NPB news: May 3, 2022

It was not a banner day for Yoshinobu Yamamoto, while Masahiro Tanaka continues to relive his 2021 poor run-support nightmare.

In the Central League, the Yomiuri Giants are testing the axiom about the correlation between a falling object’s size and its force of impact since losing shortstop Hayato Sakamoto to a knee injury.

Elsewhere, there the Australian Baseball League revealed that it is working to create a Japanese team , while Japanese players are set to take part in the ABL’s women’s showcase.

I also have some thoughts on what the Fighters would be like if they hit like their manager…

Shall we get started?

Happenings down under

As early as the 2023-2024 season, the ABL hopes to form a team based around Japanese players not under contract with NPB clubs, Kyodo News reported Tuesday.

Also, the ABL said this week’s Australia Women’s Baseball Showcase will be at Geelong, while the WSBC announced that three Japanese will be among the international invitees to this year’s event as Australia pushes to create a women’s pro league. The three Japanese are three-time World Cup MVP Ayami Sato, fellow pitcher Mizuki Bando and catcher Yukina Izumi.

Hitting like a bigboss

One concern, even my main concern over the hiring of Tsuyoshi Shinjo is that the team would begin to play, well, like Shinjo.

Well, they have. Shinjo was a fast power hitter, who rarely walked, struck out a lot, didn’t hit for average and tried to steal and was OK at it but not good enough that it was an offensive plus.

The Fighters are, so far in 2022, the team offense equivalent of Tsuyoshi Shinjo the player, they strike out more than any other team in NPB, walk the least, hit a lot of home runs and are 19-for-27 as base stealers, which is probably the one area where they are better than their skipper was.

Tuesday’s games

Hawks 7, Buffaloes 3: At Fukuoka Dome, a game we expected to be a repeat of the April 19 pitchers’ duel between Yamamoto and Shuta Ishikawa didn’t quite materialize, and Yuki Yanagita cracked a tie-breaking sixth-inning grand slam.

While Ishikawa struggled but kept it scoreless through three, Yamamoto struck out three of the first seven batters he faced but the game went south in the third, when he allowed an unearned run and left the bases loaded.

With the game tied 1-1 in the fourth, Yamamoto surrendered two runs on four hits, but two unearned Orix runs in the fifth tied it.

Lest we write off Yamamoto, who failed to throw a quality start for the first time since last May 19, this is nothing like the blip he had last May, when he surrendered 13 runs over three straight starts. After that, he embarked on a string of 18 consecutive winning decisions.

Eagles 2, Fighters 1: At Sapporo Dome, Tanaka (3-1) was in complete command until the eighth inning, when he appeared on the brink of surrendering a run.

The switch to Yuki Matsui looked an obvious one, especially after Matsui struck out the first two batters. He then made it interesting, falling behind every hitter. After a two-out walk, Kensuke Kondo crushed an RBI double, and Matsui had to strike out Arismendy Alcantara with the bases loaded to secure his seventh save.

Tanaka, who was last in run support among ERA title-qualified pitchers in both leagues in 2021, isn’t last this year. Still, the Eagles’ high-scoring offense has scored 2.54 runs per nine innings when Tanaka was in the game this season, with five of those 11 runs coming in one game.

Fighters lefty Takayuki Kato (2-2) struck out seven while allowing five hits over seven innings, but missed with a second-inning slider to Kazuki Tanaka, who just got it over Sapporo Dome’s outfield wall for his first home run and aa 2-0 lead.

Lions 4, Marines 2: At Seibu Dome, Hotaka Yamakawa‘s two-run second-inning home run brought Seibu back from a 1-0 deficit before the most entertaining of runs scored when Takeya Nakamura reached on an infield single and chugged home from second in slow motion on a two-out flare single to left.

Lions rookie Shunsuke Sato (2-3) allowed two runs, one earned, over six innings to outduel Marines lefty Kazuya Ojima (0-3) with Tatsushi Masua earning his seventh save.

Dragons 7, BayStars 3: At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA took a two-run lead against lefty Shinnosuke Ogasawara (1-1) and battled back after Shuhei Takahashi‘s fifth-inning RBI single made it 4-2 Chunichi against Fernando Romero (2-3). The Dragons, however, blew the game open with a three-run eighth against reliever Kentaro Tanaka.

Swallows 3, Tigers 0: At Koshien Stadium, Munetaka Murakami belted a two-run first-inning home run, his seventh, off Yuki Nishi (2-2), who left a 2-2 splitter up in the center of the zone and served up an opposite-field blast to the left-handed-hitting slugger.

In the second, Tigers left fielder Shun Takayama failed to make a sliding catch on leadoff hitter Kengo Ota. The ball dropped, Takayama was charged with a two-base error, and Ota scored from third on rookie shortstop Hideki Nagaoka‘s flare single.

Nishi followed that with six straight perfect innings, but Yakult’s Yasuhiro Ogawa (1-2) only faced one real jam, a two-on one-out pickle in the sixth as he cruised to a 112-pitch six-hit, no-walk shutout.

The Pro Yakyu News crowd gave a lot of credit for the shutout to the return of two-time Golden Glove catcher Yuhei Nakamura, who made his season debut.

The loss snapped Hanshin’s six-game win streak and moved Yakult to within 1-1/2 games of the first-place Giants.

Carp 12, Giants 3: At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, the Carp took a hammer to rookie Yuji Akahoshi (2-2) in a six-run first. A single, a sacrifice, a fumble by Sakamoto’s stand-in Taishi Hirooka and a strikeout put runners on the corners with two outs. Shogo Sakakura singled as six straight batters reached base.

Since their 3-2 loss in last Friday’s opener to the Tigers at Tokyo Dome, the Giants had lost 10-3 and 8-1, giving up 30 runs in 26 innings.

Wednesday’s starting pitchers

Fighters vs Eagles: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Chihiro Kaneko (-) vs Hideaki Wakui (2-1, 4.09)

Lions vs Marines: Seibu Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Wataru Matsumoto (3-1, 3.16) vs Tokito Kawamura (-)

Hawks vs Buffaloes: Fukuoka Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Nao Higashihama (2-1, 3.70) vs Hiroya Miyagi (1-2, 4.55)

BayStars vs Dragons: Yokohama Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Shinichi Onuki (0-1, 4.50) vs Toshiya Okada (-)

Tigers vs Swallows: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Takumi Akiyama (1-2, 7.24) vs Masanori Ishikawa (1-2, 3.57)

Carp vs Giants: Hiroshima Citizen’s Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Allen Kuri (1-1, 1.65) vs Shosei Togo (3-2, 3.86)

Active roster moves 5/3/2022

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/13

Central League


SwallowsC27Yuhei Nakamura
CarpP68Nik Turley
CarpIF54Yuya Nirasawa
DragonsP11Shinnosuke Ogasawara
BayStarsIF4Yukiya Itoh


CarpC62Tomoki Ishihara

Pacific League


MarinesIF5Hisanori Yasuda
HawksIF52Richard Sunagawa
FightersP62Daiki Mochizuki
LionsC22Yuto Koga
LionsOF65Daisuke Togawa
LionsOF73Wataru Takagi


MarinesOF1Kyota Fujiwara

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