Tag Archives: Alfredo Despaigne

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. 16

Lions’ rookie a winner in 1st start

Lefty Shota Hamaya (1-0) allowed a run over six innings without issuing a walk in his first career start, while veteran Takumi Kuriyama had four hits and two RBIs in the Seibu Lions’ 3-1 win over the Lotte Marines at MetLife Dome.

“I really tried to make good first pitches,” said the 21-year-old Hamaya, the Lions’ second-round pick last autumn. “When I got behind in the count, I just made sure I had good arm action on my pitches, and if they hit them, they hit them.”

Hamaya allowed a run on four this and three strikeouts.

The 37-year-old Kuriyama, playing in his 19th pro season, homered in the first off lefty Kazuya Ojima (5-6) to open the scoring and singled in the second run in the Lions’ fifth to chase the Marines starter.

“I think there is an image that left handers can bust us inside,” Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi said. “We have some work to do on that.”

Ojima allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk over 4-2/3 innings.

“This game turned on my giving up three hits to the same hitter,” Ojima said. “Obviously I need to take a hard look at that so I can do better next time.”

Tajima outduels Wakui

Daiki Tajima (2-4) threw his first career shutout, a two-hitter, to outduel Hideaki Wakui (8-3) in the Orix Buffaloes’ 2-0 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Hotto Motto Field Kobe.

Wearing the uniform of their predecessors, the Orix BlueWave, and playing in their former home park in the hills above the port city of Kobe, Yutaro Sugimoto broke open a scoreless game with fifth-inning home run, and Torai Fushimi homered against the Eagles’ bullpen in the seventh.

“From the first inning, I pounded them with my fastball,” said Tajima, who walked one while striking out eight. “I was able to really pitch my kind of game.”

The lefty, the top draft pick of the Buffaloes in 2017, didn’t allow a base runner after surrendering a one-out infield single in the fifth.

“I didn’t think about what was coming. I just took each batter head on,” Tajima said.

The complete-game shutout was Orix’s first of the season and came in its 76th game.

Despaigne lifts Hawks past Fighters

Alfredo Despaigne broke up a tie game with a two-run seventh-inning single after Fighters reliever Katsuhiko Kumon (0-2) loaded the bases with one out in the SoftBank Hawks’ 5-4 come-from-behind win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.

Kumon left after getting only one out, on a sacrifice as the Hawks played to tie while a run down in the seventh. But they got much more as a single and a walk loaded the bases and slugger Yuki Yanagita forced in a run by walking against new pitcher Taisho Tamai, who then surrendered Despaigne’s single.

The blowup wasted a solid start from Toshihiro Nakamura, who allowed two runs on three hits and three walks while striking out six. Hawks starter Akira Niho gave up three runs, one earned, over 4-1/3 innings, but five relievers held the Fighters to a run on two walks and one hit over 4-2/3 innings. Closer Yuito Mori allowed a run after a leadoff infield single but recorded his 21st save.

Saiuchi returns from wilderness in win

Hiroaki Saiuchi, signed nine days earlier from the independent Kagawa Olive Guyners — I’m not making this up — made his first NPB start in six years, and allowed two runs over five innings for the Yakult Swallows in a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the DeNA BayStars at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Saiuchi, a 27-year-old who was the second draft pick of the Hanshin Tigers in 2011, is still 0-2 in his career as a starter, although he allowed one run over five innings in his pro starting debut on Sept. 2, 2012. He was released for the second time by the Tigers last winter, and signed this season with Kagawa.

In nine games in the Shikoku Island League-plus, Saiuchi was 5-0 with three shutouts a 0.42 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 64 innings.

BayStars starting pitcher Taiga Kamichatani allowed one run over six innings when Munetaka Murakami victimized him by hitting a good slider at the bottom of the zone and driving it deep into the stands for an opposite-field homer in the fourth.

Kamichatani, however, singled with one out to start a two-run fifth-inning rally for a one-run lead that was overtaken by the Swallows bench on back-to-back RBI singles in the seventh.

Giants reserves beat Tigers

A day after lighting up their magic number the Yomiuri Giants rested a couple of stars, shortstop Hayato Sakamoto and cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto as a pair of reserves delivered the firepower in a 7-6 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo Dome.

