Tag Archives: Chihiro Kaneko

NPB 2020 SEPT. 9

Wednesday could have been old timers day with both Tsuyoshi Wada (39) and Tetsuya Utsumi (38) going in the Pacific League, but Utsumi, who was only able to go five innings in his first PL win last week, was yanked after four in the Seibu Lions’ one-sided win over the Orix Buffaloes.

Wada pitches Hawks past Eagles

Wada (5-1), whose fastball touched 138 kph (85.7 mph) had too much of everything but speed for the Rakuten Eagles, going 6-2/3 scoreless innings in the SoftBank Hawks’ 8-1 win at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

By working the corners with a lively fastball the Eagles were consistently swinging under, and staying low in the zone with his changeup and slider, Wada challenged hitters in the zone and gave up hits on good swings, but rarely looked challenged.

He allowed six hits and a walk while striking out six. He would have had seven had umpire Naoto Shikita noticed that catcher Hiroaki Takaya had caught a two-strike foul tip. Wada got Hiroaki Shimauchi to fly out on the next pitch, his 101st, before exiting stage right.

Wakui (8-2) got off to a solid start, retiring the first four batters, including Akira Nakamura. Perhaps the hardest player in Japan to strike out, Nakamura who rarely misses, Nakamura went down swinging at a changeup.

Alfredo Despaigne, who got a late start to the season due to his being in Cuba when travel restrictions were imposed, opened the scoring with a one-out solo homer off Wakui in the second. Nakamura went after Wakui’s first pitch in the third to single home Taisei Makihara, and Despaigne cracked a three-run homer in SoftBank’s six-run fifth.

Spangenberg lowers boom on Buffaloes

Corey Spangenberg homered, tripled, double and drove in six runs as the Seibu Lions crushed the Orix Buffaloes 13-5 at MetLife Dome despite starter Tetsuya Utsumi failed to go five innings.

Ernesto Mejia doubled in two runs in the bottom of the first off Daiki Tajima (1-4) and Spangenberg followed with his NPB-best sixth triple to make it 4-1. Shuta Tonosaki led off the Lions’ second with a homer and Spangenberg went deep with his ninth homer to finish the four-run frame.

Utsumi held it together until the fourth, when he surrendered three runs on four-straight one-out hits. A fifth, off his right thigh forced him off the field for treatment but he got out of the inning before calling it a night.

Ojima outduels Kaneko

Lotte Marines lefty Kazuya Ojima (5-5) out-pitched former Sawamura Award winner Chihiro Kaneko (1-3) to boost the Marines to 2-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Ojima got double plays in the third and fourth, one started by the slick-fielding southpaw, before escaping a bases-loaded jam in the fifth. Kaneko also worked out of trouble in the third and fourth, but left after hitting Marines catcher Tatsuhiro Tamura on the hand while he trie to sacrifice.

With two on and one out, Yudai Fujioka drove a low pitch to the wall for a two-run double.

Fighters catcher Yushi Shimizu doubled home Taishi Ota in the seventh before Ojima left. Frank Herrmann and Naoya Masuda each pitched in with a scoreless inning to close it out.

3-HR Sakamoto blasts Dragons

Hayato Sakamoto belted three home runs from the leadoff spot and drove in four runs for the Yomiuri Giants in their 5-4 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Nagoya Dome.

The Giants’ Takumi Oshiro homered to lead off the top of the seventh and Sakamoto completed his hat-trick with two outs.

Swallows erase 7-run gap to tie Carp

Yasutaka Shiomi capped a three-run eighth-inning rally as the Yakult Swallows erased a seven-run deficit in their 10-inning, 7-7 with the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Swallows starting pitcher Hirofumi Yamanaka doubled in the game’s first run in the second, when the visitors took a 3-0 lead, but the submarine right-hander allowed seven runs in 2-1/3 innings.

Carp starter Yusuke Nomura left with no outs in the seventh after back-to-back home runs from Tetsuto Yamada and Munetaka Murakami made it a 10-7 game.

Sano, Kamichatani bag Tigers

DeNA BayStars cleanup hitter Keita Sano celebrated being named the CL’s player of the month for August earlier in the day by doubling twice and driving in three runs in a 6-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Yokohama Stadium.

The BayStars overturned an early 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the first. A Takayuki Kajitani single and back-to-back doubles by Neftali Soto and Sano made it 2-1.

Kamichatani (1-1) allowed five hits and a walk while striking out three over seven innings. Kenta Ishida and Spencer Patton finished up. Tigers starter Koyo Aoyagi (6-4) allowed four runs over five innings to take the loss.

