Tag Archives: Alan Busenitz

NPB 2020 Oct. 24

Saturday’s games

Other news

Haraguchi does it again for Tigers

Fumihito Haraguchi delivered off the bench for the fourth straight game, his two-out seventh-inning pinch-hit single breaking a 1-1 tie in the Hanshin Tigers’ 2-1 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome on Saturday.

The Giants started the day with a magic number of five to clinch their second straight Central League championship.

Jerry Sands scored the go-ahead run after reaching on a leadoff single to decide a pitchers’ duel between Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (13-2) and tough Tigers lefty Haruto Takahashi (5-4).

Takahashi allowed a run on four hits and two walks while striking out three over six innings. Jon Edwards, Suguru Iwazaki and Robert Suarez kept the Giants from scoring over the remaining three innings with Suarez getting his CL-leading 23rd save.

Koji Chikamoto became the Tiger’s first base runner by smacking a hanging breaking pitch and beating out a one-out infield single in the fourth despite a good play from Giants shortstop Hayato Sakamoto.

Chikamoto, the CL stolen base leader, took second on a wild pitch even though catcher Takumi Oshiro was able to keep the ball in front of him, and then scored easily when Kento Itohara’s little fly to shallow right fell in for a single.

Sugano tied it in the sixth by scoring on a sac fly after reaching on a leadoff double. With the Tigers outfield playing him shallow, he flied over Chikamoto’s head for his third double of the season. Naoki Yoshikawa fell behind trying to sacrifice him, before grounding a mistake from Takahashi just past Jefry Marte at first for a single. Takahashi missed down the pipe to Seiya Matsubara, whose liner to right was caught, but allowed Sugano to score.

Giants-Tigers highlights

Sands was tossed in the eighth complaining about a couple of calls by home plate umpire Tetsuya Shimada. Sands took 1-0 pitch away and below the knees for a strike, and was called out on a pitch that the overhead camera showed was well beyond the outside corner. That drew some f-bombs and the ejection.

Morishita goes the distance

Right-hander Masato Morishita (9-3) allowed four hits over the distance and drove in the eventual winning run for the Hiroshima Carp in their 2-1 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

Morishita struck out five in his 135-pitch outing, and went 2-for- at the plate. Ryosuke Kikuchi singled with two outs in the eighth, stole second and scored on the pitcher’s single to break a 1-1- tie. BayStars right-hander Shoichi Ino allowed a run over six innings but left with nothing to show for it.

The loss dropped the fourth-place BayStars three games below .500 although they have outscored opponents 461-422.

Ogawa denies Dragons

Yasuhiro Ogawa (10-6) allowed two runs over six innings as the Yakult Swallows battered Takahiro Matsuba (3-7) and overcame a big night from Nobumasa Fukuda to beat the Chunichi Dragons 9-5 at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Fukuda, who returned to duty on Friday after missing 1-1/2 months, took Ogawa deep in the fourth and doubled in two runs in the Dragons’ three-run seventh.

The highlight of the game, however, belonged to Dragons rookie Kaname Takino, who got perhaps the ultimate celebration of his first pro hit. As the ball was being returned from left field, fireworks erupted beyond the ballpark’s third-base stands and continued for about a minute due to an event going on at Tokyo’s National Stadium down the street that was built as the centerpiece of the 2020 Olympics to be held next year.

Later in the game, play was disrupted following a balloon release from the stadium.

Grand slam king Nakamura halts Hawks

Takeya Nakamura extended his record for career grand slams with his 21st, bringing the Seibu Lions from a run down in the eighth inning in a 4-1 win at Fukuoka’s PayPay dome that snapped the SoftBank Hawks’ 12-game winning streak.

Livan Moinelo (2-3) issued three walks for the first time since he came to Japan in 2017 and got his only out on a sacrifice before turning the ball over to right-hander Sho Iwasaki with the right-handed-hitting Nakamura coming up.

The six-time PL home run champ then launched a high straight 2-1 fastball out to center, spoiling a strong game from Hawks right-hander Nao Higashihama, who threw seven scoreless innings for his second consecutive start.

