Sunday’s games brought us some weirdness and ended with a night game between the skilled professionals of the Central League’s top two teams in which 25 runners were left on base. It was the baseball version of an Olympic gold medal wrestling match being held in a mud pit.
A request for change
Lotte Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi said he would file an opinion paper questioning the efficacy of Japan’s replay review “Request System”.
Iguchi reasoned that officials failed to notice upon review that Fighters first baseman Yuto Takahama’s foot was not quite near the bag when he took the throw that ended the fifth inning.
As I’ve said before, the umpires only get to use whatever monitors the owners provide for them at the ballpark, unlike in the States, where there is a well-equipped replay room where umpires make the call remotely.
Iguchi said afterward he could hear the fans, who got to see the replays on the screen at Sapporo Dome, laughing after the decision.
One strikeout for Ma-kun
Masahiro Tanaka struck out one batter over seven innings on Saturday, the sixth career regular or postseason game of his career in which he’s struck out fewer than two either as a starter or reliever.
His only no-strikeout games in the States both came in Boston on Sept. 15, 2016, and June 29, 2019, while his only game without a strikeout came when he saved the clinching game of the 2013 Climax Series in Sendai to send the Eagles to their first Japan Series. His two previous one-strikeout games also came in Sendai.
Elsewhere on Sunday, there was news about the managers who contested the last two Japan Series, Kimiyasu Kudo and Tatsunori Hara.
Fighters 4, Marines 4
At Sapporo Dome, former Fighter Hiromi Oka tied the game in the ninth off Nippon Ham closer Toshihiro Sugiura to gain a half-game on first-place Orix.
Koki Yamaguchi’s eighth home run put Lotte up 1-0 in the second against Takayuki Kato, before Manabu Mima surrendered single runs in the fifth and sixth when Kensuke Kondo’s leadoff double set up the Fighters’ go-ahead run. Bryan Rodriguez entered in the seventh for Nippon Ham and gave up a run on a Brandon Laird leadoff single and a two-out Yudai Fujioka double.
Nippon Ham scored two in the home half after Takuya Nakashima and Yushi Shimizu opened with singles against Yuki Kuniyoshi and scored on singles by Haruki Nishikawa and Yuto Takahama.
Katsuya Kakunaka started the Marines’ late counterattack with a one-out pinch-hit single before Oka tied it with his fourth home run of the year.
Lions 3, Eagles 2
At MetLife Dome, Masahiro Tanaka allowed two runs over seven innings on seven hits, a walk, and a hit batsman, while striking out one. Lions starter Yutaro Watanabe allowed two runs on two hits and six walks over 2-1/3 innings, with one run scoring on a throwing error and the other on a wild pitch.
Tomoya Mori, who made a tremendous defensive play to help save a run in the Eagles’ eighth, singled and scored in the fourth. Seiji Kawagoe tied it 2-2 off Tanaka in the seventh with an RBI single.
Kaima Taira (3-4), Seibu’s seventh pitcher, worked a scoreless ninth to get the win after singles by Takumi Kurihara, Kawagoe and rookie Junichiro Kishi ended it off Naoto Nishiguchi (5-2).
The Eagles’ loss trimmed their lead over the fourth-place Hawks to 5-1/2 games.
Hawks 3, Buffaloes 1
At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Kodai Senga (8-3, 2.76) gave up a run in the first, Alfredo Despaigne’s seventh home run, off Daichi Takeyasu (3-1, 3.97) made it 2-1 in the home half and Richard Sunagawa’s seventh homer, off Takeyasu in the fourth, completed the scoring.
Senga struck out 11 over eight innings while allowing five hits, two walks and hitting one. Yuito Mori worked the ninth for his 14th save.
The loss added insult to injury for Orix, whose outstanding rookie shortstop Kotaro Kurebayashi was hit by a pitch near the left wrist. The Buffaloes, chasing the franchise’s first pennant since Ichiro Suzuki won the last of his three straight PL MVP awards in 1996, are currently without their biggest run producer after Masataka Yoshida was hit by a pitch.
