Saturday is Tanaka day
Not that it’s been that big a story every week. He’s pitching really well, being crafty with his fastball, but still not settled in against teams that are really pumped to solve him.
It was also a big day for Nick Martinez and Yuki Yanagita of the Hawks, while Cory Spangenberg had a magical day for the Lions, Brandon Laird hit homered for his third straight game, Scott McGough made a hell of a tough save, while Angel Sanchez and Zelous Wheeler helped the Giants earn a win. So let’s roll.
Marines 3, Eagles 1
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Lotte’s Manabu Mima outpitched his former teammate Masahiro Tanaka even though both starter had similar pitching lines with two walks and a run over seven innings. Mima missed barrels from start to finish, while the Marines did a good job on Tanaka’s few mistakes but were denied more runs through a handful of big plays from the Rakuten Eagles defense.
Tanaka continued to feel his way around pitch combinations, this time throwing mostly sliders, which has been his best pitch so far. Once again, Eagles pitching coach Shinjiro Koyama praised Tanaka’s lively fastball, and it was on occasion. But much of the game was about the Marines sitting on sliders, laying off most of those he threw out of the zone and smashing the ones Tanaka missed with.
In addition to Mima, who made the win possible, second baseman and captain Shogo Nakamura had three hits, including an RBI double in the third and an eighth-inning leadoff home run against reliever Hiroyuki Fukuyama (0-2). Brandon Laird followed Nakamura’s second homer with his 10th and his third in three games.
Leonys Martin walked and Nakamura singled in the first but both were stranded, but the tag team did the job in the third. Martin singled and took off for second on a run-and-hit and scored on Nakamura’s double.
The Eagles’ lone run against Mima came after Adeiny Rodriguez was ridiculed for making a reasonable play that didn’t work out on a grounder to short with a runner on second. This is a tricky play in Japan, and we heard a few different opinions of the optimal choices and odds. I wrote about this in detail, with a data-driven explanation of how often runners and fielders should take the third-base gamble.
Lions 8, Fighters 1
At MetLife Dome, Nippon Ham’s Drew VerHagen (1-4) held Seibu in check for four innings before two walks and Cory Spangenberg happened. After two swinging strikes and five fouls – including a dribbler VerHagen let roll foul that Spangenberg was going to beat out for a base hit, Spangenberg took a center-cut fastball to left for an opposite-field homer.
The Lions scored twice more in the inning and that was the ballgame.
Wataru Matsumoto (4-3) allowed eight hits and a walk, but stranded eight and allowed one run on Haruki Nishikawa’s third home run.
Hawks 7, Buffaloes 2
At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, it was the Nick and Gita show for the SoftBank Hawks as
Nick Martinez (3-1) lowered his ERA as a SoftBank Hawk to 1.44 with nine strikeouts over seven scoreless innings, and Yuki Yanagita hit his ninth home run, a three-run first-inning monster off Daiki Tajima (2-2) and singled in another run in the third.
Gita doing Gita stuff
Nick of time
The Gita and Nick postgame show
Swallows 1, BayStars 0
broke out. Yakult’s Yasuhiro Ogawa (4-1) allowed three singles and a walk over eight innings, Yasutaka Shiomi hit a solo homer off DeNA’s Haruhiro Hamaguchi (2-4), and Scott McGough worked around a leadoff double and a WILD pitch to record three outs with the tying run at third and earn his second save. Edwin Escobar worked a 1-2-3 eighth for the BayStars. Shiomi’s homer was his second.
Giants 5, Dragons 4
At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, Yomiuri’s Angel Sanchez (4-2) allowed two runs over seven innings and for the second straight game Giants manager Tatsunori Hara used three pitchers in the ninth in addition to the two who worked the eighth to close it out.
Kazuma Okamoto did most of the damage off Yariel Rodriguez (0-1) with his 12th home run, a three-run third-inning shot that moved him into a tie for the league lead with Yakult’s Munetaka Murakami and one back of Lotte’s Leonys Martin for the most in Japan.
Zelous Wheeler doubled twice for the Giants, scoring on Okamoto’s homer and driving in a run in the sixth, while Dayan Viciedo drove in three of Chunichi’s runs.
Lions vs Fighters: MetLife Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Marines vs Eagles: Zozo Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Hawks vs Buffaloes: PayPay Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Swallows vs BayStars: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT
Dragons vs Giants: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Active roster moves 5/22/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 6/1