In the postgame hero interview, Nakamura was asked if the home run was a good present for Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji’s 62nd birthday.

“I wasn’t thinking about that when I batted, but I’m glad it worked out that way,” Nakamura said.

I love Nakamura’s straight-forward answers to some of those questions. Once, when asked what the mood on the bench was when he went to the plate, he answered, “I don’t know. I wasn’t on the bench. I was going to the plate.”

Albers deals Marines their 6th straight loss

Andrew Albers (4-7) allowed two singles and two walks over 6-2/3 innings, three relievers carried it the rest of the way and Takahiro Okada homered for the second straight game as the Orix Buffaloes beat the Lotte Marines 3-0 at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome. Brandon Dickson worked around a two-out single to record his 16th save.

Fighters pen out-scrapes Eagles’

The Nippon Ham Fighters’ bullpen outlasted the Rakuten Eagles’ in a 5-4 win at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, when Sho Nakata homered to tie the game in the eighth inning and hit a two-out fly ball that wasn’t caught and brought home the go-ahead run in the ninth.

Nakata moved into a tie for the Japan home run lead with the Eagles’ Hideto Asamura when he drove a hanging 1-0 breaking ball well back into the stands in left field. Fighters took the lead in the ninth against closer Alan Busenitz (1-3), who allowed a two-out Kensuke Kondo single.

Busenitz missed up high with a 1-2 breaking ball that Nakata got underneath and skied down the left-field line. A pair of rookies converged on it, and shortstop Hiroto Kobukata backed off to let left fielder Yuya Ogo get it. But Ogo took his time, had to sprint to get to the ball and overran it. The ball landed fair, and Kondo beat the throw home. Ogo was harshly charged with the error and Busenitz ended up taking the loss.

Both Kobukata and Ogo singled in the bottom of the ninth before veteran lefty Naoki Miyanishi escaped a two-out bases loaded jam when Steven Romero lined out to short. Kobukata, who appears to be running away with the PL’s rookie of the year award, went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer.

Active roster moves 10/24/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/3

Central League

Activated

TigersP29Haruto Takahashi

Dectivated

None

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesIF48Yoshiaki Watanabe
EaglesOF38Masaki Iwami
FightersP28Ryusei Kawano
BuffaloesP27Andrew Albers

Dectivated

EaglesP31Yuya Fukui
EaglesIF24Fumiya Kurokawa

Starting pitchers for Oct. 25, 2020

Pacific League

Eagles vs Fighters: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Ryota Takinaka (1-1, 3.76) vs Kohei Arihara (7-8, 3.40)

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

Chang Yi (2-2, 3.20) vs Daiki Iwashita (5-7, 4.46)

Hawks vs Lions: PayPay Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Kotaro Otake (1-0, 2.53) vs Wataru Matsumoto (5-5, 4.16)

Central League

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

Seishu Hatake (3-3, 3.14) vs Takumi Akiyama (8-3, 3.10)

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

Albert Suarez (4-2, 2.36) vs Yuya Yanagi (4-6, 4.26)

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

Yuta Muto (0-1, 6.39) vs Yuta Nakamura (3-2, 2.20)

NPB 2020 Oct. 23

Friday’s games

Other news

Hawks Lions

Shuta Ishikawa (9-3) allowed a run over seven innings, and Takuya Kai plated Kenji Akashi to break a 1-1 tie with a sixth-inning squeeze before the SoftBank Hawks pulled away in a 8-1 win over the Seibu Lions on Friday at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

The Hawks lowered their magic number to clinch their first Pacific League pennant since 2017 to four.

Ishikawa hit one batter and struck out six, and did not walk a batter for only the second time this season.

Lions starter Tatsuya Imai (3-4) hung in until the sixth, when he surrendered a leadoff double to Akashi and a single to Nobuhiro Matsuda. The right-hander dropped Kai’s bunt to leave two on with no outs. He left after a sacrifice moved both runners into scoring position. Rookie Tetsu Miyagawa hit Akira Nakamura before surrendering a two-run single to Yuki Yanagita. Yurisbel Gracial capped the rally with an RBI single to make it 5-1.

