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NPB 2020 Sept. 27

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Togo impresses over 7

Yomiuri Giants rookie Shosei Togo (8-4) shut down the Chunichi Dragons for seven innings in a 5-1 win at Tokyo Dome on Sunday.

The 20-year-old right-hander, the Giants’ sixth pick in the 2018 draft, located his 150-kph (93.2 MPH) fastball that set the table for a nasty splitter and a good slider. He allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four.

Why call Togo “the Admiral?” Sunday’s members notes

The Dragons threatened in the first when Yohei Oshima rolled a tough pitch through the infield and Yota Kyoda smashed a high straight fastball for a single, but Togo bore down and took out the heart of the Chunichi order, Zolio Almonte, Dayan Viciedo and Shuhei Takahashi.

Seiya Matsubara tripled twice and scored three runs for the Giants, who peppered lefty Takahiro Matsuba (3-5). Matsubara opened the scoring in the first with an RBI triple off the top of the wall, and scored on a Hayato Sakamoto ground out.

With a runner on first and two outs in the fifth, the Dragons opted to walk Sakamoto intentionally rather than letting him hack at a 3-0 pitch from the lefty. Moving the runner to second proved costly, when cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto put a picture-perfect swing on a pitch away and drove it to right to make it 3-0.

Almonte and Viciedo combined to produce a run off Rubby De La Rosa in the ninth. Sakamoto doubled in the third, his 1,964th career hit.

Giants-Dragons highlights

Onuki wins 7th

Shinichi Onuki (7-4) allowed a run on three hits and a walk over 6-2/3 innings as the DeNA BayStars beat the Hiroshima Carp 3-1 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Takayuki Kajitani got the BayStars on the board in the first, leading off against Yuta Nakamura (0-2) with his 15th home run. Neftali Soto then doubled and scored on a ground out.

In the second, Kajitani saved a run with a diving catch in the gap, causing manager Alex Ramirez to say the play brought back memories — of center fielders diving to grab balls because he had no range in left field.

Onuki left after allowing Ryuhei Matsuyama’s two-out home run in the seventh, but the DeNA bullpen then set down the last seven hitters. Spencer Patton dispatched the bottom of the order 1-2-3 in the eighth, and Kazuki Mishima fanned two in a 1-2-3 ninth against the top of the order to record his 11th save.

Haraguchi, Sands bury Swallows

Fumihito Haraguchi homered, singled, walked, scored two runs and drove in three, while Jerry Sands had three hits and made a run-saving catch in the outfield as the Hanshin Tigers beat the Yakults Swallows 9-3 at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Sands singled in the game’s opening run off rookie Daiki Yoshida (1-5) after Koji Chikamoto opened the game with a single and stole second.

Haraguchi homered to open the second to tie it, and the Tigers took the lead in the third. The Swallows hit Tigers starter Takumi Aoyama (6-2) in the fourth, but failed to tie it thanks to two defensive gems.

Munetaka Murakami led off with a drive to the wall in center that Chikamoto somehow caught for the first out. Tomotaka Sakaguchi followed with a double and was poised to score on a sinking liner to left, but Sands was able to make a diving catch and hold onto the ball for the third out.

Chikamoto had four hits for the Tigers and drove in three.

No coaching in the press box–Sunday’s members notes

Shadow ball

Normal programming was restored at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, where the SoftBank Hawks’ normal program is the “Twilight Zone,” in particular, the episode “Shadow Play.

On Sunday the three-time defending Japan Series champs lost 8-4 to the Lotte Marines, who now lead their season series 10-4-1. Last year, the Marines went 16-8-1 against manager Tadahito Iguchi’s old team.

Leonys Martin became the sixth player in Pacific League history to walk five times in a game. The Japan record is held by Hall of Famer Hiromitsu Ochiai. He scored twice. Seiya Inoue’s two RBI doubles drove in four of the Marines’ first seven runs, all charged to Hawks starter Akira Niho (4-5) who didn’t finish the second inning.

Former Hawk Shuhei Fukuda had four hits and drove in three runs for the hosts, while another free agent acquisition, pitcher Manabu Mima (8-2) won despite allowing four runs over five innings.

Lions sweep Eagles

Wataru Matsumoto (4-3) scattered four walks and four hits to allow two runs over seven innings, and Ernesto Mejia doubled twice and drove in two runs for the Seibu Lions in a 6-2 win over the Rakuten Eagles to complete a three-game sweep at MetLife Dome.

Mejia, who was hit by a pitch in the first, doubled in both runs in the Lions’ two-run second. He doubled again in the seventh to set up an insurance run.

Both Eagles runs came on solo homers, Stefen Romero’s 20th — his 89th in four Japan season — and the first of rookie Hiroto Kobukata’s career.

Fighters pay Buffaloes’ roaming charges

Teams virtually always take batting practice before the game, but the Orix Buffaloes kept going after home plate umpire Yuta Sudo shouted “play ball.,” in a 20-hit 12-8 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Four different Buffaloes hitters recorded a “modasho,” and Steven Moya continued to hit balls over the wall with his fourth homer in five games, a two-run shot that broke a 4-4 third-inning tie.

Adam Jones, who had been deactivated due to a stiff lower back, returned to the Orix lineup for the first time since Sept. 15. He went 1-for-4 with a first-inning sacrifice fly.

Kotaro Kiyomiya, whose three-run pinch-hit double tied Saturday’s game in the ninth, allowing Nippon Ham to win in extra innings, came off the bench in the ninth and hit a two-run pinch-hit home run.

Fighters rookie Kosei Yoshida, the epic hero of 2018’s national high school championship, started and allowed four runs in 1-1/3 innings.

