Tag Archives: all-star

NPB goes viral: All-Star eclipse

Nippon Professional Baseball declined to name a date to start its season on Monday after a meeting with their Japanese pro soccer counterparts and health experts but did cancel this year’s all-star series, the Daily Sports reported.

“I regret to announce that we have decided to cancel the All-Star series and the Fresh Star (minor league all-star) game,” commissioner Atsushi Saito said. “This was the 70th year of the competition. There’s no excuse we can offer to the fans who have waited so long and to those in the game.”

At the start of the press conference, Saito said, “It is difficult to determine the opening date at the present time.”

The 12 teams had been eying June 19 as a potential starting date, but could not pull the trigger.

“Even though we couldn’t decide on a date, there are around the world and in Japan, discussions going on about exit strategies. Over the next two weeks, we will carefully monitor the situation. We will make steady preparations and buildup so that we might be able to open the season in the middle of next month.

Although the number of new infections reported in Japan has declined somewhat, the health experts warned the pro sports executives that “the situation remains unpredictable.”

Japan’s season was set to start a week early this year, on March 20, and end two weeks late, to allow for a three-week Olympic break. Since that was abandoned early in March, NPB has twice announced new Opening Day dates only to see those, too, become untenable.

Tigers return all-star fire at Koshien

Koji Chikamoto had a night for the record books on Saturday. The Hanshin Tigers rookie became the second player to hit for an all-star cycle and was named the MVP of All-Star Game series Game 2, an 11-3 blowout by the Central League that ended the Pacific League’s five-game winning streak.

Chikamoto became the first rookie to lead off the first inning of an all-star game when he went deep off Orix Buffaloes pitcher Taisuke Yamaoka in the CL’s two-run first.

After Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano’s two scoreless innings, the CL hitters got to face Seibu Lions right-hander Kona Takahashi. To say they schooled him or took him to the woodshed would be an understatement. They went to the lumber yard and gave him a beating with some serious clubs.

Two Tigers catchers went deep back to back to open the inning. Fumihito Haraguchi, who homered in the ninth inning of Friday’s game as a pinch hitter led off. His catching partner Ryutaro Umeno, an early favorite for the CL’s Best Nine Award, followed. Chikamoto doubled and scored on the first of two doubles by the Chunichi Dragons’ Shuhei Takahashi.

After a Tetsuto Yamada singled, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo crushed a line drive out to left center, which takes a tremendous poke at Koshien, which boasts Japan’s deepest power alleys thanks to its original design as a multipurpose stadium.

“I felt my pitches just weren’t good enough to face the best CL hitters.” said Takahashi, who was added to his first PL all-star roster by his skipper, Hatsuhiko Tsuji of the Lions.

“I think I’ll be happy to avoid the all-star game from now on.”

After one win and one loss, Tsuji said.

Chikamoto became the first player with four extra-base hits in an all-star game and the second to have five hits, the other being Yakult’s Roberto Petagine in 2001.

The series, at Japan’s two biggest parks, set a two-tame attendance record of 90,008 spectators.

The two home run derby finalists, each homered in the game. Seiya Suzuki of the Hiroshima Carp won this year’s derby, beating Friday’s finalist Masataka Yoshida of Orix 4-3.

Suzuki beat Tomoya Mori of the Lions 4-3 in his first round and then knocked off Tsutsugo 5-4 in their semifinal. Tsutsugo advanced past Japan home run leader Hotaka Yamakawa on a tie-breaker.

Lions’ Mori top of the pops

Tomoya Mori continued to be Mr. All-Star home run on Friday, when he hit his third all-star home run in his third game, his two-run, second-inning homer sparking the Pacific League’s three-homer assault in a 6-3 win over the Central League in Game 1 of Japan’s All-Star Game series.

It’s called the All-Star Game despite the fact that there are always more than one. Mori was named MVP, while Seibu Lions teammate and NPB home run leader Hotaka Yamakawa also went deep in the sixth inning, following their former teammate, Rakuten Eagles second baseman Hideto Asamura into the seats.

Fumihito Haraguchi of the Hanshin Tigers, who is recovering from cancer surgery in January, hit a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the ninth.

The home run came off Orix Buffaloes right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto who pitched the last three innings to earn the save. It was the 10th three-inning save in all-star history but the first since Hiroshi Takamura (Kintetsu Buffaloes) did it in 1996.

The PL now leads the series — which started in 1950 after the CL and PL were formed out of an expansion, 85-78. There have been 11 ties without any help from Bud Selig.

The PL has now won five straight games.

