Tag Archives: Akira Nakamura

NPB 2020 Oct. 3

Other news

Marines’ counterattack levels Lions

Three-run homers by Shuhei Fukuda and Hisanori Yasuda lifted the Lotte Marines to a 6-3 win over the Seibu Lions on Saturday at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Fukuda’s homer canceled out two by the Lions, a Takumi Kuriyama solo shot and two-run homer by Fumikazu Kimura. After Friday’s game was decided 1-0 by Ernesto Mejia’s solo homer, all10 runs scored in two game have crossed the plate on home runs.

Reed Garrett made his first start for the Lions after beginning the season with some success as their setup man. The right-hander was pulled after issuing his first walk, leaving two on with two outs in the third inning. The next pitcher issued a walk to load the bases, but retired Yasuda to end the inning.

Marines closer Naoya Masuda allowed the tying run to come to the plate in the ninth but held on to record his Japan-best 27th save.

Snappy answers to stupid questions

The loss meant the Lions, the two-time defending Pacific League champions, can no longer win the league under their own power. Asked the obligatory questions about the significance of this event that nobody seems to care about except Japanese sports editors, Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji said, “We don’t care about things like that.”

Yanagita homers in Hawks’ cleanup battle

A day after the SoftBank Hawks employed light-hitting utility infielder Keizo Kawashima in the No. 4 spot, Yuki Yanagita, the Pacific League’s premier hitter, took over the cleanup duties and homered in a 2-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Instead of Kawashima, with a career .254/.335/.363 slash line, Yanagita took over. Easily Japanese ball’s most productive hitter over the last seven seasons, opened the scoring in the second with his 25th home run, this one to the opposite field off Fighters ace Kohei Arihara (5-8) who took the complete-game loss.

Yanagita is one of only two players in Japanese pro baseball history to lead his league in on-base percentage and slugging average in four straight years (2015-2018).

This led to another memorable Hawks hero interview as Yanagita deadpanned about his competition with Kawashima for the No. 4 spot, although it probably doesn’t match the time Seiichi Uchikawa and Tsuyoshi Wada suggested a powerful God lived in the restroom behind the Hawks’ bench.

  • Q: How did you feel going up to bat in the second inning?
    • Yanagita: “Keizo batted fourth yesterday, and even though he got results, I usurped his spot. Because of that, I felt I had to do more to make up for his production we lost.”
  • Q: Kawashima was the hero yesterday, and now you’re the cleanup hitter and your a hero, too. Is there something special about being the Hawks’ cleanup hitter?
    • Yanagita: “To be honest, my only feeling was one of anxiety about whether I could compare favorably with Keizo.”

Kudo: “Cut that shit out”

Veteran Hawks outfielder Akira Nakamura was hurt sliding head-first into second legging out a double and was taken out of the game. He’s one of the hardest players in Japan to get a swinging strike against, and skipper Kimiyasu Kudo spoke about the incident afterward.

“He wanted the extra-base and thought he could get it, but from my point of view, I want him to be more careful, so I told him to forget about doing that stuff,” Kudo said.

Asamura hits 29th HR in Eagles’ win

The Rakuten Eagles shook off the loss of slugger Stefen Romero in the first inning as Hideto Asamura hit his Japan-best 29th home run to tie it en route to a 5-3 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Romero was hit in the head by a pitch in the first inning to load the bases with two outs, but reliever Koki Saito (1-1) retired veteran Ginji Akaminai to end the inning.

Steven Moya hit a two-run homer for the Buffaloes in the bottom of the first, but Asamura tied it in the third, when Akaminai singled in the go-ahead run.

Alan Busenitz allowed a run in the ninth but held on to earn his 16th save for the third-place Eagles.

Hatake, Oshiro lead Giants pastTigers

Seishu Hatake (2-3) worked 5-1/3 scoreless innings in the Yomiuri Giants’ 7-4 win over the Hanshin Tigers, who were held scoreless for eight innings at Koshien Stadium.

Takumi Oshiro’s three-run sixth-inning homer was the big hit for the Giants, who needed three pitchers to close ut the bottom of the ninth.

First-year Tigers right-hander Joe Gunkel (1-3) made his second start in Japan and trailed 2-0 through five innings. The Giants denied a Tigers run in the bottom of the fifth when Koji Chikamoto tried to score from first on a double to the gap. The relay from center fielder Yoshihiro Maru to shortstop Hayato Sakamoto got the ball to Oshiro, who applied a good tag.

Chikamoto capped the Tigers’ ninth with a three-run homer before Rubby De La Rosa came on to get the final out.

Dragons hold off feisty BayStars

The Chunichi Dragons came close to blowing an eight-run lead but held on for a 9-7 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

Closer Raidel Martinez allowed a run in the ninth but stranded the potential tying run to earn his 16th save, lifting Chunichi into third place ahead of the BayStars.

Dragons catcher Takumi Kinoshita drove in five runs with a homer and a two-run first-inning single, but the BayStars scored six runs over the final four innings to make a game out of it.

DeNA starter Haruhiro Hamaguchi (6-5) allowed eight runs over 1-1/3 innings.

Carp slaughter Swallows

Rookie Masato Morishita (7-3) allowed six hits and a walk while striking out five in the Hiroshima Carp’s 13-2 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

With the Carp leading 13-0 in the bottom of the eighth, reliever Yasunori Kikuchi lost control of a ball that went behind Norichika Aoki, knocking him to the ground and out of the game.

As Tetsuto Yamada took his spot in the batter’s box, first base coach Ryosuke Morioka approached home plate, benches emptied and pushing and shoving ensued. Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu then informed the umpires he was playing the game under protest. It was NPB’s first protest of the season.

Swallows starter Albert Suarez (4-1) allowed four runs on 10 hits and a walk over 6-1/3 innings to take the loss.