Shunta Tanaka and Soichiro Tateoka each homered and the pair combined to score four runs and drive in six, giving the Giants enough leeway to overcome a late Tigers fightback.

Giants-Tigers highlights

Carp clobber Dragons

Jose Pirela opened the scoring with a first-inning RBI single and added a late home run, his ninth, for the Hiroshima Carp in a 9-2 skewering of the Chunichi Dragons at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Ryuhei Matsuyama also homered and drove in two for the hosts, while Carp right-hander Yusuke Nomura (5-1) allowed two runs over 5-1/3 innings to earn the win.

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 9/16/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/26

Central League

Activated

BayStarsIF4Yukiya Ito
CarpC40Yoshitaka Isomura
SwallowsP91Hiroaki Saiuchi

Dectivated

BayStarsIF9Yamato Maeda
CarpC22Shosei Nakamura

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP20Shota Hamaya
HawksP13Akira Niho
MarinesP49Chen Kuan-yu
FightersP57Toshihiro Sugiura

Dectivated

MarinesP42Frank Herrmann
FightersP29Kazutomo Iguchi

Starting pitchers for Sept. 17, 2020

Pacific League

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

Kenta Uehara (0-0, 1.00) vs Nao Higashihama (3-1, 3.02)

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

Tetsuya Utsumi (1-1, 4.20) vs Daiki Iwashita (4-5, 4.98)

Buffaloes vs Eagles: Hotto Motto Field 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hirotoshi Masui (0-1, 3.68) vs Yuki Matsui (1-3, 4.10)

Central League

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

Angel Sanchez (4-2, 2.25) vs Yuki Nishi (6-3, 2.32)

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

Hirotoshi Takanashi (2-4, 4.95) vs Michael Peoples (2-1, 4.86)

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

Masato Morishita (6-2, 2.39) vs Koji Fukutani (3-2, 2.78)

NPB 2020 Sept. 11

Moore, Despaigne lead Hawks over Lions

Matt Moore (2-1) overcame one costly mistake to allow two runs over seven innings and Alfredo Despaigne, getting a rare start in the outfield, had three hits including a tie-breaking home run in the SoftBank Hawks’ 4-2 win over the Seibu Lions on Friday.

Lions starter Zach Neal (3-5) was victimized by good swings and good footspeed in the Hawks’ two-run second at Fukuoka’s Casa de Pepe. Takuya Kai lined a leadoff double to center. Ukyo Shuto brought him home from third with one out with a well-hit single. Shuto stole second and third and scored on a sacrifice fly.

The Lions tied it in the third on a Corey Spangenberg infield single and a two-out Ernesto Mejia home run. Moore missed up with a 1-2 changeup and Mejia drove it over the short fence in left for his ninth home run in his 90th at-bat this season. Moore was visibly displeased and might have been penalized at Wimbledon had lip readers called in to report him to the match officials.

With the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the inning, the broadcasters quoted Lions pitching coach Fumiya Nishiguchi about Neal pitching well despite the two runs allowed. Within seconds, however. Neal caught the bad-pitch bug. The right-hander hung a changeup to Alfredo Despaigne that the Cuban slugger miss-hit but lofted over the fence in left.

Moore struck out nine and walked two, while allowing three hits. Other than a walk to Hotaka Yamakawa, Spangenberg, who walked in the first, and Mejia, who doubled in the second, were the only Lions to reach base against the lefty.

Neal struck out six, while allowing seven hits over seven innings, and would have been a winner with the stuff he brought against a slightly less-potent team.

Livan Moinelo and Yuito Mori each worked a scoreless inning of relief with Mori earning his 20th save.

Nakamura outduels Yamaoka

Lotte Marines lefty Toshiya Nakamura (2-2) took a no-hitter into the eighth, and his teammates scored two unearned runs off the Orix Buffaloes Opening Day starter, Taisuke Yamaoka, in a 2-0 win at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

The Marines managed just three hits against Yamaoka (0-3). Shohei Kato singled to open the Marines’ sixth for their first hit. An error put two on with no outs. Kato stole third, but Yamaoka struck out the next two batters and got ahead of Shogo Nakamura 1-2. The next pitch floated up in the zone and Nakamura did what most Japanese hitters are trained to do, hammer it up the middle. The ball got through the infield to make it 1-0, and Katsuya Kakunaka doubled in another run.

