Tag Archives: Alfredo Despaigne

NPB wrap 4-14-21

Old dog teaches pup new tricks

Hawks 4, Buffaloes 1

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, 40-year-old SoftBank southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada (1-1) pitched really well for the first time this season, missing bats and striking out five while allowing a walk and four hits over 6-2/3 innings. Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto (2-2) came could only muster his “C” game, allowing three runs on eight hits and three walks over 5-1/3 innings.

Alfredo Despaigne singled and scored the opening run in the second on a Nobuhiro Matsuda broken-bat single. Yamamoto appeared to be back in control after stranding two runners in the third, but some good hitting by Yurisbel Gracial opened the sixth. Despaigne walked with one out and three straight singles chased Yamamoto.

Wada left one on in the seventh. Gracial made a good catch in left for the second out, and Wada was gone after suffering a cramp. Sho Iwasaki allowed Orix’s only run in the eighth, and Yuito Mori earned his fourth save with a perfect ninth against the heart of the Buffaloes’ order.

Lions 2, Fighters 1

At MetLife Dome, Seibu Lions right-hander Tatsuya Imai (1-2) survived his customary lack of command to hold the Nippon Ham Fighters to an unearned run over six innings. He walked four and hit one, but allowed only three singles while striking out seven to outpitch rookie Hiromi Ito (0-2). Imai has been mediocre this year except in his two starts against Nippon Ham.

Ito continued to be a strikeout machine. He fanned nine over six innings, to raise his season total to 28 strikeouts in 19 innings. He surrendered the lead in the first inning after surrendering a leadoff double to Lions rookie Gakuto Wakabayashi, his former high school teammate.

Wakabayashi scored on a Tomoya Mori flare single after the Lions wasted Sosuke Genda’s turn at bat by having him bunt the runner to third. Mori singled and scored a third-inning insurance run on a Wu Nien-ting RBI single.

After Matsumoto left, the Lions’ bullpen turned on the heat. Reed Garrett struck out the bottom of the Fighters’ order in the seventh. Kaima Taira struck out two of the four batters he faced in the eighth, and Tatsushi Masuda worked around a leadoff walk with three straight strikeouts to notch his fifth save.

Marines 2, Eagles 2

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Rakuten right-hander Takahiro Norimoto finally began striking out batters, whiffing nine over six innings after recording just seven over his first 13-1/3. He gave up one run on six hits and a walk, while Lotte lefty Kazuya Ojima bounced back from getting hammered by the Eagles on March 30 to hold them to an unearned run over six innings.

The Marines took the lead in the seventh on a Shogo Nakamura RBI single off Sung Chih-hao, but the Eagles relievers retired the last seven batters they faced. The Marines got perfect innings from Frank Herrmann and Yuki Karakawa before Naoya Masuda blew a chance to record his third save, allowing a run on a Hideto Asamura double, a single and a Daichi Suzuki sac fly.

Tigers 6, Carp 0

At Koshien Stadium, Tigers rookie Teruaki Sato homered, scored two and drove in three runs as the Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers took a stick to Hiroshima’s Masato Morishita (1-2), hammering the CL’s 2020 rookie of the year for five runs, four earned, on two walks and five hits over five innings, while Yuki Nishi (2-1) struck out seven over eight scoreless innings.

Tigers rookie Takumu Nakano, Hanshin’s sixth pick last autumn, drove in the first run of the season after Sato walked with two outs and an error, when shortstop Kosuke Tanaka fumbled a grounder.

Jerry Sands drew a leadoff walk in the third and Sato put a perfect swing on a curve that came in waist high. In the fifth, it was Jefry Marte, who put a ferocious swing on a high pitch with a bat flip matching his tremendous blast.

Marte drew the first of two one-out walks in the seventh, with Sato singling in a run to close the scoring.

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Giants 5, Dragons 1

At Tokyo Dome, Seishu Hatake (1-1) turned in the Yomiuri Giants’ third straight stellar starting pitching performance, following Nobutaka Imamura’s complete game shutout on Sunday and Angel Sanchez’s 7-1/3-inning effort on Tuesday.