Saturday’s Game 2 will be held at Koshien Stadium outside Osaka.

Yoshida reaches HR derby final

NPB’s ubiquitous and annoying home run derbies have been modified again this year into a single contest, albeit one that is played over two days.

Years ago, the rules for the obligatory batting practice power hitting contest differed from game to game, so nobody really knew what was going on. A few years ago, fans were allowed to vote on the participants for each game, so the most popular players generally appeared in both.

This year, eight players are taking part divided into four groups, each with one player from each league.

Masataka Yoshida of the Orix Buffaloes won Round 1 after defeating Yakult Swallows teenager Munetaka Murakami 5-4. Yoshida then dispatched Yomiuri Giants shortstop Hayato Sakamoto, who had beaten Brandon Laird of the Lotte Marines 4-2.

Saturday’s second round will see Hotaka Yamakawa and DeNA BayStars left fielder Yoshitomo Tsutsugo in one group, and Tomoya Mori and Hiroshima Carp right fielder Seiya Suzuki in the other.

The winner will take on Yoshida in the final, so now in the future when someone in America says, “so and so won the home run derby in Japan” they’ll actually sound like they know what they’re talking about — because there’ll be only one.

NPB games, news of July 10, 2019

The horror. The horror.

Kris Johnson throws seven scoreless innings and drives in the tie-breaking run, and still the Carp can’t win. They have now lost 11 of their last 12, with one tie mixed in there. That 11-game losing streak is the franchise’s longest since 1999.

The Carp of darkness

Just when it seemed like it was safe for the Carp to go back in the water, reliable Kyle Regnault relieved Kris Johnson with a one-run lead in the eighth and simply couldn’t get the third out.

After walking six batters in his first four innings in Japan, Regnault (4-1), had walked 16 over his next 37-1/3 innings. After giving up two singles to open the inning, the Dragons gifted him an out with a sacrifice. An intentional walk to Dayan Viciedo loaded the bases and allowed for a force out at home on the next play.

Then the wheels came off. Atsushi Fujii battled drew a walk on a 3-2 count, but Yota Kyoda didn’t swing at any of Regnault’s four pitches and that was the ballgame.

Enny Romero had been on the hook for the loss after allowing one run on three hits and no walks over seven innings. With the lead in hand Raidel Martinez avoided giving up the tying run in the top of the ninth thanks to a nifty fielding play at first base by Dayan Viciedo that ended the game.

Giants 4, Tigers 1

Hanshin’s Randy Messenger (3-7) lasted a season-low two innings, while allowing four runs and four Yomiuri relievers saved the day after starter Nobutaka Imamura (3-1) ran into trouble in the sixth at Koshien Stadium.

The game’s highlights are HERE.

Swallows 7, BayStars 2

Rookie Yakult lefty Keiji Takahashi allowed two runs over six innings, and relievers Kazuki Kondo (3-1), David Huff and Scott McGough helped the hosts cruise at Jingu Stadium against DeNA.

Lions 7, Hawks 3

Tsuyoshi Wada (2-2) game crumbled in the fifth inning on solo homers from the bottom of the Seibu order. The lefty issued a two-out walk and surrendered a single before leaving the mound with stiffness in his leg.

His relief, right-hander Masayoshi Tanaka, surrendered a two-run triple to Shuta Tonosaki, and the Lions iced the game in the seventh inning on back-to-back home runs from Hotaka Yamakawa and Takeya Nakamura.

The game’s highlights are HERE.

Buffaloes 7, Eagles 6, 10 innings

Yuma Mune singled in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning off Yuki Matsui (1-5) after the Eagles sent it to extra innings by tying it in the eighth off Tyler Eppler. Brandon Dickson (2-0) worked a scoreless ninth to earn the win and finished the game off with a scoreless 10th to close it out.

Given the way relievers are used these days, a case could be made for the same pitcher to earn a win AND a save in the same game. Certainly, Dickson earned one of each, by winning it in relief and then saving it. He did what is normally the job of two pitchers. He deserves double credit.

The game’s highlights are HERE.

Marines 5, Fighters 0

The opener-happy Nippon Ham Fighters got opened, with Yuki Karakawa throwing a scoreless first for Lotte, followed by three goose eggs from Chen Kuan-yu (1-0) at Zozo Marine Stadium.

Toru Murata (0-1) was tasked with going through the Marines lineup twice, but surrendered three runs, one earned in his 3-2/3 innings on the mound as the Fighters fielders made four errors in the game.

The game’s highlights are HERE.