Yanagita hit a two-run homer in the Hawks’ three-run eighth, his 28th of the season.

Another crazy Yanagita homer

Yuki Yanagita’s 28th home run was another head-shaker, an off-balance flailing swing at a pitch he was fooled on that looked to the world like an easy fly. But the ball landed in the “home run terrace” field seats built inside the dome’s outfield wall.

Hawks manager Kudo said it was puzzling, the Nishinihon Sports reported.

“I don’t understand. I really don’t,” said Kudo, a Hall of Fame pitcher. “How did that get out? When he came back to the bench he (Yangita) said, ‘Got it on the sweet spot,’ but even so, for him to be off balance like that?”

“From an opponent’s view point, that is something you absolutely hate.”

Okada takes a hammer to Marines

Takahiro Okada drove in a run in each of his four plate appearances, and Taisuke Yamaoka (3-5) dodged bullets left and right to allow only a run over 5-1/3 innings for the Orix Buffaloes in a 7-2 win over the Lotte Marines.

Okada brought home Kodai Sano with a sacrifice fly in the first after the Buffaloes’ leadoff hitter doubled to open the game against Kota Futaki (7-3) and took third on a wild pitch. Okada led off the two-run third with his 14th home run. Sano doubled and scored on an Okada single in the fourth to make it 5-0, and Okada doubled in Yuya Oda in the sixth to make it 6-1.

Steven Moya singled in Ryoichi Adachi in the first and doubled in Masataka Yoshida in the third.

Yamaoka allowed eight hits and two walks, but the only run he allowed came in the sixth when Ikuhiro Kiyota hit the first of his two solo homers. He hit his other off Tyler Higgins in the eighth.

Sano rubbed salt in the Marines’ wounds with an RBI triple in the bottom of the eighth.

Tatsumi saves the day for Eagles

Ryosuke Tatsumi doubled in one run, scored another and saved the day with a 10th-inning catch in center field to start an inning-ending double play to help the Rakuten Eagles salvage a 4-4 tie with the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

The Fighters spotted starter Nick Martinez a three-run lead after Christian Villanueva’s RBI single made it a 3-0 game in the fourth. The Eagles came back for three runs in the home half, and Stefen Romero’s RBI single made it 4-3 with no outs in the fifth. Taishi Ota tied it for the visitors with a solo home run, his 13th, off Kazuhisa Makita in the eighth.

Rakuten closer Alan Busenitz worked a 1-2-3 ninth against the bottom of the Fighters order, but D.J. Johnson needed some defensive help to keep it tied in the 10th.

Romero came within a hair of retiring the leadoff hitter in the 10th with a sliding grab in left field only for the ball to spill from his glove. A juggling catch on a foul sacrifice attempt by reserve rookie catcher Tsuyoshi Ishihara got one out. With one out and speedy Haruki Nishikawa on first, Tatsumi went deep into the gap in left for the out. Nishikawa hustled back to first but needed two tries to retouch second base and was out easily to end the inning.

Imamura pitches Giants past Tigers

Lefty Nobutaka Imamura (4-2) allowed three runs in 7-1/3 innings and squeezed in a run as the Yomiuri Giants held off the Hanshin Tigers 5-4 at Tokyo Dome to lower their magic number to clinch the Central League pennant to five.

Nobutaka Imamura squeezes in a run and reaches on an error.

Imamura went to the mound in the eighth with a 5-1 lead after surrendering Jefry Marte’s fourth home run and his second in two days since he was reactivated on Thursday. With one out, the lefty allowed a walk and a Jerry Sands pinch-hit single and a two-run Fumihito Haraguchi pinch-hit double–his third hit off the bench in three games.

Giants closer Rubby De La Rosa also had trouble after one out, leaving after giving up a run on a walk and two hits. Lefty Kazuto Taguchi came in with the two runners in scoring position. He struck out veteran Yoshio Itoi swinging on seven pitches before a fly out ended it.

Tigers starter Yuki Nishi (10-5) allowed five runs, two earned in five innings. Yoshihiro Maru opened the scoring in the second when he led off with his 23rd home run.

