Tag Archives: Alex Ramirez

NPB 2020 Sept. 19

NPB expands crowds

In a season that started behind closed doors on June 19, and welcomed in up to 5,000 per game starting from July 10, Saturday saw teams bring in somewhat larger crowds after a month and a half with no reported infections among spectators.

In the four day games played, only one was held out doors, where Yokohama Stadium welcomed 13,106 allowing fans to sit in the new left-field wing seats for the first time.

The other day games all saw smaller crowds: Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome had 11,937, Nagoya Dome 9,732 and Sapporo Dome 8,740.

“We were told it was only 13,000 people but it felt like 40,000 the way you guys cheered for the teams. Thank you so much,” BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said in his customary on-field interview after home games.

Hawks look to expand fans overseas

Starting Saturday, the SoftBank Hawks’ YouTube channel will be posting videos accessible in multiple languages in order to build their overseas fan base. Whether or not one is a fan of the Hawks, it’s kind of fun.

BayStars hand Giants 3rd straight loss

Neftali Soto hit his 100th home run in Japan, one of four hit by the DeNA BayStars in their 7-1 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Yokohama Stadium.

Lefty Haruhiro Hamaguchi (5-4) brought an unusually crisp fastball and abstained from his bread-and-butter changeup for much of the game as he allowed a run on two walks and two hits over 5-2/3 innings.

A run in the sixth snapped a 2x-inning scoreless streak for the Giants, who avoided a shutout but not a third straight loss.

Takayuki Kajitani reached on a first-inning error and scored on a Keita Sano single and then drove in three runs with his 13th and 14th home run. Soto, who is trailing in the race to win a third-straight home run title, hit his 16th.

Giants starter Nobutaka Imamura (3-1) lost the southpaw struggle, allowing three runs, two earned, over five innings.

In the end decided on two pitches in the sixth and six in the seventh. With DeNA leading 3-1 in the sixth, Giants right-hander Yohei Kagiya loaded the bases with one out. Tatsuhiro fouled out on one pitch, and Yasutaka Tobashira popped up lefty Ryusei Oe’s first pitch.

In the top of the seventh, the Giants loaded the bases on one out against Yuki Kuniyoshi. Lefty Edwin Escobar entered to face Gerardo Parra, who rolled the sixth pitch back to the pitcher and a 1-2-3 double play.

Carp squeak past Swallows

Shota Dobayashi hit an eighth-inning game-tying home run and scored the go-ahead run in the 10th-inning when rookie Minoru Omori bounced a two-out two-strike pitch past the reach of second baseman Tetsuto Yamada that lifted the Hiroshima Carp to a 3-2 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

The game was a duel between rookies, Carp right-hander Masato Morishita, a highly-sought after amateur who has been extremely solid, and Yakult’s second-pick last autumn, right-hander Daiki Yoshida, whose stuff and command has been a little less dominant.

Tomotaka Sakaguchi brought the Yakult Swallows from a run down with a second-inning home run.

With one out and a runner on first, Sakaguchi went after a low first-pitch fastball like he knew it was coming and pulled it into the right-field stands for his ninth home run. Prior to this season, Sakaguchi’s high was five home runs, in 2009 and 2010 with the Orix Buffaloes.

He then did what low-power hitters are supposed to say after they hit a home run, that they were trying to play small ball and trying hard not to be Mr. Big Shot home run hitter by using the word “tsunagu” – つなぐ.

“My focus was on batting aggressively from the first pitch so I could set the table for the batters behind me,” said Sakaguchi, who was followed by the seventh, eighth and ninth spots in a lineup that is fifth in a six-team league in runs scored and 10th worst in Japan.

Abe homer beats Tigers

Toshiki Abe hit a three-run home run and Koji Fukutani (4-2) worked 6-2/3 scoreless innings in a 4-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Nagoya Dome.

Tigers right-hander Takumi Akiyama (5-2) allowed five hits and committed two errors that made all four Dragons runs unearned.

Fledgling Eagle holds off Hawks

Ryota Takinaka, the Rakuten Eagles’ sixth pick in last year’s draft, held the SoftBank Hawks to a run over 5-1/3 innings in his pro debut and Hideto Asamura singled in the tie-breaking run in the seventh in a 3-1 win over the three-time defending Japan Series champs at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Takinaka a 25-year-old right-hander, scattered five hits and one walk while striking out one.

Former Padre Kazuhisa Makita worked 1-1/3 scoreless innings to protect a one-run lead, and Alan Busenitz worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 12th save for the Eagles.

Buffaloes beat misbehaving Lions

Sachiya Yamasaki (3-4) allowed a run over seven innings and Aderlin Rodriguez doubled in two runs to break a 1-1 sixth-inning tie in the Orix Buffaloes’ 6-3 win over the Seibu Lions.

The Daily Sports blamed the Lions loss on their mistakes, and they certainly didn’t help, but five walks by lefty Sean Nolin (1-2) didn’t help either.

Nolin left in the sixth with one out and the bags juiced. Rookie Tetsu Miyagawa hung a 1-2 slider that Rodriguez lined into the left-field corner. A wild pitch made it 4-1.

The Lions had two on with no outs in the seventh but shat themselves. Rookie catcher Sena Tsuge pulled back a first-pitch bunt attempt and the lead runner failed to make it back for the first out. A sharp grounder to third, which was not a mistake — except in the sense that people who write those dumb articles have to include them — was turned for a double play.

Roller coaster Arihara spills Marines

The roller coaster season of Nippon Ham Fighters ace Kohei Arihara (5-7) continued with eight scoreless innings in a 3-1 win over the Lotte Marines at Sapporo Dome.

