Tag Archives: Ayumu Ishikawa

NPB 2020 7-10 games and news

Hail, hail the gang’s all here

For the first time since Feb. 24, fans in Japan were able to see games between teams from Nippon Professional Baseball’s two top leagues as clubs from the Central and Pacific leagues were allowed to admit u to 5,000 fans to their games starting Friday.

One of the games, between the CL’s Yomiuri Giants and Yakult Swallows at Hotto Motto Field Kobe, was rained out, and the game at nearby Koshien Stadium was called after five innings.

The opening takes place as COVID-19 cases surge around Japan and in particularly in Tokyo. Tokyo set a record for new infections on Friday.

Japanese ball to an American-style beat

To prevent the spread of the virus, fans have been asked not to participate in organized cheering, chanting and singing, while musical instruments have been banned. But when you take the organized cheering away from Asian baseball you get a much more subdued atmosphere.

Instead of every at-bat being accompanied by its background music and rhythm section, the reduced crowds created a buzz that ebbed and flowed more in tune with action on the field.

Kuriyama brings Lions back

Veteran left-handed hitter Takumi Kuriyama belted a two-run, game-tying home run in the eighth and drew a bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning that pushed the Seibu Lions to 7-6 win over the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Kuriyama’s second home run of the season, off reliever Taiki Tojo, took Lions starter Zach Neal off the hook for the loss and preserving his streak of 12-straight winning decisions.

“One can’t be happier than this,” said the 36-year-old Kuriyama. “How the fans see us, their critical eye as well as their sympathy and understanding is essential.”

“I felt like all eyes were on me, and I felt the tension conveyed by everyone in the stands, it helped me buckle down.”

Tojo tried to go away with a first-pitch slider, but it drifted over the inner half of the plate and Kuriyama golfed it into the right field stands.

“I went up focused on hitting my pitch and not wasting the at-bat,” Kuriyama said.

Marines starter Ayumu Ishikawa seemed to struggle in the whipping wind in the first. A leadoff single by rookie Shohei Suzuki and a one-out walk set the table for Hotaka Yamakawa, who hammered a high fastball away and just got it over the fence in right for a three-run home run.

Neal got five groundballs in Lotte’s two-run first. The first two found holes, while the third resulted in a run scoring on a botched rundown. Brandon Laird became the first Marine to elevate the ball, with a sacrifice fly to the wall in left. Two more grounders ended the inning.

The Marines took the lead in the third when Martin walked and Laird reached on yet another groundball single. With one out, Neal tried to go inside to Seiya Inoue with a two-seam fastball but it hung up over the outside half of the plate and he reached the seats.

Yamakawa drew a leadoff walk in the fourth, and a nice stop by shortstop Yudai Fujioka allowed the Marines to get a force on Mori, who then stole second with one out. Kuriyama walked and a hit batsman loaded the bases. Rookie Seiji Kawagoe struck out on a borderline 3-2 pitch, but rookie Kakeru Kawanobe made amends for a bad throw that allowed the Marines’ first run to score by rifling a single to right.

With their lead cut to a run, Tatsuhiro Tamura opened the Marines fourth by working an eight-pitch walk. The Marines catcher advanced on a groundout and beat a good relay on Ogino’s single to left to make it a 6-4 game.

Right-hander Tetsu Miyagawa, Seibu’s top draft pick last autumn, worked around two walks in a scoreless seventh. New import Reed Garrett (2-0) struck out two in a 1-2-3 eighth to earn the win, and Tatsushi Masuda worked a perfect ninth to collect his sixth save.

Ishikawa allowed four runs on three hits, three walks and two hit batsmen, while Neal surrendered six runs on four walks and six hits over six innings. Marines closer Naoya Masuda (0-1) walked two, hit a batter and gave up a single in the ninth and was tagged with the loss.

Rodriguez’s farewell bomb KO’s Fighters

Aderlin Rodriguez capped a two-out, ninth-inning rally with his fourth home run, a three-run shot that lifted the Orix Buffaloes to a 4-3 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

The walk-off “sayonara” home run was one of three on Friday. Fighters closer Ryo Akiyoshi retired the first two batters in the ninth before walking Adam Jones on seven pitches and rejuvenated left-handed slugger Takahiro Okada on eight.