Giants-Tigers highlights

Marte sets record with four errors

The Tigers’ Jefry Marte was charged with a record four errors in Friday’s game, and he tied the league record for a team’s first basemen by making three errors in one inning.

Dragons come back for 4th straight win

The second-place Chunichi Dragons continued to scrape and scratch, earning a 4-3 win against the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium after catcher Takuya Kinoshita brought them from a run down in the sixth.

Dragons captain Shuhei Takahashi, who doubled in a run in the first, singled to open the sixth against the new Swallows pitcher Yugo Umeno (3-1. Moises Sierra followed with a single. With one out, Kinoshita hit a fly to the gap in right that bounced just past the glove of center fielder Yasutaka Shiomi.

Shiomi, activated earlier in the day for the first time Sept. 12, hit a two-run homer in the second off Dragons right-hander Yariel Rodriguez, who allowed three runs in 4-2/3 innings. The right-hander allowed four hits and five walks. Katsuki Matayoshi (4-0) struck out Shiomi on seven pitches to end the fifth with two men on and earned the win after a quartet of relievers worked one perfect inning apiece.

BayStars shut out Carp

Masaya Kyoyama (2-1) worked out of a two-on, no-out sixth-inning predicament and three relievers finished up as the DeNA BayStars held on for a 2-0 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Yokohama Stadium.

Kyoyama allowed two hits and walked three while striking out six over six innings.

The BayStars scored both their runs off Carp starter Hiroki Tokoda (3-8) in the fifth after back-to-back singles by Yasutaka Tobashira and Yamato Maeda. After an error, Takayuki Kajitani broke the scoreless deadlock with an RBI single and Kazuki Kamizato followed with a sac fly. Spencer Patton, lefty Kenta Ishida and closer Kazuki Mishima each worked a scoreless inning with Mishima earning his 16th save. Patton’s 51st appearance is second in Japan to teammate Edwin Escobar’s 54.

Active roster moves 10/23/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/2

Central League

Activated

TigersP18Kosuke Baba
DragonsIF55Nobumasa Fukuda
SwallowsIF58Hideki Nagaoka
SwallowsIF60Ryusei Takeoka
SwallowsOF9Yasutaka Shiomi

Dectivated

TigersP21Minoru Iwata
SwallowsP28Daiki Yoshida
SwallowsIF93Yu Matsumoto
SwallowsOF8Shota Nakayama

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP31Yuya Fukui
MarinesP37Fumiya Ono
BuffaloesC44Yuma Tongu

Dectivated

MarinesP62Shoji Nagano
BuffaloesC33Masato Matsui

Starting pitchers for Oct. 24, 2020

Pacific League

Eagles vs Fighters: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Ryota Ishibashi (1-5, 6.23) vs Ryusei Kawano (2-4, 5.40)

Buffaloes vs Marines: Kyocera Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Andrew Albers (3-7, 3.86) vs Takuro Furuya (0-0, 3.00)

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

Nao Higashihama (8-1, 2.34) vs Ken Togame (1-1, 6.75)

Central League

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

Tomoyuki Sugano (13-1, 2.02) vs Haruto Takahashi (4-4, 2.35)

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

Yasuhiro Ogawa (9-6, 4.37) vs Takahiro Matsuba (3-6, 3.62)

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

Shoichi Inoh (6-6, 3.71) vs Masato Morishita (8-3, 2.21)

NPB 2020 Oct. 20

Tuesday’s games

Other news

Norimoto-Yamamoto duel as advertised

Torai Fushimi hit a game-tying home run in the ninth inning off Rakuten Eagles closer Alan Busenitz as the Orix Buffaloes salvaged a 2-2 10-inning tie at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi in which the teams’ two aces delivered.

Fushimi’s home run took Yoshinobu Yamamoto off the hook for the loss after he allowed two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out 10 over seven innings.

The Eagles took a 2-1 lead after sixth-inning singles by Ginji Akaminai and rookie Hiroto Kobukata. Akaminai smacked a mistake from Yamamoto through the infield, and Kobukata, one of the few Eagles to get quality swings off the Buffaloes’ ace, smoked a liner to left. Hideto Asamura’s miss-hit ball off the end of his bat just fell for a two-run double.