Marines starter Tsuyoshi Ishizaki (0-1) allowed a run over three innings to take the loss without allowing a hit. He did, however, walk five and strike out five.

Arihara started the season 0-3, allowing 12 runs over 22 innings. He had another three-game stretch where he went 0-2 and allowed 16 runs 19-1/3 innings, and was coming off a start against the Rakuten Eagles on Sept. 13 when he gave up nine runs in 2-1/3. He improved to 3-0 against Lotte, however.

Active roster moves 9/19/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/29

Central League

Activated

TigersC39Kenya Nagasaka

Dectivated

TigersP77Onelki Garcia
TigersOF68Shunsuke Fujikawa

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP57Ryota Takinaka
MarinesP30Tsuyoshi Ishizaki
BuffaloesP11Sachiya Yamasaki

Dectivated

EaglesP56Sora Suzuki
BuffaloesP49Keisuke Sawada

Starting pitchers for Sept. 20, 2020

Pacific League

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

Chihiro Kaneko (1-3, 6.82) vs Manabu Mima (7-2, 4.62)

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

Andrew Albers (3-6, 4.07) vs Wataru Matsumoto (3-3, 3.82)

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

Shuta Ishikawa (6-2, 2.47) vs Takayuki Kishi (1-0, 9.19)

Central League

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

Yasuhiro Ogawa (8-3, 3.15) vs Yuta Nakamura (-)

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

Shinichi Onuki (6-3, 2.26) vs Seishu Hatake (0-3, 5.95)

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

Takahiro Matsuba (2-4, 3.30) vs Kenichi Nakata (0-1, 6.23)

NPB 2020 Sept. 13

Lions’ Matsumoto turns back Hawks

Shuta Tonosaki opened the game with a home run and Wataru Matsumoto (3-3) worked seven scoreless innings to outduel Shuta Ishikawa (6-2) in the Seibu Lions’ 1-0 win over the SoftBank Hawks at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Tonosaki appeared to geared up for a fastball and when Ishikawa threw a straight 1-0 pitch down the pipe, the Lions super utility man drove it well back into the permanent seats in left for his fifth home run.

The Hawks threatened to score in the home half when Taisei Makihara squared up a first-pitch center-cut fastball for a leadoff double. But Matsumoto’s fastball was too much for Akira Nakamura who continually hit under it, fouling it off twice before a popping up for the first out. After a cautiously walking Yuki Yanagita, Yurisbel Gracial grounded a low fastball into a double play.

Matsumoto got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, again with some extra mustard on his fastball, as the normally deadly Nakamura miss-hit a heater to second for an inning-ending groundout.

Ishikawa allowed four hits, two walks and hit a batter while striking out six in a typically solid performance, but after Lions middle reliever Kaima  Taira set the Hawks down in order, the hosts wasted a two-on no-out chance in the ninth against closer Tatsushi Masuda.

A sacrifice advanced two pinch-runners into scoring position, Masuda overpowered grinding right-handed hitter Keizo Kawashima for the second out, and then came within a hair of disaster. The right-hander missed up with a 1-0 fastball that Makihara hammered down the third base line where it was caught by Wu Nien-ting for the final out instead of going for a game-winning two-run single. The save was Masuda’s 17th.

Eagles outpunch Fighters

The Rakuten Eagles tattooed Kohei Arihara (4-7) for nine runs over 2-1/3 innings, who wasted a six-run second inning against Takayuki Kishi in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 14-6 loss at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Hideto Asamura opened the scoring for the hosts in the first inning with his 22nd home run, a two-run shot, but the Haruki Nishikawa’s three-run shot capped the visitors’ six-run second.

The Eagles tied in the third and took the lead in a three-run third on rookie Hiroto Kobukata’s RBI single. Kobukata, who singled and scored in the second, added a two-run double in the third.

The loss snapped a streak of four-straight solid outings for Arihara. Kishi stayed on the mound for 3-1/3 innings.

Fan-favorite Watanabe to hang it up

The game broadcast repeatedly cut to shots of Eagles player coach Naoto Watanabe, who announced he would retire at the end of the season.

A native of Miyagi Prefecture where Sendai is located, the 39-year-old Watanabe is a serviceable middle infielder. In his first few years was a good on-base percentage hitter and efficient base stealer for the Eagles before stints with the BayStars and Lions. A fan favorite in Sendai, he returned to Rakuten in 2018, but had played in 88 games since.

But if Japan likes melodrama more than almost anything, so when asked about Watanabe, manager Hajime Miki gushed during his postgame interview.

“We have a lot of emotions when it comes to Naoto and the players all agreed we should dedicate the rest of this season to him, so that his last year as a player is something special.”

–Eagles manager Hajime Miki on player-coach Naoto Watanabe’s announcing he would retire at the end of the season.

Marines breakthrough against Buffaloes pen

Manabu Mima (7-2) allowed two runs over seven innings and the Lotte Marines scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh off lefty reliever Nobuyoshi Yamada (2-3) to break up a tie game in a 9-2 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Hisanori Yasuda doubled in single runs in the first and third off Taiwan right-hander Chang Yi, who left after allowing two runs on two hits and four walks over five innings.

The Buffaloes tied it in the top of the seventh on a Masataka Yoshida RBI double, but Yoshida was gunned down at the plate trying to score against Leonys Martin’s arm to end the inning.

In a game twice interrupted by rain delays, Mima struck out seven without issuing a walk. He collected the win when the Marines began their seventh-inning rally after two were down. Yasuda capped the inning with a two-run single. The Marines’ 21-year-old rookie cleanup hitter has been struggling since a hot start to the season.

