NPB wrap 10-23-21

On Friday, we had some news about Seiya Suzuki. I’ve written about his physical playing skills and attributes on his profile page, and on Saturday I wrote about why I expect Suzuki will succeed where some other Japanese stars have struggled in MLB.

Otherwise today, we’ve got news about three managers and some teams whose Halloween tricks and treats came early in Saturday’s games.

Hara’s back

It looks like Tatsunori Hara’s signal from the bridge of the Giants’ sinking ship that he was willing to stay in command if Yomiuri wanted him to has worked. The move, which looked for all intents and purposes like he was daring the team to fire him, encouraged the club to prepare a multi-year extension.

I know that won’t cut any ice with his supporters, but in all honesty, it looks like the Giants are now in for at least another year of the crazy show.

Fujimoto to manage the Hawks

The SoftBank Hawks have named a successor to Kimiyasu Kudo and opted for minor league manager Hiroshi Fujimoto, which is generally a positive sign for any team because he is more intimately familiar with the talent that can be used to plug holes than anyone else in the organization.

Besides that, I have to add that Fujimoto was once one of my favorite players, mostly because as a stocky, disciplined second baseman with some power for the Hawks, he was pretty atypical for a Japanese middle infielder.

Shinjo to manage the Fighters?

This one comes with about the same level of surprise as the Rakuten Eagles naming a guy who cultivated a persona of being a doofus, Kazuhisa Ishii, general manager. Ishii’s act, it seems is something he’s long used to cover his discomfort about speaking in front of people, but Shinjo? I’m not certain Shinjo’s being a space cadet is an act.

Anyway, with Hideki Kuriyama stepping down, Shinjo, and not former Japan manager Atsunori Inaba, was reported as being a leading candidate to replace him. This has got to be a trick or, as my colleague Jason Coskrey suggested, a plot to get Inaba to take the job.

Saturday’s games

Marines 4, Fighters 3

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Lotte rookie rocket Roki Sasaki struck out 10 batters in a game for the first time and finished with 11 over six innings while allowing two runs in the final frame. The bullpen blew his 3-2 lead but won it in the ninth on a Takashi Ogino sayonara single off Fighters closer Toshihiro Sugiura (2-3).

Lotte’s win lowered its magic number to clinch to four with five games to play. Orix, with one game to play, has a magic number of three to clinch.

The Marines secured a scoreboard beachhead in third after a Hiromi Oka leadoff single, a one-out Takuma Kato walk. Shogo Nakamura scored both with a double and scored on a Leonys Martin double off lefty Ryusei Kawano, who as I mentioned before, Nippon Ham took as their alternate first-round pick after they lost the Roki Sasaki lottery to the Marines.

Sasaki came out firing, his fastball averaging just a tick under 155 kph, as he struck out four of the first six batters he faced. His velocity began to dip, but he struck out four straight from the final batter of the third.

The Fighters punched back for two runs in the sixth on one-out singles by Kenshi Sugiya and Haruki Nishikawa, an RBI groundout, and a two-out single by Yuto Takahama before Sasaki notched his 11th strikeout and exited stage right.

Lotte reliever Yuki Kuniyoshi walked two with one out in a scoreless seventh, but trouble beckoned in the eighth against Chihaya Sasaki. The right-hander surrendered a pair of drives into the right-field corner. Oka, who started the game in center, slid to catch Nishikawa’s leadoff shot near the pole, but failed to come up with a Wang Po-jung pinch-hit double as he slid once more on the warning track.

Sasaki appeared out of the inning on a pop fly to first, but Brandon Laird dropped in the tricky wind for an error as the tying run scored. PL saves leader Naoya Masuda (3-6) worked a 1-2-3 ninth and the Marines loaded the bases in the home half on a walk, a sacrifice-fielder’s choice and a sacrifice-error before Ogino euthanized the inning with a sharply hit ground single.

Eagles 8, Hawks 1

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Rakuten handed SoftBank a trick, eliminating the Hawks from the postseason for the first time since 2013 while locking up the PL’s final playoff spot.

A pair of one-out walks from Nao Higashihama (4-4, 3.70) a Yoshiaki Watanabe single and a two-out Richard Sunagawa error put the Eagles on the board in the second, before Tsuyoshi Yamasaki’s single made it 3-0.

Back-to-back one-out doubles by Hiroaki Shimauchi and Daichi Suzuki made it 4-0 in the third and chased Higashihama. Hideto Asamura had an RBI double for the Eagles in the fourth, and a three-run homer in the sixth, his 17th. Rakuten starter Ryota Takinaka (10-5, 3.21) allowed a run, on Alfredo Despaigne’s 10th homer, over six innings.

Giants 11, Swallows 1

At Tokyo Dome, Yakult got a head start to Halloween by giving away treats to everyone wearing the holiday’s orange and black colors, while Tomoyuki Sugano (6-7, 3.19) allowed a run on two hits and a walk over five innings as the Giants secured the CL’s final playoff spot and left the Carp fishing in fourth place.