Right fielder Yuya Oda, who came within a hair of ending the inning on that fly, cut down Asamura for the final out at the plate.

Norimoto pitched out of a couple of early pickles, and was cruising until Steven Moya crushed a curveball for his ninth home run with two outs in the sixth, giving Yamamoto a 1-0 lead. The right-hander allowed five hits and a walk while striking out six over seven innings.

Eagles lefty Yuki Matsui walked two in the eighth but ended the inning by overpowering Moya with a fastball for a swinging strikeout after Orix wasted one out sacrificing in an attempt to tie it on the road.

Fushimi led off the top of the ninth by hammering a straight fastball down the pipe nearly to the Ferris wheel behind the left-field seating for his sixth home run.

Tyler Higgins worked a scoreless ninth for the Buffaloes. Eagles submariner Kazuhisa Makita pitched out of a two-on one-out situation in the 10th before Brandon Dickson sealed the tie in the bottom of the 10th with a 1-2-3 inning.

Hawks blow out Fighters

Shunsuke Kasaya (4-3) threw six scoreless innings, while Yuki Yanagita had four hits and scored three runs, and Yurisbel Gracial and Nobuhiro Matsuda each drove in three as the SoftBank Hawks whipped the Nippon Ham Fighters 11-2 at Sapporo Dome.

The win, combined with the Lotte Marines’ 2-1 loss to the Seibu Lions, increased the Hawks’ Pacific League lead to 6-1/2 games.

Kasaya, who threw five scoreless innings in his previous start, allowed two hits and two walks while striking out eight. The Hawks blasted Fighters right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa (8-6) for seven runs over five innings.

Fighters right-hander Bryan Rodriguez allowed two runs in one inning of relief, marking his season debut after the team said in June he’d had surgery to clean out his left knee.

“He brought something and threw some really good pitches,” manager Hideki Kuriyama said of Rodriguez.

Christian Villanueva also returned to the Fighters lineup for the first time in two weeks and drew a walk in three plate appearances.

Wednesday’s game is going to see Hawks’ ace Kodai Senga take on first-year Fighters import Drew VerHagen.

Lions survive blown Masuda save

The Seibu Lions scored an unearned ninth-inning run to walk off 2-1 winners over the Lotte Marines at MetLife Dome after closer Tatsushi Masuda (4-0) allowed the tying run in the ninth.

Both starting pitchers went seven with Lotte’s Ayumu Ishikawa allowing a run, while Kona Takahashi left with a 1-0 lead.

Lions left fielder Corey Spangenberg helped keep the Marines off the board in the third by robbing Yudai Fujioka of a leadoff single. Marines second baseman Shogo Nakamura did the same in the home half with a good play to defuse a Lions rally.

Shuta Tonosaki broke the scoreless deadlock in the seventh. He singled with one out, went to third on a Kakeru Yamanobe run-and-hit single and scored on Yuji Kaneko’s booming sacrifice fly.

Lions right-hander Kaima Taira worked a scoreless eighth, but Masuda walked a batter and hit one before surrendering a Tatsuhiro Tamura RBI single.

Tonosaki, however, rescued the Lions in the home half when he doubled with two outs against the Marines’ Naoya Masuda (3-3) and scored when Leonys Martin and Nakamura collided in shallow right as Yamanobe’s fly fell untouched.

Swallows walk away with tie

Yomiuri Giants rookie of the year candidate Shosei Togo threw a career-high 134 pitches over six scoreless innings in which he struck out nine and walked six, but had nothing to show for it after three relievers combined to blow the save in the ninth in a 1-1 10-inning with the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Rubby De La Rosa issued a five-pitch leadoff walk and left with two outs and two on after a sacrifice, a single and a strikeout. Lefty Ryusei Oe walked Norichika Aoki on five pitches to load them up and Toyoki Tanaka walked Tetsuto Yamada on four pitches to tie it.

The Giants lead the second-place Chunichi Dragons by 10-1/2 games and their magic number to clinch their second-straight Central League championship is seven.