“Mima did a great job of shaking off the rain delays and staying on his game,” Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi said. “Real veteran stuff from him. Yasuda, has been having a hard time of it, and sure this game is a big relief to him, so he can mover forward now with a refreshed outlook.”

Martin piled on in the eighth with a three-run double for the Marines.

Dragons ride lucky bounce past stars

The DeNA BayStars lost a big first-inning double play when a batted ball deflected off the second-base bag, costing them two runs in their 3-2 loss to the Chunichi Dragons at Yokohama Stadium.

With two on and no outs, and the BayStars left-handed hitter Zoilo Almonte’s grounder was headed straight up the middle to where shortstop Yota Kyoda was poised to pick it and start an easy double play until the ball struck the bag and rolled into shallow left for an RBI single. With no outs, Dayan Viciedo supplied a sac fly before starting pitcher Shinichi Onuki (6-3) got out of the inning with a double play.

Neftali Soto homered off former ace Kazuki Fushimi in the first, but both bullpens shut the door after the fourth inning. Onuki lasted six innings, allowing three runs. Dragons closer Raidel Martinez struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 12th save.

“Onuki pitched a really good game today. The first inning he gave up a couple of hits, but those balls were good pitches and they just put good swings on good pitches. Other than that, he did a tremendous job today,” BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said. “Sometimes the ball bounces like that. It’s baseball. After he (Soto) hit a home run, I thought we would be able to score more runs. But we’re hitting pretty good. We couldn’t just come up with the big hit at the right moment. That happens.”

Maru homer lifts Giants past Swallows

Yoshihiro Maru’s 15th home run overturned a 1-0 fourth-inning deficit as the Yomiuri Giants came back to beat the Yakult Swallows 3-1 at Tokyo Dome.

Cristopher Mercedes (4-4) allowed a run over 5-1/3 innings, leaving after a one-out sixth-inning walk put two on with one out. Yohei Kagiya struck out both batters he faced and with Monday a day off, Giants manager Tatsunori Hara made liberal use of his bullpen, finishing with Rubby De La Rosa, who earned his 12th save.

Swallows right-hander Yasuhiro Ogawa (8-3) allowed three runs over six innings on seven hits and two walks. He struck out eight.

Giants-Swallows highlights

Suarez, Yokawa boost Tigers

Closer Robert Suarez (2-0) who has recently been tasked with getting four-out saves, entered a tie game in the eighth inning and earned the win after Naomasa Yokawa homered in the bottom of the eighth in the Hanshin Tigers’ 7-6 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Koshien Stadium.

Seiya Suzuki’s three-run homer in the top of the first put the Carp in front against Shintaro Fujinami, but the Tigers came back to score five runs, four earned, off Hiroshima starter Kazuki Yabuta.

Kento Itohara and Justin Bour singled in one run apiece in the first and third innings to put the Tigers in front briefly before the game turned into a battle of the bullpens, which the Tigers eventually won.

Active roster moves 9/13/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/23

Central League

Activated

GiantsIF51Shunta Tanaka
DragonsP19Kazuki Yoshimi

Dectivated

GiantsP33Ryu Ota

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP11Takayuki Kishi
FightersP49Katsuhiko Kumon

Dectivated

HawksP18Shota Takeda

Starting pitchers for Sept. 14, 2020

Pacific League

Eagles vs Fighters: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Takahiro Shiomi (4-5, 4.60) vs Drew VerHagen (5-3, 4.16)

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

Kota Futaki (3-2, 4.73) vs Andrew Albers (3-5, 3.62)

NPB 2020 Sept. 12

Austin returns with bang

Tyler Austin, missing from the DeNA BayStars lineup since his unfortunate encounter with an outfield wall on July 31, hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat on Saturday to spark a 7-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Yokohama Stadium.

Austin saw two fastballs and hit a low 1-0 pitch from Takahiro Matsuba (2-4) out for his fifth home run in Japan.

“I have been out of games for a while so I was extremely excited I was able to contribute tonight,” said Austin, who proved to still lack the essentials of Japanese postgame hero interviews.

Most Japanese players asked to comment on their home run would deny that driving the ball was their goal: “I was just trying to keep the rally alive, not try to do too much.”

Manager Alex Ramirez said he batted Austin sixth on a last-minute decision.

“The original plan was not to use Austin, but to rest him, maybe give him one at-bat as a ‘dai-da’ (pinch-hitter), but we needed him so bad, and I realized we needed him in the lineup, which was already done, so I put him there batting sixth, and I said from tomorrow I’ll be using him maybe second, but that’s why he was ‘roku-ban’ (sixth) today.”

“It means a lot. He brings hope to the team. When he’s in the lineup, the whole lineup looks way different. I’m very happy that he’s in the lineup.”

Haruhiro Hamaguchi (4-4) allowed three runs, one earned, on four hits and four walks while striking out four. A quartet of relievers, Spencer Patton, Edwin Escobar, Kenta Ishida and Kazuki Mishima held the Dragons to one hit and walk the rest of the way.

Oyama, Akiyama lead Tigers past Carp

Young Hanshin Tigers cleanup hitter Yusuke Oyama hit a three-run first-inning home run, and right-hander Takumi Akiyama (5-1) made it stand up in a 3-1 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Koshien Stadium.

The 25-year-old Oyama blasted his 18th home run out to center off 23-year-old Carp right-hander Atsushi Endo (2-3). Endo hung on for 4-2/3 innings but the Carp couldn’t make a dent in Akiyama until the right-hander issued his only two walks to open the eighth. One run scored after reliever Joe Gunkel got a double play. Robert Suarez worked the ninth for his 15th save.