Romero stretchered off field

Rakuten Eagles outfielder Stefen Romero was carried off the field in the top of the first inning on Saturday at Kyocera Dome after being struck on the helmet by a 145-kph pitch from Taiwan right-hander Chang Yi, who earned the automatic ejection for a “dangerous pitch.”

Chang, known here by the Japanese reading of his name’s Chinese characters, “Cho Yaku,” was the fifth pitcher ejected this season for hitting a batter in the head and the third in the Pacific League.

Despaigne to miss 2-3 weeks

The SoftBank Hawks announced Saturday that Best Nine-winning designated hitter Alfredo Despaigne will miss two to three weeks due to a bone bruise on his right tibia.

The 34-year-old Cuban complained of pain in his right knee on Thursday.

“Once the inflammation goes down, he should quickly be able to move again,” Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo said.

Active roster moves 10/3/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/13

Central League

Activated

SwallowsC45Motohiro Shima

Dectivated

GiantsP45Nobutaka Imamura
SwallowsP33Matt Koch

Pacific League

Activated

None

Dectivated

None

Starting pitchers for Oct. 4, 2020

Pacific League

Marines vs Lions: Zozo Marine Stadium 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Manabu Mima (8-2, 4.66) vs Wataru Matsumoto (4-3, 3.92)

Buffaloes vs Eagles: Kyocera Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Hiroya Miyagi (-) vs Ryota Takinaka (0-1, 7.04)

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

Tsuyoshi Wada (5-1, 3.03) vs Ryusei Kawano (2-3, 4.64)

Central League

Swallows vs Carp: Jingu Stadium 6:30 pm, 5:30 am EDT

Daiki Yoshida (1-5, 4.77) vs Yuta Nakamura (0-2, 4.22)

BayStars vs Dragons: Yokohama Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Shinichi Onuki (7-4, 2.36) vs Takahiro Matsuba (3-5, 3.54)

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

Takumi Akiyama (6-2, 2.77) vs Shosei Togo (8-4, 2.70)

NPB 2020 Oct. 1

Other news

Eagles blow chance to knock off Hawks

The Rakuten Eagles wasted a great start by Takayuki Kishi in a 4-1 loss to the SoftBank Hawks, whose win at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi guaranteed they would remain top of the Pacific League on Thursday.

Kishi delivered a master class with his fastball, curve and change to hold the Hawks to a walk and two hits while striking out four. But the switch to former closer Yuki Matsui (3-4) in the seventh inning, for his first relief appearance of a season so far spent as a starter, cost the Eagles a 1-0 lead.

A pair of sharp fielding plays from Hawks second baseman Ukyo Shuto and first baseman Akira Nakamura helped starter Shuta Ishikawa (7-3) and three relievers hold Rakuten to five hits. The typically wild Ishikawa walked three and hit two while striking out six over 6-1/3 innings.

Yurisbel Gracial walked and scored from first on Ryoya Kurihara’s double. After taking third on the throw home, Kurihara scored on a squeeze by Takuya Kai, who homered in the ninth to complete the scoring.

The Eagles had an opening with two walks and a single in the home half of the seventh but hurt their cause by striking out trying to sacrifice and a base running error. Hawks closer Yuito Mori earned his 23rd save. “We owe Kishi an apology,” Eagles skipper Hajime Miki said.

Iguchi: ‘We need to do better’

Hisanori Yasuda took a borderline 3-2 pitch for Strike 3 to end the game with the bases loaded in the Lotte Marines’ 3-2 loss to the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome that left Lotte a full game behind the Hawks.

Fighters starter Toshihiro Sugiura (6-3) struck out a career-high nine as he allowed one run over six innings. Kotaro Kiyomiya and Shingo Usami each homered for the Fighters, whose current closer, veteran lefty Naoki Miyanishi loaded the bases after retiring the first two batters.

Yasuda worked the count full and was headed for first after taking a pitch low and away before being rung up to end it. Miyanishi earned his fourth save.

“We failed to play to our full capabilities,” Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi said. “We knew early on that we were working with a wide strike zone, and we just kept going along. We need to learn to do better.”

Leonys Martin doubled, walked twice, scored both of Lotte’s runs and was on base when the game ended.

Daiki Iwashita (5-7) took the loss after allowing two runs over six innings.

Yamakawa homer slays feisty Buffaloes

Hotaka Yamakawa broke a 5-5 tie with a two-run eighth-inning home run, his 23rd, off Tyler Higgins (2-3) as the Seibu Lions avoided a three-game sweep at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome with a 7-6 win over the Orix Buffaloes.

Trailing by a run with the Buffaloes’ first-year setup man on the mound, Ernesto Mejia doubled and Takeya Nakamura singled in the tying run.

The turnaround earned rookie Tetsu Miyagawa (1-1) his first career win after he pitched out of a two-on, one-out jam in the seventh. Sosuke Genda and Corey Spangenberg opened the scoring with back-to-back homers in the third.

The Buffaloes, however, ran the Lions ragged in a four-run fifth. Trailing by two in the ninth, Takahiro Okada homered off closer Tatsushi Masuda, who earned his 23rd save after getting pinch-hitter Adam Jones to fly out to deep center for the final out.

Saiuchi ends 5-year winless drought

Hiroaki Saiuchi (1-1) plucked this summer from the independent Olive Guyners threw seven scoreless innings to earn his first win in 5 years, 2 days, in the Yakult Swallows’ 2-0 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

Saiuchi, the second pick of the Hanshin Tigers in 2011, was released last season. The right-hander challenged hitters in the zone with his breaking pitches, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out four.

“I am really happy to produce for the team after they found me lying around and gave me a chance,” Saiuchi said.