Yoshihiro Maru homered in the first after singles by Seiya Matsubara and Hayato Sakamoto, who hung tough in a gritty at-bat to put two on with no outs. Masanori Ishikawa (4-5, 3.04) worked carefully as usual but failed to punch out Sakamoto on a borderline pitch, and then hung a dangerous pitch that Maru put an easy swing on and drove it over the wall.

The lefty issued a walk to Kazuma Okamoto but left with the bases loaded after Sho Nakata doubled with one out and the lefty hit Takumi Oshiro. Hiroki Onishi surrendered an RBI single to former teammate Taishi Hirooka but retired Sugano and Matsubara to strand three.

Onishi worked around a Maru double in the second but was pulled for a pinch-hitter. Former closer Taichi Ishiyama took over from the third and struck out three over two scoreless innings.

Yakult got a run in the fourth on one-out doubles by Munetaka Murakami and Domingo Santana, but Yakult’s bullpen restored the Giants’ fans’ festive atmosphere as Ryuta Konna retired just one of the six batters he faced in the Giants’ sixth.

Maru led off with his second double, before three one-out walks and a hit batsman made it 6-1. Former Giants lefty Kazuto Taguchi stranded all three runners but surrendered Maru’s second homer, his 23rd of the season, with one out in the sixth.

Giants-Swallows highlights

BayStars 5, Dragons 0

At Yokohama Stadium, Shugo Maki singled twice, doubled twice, scored two and drove in two as DeNA pulled even with Chunichi in the standings after eight innings from Katsuki Azuma (1-2, 2.29). Taishi Kusumoto also had a pair of RBI doubles for the BayStars, who started the day in last place, one game back of the Dragons.

Both teams loaded the bases but came up empty early on before Maki broke the ice in the third when his second single of the game plated Masayuki Kuwahara. Keita Sano, who walked in the third, was hit by a pitch with one out in the fifth before doubles from Maki and Kusumoto made it 3-0. Doubles by Sano, Maki and Kusumoto tacked on two more in the seventh.

Dragons right-hander Tatsuya Shimizu (0-1, 2.25) allowed a run over four innings in his season debut.

Tigers 1, Carp 1

At Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima’s Masato Morishita worked eight innings and walked one batter, on what looked like a bad two-out 3-2 call by ump Katsumi Manabe, over eight innings, and the runner came around to score the tying run after singles by Teruaki Sato and Seishiro Sakamoto.

Morishita was good, but he wasn’t quite that good. Even though he struck out eight, shortstop Kaito Kaizono robbed the Tigers of a pair of singles, and rookie third baseman Kotaro Hayashi stole another.

Hanshin’s Takumi Akiyama allowed a run over five innings, and the Tigers bullpen was rock solid to pull off the tie that kept Yakult from lowering its magic number to two.

Friday’s game

BayStars 4, Dragons 2

At Yokohama Stadium, the BayStars moved within one game of the CL’s fifth-place Dragons.

DeNA scored four first-inning runs off Akiyoshi Katsuno (3-6, 3.74), who hung in for six innings, while allowing seven hits and striking out six without a walk, but Chunichi’s offense stalled under the drag of four groundball double plays served up by Fernando Romero (5-3, 3.01), who allowed a run over seven innings on nine hits and a hit batsman.

Yasuaki Yamasaki caused the greatest disturbance in the BayStars’ force in the eighth, when he surrendered a leadoff single and then loaded the bases on two one-out walks. Hiromu Ise stranded all three inherited runners. Kazuki Mishima allowed a run in the ninth but stranded the potential tying runs to secure his 23rd save.

Sunday’s starting pitchers

Eagles vs Hawks: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Takayuki Kishi (9-9, 3.27) vs Shunsuke Kasaya (2-4, 4.58)

Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Ayumu Ishikawa (5-3, 3.75) vs Kazuaki Tateno (4-2, 2.57)

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

Juri Hara (2-1, 2.16) vs Shosei Togo (9-7, 4.02)

Carp vs Tigers: Mazda Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Allen Kuri (12-8, 3.87) vs Masashi Ito (9-7, 2.47)

Active roster moves 10/23/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/2

Central League


GiantsOF9Yoshiyuki Kamei
DragonsP50Tatsuya Shimizu
DragonsC27Shota Ono
BayStarsP11Katsuki Azuma
BayStarsP58Yuta Muto
CarpOF37Takayoshi Noma
SwallowsIF58Hideki Nagaoka
SwallowsIF66Taisei Yoshida


GiantsP42C. C. Mercedes
DragonsP67Yariel Rodriguez
BayStarsP42Fernando Romero
SwallowsIF6Hiyu Motoyama

Pacific League


HawksC12Hiroaki Takaya
HawksOF64Yusuke Masago
FightersP28Ryusei Kawano


HawksC62Takashi Umino
FightersP44Robbie Erlin

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