NPB news: Nov. 1, 2023

Japan Series Game 4 was played at Koshien Stadium Wednesday, with Orix taking a 2-1 series lead after holding off Hanshin 5-4 on Tuesday. Nov. 1 is also the first day teams are allowed to file posting documents to NPB ahead of December’s posting system transfer window, when we learned that one player who told his team he wants to move is likely staying put.

Wednesday’s Game 4

Tigers 4, Buffaloes 3: At Koshien Stadium, Yusuke Oyama tied the series 2-2 with a walk-off single against Orix reliever Jacob Waguespack.

Having twice struck out with runners in scoring position, in an 0-for-4 night with an RBI from a groundout, Oyama batted in the ninth with the bases loaded and grounded a high 3-2 pitch between third and short to end it.

Waguespack issued a one-out ninth-inning walk, bounced two wild pitches, each followed by an intentional walk to bring the CL walks and on-base percentage leader to the plate in an ideal spot to win it after Orix had come from behind to tie it in the eighth.

“It was a tough situation because I got a strikeout and walked the next guy. I should have got ahead of him and put him away, but I can’t walk guys. The last guy, I felt fine. I threw him two sliders and tried to attack him with two-seamers, and he got a hit,” Waguespack said.

“It sucks but I’m a professional. I’ll be mad tonight but shake it off and hopefully try to help us and redeem myself tomorrow, because I know I can do it. I don’t care if the bases are loaded and I’m down 3-0 in the count. I still have confidence in myself so hopefully I can get another chance.”

Tigers starter Hiroto Saiki retired the Buffaloes in order in the first, and rookie Shota Morishita doubled in Koji Chikamoto with one out in the home half off Sachiya Yamasaki after one of Hanshin’s hottest hitters, Takumu Nakano for the first out.

A day after he tied Game 3 with a solo homer, Yuma Tongu tied it in the second. He came a few feet short of a home run with a leadoff triple to center – despite a broken toe that has not completely healed – and scored on a Kotaro Kurebayashi flare single. The triple which could have been ruled a double and an error on Chikamoto, was Tongu’s first as a pro.

The Tigers retook the lead in the second, Seiya Kinami beat out a two-out bouncer for an infield single, Saiki walked and Koji Chikamoto smashed a high straight pitch past short, with Kinami scoring when catcher Tomoya Mori swiped at and missed the bounced throw from left. Saiki then pitched out of a two-on no-out jam in the third with a double play groundball and a strikeout of Tongu, whom he retired to end the fifth with Yuma Mune on third.

The Tigers made it 3-1 in the fifth with Chikamoto singling and scoring again. A Yamasaki throwing error on Takumu Nakano’s second sacrifice was enough for Orix skipper Satoshi Nakajima. Evergreen 40-year-old Tomoki Higa, NPB’s oldest right-hander failed to get a double play when Gonzalez bounced the relay, and a Yusuke Oyama groundout brought home the run on another potential double play ball.

The Buffaloes, who squandered three scoring opportunities through six innings, got another in the seventh in their second inning against rookie lefty Takuma Kirishiki on an error by Teruaki Sato at third and a Leandro Cedeno no-out pinch-hit single. This time, however, Orix cashed in.

A sacrifice and a Mune single up the middle tied it. Kirishiki broke Tomoya Mori’s bat on a comebacker, but the barrel struck him, he fumbled the ball, and was yanked off the field, as was Sato, who had struck out three times. Right-hander Daichi Ishii retired Tongu and then struck out Gonzalez to keep the go-ahead run at second.

The Tigers were in the same boat in the home half after a leadoff single by substitute Kento Itohara and a dropped flyball in center, but rookie right-hander Atsuya Kogita got out of it on a failed sacrifice, a pop fly and a strikeout.

Orix threatened again in the eighth against Ishii, but the Tigers got an assist on a failed bunt, a big second out at the plate on a grounder to Kento Itohara at third before Atsuki Yuasa, in his first game since June 15, ended it on a popup.

Tigers closer Suguru Iwazaki stranded a runner on second in the top of the ninth to earn the win.

Please Mr. Postman

The Nippon Ham Fighters submitted the paperwork Wednesday to enter their ace pitcher, Naoyuki Uwasawa in December’s posting market place. In his nine-year-stint with the FIghters, 29-year-old has been a reliable starter overshadowed by Shohei Ohtani and Kohei Arihara. The biggest hit to his career was having a kneecap fractured by a line drive from Neftali Soto in 2019.

Lions GM: “Don’t hold your breath Takahashi”

Seibu Lions general manager Hisanobu Watanabe said it “would be difficult” for the team to post 26-year-old ace pitcher Kona Takahashi. Typically players tell reporters after their contract negotiations that they’ve informed the team they want to go, and unless the team is the SoftBank Hawks, the clubs generally respond positively.

“We’ve already told him this,” Watanabe said. “We’re counting on having him next year, so it would be difficult this year.”

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