Swallows closer Taichi Ishiyama provided more chills and suspense in the ninth, when he allowed the tying runs on with two outs.

Yasuaki Yamasaki, who lost his closer’s job this summer, was hit on the right leg with a batted ball.

Fujinami shines in setup role

Shintaro Fujinami, whose career has been fraught with disappointment these past four years, and who has struggled in his return to the starting rotation this season, hit close to 100 mph in helping secured the Hanshin Tigers’ 2-0 win over the Chunichi Dragons with a perfect eighth inning.

Lefty Minoru Iwata (1-0) allowed five hits and no walks while striking out five over 6-2/3 innings. Jon Edwards struck out the only batter he faced in the seventh and Fujinami took care of business in the eighth. Closer Robert Suarez got a big play from shortstop Ryuhei Kobata to complete a 1-2-3 ninth and earn his 18th save.

Dragons rookie Yariel Rodriguez (2-3) allowed a run over six innings. The 23-year-old Cuban right-hander allowed two hits and two walks while striking out 10. The Tigers’ first run scored on a wild pitch.

Giants knock Scott

The Yomiuri Giants scored four runs in four innings off Tayler Scott (0-3) in a 5-3 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Yoshihiro Maru singled in a run in the first, and Hayato Sakamoto doubled in another in the third before Naoki Yoshikawa’s two-run single made it 4-0 in the fourth.

Despite their poor start, the Carp defense put on a fielding clinic, starting with some solid play from seven-time Golden Glove-winning second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi and four gems in left from Jose Pirela in the final innings.

Angel Sanchez (6-3) allowed three runs, two earned, over seven innings, while Rubby De La Rosa earned his 14th save.

Active roster moves 10/1/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/11

Central League

Activated

BayStarsP47Yoshiki Sunada
BayStarsP58Yuta Muto
TigersP21Minoru Iwata
CarpP70Tayler Scott
DragonsP67Yariel Rodriguez

Dectivated

BayStarsP27Taiga Kamichatani
TigersP27Yuya Onaka
CarpC32Yuta Shirahama

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP11Tatsuya Imai
HawksP29Shuta Ishikawa
EaglesP11Takayuki Kishi
FightersP57Toshihiro Sugiura
BuffaloesP35Motoki Higa

Dectivated

HawksP18Shota Takeda
HawksOF54Alfredo Despaigne
EaglesP41Kouji Aoyama
BuffaloesP17Hirotoshi Masui
BuffaloesP66Ryo Yoshida

Starting pitchers for Oct. 2, 2020

Pacific League

Marines vs Lions: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kota Futaki (5-2, 4.07) vs Zach Neal (3-6, 5.29)

Buffaloes vs Eagles: Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Taisuke Yamaoka (2-3, 3.00) vs Takahiro Shiomi (4-6, 4.66)

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

Matt Moore (3-2, 2.61) vs Kenta Uehara (1-1, 1.11)

Central League

Swallows vs Carp: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hirotoshi Takanashi (3-4, 4.61) vs Hiroki Tokoda (2-6, 5.83)

BayStars vs Dragons: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shoichi Ino (6-5, 3.38) vs Tatsuya Shimizu (0-0, 0.00)

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

Yuki Nishi (7-4, 2.33) vs Nobutaka Imamura (3-1, 3.71)

NPB 2020 Sept. 24

Eagles repulse Marines

Yuki Matsui and a quartet of relievers turned back the Lotte Marines in a 3-0 victory on Thursday to complete a three-game sweep of their closest Pacific League rivals.

The win lifted Rakuten to within 2-1/2 games of the second-place Marines, who trail the SoftBank Hawks by two games. The Marines remain nine games above .500 despite being outscored this season 344-360.

Matsui was yanked after needing his 114th pitch to notch his 12th strikeout and leave the bases loaded in the fifth inning at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Matsui, who saved 30-plus games in four of the last five seasons, improved to 3-3 as a starter. He gave up five hits and had trouble getting some close calls as he walked four.

Reserve catcher Takahiro Shimotsuma opened the scoring with his first career homer and Eigoro Mogi singled in runs in the third and fifth off Daiki Iwashita (5-6), who also went five for the Marines.

After four homers over the first two games in Sendai, Hideto Asamura failed to reach the seats but reached base three times to contribute to two of the Eagles runs.

Kanji Teraoka worked the sixth for the Eagles, D.J. “Bearded Thunder” Johnson the seventh, Tomohito Sakai the eighth, and Alan Busenitz the ninth, when he earned his 15th save.

It was a tough night for the Marines’ Leonys Martin, who after striking out for the fourth time, was hit by Busenitz in the ninth, raising his Japan-leading hit-by-pitch total to 14, leaving him in pole position to join a fairly large club of imported players who lead their league in being hit with baseballs.

No broom at the inn for Buffaloes

The Orix Buffaloes came within one pitch of sweeping the league-leading SoftBank Hawks on Thursday, only for Akira Nakamura to put a good swing on a hanging 2-1 curve for a game-tying two-run homer as the teams played to a 3-3, 10-inning tie at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Moments after the Buffaloes took a 3-1 lead against Yutaka Wada in the top of the fifth, Nakamura evened things up. Orix starter Chang Yi, whose cousin Yang Yao-hsun used to pitch for SoftBank, fell behind Nakamura with two outs and a man on in the fifth. The home run was Nakamura’s sixth of the season.

Yurisbel Gracial opened the scoring in the second with his eighth home run, only for Orix’s Aderlin Rodriguez to tie it in the sixth with his fourth homer.

Wada gave away the lead after a scratch single, a wild pitch, a walk. Kenya Wakatsuki doubled beyond the reach of Gracial to make it a 2-1 game. The drawn in infield failed to prevent the runner on third from scoring, but a diving stop by shortstop Taisei Makihara robbed Ryo Ota of a single and Wada was able to get out of the inning trailing by two.