Active roster moves 9/27/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/7

Central League

Activated

CarpC27Tsubasa Aizawa

Dectivated

GiantsP17Kan Otake
CarpOF49Yuya Shozui

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP13Akira Niho
EaglesC65Kengo Horiuchi
MarinesC22Tatsuhiro Tamura
FightersP18Kosei Yoshida
BuffaloesOF10Adam Jones

Dectivated

LionsP49Sean Nolin
HawksP14Ren Kajiya
EaglesC2Hikaru Ota
MarinesC39Yuta Yoshida
FightersP40Suguru Fukuda
BuffaloesP27Andrew Albers

Starting pitchers for Sept. 28, 2020

Central League

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

Allen Kuri (4-5, 4.46) vs Masaya Kyoyama (1-0, 6.55)

NPB 2020 Sept. 25

Marines throw 1st punch

The Lotte Marines exploited a few bad pitches and a fumbled ground ball to put five runs off Matt Moore (3-2) in a 7-4 win over the SoftBank Hawks at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium on Friday.

The win moved the second-place Marines to within one game of the league-leading Hawks, who are now 3-9-1 against Lotte but have a winning record against the other four PL teams.

Former Marine Alfredo Despaigne popped the cork on this one in the second inning with a solo homer off Kota Futaki (5-2), who allowed four runs over 6-1/3 innings and earned the win.

Moore was hammered in one bad inning when the Marines hit their share of bad pitches, second baseman Ukyo Shuto dropped a ball after the first two runners reached and Leonys Martin hit a flare single when he was jammed inside with a good fastball.

Moore reasserted himself until he was finally pulled in the eighth inning after a leadoff single and a sacrifice with the Hawks trailing 5-4. Yuki Matsumoto allowed the inherited run and one more to score.

Marines right-hander Yuki Karakawa surrendered an inherited run in the seventh in relief of Futaki, but Hirokazu Sawamura and closer Naoya Masuda shut the door on their way out with Masuda earning his 24th save.

Spangenberg wins Padre challenge

Corey Spangenberg broke a 4-4 seventh-inning tie with a single off former San Diego Padres teammate Kazuhisa Makita (1-1) as the Seibu Lions beat the Rakuten Eagles 5-4 at MetLife Dome.

Ernesto Mejia drove in three runs with a pair of RBI singles for the Lions and took the Fighters by surprise with his baserunning and a great slide into home in the fifth inning. Lions starter Zach Neal, allowed four runs over five-plus innings but was taken off the hook by his teammates in a win that snapped the Eagles’ five-game winning streak.

Moya slams Fighters

Steven Moya homered for the third time in three games with a fourth-inning grand slam off Nick Martinez (1-5) as the Orix Buffaloes beat the Nippon Ham Fighters 9-2 at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Opening Day starter Taisuke Yamaoka (2-3) delivered his third straight solid start, allowing two runs over 6-2/3 innings to earn the win as Orix improved to 7-2-1 over the last 10 games.

Sakamoto, Giants march on

Hayato Sakamoto drove in two runs and had two hits to move within 37 of 2,000 in his career, while cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto hit his Central League-leading 23rd home run, drove in four and drew three walks in the Yomiuri Giants’ 8-4 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Tokyo Dome.

The Giants lowered their magic number to 26 to clinch their second straight pennant and the 47th league championship.

Giants-Dragons highlights.

Swallows beat Tigers

Jerry Sands and Justin Bour each drove in a run for the Hanshin Tigers, who twice blew leads in a 6-3 loss to the Yakult Swallows on a day in which Hanshin dropped nearly a third of its active roster due to novel coronavirus infections.

Bour homered in the second and doubled with a man on in the sixth, when Hanshin wasted a two-on, no-out opportunity with two strikeouts and an out on the bases.

Norichika Aoki homered for the Swallows, while his former Kansas City Royals teammate Alcides Escobar singled in two runs in the fourth to tie it 3-3. Naomichi Nishiura singled in Aoki in the sixth to put the Swallows ahead against Yuki Nishi (7-4).

Takahiro Araki hit a two-run homer off Atsushi Nomi, who had been called up that day, to ice it in the seventh.

Tokoda puts brakes on BayStars

Hiroki Tokoda (2-6) allowed a run over seven innings and the Hiroshima Carp bludgeoned Shoichi Ino (6-5) for five runs in five-plus innings in a 5-3 win over the DeNA BayStars at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Tokoda, who last won on July 11, snapped a streak of five straight losing starts. The southpaw struck out nine and walked one while allowing eight hits.

Carp shortstop Kosuke Tanaka delivered the big blow for the hosts with a two-run homer in the third following Tokoda’s leadoff single.

Tigers’ show goes on

The Hanshin Tigers announced Friday that teamwide testing in the wake of a positive coronavirus test on the farm team, four first-team players, including captain and second baseman Kento Itohara, and two first-team staff members have also tested positive.

A number of Tigers players were deemed to have been in close contact with those infected, resulting in nine players being dropped from the active roster on Friday.

Despite the result, Hanshin’s game against the Yakult Swallows went on as scheduled at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, where the plague cats lost 6-3 to the hosts, with two runs scoring off Atsushi Nomi, one of Friday’s nine call-ups.

On Sunday when the team was in Nagoya, two groups of players including those who tested positive dined out.

The team allows players to eat out provided they do so in private rooms with no more than four individuals, but one of the groups included eight people.

The Tigers’ Western League farm game against the Chunichi Dragons on Friday was called off. Meanwhile, the Hiroshima Carp canceled their Western League game on Saturday against the Orix Buffaloes after Wednesday’s report that one of Orix’s minor league pitchers had tested positive.

The Tigers were the first team with reported infections when pitcher Shintaro Fujinami and two others tested positive in March. The Yomiuri Giants also reported two infections just prior to Opening Day.

