NPB Wrap 5-15-21

Yoshida homer ruins Tanaka’s start

Buffaloes 4, Eagles 3

At Kobe’s Hotto Motto Field, Rakuten’s Masahiro Tanaka (2-3) gave yet another look in his fifth start back in Japan, this time playing “Where’s Masa’s fastball” and tried seeing how his two-seamer would fly.

Unfortunately, Masataka Yoshida was able to test its flight properties hitting a high fly that just barely carried over the fence in left for an opposite-field three-run, sixth-inning homer. The home run was Yoshida’s eighth.

Orix lefty Daiki Tajima seemed prime to take the loss in this one, allowing two runs over five innings with one run scoring with the help of a balk and a throwing error in the fourth. Tajima was poised to give up more with one out and runners on the corners, but got Hideto Asamura to hit into a double play.

Former Hanshin Tigers ace, Atsushi Nomi, the 41-year-old lefty who’s been tasked with closing since May 2, got one out before the Eagles chased him with two walks and an RBI single. Kohei “K” Suzuki, so named because the Buffaloes for a while had two Kohei Suzukis, took over with one out and runners on the corners. A strikeout and a soft line out ended it and earned K his first career save.

Eagles manager Kazuhisa Ishii was, like Tanaka, not too upset with the start. As is the custom in Japan, Ishii put the blame on his catcher, Hikaru Ota, Daily Sports reported.

“If I have to talk about the catching, I think it would have been better to be more aggressive there. I thought Ota was running away from a challenge against Yoshida,” Ishii

Tanaka allowed three runs on six hits while striking out eight and walking none, and overall, the contact off him was not that good, and if it weren’t for the loss, it would have been his best start.

“I was able to pitch well, but didn’t pitch winning ball,” he said.

Hawks 7, Fighters 3 

At Sapporo Dome, former Fighter Nick Martinez (2-1) struck out seven over five innings at his old home park for the SoftBank Hawks, while surrendering a two-run fourth-inning home run, the second of the season for rejuvenated Fighter Wang Po-jung.

Drew VerHagen (1-3) allowed six runs on four walks and six hits over 2-2/3 innings to take the loss in the matchup against his former teammate Martinez. Kenji Akashi, getting a rare start at first base, singled in a run in the three-run second to open the scoring and drew a bases-loaded walk in the three-run third.

Akira Nakamura, in left in place of injured Cuban Yurisbel Gracial, reached base three times, scored twice and delivered a sacrifice fly.

Lions 3, Marines 0

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Seibu’s Wataru Matsumoto (3-3) allowed two hits while walking four and hitting one over eight innings, and the Lions broke a scoreless tie with three eight-inning runs before 2020 PL rookie of the year Kaima Taira threw a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save.

Lotte’s Manabu Mima (2-2) overcame some early hiccups to keep the game scorless through seven. A Yuji Kaneko double, a sacrifice (“Seibu is proving they really want to score”) and a Sosuke Genda single opened said scoring. Hotaka Yamakawa’s two-out RBI single chased Mima, and the bullpen allowed an inherited run to score. Sponichi Annex reported that Matsumoto’s eight innings and 132 pitches were both career highs for the right-hander who has habitually struggled with his control.

Giants 5, Tigers 3

At Tokyo Dome, Justin Smoak’s third home run of the season, a three-run fifth-inning blast, brought the Yomiuri Giants back from a one-run deficit against Hanshin rookie Masashi Ito (3-1) and made a winner of Angel Sanchez (3-2), who allowed three runs over 6-1/3 innings.

Smoak and the Giants’ hero interview

Tigers rookie Teruaki Sato doubled in one run in the first and two more in the third. Takayuki Kajitani and Zelous Wheeler singled to set up the Giants’ run that scored in the home half of the first on a delayed two-out double steal. The hit extended Wheeler’s hit streak to 20 games.

Smoak singled to lead off the Giants’ second and scored on a Ginjiro Sumitani single. Ito pitched out of trouble in that inning and again in the fourth. But after a pair of two-out singles in the fifth, Ito got ahead of Smoak 0-2 but lost him and the game on a 3-2 pitch.

The Tigers nearly spoiled the Giants’ win after reliever Yohei Kagiya loaded the bases on a Ryutaro Umeno double and two walks. But Ryoma Nogami, the Giants’ sixth pitcher and third in the ninth, retired Jefry Marte for the final out and his first save.

Giants-Tigers highlights

Swallows 5, Dragons 0

At Nagoya‘s Vantelin Dome, it was double MLB Hall of Fame reference day as Yasuhiro Ogawa (3-1), whose nickname “Ryan” comes from a delivery he modeled after Nolan Ryan’s, threw a Maddux for the Yakult Swallows. Chunichi’s Koji Fukutani (1-4) allowed two runs over 5-1/3 innings.

The Swallows got a first-inning run on a Kotaro Yamasaki single and a Tetsuto Yamada double. Fukutani retired Yamada in the fifth to leave the bases loaded, but singles from Munetaka Murakami and Jose Osuna set up Domingo Santana’s RBI single in the sixth. Osuna singled in two runs in the Swallows’ three-run seventh to ice it.

Starting pitchers

Time for the mashup again ahead of Roki Sasaki’s first-team debut on Sunday for the Lotte Marines. In a bit of a twist, the other big pitcher from the 2019 draft, Yasunobu Okugawa, will start for the Yakult Swallows.

Michael Peoples, whose start was rained out, will start for DeNA in Hiroshima.

Pacific League

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

Naoyuki Uwasawa (3-2, 3.57) vs Akira Niho (0-1, 5.68)

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

Roki Sasaki (-) vs Katsunori Hirai (3-1, 3.25)

Buffaloes vs Eagles: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Sachiya Yamasaki (1-3, 4.25) vs Takahisa Hayakawa (4-2, 3.43)

Central League

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

Nobutaka Imamura (2-1, 2.27) vs Raul Alcantara (-)

Dragons vs Swallows: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Yuya Yanagi (3-1, 1.72) vs Yasunobu Okugawa (1-1, 6.00)

Carp vs BayStars: Mazda Stadium 1:30 pm, 0:30 am EDT

Hiroki Tokoda (1-2, 3.86) vs Michael Peoples (1-1, 2.70)

Active roster moves 5/15/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/25

Adam Jones deactivated

The Orix Buffaloes deactivated Adam Jones on Saturday due to discomfort in both hips.

Central League




BayStarsP13Hiromu Ise
SwallowsP48Yuto Kanakubo

Pacific League


FightersIF23Ryo Watanabe
FightersOF7Haruki Nishikawa


FightersP49Katsuhiko Kumon
FightersC64Yua Tamiya
BuffaloesP19Taisuke Yamaoka
BuffaloesOF10Adam Jones

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