The real highlight of the game was an electric inning by Hawks lefty Livan Moinelo in the eighth. He overpowered Rodriguez on four fastballs. Masataka Yoshida was able to foul off his hard stuff, but was looking fastball and watched helplessly as a 3-2 curve floated through the zone. Steven Moya grounded out on four pitches to end it.

Uehara shuts down Lions

Nippon Ham Fighters lefty Kenta Uehara (1-1) allowed two runs over seven innings while striking out nine in a 12-2 butt kicking of the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome.

Lions right-hander Sho Ito (0-2) allowed four runs over 3-1/3 innings, and reliever Ken Togame was shelled for six runs in 1-1/3 innings.

Active roster moves 9/24/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/4

Central League

Activated

None

Dectivated

CarpP16Takeru Imamura
DragonsP36Yuichiro Okano

Pacific League

Activated

LionsOF68Junichiro Kishi
HawksP11Yuki Tsumori
HawksP21Tsuyoshi Wada
BuffaloesP98Chang Yi

Dectivated

LionsIF0Daichi Mizuguchi
HawksP49Yuto Furuya

Starting pitchers for Sept. 22, 2020

Pacific League

Lions vs Eagles: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Zach Neal (3-6, 5.18) vs Takahiro Shiomi (4-6, 4.46)

Marines vs Hawks: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kota Futaki (4-2, 3.86) vs Matt Moore (3-1, 2.65)

Buffaloes vs Fighters: Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Taisuke Yamaoka (1-3, 3.07) vs Nick Martinez (1-4, 3.81)

Central League

Giants vs Dragons: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Angel Sanchez (4-3, 2.60) vs Yuya Yanagi (3-5, 3.64)

Swallows vs Tigers: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hirotoshi Takanashi (3-4, 4.55) vs Yuki Nishi (7-3, 2.12)

Carp vs BayStars: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hiroki Tokoda (1-6, 6.75) vs Shoichi Ino (6-4, 2.92)

NPB 2020 Aug. 30

Albers, Jones lead Buffaloes over Marines

Andrew Albers allowed seven base runners over seven innings, and Adam Jones hit a game-breaking three-run homer as the Orix Buffaloes snapped a five-game losing streak with a 5-0 win over the Lotte Marines on Sunday at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Through the first three innings, both teams caught breaks on defense, but that ended in the bottom of the fourth, when an error contributed to two runs against Lotte lefty Toshiya Nakamura (1-2). With two on and no outs, shortstop Yudai Fujioka’s errant throw on a potential double play resulted scored one and left men on the corners, from where another could score on a hard-to-field come-backer.

Albers, whose last win came on July 21, escaped a jam in the top of the fifth when a liner to short that was turned into an inning-ending double play, and the Buffaloes put the game away in the home half on Jones’ 10th home run.

“That was a huge homer,” said Albers, who allowed six hits and a walk while striking out six. “It gives you a little cushion and allows you to be a little more aggressive on the mound and the way the defense was playing behind me tonight that was a huge turning point.”

Singles in the bottom of the fifth by Shuhei Fukuda and Masataka Yoshida off pitches up in the zone brought Jones up with two outs. Nakamura had jammed him his first time up and he’d rolled over a pitch that sank on him in the fourth. But when Nakamura hung a 1-0 two-seamer, Jones hit it out to left.

“I was just trying to drive the ball,” Jones said. “I was pulling off on his forkball early and rolled over on it. I wanted to get something in the air and stayed back on it and was able to hit it out of the ballpark.”

“I’m just trying to get adapted to the Japanese style of pitching. I’m making the adjustments. Early on I was just stubborn and thinking one way was going to do it, but sometimes you just have to make the adjustment and make the adjustment day by day to the new style of pitching I’m facing.”

Albers needed two final gifts from his outfielders to keep the Marines from scoring in the seventh. With one and one out, center fielder Keita Nakagawa robbed Ikuhiro Kiyota of extra bases in a kind of tit for tat after Kiyota had robbed him of an RBI double off the left-field wall in the first inning. Yoshida then made a good running catch in left to send Albers out with a clean sheet.

A pair of rookie relievers, righty Taisei Urushihara in the eighth, and lefty Ryoga Tomiyama in the ninth closed it out.

Yanagita, Nakamura power Hawks comeback

Yuki Yanagita hit his 20th home run and Akira Nakamura hit his fourth, a two-run tie-breaking shot in the fourth inning as the SoftBank Hawks overcame a four-run first-inning deficit to beat the Nippon Ham Fighters 8-5 at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

With Shuta Ishikawa going for the Hawks against the Fighters’ Drew VerHagen, this game should have been a pitchers’ duel but Ishikawa’s inability to locate cost him and VerHagen (5-2) ran into a buzz saw.

Nakamura is arguably the best player in Japan at making contact. He virtually never chases until he has two strikes on him, fouled off four-straight two-strike pitches around the zone before he got one fair between third and short for a one-out single.

He is followed in the Hawks lineup by Yanagita, who swings harder than anyone in Japan. VerHagen missed up a bit with a two-seamer and Yanagita met it perfectly, propelling it off the top of the left-field fence to halve the Fighters’ lead. Ryoya Kurihara tripled with two outs and scored on a wild pitch to cut the Fighters’ lead to one.

Kensuke Kondo doubled in a run in the second for the Fighters after Sho Nakata failed to bring the runner home from third. Nakata, who stood and stared at his bat in the first inning after he was late on a high-straight fastball, returned to the dugout after the third out and took out his frustration on the offending piece of wood.

VerHagen hit Nakamura in the toe to open the third, Yanagita doubled and the Hawks tied it after a Yurisbel Gracial single and a well-executed Kurihara sac fly. On another two-seamer away, Yanagita again went the other way on a liner to the gap in left.

