NPB wrap 4-7-21

Breaking: Tanaka will pitch when he’s ready

Wednesday’s pregame news about Masahiro Tanaka was that he won’t be ready to pitch on Saturday, as Rakuten Eagles general manager suggested might be possible last week.

The rest of that story, other than the part that Tanaka might be ready in 10 days instead of 21 from his calf-muscle injury was, surprisingly enough, that the Eagles would bring him back when he was fit.

Today’s was more of the same.

“It might not be the 10th. It might be the 11th. It’s up to him. We’re not going to rush him in to get him one day earlier when our goal is to have him pitch 20-plus games without trouble,” Ishii said according to the Yomiuri Shimbun.

Tatsumi powers Eagles

Eagles 6, Lions 3

At MetLife Dome, Rakuten Eagles leadoff hitter Ryosuke Tatsumi walked, homered to the opposite field, tripled, scored twice and drove in three runs in a win over the Lions that pushed the Eagles past Seibu and into first place in the Pacific League.

Eagles starter Takahiro Norimoto (2-0)  allowed two runs over seven innings on seven hits but no walks while striking out four. He allowed the Lions to make it a 3-2 game in the fifth, but struck out 2019 MVP Tomoya Mori to end the inning with two runners on.

Rookie Gakuto Wakabayashi, the Lions’ fourth pick out of Komazawa University singled twice and hit his first pro homer.

Lions starter Tatsuya Imai (0-1) worked five innings. He allowed three runs on five walks, a hit batsman and five hits. With two on and two outs in the seventh, the Eagles scored twice off Reed Garrett when Tatsumi tripled over the drawn-in outfield. The Lions combined two walk seven, a significant improvement over their 13 on Tuesday.

Hawks 6, Fighters 2

At Sapporo Dome, there was good news and bad news for the Nippon Ham Fighters. Rookie Hiromi Ito (0-1) struck out 11 batters over seven innings and the team got its first home run of the year, then reality struck.

Yurisbel Gracial opened the scoring in the second with his first home run. The hosts took the lead in the fourth on Taishi Ota’s two-run homer off Shunsuke Kasaya, who walked six in his 4-1/3 innings.

A leadoff walk to Alfredo Despaigne and an error put Ito on the spot in the fifth but the rookie struck out the tail of the Hawks’ order only for his teammates to waste more walks in the home half.

Gracial singled off the wall in right to lead off SoftBank’s “lucky seven” seventh inning. With runners on the corners, Ito fielded a comebacker and threw to second to start a double play, but the ball was dropped, everyone was safe. Gracial scored and Ito threw a high 0-1 fastball to Nobuhiro Masuda, who put a good swing on it and broke the 2-2 tie with a double off the wall.

Ryoya Kurihara’s two-run eighth-inning double put the game away for SoftBank, who saw Livan Moinelo make his season debut. The lefty faced three batters, threw 12 pitches and struck them all out. That’s an entrance.

Marines 9, Buffaloes 2

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, the Orix Buffaloes wasted a useful start from Hirotoshi Masui (1-1). The former closer left a 2-1 game against the Lotte Marines after throwing 96 pitches, and allowing two runs over five innings.

Lotte starter Daiki Iwashita (1-1) allowed two runs on two walks and two hits while striking out seven through 6-1/3 innings. Yuki Karakawa inherited Iwashita’s one-out bases-loaded jam in the seventh and let in just one of those runners in before the Marines played home run derby against right-hander Yu Suzuki in the home half.

Hisanori Yasuda, Leonys Martin and Yudai Fujioka each went deep in the five-run inning to turn the game into a rout.

Marines leadoff hitter Takashi Ogino doubled in each of his first two at-bats and scored both times. Takashi Toritani “doubled” on a ball that Takahiro Okada stumbled on but couldn’t stop and scored Lotte’s third run. Frank Herrmann followed Karakawa and retired all three batters he faced in the eighth.