Active roster moves 9/25/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/5

Central League

Activated

GiantsIF68Kazuya Katsuki
TigersP14Atsushi Nomi
TigersP19Shintaro Fujinami
TigersP34Masaki Tanigawa
TigersP48Yukiya Saito
TigersIF00Hiroki Uemoto
TigersIF2Fumiya Hojo
TigersIF4Takahiro Kumagai
TigersOF9Shun Takayama
TigersOF53Kairi Shimada
CarpP30Ryuji Ichioka

Dectivated

GiantsOF9Yoshiyuki Kamei
TigersP17Yuta Iwasada
TigersP18Kosuke Baba
TigersP56Keisuke Kobayashi
TigersP66Ippei Ogawa
TigersP67Suguru Iwazaki
TigersIF0Seiya Kinami
TigersIF33Kento Itohara
TigersIF55Naomasa Yokawa
TigersOF8Kosuke Fukudome
TigersOF25Taiga Egoshi

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP57Tsubasa Kokuba
LionsOF51Manaya Nishikawa
EaglesP17Takahiro Shiomi
MarinesP18Kota Futaki
MarinesOF0Takashi Ogino

Dectivated

LionsP21Ken Togame
LionsP36Sho Ito
MarinesOF10Shohei Kato

Starting pitchers for Sept. 25, 2020

Pacific League

Lions vs Eagles: MetLife Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Sean Nolin (1-2, 7.08) vs Ryota Ishibashi (1-4, 6.46)

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

Toshiya Nakamura (2-3, 4.44) vs Nao Higashihama (4-1, 2.66)

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

Andrew Albers (3-6, 3.97) vs Kohei Arihara (5-7, 3.93)

Central League

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

Seishu Hatake (1-3, 4.56) vs Koji Fukutani (4-2, 2.42)

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

Albert Suarez (3-0, 1.86) vs Joe Gunkel (1-2, 2.96)

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

Masato Morishita (6-2, 2.40) vs Haruhiro Hamaguchi (5-4, 3.75)

NPB 2020 Sept. 17

Tigers crush Giants

Yuki Nishi (7-3) threw his second-straight four-hit shutout as the Hanshin Tigers bedeviled Angel Sanchez (4-3) in an 11-0 Central League win at Tokyo Dome on Thursday.

Koji Chikamoto launched a high-straight fastball from Sanchez to open the game and the Tigers simply overran the Giants. Sanchez issued a two-out bases-loaded walk in the first and then caught a break with a doubtful interference call when second baseman Akihiro Wakabayashi cut in front of the runner from first to get a slow chopper and clipped him with his hand.

In a three-run second, Tigers captain Kento Itohara scored from first on a single to center, speeding home from third when center fielder Yoshihiro Maru made a lazy lob of his throw to the infield.

The Tigers win snapped an eight-game losing streak at Tokyo. Chikamoto homered again in the sixth for his second two-homer game of the series and Justin Bour homered in the seventh to make it 7-0.

“Yano wasn’t really at his best. He worked really carefully. When he doesn’t have a lot of room for error, that’s when you see his real skill,” said Tigers manager Akihiro Yano, who was also asked about Chikamoto’s success at Tokyo Dome.

“Does he do well in this park? Is that really a thing?”

Giants manager Tatsunori Hara, who stirred a national debate on Aug. 6 by using utility man Daiki Masuda as an emergency pitcher–something rarely seen in Japan–sent his top pinch-runner to the bullpen late in the game to warm him up but he didn’t take the mound.

Giants-Tigers highlights.

Enemies of the Peoples: Baby Swallows a hit

Rookie Taiki Hamada homered in a three-run fifth inning to chase Michael Peoples (2-2) as a pair of 2018 Yakult draftees took center stage in a 9-0 win for the Swallows over the DeNA BayStars at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

The hosts got on the board in the second when 36-year-old Tomotaka Sakaguchi singled and scored on a throwing error when shortstop Tatsuhiro Shibata airmailed his short throw to second on a force play.

The 20-year-old Hamada, a fourth-round pick, homered to open the fifth. Alcides Escobar followed with his second double and scored on a double by his former Kansas City Royals teammate Norichika Aoki.

Sakaguchi plated Aoki with a sac fly to close the book on Peoples, and 23-year-old Shota Nakayama, the Swallows’ second pick in 2018, homered off nominal closer Yasuaki Yamasaki with one out in the sixth. Nakayama tied a 44-year-old team record of three pinch-hit home runs in a month set by Hall of Famer Katsuo Osugi.

Yakulty yak

Osugi is best known for a home run that ignited the most famous protest in Japan Series history.

The 1978 series MVP hit one down the line in the sixth inning that saw Hall of Fame manager Toshiharu Ueda pull his team off the field at Tokyo’s Korakuen Stadium, delaying the game for 1 hour and 16 minutes. This led the Pacific League to punish teams pulling their players off the field with a forfeit–a rule that was not adopted in the Central League or in the  Japan Series–where Chunichi Dragons manager Hiromitsu Ochiai did it in Game 1 of the 2004 series.

Hawks get emotional

Akira Nakamura, who along with superstar Yuki Yanagita is now the second big wheel in the SoftBank Hawks’ offense, singled to help break up a scoreless tie in the ninth inning of a 2-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.

The Hawks are now mourning Wednesday’s death of longtime conditioning coach Takashi Kawamura at the age of 55. The 30-year-old Nakamura, who has spent much of the last two years with the team’s rehab group where he worked a lot with the trainer, was asked to take part in the postgame hero interview, where the interviewer did what “hero” interviewers tend to do when a team or a player is dealing with a death, ask the player over and over about the deceased.

Nakamura sounded both heartfelt and patient dealing with the incessant badgering.