Sugano monthly MVP for 8th time

Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano set a team record for monthly honors on Wednesday, with his eighth pitcher of the month award, surpassing the seven monthly awards earned by Hall of Fame slugger Hideki Matsui. Sugano’s August award comes on the heels of his honor for June and July.

Sugano went 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA, which was second to Chunichi Dragons lefty Yudai Ono (3-0, who struck out 27 batters, one per inning over three complete games.

The CL hitter of the month award went to 25-year-old DeNA BayStars left fielder Keita Sano. Promoted to captain and dropped into the cleanup spot after less than 400 first-team plate appearances, the ninth-round draft led the Central League with 22 RBIs.

Sano’s .405 on-base percentage was second in the league to the .457 posted by the Yakult Swallows’ Munetaka Murakami, who won for June and July. Sano was also second to Murakami in slugging average by a smaller margin .598 to .576. It was Sano’s first monthly award.

The Pacific League winners were right-hander Ayumu Ishikawa of the Lotte Marines (4-0, 3.38 ERA) and Orix Buffaloes corner outfielder Masataka Yoshida.

Ishikawa won his second award over the Rakuten Eagles’ Hideaki Wakui (3-1, 1.47), whose only loss came in a 2-0 shutout and who won for June and July.

Yoshida, who won for the third time, led the PL with a .510 on-base percentage and was second in OPS to Yuki Yanagita of the SoftBank Hawks.

Active roster moves 9/9/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/19

Central League

Activated

DragonsP36Yuichiro Okano
DragonsIF32Masami Ishigaki

Dectivated

DragonsIF55Nobumasa Fukuda

Pacific League

Activated

FightersP19Chihiro Kaneko

Dectivated

MarinesP64Yuta Omine

Starting pitchers for Sept. 4, 2020

Pacific League

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

Yuki Matsui (1-2, 3.93) vs Nao Higashihama (2-1, 2.96)

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

Katsunori Hirai (5-3, 4.37) vs Daichi Takeyasu (-)

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

Daiki Iwashita (4-4, 4.86) vs Kenta Uehara (0-0, 0.00)

Central League

BayStars vs Tigers: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Michael Peoples (2-1, 3.99) vs Yukiya Saito (-)

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

Koji Fukutani (3-2, 2.89) vs Angel Sanchez (4-2, 2.45)

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

Masato Morishita (5-2, 2.51) vs Keiji Takahashi (1-3, 4.15)

NPB games, news of Sept. 8, 2019

Tough to Swallow

Junji Ogawa announced Sunday for the second time in six years that he no longer wants to manage the Central League’s Yakult Swallows. The team is in last place and has been eliminated from playoff contention. Ogawa took over last year and led the Swallows to second place. In six seasons over two terms, he has led them to the postseason three times.

Head coach Shinya Miyamoto, who was expected to take over after a brief coaching stint, said he wants no part of the job either. One potential candidate to manage is current farm manager and former pitching coach Shingo Takatsu.

If Takatsu does take over, he’ll become the second Japanese former major leaguer to manage a top-flight NPB club after fellow former White Sox infielder Tadahito Iguchi took over the Pacific League’s Lotte Marines in 2018.

Pacific League

Hawks 9, Marines 6

At Yafuoku Dome, Lotte’s Brandon Laird homered, reached base four times and drove in four runs, but SoftBank came back against starter Atsuki Taneichi to tie it in the seventh inning on a pinch-hit RBI single by Keizo Kawashima. Kenji Akashi’s eighth-inning pinch-hit double put the Hawks ahead in the eighth before Kawashima doubled in an insurance run.

Hawks starter Shota Takeda put the home team in a bind by allowing four runs over four innings. Taneichi allowed six runs in 6-1/3, and the Marines bullpen let the game get away further.

Game highlights are HERE.

Lions 3, Eagles 2

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Takeya Nakamura doubled in two runs for Seibu and Hotaka Yamakawa doubled in another run in the eighth after Rakuten’s Jabari Blash tied it in the sixth with his 31st home run.

Game highlights are HERE.

Fighters 2, Buffaloes 0

At Sapporo Dome, the future and past crossed paths as former Orix ace Chihiro Kaneko (6-4) matched his season-high of six innings to outpitch the Buffaloes best young pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (6-5), who held Nippon Ham to an unearned run over six innings.

Yamamoto was on the mound for the first time since straining his left oblique muscles on Aug. 3. He allowed three hits and struck out six without issuing a walk.

The Fighters’ future and past also collided as their former closer, Hirotoshi Masui surrendered a solo homer to up-and-coming slugger Kotaro Kiyomiya.