Seibu spends to keep up with the SoftBanks

In a bid to reclaim it’s golden age, the Seibu Lions have revealed the team has spent about 18 billion yen, roughly $160 million, to upgrade its facilities surrounding MetLife Dome, their 40-year-old park just across the border from Tokyo.

The Sankei Sports story is HERE.

The article suggests the new indoor training facility will be the largest in NPB, and will be open so that fans can watch as players work out. The project also expands the number of dorm rooms on site from 20 to 28, expanded physical training space, more meeting rooms and includes a new merchandise shop.

The Lions last year won the Pacific League for the first time in 10 years, although they lost in the playoff to the SoftBank Hawks, who since 2010 have won either the league or the Japan Series in six seasons since.

The Hawks have invested heavily in their minor league and rehab facility in Chikugo, Fukuoka Prefecture, and their efforts have been rewarded this season with a sizable PL lead despite missing a number of their best players.

The Lions won the PL seven straight seasons from 1982 to 1988, another five time from 1990 to 1994, but only six times since. Since 2010, the Hawks have won five pennants, the Nippon Ham Fighters two, and the Lions and Rakuten Eagles one each.

Hawks’ Yanagita, Imamiya not ready for early return

The SoftBank Hawks will be without star center fielder Yuki Yanagita and starting shortstop Kenta Imamiya through July 26 at least, following their withdrawal from this weekend’s All-Star Game series.

Players picked for their league’s All-Star team who fail to appear are prohibited from playing in their team’s first 10 games after the All-Star break. The Hawks are scheduled to play their 11th game after the break on July 27 at home against the Orix Buffaloes.

Yanagita suffered a muscle tear behind his left knee on April 7, while Imamiya was deactivated on June 22 after spending much of the season with left hamstring issues.

Both were voted onto the PL squad by fans. Some have called for the 10-day suspension to only be applied to those selected in the fan ballot, since an opposing manager could select a rival team’s star who is nearly fit for duty to keep him out of action for 10 more games.

Seibu Lions closer Tatsushi Masuda and Hawks outfielder Yurisbel Gracial were chosen as replacements.

Stewart sees 1st game action

Carter Stewart Jr, the eighth pick in MLB’s 2018 amateur draft, took the mound in his first game since arriving in Japan over a month ago.

The 19-year-old right-hander allowed a leadoff double against the first batter he faced but retired the next six and left after two innings and 24 pitches in a practice game between SoftBank’s third team and corporate league club Mitsubishi Motors Kyushu.

He touched 151 kph (93.8 mph) when he struck out the opposing cleanup hitter to end the first inning.

According to the Nikkan Sports, Stewart said he was excited and nervous, but was able to throw at about 90 percent of full strength at the Hawks’ minor league park, Tama Home Stadium.

All NPB teams are required to enter a farm team in either the Eastern or Western league. Third teams are a different breed that play independent minor league teams, corporate league and university teams.

Kawasaki to coach in Taiwan

Former major league utility infielder Munenori Kawasaki, who has put his playing career on hiatus since developing a nerve disorder, is reportedly going to coach on a three-month basis this summer with the Wei Chuan Dragons according to the CPBL Stats website.

2019 All Star Teams

Fan ballot

Here are the fan ballots for the upcoming NPB all-star games (published on June 24)

Central League

★Selected in this ballot / selections by fans (total selections)