Tigers 7, Giants 1

At Koshien Stadium, rookie left-hander Masashi Ito (1-0) earned his first pro win as the Hanshin Tigers bruised the defending Central League champion Yomiuri Giants. Giants starter Seishu Hatake (0-1) gave up a lot of sharp ground balls that just missed gloves and was stuck for four runs, three earned, over 3-2/3 innings.

While the Giants had trouble with their catching and throwing, the Tigers were alert on the bases and at the plate, when Yomiuri’s third pitcher, Toshiki Sakurai couldn’t stop himself from throwing straight fastballs.

There were so many bullets hit off him that one expected Giants infielders to ask for hazardous-duty pay, or for the umpires to eject the right-hander for throwing “kikenkyu“–literally “dangerous balls” and the expression used with the automatic ejection that comes when a batter is struck in the head with a pitch.

Jerry Sands hit his fourth homer of the season, a two-run blast off Sakurai in the fourth inning.

With the game still scoreless in the bottom of the first, Tigers shortstop Seiya Kinami, whose 15 errors in 2019 were the most in either league since 2017, missed a routine play, causing former Tigers manager Akinobu Mayumi, the TV broadcast analyst to say, “Oh man, that was your homework assignment.”

Dragons 3, BayStars 1

At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, DeNA BayStars rookie Taisei Irie (0-2) allowed a double, two singles and a walk, but surrendered three runs, one earned, over five innings as his teammates spent a lot of time cooling their heels on the bases but not scoring against Akiyoshi Katsuno (1-0), who gave up six hits and walked four over five innings. The hosts scored in the second on a Dayan Viciedo walk, a single by catcher Takuya Kinoshita and a two-out error.

Akira Neo, whose batted ball resulted in a two-run throwing error, singled home a run in the fifth after Kinoshita opened with a double. The Dragons, who are without Cuban closer Raidel Martinez, were saved by set-up man Daisuke Sobue, who recorded his third save.

Swallows 3, Carp 2

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Yakult’s defense made the difference in a game where both starting pitchers, Yakult’s Hirotoshi Takanashi and Hiroshima lefty Hiroki Tokoda, allowed two runs over 5-2/3 innings.

Yakult catcher Yuhei Nakamura, the Swallows’ emergency atypical No. 2 hitter, doubled twice, singled and scored twice. Munetaka Murakami doubled him home in the fourth, and the Carp took the lead on homers by catcher Tsubasa Aizawa and Ryosuke Kikuchi.

With two outs and two on in the sixth, Seiya Suzuki stole third against new pitcher Hiroki Kondo and tried to score when Nakamura’s throw sailed off the tip of Murakami’s glove at third. The ball went straight to shortstop Naomichi Nishiura whose strike to home barely beat Suzuki for the third out. The Swallows tied it in the bottom of the inning on singles by Nakamura and Murakami, and a safety squeeze.

Scott McGough (1-0) pitched a 1-2-3 seventh for the Swallows and got the win after Kotaro “Norichika Aoki light” Yamasaki singled in the tie-breaking run in the home half. Noboru Shimizu gave the Swallows another 1-2-3 inning before closer Taichi “Mr. Adventure” Ishiyama put the tying and go-ahead runs on in the ninth before recording his third save.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

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

Ryusei Kawano (0-1, 12.00) vs Shota Takeda (0-1, 1.42)

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

Towa Uema (-) vs Ryota Takinaka (0-1, 54.00)

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

Fumiya Motomae (1-0, 7.20) vs Yoshinobu Yamamoto (1-1, 0.56)

Central League

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

Yasunobu Okugawa (0-1, 5.40) vs Yuta Nakamura (0-1, 7.50)

Dragons vs BayStars: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Takahiro Matsuba (0-1, 3.60) vs Kentaro Taira (0-0, 0.00)

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

Takumi Akiyama (1-0, 2.57) vs Yuki Takahashi (1-0, 0.00)

Active roster moves 4/7/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/17

Central League


GiantsP45Seishu Hatake
GiantsC38Yukinori Kishida


GiantsC22Seiji Kobayashi

Pacific League




HawksP41Kodai Senga
LionsP41Hiroki Inoue
FightersP63Ryuji Kitaura

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