NPB news: May 25, 2022

Day 2 of interleague saw a 3-3 split with the top three teams in each league winning. The Central League now leads the competition 7-5 although the Pacific League teams outscored them again, -27-21 and now have outscored the CL 48-38.

There was a brief spirited debate about this on Twitter this morning, with my podcast partner coming out on the side that wins matter and runs don’t, which is true since baseball is a game. People play to win, not to be better than their opponent.

If you can win the most games without being better than your opponents, more power to you. But anyone who tells you that the champion is the best team by virtue of winning the most games, is defining quality in extremely narrow terms.

The problem with that is the quality needed to produce more wins is not evident in actual team win totals, which in some respect are analogous to pitching wins.

If you have two starting pitchers on the same team, one who goes 10-12 with a 2.00 ERA and another who went 15-8 with a 4.00 ERA, very few people these days would argue the second pitcher was the more likely to win 10-plus games the following season. Same thing. The guy who pitches the best often doesn’t win nor does the team that plays the best.

Shall we get to the games?

Wednesday’s games

Hawks 8, BayStars 2 : At Yokohama Stadium, the sky fell on BayStars starter Fernando Romero (3-4) in the fifth inning. With the game tied 2-2,  Takuya Kai singled, a one-out error, and a Hikaru Kawase single loaded the bases. Romero hit Yuki Yanagita to break the tie, and Yurisbel Gracial‘s two-run single chased him, but three more runs scored in the inning.

Hawks starter Nao Higashihama was struck by a batted ball near his left ankle, stayed in the game after receiving treatment, but left after allowing a third-inning run, his first in 24 innings.

Hawks leadoff man Masaki Mimori doubled to open the game, was sacrificed to third because manager Hiroshi Fujimoto truly loves the sacrifice, and scored on a Yuki Yanagita sac fly. The BayStars tied it when Tatsuhiro Shibata doubled in Hiroki Minei in the third. Yanagita walked and scored in the fourth on a Taisei Makihara double, but DeNA re-tied it on Shugo Maki‘s leadoff homer, his 11th, in the home half off reliever Yuki Matsumoto.

Giants 5, Buffaloes 3: At Tokyo Dome, Yoshihiro Maru and Adam Walker each reached base ahead of Kazuma Okamoto in the first and eighth innings, and the Giants cleanup hitter answered with five RBIs. His three-run first-inning home run, his 14th and second in two nights, brought the Giants back from two runs down, and his eighth-inning two-run single broke a 3-3 tie off Orix setup man Jesse Biddle (3-3).

Despite his inauspicious start, Jacob Waguespack hung in for five innings and left with the game tied 3-3 after singles by Sho Gibo, Fukuda and Mune tied it in the fifth.

Giants-Buffaloes highlights

Swallows 7, Fighters 6: At Jingu Stadium, Yakult survived an uncharacteristic bullpen blowup, winning for the second straight night on a sayonara home run, this time Kotaro Yamasaki‘s first homer of the season, a three-run shot off rookie closer Koki Kitayama (3-3).

Go Matsumoto opened the game by putting a good swing on a high fastball from lefty Andrew Suarez, who allowed three runs over five innings. Doubles by Kotaro Kiyomiya and Yuki James Nomura, who went 4-for-4 with a walk, set up Chusei Mannami‘s fourth-inning sac fly, before the Fighters’ starting pitcher, Kenta Uehara, had a hand in the third run.

Uehara, a 1.91-meter lefty whom the Fighters began thinking of as a possible two-way player last autumn, gave Nippon Ham 4-1/3 scoreless innings. He also doubled and scored in the fifth. It was his second hit as a pro. His previous one was a 2018 home run. For the first time in his career, he was given minor league at-bats this year and is 0-14 in the Eastern League. He’s now 2-for-7 in the big leagues.

Former Koshien high school pitching hero Kosei Yoshida pitched the Fighters out of a fifth-inning spot but left with no outs in the seventh and the bases loaded on two singles and a walk. Rookie Hideki Nagaoka singled in one off veteran lefty side-armer Naoki Miyanishi and pinch-hitter Daiki Hamada doubled in two to tie it.