Game highlights are HERE.

Let’s pretend it never happened

For some reason, Nippon Ham Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama has decided to ditch the idea of openers and short starters. On Sunday, Chihiro Kaneko worked six innings, marking the first time this season that Fighters starters have worked six innings or more in three consecutive games.

They have also equaled the team’s longest streak of consecutive five-plus inning starts.

Mizuki Hori, who had been dynamite as the opener, has been demoted to the farm, where he is pitching occasionally and striking out batters, something one imagines would be more useful on the first team.

It’s almost as if there was a purge and evidence of the experiment, Hori, has been sent into exile in the team’s Kamagaya gulag.

Central League

Dragons 5, BayStars 2

At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi’s Yudai Ono (8-8) lost his bid for a shutout when DeNA’s Neftali Soto hit his 36th home run, a two-run shot in the ninth. The win was Chunichi’s sixth straight after sweeping the league’s top two teams, the Giants and BayStars.

As they have for the past week or so, the Dragons continued to be tenacious at the plate and on the bases. Yota Kyoda legged out a triple in the fourth inning and scored from third on a foul pop down the first base line. With Ono cruising, Nobumasa Fukuda essentially put the game away in the sixth with a two-run double.

Carp 3, Tigers 2

At Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima’s Hisayoshi Chono singled in two runs and made a good catch in left field to help Kris Johnson (11-7) earn the win over Hanshin with six scoreless innings.

Geronimo Franzua entered the game with two outs in the eighth and a runner on second. He surrendered an RBI double to make it a 3-2 game and walked the next batter before retiring the last four he faced to earn his 11th save.

NPB games, news of Aug. 12, 2019

SoftBank Hawks southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada returned to action and the day brightened.

The 38-year-old lefty has no secrets. He’s going to throw his good changeup and his 88.2 mile-per-hour fastball a lot, and mix in a slider that is nothing really special but looks like the other two pitches coming out of his hand. He’s going to stay around the zone and more or less throw all his pitches where he wants them.

Having left his last two starts with discomfort in his right hamstring, Wada had not pitched since July 20. He was worth waiting for.

Pacific League

Hawks 6, Buffaloes 3

At Yafuoku Dome, Tsuyoshi Wada (2-1) announced his return to duty by striking out the side in the first inning, while Alfredo Despaigne homered twice to lift SoftBank past Nippon Ham and to a series sweep despite a slick performance from veteran right-hander Chihiro Kaneko.

“The way I left the mound in my last outing here — and the one before that — was pretty lame,” Wada said. “It took me about 22 days to be able to pitch again, but I’m pretty happy to be back.”

“I had the sense that everyone was concerned about the fitness of my leg, so I thought the best thing I could do was show people I was 100 percent. To do that, I wanted to come out pitching as well as I could, and that turned out OK.”

Game highlights are HERE.

Wada struck out leadoff man Haruki Nishikawa looking on three fastballs. A called first-strike slider started Taishi Ota, who missed badly on a 1-1 change and a 1-2 fastball. Compared to them, Kensuke Ota’s five-pitch at-bat was a prolonged siege. The Fighters’ leading hitter, too, went down flailing at a pitch out of the zone.

Yoshikawa (0-3) made his third “short starter” appearance since he returned to the Fighters in a trade from the Yomiuri Giants. His last one, on July 30 was moderately successful, two runs over four innings as the Fighters were shut out 2-0 by Eagles rookie Hayato Yuge. But overall, the lefty has now allowed eight earned runs in 8-1/3 innings.

My other favorite Hawk, grinding utility infielder Keizo Kawashima, returned to the lineup for the first time since June 1, and singled to open the game. After a sacrifice, Seiichi Uchikawa drove him home and then scored when Despaigne got under a fastball away that carried farther than he expected and landed on the other side of Yafuoku Dome’s inner fence near the right field foul pole.

After that, it was a case of Wada fooling batters and getting away with his mistakes. He missed with two fastballs to cleanup hitter Sho Nakata, who got under both of them for high fly outs. Wada had to pitch out of a two-out, two-on jam in the fourth, and another one in the fifth — when he surrendered a leadoff homer to Toshitake Yokoo.

“I used up a lot of my strength in the first inning, and as a result, I was missing with pitches in the second and third inning,” Wada said. “But somehow with the help of Takuya (catcher Takuya Kai), we got through it.”

“The team handed me the start having won Saturday and Sunday, and I didn’t want to be the one to drop the ball.”