“Kawamura-san helped me from the time I came out of high school. He invited me to train in the offseason with him and he taught me what it means to be a pro,” Nakamura said. “I owe him so much. Extending my career as long as I can take it will be my way of repaying my debt of gratitude.”

The game was tremendous pitchers’ duel between natives of Urama, Okinawa Prefecture (population 121,843), Nao Higashihama (4-1) the Hawks’ Opening Day starter, and Kenta Uehara (0-1) of the Fighters.

The Hawks defense turned the Fighters back in the third and the sixth. Higashihama made a great play on a safety squeeze in the third to cut down a runner at the plate. In the sixth, Christian Villanueva was out trying to advance from second on a foul fly by right fielder Ryota Nakamura.

Uehara threw 90 pitches through eight innings and came out in the ninth. He issued a leadoff walk, and Nakamura singled only after fouling off two attempts.

“I felt like I had to gain some redemption after being unable to get a bunt down,” Nakamura said of his 1,000th career hit on a ground smash fumbled at third.

Yurisbel Gracial singled in one run, and the second run–the one Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo had not been playing for–scored on an error. The two-run edge allowed closer Yuito Mori to overcame a tremendous opposite-field homer by Sho Nakata to record his 22nd save.

Graceless under pressure

The postgame interviews following a death can be awfully trying. Generally, the questioner isn’t satisfied until he gets some grand emotional response and hopefully tear. This happened famously when current Eagles pitcher Yuya Fukui was a rookie with the Hiroshima Carp and was asked to comment on the death of his brother.

These pitiless interviewers typically ask, “Don’t you think the deceased is looking down on you from heaven now and smiling?”

The nadir came after one player’s wife died after a long illness, that those around him said was exacerbated by his womanizing and shabby treatment of her. In his first hero interview that spring, he was asked the routine interview questions, the tears flowed, and the fans were pleased.

Marines maul Lions every which way

The Lotte Marines bunted the Seibu Lions senseless in a two-run second inning and Leonys Martin hit his 21st and 22nd home runs to back Daiki Iwashita (5-5) in an 8-1 win at MetLife Dome.

Ikuhiro Kiyota opened the second with a double off 38-year-old lefty Tetsuya Utsumi (1-2), who then nearly collided with catcher Tomoya Mori as they both chased a sacrifice bunt that Mori fumbled for an error.

Kiyota held at second on the play, and when the Marines tried again to bunt him over, Mori’s throw to third sailed and a run scored. The second run came home on a safety squeeze and the Marines never looked back.

Iwashita, who struck out Lions cleanup hitter Hotaka Yamakawa three times, allowed a run in the ninth, giving up four hits and a walk while striking out five over eight-plus innings.

Matsui wins duel of former closers

Rakuten Eagles lefty Yuki Matsui (2-3) allowed two runs over five innings to beat Hirotoshi Masui (0-2) in a battle of former closers in a 5-4 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Hotto Motto Field Kobe.

Eagles first baseman Daichi Suzuki made the play of the day diving to catch a foul pop and end the bottom of the first. He then singled with two outs in the third and scored on Kazuki Tanaka’s sixth home run.

Alan Busenitz allowed an unearned run in the ninth, and wrapped up his 11th save when Suzuki made a good play in foul territory to end it with two runners on.

Jones deactivated

Adam Jones was deactivated with a stiff lower back, and was replaced on the active roster by Aderlin Rodriguez, who singled in a run in the Buffaloes’ two-run fourth.

Carp ace Osera has surgery

Daichi Osera, the Opening Day starter for the Central League’s Hiroshima Carp the past two seasons, has undergone right shoulder surgery the team announced Wednesday.

No timeline was given for the 29-year-old right-hander’s return, but he will likely miss the rest of the season after having arthroscopic surgery to clean out the joint at a hospital in Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture.

Osera opened the season with back-to-back complete games for first-year manager and former Carp pitcher Shinji Sasaoka. He has twice been deactivated for “poor form.”

Marines’ Hermmann out of action

Lotte Marines reliever Frank Herrmann was deactivated Wednesday after he was diagnosed with tendon damage in his right index finger. He reportedly will refrain from throwing for two weeks.

Active roster moves 9/17/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/27

Central League

Activated

SwallowsP14Hirotoshi Takanashi
SwallowsOF65Shotaro Tashiro

Dectivated

DragonsP29Daisuke Yamai
SwallowsP64Ren Kazahari
SwallowsOF50Tsuyoshi Ueda

Pacific League

Activated

BuffaloesP17Hirotoshi Masui
BuffaloesIF42Aderlin Rodriguez
BuffaloesOF1Steven Moya

Dectivated

HawksP13Akira Niho
BuffaloesC62Katsuki Yamazaki
BuffaloesOF10Adam Jones

Starting pitchers for Sept. 18, 2020

Pacific League

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

Nick Martinez (1-4, 3.49) vs Toshiya Nakamura (2-2, 3.80)

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

Taisuke Yamaoka (0-3, 3.09) vs Zach Neal (3-5, 4.68)

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

Matt Moore (2-1, 2.60) vs Ryota Ishibashi (1-3, 6.88)

Central League

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

Albert Suarez (2-0, 0.78) vs Hiroki Tokoda (1-5, 5.34)

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

Shoichi Ino (5-4, 3.23) vs Shosei Togo (7-3, 2.37)

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

Yuya Yanagi (3-4, 3.10) vs Onelki Garcia (2-5, 3.93)

NPB 2020 Sept. 4

Mori, Yamakawa get Neal a win

Zach Neal (3-4) got the help he needed to secure his first win since July 17 as he allowed 10 base runners but just two runs over 5-1/3 innings in the Seibu Lions’ 6-2 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters.