After two scoreless innings from Yakult lefty Koshiro Sakamoto, Hiroki Onishi surrendered one tie-breaking run in the eighth. Aoki’s RBI single in the eighth re-tied it only for Onishi (3-1) to cough up two more in the ninth on RBI singles by Kiyomiya and Nomura. Kiyomiya, however, was thrown out at the plate on a one-out attempted double steal, helping the Swallows out of the inning.

With a two-run lead, Kitayama hit the leadoff man, and Yasutaka Shiomi doubled to bring up Yamasaki. He drove a big hanging breaking ball from the hard-throwing rookie over the wall for the game-winner. In the hero interview, Yamasaki was asked about the experience, and gave some off-the-wall answers

  • Q: How do you feel?
  • Yamasaki: “My butt hurts.”
  • Q: What do you mean?
  • Yamasaki: “It hurts because Osuna was kicking me.”
  • Q: Just Osuna?
  • Yamasaki: “No. Nagaoka was kicking me, too.”

Carp 5, Marines 2 : At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Hiroshima tied it 1-1 in the second on an error, two singles and a bases-loaded walk from Kazuya Ojima (0-5), and took the lead in the fifth when Ryan McBroom‘s second double plated Takayoshi Noma and Ryoma Nishikawa, each of whom had an RBI single in the sixth to make it 5-1.

Hiromi Oka opened the scoring in the second off Carp starter Atsushi Endo (3-3) with his fourth home run, and Brandon Laird‘s seventh, in the seventh, made it a 5-2 game. Carp closer Ryoji Kuribayashi earned his ninth save.

Eagles 6, Tigers 1: At Koshien Stadium, Rakuten wheeled out Wataru Karashima (1-0) for his first game of the season, and the 31-year-old lefty allowed a run on three hits and a walk over five innings, on Yusuke Oyama’s second-inning leadoff homer, his eighth.

The Eagles tied it on Hideto Asamura‘s RBI single, the third of four straight two-out singles allowed by Junya Nishi (2-1). Ryosuke Tatsumi opened Rakuten’s fourth with his third home run, and Asamura belted a two-run homer, his seventh in the fifth. The Eagles tacked on two more in the seventh on a two-run Ginji Akaminai pinch-hit single.             

Lions 2, Dragons 1: At Nagoya Dome, right-handed submariner Kaito Yoza (3-1) allowed a first-inning run on a Yuki Okabayashi triple and a sac fly by rookie Kosuke Ukai but left after six with a 2-1 lead. Hotaka Yamakawa tied it leading off the second with his 15th home run, and Seiji Kawagoe broke the tie in the fifth by singling in Aito Takeda off 19-year-old Dragons starter Hiroto Takahashi (2-3).

Both bullpens were solid after the sixth, with Tatsushi Masuda earning his 12th save for the Lions.

Thursday’s starting pitchers

Giants vs Buffaloes: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Tomoyuki Sugano (5-3, 3.02) vs Sachiya Yamasaki (0-4, 3.43)

Swallows vs Fighters: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yasuhiro Ogawa (2-3, 2.79) vs Hiromi Ito (5-3, 2.70)

BayStars vs Hawks: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Haruhiro Hamaguchi (1-0, 0.00) vs Kazuki Sugiyama (1-1, 7.32)

Dragons vs Lions: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Takahiro Matsuba (1-1, 2.59) vs Chihiro Sumida (1-4, 2.74)

Tigers vs Eagles: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Joe Gunkel (1-4, 3.38) vs Takayuki Kishi (4-1, 3.25)

Carp vs Marines: Hiroshima Citizen’s Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Allen Kuri (2-2, 2.26) vs Tokito Kawamura (2-0, 2.81)

Active roster moves 5/25/2022

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 6/4

Central League


SwallowsP50Andrew Suarez
GiantsOF9Seiya Matsubara
DragonsP19Hiroto Takahashi


GiantsP42C.C. Mercedes
GiantsIF52Takumi Kitamura

Pacific League


MarinesP29Yuji Nishino
EaglesP58Wataru Karashima
HawksIF23Ukyo Shuto
FightersP20Kenta Uehara


MarinesP62Ryotaro Mori
HawksIF6Kenta Imamiya

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