NPB news: Sept. 9, 2022

It was Central League Friday, and Munetaka Murakami kicked it off with a home run, his 53rd and afterward paid tribute to the late Hall of Famer Katsuya Nomura, who encouraged him in his first spring training, and who for one year held the Japan single-season record with 52.

This weekend’s big CL series is between the second-place DeNA BayStars and the third-place Hanshin Tigers. The Yomiuri Giants and Hiroshima Carp went into the weekend breathing down the Tigers’ backs.

The Giants hosted the Dragons, with Shosei Togo going against Chunichi ace Yudai Ono, with the Carp visiting the Swallows, where their ace, Daichi Osera went against Yakult rookie Reiji Kozawa.

Murakami pays his respects

Munetaka Murakami’s 53rd home run on Friday moved him past the career season highs of Hall of Famers Katsuya Nomura and Hiromitsu Ochiai, and afterward the 22-year-old remembered Nomura. The former Swallows skipper spoke to Murakami as an 18-year-old at Yakult’s minor league spring training camp.

“We didn’t speak long but we did have a chance to talk. He told me, ‘At the very least, break my record,’” Murakami said.

“At the time, I didn’t think this day would come. Now that it has happened, I would like to report to him that I have surpassed his record.”

BayStars 9, Tigers 2: At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA came back from a 2-0 first-inning deficit after Taiga Kamichatani (3-6) walked the first two Tigers hitters and both scored. Shintaro Fujinami (2-4) retired 11 of the first 12 batters he faced, before things began to go awry.

Kamichatani got out of the first on a double play, Teruaki Sato missed a leadoff homer in the second by inches, the Tigers stranded two in the third, and wouldn’t get another scoring opportunity until the ninth.

DeNA’s Shugo Maki rocketed his 24th home run out off a hanging forkball with two outs in the fourth, and the BayStars took the lead in the fifth on two singles, a sacrifice and back-to-back wild pitches. After a walk and two singles loaded the bases, Fujinami popped up Keita Sano.

Shortstop Takumu Nakano veered away to let Mel Rojas Jr. take it, and Rojas over ran it, gifting Sano a two-run single. Maki doubled off the new pitcher in the seven-run inning.

 “I’m the one who put him (Rojas) out there, so it’s my fault”

—Tigers manager Akihiro Yano

Yano’s comments echoed those of Orix manager Satoshi Takahashi, who called Shuhei Fukuda’s costly base-running error on Sunday, the coaching staff’s fault, a day before Fukuda was banished to the farm team. Guess we’ll have to see what management responsibility means for Rojas tomorrow.

Swallows 7, Carp 6: At Jingu Stadium, Murakami’s home run off Osera (8-8) opened the scoring in the second. Hiroshima tied it in the third off Kozawa on a Kaito Kozono double and an Osera single, and added three runs in the fourth when Takashi Uemoto, who made a couple of sparkling plays at second, capped the rally with an RBI single.

Jose Osuna doubled in Tetsuto Yamada from first to make it a 4-2 game in the bottom of the fourth, Kozawa put up a zero in the Carp’s fifth, and the Swallows tied it in the home half when Yasutaka Shiomi hit his 14th home run with rookie Hideki Nagaoka on board.

Yakult rookie Takuma Kubo (1-0) barely pitched out of a jam in the sixth and earned his first career win after Nagaoka’s two-run sixth-inning homer. Norichika Aoki chased Osera with a two-out pinch-hit single and scored on a Shiomi double.

It was wild-pitch campaign Friday, and two scored on a single pitch from reliever Kazuto Taguchi in the seventh. Scott McGough earned his Japan-leading 35th save.

Dragons 3, Giants 1, 10 innings: At Tokyo Dome, it was closer blowups rather than run-scoring wild pitches. Ono worked seven shutout innings. Togo also went seven and allowed a fifth-inning run on a Yohei Oshima double and an Ariel Martinez single.

Dragons setup man Yariel Rodriguez stranded two runners in the eighth, while Ian Krol and Rubby De La Rosa kept it 1-0 through nine innings, allowing Yoshihiro Maru to tie it with a leadoff homer, his 25th, off closer Raidel Martinez (4-3) in the bottom of the ninth.

Yuki Okabayashi walked on five pitches to open the 10th against rookie closer Taisei Ota (1-3), stole second. The Giants failed to get the lead runner on a sacrifice, Toshiki Abe squeezed in the go-ahead run and Dayan Viciedo singled in an insurance run. Tatsuya Shimizu worked a 1-2-3 10th to earn his first career save.

Giants-BayStars highlights

Saturday’s starting pitchers

Eagles vs Marines: Miyagi Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Masahiro Tanaka (8-9, 3.06) vs Fumiya Motomae (3-2, 4.89)

Lions vs Fighters: Seibu Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Wataru Matsumoto (6-5, 3.55) vs Hiromi Ito (10-9, 3.14)

Buffaloes vs Hawks: Osaka Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yoshinobu Yamamoto (12-5, 1.82) vs Yugo Bando (2-1, 3.75)

Giants vs Dragons: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

C.C. Mercedes (5-5, 3.24) vs Shinnosuke Ogasawara (7-8, 3.04)

Swallows vs Carp: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Cy Sneed (8-5, 3.98) vs Yusuke Nomura (2-3, 4.03)

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

Kenta Ishida (4-4, 3.84) vs Daichi Moriki (0-1, 4.50)

Active roster moves 9/9/2022

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/19

Central League


SwallowsP43Daiki Yamamoto
BayStarsP27Taiga Kamichatani


GiantsP97Haruto Inoue
DragonsP67Kotaro Ueda

Pacific League


BuffaloesP15Ren Mukunoki
EaglesP57Ryota Takinaka
EaglesC44Takaya Tanaka

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