With two outs in the fourth, VerHagen was yanked after he hit speedster Ukyo Shuto with Nakamura on deck. Rookie left-hander Suguru Fukuda came in and Nakamura drilled a low liner off the dome’s permanent wall that rattled around in the right-field home run terrace for a two-run shot.

Submarine right-hander Rei Takahashi (3-1) earned the win in relief after Ishikawa was charged with five runs, four earned, over four innings. Closer Yuito Mori, in stark relief to his previous two outings, worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 17th save as the Hawks bullpen retired the last 11 Fighters hitters they faced.

Gracial completed the scoring by leading off the fifth with his second homer.

9th-inning Mejia blast stuns Eagles

Ernesto Mejia hit a three-run ninth-inning home run off Alan Busenitz (1-1), boosting the Seibu Lions to a 3-2 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Hotaka Yamakawa walked with one out to get things started against Busenitz, who got too much of the plate with a 1-2 fastball to Tomoya Mori, who kept the Lions alive with a two-out single.

Mejia, who had struck out in each of his first three at-bats, looked at a breaking ball down the pipe for a strike, swung and missed at a low one, but got enough of Busenitz’s third to reach the short porch in left for his seventh home run and his sixth against the Eagles. The home run was the first Busenitz has allowed this year and his second in two seasons.

“We’ve still got games left to play (against Seibu), I’d like to think we can come up with some kind of countermeasure,” Eagles skipper Hajime Miki said.

De La Rosa gets out of jail in Giants win

Rubby De La Rosa bailed himself and the Yomiuri Giants out of ninth-inning trouble on one pitch, escaping a bases-loaded jam to seal a 3-2 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Tokyo Dome.

De La Rossa earned his seventh save after striking out the first batter he faced and then loading the bases on two walks and a hit batsman he struck with a 3-2 pitch. But on the next pitch, Yohei Oshima ended it by hitting a tailor-made double play ball to short.

Dragons starter Akiyoshi Katsuno (1-3) allowed five hits and a walk in the Giants’ three-run first inning, but gave them little else before leaving the mound trailing 3-2 after six. Lefty Ryusei Oe (2-0) faced one batter, striking out Yota Kyoda to end the Dragons’ fourth with the bases loaded and earned the win in relief.

Giants-Dragons highlights

Ogawa eclipses ‘Stars again

Two weeks after his first career no-hitter, Yasuhiro “Ryan” Ogawa (7-2) returned to Yokohama Stadium, where he allowed two runs over seven innings in the Yakult Swallows’ 6-4 win over the DeNA BayStars.

Ogawa gave up eight hits and a walk while striking out four, and Tetsuto Yamada had four hits, including an RBI single, a double, and a second-inning grand slam.

The BayStars came back to score two runs in the ninth and bring the tying run to the plate before Swallows closer Taishi Ishiyama put an end to the proceedings by striking out pinch-hitter Toshiro Miyazaki.

Oyama ruins Carp comeback story

Yusuke Oyama tripled just beyond the grasp of right fielder Seiya Suzuki with two outs in the 10th inning to lift the Hanshin Tigers over the HIroshima Carp 5-3 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

The Carp started out in a hole after Jerry Sands teed off on a high pitch from Atsushi Endo in the first for his 10th home run and a three-run Tigers lead.

The hosts tied it in the fifth when Ryosuke Kikuchi hit his sixth, also with two men on.

Carp closer Geronimo Franzua (1-2) opened the 10th by walking Koji Chikamoto. With two outs and first base open after a sacrifice and a strikeout, the Carp walked Sands intentionally to pitch to Oyama, whose ball to the gap in right missed being caught by inches.

Robert Suarez finished the fish off in the home half, striking out two in a 1-2-3 inning for his 12th save.

Active roster moves 8/30/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/9

Central League

Activated

CarpIF6Tomohiro Abe
DragonsP41Akiyoshi Katsuno

Dectivated

CarpIF69Ryutaro Hatsuki
DragonsP69Tatsuro Hamada
SwallowsP33Matt Koch

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesC67Takahiro Shimotsuma

Dectivated

None

NPB 2020 8-22 games and news

Jones ruins Utsumi’s Cinderella comeback

Adam Jones homered twice, taking a bat to Tetsuya Utsumi’s hopes of winning his first game in two years, by driving in four runs in the Orix Buffaloes’ 5-2 Pacific League victory on Saturday afternoon.

Jones, who homered and drove in all of Orix’s runs on Friday, when they won their first game under acting skipper Satoshi Nakajima, broke open a scoreless pitching duel between the 38-year-old Utsumi (0-1) and unheralded 26-year-old Taiwan right-hander Chang Yi (1-1).

Chang, who went to school in Japan following in the footsteps of his cousin, Yang Dai-kang, joined Orix in 2017 on a non-roster developmental contract. Since he went to school here, he is still known by how the Chinese characters in his Mandarin name are read in Japanese “Cho Yaku.” After a tough start in his season debut nine days before, Chang’s fastball was crisp and hard for the Lions to handle.

The right-hander pitched out of jams in the third and fourth innings, and he left after allowing five hits, a walk and a hit batsman.

“Honestly, I was resigned to giving up runs (in the fourth inning), but even so I was going to fight them,” Chang said.

Nakajima, who has seen a lot of Chang during his time as the Buffaloes’ farm manager said Saturday’s performance is in line with his skill level.

“You saw what he does well,” Nakajima said. “He had late life on his fastball and attacked hitters. He had an elbow issue that delayed him getting to this point, but he’s going to contribute.”

