through the fifth. The game remained close until the end, when Munetaka Murakami blasted his 13th home run, a three-run shot to cap the scoring.
Tigers 2, Giants 1: At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin was just a tiny bit better at holding onto a two-run lead than Yomiuri was the night before in the Giants’ 6-2 12-inning win. Suguru Iwazaki allowed a run and loaded the bases before getting the final out for his sixth save.
The Giants helped though. With two on, a run in, Giants manager Tatsunori called for a sacrifice, and and CL batting leader Naoki Yoshikawa fouled off three for the first out, which kind of hurt since the Tigers just barely got the final two outs on tough grounders.
The Giants’ loss dropped them into second place behind the Swallows.
Fighters 4, Lions 0: At Sapporo Dome, Naoyuki Uwasawa (3-4) allowed a hit and a walk over seven innings, Mizuki Hori worked the eighth and Naoki Miyanishi the ninth to complete a combined two-hit shutout. Miyanishi became the eighth player to pitch in 800 Japanese major league games.
Buffaloes 6, Eagles 0: At Miyagi Stadium, Yoshinobu Yamamoto‘s command was as little in evidence as Rakuten’s offense. The right-hander faced 3-2 counts against six of the first eight batters he faced, and threw 74 pitches over the first three innings. So just as he was finding his rhythm, he was done after five innings.
Fortunately, Orix’s offense did OK without Masataka Yoshida. Torai Fushimi doubled in Keita Nakagawa and brand new import Joe McCarthy, who belted a two-run homer in the eighth to cap the scoring. Yutaro Sugimoto, last year’s PL home run leader, hit his second home run of the season.
Marines 4, Hawks 2: At Fukuoka Dome, Lotte leadoff hitter Akito Takabe reached base five times, doubled and scored in the first, singled in the sixth as the Marines rallied to tie it 2-2 and singled ahead of Leonys Martin‘s third home run in four games.
Marines right-hander Manabu Mima pitched in and out of trouble, allowing two runs on eight hits and a walk over six innings while striking out seven. Daiki Tojo (2-1) worked the seventh, Tayron Guerrero the eighth, and Naoya Masuda the ninth for his eighth save.
The Marines’ win made it a clean sweep of the PL’s first-division teams, with Orix moving past Seibu into third place.
Sunday’s starting pitchers
Fighters vs Lions: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Eagles vs Buffaloes: Miyagi Stadium 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Hawks vs Marines: Fukuoka Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
BayStars vs Swallows: Yokohama Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Tigers vs Giants: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Carp vs Dragons: Hiroshima Citizen’s Stadium 1:30 pm, 0:30 am EDT
Active roster moves 5/21/2022
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/31