Hatake allowed a run on seven hits while striking out nine, walking one and hitting one over 8-1/3 innings. Ariel Martinez opened the ninth with his first homer of the season for the Dragons, Rubby De La Rosa took over with two on in the ninth and recorded his fifth save.

Dragons right-hander Akiyoshi Katsuno (1-1), who dodged bullets for five scoreless innings a week ago, only faced one tough inning, but it was a doozy. Takayuki Kajitani capped a five-run inning with his second homer as a Giant.

Giants-Dragons highlights

Kosuke Fukudome may be 43 with an arm that no longer inspires awe, but he’s a gamer. With one out and one on in the fifth inning of a 5-0 Japanese pro baseball’s elder statesman laid it out to rob Kazuma Okamoto of a flare single.

Swallows 7, BayStars 3

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Rookie right-hander Yuto Kanakubo (1-0) surrendered rookie Shugo Maki’s two-run, two-out double that opened the score in the first before Yakult jumped on rookie right-hander Taisei Irie (0-3) for five runs, chasing him with one out in the fifth.

With one out and two on in the bottom of the third, Munetaka Murakami halved the visitors’ lead with a sac fly and Yasutaka Shiomi belted his second homer, a two-run shot for a 3-2 lead.  The Swallows made it 6-2 in the fifth.

Kotaro Yamasaki led off with a single, and No. 2 hitter Yudai Koga, bunted him over after singling in his first two at-bats. Tetsuto Yamada hit his third homer of the season. Murakami chased Irie with a double and scored when Shiomi tripled off reliever Kenta Ishida.

Maki belted his fifth home run to lead off the sixth against Kanakubo, who turned pro after being taken in the fifth round of the 2017 draft. Maki’s 17 RBIs lead the CL with Murakami one back. With a 6-3 lead, Scott McGough worked a perfect seventh, and Yamada homered to open the bottom of the inning. With the tying run on deck in the ninth, closer Taichi Ishiyama got an easy two-out save.

Irie, who allowed five runs in 4-1/3 innings, has faced the Swallows twice this season and allowed 10 runs in 9-1/3.

Tanaka to start Saturday

Masahiro Tanaka will make his season debut on Saturday when he starts against the Nippon Ham Fighters at Tokyo Dome, Kyodo News (Japanese) reported. Tanaka returned this season to the Pacific League’s Rakuten Eagles after going 24-0 in 2013 and pitching them to their first pennant and Japan Series title.

“He’s coming along with no issues, and if he continues on that path in the time being, he’ll pitch on the 17th,” manager Kazuhisa Ishii told reporters about the right-hander who damaged the calf muscle in his right calf.

Last Saturday, Tanaka threw 97 pitches in the bullpen.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

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

Ryota Takinaka (1-1, 10.38) vs Daiki Iwashita (1-1, 3.00)

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

Shota Takeda (0-1, 2.31) vs Hirotoshi Masui (1-1, 1.80)

Central League

Giants vs Dragons: Tokyo Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Yuki Takahashi (2-0, 0.00) vs Koji Fukutani (0-0, 3.60)

Swallows vs BayStars: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT

Hirotoshi Takanashi (1-0, 4.22) vs Haruhiro Hamaguchi (0-2, 6.43)

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

Takumi Akiyama (1-1, 2.77) vs Hiroki Tokoda (1-0, 3.09)

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Spring wrap 3-11-21

There was only one game scheduled on Thursday, the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, as the Rakuten Eagles, based in the heart of the disaster area, beat the Lotte Marine 8-5 in an otherwise unremarkable game in Shizuoka.

Let the kids play

More eyes were focused on this weekend’s games, when highly-touted right-hander Roki Sasaki is expected to pitch for the Marines on Friday in his first game as a pro, against the Chunichi Dragons, where another player who has yet to a darn thing as a pro was getting all excited.

