NPB Wrap 10-14-21

On Thursday, Brandon Laird was named the winner of the Pacific League’s Sayonara Award for September, but while Sayonara Sushi would be a heck of a nickname, Laird has been more of a detonator this week, driving in the game’s first run for three straight days in the Lotte Marines’ top-of-the-table series against the Orix Buffaloes in Osaka.

After the dust cleared from their game, both teams had a U.S.-style magic number of nine to clinch the pennant, but only the Marines’ is that special-sauce super-duper Japanese “magic” magic number, that the media wants to talk about. One is there and the other isn’t.

Daisuke will roll 18 in last throw

Daisuke Matsuzaka swapped uniform numbers on Thursday. Since rejoining the Seibu Lions last season, Matsuzaka has worn No. 16, but with retirement looming, he returned to the No. 18 he wore with the Lions from 1999 to 2006 ahead of the final start of his career on Tuesday.

Matsuzaka, who debuted as an 18-year-old flame thrower against the Nippon Ham Fighters in April 1999, will make his final pro appearance against them at MetLife Dome.

“I think throwing 150 kph (93.2 mph) completely beyond the realm of possibility,” he said Monday. “But I’ll do my best with the pitches I can throw. I don’t how long I’ll be able to pitch, but I want to burn the image of that time into memory.”

Thursday’s games

Lions 3, Fighters 0

At Sapporo Dome, Seibu avoided replacing Nippon Ham at the bottom of the PL standings, thanks to a combined five-hit shutout from Wataru Matsumoto (8-8, 3.61), Reed Garrett and Kaima Taira, and Takeya Nakamura, who drove in all three runs with his 16th and 17th home runs. Garrett and Taira each worked an inning of relief with Taira getting his 20th save. Fighters rookie Hiromi Ito (9-9, 3.00) allowed two runs over six innings.

Hawks 6, Eagles 5

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, the Hawks scored four eighth-inning runs after having a runner on first with two outs against Tomohiro Anraku (3-3). A single and a walk loaded them for Yuki Yanagita, who singled in two with a third scoring on a Luis Okoye throwing error. Pinch-hitter Keizo Kawashima then put the visitors in front with a triple. Yuito Mori then locked down his 15th save in the ninth.

After a pair of two-out third-inning walks, Akira Nakamura doubled in Yanagita with the game’s first run off Takahiro Norimoto, but Rakuten took the lead against Yuki Matsumoto  in the fourth. Hiroaki Shiamuchi singled with one out, Daichi Suzuki doubled and both scored on Yoshiaki Watanabe’s two-out single.

Nakamura singled in the tying run in the Hawks’ fifth after a Ryoya Kurihara single and Yanagita’s third walk of the game.

The Eagles took a three-run seventh-inning lead off relievers Tomohisa Ozeki and Yuki Tsumori (2-0) as Hikaru Ota singled in Eigoro Mogi and scored on Tsuyoshi Yamasaki’s third home run.

Marines 6, Buffaloes 1

At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Lotte’s Roki Sasaki (3-2, 2.51) struck out eight over six scoreless innings to outpitch lefty Hiroya Miyagi (12-4, 2.55) in a matchup between the two marquee rookies. The Marines’ win moved to within a half-game of first place.

Miyagi, who has been inconsistent since before the Olympic break surrendered a string of well-hit balls in the Marines’ three-run first. After a first out at the warning track, Shogo Nakamura stinging single was followed by a Leonys Martin walk and a Brandon Laird double. Adeiny Hechavarria doubled in two more before another long fly and a strikeout.

Hiromi Oka, whose catch in center helped defuse a first-inning Orix rally, singled to open the second inning, advanced on a sacrifice and a fly out before scoring on a Nakamura single.

The Marines landed on the scoreboard again in the third. Koki Yamaguchi drilled one to the gap with two outs, took third when right fielder Yutaro Sugimoto failed to pick it up on the first try and scored on Yudai Fujioka’s double. After two scoreless innings, Lotte was at it again, Oka’s fifth home run, off Ryo Yoshida, making it 6-0.