The Lions were handed the early lead when Corey Spangenberg’s two-out bases-loaded grounder was misplayed. First baseman Kotaro Kiyomiya retreated to first instead of grabbing it and flipping to his pitcher. Instead of making the third out, Spangenberg was credited with an RBI infield single.

Tomoya Mori made it 3-0 in the second, hitting his sixth homer with Sosuke Genda on base. Sho Nakata hit his Japan-best 23rd homer in the fourth and Ryo Watanabe tripled and scored on a Christian Villanueva infield single in the sixth to make it a one-run game. With one on and one out, rookie Tetsu Miyagawa preserved the lead. Kaima Taira, Reed Garrett and Tatsushi Masuda finished up for Seibu.

Fighters starter Toshihiro Sugiura retired 12 straight after Mori’s home run, and stranded two runners in the sixth before making his exit.

Hotaka Yamakawa, trailing Nakata in the race for his third-straight PL home run crown, made it 6-2 in the seventh with his 20th, a three-run shot off right-hander Kazutomo Iguchi.

Asamura carries Eagles over Buffaloes

Hideto Asamura homered twice and the player the Rakuten Eagles see as his future heir at second base, Fumiya Kurokawa, drove in a game-tying run in his first career plate appearance in a 4-3 win over the Orix Buffaloes.

Taisuke Yamaoka (0-2), Orix’s Opening Day starter, allowed four runs over seven innings. The right-hander surrendered three solo home runs, but allowed just a run in the second, when loaded the bases with no outs. His inning was put in jeopardy when right fielder Yuya Oda misplayed a ball that put two men in scoring position. But after a walk, Yamaoka regrouped and allowed only a sacrifice fly on a good swing from Kurokawa, the Eagles’ second draft pick last year.

The Buffaloes broke the ice when Masataka Yoshida extended his hitting streak to 22 games with a two-out RBI single off Takahiro Norimoto.

Norimoto loaded the bases in the top of the third, allowing the go-ahead run on a one-out bases-loaded sacrifice fly. The Eagles ace was pulled after the third having thrown 48 pitches due, according to Pro Yakyu News analyst Hiroki Nomura, to “a cut on his pitching hand.”

Asamura tied it in the third with his 19th homer, and catcher Yuichi Adachi put the hosts up with a homer in the fifth. After the Buffs tied it in the top of the sixth, Asamura went deep again in the home half to make it 4-3.

Six Rakuten relievers finished up. Alan Busenitz pitched out of a two-out, two-on jam to earn his ninth save.

Ishikawa pitches Marines past Hawks

Ayumu Ishikawa (6-2) allowed two runs over seven innings and the Lotte Marines got to the SoftBank Hawks bullpen as they overcame two Yurisbel Gracial home runs in a 4-3 win at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Ishikawa allowed three hits and a walk while striking out four, and was on the losing end against Hawks southpaw Matt Moore, who battled his command for 5-2/3 innings. The first-year-import scattered five hits and three walks, and got a big play to end the Marines’ fifth from first baseman Akira Nakamura and preserve a 2-0 lead.

Yugo Bando (2-2) got the Hawks out of the sixth with a 2-1 lead but surrendered three runs in the seventh to take the loss. He was followed to the mound by Yuta Watanabe, who made his first team debut two weeks shy of his 29th birthday and worked a 1-2-3 eighth.

Frank Herrmann worked a scoreless eighth with a gift double play when the Hawks bunted into a twin killing with a runner on second. Closer Naoya Masuda surrendered Gracial’s second homer in the ninth en route to his 15th save.

Takahashi homer breaks tie in Dragons’ win

Shuhei Takahashi’s fourth homer proved to be the decisive blow, breaking a 2-2 tie in the Chunichi Dragons’ 4-2 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Zoilo Almonte tied it 2-2 with his third hit of the game, a two-out two-run fifth-inning double. Dayan Viciedo singled to open the Dragons’ sixth and scored on Takahashi’s fourth homer, off Hirotoshi Takanashi (2-4).

Katsuki Matayoshi (1-0) earned the win for two scoreless innings of relief, and three scoreless innings from Daisuke Sobue, Hiroto Fuku and Raidel Martinez, who earned his 10th save, wrapped it up.

The Swallows got on the board on Norichika Aoki’s 12th home run off starter Yuya Yanagi and made it 2-0 in the fourth when Yasutaka Shiomi doubled with two outs and scored on an Alcides Escobar single.

Tigers’ Nishi, Suarez hold off Giants

Starter Yuki Nishi (5-3) and closer Robert Suarez held off the Yomiuri Giants in a 5-4 win at Koshien Stadium after Jerry Sands homered for the third time in four games.

Yusuke Oyama homered and Justin Bour doubled and scored on a safety squeeze by pitcher Yuki Nishi in the second off rookie Shosei Togo (7-3). Jerry Sands hit his 15th home run, driving in two in Hanshin’s three-run sixth.

Nishi allowed four runs, three earned, over 7-2/3 innings. With two on and two out, closer Robert Suarez was brought on to face Yoshihiro Maru, who doubled in the Giants first run of the game in the seventh. Suarez struck him out swinging at a 159 kph (98.8 mph) fastball on his seventh pitch. He then worked a 1-2-3 ninth, wrapping up his 13th save when pinch-hitter Zelous Wheeler flied out to the warning track.

Nishi struck out nine and walked one while allowing seven hits in his 123-pitch outing. Togo allowed five runs in 5-2/3 innings.

Kikuchi powers Carp comeback

Ryosuke Kikuchi went 5-for-6 with two doubles, two runs and three RBIs to help power the Hiroshima Carp, who overcame two large deficits to salvage a 12-12 10-inning tie with the DeNA BayStars at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Kikuchi singled in two runs with two outs in the ninth as Kazuki Mishima blew a two-run save for the visitors, who led 5-0 after three 9-5 after the top of the sixth.