Akiyama was asked afterward how it felt when Oyama gave him the lead. Instead of saying how the home run changed everything and gushing about his teammate, he said he still had to do his job.

“Frankly, I’m happy to get the lead, but it doesn’t change what I have to do. I still have to concentrate on every hitter and execute every pitch,” he said, while admitting that prepare as he might he still found the on-field interview format daunting.

“What (reliever Suguru) Iwazaki said the other day was so cool, so I thought I should have something ready in case I was called to the podium. I’m afraid I’ve flubbed it though. So now my goal is to pitch really well so I get another chance and can do it right.”

Two-homer Okamoto sinks Swallows

The Yomiuri Giants’ Kazuma Okamoto joined Saturday’s three-run first-inning home run party with his 20th of the season and then finished off the Yakult Swallows with a seventh-inning solo shot in a 5-4 win at Tokyo Dome.

The Swallows tied it in the fifth on a pair of home runs, including a two-run shot from Norichika Aoki. His 13th homer tied it. After the Swallows took the lead in the sixth, Giants catcher Takumi Oshiro went deep to make it a 4-4 game and set the stage for Okamoto’s seventh-inning blast.

Giants-Swallows highlights

Takaya punches out Lions

Reserve catcher Hiroaki Takaya hit a three-run homer, what else, and drove in the SoftBank Hawks’ first four runs in an 8-4 win over the Seibu Lions.

In the game at Fukuoka’s Casa de Pepe — Does anybody else remember the Steve Martin routine about speaking French or am I just too freaking old? – Shota Takeda (2-0) came back from taking a line drive to the gut in his last start to deliver a gut punch to the Seibu Lions, holding them scoreless for four innings.

Meanwhile, the Hawks offense did what the Hawks offense does, which is put good swings on good pitches and then blow games up when pitchers – in this case – Sean Nolin (1-1) make mistakes. Two hits off good pitches, a Nobuhiro Matsuda double and a Takaya single, made it 1-0 in the second, before the Hawks just wore the lefty out in the third.

A leadoff walk and a missed two-strike fastball to Akira Nakamura put runners on the corners. A grounder to first didn’t produce an out. Ernesto Mejia, who has been putting on clinics in hitting and playing first base, opted for the out at the plate on a grounder to first but failed to get it.

A one-out walk loaded the bases, and some quality hitting from Yurisbel Gracial produced a shot that second baseman Shuta Tonosaki dived for but couldn’t gather in and two more runs scored.

With two on and two outs, Nolin got ahead of Takaya 0-2 with two slow pitches before missing a 1-2 slider in the heart of the zone that Takaya lined over the right-field fence for his second home run – the highlight is that he was able to turn the tables on Gracial, whom he assists in his home run celebration.

Any runners on base will wait at home plate for the home run hitter, and then follow him to the dugout to receive high fives and fist bumps from their team. But Takaya, who normally awaits Gracial at the end of the dugout and where he is “punched out” by Gracial after an exchange of play punches. But to return the favor, Gracial had to break the rules, run ahead of Takaya so that he could wait for the catcher to return and punch him out for a change.

Active roster moves 9/12/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/22

Central League

Activated

GiantsOF39Soichiro Tateoka
BayStarsIF23Tyler Austin

Dectivated

GiantsOF43Shinnosuke Shigenobu
BayStarsOF52Seiya Hosokawa

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP61Masato Okumura

Dectivated

HawksP50Yugo Bando
EaglesP12Hiroki Kondo
FightersP18Kosei Yoshida

Starting pitchers for Sept. 13, 2020

Pacific League

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

Takayuki Kishi (1-0, 7.30) vs Kohei Arihara (4-6, 3.43)

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

Manabu Mima (6-2, 4.84) vs Chang Yi (1-2, 3.74)

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

Shuta Ishikawa (6-1, 2.69) vs Wataru Matsumoto (2-3, 4.27)

Central League

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

Cristopher Mercedes (3-4, 3.25) vs Yasuhiro Ogawa (8-2, 3.05)

BayStars vs Dragons: Yokohama Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Shinichi Onuki (6-2, 2.03) vs Kazuki Yoshimi (1-2, 6.23)

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

Shintaro Fujinami (1-5, 5.27) vs Kazuki Yabuta (0-2, 4.13)

NPB 2020 8-10 games and news

Kuri’s escape artist act lifts Carp over Dragons

Allen Kuri repeatedly pitched out of trouble on Monday to work seven scoreless innings and earn the win in the Hiroshima Carp’s 6-1 Central League victory over the Chunichi Dragons at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

“It’s like I put runners on in every inning. Thanks to big plays by my teammates I was able to keep them off the board,” Kuri said, who twice retired Dragons No. 3 hitter Toshiki Abe to end innings with runners on.”

“Abe hit a home run off me last time, so I was really focused on him. I wasn’t going to let him get me.”

Kuri (2-2) scattered six hits and a walk while striking out seven. He went to the mound in the seventh with a 3-0 lead having thrown 101 pitches with the end of his evening in sight when the leadoff batter grounded his first pitch to third but reached on a Shota Dobayashi throwing error.

A single brought the tying run to the plate, but Kuri made his pitches and got three straight outs, the third on a diving stop by first baseman Ryuhei Matsuyama.

“I was trying to keep them off the board, but I also thought that one run wouldn’t be the worst. I’m really grateful to him (Matsuyama) for that play,” Kuri said.

Carp lefty Atsuya Horie found himself in the same spot in the eighth after a throwing error by Dobayashi and a no-out single. Dragons captain Shuhei Takahashi put a good swing on a low fastball for an RBI single, but shortstop Kosuke Tanaka made a good stop to start a double play, and Horie ended the inning with a strikeout.

