NPB news: May 30, 2024

On Thursday, Gregory Polanco provided Lotte’s necessary ninth-inning caffeine for the second straight night and Yakult a bad case of déjà vu. Sachiya Yamasaki had a night to remember his high school heroics at Koshien Stadium and a Marines pitcher went under the knife.

I also wrote about how MLB is completely right to recognize the Negro Leagues as small “m” major leagues, but incorporating those great ballplayer’s stats alongside those of American and National league players represents the worst side of MLB, its major-league identity crisis.

Thursday’s games:

Fighters 6, Tigers 0: At Koshien Stadium, Sachiya Yamasaki, who was unable to relive his high school glory as a hitter at Koshien when he went hitless last year in the Japan Series with the Orix Buffaloes, struck out eight over seven innings and went 1-for-3, with a run and an RBI, and two relievers completed the four-hit shutout.

Nippon Ham took a four-run fourth-inning lead after an Ariel Martinez double and a Go Matsumoto single set the table against Yuki Nishi (2-2). Yamasaki (6-1), a former high school batting star, singled in the first run. Torai Fushimi squeezed in another and reached on the fielder’s choice ahead of Tatsuki Mizuno‘s two-run single. A Martinez single and a Matsumoto double set up a two-run fifth. New Fighters import Aneurys Zabala worked a scoreless ninth in his Japan debut.

As the slugging ace pitcher of Tokyo’s Nichidai Sanko high school, Yamasaki had a tournament record-tying13 hits while pitching his team to the semifinals of the 2010 national spring invitational at Koshien.

Giants 6, Hawks 5: At Tokyo Ugly Dome, home runs by Elier Hernandez, his first in Japan, and Kazuma Okamoto, his 10th of the season, highlighted a six-run third as Yomiuri came from behind to beat SoftBank for the second straight day.

Takuya Kai singled in a second-inning run off Yomiuri submariner and former batterymate Rei Takahashi. Tatsuru Yanagimach’s two-out bases-loaded single made it 3-0. Takahashi, who is returning to the Giants rotation, was recently demoted after a game in which he walked the leadoff hitter in the first inning on four pitches in the worst start of his career. He loaded the bases for Yanagimachi by walking Hawks starter Nao Higashihama (2-1). Yuki Yanagita‘s infield single made it 4-0.

Singles by Ryoya Kurihara, Masaki Mimori and Kai made it 5-0 with one out in the third, but Takahashi stranded two and the Giants scored six in the home half.

An error and a walk set up Yoshihiro Maru‘s RBI single. New import Elier Hernandez’s first homer in Japan made it 4-0, and Kazuma Okamoto’s two-run homer, his 10th, put the Giants in front.

Lions 3, Dragons 0: At Nagoya Dome, Seibu rookie Natsuki Takeuchi (4-0), allowed four hits over 5-2/3 innings, as the Lions won their second straight under interim manager Hisanobu Watanabe.

Seibu’s Shota Hiranuma doubled in the first but was hurt and pulled for a pinch-runner that scored off Chunichi’s Yuya Yanagi (3-3). Singles by Shuta Tonosaki, Takuya Hiruma and Junichiro Kishi made it 2-0 in the sixth and Franchy Cordero‘s sac fly made it 3-0.

Albert Abreu recorded his 11th save.

Buffaloes 8, Carp 2: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Orix overcame six scoreless innings from Allen Kuri to snap a four-game losing streak.

Hiroshima took a 1-0 second-inning lead on a squeeze by Kuri after a hit batsman, and a missed catch by Orix second baseman Ryo Ota put runners on the corners with one out against Kyosuke Saito. The Buffaloes wasted scoring chances in the first and fourth but with Kuri out of the game after six shutout innings, Orix scored five on four singles and four walks off two relievers.

Yuma Tongu, who led off the five-run seventh with a single and capped that rally with a bases-loaded walk, his third of the game, drove in two more in a three-run ninth with his second single. Ota made amends for his second-inning error by going 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs and two RBIs.

The Carp had won five straight.

Eagles 6, BayStars 5: At Yokohama Stadium, Rakuten overcame a big night from DeNA third baseman Toshiro Miyazaki.

Kazuki Murabayashi took DeNA lefty Kenta Ishida deep for a first-inning solo homer. Tyler Austin tied it with a third-inning RBI double off Masaru Fujii. Toshiro Miyazaki homered in the fifth, but Daichi Suzuki‘s two-out RBI double capped a two-run Eagles sixth to make it 3-2.

Yuya Ogo, who singled and scored in Rakuten’s sixth, singled in a run in the seventh and scored on Ryosuke Tatsumi‘s two-run double. Miyazaki, however, got those three runs back with one swing on his second homer of the game and his fifth of the year. Three Eagles relievers, however, retired the final seven BayStars batters in order with Takahiro Norimoto earning his 11th save.

Swallows 3, Marines 3, 12 innings: At Jingu “Tokyo’s sacrifice to corporate greed and political malfeasance” Stadium, a Gregory Polanco ninth-inning pinch-hit single tied the game for the second straight night as Lotte stretched its unbeaten streak to 13 games (nine wins and four ties).

Lotte’s Shogo Nakamura hit a two-run first-inning homer off Keiji Takahashi, while Yakult’s Hideki Nagaoka, continued to be on fire in the series with an RBI double that plated Tetsuto Yamada off Lotte starter Yuji Nishino. Yamada tied it in the third with his second homer, and a Yuhei Nakamura RBI double made it 3-2 in the sixth.

After six innings from Takahashi, two relievers got the one-run lead to the ninth, where Taichi Ishiyama issued a leadoff walk to Katsuya Kakunaka and surrendered a single to Neftali Soto. After an intentional walk, Polanco came to bat, Swallows skipper Shingo Takatsu opted to not have Ishiyama face him for the second straight night, and brought in Daiki Yamamoto, who gave up the game-tying single but got two outs with the bases loaded.

Marines’ pitcher Mori has elbow surgery

Lotte Marines right-hander Ryotaro Mori underwent elbow reconstruction surgery in Gunma Prefecture on Wednesday, the club announced, and is expected to be able to resume pitching in eight months. Mori was signed after being taken in the second round of the 2017 developmental draft and joined Lotte’s 70-man roster on Dec. 9, 2021. He has thrown 41 career major league innings with a 6.80 ERA in 10 games, eight as a starter, and has a 1-5 record.

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