Hawks release, Moore, van den Hurk, Uchikawa, Colas on cut day
The Pacific League’s SoftBank Hawks parted company, at least technically with pitchers Matt Moore and Rick van den Hurk, while making longtime captain Seiichi Uchikawa free to complete a deal with the Central League’s Yakult Swallows on Wednesday.
Nippon Professsional Baseball’s teams are required to submit their reserve lists for the 2021 season on Dec. 2, the big day for releases across Japan. The moves don’t necessarily mean that neither Moore nor van den Hurk will be back with the four-time defending Japan Series champions, but it does mean they were unable to or unwilling to exercise an option to keep them.
Cuban two-way player Oscar Colas, who has been on the restricted list since Feb. 19, was released by not being placed on the Hawks’ 2021 reserve list, meaning he will be free to sign with an MLB club as an international amateur when the next international signing period opens in June.
Cuts throw import market wide open
The winter NPB market for import players heated up considerably with Tuesday’s cuts when a number of experienced players with established value were left off their clubs’ reserves list. Here’s a brief rundown:
Yudai Ono (7-5) threw his second straight shutout, allowing two hits and no walks, while reaching base twice and driving in two runs in the Chunichi Dragons’ 9-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium on Wednesday.
Ono pounded the zone with his fastball kept the Tigers off balance with a two-seamer that sank and tailed away from the right-handed hitters. He didn’t get to three balls on a batter until the ninth inning. It was his first win at Koshien in
“I was able to pitch like this because the fielders made the plays they did,” Ono said.
“For the most part I’ve been able to challenge hitters in the zone, keep my pitch count from getting up around 120 or 130. Working in the zone allows me to do it (complete games).”
The win at Koshien was Ono’s first in five years and his first at an outdoor park in three.
Ono said he didn’t used to like the Koshien mound, which was notorious for being soft and low. But, like the mounds in Hiroshima, Tokyo Dome and Nagoya Dome, Koshien’s mound has been built using harder American clay bricks since last year, making it more uniform.
“The mound here didn’t use to be very good, although I didn’t have a particularly bad feeling about it,” Ono said. “I did think about that fact, and I wanted to end that streak. The team also hadn’t won here this year.”
Ono singled in the second with two outs, a flare that fell just beyond center fielder Koji Chikamoto. With two on in the fifth, he hit another little fly to center, and Chikamoto went all out to get it and missed. The ball rolled toward the fence for a two-run triple.
Veteran Ishikawa earns 1st win
Forty-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa (1- ) allowed a run over 5-2/3 innings and Munetaka Murakami belted his 19th home run, a three-run third-inning shot off Taiga Kamichatani (2-2) in the Yakult Swallows’ 5-3 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium. Taichi Ishiyama recorded his 14th save.
Kamichatani allowed five runs over three innings.
Nomura snaps Carp losing streak
Yusuke Nomura (6-2) tossed five scoreless innings despite allowing base runners in every inning, and Seiya Suzuki blasted a two-run home run as the Hiroshima Carp ended a four-game losing streak to the Yomiuri Giants with a 4-1 win at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
The Carp scored opened the scoring in the fifth inning against Kazuto Taguchi (5-4). One run scored when the pitcher was unable to start an inning-ending double play, and Seiya Suzuki reached the seats with a two-run home run two pitches later.
Giants cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto hit his league-leading 24th home run.
Ojima outduels VerHagen
The Lotte Marines moved to within winning-percentage points of first place with a 2-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome. Kazuya Ojima (6-6) throwing six scoreless innings to outduel Drew VerHagen (6-5).
Shuhei Fukuda singled in the first, stole second and broke the ice on a Leonys Martin single. Tsuyoshi Sugano doubled to open the seventh, was sacrificed to third and scored on a Yudai Fujioka squeeze.
Yuki Karakawa worked a scoreless seventh for the visitors, but Hirokazu Sawamura allowed a run on two hits and a walk in the eighth. Naoya Masuda took out the bottom of the order in the ninth to record his Japan-best 26th save.
Wakui wins 10th as Takeda implodes
Hidaki Wakui (10-3) went eight innings, while the Rakuten Eagles took batting practice against SoftBank Hawks right-hander Shota Takeda, who lost control and surrendered seven runs in one-plus inning, the briefest start of his career, in a 9-3 win at Sendai’s Rakuten Semei Park Miyagi.
Masui turns back the clock
Hirotoshi Masui (1-2) rocked his starting assignment like it was 2016, throwing six scoreless innings as the Orix Buffaloes shut out the Seibu Lions for the second straight day, 5-0 at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
In 2016, Masui was dropped from his role as the Nippon Ham Fighters’ closer and resurrected that summer as an effective starter in a patchwork rotation while Shohei Ohtani recovered from blisters that limited him to an offensive role. Masui earned his first win as a starter since 2016, despite issuing five walks.
The Buffaloes finished September with a1 13-11-2 record.
Aacting manager, Satoshi Nakajima said, “I think we’re doing well by not thinking beyond the game in front of us.”
“We didn’t start the season well, but we seem to have rallied. I want to win and build some momentum.”
Lions rookie Shota Hamaya (2-1) settled down after allowing two runs in the second and two more in the third, which Adam Jones capped with his 11th home run.
“We are not hitting that badly, but when you get shut out two days in a row, I think guys are trying to do much, trying too hard and perhaps getting a little too tight,” Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji said.
Tigers approach viral cluster status
A member of the Hanshin Tigers’ first-team staff has tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Wednesday. It is the ninth member of the organization to test positive over the past week.
The Japanese government defines any body where 10 infections occur to be a cluster. So far five players and four staff members have tested positive.
The staff member who tested positive on Tuesday did not travel with the team to Tokyo last week, and is now resting at home. On Wednesday, he reported a fever of 37.5 C.
Leonys Martin blasted another long home run, his 24th, with two outs in the ninth off Ryo Akiyoshi to score an insurance run that came in handy after Marine closer Naoya Masuda surrendered a run in the home half on three singles.
Tigers add 2 lefties from “D” roster
The Hansin Tigers signed two players from the developmental roster on Wednesday, the deadline for making non-waiver roster additions. The two were 26-year-old lefty Yuya Yokoyama, the Tigers’ injury plagued 2014 top draft pick, and 25-year-old southpaw Masaki Ishii, whom they took in the first round of the 2017 developmental draft.
Yokoyama is 2-2 in 13 Western League games this season, having allowed five home runs and 19 walks over 47 innings while striking out 22.
Ishii has struck out 10 batters in 17 innings, while walking seven. He has not allowed a home run.
Active roster moves 9/30/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/10