NPB news: May 23, 2023

This year’s Kansai rookie pitcher revelation continued Tuesday in Kobe–at the expense of Masahiru Tanaka, and at Jingu, where Sheldon Neuse drove in five runs. In Hokkaido, Yuki Yanagita drove in three of his team’s four runs, a former Giant got some payback, and Chunichi’s second-chancer, Seiya Hosokawa, did more damage.

On a different note, Japan’s “Knuckleball Princess,” Eri Yoshida, is headed back to the States this summer to play indy ball. In 2011, she was the second woman to earn a pitching win in a U.S. independent minor league. The 31-year-old Yoshida, who said she wants to be the first woman to play in Major League Baseball, is to play for the Empire Baseball League’s Tupper Lake Riverpigs in June and July.

Off the field, Hotaka Yamakawa‘s case is in the hands of prosecutors.

Police pass on Yamakawa complaint

The complaint filed by a woman in her 20s that Seibu Lions first baseman Hotaka Yamakawa sexually assaulted her in November in a hotel in Tokyo’s Minato Ward has been passed on to public prosecutors for a decision on whether to charge the three-time Pacific League home run king.

Metropolitan police, however, did not attach a recommendation seeking severe measures, and instead left the entire mess up to the prosecutors to decide.

The Lions said in a statement, “We are very sorry. We sincerely apologize for causing concern.”

Tuesday’s games

Tigers 6, Swallows 3: At Jingu Stadium, rookie Shoki Murakami (4-1) popped up one Swallows batter after another with his fast ball and cutter over the first four innings, and Sheldon Neuse gave him an early lead with a two-run third-inning single as the Tigers tattooed pitch after pitch from 43-year-old Swallows lefty Masanori Ishikawa (1-2).

The Tigers sent Ishikawa packing with no outs in the fifth on a Koji Chikamoto double and Takumu Nakano bunt single. Rookie Shota Maruyama took over and struck out three to leave the bases loaded and the game still in doubt. Tetsuto Yamada‘s two-run sixth-inning homer made it a close game, but Neuse iced it with a three-run homer, his fourth.

Fighters 4, Hawks 2: At Kitahiroshima Taxpayers’ Burden Field, Yuki Yanagita homered and hit a pair of sacrifice flies to drive in three runs, while lefty Tomohisa Ozeki (3-4) left after allowing two runs on 103 pitches over five innings.

Fighters catcher Ariel Martinez homered for the fifth time, in the second, to tie it. But Conner Menez  walked Kenta Imamiya for the second time, and scored on a third-inning throwing error by Chusei Mannami, whose fifth-inning RBI single retied it only for Yanagita to open the Hawks’ sixth with his eighth home run.

DenialStars 6, Giants 3: At Tokyo Dome, Kentaro Taira (3-1), whom DeNA plucked from Yomiuri’s roster in 2017 as free agent compensation for the Giants signing Shun Yamaguchi, threw seven shutout innings.

Keita Sano doubled and score in the first, and singled to put two on in a four-run third ahead of Taiki Sekine‘s two-run triple. Trailing 6-0, Kazuma Okamoto hit his eighth home run to lead off the ninth, and the red-hot Yuto Akihiro hit a two-run shot.

Dragons 3, Carp 1: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Yuki Okabayashi singled and scored the tying run in the sixth, and singled with two outs in the seventh to help set the table for Seiya Hosokawa’s two-run tie-breaking double off Carp starter Daichi Osera (2-3).

Dragons starter Koji Fukutani (3-2) gave up Kota Hayashi‘s first home run of the season in the second, and left the mound after Chunichi broke the tie in the seventh.

Buffaloes 8, Eagles 0: At Kobe Green Stadium, Orix rookie Shumpeita Yamashita (4-0) allowed two singles and two walks over seven innings, while the Buffaloes left a mark on local boy Masahiro Tanaka (2-3), scoring seven runs, six earned, over four-plus innings. Tanaka grew up about 30 kilometers east of the ballpark in Itami, Hyogo Prefecture.

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