NPB wrap 10-19-21

In the same way, Daisuke Matsuzaka’s legend seemed to overshadow the game as a young pro and his own limitations within it, his five pitches on Tuesday in a game between the two worst teams in the Pacific League cast a shadow over four other games with playoff implications.

Prior to drawing down the curtain on a 23-year pro career after injuries left him unable to pitch, Matsuzaka said he’d known the end was coming for some time.

“The latter half of my career has been very close to the edge, so I knew that at some point this day was going to come,” he told a press conference. “I love baseball so much, and I so hoped to play more with these guys and win a pennant, but it wasn’t going to happen.”

When he left the mound after facing one batter, Matsuzaka left the field the way Ichiro Suzuki had in his final game, facing the opposing dugout to pay his respects, before making a right turn to his own, where he was met on the field.

Tuesday’s games

Fighters 6, Lions 2

At MetLife Dome, Daisuke Matsuzaka walked the only batter he faced on five 73.3-mph fastballs, fellow Yokohama High School alumni Kensuke Kondo before exiting the mound and his career. Ken Togame got the Lions out of the first, but Kona Takahashi (11-9), who entered in the second, blew a 1-1 tie in the fifth on Yuki James Nomura’s three-run homer, his sixth, as the Lions dropped below the Fighters into last place.

The Lions haven’t finished last since 1979, the year Seibu purchased the Lions from the Nishitetsu Railroad and moved them to its hilltop ballpark in the middle of nowhere.

Nippon Ham rookie Tsubasa Nabatame (1-0, 1.50) allowed a run over six innings in his season debut to earn his first career win, and Chusei Mannami homered for the second straight game with a two-run shot in the ninth.

Buffaloes 6, Eagles 3

At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Orix lefty Daiki Tajima (8-8, 3.58) allowed a pair of solo homers over five innings, and the Buffaloes overturned a 2-1 fifth-inning deficit in a four-run inning against Takahisa Hayakawa (9-7, 3.94) to reduce their magic number to clinch the pennant to four.

The Eagles’ magic number to clinch a playoff berth remained at two.

Takahiro Okada opened the scoring with his 17th home run in the second, but Rakuten moved in front on Hideto Asamura’s 16th homer in the third and Hikaru Ota’s fourth in the fifth inning.

Hayakawa retired the first two in the fifth, but wouldn’t get another. Ryoichi Adachi walked, stole second, and tied it on Kotaro Kurebayashi’s double. Catcher Kenya Wakatsuki singled on an 0-2 pitch to plate the rookie and stole second. Hayakawa walked Shuhei Fukuda and Yuma Mune chased the lefty with a two-run triple.

Yoshihisa Hirano recorded his 28th save.

Hawks 6, Marines 0

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Kodai Senga (9-3, 2.52) allowed four walks and an eighth-inning infield single over seven-plus innings, Alfredo Despaigne hit his ninth home run and drove in four, while reliever Yugo Bango stranded both runners Senga left on base in the eighth, but only with the help of an outstanding catch by Yuki Yanagita in right field.

Hawks second baseman Masaki Mimori, who had three hits and kept the Marines hitless by robbing Adeiny Hechavarria of a single to end Lotte’s seventh, sparked the Hawks’ four-run sixth with a leadoff single.

Lotte lefty Kazuya Ojima (10-4, 3.86) kept SoftBank off the board through five, walked a batter with one out, but Yanagita beat out a two-out RBI infield single and Despaigne blasted a three-run homer.

BayStars 4, Giants 4

At Yokohama Stadium, Taishi Hirooka hit a two-run second inning homer, Zelous Wheeler’s second RBI, on an eighth-inning sac fly, tied it, and Rubby De La Rosa left the bases loaded in a scoreless eighth as Yomiuri avoided extending its losing streak to 11 straight decisions and kept their magic number to clinch the CL’s final playoff spot at three.

Trailing 2-0 in the second, the BayStars scored on no-out singles by rookie Shugo Maki, Toshiro Miyazaki, and Neftali Soto. They overcame a two-run deficit in the fourth on doubles by Maki, Soto, and minor league star Seiya Hosokawa off Yomiuri lefty C. C. Mercedes.