Never a flame-thrower, Utsumi long thrived on precision and movement, getting foul strikes and soft contact. He retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced. With one out in the fourth, Buffaloes slugger Masataka Yoshida miss-hit a fastball and chopped it through the infield for a one-out single, Orix’s first hit.

Utsumi nearly got himself out of trouble, but instead set himself up for a fall. He fielded a one-hop comebacker but his uncatchable throw to second spoiled any chance for an out, let alone a double play. Utsumi’s next throw also missed by the smallest of margins, a first-pitch changeup to Jones just above the knees, that he lofted over the left-field wall.

“I just wanted in that situation to get a ball up and drive the runner in and I was fortunate enough to drive the ball out of the ballpark,” Jones said.

Seibu’s Takeya Nakamura, a six-time PL home run champ, hit his sixth of the year in the top of the sixth off reliever Keisuke Sawada.

Jones struck again in the sixth. With two outs and none on, Utsumi missed up just a little with a slider and Jones lined it into the second deck.

“The second one, that was a little more fun. I tried to be aggressive and not let the pitcher get ahead with a strike and just try to be aggressive in the zone. And I didn’t miss it at all,” Jones said.

After three home runs and seven RBIs in two games following a slow start to the season, Jones was asked the obligatory question about whether he was seeing the ball better or not.

‘I’ve been seeing the ball the same,” Jones said. “I am just trying to play the game the way I know how to play.”

“Our pitchers were terrific. Cho battled his butt off and gave us a great opportunity to win the game. And when the opportunity arose to drive some runners in, we did a good job.”

“Home runs are always fun to hit. The bench was going crazy. There’s been a lot of energy the last couple of days. We want to continue to play the game hard and have fun.”

The Lions added a run in the seventh against lefty Nobuyoshi Yamada, forcing setup man Tyler Higgins into the game with two outs and two on to preserve Orix’s lead. Nakamura lined a shot over short, but Koji Oshiro leaped to make a catch, end the inning and save at least a run.

After Higgins worked a scoreless eighth, defensive substitute Yuya Oda doubled in the Buffaloes’ fifth run. Oda, who made a big catch in the ninth on Friday, made another big play on Saturday.

After a Tomoya Mori single to lead off against closer Brandon Dickson, Hotaka Yamakawa drilled a liner to left that Oda short. Mori assumed the ball would be caught and was retreating to first when Oda forced him at second for 7-4 force. A double play followed and it was over.

It was a decent start for Utsumi, if not a winning one for the former ace of the Central League’s Yomiuri Giants. Utsumi joined Seibu after the 2018 season as part of the compensation package for the Giants signing free agent catcher Ginjiro Sumitani. The loss saw Utsumi’s career record against Orix to 2-3 with the previous four games coming in interleague play.

Ironically, Utsumi’s PL debut came against Orix, who drafted him first in 2000 out of high school. Utsumi turned them down out of desire to play for his grandfather’s old team, the Giants. After three seasons in corporate league ball, he turned pro with the Giants.

Yanagita puts on show against Marines

Yuki Yanagita hit a mammoth two-run homer to open the scoring and doubled in the tie-breaking run as the SoftBank Hawks moved back into a tie for first place in the Pacific League with the Lotte Marines, who they beat 3-2.

The camera’s at Zozo Marine Stadium were not prepared for the lunar launch trajectory of Yanagita’s 17th home run, and viewers on TV could only see it drop down and strike the top of the center-field fence, ostensibly after hitting high up on the scoreboard.

Akira Nakamura slashed a leadoff single in the eighth against Frank Herrmann (3-1) for his third hit of the game. Yanagita followed by finding the gap in left center for an RBI double.

Imamiya could be out for up to 2 months

SoftBank Hawks shortstop Kenta Imamiya is expected to miss between six to eight weeks due to a left calf injury. The club announced Saturday that an MRI revealed damage to the soleus muscle in his left leg.

Imamiya, a two-time Best Nine shortstop with five Golden Gloves, complained of pain in the leg on Aug. 19.

Arihara sharp again for Fighters

Nippon Ham Fighters ace Kohei Arihara (3-5) produced his second-straight solid start, allowing a run over six innings, while Sho Nakata homered and drove in three runs in a 5-1 over the Rakuten Eagles at Sapporo Dome.

Arihara gave up six singles and a walk while striking out six, and he quickly had three runs to work with after his teammates opened the scoring in the bottom of the first off Takahiro Shiomi (3-4).

Haruki Nishikawa’s single, the third straight to open the inning, made it 1-0, and Nakata followed with a two-run double. Shiomi allowed four runs over five innings, and Nakata hit his Japan-best 20th home run in the fifth.

Dragons rookie Rodriguez blots out ‘Stars

Cuban rookie Yariel Rodriguez improved to 2-0 in three impressive starts for the Chunichi Dragons, who beat the DeNA BayStars 5-0 at Nagoya Dome.

Rodriguez allowed two singles and two walks over six innings, while striking out just three batters over six innings. The 23-year-old, who is eligible for the Rookie of the Year Award, has now allowed three runs over 19-1/3 innings.

Dragons captain Shuhei Takahashi opened the scoring in the first against DeNA rookie Kosuke Sakaguchi (0-1) with a one-out bases-loaded single. Takahashi added a two-run home run in the fifth.

Osera goes 8 as Carp walk past Giants

Hiroshima Carp ace Daichi Osera (5-2) allowed two runs over eight innings in a 10-4 win over the Yomiuri Giants, who issued nine walks in the game at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Osera allowed former Carp teammate Yoshihiro Maru to tie it 1-1 in the second with his 12th home run.

But Giants starter Seishu Hatake (0-3) didn’t survive the third inning. He opened it by walking Osera, and by the time the dust had settled, six runs were in and 12 batters had come to the plate.

Israel Mota, who the Giants signed this year from their developmental roster, had his first hit in Japan, a two-run ninth-inning home run.