  Rank Player Team Votes
Starting pitchers
1 Daichi Osera 1(2) C 257,168
  2 Yuki Nishi T 249,040
  3 Tomoyuki Sugano G 157,176
  4 Shota Imanaga DB 146,931
  5 Juri Hara S 103,046
  6 Koyo Aoyagi T 61,561
  7 Yudai Ono D 57,043
  8 Kazuki Yoshimi D 29,851
  9 Yuya Yanagi D 29,157
  10 Masanori Ishikawa S 22,122
Middle Relievers
1 Pierce Johnson 1(1) T 364,233
  2 Ryuji Ichioka C 209,174
  3 Kota Nakagawa G 181,595
  4 Kazuki Kondo S 166,172
  5 Joely Rodriguez D 98,535
1 Yasuaki Yamasaki 5(5) DB 394,734
  2 Rafael Dolis T 287,895
  3 Taichi Ishiyama S 137,405
  4 Shota Nakazaki C 122,631
  5 Hiroshi Suzuki D 97,990
1 Ryutaro Umeno 2(2) T 420,640
  2 Tsubasa Aizawa C 215,631
  3 Seiji Kobayashi G 212,444
  4 Hikaru Ito DB 133,528
  5 Shuhei Nakamura S 131,872
First Basemen
1 Kazuma Okamoto 2(2) G 308,401
  2 Dayan Viciedo D 189,313
  3 Tomotaka Sakaguchi S 167,186
  4 Jose Lopez DB 158,633
  5 Masahiro Nakatani T 156,304
Second Basemen
1 Tetsuto Yamada 3(5) S 424,435
  2 Ryosuke Kikuchi C 286,976
  3 Kento Ihara T 244,737
  4 Naoki Yoshikawa G 79,507
  5 Neftali Soto DB 67,530
Third Basemen
1 Munetaka Murakami 1(1) S 376,036
  2 Yusuke Oyama T 309,194
  3 Shuhei Takahashi D 216,519
  4 Toshiro Miyazaki DB 117,798
  5 Tomohiro Abe C 106,696
1 Hayato Sakamoto 8(11) G 424,557
  2 Seiya Kinami T 243,398
  3 Kosuke Tanaka C 161,186
  4 Naomichi Nishiura S 115,891
  5 Yota Kyoda D 112,325
1 Seiya Suzuki 3(4) C 485,526
2 Koji Chikamoto 1(1) T 389,868
3 Yoshitomo Tsutsugo 5(5) DB 319,896
  4 Norichika Aoki S 298,738
  5 Yoshihiro Maru G 291,973
  6 Yoshio Itoi T 248,870
  7 Yohei Oshima D 212,562
  8 Hisayoshi Chono C 202,207
  9 Kosuke Fukudome T 185,949
  10 Wladamir Balentien S 182,349

Pacific League

  Rank Player Team Votes
Starting pitchers
1 Kodai Senga 2(3) H 260,211
  2 Yoshinobu Yamamoto B 212,451
  3 Kohei Arihara F 73,148
  4 Hideaki Wakui M 67,682
  5 Tatsuya Imai L 65,552
  6 Taisuke Yamaoka B 62,538
  7 Takayuki Kishi E 61,782
  8 Rei Takahashi H 59,080
  9 Naoyuki Uwasawa F 53,367
  10 Kotaro Otake H 38,199
Middle Relievers
1 Naoki Miyanishi 2(3) F 304,380
  2 Hiroshi Kaino H 265,479
  3 Yuki Karakawa M 150,043
  4 Katsunori Hirai L 146,099
  5 Keisuke Sawada B 80,793
1 Yuki Matsui 3(3) E 337,789
  2 Hirotoshi Masui B 189,452
  3 Yuito Mori H 157,586
  4 Ryo Akiyoshi F 140,160
  5 Naoya Masuda M 118,938
1 Tomoya Mori 3(3) ※1 L 425,723
  2 Takuya Kai H 302,332
  3 Tatsuhiro Tamura M 113,138
  4 Motohiro Shima E 67,416
  5 Kenya Wakatsuki B 65,975
First Basemen
1 Hotaka Yamakawa 2(2) L 531,187
  2 Sho Nakata F 172,215
  3 Daichi Suzuki M 153,325
  4 Seiichi Uchikawa H 103,824
  5 Takahiro Okada B 62,836
Second Basemen
1 Hideto Asamura 6(7) E 384,668
  2 Shuta Tonosaki L 214,570
  3 Shogo Nakamura M 176,157
  4 Shuhei Fukuda B 85,634
  5 Ryo Watanabe F 78,811
Third Basemen
1 Brando Laird 1(3) M 431,395
  2 Nobuhiro Matsuda H 259,432
  3 Takeya Nakamura L 173,716
  4 Yuma Tongu B 75,055
  5 Zelous Wheeler E 71,712
1 Kenta Imamiya 5(5) H 348,794
  2 Sosuke Genda L 305,762
  3 Takuya Nakashima F 124,092
  4 Yudai Fujioka M 99,609
  5 Eigoro Mogi E 95,034
1 Shogo Akiyama 5(5) L 514,262
2 Masataka Yoshida 2(2) B 394,866
3 Yuki Yanagita 5(6) H 331,338
  4 Taishi Ota F 318,716
  5 Haruki Nishikawa F 307,047
  6 Takashi Ogino M 259,918
  7 Seiji Uebayashi H 145,392
  8 Katsuya Kakunaka M 129,930
  9 Yuji Kaneko L 128,214
  10 Yurisbel Gracial H 125,451
1 Kensuke Kondo 2(3) ※2 F 287,249
  2 Alfredo Despaigne H 239,339
  3 Jabari Blash E 162,961
  4 Takumi Kuriyama L 151,484
  5 Kennys Vargas M 86,968