It was a holiday Wednesday in Japan with six day games, and we have a rich snapshot of a wild day. But it wasn’t supposed to be that way.
The missus and I went to visit friends in Yokohama, and had a great time but things went south later. By the time we got home I felt sick, partly due to lack of sleep being stressed out by the next step on America’s down the slippery slope into a white supremacist autocracy.
The last thing I wanted to do was blog, and was going to make this as brief as possible. But baseball is an amazing thing. When I least expected it, checking out the goings on proved to be the tonic I need.
The day started with a downer when Orix deactivated Yoshinobu Yamamoto due to fatigue after he surrendered a career-worst seven runs on Tuesday.
But there was indeed fun. In Sapporo, we had a starting pitching milestone, while Reynato Núñez gave manager Tsuyoshi Shinjo something to be optimistic about.
Carp outfielder Kento Nakamura, yet another one of Hiroshima’s never-ending parade of rookies, had himself a game, and we’ll give us something to watch for tomorrow. It will be no good looking for Dragons shortstop Yota Kyoda tomorrow after manager Kazuyoshi Tatsunami lost his patience and banished him to the farm, during Wednesday’s game.
And if that’s not enough, we had Yuki Yanagita doing stuff that pretty much nobody does but him. As an appetizer, how about the Pacific League TV plays of the day?
OK. Let’s get started.
Eagles 5, Fighters 1: At Sapporo Dome, Hideaki Wakui (3-1) went the distance, while Chihiro Kaneko (0-1) worked four strong innings for Nippon Ham, unfortunately, he worked five and the fourth one was a doozy with Haruki Nishikawa tripling in the first run against his old team and scoring on a Hiroto Kobukata single. Hiroaki Shimauchi capped the rally with a two-run double.
150 starting wins for Wakui
Wakui’s win was his 150th as a starter. He has three as a reliever. According to Sankei Sports, that’s second in NPB among active pitchers behind Yakult’s Masanori Ishikawa’s 178. Masahiro Tanaka has 184 in the majors, 108 in NPB and 78 in MLB. No. 1 on the MLB list is not 400-game winner Masaichi Kaneda, but Keishi Suzuki, who earned 278 of his 317 wins as a starter.
Keeping the BBoss happy
Tsuyoshi Shinjo was upbeat publicly despite the Fighters falling a season-worst 11 games under .500. Renato Núñez’s had two of Nippon Ham’s four hits including a solo homer, his first in Japan, causing the skipper to say, “Rey hit one home run, but going from her on, but this is a sign of better things to come.”
Considering the Fighters’ first win of the season came after Shinjo ditched reporters after the game and simply gave a statement that said “Tomorrow!” then maybe he’s right to be optimistic.
Giants 6, Carp 3: At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Yomiuri’s Kazuma Okamoto tied it in the sixth with a three-run homer, his Japan-best 11th. Hiroyuki Nakajima broke the tie with a seventh-inning pinch-hit double, and Taishi Hirooka, benched after his fumble at shortstop sparked a Carp rout on Tuesday, walked and scored on Nakajima’s double and tripled in two in the eighth.
Rookie Taishi Ota remained perfect on the season with a Japan-best 12 saves from 12 chances.
Carp starter Allen Kuri sparked Hiroshima’s three-run fifth with a leadoff single, and Ryan McBroom cashed in the first two runs with a one-out bases-loaded single of Shosei Togo (4-2).
Rookie Carp right fielder Kento Nakamura was poised to be the game’s hero, throwing out a runner at the plate to end the Giants’ third and fourth innings, and then singling in a run in the fifth.
I recall another time an outfielder, Kazuhiro Wada, threw out two runners in one game against Hara’s Giants during an interleague game while Wada was still with Seibu, the Giants had a new third base coach the next day. So that’s something to look out for.
Hawks 2, Buffaloes 1: At Fukuoka Dome, Yuki Yanagita followed his Tuesday tie-breaking grand slam performance by driving in both Hawks runs with a first-inning double and a seventh-inning opposite-field home run off the end of the bat.
It was typical Gita, stuff, miss-hitting a pitch only for his fly to left to carry out. The pitch should have made it a 1-2-3 inning but reliever Taisuke Kondo (1-1) got tagged with the loss. Nao Higashihama (3-1) got the win for the Hawks, while Livan Moinelo got his fourth save. Lefty
Hiroya Miyagi struck out seven over five innings for Orix but got nothing for his trouble with the one run charged to him coming on a ball to the warning track off Yanagita’s bat that wasn’t caught.
BayStars 7, Dragons 1: At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA catcher Hiroki Minei hit a two-run fourth-inning home run, his first, and got some props from starting pitcher Shinichi Onuki (1-1), who credited Minei’s pitch-calling for his eight-strikeout, six-inning scoreless outing.
Shugo Maki iced the game with a three-run seventh-inning homer, his sixth.
Chunichi lefty Toshiya Okada (0-1) making his first start in eight years, loaded the bases in a scoreless first surrendered the lead in the fourth.
It’s the 5th inning. Do you know where your shortstop is?
Shortstop Yota Kyoda failed to make a good play to open the inning. Kyoda got to a grounder that deflected off Okada, but dropped it, resulting in an infield single and banishment to the farm after Minei slammed a fat 3-1 pitch for a 2-0 lead.
Manager Kazuyoshi Tatsunami pinch-hit for Kyoda in the fifth, and was asked about it after the game:
“Why did I pinch-hit for him? If he catches that ball it’s an out. His hitting or not hitting is not the question. His form has been bad all this time, and I’ve kept with him, but if he isn’t going field his position… I looked at his face after that and there was no life in it. It would be better for him to get it together on the farm. That’s why I took him out,” Tatsunami said. “He doesn’t have the face of a competitor (right now.)”
Asked why Kyoda wasn’t seen on the bench afterward, Tatsunami said, “That’s because he left straight away.”
If he left the park, it would have been in uniform, reminiscent of the time Pete LaCock got ejected from a game in Sapporo, walked straight out of Maruyama Stadium in uniform, since visitors in Japan typically only dress at the park on get-away day, and got into a taxi.
Marines 7, Lions 5: At Seibu Dome, Lotte got all nine of their hits in the first and third innings and held on for the win. Brian O’Grady’s two-out double drove in the first of four fifth-inning runs, and Naoya Masuda allowed a ninth-inning run but earned his fourth save.
Swallows 3, Tigers 0: At Koshien Stadium, Yakult got the big hits that Hanshin didn’t as the Tigers were shutout at home for the second straight game.
Forty-two-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa (2-2) had the kind of start he produced like clockwork in 2021, five scoreless innings, no walks, two strikeouts and four hits. Scott McGough, Yakult’s fifth pitcher got his eighth save as Yakult won its fifth straight.
Hanshin skipper Akihiro Yano was pleased with the effort from his starting pitcher Takumi Akiyama (1-3), who allowed two earned runs over 5-1/3 innings.
“His pitches were better than last time (an April 28 win over Chunichi),” Yano said. “This is just the start for him. I expect him to pitch even better going forward. This isn’t over yet, and I’m looking forward to what he’s going to do.”
Thursday’s starting pitchers
Fighters vs Eagles: Sapporo Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Lions vs Marines: Seibu Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Hawks vs Buffaloes: Fukuoka Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
BayStars vs Dragons: Yokohama Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Tigers vs Swallows: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Carp vs Giants: Hiroshima Citizen’s Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Active roster moves 5/4/2022
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/14