NPB news: May 24, 2023

Wednesday in Japan saw the Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers score an improbable win, while Hisanori Yasuda showed what he’s capable of with a stick in his hand, a sayonara home run, a pair of WBC teammates doing it all for Yomiuri and a 42-year-old lefty getting it done.

Former Giant busted

We also had more police blotter news as Takefumi Miyamoto, whose story probably wouldn’t have been published had he not once played for the Yomiuri Giants, was arrested for the sixth time in his second career. Tthis time for stealing cash and valuables worth an estimated 70 million yen (roughly $400,000.

Given that this may have been more than he made in the final six years of a seven-year career spent entirely in Japan’s Eastern League, a colleague at my day job suggested that he is probably better at evaluating and analyzing potential heists than he was at playing baseball. But as in baseball, it’s not what you are capable of, it’s how well you execute.

Wednesday’s games

Tigers 6, Swallows 5: At Jingu Stadium, Hanshin came back from a run down after being down to their last strike in the ninth with none on against Yakult, which has now 0-6 with one tie in its last seven games.

Sheldon Neuse lined a 1-2 fastball from closer Kazuto Taguchi (0-2) that fooled substitute right fielder Hidetaka Namiki, who came in too far to field it on a hop and not far enough to catch it. The ball bounced to the wall, and Neuse was credited with his first triple in Japan. Taguchi walked Yusuke Oyama, and Hanshin took the lead on Teruaki Sato’s two-run double.

Rookie pitcher Kojiro Yoshimura’s sacrifice fly put Yakult up 1-0 before he surrendered back-to-back RBI singles in Hanshin’s two-run fourth. A Takahiro Shiomi singled tied it 2-2 in the bottom of the inning. Hanshin took a 4-2 lead in the sixth set up by pitcher Yuki Nishi’s two-out double. With runners on second and third, two runs scored on an infield single and a throwing error.

Shiomi doubled with two on in the bottom of the sixth to plate Tetsuto Yamada. Munetaka Murakami, robbed of a second-inning single, singled for the second straight inning to tie it in the seventh. Shiomi beat the throw to first to stay out of an inning-ending double play as the go-ahead run scored and then made a run-saving catch in center field to preserve the lead in the eighth inning.

Hawks 2, Fighters 1: At Kitahiroshima Taxpayers’ Burden Field, Alen Hanson hit his first homer in Japan off Tsuyoshi Wada (4-1) in the first inning before Ryoya Kurihara hit his fifth of the season off Naoyuki Uwasawa (4-3) in the second for a 2-1 Hawks lead. The 42-year-old Wada allowed three hits and one walk over five innings, and the Hawks bullpen faced the minimum over the final four innings.

Giants 1, DenialStars 0: At Tokyo Dome, two of the Giants’ WBC stars led Yomiuri past DeNA. Kazuma Okamoto made it 1-0 in the second by homering for the third straight game, and Shosei Togo (5-1) struck out six in a five-hit shutout. Kenta Ishida (2-2) worked seven innings for the visitors, allowing six hits and a walk while striking out seven.

Carp 6, Dragons 2: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Ryoma Nishikawa and Shogo Sakakura cracked two-run homers in a five-run Carp first inning against CL newcomer Hideaki Wakui (1-6),  Allen Kuri (3-2) allowed a run over seven innings to earn his first win at home.

Dragons second-chancer Seiya Hosokawa had both of Chunichi’s extra-base hits. He doubled and scored in the fourth, while his eighth-inning double set up the visitors’ other run.

Buffaloes 6, Eagles 5: At Kobe Green Stadium, Kotaro Kurebayashi hit a two-run sayonara homer off Rakuten closer Yuki Matsui (1-1) after Keita Nakagawa’s two-run eighth-inning home run brought Orix to within a run. Jacob Waguespack (2-2) pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the Buffaloes to earn the win.

Hiroaki Shimauchi put the Eagles up in the fourth with a two-run homer, the 100th of his career, and Orix tied it in the home half on doubles by Keita Nakagawa and Tomoya Mori, and a squeeze by catcher Kenya Wakatsuki. Orix’s Daiki Tajima left after six and the bullpen coughed up three runs in the seventh.

Marines 11, Lions 1: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Hisanori Yasuda chased Seibu’s Tatsuya Imai (3-2) in the third inning, when his second three-run homer of the game made it 8-0 Lotte, which also got home runs from Tatsuhiro Tamura, Raito Ikeda and Gregory Polanco. Kazuya Ojima (3-2) worked six innings, and C.C. Mercedes worked the final three innings for his first save in six Japan seasons.

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