Hisayoshi Chono doubled and scored in the first on a Matsuyama single. He doubled home Ryoma Nishikawa in the third to make it 2-0. A walk, a single and a passed ball made it 3-0 in the fourth, and the Carp tacked on three more runs in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

Dragons lefty Shinnosuke Ogasawara (0-1) made his season debut and had trouble commanding his pitches. He allowed three runs, two earned on five hits, a walk and a hit batsman over four innings while striking out five. Trailing by a run in the second, Ogasawara had a chance to help his cause after catcher Takuya Kinoshita led off with a double, but his bunt went nowhere and the lead runner was out at third.

Reliever Yuki Kuniyoshi’s first hit in seven years, a two-run double, broke up an early tie and the DeNA BayStars held on for a 6-4 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Yokohama Stadium.

Kuniyoshi took the mound after Yuta Muto allowed a run over three innings and came out with two on and one out against Tigers lefty Yuta Iwasada.

Ramirez gambles on relief batting

Manager Alex Ramirez let reliever Yuki Kuniyoshi swing away and he delivered his first hit in seven years, a two-run double, broke up an early tie and the DeNA BayStars held on for a 6-4 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Yokohama Stadium.

Kuniyoshi took the mound in a BayStars bullpen day after Yuta Muto allowed a run over three innings and came out with two on and one out against Tigers lefty Yuta Iwasada.

“I thought of having him bunt, but I had a good feeling about him. He’s always taking batting practice, and he’s always hitting home runs, so I wanted to give it a try.” Ramirez said.

Kuniyoshi hit a first-pitch fastball from Iwasada and drove it into the gap in right.

“Just before that, coach Tsuboi (batting coach Tomochika Tsuboi) said, ‘It’s OK to swing at the first pitch.’  So, if he threw me a strike, I was going to swing at it. It’s been some years, I don’t remember how many, so I was pretty happy.”

Captain Keita Sano made it 4-1 in the fifth with his eighth home run, and Yamato Maeda, who had driven in the tying run in the first, drew a bases-loaded walk to make it a four-run game. Kuniyoshi surrendered RBI singles to Jerry Sands and Yusuke Oyama in the sixth, and closer Yasuaki Yamasaki, currently working in middle relief, gave up a run in the seventh.

Spencer Patton worked a scoreless eighth for DeNA, and Kazuki Mishima recorded his sixth save in the ninth.

Pacific League goes global

Pacific League Marketing on Monday announced its first partnership to broadcast Pacific League games in the United States through FTF (ftfnext.com). Until now, the PL has focused on cultivating its market in Taiwan, and previously had a broadcast deal in South Korea.

Games will be available via cable or streaming with live broadcasts and rebroadcasts and will include all PL games with the exception of the Climax Series playoffs. The Japan Series, whose rights are owned by Nippon Professional Baseball, are also not included.

The Central League does not have a marketing arm that can sell its games overseas, so it is up to each team to market its own rights as best it can.

A brief history of the Pacific League

Active roster moves 8/10/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/20

Central League

Activated

TigersOF9Shun Takayama
DragonsP11Shinnosuke Ogasawara
DragonsC44Yuya Gunji

Dectivated

GiantsP45Nobutaka Imamura
GiantsOF2Yang Dai-kang
GiantsOF43Shinnosuke Shigenobu
TigersOF53Kairi Shimada
DragonsP41Akiyoshi Katsuno
DragonsC57Ariel Martinez
SwallowsIF66Taisei Yoshida

Pacific League

Activated

None

Dectivated

MarinesP28Takahiro Matsunaga
BuffaloesOF1Steven Moya

Starting pitchers for Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020

Pacific League

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

Kona Takahashi (2-4, 6.23) vs Hayato Yuge (2-1, 3.26)

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

Manabu Mima (2-2, 5.71) vs Naoyuki Uwasawa (2-1, 3.57)

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

Kodai Senga (3-1, 4.25) vs Yoshinobu Yamamoto (3-1, 3.33)

Central League

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

Shoichi Ino (3-2, 2.48) vs Onelki Garcia (0-4, 4.19)

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

Yusuke Nomura (2-0, 0.86) vs Koji Fukutani (0-1, 2.45)

NPB 2020 7-26 games and news

Keizo Kawashima and Kenshi Sugiya settle a disputed out call at second with a hand of “janken” — rock, paper, scissors. Unfortunately the video review overturned Kawashima’s victory, the call on the field stood, and the Hawks super sub returned to the dugout.

Surprise package Niho holds off Fighters

For the second-straight week, journeyman right-hander Akira Niho got the job done, allowing a run in five-plus innings, while the SoftBank Hawks bullpen provided four-plus innings of solid relief in a 6-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters and their rookie lefty Ryusei Kawano.

Niho was not nearly as sharp as a week ago, but made enough good pitches to scatter six hits and three walks.

For the first time since his debut, Kawano (1-3) had a worse outing then the one before. His stuff has been fairly solid, but his first games looked like they were more about the confidence needed to go after good hitters in the strike zone.

Against the Hawks, it was more a case of lousy command, as he struggled to hit targets and ended up throwing a few poor pitches in the zone and then he had some poor luck in terms of poorly hit balls finding holes.

Kenta Imamiya, dropped into the leadoff spot, singled, doubled and walked against the rookie, scored three runs and drove in two. His two-run second-inning double off the first pitch from Kawano broke a 1-1 tie. Imamiya scored on a Yuki Yanagita sacrifice fly.

With two out and two on in the Fighters third, Niho got out of the inning by throwing an 0-2 ball in the zone that he might have wanted lower. Taishi Ota tagged it but it went for an out on the warning track.

