NPB wrap 10-21-21

Outfield errors played a huge part in games involving Japan’s league leaders on Thursday. Both the Pacific and Central league races seem determined to go down to the wire after a weird night.

Giants’ Kamei to retire

Thirty-nine-year-old Yomiuri Giants outfielder Yoshiyuki Kamei, whose late-inning heroics have made him something of an icon, announced he will retire at the end of this season as he has been unable to bounce back from injuries this season.

A grinding left-handed hitter, Kamei spent four of 17 pro seasons as a regular, the rest as a platoon outfielder pinch-hitter and will really be missed.

Thursday’s games

The CL-leading Yakult Swallows returned home on Thursday with a magic number of three. They had scored no runs in two games against the second-place Hanshin but escaped with one tie.

The PL-leading Orix Buffaloes played their final home game, against the Seibu Lions, with a magic number to clinch of four after losing two of thier three previous games.

The two fourth place teams, the CL’s Hiroshima Carp and the PL’s SoftBank Hawks needed to avoid losses to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Carp 11, Swallows 7

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Yakult was on cruise control after a five-run fourth inning, but crashed and burned in a seven-run Carp seventh that included a three-run error and a back-breaking two-out two-run double that fell just out of reach of the Swallows’ drawn-in outfield.

Yakult starter Yasuhiro Ogawa failed to put away Shogo Sakakura in the second, walked him, and paid the price when rookie Kotaro Hayashi opened the scoring with a two-out home run, his 10th.

Yakult got a run back in the third, on a two-out Norichika Aoki single, a Tetsuto Yamada walk and a double from Munetaka Murakami, who’d been struggling. But even a spark from their big star didn’t help Ogawa’s fortunes.

Ryoma Nishikawa doubled to open the Carp’s fourth and scored when Ryosuke Kikuchi stayed back and drilled a 2-2 slider for a single. Ogawa got out of the inning but was pulled for pinch-hitter Shingo Kawabata after a Domingo Santana leadoff single, a hit batsman and a sacrifice.

Kawabata moved within one of Japan’s record for pinch hits in a season with his 30th, that scored Santana. Yasutaka Shiomi walked to load the bases, Yamada singled in the tying run with two out and Murakami found the gap with a drive for a three-run double that chased Osera.

Yakult lefty Kazuto Taguchi entered to get the final out in the sixth with two on, but blew the lead in the seventh. Tsubasa Aizawa lashed a leadoff single and pinch-hitter Hisayoshi Chono walked on five pitches. Rookie Koki Ugusa grounded a sharp single up the middle. Center fielder Shiomi charged the ball and missed it, allowing both runners and the batter to score and Yakult’s relief corps began melting like the Wicked Witch of the West.

A Kaito Kozono single chased Taguchi. Seiya Suzuki lined a 3-2 pitch from Albert Suarez to put runners on the corners with one out and Sakakura restored the Carp’s lead with a line single. A Kikuchi flare made it 8-6. Suarez got the second out but with runners on first and second, manager Takatsu tried his “play the outfield shallow” trick. Aizawa hit a fly just out of reach of Santana in right turning the third out into a two-run double and a 10-6 game.

Santana’s 19th home run, in the seventh, got one run back, but Tomoya Hoshi couldn’t stop the bleeding in the eighth, as Ugusa singled and scored on a one-out Nishikawa double. Robert Corniel (1-2) who struck out three over two scoreless innings of relief earned the win.

Buffaloes 3, Lions 2

At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Orix rookie Hiroya Miyagi (13-4, 2.51) allowed a run over 5-2/3 innings and the Buffaloes held on to beat Seibu and trim their magic number to clinch the PL to three. 

The Buffaloes broke up a scoreless game in the fourth against Tatsuya Imai (8-8, 3.30) on a Yutaro Sugimoto leadoff single, a Takahiro Okada walk and a two-out error, when Lions left fielder Kakeru Yamanobe got turned around on a drive by rookie Kotaro Kurebayashi, and failed to make the catch at the warning track.

Yuma Mune homered to make it 3-0 in the fifth, but Brandon Taiga Tysinger canceled that out with his third homer, to lead off the Lions’ sixth. Lefty Motoki Higa got the final out of the sixth with a man on.

After scoreless innings from Ryo Yoshida and Tyler Higgins, Yoshihisa Hirano stranded a runner by striking out three in the ninth to record his 29th save, but not before Hotaka Yamakawa led off by homering, his 24th, for the third straight game.

Tigers 6, Dragons 1

At Koshien Stadium, lefty Haruto Takahashi (3-2, 1.98) continued Hanshin’s scoreless-inning streak for eight innings, and his teammates forced Chunichi to pull Central League ERA leader Yuya Yanagi (11-5, 2.20) after he allowed four runs in two innings.

Takahashi struck out nine, retired the first four batters he faced before a Shuhei Takahashi single, but starting with an inning-ending double play, retired the next 19 to face the minimum over eight.

Back-to-back first-inning singles by Kairi Shimada and rookie Takumu Nakano put runners on the corners and a groundout put a run on the board. Seiya Kinami drew a leadoff walk, Mel Rojas Jr. hit a broken-bat flare down the line that went for a double. Kinami scored when a pop in shallow right was dropped. After a sacrifice, Shimada doubled in both runners.

Rojas’ second RBI double in the seventh made it 5-0, and Takahashi singled in the Tigers’ final run before the Dragons broke up the shutout in the ninth.

Hawks 2, Fighters 2

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, SoftBank remained alive in the playoff hunt, just barely, because the PL’s tie-break system is different from the CL’s and depends on head-to-head records between tied teams. The Hawks need to win their remaining three including two over the third-place Eagles, who would have to lose their other two games. The Hawks two wins over Rakuten would tie them, and leave SoftBank’s record against Rakuten at 11-10-4 .

Nick Martinez threw eight shutout innings and left the mound with a 2-0 lead but since no good deed goes unpunished, got no decision after closer Yuito Mori allowed a single, a walk, and a two-out two-run double off the wall by Kenshi Sugiya.

Toshihiro Sugiura then retired SoftBank 1-2-3 in the ninth.

The Hawks’ Yuya Hasegawa, who has announced this season will be his last, grounded out in what will be his final home at-bat, slammed his batting gloves upon returning to the bench and while his tears and those of many fans in the park flowed, teammate Takuya Kai broke the scoreless seventh-inning tie with a two-run home run, his 12th, off rookie Hiromi Ito.

Friday’s starting pitchers

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

Hirotoshi Takanashi (4-1, 3.72) vs Hiroki Tokoda (5-4, 3.23)

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

Fernando Romero (4-3, 3.18) vs Akiyoshi Katsuno (3-5, 3.59)

Active roster moves 10/21/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/31

Central League


CarpP36Atsuya Horie


BayStarsC36Shuto Takajo
BayStarsIF0Daisuke Nakai

Pacific League


HawksOF24Yuya Hasegawa
BuffaloesIF42Rangel Ravelo


LionsP33Reed Garrett
BuffaloesOF1Steven Moya

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