Dragons 6, BayStars 1

Koji Fukutani (7-2) allowed one run over six innings, and the Chunichi Dragons cashed in three of their six sixth-inning base runners to come from behind in a 6-1 win over the DeNA BayStars at Nagoya Dome.

Fukutani allowed three hits, including Tyler Austin’s first-inning home run, and a walk, while striking out seven. Hiroto Fuku and Daisuke Sobue closed it out with one scoreless inning apiece for the Dragons. Dayan Viciedo went 3-for-5 with a double, a run, and two RBIs, while Toshiki Abe also had three hits, scored twice and drove in two.

Spencer Patton struck out three in the eighth for the BayStars, but allowed a run on an Abe double and a one-out Viciedo single.

Kuri holds off Tigers

Allen Kuri (7-5), who retired the first 14 batters he faced, allowed a run over 8-1/3 innings while the Carp scored four times in the third inning against Onelki Garcia (2-6), who was pitching for the first time in a month, in a 5-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium.

Kuri, who has allowed one run in each of his last three starts, gave up three of his four hits in the ninth inning, when Geronimo Franzua came in to record his 15th save.

Former Tigers closer Kyuji Fujikawa, who announced that this will be his last season, took the mound for the first time since Aug. 10 and worked a scoreless sixth inning.

Active roster moves 10/20/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/30

Central League

Activated

BayStarsP94Takamasa Kasai
TigersP77Onelki Garcia
SwallowsP48Yuto Kanakubo

Dectivated

TigersP49Joe Gunkel
SwallowsP61Takuma Kubo

Pacific League

Activated

MarinesP62Shoji Nagano
MarinesIF4Yudai Fujioka
MarinesOF0Takashi Ogino
FightersP40Suguru Fukuda
FightersP41Bryan Rodriguez
FightersIF44Christian Villanueva
BuffaloesIF5Masahiro Nishino

Dectivated

None

Starting pitchers for Oct. 21, 2020

Pacific League

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

Drew VerHagen (7-5, 3.47) vs Kodai Senga (8-6, 2.65)

Eagles vs Buffaloes: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hideaki Wakui (11-3, 2.95) vs Tsubasa Sakakibara (1-2, 4.13)

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

Shota Hamaya (2-2, 6.19) vs Wei-Yin Chen (0-1, 3.00)

Central League

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

Masanori Ishikawa (1-7, 4.92) vs Yuki Takahashi (1-0, 2.35)

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

Akiyoshi Katsuno (4-4, 3.70) vs Yuya Sakamoto (4-1, 5.24)

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

Koyo Aoyagi (6-8, 4.08) vs Atsushi Endo (3-5, 4.45)

NPB 2020 Oct. 14

Wednesday’s games

Other news

Ono hangs on for 5th shutout

Yudai Ono (9-5) returned to his complete-game victory fixation on Wednesday with his fifth shutout of the season as the lefty pitched out of a ninth-inning jam in the Chunichi Dragons’ 3-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Nagoya Dome.

The win lifted the Dragons into second place in the Central League at two games above .500 despite being outscored this season 396 to 356. Second place is largely symbolic as the Yomiuri Giants run away with the pennant and no possibility of advancing to the Japan Series since the CL has canceled its playoffs this year.

Ono struck out seven and walked one. He allowed two-out singles to Yusuke Oyama and Justin Bour in the ninth.

Tigers submarine right-hander Koyo Aoyagi (6-8) allowed three runs over seven innings to take the loss. Dayan Viciedo singled and scored in the second for the Dragons, and Zoilo Almonte singled in a run in the third.

Ono has now worked 36 consecutive scoreless innings. The Japan record is 64-1/3 by Hall of Famer Masaichi Kaneda, who accomplished the feat in 1958 with the Kokutetsu Swallows.

The lefty’s nine complete games are the most in Japan since Tomoyuki Sugano had 10 in 2018, when he won his second consecutive Sawamura Award, although eight of those were shutouts, which may be hard for Ono to match in this shortened season.

Masahiro Tanaka was the last pitcher in Japan with more than 10 complete games, when he had 14 in 2011.

Yudai Ono seals his shutout with a nice play from the mound.