Akira Neo, a highly touted prospect who has produced no offensive numbers worth talking about in two minor league seasons since Chunichi took him in the first round out of high school, called it a dream matchup, Sponichi Annex reports.

“I’ve only seen him on TV, but he is a special pitcher,” said Neo. “I want to swing well and hit whatever he throws.”

Hawks get help

Elsewhere, the SoftBank Hawks are anticipating the return of three of their biggest offensive producers, manager Kimiyasu Kudo said, according to Hochi Shimbun.

Cubans Alfredo Despaigne and Yurisbel Gracial are slated to join first team for the first time this spring, while Yuki Yanagita returns from the team’s rehab group.

Giants sign 2 Dominican amateurs

The Yomiuri Giants have made their signings of 16-year-old shortstop Jose De la Cruz and outfielder Julian Tima to their developmental roster. The Giants tried out the Dominican youngsters from the Moreno Academy in November 2019 and again in March 2020, full-count reports.

According to ESPN’s Enrique Rojas on Feb. 23, the Giants paid Tima a $675,000 signing bonus, and lured the shortstop De la Cruz with a $500,000 offer.

NPB’s developmental contracts will require the Giants to add the youngsters to their 70-man roster by Nov. 31, 2023 or release them. But even at the extreme bottom end of Nippon Professional Baseball, developmental players will earn $21,000 a year — more than Triple-A players who have not been added to an MLB 40-man roster.

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Series 2020 Game 2

Right-hander Shuta Ishikawa allowed two runs over 5-1/3 innings as the SoftBank Hawks’ wiped out the Yomiuri Giants13-2 in Sunday’s Game 2 of the Japan Series to take a 2-0 series lead.

The win at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome extended SoftBank’s record postseason winning streak to 14 games and extended their record for Japan Series wins to 10.

Yurisbel Gracial, the 2019 series MVP scored three runs and drove in two with his first home run of the series, while Cuban compatriot Alfredo Despaigne iced the game with a seventh-inning grand slam.

The Giants broke up the shutout in the bottom of the fifth, when Zelous Wheeler, who drove in Yomiuri’s run in Saturday’s 5-1 loss, hit a two-run home run.

Ishikawa allowed four hits, a walk and hit a batter while striking out seven, but left after allowing back-to-back one-out singles in the sixth with SoftBank leading 7-2. Lefty Shinya Kayama struck out Yoshihiro Maru and submarine right-hander Rei Takahashi loaded the bases with a walk before striking out Hiroyuki Nakajima to end the inning without a run scoring.

Yuki Yanagita, whose RBI double opened the scoring in SoftBank’s three-run first against lefty Nobutaka Imamura, singled and scored on Gracial’s two-run third-inning homer and walked ahead of Despaigne’s slam.

No team had scored 12 runs in a game since Game 2 of the 2010 series, when the trickery of Lotte Marines manager Norifumi Nishimura backfired in a one-sided loss.

Nishimura tried to fool the Chunichi Dragons into thinking Bill Murphy would not start by keeping him out in the outfield during pregame practice instead of having come in early. Murphy never got into a rhythm and allowed seven runs in 1-1/3 innings.

The last time a team scored 13 runs was the Daiei Hawks’ 13-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers in Game 2 of the 2003 series.

series 2020 game 1

Kurihara rocks

Ryoya Kurihara introduced himself in a big way to the Japan Series on Saturday with a homer, two doubles, and four RBIs in Game 1. And that was just his first three at-bats. Kurihara’s offensive explosion carried SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga to a 5-1 win.

The 24-year-old SoftBank Hawks outfielder, who entered the season with 57 plate appearances, became a regular slammed a two-run homer off Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano in the second, doubled and was thrown out at the plate in the fourth, and belted a two-run double in the sixth.

Senga delivered a prototypical outing. His fastball hummed and often jumped, while his split and slider were unpredictable. The Giants hitters did a good job of fouling off the fastball and laying off his secondary pitches.

