NPB wrap 4-23-21

Fujinami helps BayStars snap skid

BayStars 7, Tigers 1

At Koshien Stadium, DeNA’s Yuya Sakamoto (1-1) worked six solid innings, and of the three different Shintaro Fujinamis we’ve seen, protégé Fujinami (2013-2015), problem child Fujinami (2016-2019) and comeback Fujinami (2020-2021), Friday’s version definitely looked like the 2016-2019 version with four runs from six walks in four-plus innings.

The BayStars’ win snapped a 12-game winless streak of 10 losses and two ties. With a 3-1 lead in the fifth, Tigers rookie Teruaki Sato made the misplay of the game. He charged a two-out ground ball into right, overran it. Kazuki Kamizato, who scored on the play, was credited with a three-run single.

The BayStars opened the scoring in the second in a most Fujinami way, on a groundout after three no-out second inning walks. Fujinami walked in the BayStars’ third run by following Keita Sano’s third-inning RBI double with three more straight walks.

Giants 2, Carp 1

At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri ace Tomoyuki Sugano (2-1) threw his second straight complete game victory, outdueling Hiroshima’s Allen Kuri (3-2) with all three runs coming on home runs, a two-run fifth-inning shot by Giants catcher Takumi Oshiro and Seiya Suzuki’s fifth home run in the sixth.

Afterward, Sugano was asked about Oshiro’s contribution.

“He called a good game, and helped me attack aggressively. I feel grateful for him since I have to say he carried me,” Sugano deadpanned as the Tokyo Dome crowd, prohibited from vocal cheering nevertheless erupted in laughter.

Oshiro shared the hero interview podium and one would have thought he was Giants manager Tatsunori Hara’s nephew instead of Sugano. Hara loves to tease reporters when asked about tactics by refusing to give away secrets.

Asked about his approach to the game, Oshiro borrowed from his skipper’s playbook, and said, “I can’t say that. It’s a secret.”

Giants-Carp highlights

Swallows 6, Dragons 4

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Tetsuto Yamada homered twice, doubled, scored three runs and drove in three in the Yakult Swallows’ come-from-behind win over the Chunichi Dragons. Yamada, who hit 12 homers last year, has seven in 2021.

Rookie Yasunobu Okugawa started for the Swallows and again proved very hittable as the Dragons put swings on lots of his pitches as he surrendered four runs on10 hits over five innings without issuing a walk. Lefty Takahiro Matsuba took a 4-1 lead into the fifth inning. Yamada’s RBI double, the Swallows’ third hit of the inning, chased him. Munetaka Murakami plated Yamada for the tying run with his third hit of the day, off new reliever Hiroshi Suzuki.

The Swallows were denied a run in the third when the umpires ruled Munetaka Murakami safe at the plate as he tried to score from second on a wild pitch. The Dragons asked for a video review of Matsuba’s tag, and the umps ruled Matsuba had tagged him without reference to the pitcher’s obstruction for blocking off the plate without the ball.

We’ve had lots of obstruction calls decided after video review, but no ump in Japan to my knowledge had ever ruled obstruction on the field. This was another case of the umps forgetting the rule book.

Two new Swallows made their debuts, first baseman Jose Osuna, who went 2-for-4 with a double, and outfielder Domingo Santana, who was hitless in four at-bats.

Hawks 3, Marines 2

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, four straight one-out hits off Lotte Marines closer Naoya Masuda (0-3) brought the SoftBank Hawks from a run down in the top of the ninth and closer Yuito Mori closed the door on the hosts with his seventh save. All three of Masuda’s losses have come against the Hawks.

Lotte starter Toshiya Nakamura was handed a two-run lead in his season debut against SoftBank’s Shuta Ishikawa, who couldn’t locate his breaking pitches and hit three batter and scared a few others.

SoftBank’s Yuki Yanagita, however, did that thing of his where he seems to flick at a pitch away and still drive it 400 feet to the opposite field. His fourth homer, in the fourth, made it 2-1 Lotte and there it stood.

Nakamura worked five innings, and three Marines relievers, Fumiya Ono, Frank Herrmann and Yuki Karakawa kept the champs at bay. Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo went with a pair of relievers to get Ishikawa out of a two-on two-out pickle in the seventh.

Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi said of his closer’s troubles against the Hawks, “We need to discuss that in a meeting. He’s not getting the job done.”

Buffaloes 6, Fighters 1

At Sapporo DomeTaisuke Yamaoka (1-2) struck out 10 while allowing a run over eight innings to pace the Orix Buffaloes to their fourth straight win, over last-place Nippon Ham. Drew VerHagen (0-1) worked into the fourth inning in his second start, allowing two runs in the fourth on Steven Moya’s first homer.

Lefty Ryusei Kawano followed VerHagen to the mound as he had a week earlier, but failed to replicate the three perfect innings he twirled against the Eagles. New Fighters third baseman Ronny Rodriguez fumbled a routine two-out grounder, allowing in a run and Kotaro Kurebayashi somehow pulled a low pitch away into the left-field corner for a two-run double that put the game on ice.

The Fighters remained without a win at Sapporo Dome.

Eagles 2, Lions 2

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, the Rakuten Eagles’ Hideaki Wakui started against the Seibu Lions’ Kona Takahashi in a pitchers’ duel that neither team deserved to lose, and this being Japan, neither did.

Cory Spangenberg made an impact in his Lions’ season debut, walking twice singling and tying it 1-1 in the sixth with an RBI double.

Rakuten’s two new imported hitters also made their first appearances this year. Rusney Castillo injured a left oblique muscle fouling off a pitch in the second in his first at-bat and left the game. Brandon Dixon, not to be confused with Seibu rookie Brandon Tyson Tysinger or Orix Buffaloes reliever Brandon Dickson, homered in his second at-bat to open the scoring.

Rakuten’s Hiroto Kobukata homered in the sixth to tie it, but a Takumi Kuriyama leadoff single in the eighth and a two-out Spangenberg walk allowed Takeya Nakamura to tie it with an RBI single past short against his former teammate Wakui.

Lions shortstop Sosuke Genda probably would have gotten to the ball, but Kobukata isn’t in that class.

Starting pitchers

Masahiro Tanaka returns to Sendai on Saturday for his first game at his old home park since he saved Game 7 of the 2013 Japan Series.

Pacific League

Fighters vs Buffaloes: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Naoyuki Uwasawa (1-2, 4.81) vs Sachiya Yamasaki (0-2, 3.63)

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

Masahiro Tanaka (0-1, 5.40) vs Keisuke Honda (-)

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

Manabu Mima (2-0, 2.49) vs Rei Takahashi (1-1, 4.37)

Central League

Giants vs Carp: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Shosei Togo (2-1, 2.92) vs Koya Takahashi (0-0, 0.00)

Swallows vs Dragons: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT

Hirotoshi Takanashi (2-0, 3.38) vs Yuya Yanagi (1-1, 1.73)

Tigers vs BayStars: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Masashi Ito (1-0, 2.25) vs Taiga Kamichatani (0-2, 7.80)

Active roster moves 4/23/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/3

Central League


GiantsIF5Hiroyuki Nakajima
GiantsIF37Akihiro Wakabayashi
GiantsIF48Zelous Wheeler
GiantsOF8Yoshihiro Maru
CarpP46Mikiya Takahashi
SwallowsIF13Jose Osuna
SwallowsOF25Domingo Santana


GiantsP50Chiaki Tone
GiantsIF00Dai Yuasa
GiantsOF36Shingo Ishikawa
GiantsOF39Soichiro Tateoka
BayStarsP22Taisei Irie
CarpP66Atsushi Endo
SwallowsIF00Nobuyuki Okumura
SwallowsIF46Kengo Ota

Pacific League


MarinesP48Toshiya Nakamura
MarinesC32Toshiya Sato
LionsIF22Cory Spangenberg
EaglesIF9Brandon Dixon
EaglesIF36Yasuhito Uchida
EaglesOF12Rusney Castillo
BuffaloesP30Kohei Suzuki


MarinesP20Taiki Tojo
MarinesC39Yuta Yoshida
LionsIF31Ryusei Sato
BuffaloesP13Hiroya Miyagi

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