Ryoichi Adachi broke up Toshiya Nakamura’s no-hit bid with a leadoff double in the eighth, and Lotte skipper Tadahito Iguchi came and got his starter. Newly acquired right-hander Hirokazu Sawamura retired the next three batters, and closer Naoya Masuda worked a 1-2-3 ninth to record his 23rd save.

Mogi knocks out Fighters in 10th

Eigoro Mogi’s two-run 10th-inning home run overturned a one-run deficit and lifted the Rakuten Eagles to a 5-4 walk-off win over the Nippon Ham Fighters in a rain-soaked game at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Eagles closer Alan Busenitz retired only one of the four batters he faced—on a sacrifice bunt–as the Fighters tied it in the ninth, but right-hander Tomohito Sakai retired both batters he faced to keep it tied. The visitors made it 4-3 in the 10th after a 30-minute rain delay.

Hideto Asamura opened the 10th with a single and Eagles manager Hajime Miki played for a tie by having hard-hitting Hiroaki Shimauchi sacrifice. Mogi, however, would have none of it.

Afterward, Mogi read the home run hitters’ post-game hero interview script to perfection.

“I have good hitters coming up behind me so I was just trying to get on base,” Mogi said, with some measure of honesty since Stefen Romero was on deck, although guys say that when anyone but the pitcher is following them.

Hara sets Giants managing record

Hayato Sakamoto’s eighth-inning home run broke a 1-1 tie as Tatsunori Hara earned his franchise-best 1,067th victory as Yomiuri Giants manager in a 2-1 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo Dome.

Hara first managed the Giants in 2002 and is in his third stint with the team after quitting twice. He had been tied for the franchise lead with Tetsuharu Kawakami, who managed 1,866 games. Friday’s game was Hara’s 1,927th. In addition to being one of the club’s first superstars as a hard-hitting first baseman, Kawakami managed the Giants to nine-straight Japan Series championships from 1965 to 1973.

The game marked right-hander Albert Suarez’s return from exile with the Swallows’ farm team in Toda, Saitama Prefecture. Suarez had been deactivated after walking seven betters over six scoreless innings on July 7 to “regain his form.” On the farm, he had an ERA over 10.00 so it is unclear whether he accomplished that.

At Tokyo Dome, he allowed a run over six innings on five hits and a walk. Giants rookie Shosei Togo worked seven innings and allowed a solo home run to Tetsuto Yamada.

Giants-Swallows highlights.

Nishi, Sands slaughter Carp

Yuki Nishi (6-3) struck out nine without a walk in a four-hit shutout, and Jerry Sands drove in a pair of runs for the Hanshin Tigers in their 4-0 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Koshien Stadium.

Sands went 3-for-4 to push his batting average above .300. He singled in Koji Chikamoto in the first to open the scoring. Chikamoto doubled in the third, stole third and came home on catcher Shogo Sakakura’s throwing error. Sands’ 18th home run made it 3-0 in the sixth.

Dragons squeak past BayStars

Cuban closer Raidel Martinez overcame a ninth-inning leadoff homer and two singles to hold the DeNA BayStars to one run and seal his 11th save in the Chunichi Dragons’ 3-2 win at Yokohama Stadium.

Neftali Soto, who has led the Central League in home runs in each of his two seasons in Japan, went after Martinez’s first pitch and launched his 13th home run. But the right-hander struck out two of the last three batters he faced to end it.