Hiroyuki Nakajima and Naoki Nishikawa both hammered splitters that failed to tumble and drove them to the wall in the fifth inning but both balls were caught.

Sugano was also pretty close to his season norms as he tried to stay just out of the strike zone and get people to chase, and did get some weak swings on the corners but also fell behind hitters, and gave up his share of hard-hit balls.

The Giants went to rookie Shosei Togo in the seventh, while Senga stayed in to work the home half as his pitch count crossed the 100-mark.

Hawks leadoff man Ukyo Shuto made it 5-0 in the eighth, by drawing a walk off lefty Yuki Takahashi, stealing second and scoring on an Akira Nakamura single.

The Hawks entered the series with the longest postseason winning streak in NPB history, 12 games dating back to Game 2 of the 2019 PL Climax Series first stage. They also set an NPB record by winning their ninth straight series game, dating back to Game 3 of the 2018 series.

The Giants entered having lost five straight series games, their last win coming against Masahiro Tanaka in Game 6 of the 2013 series, his final start in Japan, although he came in to save Game 7.

Livan Moinelo dazzled the Giants with his fastball and curve, striking out three in the eighth before closer Yuito Mori did his usual thing, loading the bases and allowing a run before closing it out.

The game’s attendance of 16,489 — restricted due to the novel coronavirus pandemic — was the series first under 20,000 since Game 8 of the 1986 affair, when 16,828 attended a Monday afternoon game when the teams finished the first seven games tied 3-3-1.

In the kind of snit Yomiuri is famous for, its TV network cut away the game’s only live broadcast for commercials instead of airing Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo’s postgame interview. This is reminiscent of the Yomiuri Shimbun’s coverage of Game 6 of the 1996 series.

That year, every newspaper in Japan had a front page photo of Ichiro Suzuki and the Orix BlueWave celebrating their Japan Series championship, except Japan’s top financial paper, the Nikkei Shimbun and the Yomiuri, whose team lost.

NPB 2020 Nov. 15

Sunday’s games

Central League

  • Season complete

PL Climax Series Game 2

Nakamura ambushes Marines

For the second straight day, the Lotte Marines took the lead at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome and couldn’t hold it as Akira Nakamura homered twice in a 6-4 win to clinch the Pacific League forplay series in two games.

It was a little out of character for the Hawks’ veteran, who never chases and instead waits for fat pitches in the zone to drive for base hits. He appeared to be waiting for something low from Chen in both the second and fourth innings after Alfredo Despaigne singled.

Nakamura’s second homer made it 4-3 but Chen then threw a high straight fastball to Nobuhiro Matsuda who put on his Cookie Monster costume and ate all of it.

Marines rookie Hisanori Yasuda had another super day. After homering in Game 1, he put a beautiful swing on a good pitch in the first inning to double in two runs. He also made a couple of solid plays at third, and doubled and scored in the seventh.

Livan Moinelo pitched the Hawks out of trouble in the seventh and retired the Marines in the eighth and was awarded with the win, while Yuito Mori loaded the bases in the ninth before nailing down his second save.

The Hawks extended their record postseason win streak to 12 games, starting after they lost Game 1 of the 2019 Climax Series first stage.

Time for a rematch

The Japan Series, starting on Saturday at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome will be the 13th between the Hawks and Giants, the most between any two teams, and their second in two seasons.

The Giants have currently tied the franchise’s worst streak of not winning a Japan Series for seven consecutive seasons, set between 1974 and 1980.

NPB 2020 Nov. 14

Saturday’s games

PL Climax Series Game 1

Other news

Hawks outhit but not outplayed in Game 1 win

With one big exception, another unbelievably home run from the amazing Yuki Yanagita, the Lotte Marines swung the bat better in their 3-3 loss in Saturday’s first game of the Pacific League Climax Series to the SoftBank Hawks.

