NPB news: May 28, 2023

Roki Sasaki returned and was not razor sharp, while Hanshin got another big start on Sunday Japan’s two league leaders head into the start of interleague Tuesday on a high note, while Yakult is hitting all sour notes as they went into their series finale with Hiroshima having dropped nine straight decisions.

I want to apologize for not posting anything yesterday, but I was dead tired after a busy shift at the salt mine before recording a podcast and spending the rest of my free time working out a program to create 1,000s of simulated results from normally distributed six-team leagues.

This is a tool I created to find out whether we should or shouldn’t be surprised by the Yomiuri Giants’ surprising success at 0-0 and 1-0 counts over the past 14 seasons, and now that it’s done, I’ve gotten some interesting results.

But enough of that for now…

Sunday’s games

Marines 9, Hawks 5: At Fukuoka Dome, Roki Sasaki (4-0), pitching for the first time in over three weeks and threw mostly fastballs and splitters, and as usual, the command of his splitters was an issue, although he had good movement on them, two bad ones and a fly out resulted in two fourth-inning runs on a fluke single, a triple and a sac fly.

Otherwise he was simply too good for SoftBank, striking out nine over six innings while walking one and allowing three hits.

Marines captain Shogo Nakamura hit his third homer in the first with a man on against Koya Fujii (4-3) and singled in a run in the second. Gregory Polanco’s fifth homer, with two on in the seventh, made it 6-2 and manager Masato Yoshii took that as his cue to pull Sasaki after 82 pitches.

Polanco hit a two-run eighth-inning double and SoftBank got some redemption on Ryoya Kurihara’s three run, ninth-inning homer, his sixth.

Tigers 4, Giants 1: At Koshien Stadium, Hiroto Saiki (3-3) appears to be back in his normal groove with his second straight quality start, allowing a run while striking out 10 over 7-2/3 innings. Johan Mieses homered off rookie starter Hayate Matsui in the fourth. Yuto Akihiro took Saiki deep in the seventh to tie it, but Matsui ran up his pitch count and was pulled after five.

Sheldon Neuse broke the tie with a seventh-inning RBI single and Yusuke Oyama doubled in two. Atsuki Yuasa worked the ninth for his first save since April 13, as Hanshin won its ninth straight.

Tigers-Giants highlights

Eagles 3, Fighters 2, 12 innings: At Miyagi Stadium, Chusei Mannami blasted his ninth home run in the second for a 1-0 Fighters lead off rookie Kosei Shoji, who was so good, allowing two runs over nine innings, that the only thing oddball analyst Mitsuo Tatsukawa could find to complain about was the youngster’s hat falling off so often and that the team needed to find one that fit him better. Fighters closer Seigi Tanaka surrendered a ninth inning run, and Takero Okajima won it with a pinch-hit RBI single off Bryan Rodriguez (0-3).

DenialStars 3, Dragons 1: At Nagoya Dome, DeNA scored three unearned runs in the fifth off Hiroto Takahashi (1-6), loading the bases on two one-out singles and an error. Takahashi walked Keita Sano for the first run, and Taike Sekine singled in two more.

DeNA’s Shinichi Onuki (1-1) took a one-hit shutout into the ninth before surrendering a two-out single to Sekine’s longtime minor league teammate Seiya Hosokawa. Yasuaki Yamasaki surrendered an RBI infield single before securing his 12th save.

Chunichi-DeNA highlights

Carp 3, Swallows 1: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Drew Anderson (3-1) struck out six over seven innings without issuing a walk and allowing his only home run on an opposite-field homer from Munetaka Murakami, who now has nine for the season.

Ryosuke Kikuchi led off Hiroshima’s first with a homer off Yasuhiro Ogawa (2-5) and he singled ahead of Takashi Uemoto’s two-run fifth-inning triple. Swallows hitters managed just six hits and a walk while striking out nine times in losing their 10th straight decision.

Lions 3, Buffaloes 2: At Seibu Dome, Taishi Hirooka, recently traded from the Giants, hit his first Pacific League home run, a two-run shot in the fifth off Kaima Taira (4-1), who went six innings for Seibu and got the win after the Lions came back to tie it against Hiroya Miyagi (4-1) in the home half.

Gakuto Wakabayashi, whose infield single sparked the Lions’ two-run fifth tripled in the go-ahead run in the seventh. Seibu’s David MacKinnon went 2-for-4 with a double.

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