Active roster moves 9/11/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/21

Central League

Activated

TigersP36Masumi Hamachi
TigersP56Keisuke Kobayashi
TigersP64Kentaro Kuwahara
CarpP28Hiroki Tokoda
CarpC22Shosei Nakamura
SwallowsP43Albert Suarez
SwallowsIF10Takahiro Araki

Dectivated

TigersP14Atsushi Nomi
TigersP48Yukiya Saito
TigersP61Atsushi Mochizuki
CarpC27Tsubasa Aizawa
DragonsP67Yariel Rodriguez
SwallowsP47Keiji Takahashi
SwallowsIF5Shingo Kawabata

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP36Sho Ito
LionsOF73Wataru Takagi
EaglesP60Ryota Ishibashi
EaglesIF66Itsuki Murabayashi
FightersP18Kosei Yoshida
BuffaloesOF25Ryo Nishimura

Dectivated

LionsP25Katsunori Hirai
LionsOF65Daisuke Togawa
EaglesIF24Fumiya Kurokawa
FightersC60Takuya Kori
BuffaloesP21Daichi Takeyasu
BuffaloesOF41Kodai Sano

Starting pitchers for Sept. 12, 2020

Pacific League

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

Takahiro Shiomi (4-5, 4.60) 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 Andrew Albers (3-5, 3.62)

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

Shota Takeda (1-0, 2.31) vs Sean Nolin (1-0, 3.75)

Central League

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

Nobutaka Imamura (3-0, 3.04) vs Daiki Yoshida (1-4, 4.99)

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

Haruhiro Hamaguchi (3-4, 4.12) vs Takahiro Matsuba (2-3, 2.68)

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

Takumi Akiyama (4-1, 3.29) vs Atsushi Endo (2-2, 3.90)

NPB 2020 8-26 Games and news

Ojima ends Wakui’s win streak

Hideaki Wakui overcame a rough start to work seven innings, but Marines lefty Kazuya Ojima, 10 years his junior, struck out a career-high 11 to deny the 34-year-old his ninth win to open the season as the Lotte Marines beat the Rakuten Eagles and their former teammate 2-0 on Wednesday at Sendai’s Rakuten Semei Park Miyagi.

Wakui pitched out of a two-out bases-loaded jam in the first inning with a good inside fastball to Katsuya Kakunaka that the former PL batting champion popped up. After Ojima worked out of a first-inning pickle, Wakui fell behind light-hitting Yudai Fujioka to start the second. The right-hander threw the Marines shortstop a 3-1 fastball down the pipe that he skied to right only for it to reach the seats at the foul pole for his first home run of the season. With two outs, Wakui hung an 0-1 breaking ball and Shuhei Fukuda pulled it down the right-field line for his third home run.

Ojima worked around a defensive mixup in the second that helped Stefen Romero to a leadoff double, and that second zero proved to be the ballgame as he allowed only two more batters to reach through seven innings. Former Eagle Frank Herrmann worked the eighth, while Naoya Masuda notched his 17th save in the ninth.

Wakui also went seven, and though he battled his command more than he has for most of the season, he figured things out as the game went on. He finished with five walks, nine strikeouts and three walks.

Matsuda spearheads Hawks comeback

Nobuhiro Matsuda hit a game-tying seventh-inning home run and singled to give the Hawks a out, ninth-inning beachhead they exploited in their 5-4 come-from-behind win over the Orix Buffaloes at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Masataka Yoshida doubled off 39-year-old Hawks lefty Tsuyoshi Wada to drive in a first-inning run and broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth against Wada with his xth home run.

Buffaloes lefty Daiki Tajima loaded the bases in the first but allowed no runs, but allowed a single and a home run in the fourth, reserve catcher Hiroaki Takaya’s first of the season. Tyler Higgins kept the Hawks off the board in the bottom of the eighth with the help of backup catcher Torai Fushimi, who cut down lightning-fast pinch-runner Ukyo Shuto trying to steal second.

After a scoreless ninth by Hawks closer Yuito Mori (1-1), Matsuda singled off Buffaloes closer Brandon Dickson (0-3) and Nakamura tripled home pinch-runner Taisei Makihara to end it.

Villanueva lands 1st punch in slugfest

The Nippon Ham Fighters’ Christian Villanueva blasted a three-run, second-inning homer to open the scoring off lefty Daiki Enokida (0-1) who surrendered seven early runs in an 8-5 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.

Fighters starter Toshihiro Sugiura allowed three runs over 5-1/3 innings. He didn’t allow a run until the sixth, when two walks and a single opened the floodgates to a five-run Lions innings, highlighted by a three-run Corey Spangenberg home run.