A battle between in-form right-handers Shoichi Ino and Carp rookie Masato Morishita devolved into a slug fest as each pitcher allowed five runs while neither made it through four innings.

Neftali Soto doubled and homered and drove in four runs for the BayStars, while Carp closer Geronimo Franzua and BayStars reliever Edwin Escobar each put up a zero in the 10th to ensure a tie.

Active roster moves 9/4/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/14

Central League

Activated

TigersIF33Kento Itohara

Dectivated

TigersC39Kenya Nagasaka
CarpP42Kris Johnson

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP29Ryuya Ogawa
HawksP48Yuta Watanabe
EaglesIF24Fumiya Kurokawa
BuffaloesP14Kazumasa Yoshida
BuffaloesC62Katsuki Yamazaki

Dectivated

LionsP19Hiromasa Saito
HawksP13Akira Niho
EaglesOF51Yuya Ogo
BuffaloesP17Hirotoshi Masui
BuffaloesC33Masato Matsui

Starting pitchers for Sept. 4, 2020

Pacific League

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

Kohei Arihara (3-6, 3.56) vs Sean Nolin (1-0, 4.50)

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

Takahiro Shiomi (3-5, 4.53) vs Sachiya Yamasaki (2-3, 4.38)

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

Shota Takeda (1-0, 1.29) vs Manabu Mima (5-2, 4.95)

Central League

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

Daiki Yoshida (1-4, 5.50) vs Takahiro Matsuba (2-3, 3.08)

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

Shintaro Fujinami (1-4, 4.26) vs Nobutaka Imamura (2-0, 4.02)

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

Daichi Osera (5-3, 3.45) vs Shinichi Onuki (5-2, 2.22)

NPB 2021 Sept. 1

Yamamoto finally beats Senga

Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto escaped a first-inning jam to work seven innings in a 5-0 win over SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga on Tuesday at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Masataka Yoshida singled in two runs in the sixth for the hosts and double in another in the seventh.

Yamamoto (4-2) walked five batters and struck out seven while allowing two hits. He threw 114 pitches, but 35 of those in the first inning, when he walked the bases loaded and got lucky when Yuki Yanagita just missed a hanging slider with one on and no outs, only managing to drive it to the warning track.

The right-hander brought his bread-and-butter four-seam fastball, but also had good command of his curve and slider, giving those pitches more extensive workouts than he usually does. The win was Yamamoto’s first since the middle of July.

“He (Yamamoto) didn’t pitch the same way he usually does. Whether it was because he went to his breaking pitches more or not, I don’t know, but he pitched really well.”

–SoftBank Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo

“I’ve been going through a long stretch where I’ve not been very good,” Yamamoto said. “I’d already lost twice to him, so I wanted to do what I could to not do that again.”

“Senga pitched really well, and even though I walked all those batters in the first I was able to regroup. Even though I hadn’t been pulling my weight, my teammates never got down on me. I have them to thank for having my back.”

Senga (5-3) allowed four runs on five hits and six walks over 6-2/3 innings while striking out six. The Buffaloes broke the deadlock against him in the sixth, when he issued two walks and Keita Nakagawa bunted for a single to load the bases.

Yoshida got a high-straight 2-1 fastball and didn’t try to do too much with. He rifled it into center for a two-run single. Back-to-back two-out walks pushed across another run, and manger Kimiyasu Kudo stuck with Senga until Yoshida made it 4-0 with a seventh-inning double.

“Nakagawa laid down such a great bunt,” Yoshida said. “Against one of the Pacific League’s marquee pitchers, I was just looking to put a good swing on whatever good pitch I could get.”

Tyler Higgins struck out three batters in the eighth to work around a one-out walk and a single, and closer Brandon Dickson struck out two in a scoreless ninth for the Buffaloes.

Takahashi pulverizes Marines

Kona Takahashi (4-6) worked seven scoreless innings and the Seibu Lions punished Yuta Omine (0-1) in his first game back since Tommy John surgery in a 9-1 win over the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Takahashi allowed one seventh-inning hit thanks to some sparkling team defense, while walking two and striking out three. The Lions tattooed Omine for seven runs over five innings.

Takumi Kuriyama, had three hits and broke the ice with a two-run third-inning single and Hotaka Yamakawa capped the rally with his 19th home run, a three-run shot.

Uwasawa goes distance to beat Eagles

Naoyuki Uwasawa (5-2) threw a five-hitter for the Nippon Ham Fighters in their 8-1 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Sapporo Dome.

The right-hander struck out seven and walked three in a 125-pitch effort. He pitched out of a two-on, no-out pickle in the second inning thanks to two-straight failed squeeze plays before surrendering the game’s first run when Kazuki Tanaka took him deep to lead off the fifth.

The Fighters tied it in the home half when Ryo Watanabe singled, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a Christian Villanueva single. Go Matsumoto’s seventh-inning RBI single off Sung Chih-hao (1-2), and the Fighters piled on in the eighth with four runs off J.T. Chargois.

Carp become Ono’s latest victims

After Yudai Ono threw his first complete game victory of the season on July 31, he was asked what he’d changed after going 0-3 in his first six starts.

He said, “Nothing really, I’ve pitched well enough to win most of the time but was only unable to hang in until we did. I’ve tried to be more economical and pitch tougher so I could stay in games longer.”

Since then, the self-deprecating Chunichi Dragons lefty has reeled off five-straight complete-game victories, tying a franchise record shared by three others, with a 5-0 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Nagoya Dome.

Ono allowed two hits and a walk in the 116-pitch outing to throw his second-straight shutout. Hiroshima’s Allen Kuri (2-4) allowed all five runs on nine hits and three walks over 7-2/3 innings.