Tigers survive Swallows ambush

Robert Suarez got Norichika Aoki to fly out with two on and two outs in the ninth to nail down his ninth save as the Hanshin Tigers held on to beat the Yakult Swallows 7-5 at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Aoki, whose eighth-inning grand slam brought the Swallows within two runs. Facing Suarez, he did his best to elevate a low 1-0 pitch but his high fly to center was held up by a stiff wind and died at the warning track along with the Swallows’ chances of a come-from-behind win.

Yusuke Oyama belted a three-run first-inning homer off Matt Koch (0-1), who allowed six runs over four innings in his Japan debut for the Swallows.

Tigers starter Yuki Nishi (4-3) allowed a run over seven innings and doubled in a run in Hanshin’s three-run fourth inning only for relievers Yuya Nakao and Yuta Iwasada to let the hosts get back in the game.

Setup man Joe Gunkel allowed a hit and a walk before getting the final out in the inning and turning it over to Suarez in the ninth.

Active roster moves 8/22/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/1

Central League

Activated

BayStarsP12Kousuke Sakaguchi
SwallowsP33Matt Koch

Dectivated

BayStarsOF37Taishi Kusumoto

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP27Tetsuya Utsumi
FightersP59Yuki Yoshida

Dectivated

LionsP23Shogo Noda
FightersP27Nick Martinez

Starting pitchers for Aug. 23, 2020

Pacific League

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

Drew VerHagen (4-1, 3.72) vs Yuya Fukui (0-2, 5.54)

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

Toshiya Nakamura (1-0, 3.86) vs Shuta Ishikawa (5-0, 2.08)

Buffaloes vs Lions: Kyocera Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Andrew Albers (2-5, 4.04) vs Wataru Matsumoto (1-3, 5.10)

Central League

Swallows vs Tigers: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yasuhiro Ogawa (5-2, 3.43) vs Takumi Akiyama (4-1, 3.80)

Dragons vs BayStars: Nagoya Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Yudai Ono (3-3, 3.02) vs Hiromu Ise (0-0, 1.80)

Carp vs Giants: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Atsushi Endo (2-2, 3.77) vs Daisuke Naoe (-)

NPB 2020 8-11 live blog

Live blog: Hawks vs Buffaloes

Go to NEWEST.

For those of you who are curious, you can read a little about these teams in my Japanese pro baseball guide.

Tonight we have two of Japan’s premier pitchers, Kodai Senga of the SoftBank Hawks against Yoshinobu Yamamoto of the Orix Buffaloes.

Top 1st

Buffs leading off with Tatsuya Yamaashi, whose liner to right holds up long enough to be caught. Shuhei Fukuda the shorter strikes out looking at a pitch away. Masataka Yoshida takes a pitch low for Ball 4, bringing up Adam Jones, who sat out his first game of the year on Sunday.

Jones goes down swinging at a splitter. A pitch that is usually a nightmare for hitters has been mediocre this season for Senga. But that 0-2 pitch was a beauty.

Bottom 1st

Two good fastballs followed by a good curve and Ukyo Shuto is Yamamoto’s first strikeout victim of the evening.

Yuki Yanagita is batting second. He’s jammed but loops it into shallow right for a single. We were talking on the Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast about manager Kudo’s lineup selection.

Akira Nakamura, batting third, hits one high and far down the line for a two-run home run. We’re going to get a video review of the ball. It was hit high over the foul pole, so I don’t know how they were going to dispute it.

Nakamura, of course, famously hit a home run on a foul ball against the Buffaloes thanks to a video review that overturned the correct call. Hawks 2 Buffaloes 0

The curse of the live blog continues as Ryoya Kurihara walks and Kenji Akashi doubles him home from first. Hawks 3 Buffaloes 0 Yamamoto settles down and gets a pair of groundouts to leave Kurihara at second.

Top 2nd

The broadcasters are saying that the difference between good Senga and bad Senga is that when he’s having trouble, he’ll give up runs right after his team scored. I don’t think it’s that simple. He’s missing bats with his fastball and splitter. I think that’s probably a better indicator.

Takahiro Okada and Aderlin Rodriguez back after missing 10 days with a contusion on his arm where he was hit by a pitch make easy outs. Senga issues his second two-out walk of the game.

Senga caught a huge break when he missed with a splitter up in the zone with too much spin and Ryoichi Adachi takes it for Strike 3, and he’ s out of the inning. Hawks 3, Buffaloes 0

Bottom 2nd

Two easy outs for Yamamoto in the second. Then a straight fastball that misses up in the zone and Shuto singles. Yanagita hits another straight fastball and drives it into the home run terrace in right center. Hawks 5, Buffaloes 0

Top 3rd

The Buffaloes go down in order in the third.

Bottom 3rd

A one-out single by Kenji Akashi puts a man on, but Aderlin Rodriguez catches a low liner at first and gets an easy double play.

Top 4th

Masataka Yoshida singles to center for Orix’s first hit. Jones chases a cutter away and misses for Senga’s sixth strikeout. Takahiro Okada tees off on a high fastball and doubles to the gap in right to put runners on second and third for Rodriguez.

Good split for the second strike and Rodriguez swings under a good fastball. That’s seven K’s for Senga. Ryo Nishimura can’t hold up on a 2-2 pitch Senga buries on outside and that promise of an inning is gone.

Bottom 4th

Takuya Kai miss-hits a cutter and grounds into an easy out. Nice cutter, fastball combination gets the No. 8 hitter Hikaru Kawase going down swinging. Matsuda swings under a high fastball and fouls out. Triumph of a sort for Yamamoto in his first 1-2-3 inning.