Kaneko allowed three runners to reach in his five-inning stint, and two were erased on double plays. He left trailing by two runs because rookie Hiroshi Kaino came on in the top of the sixth. After two singles to open the inning, leadoff batter, Nishikawa (.378 on-base percentage) tried to bunt his way on for the first time this season and succeeded in sacrificing the runners into scoring position.

Rookie reliever Hiroshi Kaino, however, struck out two of the Fighters’ best, Ota and Kondo, on two-strike splitters to end the inning.

“He (Ota) a good batter, so I knew I had to be careful with him,” Kaino said. “Kondo, too, is a great hitter as well, so I had to trust in the pitches that my catcher called for and execute.”

Despaigne homered again in the bottom of the eighth to make it a 6-1 game, and the Fighters rallied for two in the ninth against Ren Kajiya. Closer Yuito Mori hit a batter to load the bases with two outs before recording his 24th save.

Lions 9, Marines 2

At Zozo Marine Stadium, Zach Neal (6-1) allowed one run — on Leonys Martin’s sixth home run — over 6-2/3 innings as Seibu handed Lotte its fourth-straight loss.

Mike Bolsinger (3-4) surrendered three runs, one earned, over five innings in which he walked five. But the Lions broke the game open in the seventh in a four-run seventh against the Marines bullpen.

Game highlights are HERE.

Eagles 3, Buffaloes 2, 10 innings

At Rakuten Seimei Park, 22-year-old rookie Yoshiaki Watanabe doubled in the winning run from first base with two outs in the 10th innings of Rakuten’s win over Orix.

Frank Herrmann (5-3), who worked a 1-2-3 10th inning for the Eagles earned the win, while Buffaloes closer Brandon Dickson (2-1), who walked last year’s PL rookie of the year Kazuki Tanaka with two outs, took the loss.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Swallows 4, BayStars 3

At Jingu Stadium, ninth-inning home runs by Wladimir Balentien and Munetaka Murakami off DeNA closer Yasuaki Yamasaki (3-2) lifted Yakult to a walk-off win after Swallows closer Scott McGough (5-3) surrendered two runs in the top of the inning and was poised to take the loss.

Murakami’s 25th home run ranks him fourth in a season by players under 20-years-old and at 19 years, 6 months, the youngest player to hit a sayonara home run in NPB. Seibu’s Kazuhiro Kiyohara hit 31 as an 18-year-old in 1986 and 29 the following year, while Nishitetsu Lions Hall of Fame shortstop Yasumitsu Toyoda hit 27 in 1953 as an 18-year-old.

Dragons 5, Tigers 1

At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi’s second-round draft pick last autumn, Kodai Umetsu (1-0) won his pro debut, allowing a run over six innings and striking out seven to beat former Dragon Onelki Garcia (2-6) in a win over Hanshin.

Former Dragon Kosuke Fukudome opened the scoring in the first with an RBI double. Garcia struck out 10 over seven innings, but the Dragons had four hits in a two-run first, and Noamichi Donoue hit a two-run homer in the fourth.

Umetsu, who hit 151 kph with his fastball, was a teammate at Toyo University with Hawks rookie flame thrower Hiroshi Kaino and BayStars top draft pick Taiga Kamichatani.

Game highlights are HERE.

Giants 8, Carp 7

At Mazda Stadium, Alex Guerrero made Hiroshima pay for hitting him with a pitch in a four-run first inning by belting a two-run home run in the third as Yomiuri held on to beat Hiroshima in a 4-hour, 17-minute marathon.

The Carp, however, did not go quietly into that good night as the top of the order, leadoff man Ryoma Nishikawa and No. 2 hitter Ryosuke Kikuchi combined to reach base eight times, score five runs and drove in four.

Game highlights are HERE.

News

1,000 whiffs of Yamaguchi

Yomiuri Giants starting pitcher Shun Yamguchi, who spent the first half of his career as a closer for the BayStars, became the 150th pitcher in Japanese pro ball to reach 1,000 career strikeouts on Monday, when he caught Hiroshima’s Seiya Suzuki looking in the third inning at Mazda Stadium.

His first strikeout victim was South Korean slugging star Lee Seung Yeop, on June 29, 2006, who was in his first season that year with the Giants.

Rookie Yoshida set for 3rd start

Fighters rookie pitcher Kosei Yoshida, Nippon Ham’s top draft pick last autumn, has been penciled in to start against the Lotte Marines on Wednesday, when Nippon Ham stages a home game at Tokyo Dome.

Yoshida, who famously threw 1,571 pitches last summer (636 in the Akita Prefecture championship and another 881 in the national summer finals at Koshien). It will be his first start against Pacific League opposition, having started on June 12 against the Hiroshima Carp and again on June 23 against the Chunichi Dragons.