Hawks ace Kodai Senga gave up three runs, the first two on decent second-inning pitches that resulted in a single and a Hisanori Yasuda home run. He gave up another in the third when he paid for mistakes to Tatsuhiro Tamura and Takashi Ogino. The Marines have done well all year to adjust to the Hawks and prepare for them, and this one looked it was going to be another one of those days.

Mima, too, made mistakes, probably more than Senga, but got away with them in the first inning, but not in the sixth, when the Hawks tied it on an error.

The Hawks should have scored a run in the first, but Ogino robbed them of a leadoff single before they loaded the bases with one out and ended it on a double play. Yanagita cut the lead in the fourth to 2-1 with a home run over the wall in center off an improbably low pitch.

Mima then got out of a jam in the fifth. Shortstop Yudai Fujioka tried to barehand a chopper and whiffed. The ball rolled toward left, and Taisei Makihara reached on a leadoff infield double. A walk on a dubious 3-2 pitch put two on, but Takuya Kai struck out foul bunting pitches out of the zone. With two out and two in scoring position, Akira Nakamura appeared to be the victim of makeup calls from the ump. He took a dubious 3-1 strike and another on 3-2 to end it.

The end for Mima came in the sixth. Yanagita and Yurisbel Gracial singled off mistakes and a sacrifice put the tying run in scoring position. Alfredo Despaigne singled off Taiki Tojo, and Makihara chopped one to second with Gracial at third. Second baseman Shogo Nakamura looked the lead runner back, tagged Despaigne for the second out, and threw to first, where Seiya Inoue dropped the ball.

Gracial, broke for home as Nakamura threw, and Inoue’s drop allowed him to score the tying run as he slid in head-first.

Livan Moinelo worked a 1-2-3 eighth and got the win in relief after Hirokazu Sawamura surrendered the lead in the home half on two walks and two infield singles. Takuya Kai hit another chopper to Fujikoka, who fielded it but couldn’t nail the runner at first.

“Hey. A hit is a hit,” Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo said.

Yuito Mori then did the honors in the ninth with another 1-2-3 inning.

The Climax Series gives the league champs a one-win advantage in the final stage, while the home team wins all tie (games are tied after 12 innings), and all games are played at the higher-seeded team’s park. This year’s PL series was cut from two stages to one, with the final stage reduced from six games to four. The Hawks’ one-win advantage means they have a 2-0 lead and should the game be tied after the top of the 12th inning on Sunday, the series will be over.

There’s a lot to be said for foreplay

The series, as I’ve written before is closer to foreplay than climax, since it follows the pennant race, and only serves to pick a league’s team to the the Japan Series, where Nippon Professional Baseball’s championship is decided.

The Central League which looks on fun and a good time as some kind of threat to the purity of the game, used the pandemic as an excuse to get rid of its foreplay series, I mean CS, in a kind of return to the 2004-2006 seasons when the PL teams were playing meaningful postseason games and the CL champs were playing with themselves in intrasquad games.

Ramirez goes out with win against Giants

Alex Ramirez, who won both of his CL MVP awards with the Yomiuri Giants, finished his managing term with the DeNA BayStars with a 5-4 come-from-behind win at Yokohama Stadium against his former team.

Ramirez received flowers and hugs from his former Giants skipper, Tatsunori Hara, who urged him to make a comeback, “I told him to get back in the game.”

Active roster moves 11/14/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/24

Central League

Activated

GiantsP12Rubby De La Rosa
GiantsP18Tomoyuki Sugano
GiantsP30Yohei Kagiya
BayStarsIF44Keita Sano

Dectivated

None

Pacific League

Activated

HawksOF51Seiji Uebayashi
MarinesIF23Ryo Miki

Dectivated

MarinesIF67Kenta Chatani

Starting pitchers for Nov. 15, 2020

Pacific League Climax Series

Hawks vs Marines: PayPay Dome 1 pm, 11 pm EDT

Nao Higashihama (9-2, 2.34) vs Wei-Yin Chen (0-3, 2.42)