Keita Sano singled in Masayuki Kuwara to put DeNA in front in the fifth off Seishu Hatake. Baystars lefty Shota Imanaga allowed three runs, two earned, over six innings. Lefty Yoshiki Sunada worked a 1-2-3 seventh, but Michael Peoples allowed the tying run on a Yoshihiro Maru leadoff walk, a Kazuma Okamoto single, and Wheeler’s fly ball.

De La Rosa survived back-to-back singles to open the eighth and issued a two-out walk, and Peoples bounced back with a scoreless ninth, but Giants closer Thyago Vieira retired Maki to end it in the ninth with two on.

Tigers 11, Swallows 0

At Koshien Stadium, Koyo Aoyagi (13-5, 2.51) kept Hanshin’s pennant hopes alive with a superb two-seamer to end the first inning after he allowed two one-out walks and a single. Needing to sweep Yakult in two games and the game poised to go south in a heartbeat, Domingo Santana rolled over Aoyagi’s 2-2 and grounded into a double play.

The Tigers did what they needed to do and laid a beatdown on the league leaders, and lowered their magic number to clinch the pennant to nine, while the Swallows’ remained stuck on four.

After the Swallows attack misfired, rookie Yasunobu Okugawa (9-4, 3.35) couldn’t locate at all and gave up three runs before he had a chance to work up a sweat, and allowed five runs in 3-2/3 innings.

Kairi Shimada got a lucky leadoff hit, with a bad swing on a bad pitch, and then two good swings on high floating pitches made it 3-0 as Takumu Nakano smacked a single through the infield and Koji Chikamoto drove one into the stands for his 10th home run.

Clearly rattled, Okubo allowed another runner to get third on a single, a balk, and a wild pitch but appeared to find his rhythm until play was suspended as he was taking the mound in the fourth.

Twenty-five minutes later play resumed. Okugawa struck out Mel Rojas Jr. Seiya Kinami doubled, but after his second strikeout, Okugawa walked Aoyagi and Shimada made the right-hander throw a strike which he smacked up the middle to make it 4-0. Nakano’s third hit of the game, off former closer Taichi Ishiyama made it 5-0.

Four more runs in the fifth, with Aoyagi doubling in two, put the game out of reach.

Aoyagi allowed three walks and four hits over seven innings while striking out three.

Magic number summary

  • Orix: 4 for PL pennant
  • Lotte: 7 for PL pennant
  • Rakuten: 2 for final PL playoff spot
  • SoftBank: 8 for final PL playoff spot
  • Yakult: 4 to clinch CL pennant
  • Hanshin: 9 for CL pennant
  • Yomiuri: 3 for final CL playoff spot
  • Hiroshima: 8 for final CL playoff spot

Wednesday’s starting pitchers

Lions vs Fighters: MetLife Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Wataru Matsumoto (9-8, 3.61) vs Robbie Erlin (2-2, 2.12)

Buffaloes vs Eagles: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Sachiya Yamasaki (8-10, 3.66) vs Takahiro Norimoto (10-5, 3.23)

BayStars vs Giants: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Taiga Kamichatani (1-3, 8.04) vs Shun Yamaguchi (2-8, 3.56)

Tigers vs Swallows: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Joe Gunkel (9-3, 3.16) vs Keiji Takahashi (3-1, 2.76)

Active roster moves 10/19/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/29

Central League


GiantsP64Ryusei Ohe
BayStarsP19Yasuaki Yamasaki
SwallowsP11Yasunobu Okugawa


GiantsP50Chiaki Tone
CarpP39Yasunori Kikuchi

Pacific League


LionsP18Daisuke Matsuzaka
FightersP13Tsubasa Nabatame
FightersOF5Taishi Ota
FightersOF45Fumikazu Kimura
BuffaloesOF10Adam Jones


FightersP14Takayuki Kato
BuffaloesP21Daichi Takeyasu

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