Eagles salvage win against Buffaloes’ ace

The Rakuten Eagles salvaged a victory from their six-game home series against the Orix Buffaloes and their ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto in a 5-4 come-from-behind win at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Yamamoto had neither good command nor his best stuff, and the Rakuten Eagles scored four runs off him over six innings by taking their walks and by not trying to do too much when he came into the zone. All but two of the nine hits off him were to the pull field. Yamamoto gave up two walks, hit a batter and struck out six.

The Eagles lost their starter, Shoma Fujihira, when his seventh pitch hit Koji Oshiro in the head and he was automatically ejected. Both runners scored and Tomohiro Anraku allowed another in the first but kept the game from slipping away and left after three innings with the score 3-0. Sung Chia-hao allowed one run over two innings, during which time the Eagles tied it against Yamamoto.

Yamamoto loaded the bases in the sixth with two outs but did not allow a run. In the seventh, former closer Hirotoshi Masui walked the bases loaded in the sixth with one out, but Yudai Aranishi got out of it.

First-year import Tyler Higgins (1-1), who has been very effective this season, allowed the Eagles to grab their first lead on a leadoff walk to rookie Hiroto Kobukata, and a triple by veteran Eigoro Mogi.

The Buffaloes got the leadoff runner aboard in the ninth, when Alan Busenitz walked Ryoicihi Adachi. Manager Norifumi Nishimura who absolutely loves to sacrifice when he’s trailing on the road, did so. With two outs and first base open, tough left-handed-hitting slugger Masataka Yoshida was walked, and Busenitz got Adam Jones to groundout to short to earn his first save.

Lions pen proves too deadly for Marines

Takumi Kuriyama twice put the Seibu Lions in front with an RBI double, and four relievers each threw a perfect inning in a 4-2 come-from-behind win over the Lotte Marines at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.

The starters, a pair of journeymen lefties, Lotte’s Toshiya Nakamura and Seibu lefty Daiki Enokida pitched to a virtual stalemate over five innings.

Nakamura allowed only one run thanks to shortstop Kenta Chatani making a great play that prevented the fourth inning from getting out of hand.

Enokida allowed two runs before making his exit after a leadoff single in the sixth, but surrendered no more thanks to Katsunori Hirai (3-1) coming on and retiring all three batters he faced. He was followed by Kaima Taira, Reed Garrett and Tatsushi Masuda, who each worked 1-2-3 innings. Masuda recorded his ninth save.

Lotte’s 23-year-old right-hander Fumiya Ono (1-2) retired the first batter in the sixth, but a single and a Takeya Nakamura double tied it. Kuriyama, whose first double was the 350th of his career, followed with his second to make it 3-2.

Carp feast on BayStars relievers

Tsubasa Aizawa hit a pair of late home runs, including a ninth-inning tie-breaker off closer Yasuaki Yamasaki in the Hiroshima Carp’s 10-6 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

It’s been a tough week for the BayStars, whose manager, Alex Ramirez, appeared to be the target of an organized media smear campaign. But since that nonsense started, the BayStars had lost one, tied one, and won two in convincing fashion. But on Sunday, Kentaro Taira worked seven scoreless innings and led 6-0 before things started to awry in the seventh.

The BayStars bullpen allowed two inherited runners to score in the eighth to make it a 6-3 game before coughing up another seven on their own.

Kenta Ishida gave up a sacrifice fly for the second out in the eighth, and Spencer Patton surrendered back-to-back home runs to Shota Dobayashi and Aizawa to make it a one-run game.

Yamasaki’s pitches didn’t look good. His sinking pitch he calls a two-seamer–that looks and acts like a splitter–was not dropping much, and his fastball looked straight.

A single and a walk was followed by a Seiya Suzuki putting a punishing swing on a center-cut fastball that probably damaged the padding in the center field wall and resulted in an RBI single. With one out and first base open, Dobayashi was intentionally walked and Aizawa smoked a “two-seamer” out to right.

“That’s part of the game. There’s nothing we can do about that,” Ramirez said afterward. “Taira did a tremendous job today. The relievers tried to do the best they could. The Hiroshima Carp hitters are very good.”

“They (Patton and Yamasaki) threw a lot of strikes. They’re good hitters. We lost the game with our best two guys on the mound. There’s nothing we can do about it.”

Yamasaki might be one of their best, but he has not been himself this year. He’s not getting guys to chase out of the zone, he’s not getting nearly as many swings and misses and is instead giving away much harder contact.

Quien es mas malo?

Anyone remember the Saturday Night Live game show parody in which Bill Murray hosted a latin-oriented program called “Quien es mas macho?” Well the bottom of the ninth made this game look like another version called “Quien es mas malo?” or “Who is the worst?” or rather whose bullpen is worst.

Ryuji Ichioka came in for the Carp and loaded the bases with one out, but a BayStars comeback was not to be.

Relief Dragons awaken sleeping Tigers

My podcast partner will no doubt be talking about this when we record our program for Monday, but since the first time Dragons lefty Hiroto Fuku gave up runs this season — on a second-straight day of work — John E. Gibson has been telling me that he hasn’t been good after pitching the day before.

Fuku, the loser on Sunday, when he blew a 3-2 lead by surrendering three runs, has allowed eight runs in his last two games when he pitched the day before. The previous four times he didn’t allow any runs.

Here are his results pitching after no game the previous day and on the second-straight day. On Saturday, the stocky lefty was lights out in a 1-0 Dragons win, but Sunday was a different story.

Fuku bukuro (grab bag)

BFHBBKRER
3312500
Pitching after no game the day before
BFHBBKRER
3196688
Pitching on the second-straight day

Tigers lefty Yuta Iwasada surrendered three runs, though only two were earned due to his throwing error, over four innings.