After taking a slider for Ball 1, Rodriguez fouled off two low changeups from the side-armer but drilled the third on a line over the left field wall.

Christian Villanueva’s first home run as a Fighter, a two-run shot off right-hander Tsubasa Sakakibara, made it a 3-0 in the sixth.

Rodriguez, who saved a first-inning running with a leaping catch at first base, singled and scored in the eighth on a smash Villanueva was unable to handle at third. Lefty Naoki Miyanishi might have given the game away then, but for a diving catch in left by Kensuke Kondo, who started an inning-ending double play.

The bullpen wasted the best start of the season from Fighters ace Kohei Arihara, who surrendered two singles while striking out seven and walking one over seven scoreless innings.

‘Gita blast lifts Hawks past Eagles

Yuki Yanagita’s fourth home run in four games settled a tight pitchers’ duel when he led off the 10th inning by homering off new import J. T. Chargois (0-1) in the SoftBank Hawks’ 2-1 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Eagles starter Takahiro Norimoto had his splitter working to perfection and struck out nine. He and Hawks starter Nao Higashihama, who was able to pin-point his fastball, each allowed a run over seven innings. Other than an eighth-inning scrape that Rakuten’s Alan Busenitz barely escaped, neither bullpen looked in danger of giving up a run. That was until Yanagita crushed Chargois’ fourth pitch for his seventh home run of the season.

Submarine right-hander Rei Takahashi (2-0), who has started the season out of the bullpen after winning 12 games in the rotation as the 2019 PL rookie of the year, earned the win in relief.

Viciedo sayonara blast sinks Carp

Dayan Viciedo won it in the 10th inning with a walk-off home run to lift the Chunichi Dragons to a 3-2 home victory at Nagoya Dome over the Hiroshima Carp.

The two team’s Opening Day starters, Daichi Osera for the Carp and Yudai Ono for the Dragons, kept this game close through seven. The Carp opened the scoring on third-inning singles by Alejandro Mejia and Jose Pirela.

Journeyman Dragons outfielder Masataka Iryo drew a leadoff walk and scored the tying run in the fifth only for Carp infielder Ryosuke Kikuchi to take Ono deep in the sixth. Iryo, however, singled to open the eighth off journeyman reliever Yasunori Kikuchi and scored an unearned run to tie it on a Yohei Oshima sac fly.

The Dragons bullpen produced three-straight 1-2-3 innings, with Raidel Martinez working the 10th and earning the win when Viciedo homered off Geronimo Franzua to end it.

Tigers outlast BayStars in rain

Koji Chikamoto homered to open the Hanshin Tigers’ first and tie the game 1-1 and start a three-run inning in a 3-2 win over the DeNA BayStars in a game that was called after the top of the fourth due to rain.

Takayuki Kajitani homered to open the game, had three of DeNA’s four hits and scored both runs, but the Tigers offense in the first was enough to decide it at Koshien Stadium.

Kento Itohara followed with a triple and scored on a groundout before cleanup hitter Yusuke Oyama homered. Justin Bour walked and Jerry Sands singled off DeNA starter Shinichi Onuki (1-0). Onuki got out of the inning after one of manager Alex Ramirez’s beloved intentional walks brought Koyo Aoyagi (2-1) up to bat and the Tigers pitcher struck out.

As usual, the cast on Pro Yakyu News found fault with Ramirez’s managing because of his employing a shift against Bour, who singled through the open left side of the infield to lead off the third.

NPB 2020 7-10 Pitchers

Announced starting pitchers in Japanese pro baseball for Friday, July, 10, 2020.