Wheeler boosts well-coached Giants

Zelous Wheeler hit a two-run first-inning home run and put his team in front with a sixth-inning RBI single for the Yomiuri Giants, who took advantage of an umpire’s inattention in a 12-5 see-saw win against the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

With the game tied 5-5 in the sixth, Wheeler put the Giants in front and cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto, hitless in his first three at-bats, singled in one more. A seven-hit five-run ninth turned the game into a rout.

The Swallows overturned their early deficit via a one-out Tetsuto Yamada home run, a Norichika Aoki walk and Munetaka Murakami’s 11th home run off Nattino Diplan. But the Giants retook the lead in the second with two runs against lefty Keiji Takahashi after a Hiroyuki Nakajima leadoff single and a double by rookie reserve catcher Yukinori Kishida.

The Swallows were denied an inning-ending double play because third base umpire Yoshiharu Yamaguchi wasn’t paying attention. Nakajima was caught between third and home on a grounder to third and beat a hasty retreat only to find Mota occupying the bag. Swallows catcher Yuhei Nakamura did the smart thing and tagged both men. Nakajima, mistakenly thinking he was out, walked off the bag until third base coach Koji Goto yanked him back.

Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu came out to argue but in the ump’s judgement, Goto preventing Nakajima from getting tagged out did not constitute help or he wasn’t looking. Either way, Hayato Sakamoto followed with a two-out two-run double.

Tomotaka Sakaguchi’s two-run homer in the fifth put Yakult back on top, only for Wheeler and the Giants to turn the game around once more.

Kishida walked to open the sixth, pinch-runner Daiki Masuda stole second and scored on Shinnosuke Shigenobu’s single. A walk put two on for Wheeler who singled between third and short.

Giants reliever Yuhei Takanashi (1-0) earned the win, extending his scoreless game streak to 15 with two scoreless innings.

Nomura pitches Carp past BayStars

Yusuke Nomura (3-1) allowed two runs over eight innings, while Shota Dobayashi and Seiya Suzuki each scored twice in the Hiroshima Carp’s 4-2 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohoma Stadium.

The Carp opened the scoring in the fourth on a one-out Dobayashi single, a Suzuki double and Ryuhei Matsuyama’s two-run single. In the home half, Carp center fielder Takayoshi Noma threw out Neftali Soto at the plate to end the inning. The BayStars tied it 2-2 in the fifth on Takayuki Kajitani’s 10th home run, but Dobayashi put the visitors ahead in the sixth. He walked, stole second and scored on Matsuyama’s second RBI single off Haruhiro Hamaguchi (3-3).

Suzuki’s 14th home run, off Spencer Patton in the ninth, completed the scoring, and Geronimo Franzua struck out the side in the bottom of the inning to record his seventh save.

Bour, Tigers maul Dragons

Justin Bour homered twice and drove in three runs, while Onelki Garcia (2-5) allowed two runs over six innings in the Hanshin Tigers’ 11-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Koshien Stadium.

Bour dropped his bombs against Dragons right-hander Koji Fukutani (2-2), who hit his first bump in the road in his transition to starting pitcher, allowing six runs in six innings to take the loss after four decent outings. The Tigers took the lead in the second when Bour hit his 11th of the season with two outs and none on. His two-run home run capped Hanshin’s five-run sixth

Hawks drop Despaigne, Higashihama

The SoftBank Hawks deactivated two-time Best Nine Award-winning designated hitter Alfredo Despaigne and Opening Day starter Nao Higashima on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old Despaigne has been suffering from pain in his left knee. The right-handed-hitting slugger returned to Japan in July with Cuban teammate Yurisbel Gracial and rejoined the first team on Friday and has appeared in three games.

Higashihama, named to start on Opening Day for the first time in June, was sent down due to a stiff neck. He threw 132 pitches in a five-inning start on Friday against the Lotte Marines in which he allowed three runs. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA. He was replaced on the active roster by Wednesday’s starting pitcher, 39-year-old lefty Tsuyoshi Wada.

Moore back with 1st team

First-year import Matt Moore rejoined the Hawks first team on Wednesday for practice prior their game against Orix in Fukuoka. The 31-year-old lefty suffered a left calf injury on July 7.