For the second straight day, the Marines broke up the shutout with a ninth-inning homer, this time Takahiro Okada’s 16th.

Tigers 3, Giants 0

At Tokyo Dome, Hanshin lefty Haruto Takahashi allowed one hit and three walks while striking out 11 over seven innings, Suguru Iwazaki (3-4) worked a 1-2-3 eighth, and the Tigers broke up the scoreless tie against Yomiuri closer Thyago Vieira (0-3).

Takumu Nakano opened the ninth with his third hit, and Koji Chikamoto followed with his second infield single of the game. With two outs, Yutaro Itayama, who entered as a pinch-runner, double in the tie-breaking run, and Seiya Kinami iced it with a two-run double. Robert Suarez then worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 41st save.

The late outburst spoiled a solid seven-inning effort from Shun Yamaguchi, who struck out eight without issuing a walk, while allowing five hits.


Dragons 1, Swallows 1

At Vantelin Dome Nagoya, first-place Yakult and fifth-place Chunichi split their series one win, one loss, one tie, the tie cutting the Swallows’ magic magic number to seven. Dragons starter Akiyoshi Katsuno struck out seven while allowing a run over six innings, while Yakult’s Juri Hara struck out five over six innings. Neither allowed a walk.

Domingo Santana opened the scoring in the second with a solo homer, his 15th, and Hara held on to that lead until the bottom of the seventh. Shuhei Takahashi singled with one out and scored when Kotaro Yamasaki, who only just entered the game for Santana in right, just barely missed a tripled in the gap from reserve catcher Iori Katsura.

A one-out error put Swallows setup man Noboru Shimizu in hot water in the eighth, but Albert Suarez got the final four outs to end it in a tie after Dragons closer Raidel Martinez struck out the side in the ninth.

Carp 5, BayStars 3

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, fourth-place Hiroshima moved to within 4-1/2 games of third-place Yomiuri. Carp starter Daichi Osera (9-5, 2.96) allowed two runs, one earned, while striking out seven over six innings. DeNA’s Fernando Romero (4-3, 3.18) allowed five runs, two earned, over 5-2/3 to take the loss.

The BayStars struck first on fourth-inning singles by Shugo Maki, Toshiro Miyazaki and Tatsuhiro Shibata, only for Seiya Suzuki to tie it by leading off the Carp fourth with his 35th home run. Osera started a two-run Carp rally in the fifth with a one-out single, Koki Ugusa hit into a force out, stole second and scored on a single by Kaito Kozono. A throwing error and a Ryoma Nishikawa single made it 3-1.

The visitors made it a one-run game in the top of the sixth on an error, a Miyazaki single, and a groundout, but two more runs in the home half, one on a Kozono RBI single, put Hiroshima in charge. Maki scored his third run of the night after doubling with two out in the eighth and coming home on a Miyazaki single. Ryoji Kuribayashi recorded his 33rd save.

Friday’s starting pitchers

Fighters vs Buffaloes: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kazuaki Tateno (4-1, 2.30) vs Soichiro Yamazaki (1-2, 4.36)

Eagles vs Lions: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Ryota Takinaka (9-4, 3.47) vs Tatsuya Imai (7-7, 3.52)

Marines vs Hawks: Zozo Marine Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Daiki Iwashita (8-8, 4.35) vs Shunsuke Kasaya (2-4, 4.91)

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

Hirotoshi Takanashi (4-1, 3.57) vs Shosei Togo (9-7, 3.91)

Active roster moves 10/14/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/24

Central League


TigersP41Shoki Murakami
DragonsP41Akiyoshi Katsuno


TigersP16Yuki Nishi
TigersC39Yuki Sakaeda
DragonsP29Daisuke Yamai
DragonsOF4Atsushi Fujii
SwallowsP54Cy Sneed

Pacific League


BuffaloesP13Hiroya Miyagi


MarinesP12Ayumu Ishikawa
EaglesP52Taisei Tsurusaki
BuffaloesOF8Shunta Goto

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