Dragons right-hander Kodai Umetsu had his second-best start of the season, giving up two runs, one earned, over six innings while striking out eight.

The Dragons broke through in the third after Umetsu singled to open the inning. A groundout and a throwing error put two on with one out. Toshiki Abe and Dayan Viciedo followed with back-to-back singles. Nobumasa Fukuda homered to make it 3-0 in the fourth.

The Tigers got on the board after rookie third baseman Takaya Ishikawa misjudged a hop for a two-out, two-base error. With two on, Koji Chickamoto singled in a run. Justin Bour’s sixth homer, a two-run shot off the left field fair pole made it a one-run game.

Fuku came on to face Chikamoto in the seventh with two outs and a runner on second. He surrendered a single up the middle. Tigers catcher Ryutaro Umeno, who singled to open the inning, has decent speed and runs the bases well, but was gunned down by a throw from center fielder Yohei Oshima on a good tag by catcher Ariel Martinez.

Unlike Mr. Gibson, I don’t see enough Dragons games to say what’s up with Fuku on second-straight games, but he was not locating today.

After getting a reprieve from the fielders, Fuku stayed in to pitch the eighth. Four of the five batters he faced reached, and even with a double play in the middle of that string, three of them scored in the five-run inning.

Chikamoto finished 4-for-5, while Umeno had three hits, and Yusuke Oyama blew out the candles on this one with a two-run, ninth-inning home run.

Giant Yoshikawa clubs Swallows

Naoki Yoshikawa capped a five-run first inning with his third home run in three games for the Yomiuri Giants in a 9-4 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Swallows starter Hirotoshi Takanashi (1-2) allowed six runs in 2-2/3 innings, while Giants starter Toshiki Sakurai (2-1) worked into the eighth inning to earn the win.

Four of the first seven Giants hitters reached base and the one who didn’t delivered a sacrifice fly.

Giants sign former Fighter Tanaka

The Yomiuri Giants on Sunday signed 26-year-old right-handed pitcher Toyoki Tanaka, who had been with the club on a non-roster developmental contract since the Giants saw him in a tryout last November.

The club was in need of pitchers after Saturday’s scheduled starter, Angel Sanchez, was scratched with discomfort in his right shoulder. Sanchez, and his replacement, former closer Hirokazu Sawamura, were both deactivated Sunday, while Tanaka was added to the active roster.

Tanaka was the fifth draft pick of the Fighters in 2015 and appeared in 31 first-team games for them from 2016 to 2018.

Active roster moves 7/26/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/5

Central League

Activated

GiantsP19Toyoki Tanaka

Dectivated

GiantsP15Hirokazu Sawamura
GiantsP20Angel Sanchez

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP19Shoma Fujihira
EaglesP52Taisei Tsurusaki
MarinesP48Toshiya Nakamura
FightersIF32Ryota Yachi

Dectivated

EaglesP68Kanji Teraoka
EaglesOF51Yuya Ogo
FightersOF3Wang Po-jung

NPB 2020 7-25 games and news

Professional baseball 2020: Day 105

Dragons win high school style

The Chunichi Dragons beat the Hanshin Tigers in a 1-0 pitchers’ duel on Saturday afternoon at Nagoya Dome, but the real story was not the tight pitching but the seventh-inning high school-style offense that produced the winning run.

Masataka Iryo, 30-year-old reserve outfielder, drove in the run off Yuki Nishi (2-2) who took the loss for his strong seven-inning effort.

Dragons right-hander Akiyoshi Katsuno allowed four hits, two by Jerry Sands, and two walks. After he was gone, lefty Hiroto Fuku, and right-handers Daisuke Sobue and Raidel Martinez were all lights out. But the only thing anyone wanted to talk about was that seventh inning.

Nobumasa Fukuda did the hard work with a leadoff single and was replaced by a pinch-hitter. That’s when the story really really began. Takaya Ishikawa, the Dragons’ 19-year-old slugging rookie infielder sacrificed.

“There it is, his first career sacrifice bunt,” the TV announcer crowed. Ishikawa hasn’t homered yet, and as excited as he was, it seemed like a sacrifice was the next best thing. Ishikawa admitted that he hadn’t bunted in a game since elementary school although he does practice bunting.

Dragons captain Shuhei Takahashi, who rejoined the team earlier than expected after suffering a hamstring strain two weeks earlier, hit behind the runner to advance him to third.

Iryo’s sharp grounder into the hole was grabbed by shortstop Seiya Kinami, who had no play at first, but Iryo did what Japanese players with a surplus of fighting spirit are expected to do: he went into the bag head first in a “spirited slide.”

New import Joe Gunkel, who entered the season in the Tigers starting rotation, returned to the team after suffering back stiffness and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.

The ultimate sacrifice

Thirty years or so back, no Japanese baseball broadcast was complete without a bizarre liturgy regarding the sacrifice bunt. Whenever a bunting situation came up, the analyst and announcer would talk about how extremely difficult it is to get a bunt down, about the skill required and the challenges one needs to overcome.

This was a setup, of course, and similar to the kind of things former first baseman say whenever someone refers to their old position as less challenging.

The purpose is to heap praise on bunters. The irony is that whenever a player failed to execute a routine bunt–which seconds before had been treated as baseball’s ultimate challenge–the former player serving as an analyst would attack the hitter for his inability to execute the simplest of tasks.

It was a wonderful time to be a fan of Japanese baseball.

BayStars continue to rock

The DeNA BayStars continued to play like they are on a mission on Saturday in a 6-2 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Yokohama Stadium.