Top 5th

Tough spot for Senga after his second baseman Kawase fumbles a grounder, and Kenya Wakatsuki gets enough of an 0-2 fastball up and in to get it through the infield for a single. Kawase drops the throw from short on a double play ball for his second error of the inning and the bags are juiced.

A groundout brings in one run, and Yoshida puts an easy swing on a cutter at the letters and hits it into left for an RBI single. Hawks 5, Buffaloes 2

A good at-bat by Jones taking two borderline low pitches, and a badly missed 3-2 fastball results in a walk and the bases loaded with one out.

Senga misses another fastball up in the zone and straight to Okada who lines it into the home run terrace for his sixth homer of the season. Buffaloes 6, Hawks 5

Bottom 5th

A good at-bat by Ukyo Shuto gives the Hawks a leadoff walk. Yamamoto gets ahead of Yanagita and goes inside with a fastball. Shuto takes off on the 2-2 pitch and steals second as Yanagita chases a splitter for Strike 3.

I am mystified why catcher Wakatsuki and Yamamoto think a disciplined hitter like Nakamura is going to become a hacker after all these years and chase pitches when he’s ahead in the count. Now they HAVE to work the edge and hope for a strike and walk him. Two on and one out and their feet are in the fire.

Another disciplined hitter in Ryoya Kurihara, and they start him off with a splitter out of the zone. Madness. Surprised him with a curveball away that hung up a bit and Kurihara flies out.

Visit from the pitching coach as Yamamoto misses badly with a couple of pitches and the bases are loaded with two outs. Seiji Uebayashi puts a good swing on an inside pitch but hits a soft liner to second, and Yamamoto escapes.

Top 6th

Senga is missing still but gets three easy outs. Yamamoto is done after 106 pitches.

Bottom 6th

Rookie right-hander Ryo Yoshida on the mound for the Buffaloes. The announcer said “He did well on the farm but didn’t get results on the first team.” That’s true, but I’d wager it’s hard to get any kind of good results in just 4-1/3 innings. Yoshida strikes out Kai on three pitches, but walks the next batter, Kawase, so if anything, he’s being efficient.

The Buffaloes’ center fielder, Nishimura, is pulled well over toward right center against Nobuhiro Matsuda, as if to rub it in that he’s batting ninth.

Matsuda walks and Senga really wants to pitch the seventh, since out in front of the dugout warming up with one out.

Pitching change: Ryo Yoshida leaves for lefty Koki Saito to face Yanagita.

The Hawks star nearly comes out of his shoes trying to hold up on a slider but gets the bat on it and hits a one-handed home run as his helmet flies off. That’s home run No. 14 for him and it’s Hawks 8, Buffaloes 6.

Top 7th

With a two-run lead, Senga is done after six innings and 114 pitches.

Rei Takahashi on for the Hawks. Masataka Yoshida doubles with one out for his third hit. He also walked. Adam Jones singles Yoshida home. Hawks 8, Buffaloes 7.

Hawks skipper Kudo pulls the plug on his submarine righty with Okada coming up from the left side.

Pitching change: LHP Shinya Kayama on for Rei Takahashi with one out and one on.

Given manager Nishimura’s propensity to play for one run when behind and sort of wish for the best, I’m surprised he’s not gone to a pinch-runner for Jones on first.

Pitching change: LHP Shinya Kayama on for Rei Takahashi with one out and one on. Okada pops up for the second out, and with Aderlin Rodriguez up, the Hawks go with a right-hander, so lovers of the one-point relievers nonsense that passes for strategy can be happy.

Pitching change: Rookie RHP Keisuke Izumi on for LHP Shinya Kayama and gets Rodriguez to ground out.

Bottom 7th

It’s the Hawks’ “Lucky Seventh,” and lefty Nobuyoshi Yamada is on for Orix to face Ryoya Kurihara. Yamada misses the target slightly on a 3-2 pitch. A leadoff walk and a sacrifice and the insurance run is at second. I’m sure there’ s reason for asking your pitcher to locate perfectly against a leadoff hitter instead of focusing on throwing a 3-2 strike, but I don’t see it.

Another walk and my favorite right-handed-hitting grinder is up. Keizo Kawashima pinch-hits and smokes the first pitch to center but lines out. Yamada unpickles himself by getting pinch-hitter Kenta Imamiya to ground out to third.

Top 8th

Changes: LHP Livan Moinelo on the mound, while Hiroaki Takaya is catching and Shuto moves over from short to second and Tetsuro Nishida comes off the bench to play short.

Moinelo strikes out Nishimura. Five outs to go.

A walk on another pitch at the knees that ump Yuta Suyama is not buying. Moinelo, like Senga and Yamamoto before him, mouths his displeasure in Japanese, causing the announcers to comment on his language skills.

A double-play ball to first, but the Hawks infield are not on the same page and only get one out. Nishida tags the runner thinking first baseman Kenji Akashi stepped on the bag when he didn’t. There’s a little meeting to figure out what went wrong. But all’s well that ends well for the Hawks as pinch-runner Yuya Oda is thrown out stealing.

Bottom 8th

Buffaloes right-hander Tyler Higgins on and strikes out Matsuda on a called third strike away. It looks like one of those egregious outside strikes that have been very common this year. Higgins has been very tough this year, his first in Japan. He records three easy outs, so it’s going to come down to whether Orix can score off closer Yuito Mori in the ninth.

Top 9th

Here’s Mori and he misses the first two pitches to pinch-hitter Torai Fushimi, who miss-hits a ball to second for the first out. The right-hander missing the target with about half his pitches but is executing with two strikes.

Masataka Yoshida has yet to make an out tonight. Mori can’t hit the low target but gets the diminutive slugger out on high fastballs. It’s Mori’s 11th save.

Final score: Hawks 8, Buffaloes 7

Wasn’t the pitchers’ duel we were hoping for, but it was fun.

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