Giants trim magic number to 9

Yuki Takahashi (1-0) allowed a run over five innings and tripled in the tie-breaking run in the second as the Yomiuri Giants beat the Hiroshima Carp 6-1 at Tokyo Dome.

Although the outfield was playing the pitcher shallow, Takahashi got some distance on his drive to the gap.

The win, combined with the Tigers’ loss, dropped the Giants’ magic number to clinch the pennant to nine.

Giants-Carp highlights

BayStars bash Swallows

The DeNA BayStars bashed out nine runs over the first six innings and then had to call on closer Kazuki Mishima after Naomichi Nishiura’s second homer of the game made it close in the eighth inning of their 9-6 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

BayStars starter Yuya Sakamoto (4-1) held the Swallows to a run over five innings, while 40-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa (1-7) allowed five runs over five. Mishima earned his 14th save.

Tyler Austin had three hits and two RBIs for the visitors, while Neftali Soto scored twice. Toshiro Miyazaki drove in three runs on three singles and Keita Sano homered for the third straight game.

Wakui outpitches Chen

Chen Wei-yin’s return to Japanese pro ball was impressive until a belt-high center-cut fastball to Hideto Asamura put the Rakuten Eagles in front in their 4-1 win over Chen’s new team, the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Hideaki Wakui (11-3) appeared to lose his footing on the mound on his first pitch, a 143-kph fastball down the middle to rookie Kyota Fujiwara who looked like he was geared up for a first-pitch fastball because he really hammered it for his first career home run.

Asamura singled and scored the tying run in the fourth on a Stefen Romero sacrifice fly and blasted his 31st home run in the sixth, driving it well back in the left-field stands for a 2-1 lead.

Chen allowed two runs over six innings, while Wakui went seven. Lefty Yuki Matsui worked a scoreless eighth and Alan Busenitz did the same in the ninth for his 18th save.

Senga strikes out 10

SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga (8-6) struck out 10 over six innings to earn the win in a 4-0 victory over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome that was scoreless through six innings.

Lefty Sachiya Yamasaki (4-5) surrendered a leadoff double to Ryoya Kurihara in the seventh. He scored on a wild pitch, and three two-out walks loaded the bases for Yuki Yanagita, who delivered a three-run double.

It was the Buffaloes’ second straight shutout loss. The win lifted SoftBank three games clear of the second-place Marines.

VerHagen shuts down Lions

Drew VerHagen (7-5) struck out 10 over eight scoreless innings as the Nippon Ham Fighters took advantage of nine walks in a 7-2 win over the Seibu Lions at Sapporo Dome.

VerHagen allowed three hits and walked two to earn his first winsince he last threw eight shutout innings to beat the Rakuten Eagles on Sept. 14.

Taishi Ota hit a two-run first-inning home run off rookie Shota Hamaya (2-2).

Active roster moves 10/14/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/24

Central League

Activated

TigersIF33Kento Itohara
TigersOF32Kota Inoue

Dectivated

TigersP29Haruto Takahashi
TigersIF2Fumiya Hojo
TigersOF9Shun Takayama

Pacific League

Activated

MarinesP58Chen Wei-yin
BuffaloesP11Sachiya Yamasaki
BuffaloesIF0Shoki Katsumata

Dectivated

MarinesP41Kakeru Narita
BuffaloesOF99Yutaro Sugimoto

Starting pitchers for Oct. 15, 2020

Pacific League

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

Nick Martinez (1-6, 4.58) vs Zach Neal (4-6, 4.78)

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

Kazuya Ojima (7-6, 3.28) vs Takayuki Kishi (3-0, 4.72)

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

Daiki Tajima (4-4, 3.67) vs Shuta Ishikawa (7-3, 2.58)

Central League

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

Angel Sanchez (7-3, 2.92) vs Yusuke Nomura (6-3, 4.59)

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

Daiki Yoshida (1-6, 5.01) vs Kentaro Taira (3-3, 2.57)

Dragons vs Tigers: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Takahiro Matsuba (3-6, 3.92) vs Minoru Iwata (1-1, 4.41)

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 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)