“His leg is no issue,” manager Kimiyasu Kudo said. “Once he’s in games, we’ll control his pitch counts to some extent. I’ve watched video. The only thing that concerns me is the number of pitches.”

Elsewhere, the Orix Buffaloes deactivated first-baseman Aderlin Rodriguez, while the Central League’s DeNA BayStars dropped first baseman Jose Lopez.

Active roster moves 8/26/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/5

Central League

Activated

GiantsP96Nattino Diplan
BayStarsOF52Seiya Hosokawa
CarpIF00Kaisei Sone
SwallowsP20Kazuki Kondo

Dectivated

BayStarsIF2Jose Lopez
CarpIF63Ryoma Nishikawa
SwallowsP13Hikaru Nakao

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP21Tsuyoshi Wada
HawksOF64Yusuke Masago
EaglesP72Shun Ikeda
BuffaloesOF56Yusuke Matsui

Dectivated

HawksP16Nao Higashihama
HawksOF54Alfredo Despaigne
EaglesP23Hayato Yuge
MarinesP15Manabu Mima
BuffaloesIF42Aderlin Rodriguez

Starting pitchers for Aug. 27, 2020

Pacific League

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

Yuki Matsui (0-1, 5.16) vs Daiki Iwashita (3-3, 4.03)

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

Keisuke Honda (1-4, 3.45) vs Ryusei Kawano (2-3, 4.46)

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

Shunsuke Kasaya (1-2, 3.42) vs Taisuke Yamaoka (0-0, 1.23)

Central League

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

Hirotoshi Takanashi (2-2, 4.47) vs Shosei Togo (6-2, 2.11)

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

Shoichi Ino (4-3, 2.21) vs Kris Johnson (0-5, 5.83)

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

Koyo Aoyagi (5-3, 3.40) vs Yuya Yanagi (2-3, 2.36)

NPB 2020 8-13 games and news

Otake frustrates Buffaloes in season debut

Kotaro Otake made a lot out of a little on Thursday as his low-velocity deliveries frustrated hitters and helped earn him the win in his belated season debut as the SoftBank Hawks beat the Orix Buffaloes 3-1 to remain in a tie for first place in the Pacific League.

Otake, who has been with the minor league squad since feeling stiffness in his left elbow in camp and was 4-0 in the Western League, allowed five hits and a walk while striking out three over 5-2/3 innings. Although it was an impressive effort, Otake got off to a rocky start.

In the first inning, he challenged leadoff hitter Tatsuya Yamaashi with a 1-0 fastball down the pipe. But it wasn’t a very good one, and the light-hitting reserve showed what a professional hitter can do when giving a cookie, driving it well back in PayPay Dome’s left-field stands for his third career home run.

But otherwise, the Buffaloes hitters struggled to time Otake’s speeds: slow, slower, and molasses, as he mixed his 136-kph (84.5 mph) fastball with a two-seamer, a changeup and a curve. His occasional high misses didn’t hurt him as much as they perhaps changed batters’ eye levels. The end result was a lot of soft contact. Orix didn’t hit anything reasonably hard until Jones doubled with two outs in the fourth.

The Hawks wasted two walks in the first inning against Taiwanese right-hander Chang Yi but made up for it in the second. Kenta Imamiya led off with his fifth home run, Takuya Kai walked with one out and scored on leadoff man Ukyo Shuto’s two-out triple. Akira Nakamura singled and scored an insurance run in the fifth after a Ryoya Kurihara single and a Kenji Akashi double.

Chang (0-1) allowed six hits and three walks over his five innings. The right-hander, a cousin of NPB veterans Yang Dai-kang and Yang Yao-hsun, was taken by the Buffaloes in the first round of the 2016 developmental draft out of Japan University of Economics.

Otake issued his only walk of the game in the sixth and after retiring slugging left-handed hitters Masataka Yoshida and Takahiro Okada, was pulled for a righty with Jones coming to the plate. Arata Shiino got out of the inning on five pitches, and Yugo Bando, Livan Moinelo and Yuito Mori finished up with a scoreless inning each. Mori earned his 12th save.

Eagles keep pace with win over Lions

Rookie Hiroto Kobukata reached base four times and scored three runs for the Rakuten Eagles in their 7-4 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo. The win kept the Eagles tied with the Hawks for the PL lead.