Pacific League

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

Ayumu Ishikawa (0-1, 3.50) vs Zach Neal (1-0, 2.95)

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

Tsubasa Sakakibara (0-0, 1.80) vs Kohei Arihara (0-3, 4.95)

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

Nao Higashihama (1-0, 2.25) vs Takahiro Norimoto (3-0, 0.87)

Central League

Giants vs Swallows: Hotto Motto Field 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shosei Togo (2-0, 2.77) vs Masanori Ishikawa (0-1, 5.65)

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

Yudai Ono (0-2, 5.82) vs Daichi Osera (2-1, 2.86)

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

Koyo Aoyagi (1-1, 0.75) vs Shinichi Onuki (0-1, 4.50)

NPB unsprung

How does one count where baseball activities sit in relation to the regular season when Opening Day is a moving target? Are we at projected OD1 (March 20) + 7 days or OD3 (April 24) minus 28 days?

Between the coronavirus pandemic AND the sudden postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, the national government’s finger on the trigger of a national emergency, a three-week lock-down. Into that mix, NPB had its first positive tests for coronavirus, three players from the Hanshin Tigers, forcing that entire team to go into self-quarantine.

When the April 24 Opening Day was announced, both the Central and Pacific leagues announced they would suspend their practice games until the middle of April. That may be so, but their minor league clubs are still playing practice games, and many of the CL and PL regulars are taking part.

On Friday, Zach Neal pitched for the Seibu Lions at Seibu’s minor league facility, essentially a back field behind MetLife Dome, in a game against the Lotte Marines, who also threw one of their first-line starters, Ayumu Ishikawa.

But with the news of the Tigers infections, many teams are even suspending their farm team games for the time being.

Sasaki throws 2nd BP

18-year-old flame-thrower Roki Sasaki threw his second live BP of the spring at the Marines’ home park, QVC Marine Stadium in Chiba on Friday and touched 156 kph (96.9 mph) on the radar gun.

“I wasn’t able to command some balls, and I want to increase the number of quality pitches,” he told reporters.

Here’s a video of Sasaki’s effort on Friday.

He was unable to locate his fork ball early on, but in the later stages of the session, he was able to pepper the bottom of the zone with his pitches, including his slider.

“This is a world that doesn’t tolerate poorly executed pitches, so I want to be able to execute as close as I can to 100 percent,” he said.

Matsui gets lit up

Rakuten Eagles lefty Yuki Matsui, who failed to make it as a starter straight out of high school but became a hit as their closer, has been working all spring toward a return to the starting rotation.

It’s been a rocky road so far, and on Friday his warm-up outing he allowed six runs in one inning.

“I had mediocre stuff,” he said. “Being a starter is tough.”

The kotatsu league: Marines’ Ishikawa looks to go postal

Lotte Marines right-hander Ayumu Ishikawa on Wednesday joined the line of players desiring to move to the majors via the posting system. On Thursday, Katsumi Kawai, the Marines’ owner’s proxy, gave a diplomatic response.

“As a team, our No. 1 desire is that our players aspire toward ambitious targets. It’s natural for us to encourage him,” Kawai said as the club’s office closed up shop for the year according to multiple media sources.

“For a player to do that, he must show effort and results.”

The 31-year-old Ishikawa expressed his desire to play abroad at a press conference announcing his 2020 contract. Ishikawa posted a 3.64 ERA and went 8-5 in 27 games last season, and received a 10 million yen ($80,000) pay cut.

“I told them I want to play in America, but before that, I want to get good results in Japan,” he said.

My profile of Ishikawa is HERE.

Buffaloes make former Olympian NPB’s 1st female scout

The Orix Buffaloes have moved former Olympic softball champion Emi Inui from the club’s “community group” into the team’s amateur scouting department.

The 36-year-old, who won a gold medal at the 2008 Bejing Olympics and a bronze medal in 2004, had been coaching youngsters at the Buffaloes’ youth academy. She becomes the first woman to be officially hired as a scout in NPB.

Moore concludes SoftBank connection

The SoftBank Hawks on Thursday announced the acquisition of lefty Matt Moore. My story on Moore is HERE. Although they have finished runner-up in Japan’s Pacific League the last two seasons, the SoftBank Hawks have been unstoppable in the postseason, winning the last three Japan Series and five of the last six.

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman has reported Moore’s deal is worth $3.5 million with escalators.