Yota Kyoda broke up a scoreless tie in the fifth inning after reaching on a leadoff triple and scoring when Ono grounded out.

Giants walk it off against ‘Stars

Naoki Yoshikawa bounced a ground ball through the infield to bring home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as the Yomiuri Giants beat the DeNA BayStars 3-2 at Tokyo Dome.

Against Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano, the Dragons erased a two-run deficit. Sugano allowed one run in the fifth when the BayStars loaded the bases with no outs. He issued two walks, both in the ninth to set the table for Keita Sano’s game-tying RBI single off lefty Kota Nakagawa.

Sugano, who was gunning for his 10th victory to start the season, allowed four hits while striking out 10.

Rubby De La Rosa (1-0) worked a 1-2-3 ninth for the Giants to earn the win in relief after the Giants scored off of lefty Edwin Escobar (0-2) to win it.

The Giants opened the scoring against Taiga Kamichatani in the fourth on a walk by Yoshihiro Maru and a two-out Takumi Oshiro homer.

Spencer Patton worked a scoreless seventh and Kenta Ishida did the same in the eighth to keep the BayStars in it until the end.

Sands blast knocks off Swallows

Jerry Sands drove in both runs for the Hanshin Tigers in their 2-1 win over the Yakult Swallows at Koshien Stadium.

The former Dodger and KBO RBI champ doubled in a run in the fourth to break up a scoreless pitchers’ duel between lefties Masanori Ishikawa of the Swallows and Haruto Takahashi of the Tigers. Ishikawa lasted 5-1/3 innings, while Takahashi went seven.

The Swallows tied it on a two-out Munetaka Murakami double and an Alcides Escobar RBI single. But Yuta Iwasad worked a 1-2-3 eighth for the Tigers, and Robert Suarez (1-0) worked around Tetsuto Yamada’s leadoff double in the ninth to keep the game tied.

Instead of closer Taishi Ishiyama, Gabriel Ynoa (0-3) took over in the ninth and Sands hit his sixth pitch for his 13th home run of the season.

Active roster moves 9/1/2020

Central League

Activated

BayStarsIF64Hiroki Momose
TigersOF68Shunsuke Fujikawa
CarpIF96Alejandro Mejia
DragonsP16Katsuki Matayoshi
SwallowsP25Gabriel Ynoa
SwallowsOF8Shota Nakayama
SwallowsOF9Yasutaka Shiomi

Dectivated

None

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP21Ken Togame
EaglesP58Wataru Karashima
MarinesP64Yuta Omine
FightersP27Nick Martinez
BuffaloesP39Yuya Iida

Dectivated

None

Starting pitchers for Sept. 2, 2020

Pacific League

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

Kenta Uehara (-) vs Hideaki Wakui (8-1, 2.25)

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

Kazuya Ojima (4-4, 4.06) vs Tetsuya Utsumi (0-1, 4.50)

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

Daiki Tajima (1-3, 3.02) vs Tsuyoshi Wada (4-1, 3.33)

Central League

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

Angel Sanchez (3-2, 2.67) vs Haruhiro Hamaguchi (3-3, 3.86)

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

Shinnosuke Ogasawara (1-2, 5.06) vs Yusuke Nomura (3-1, 2.09)

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

Onelki Garcia (2-5, 3.75) vs Hirofumi Yamanaka (1-1, 3.18)

NPB 2020 8-12 games and news

Eagles’ Ota backs Wakui in win over Lions

The Seibu Lions snapped their former ace’s scoreless-inning streak but that was small consolation in their 6-2 loss to Hideaki Wakui (7-0) and the Rakuten Eagles at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.

Hiroaki Shimauchi doubled with one out in the second and opened the scoring off 21-year-old right-hander Sho Ito (0-1) on a one-out single by Eagles catcher Hikaru Ota. Shimauchi doubled and scored in the fourth on Ota’s second homer of the year.

Coming off a one-hit shutout in his previous start, Wakui had not allowed a run since the first inning of his start on July 29. He was in complete command until a couple of lazy fastballs resulted in seventh-inning solo homers by Tomoya Mori and Ernesto Mejia, who had homered twice on Tuesday. Wakui left the game hurt with two outs and 40-year-old right-hander Yuya Kubo had to finish off pinch-hitter Hotaka Yamakawa for the final out.

Wakui allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out two and started a season 7-0 for the first time in his career.

Ito, the Lions’ third draft pick in 2017, suffered his first pro loss. He allowed three runs on two walks and seven hits over four-plus innings.

J.T. Chargois and Alan Busenitz each worked a scoreless inning for the Eagles, who are locked in a tie for first place in the Pacific League with the SoftBank Hawks.

Buffaloes still can’t solve Wada

Tsuyoshi Wada is 39-years-old and in his 13th season in Japan, but at the speed their going, the Orix Buffaloes may never figure him out. The lefty allowed three singles and no walks while striking out five over 6-2/3 scoreless innings in the SoftBank Hawks’ 6-0 win at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

“This has been going on for a long time,” Buffaloes manager Norifumi Nishimura said of Wada, who shut them out over six innings on July 15. “We have to find a way to hit him.”

Nobuhiro Matsuda, dropped to the No. 9 spot for lack of hits, went 2-for-4 with three RBIs to raise his batting average to .205.

Nakata routs Marines

Nippon Ham Fighters cleanup hitter Sho Nakata hit his 14th and 15th home runs and drove in six runs in a 12-4 rout of the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Nakata opened the scoring in the first inning with a two-out, two-run homer off lefty Kazuya Oda (3-4), who gave up six runs over 6-2/3 innings to take the loss. Leading 4-1 in the seventh, Nakata iced it with a three-run shot.

Side-arm Fighters lefty Naoki Miyanishi (35) reached 350 career holds. No. 2 on the list is former Giants lefty Tetsuya Yamaguchi, who had 273.