Former closer Yuki Matsui allowed three runs on six hits over three innings. He left the game with a 4-3 lead and right-hander Tomohito Sakai retired all six batters he faced over two innings to earn the win. Ryosuke Tatsumi broke a 1-1 tie in the third with his fifth home run, a leadoff shot off Lions rookie Kaito Yoza (2-4).

Yoza allowed four runs over 2-1/3 innings as the Lions needed eight pitchers to get them through the night.

J.T. Chargois worked a scoreless eighth for Rakuten, while submarine right-hander Kazuhisa Makita worked the ninth to earn his first save in Japan since he saved three in 2015 for the Lions.

Marines power past Fighters

Leonys Martin’s fifth home run in six games was one of three solo shot the Lotte Marines hit in a three-run fifth en route to overcoming a five-run deficit in their 8-5 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

After Tsuyoshi Sugano doubled home Seiya Inoue with the tying run in the sixth, Martin reached on an error in the seventh and scored the go-ahead run.

The Marines comeback made a winner out of Jose Flores (1-1). The 31-year-old right-hander from Venezuela spent 10 years in the minors with the Cleveland Indians, Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants. The Marines acquired him from the Toyama Thunderbirds of Japan’s independent Baseball Challenge League.

Giants bang, bloop their way to comeback win

Yoshiyuki Kamei’s ninth-inning pinch-hit single lifted the Yomiuri Giants to a 4-3 walk-off win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo Dome.

Lefty Cristopher Mercedes allowed three doubles and a walk in a three-run first, and spent his remaining five innings on the mound pitching with me on base but allowing no more runs.

The Giants closed within a run on back-to-back two-out solo homers in the fourth inning from Yoshihiro Maru and Hiroyuki Nakajima. The hosts tied it in the fifth on a two-out bloop RBI single by cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto. Swallows right-hander Hirotoshi Takanashi allowed three runs over six innings, and two relievers kept it tied until right-hander Yuma Oshita (0-1) allowed a leadoff single.

After a stolen base, Kamei pinch hit and got enough of the first pitch thrown by Scott McGough to hit a fly into shallow center that won it.

ToSpo pandering to the populists

There’s always some writer somewhere who’ll put a populist or racist spin on something they probably don’t understand. The Tokyo Sports used to have a pretty sordid reputation for writing the most loathsome stuff and one writer of theirs seems keen to resurrect that image when he wrote a story titled “Manager Hara spills the real truth behind Parra’s substitution.”

Hara pulled Gerardo Parra out of the game during the top of the sixth inning, and Tokyo Sports would like us to think because he was solely because he wasn’t hustling on a foul fly that dropped safely.

The manager said, “You saw what happened. It looked he was favoring his leg,” although the Tokyo Sports neglected to mention that last bit. Instead, it implied Parra was fit because no trainer came out and didn’t look hurt. They then reminded readers of the time when a Japanese star was not hustling and was sent home by Hara, implying that was the reason here.

The real truth is the thing that story wasn’t interested in when a pile of made-up shit made a better headline.

Yamada rejoins Swallows

Yakult Swallows second baseman Tetsuto Yamada was activated on Thursday and practiced as usual with the team before their game against the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome, according to the Nikkan Sports.

He was deactivated on July 27, ostensibly due to lack of upper body fitness, whatever that means.

Despaigne, Gracial to start on farm

Big-hitting Cubans Alfredo Despaigne and Yurisbel Gracial practiced with the Hawks Western League farm team on Thursday, and are scheduled to play in Friday’s home WL game against the Hiroshima Carp, the Nishinihon Sports reports.

The pair had gone to Cuba train with the national team in March ahead of World Baseball Classic qualifying. After qualifying was canceled, they were unable to travel to Japan until Havana’s airport re-opened for international travel in July.

The two arrived in Japan last month despite Japan’s ban on foreign nationals entering the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. After they completed quarantine they were to train with the farm team until minor league operations were suspended after infections were discovered at the minor league facility. Instead, they traveled to Sendai last week and trained with the first team.