NPB games, news of Sept. 16, 2019

Well-prepared Marines grind down Lions

After a pair of embarrassing extra-inning walk-off losses due to poor play in their outfield, the Lotte Marines on Monday simply looked better prepared than the Seibu Lions as they salvaged the finale of their series at MetLife Dome with a 9-3 win.

Riding a high after taking over the Pacific League lead the day before and seeing their magic number to clinch a second-straight pennant drop to nine, the Lions simply could not keep up.

Ayumu Ishikawa (7-5), whose career went downhill after he was selected for Japan’s team to the 2017 World Baseball Classic, barely outpitched Lions starter Keisuke Honda, but with his teammates putting on a clinic in disciplined hitting, that’s all he needed to win his third-straight start.

Ishikawa allowed three runs over seven innings on the road against Japan’s No. 1 offense. He gave up eight hits and issued three walks while striking out seven.

The Lions opened the scoring in the second on back-to-back no-out singles by Takeya Nakamura and Shuta Tonosaki on a pair of bad pitches, and a two-run Hotaka Yamakawa double off a 0-1 fastball that was low and straight. But the right-hander got the next three Lions to chase out of the zone.

Ishikawa repeated the feat in the fourth, with three-straight strikeouts after Tonosaki led off with a double.

Keisuke Honda (6-6) gave the Lions a solid start, holding the visitors scoreless through four innings. With one out in the fifth, he hung a first-pitch slider and light-hitting Yudai Fujioka pulled it out to right for his second home run of the season.

The Marines had been having good at-bats against Honda and crushed him in the sixth by swinging at every pitch he threw in the strike zone.

Leonys Martin hammered a hanging 1-0 changeup for a leadoff single. Honda hung a first-pitch slider to Seiya Inoue who doubled to left. Katsuya Kakunaka loaded the bases with a walk in a super at-bat in which he laid off or spoiled tough pitches. Ikuhiro Kiyota, who saw 14 pitches in his first two at-bats against Honda, put a nice compact swing on an inside 1-1 fastball and smashed it past third to tie the game.

Tatsuhiro Tamura then put the visitors in front with a good swing on a first-pitch low-and-away slider to drive in two. Honda was yanked, but lefty Shogo Noda allowed both inherited runners to score and was charged with another.

Despite their defeat, the Hawks’ loss in Hokkaido dropped the Lions’ magic number to eight. The Lions have eight games remaining, the Hawks nine. This game marked the last time any of the PL’s top three teams will play each other during the regular season.

Game highlights are HERE.

Fighters 7, Hawks 2, 8 innings, rain

At Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Chihiro Kaneko (7-7) allowed a run through six innings, while Nippon Ham scored three off SoftBank starter Ariel Miranda (7-5) in 3-1/3 innings.

Game highlights are HERE.

Eagles 8, Buffaloes 2

At Kyocera Dome, Rakuten got to Andrew Albers (2-5) for four runs, three in the fifth inning, while Takayuki Kishi (7-7) worked seven innings to get the win against Orix. The victory kept the Eagles one game back of Lotte in the race for the PL’s final playoff spot.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Tigers 2, Giants 1

At Tokyo Dome, Onelki Garcia (3-8) allowed a run over 5-1/3 innings and four relievers completed a five-hitter as Hanshin outlasted Yomiuri. Kyuji Fujikawa walked a batter in the ninth but converted his 12th straight save opportunity.

My recent interview with Fujikawa is HERE.

After the game, Tigers skipper Akihiro Yano said, “Strong relief pitching is our trademark, but we sure could use an insurance run sometimes.”

The Giants’ magic number to clinch the pennant dropped to four thanks to the DeNA BayStars’ loss in Nagoya.

Game highlights are HERE.

Dragons 8, BayStars 1

At Nagoya Dome, diminutive 19-year-old right-hander Takumi Yamamoto (3-3) threw seven scoreless innings as Chunichi clobbered DeNA in a bullpen day for the BayStars.

Swallows 6, Carp 4

At Mazda Stadium, 19-year-old Munetaka Murakami homered twice, bringing his record total for a teenager in Japan to 35 as Yakult hit four home runs in a win over Hiroshima’s best pitcher, Daichi Osera (11-9), who gave up five runs, four earned, over six innings.