Following widespread criticism of manager Alex Ramirez for his willingness to keep Jose Lopez in the lineup and Keita Sano in the cleanup spot, the BayStars’s offense has been dynamite, scoring 21 runs over the last three games with Lopez and Sano doing much of the heavy lifting.

Sano and Lopez each had two hits and an RBI, while Tyler Austin doubled twice, walked and scored two runs for the BayStars.

Lefty Shota Imanaga (3-2) allowed two runs, one earned over six innings. Lefty Edwin Escobar struck out four over two scoreless innings and struggling closer Yasuaki Yamasaki worked a 1-2-3 ninth after not pitching the last two days.

Tomo Otosaka, batting for Imanaga in the sixth, hit a three-run pinch-hit home run.

Kawabata saves Swallows’ blushes

Shingo Kawabata, the injury-prone veteran infielder who won the Central League’s batting title in 2015, came off the bench in the ninth inning to stroke a sayonara single, lifting the Yakult Swallows to a 6-5 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Swallows right-hander Yasuhiro “Ryan” Ogawa allowed three runs over seven innings, but rookie setup man Noboru Shimizu surrendered a run in the eighth, and closer Taishi Ishiyama blew the one-run save before stranding three Giants base runners.

Norichika Aoki hit a two-run homer in the first off former Giants closer Hirokazu Sawamura, drew three walks and doubled to open the ninth, when he was pulled for a pinch-runner.

Sawamura was an emergency starter in place of Angel Sanchez, who complained of discomfort in his right shoulder prior to the game.

Had the game ended 5-5, it would have been the Swallows third 5-5 tie in four games.

Yoshihiro Maru homered twice for the Giants

Nakata blast completes Fighters comeback

Sho Nakata’s three-run home run broke a 6-6 seventh-inning tie as the Nippon Ham Fighters came back from an early 6-0 deficit to beat the SoftBank Hawks at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Ryoya Kurihara belted a first-inning grand slam off former Cleveland Indians farmhand Toru Murata, and Hawks starter Shuta Ishikawa allowed three runs over six innings, but the Hawks bullpen proved uncharacteristically vulnerable.

Taneichi blanks Lions for 1st career shutout

Lotte Marines right-hander Atsuki Taneichi (3-1) struck out 10, while walking four in a four-hit shutout in a 5-0 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome that was a scoreless game through six innings.

Lions starter Keisuke Honda (0-2) allowed a run in six-plus innings to take the loss. A walk and a stolen base by pinch-runner Hiromi Oka set up Lotte’s Hisanori Yasuda to drive in the opening run.

Yasuda, a 21-year-old left-handed-hitting corner infielder, was the Marines’ top draft pick in 2018. The rookie seems to hit one or two rockets every game. The Marines broke the game open in a four-run eighth off right-hander Tetsu Miyagawa, the Lions’ top draft pick last autumn.

Mune’s inside the parker sparks Buffs in 9th

Yuma Mune’s ninth-inning drive to the fence in right went for an inside-the-park home run, snapping a 3-3 tie for the Orix Buffaloes, who finished the night with a 6-3 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Eagles right fielder Jabari Blash leaped to try and catch Mune’s drive off Eagles closer Kohei Morihara, but hit the wall awkwardly and was unable to give chase immediately while the speedy Buffalo circled the bases.

Buffaloes lefty Daiki Tajima allowed three runs over seven innings, while Eagles southpaw Takahiro Shiomi held the Buffaloes to a run over six innings.

The visitors took a 3-2 lead in the seventh against former Lion and Padre submariner Kazuhisa Makita. Aderlin Rodriguez opened with a home run to tie it.

With two outs and runners on the corners, the Buffaloes finally executed a play that has backfired on them twice over the past few games, the delayed double steal, with Mune scoring the go-ahead run on what might have been the biggest home plate collision in Japanese baseball since they were outlawed in 2016.

Catcher Yuichi Adachi crossed into Mune’s path to catch the ball, which struck the runner. Mune was ruled safe, and would have been ruled safe even if a tag had been made since NPB prohibits players from obstructing the baseline even with the ball in hand.

Tajima, however, surrendered the tying run in the bottom of the inning, setting up the thrilling finish. Brandon Dickson worked the ninth for Orix, earning his fifth save.

Dragons recall Takahashi, Carp drop Osera

The Chunichi Dragons activated their captain, Shuhei Takahashi on Saturday, while the Hiroshima Carp have deactivated ace right-hander Daichi Osera.

Takahashi suffered a mild left hamstring strain on July 11.

The 29-year-old was pulled after two innings from the Carp’s game on Friday in Yokohama due to an “accident” a catch-all phrase that could include any kind of incident or injury.

The Carp said later only that his “condition was not good.”

Osera threw a 116-pitch complete game on Opening Day and a 132-pitch complete game seven days later in a lop-sided win. Since then, he has surrendered 10 runs on 24 hits and six walks over 19 innings.

Meanwhile, the Seibu Lions have activated Venezuelan slugger Ernesto Mejia for the first time this season.

Active roster moves 7/25/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/4

Central League

Activated

GiantsOF59Seiya Matsubara
TigersOF53Kairi Shimada
CarpP26Ren Nakata
CarpC22Shosei Nakamura
DragonsIF3Shuhei Takahashi

Dectivated

GiantsP45Nobutaka Imamura
TigersP67Suguru Iwazaki
CarpP14Daichi Osera
CarpIF4Tetsuya Kokubo

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP45Keisuke Honda
LionsIF99Ernesto Mejia

Dectivated

LionsIF39Wu Nien-ting
LionsOF68Junichiro Kishi