Tigers drop Fujikawa

The Hanshin Tigers have deactivated 40-year-old reliever Kyuji Fujikawa. According to the Hochi Shimbun, the move was made due to the dreaded “lack of upper body fitness” although the article specified the afflicted area to be the right side of his upper body.

Fujikawa, who converted every save opportunity he faced after being restored to the closer’s role last summer for the first time in seven seasons, has been largely ineffective this year. He was deactivated on July 12 due to right shoulder fitness.

Active roster moves 8/13/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/23

Central League

Activated

SwallowsIF1Tetsuto Yamada

Dectivated

TigersP22Kyuji Fujikawa
CarpP58DJ Johnson
DragonsP25Yu Sato
DragonsP59Takumi Yamamoto
DragonsIF7Akira Neo
SwallowsP24Tomoya Hoshi

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP10Kotaro Otake
MarinesP24Yusuke Azuma
BuffaloesP98Chang Yi

Dectivated

HawksP21Tsuyoshi Wada
MarinesP41Kakeru Narita
BuffaloesIF31Ryo Ota

Starting pitchers for Friday, Aug. 14, 2020

Pacific League

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

Zach Neal (2-2, 4.47) vs Takahiro Norimoto (3-3, 3.66)

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

Ayumu Ishikawa (2-2, 3.83) vs Ryuji Kitaura (-)

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

Nao Higashihama (2-1, 3.02) vs Sachiya Yamasaki (2-1, 4.40)

Central League

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

Shosei Togo (4-2, 2.86) vs Takahiro Matsuba (2-2, 2.42)

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

Shinichi Onuki (4-2, 1.91) vs Daiki Yoshida (1-1, 5.40)

Tigers vs Carp: Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shintaro Fujinami (0-3, 2.57) vs Masato Morishita (3-2, 2.87)

We don’t matter, players do

On Monday, the Pacific League’s SoftBank Hawks announced that its two big Cuban outfielders, Alfredo Despaigne and Yurisbel Gracial, had arrived in Fukuoka and had tested negative for the coronavirus.

This is good news for the Hawks and their fans and for the two individuals, who will be happy to get back to normal. But for other residents of Japan, it is one more discouraging sign that our lives mean less than ballplayers employed by powerful corporations.

Testing our patience

Until recently, Japan put numerous hurdles in the path of citizens and residents whose doctors wanted them tested for the coronavirus. Individuals had to have a few prescribed symptoms for up to four days and then get permission from a physician in order for someone working at a call center to decide whether the case merited being added to the list of those awaiting testing.

NPB coronavirus timeline

But ballplayers and professional athletes have been different. If, like Hanshin Tigers pitcher Shintaro Fujinami, they reported losing their sense of smell or taste, they would go to the front of the testing line and have a result within 48 hours.

So far five ballplayers have tested positive for COVID-19, while everyone connected closely to pro soccer and baseball can be tested regularly in order for NPB and the J-League to resume operations.

Sports are essential

Soon after a state of emergency was ordered in April, some lawmakers suggested Tokyo’s National Training Center, where Olympic athletes train, should be reopened when private businesses were being asked to close their doors. The logic? It was essential for Japan to achieve its gold medal targets for the Olympics that the government now hopes to hold next July.

“Winning Olympic gold medals is essential,” we were told.

Of course they are essential, that’s why millions of dollars were paid in dubious fashion to help secure the event for Tokyo so that billions of dollars could be siphoned from the national treasury for a huge number of projects involved in the games.

Ballplayers are more important than us

In March, Despaigne and Gracial left Japan to receive treatment for minor injuries and train with Cuba’s national team ahead of qualifying for the 2021 World Baseball Classic.

The two remained in Cuba after qualifying was canceled and the start of Japan’s season was postponed. When Nippon Professional Baseball announced in May that its season would start on June 19, the pair were in Cuba, where international travel had been suspended.

Some fans expressed concern that even if travel was made possible between Cuba and Japan, the two would not be allowed into Japan since they are not Japanese citizens.

Currently, only Japanese citizens are allowed to enter the country. Residents of Japan, including permanent residents – many of whom are foreign nationals who have only ever lived in Japan – are barred from entry.

But if you can play baseball, いらっしゃい。(Welcome)