Sakamoto powers Giants as Sugano wins 7th

Hayato Sakamoto homered twice and Tomoyuki Sugano (7-0 ) allowed a run over x innings for the Yomiuri Giants in an 8-1 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo Dome

The Swallows took the lead on two-out second-inning doubles by Takeshi Miyamoto and Alcides Escobar, but the Giants effectively put the game out of reach in the home half against Juri Hara (2-1).

A leadoff walk, an error, and a sacrifice put two in scoring position and No. 8 hitter Naoki Yoshikawa singled in both of them. With two outs, Sakamoto hit his eighth home run, and Gerardo Parra followed with his fourth to make it 5-1. Prior to his first homer, Sakamoto had been hitless in 20 plate appearances.

Vieira brings the heat

Brazilian flame thrower Thyago Vieira became the second pitcher recorded at 163 kph (101.3 mph). The NPB record is 165 kph, set by Shohei Ohtani.

 

Dragons’ Yanagi shuts down Carp

Yuya Yanagi (2-2) allowed a run over 7-2/3 innings for the Chunichi Dragons in their 4-1 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Yanagi allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four. Lefty Kris Johnson (0-4) gave up four runs, three earned, on five hits and four walks without a strikeout over 5-1/3 innings.

Nobumasa Fukuda drew a leadoff walk in the fourth and opened the scoring on a Dayan Viciedo single and a groundout. Masataka Iryo singled in another run to make it 2-0 Dragons. Fukuda opened the Dragons’ two-run seventh with a single and scored when Iryo drew a bases-loaded walk.

Raidel Martinez worked the ninth to earn his seventh save.

Tigers hold off BayStars

Masahiro Nakatani’s three-run fourth-inning home run brought the Hanshin Tigers from behind and they held on for a 7-6 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

Jerry Sands followed Nakatani with his eighth home run to make it 6-3, while Joe Gunkel pitched a scoreless inning of relief for the Tigers. Robert Suarez allowed a run on three hits in the ninth to nail down his seventh save.

Hawks superstar Yuki Yanagita apparently finds the Orix Buffaloes’ Lucky Seven fight song catchy too.

BayStars Austin diagnosed with concussion

DeNA BayStars outfielder Tyler Austin has been diagnosed with concussion and whiplash the Hochi Shimbun reported Wednesday. The 28-year-old in his first Japanese season, slammed into the outfield wall at Koshien Stadium on July 31.

He was deactivated on Aug. 5 and rules would allow him to return as early as Aug. 15, but BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said he he didn’t expect Austin to return that soon.

The player is now being treated at the club’s farm and rehab facility in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, to return this week.

In 22 games, Austin has posted a .393 on-base percentage and a .627 slugging average.

Murakami joins monthly MVP frequent flyers

Yakult Swallows corner infielder Munetaka Murakami, the Central League’s 2019 Rookie of the year, was named the league’s hitter of the month for June and July–Ok it’s the (position) player of the month–but the selectors don’t seem to understand defense is part of the game.

It was the first monthly award for the 20-year-old, although had some veteran company as Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano was named pitcher of the month for the seventh time. The Pacific League’s awards went to four-time winning pitcher Hideaki Wakui of the Rakuten Eagles and six-time winning center fielder Yuki Yanagita of the SoftBank Hawks.

The awards have traditionally gone to hitters with the best triple crown stats and the starting pitcher with the most wins and no more than one loss.

Murakami led the CL with 37 RBIs, had the league’s second-best on-base-percentage (.441). Sugano went 5-0 to lead the league in wins while throwing two complete games, including a one-hit shutout.

The NPB blurb babbles on about how Sugano was entrusted with starting on Opening Day for the sixth time, and how he was the winning pitcher in the franchise’s 6,000th win which have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not he was the best pitcher in the league.

Wakui became the first PL player to win a monthly award with three teams after winning with Seibu and Lotte, and is the second after current DeNA BayStars manager Alex Ramirez to win with three different clubs (Yakult, Yomiuri, DeNA). The award is his first in four years.

The 34-year-old right-hander, who was sold by the Marines to the Eagles over the winter, had 9.88 strikeouts per nine innings, the highest figure among ERA leader eligible pitchers.

Yanagita scored 38 runs in 37 games, a rare reference in these awards to runs scored and also led the PL in hits, triples, total bases, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging average. Because of a leg injury last season, Yanagita lacked the plate appearances needed to lead the league in on-base percentage and slugging average for the fifth-straight time.

Only Hall of Famer Sadaharu led his league in both categories more than three years straight. Here’s another look at his one-handed home run on Tuesday:

Active roster moves 8/12/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/22

Central League

Activated

GiantsP12Rubby De La Rosa
GiantsIF51Shunta Tanaka
GiantsOF36Shingo Ishikawa
CarpP26Ren Nakata
SwallowsP16Juri Hara
SwallowsIF60Ryusei Takeoka
SwallowsOF51Taiki Hamada

Dectivated

CarpP30Ryuji Ichioka
SwallowsOF9Yasutaka Shiomi

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP23Shogo Noda
FightersP14Takayuki Kato
FightersP31Toru Murata
FightersOF26Daiki Asama

Dectivated

LionsP34Yasuo Sano
FightersIF91Yuto Takahama
FightersOF4Yuya Taniguchi

Starting pitchers for Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020

Pacific League

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

Kaito Yoza (2-3, 4.79) vs Yuki Matsui (0-1, 5.27)

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

Daiki Iwashita (3-3, 3.48) vs Ryusei Kawano (2-3, 4.05)

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

Kotaro Otake (-) vs Chang Yi (-)

Central League

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

Cristopher Mercedes (2-4, 3.72) vs Hirotoshi Takanashi (1-2, 4.73)