Swallows 6, Tigers 4
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, the CL’s two best teams played a baseball version of time bomb, seeing how many batters they could get on base before they blew up in their faces.
It was a game that deserved a shapeless quagmire of a field.
Two first-inning walks and a hit batsman loaded the bases for a run to score on a Jose Osuna single off Joe Gunkel. The right-hander settled down after that, only allowing Norichika Aoki’s leadoff homer in the third before being pulled for a pinch-hitter in Hanshin’s four-run fourth.
Yakult’s left-handed 41-year-old pitching machine Masanori Ishikawa was not functioning well and failed to go at least five innings for just the second time this season. He walked two and allowed eight hits while facing just 18 batters.
With one out in the fourth, Ryutaro Umeno singled and pinch-hitter Yasuhiro Yamamoto doubled before Ishikawa walked Koji Chikamoto before getting run after a two-run single to Takumu Nakano. A two-run error by third baseman Munetaka Murakami allowed both runners inherited by reliever Hiroki Onishi to score. Onishi, in keeping with the game’s theme, loaded the bases before ending the inning.
The Tigers left two on in the fifth against Albert Suarez, and Yakult tied it in the home half. After Hanshin’s Kosuke Baba worked a scoreless fourth against the bottom of the order, Yasutaka Shiomi chased him to open the fifth with his 13th home run. Lefty Masaki Oyokawa pitched around the one right-handed batter he faced, Tetsuto Yamada, while hitting the two lefties, Aoki and Murakami to load the bases. Osuna then tied it with a sac fly off new pitcher Ippei Ogawa, who cleaned up Oyokawa’s mess by stranding two.
Yakult’s former closer, Taichi Ishiyama surrendered a no-out double and single in the sixth but redeemed himself by pouncing on a roller in front of the mound, and executing the glove flip Japanese pitchers practice daily to nail the runner at the plate. Excitable lefty Kazuto Taguchi (5-8) struck out two of the three batters he faced to end the threat with two on before Yakult rallied for two in the bottom of the inning.
With one out and a runner on second, Shiomi broke the tie with a double off Raul Alcantara (3-3) and scored on a Yamada single. Alcantara, however, kept Hanshin in it by defusing the rally before the unexploded ordinance on base exploded. The Tigers played that game on defense for two more innings, running Yakult’s left-on-base total to 13, to before the visitors put two on with two outs in the ninth against Scott McGough. The right-hander, however, got Jefry Marte looking to end it and record his 28th save.
BayStars 2, Dragons 1
At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA’s Shota Imanaga allowed a run over seven innings in a southpaw standoff with Shinnosuke Ogasawara, who gave up a run over six. The BayStars’ closer du jour, Kazuki Mishima (3-5) stranded two in the top of the ninth before Raidel Martinez (1-4) paid for being able to put batters away in the home half. He walked the leadoff batter after getting ahead 0-2, allowed a one-out single on an 0-2 pitch, and served up Tatsuhiro Shibata’s game-winning sac fly on a 3-2 pitch.
Carp 3, Giants 1
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Masato Morishita (7-7, 2.90) was rewarded with the lead after pitching out of a couple of early jams. Shogo Sakakura, who reached base four times, tripled to open Hiroshima’s fourth and scored on a Kota Hayashi sac fly off Yuki Takahashi (11-8, 3.17). Two singles in the fifth and a Ryoma Nishikawa triple made it 3-0 Hiroshima. Yoshihiro Maru hit second late consolation homer in his old ballpark in two days with his 20th home run in the eighth, off Sotaro Shimauchi. Morishita struck out six, walked one and scattered seven hits. Rookie Ryoji Kuribayashi recorded his 31st save for the Carp, whose fifth straight moved them to within six games of the third-place Giants, who lost their sixth straight.
Active roster moves 10/10/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/20