Tag Archives: coronavirus

NPB wrap 4-9-21

Angry Fighters snap skid

Fighters 2, Buffaloes 1

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, the Nippon Ham Fighters ended their nine-game winless streak with a two-run eighth-inning that shouldn’t have happened, except it came against the Orix Buffaloes, who have a knack for making the improbable inevitable.

The game started as a scoreless pitchers’ duel between former Buffaloes ace Chihiro Kaneko and Orix right-hander Taisuke Yamaoka until the seventh, when things went half-right for the Buffaloes. Masataka Yoshida, on first from a leadoff single, was put in motion, preventing a double play and allowing him to score when Takahiro Okada chased a high breaking ball out of the zone from Kaneko but pulled it into the gap in right for an RBI double.

The Buffaloes loaded the bases with one out, but Fighters lefty Mizuki Hori made the great escape, and things began to buffalo for Orix in the top of the eighth and Kensuke Kondo on first with a single.

Twenty-year-old second baseman Ryo Ota went for a double play and got no outs instead of one. Veteran shortstop Ryo Adachi got a double play grounder that could have ended the inning but couldn’t get the ball out of his glove and Daiki Asama doubled in both runners.

Tyler Higgins worked a solid ninth for the Buffaloes, but he couldn’t put runs on the board, and the Fighters’ streak was over.

The win was Kuriyama’s 631st with Nippon Ham, tying the franchise record of Keiji Osawa.

“That doesn’t have anything to with anything,” Kuriyama said after the game.

Kuriyama, Nakata simmer

Fighters skipper Hideki Kuriyama had a rare blowup over cleanup hitter Sho Nakata, who hurt his own right eye in an accident on the team’s bench, according to Hochi Shimbun.

Nakata snapped his bat after striking out in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to the SoftBank Hawks and suffered a swollen right-eye in the process — in a Japanese version of the injury that ended Cecil Fielder’s brief career in Japan. Fiedler slammed his bat down in frustration and it bounced up and caught him in the eye.

Kuriyama was angry about it after Wednesday’s game, and again the next day, when he pulled Nakata from the starting lineup.

Nakata started against the Buffaloes on Friday and when reporters asked Kuriyama about the injury before the game, he said, “Don’t ask me. Ask him!”

Lions 7, Marines 4

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Seibu’s Aito Takeda, a man of several names, opened the scoring with his first pro homer, and liked it so much he hit another, capping a five-run Lions eighth with a three-run shot.

Marines right-hander Fumiya Ono (0-1) came in after Opening Day starter Kota Futaki allowed a run over seven innings. Ono loaded the bases with one out for Wu Nien-ting, who singled in two runs. Takeda then took Lions starter, Kona Takahashi, off the hook for the loss with his second home run.

Takeda is registered under his given name, although he turned pro in 2016 as Aito Otaki, and more likely than not changed it to his wife’s family name when he got married, a common practice when marrying into a family with no sons. He entered the game with 83 first-team plate appearances in 61 games.

The Marines took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on rookie Koki Yamaguchi’s two-run homer, his first as a pro.

Eagles 1, Hawks 1

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Rakuten’s Hideaki Wakui allowed a run over eight innings but failed to get his third win because SoftBank’s Shuta Ishikawa allowed a run over seven solid innings, and neither bullpen allowed a run.

Tigers 9, BayStars 2

At Yokohama Stadium, Shintaro Fujinami (0-1) walked five batters but didn’t allow a run until the seventh, when he led 9-0 and gave up a two-run shot to Daiki Sekine.

If there were prop bets on who would walk in the first batter in this game, I’m guessing you’d have had to get good odds to bet on Haruhiro Hamaguchi (0-2), who walked the No. 8 hitter to cap a three-run first-inning rally. Fujinami, who threw his fourth pitch of the game to the backstop on the fly, didn’t even load the bases until the third inning and then retired both batters he faced without ever getting to three balls on either to keep it scoreless.

Jefry Marte doubled in Koji Chikamoto to open the scoring and came home on a Yusuki Oyama sac fly before Hamaguchi’s bases-loaded walk completed the rally.

Rookie Teruaki Sato launched his third homer, off reliever Yuki Kuniyoshi, out of the ballpark. Kuniyoshi allowed all six runs in Hanshin’s six-run sixth. Marte singled in another run, Oyama doubled in two and Jerry Sands capped the rally with an RBI single.

Carp 2, Giants 0

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Ryosuke Kikuchi and Seiya Suzuki continued to tear it up. Kikuchi, the first batter to face Tomoyuki Sugano (0-1) since the Giants’ ace was deactivated after Opening Day with leg issues, homered to open the bottom of the first, and Suzuki made it 2-0 before Sugano settled down and followed by bowling six scoreless frames.

Daichi Osera (2-1) went six innings, allowing six hits and a walk while striking out six. Lefty Daisuke Moriua walked the first two batters he faced in the seventh and walked Hayato Sakamoto intentionally to load them and got out of the inning against Takayuki Kajitani.

Rookie Carp closer Ryoji Kuribayashi recorded his fourth save, ending it by getting Sakamoto to hit into a double play.

Sasaki rocks on the farm

Rocket-armed 19-year-old Roki Sasaki, whom the Lotte Marines expect to bring up to the first team within a month, allowed a hit over three scoreless innings in Friday’s Eastern League game against the Seibu Lions, Hochi Shimbun reported.

The right-hander with the super smooth delivery touched 95 mph. He allowed a leadoff single and hit a batter while striking out two in his 39-pitch outing.

Punch-drunk Fighters swap 8 players

The Pacific League’s Nippon Ham Fighters, winless over their last nine games with seven losses and two ties, replaced eight players on their active roster on Friday.

Outfielder Chusei Mannami was among the eight activated players. The 21-year-old, the Fighters’ fourth pick in the 2018 draft, is tied for the Eastern League home run lead with five and slashing .340/.421/.745.

The Fighters’ minor league facility in Kamagaya is a hitter’s park in a hitter’s league, and Fighters’ minor leaguers often put up some gaudy numbers before getting reality checks at cavernous Sapporo Dome.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

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

Hayato Yuge (0-0, 2.45) vs Rei Takahashi (0-1, 5.11)

Marines vs Lions: Zozo Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Manabu Mima (0-0, 2.31) vs Shota Hamaya (1-1, 3.72)

Buffaloes vs Fighters: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Sachiya Yamasaki (0-1, 3.60) vs Naoyuki Uwasawa (0-2, 8.74)

Central League

BayStars vs Tigers: Yokohama Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Taiga Kamichatani (0-0, 22.50) vs Koyo Aoyagi (1-0, 2.08)

Dragons vs Swallows: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Yuya Yanagi (0-1, 2.25) vs Yasuhiro Ogawa (1-0, 2.03)

Carp vs Giants: Mazda Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Allen Kuri (2-0, 3.00) vs Shosei Togo (1-0, 1.80)

Active roster moves 4/9/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/19

Central League

Activated

GiantsP18Tomoyuki Sugano
CarpP58Reira Fujii
CarpIF69Ryutaro Hatsuki

Dectivated

CarpP67Yuta Nakamura
CarpOF55Ryuhei Matsuyama
SwallowsOF49Daiki Watanabe

Pacific League

Activated

MarinesP60Rikuto Yokoyama
LionsP21Ken Togame
LionsP48Shota Takekuma
FightersP19Chihiro Kaneko
FightersP35Takahiro Nishimura
FightersIF91Yuto Takahama
FightersOF66Chusei Mannami
BuffaloesIF36Tatsuya Yamaashi

Dectivated

MarinesP49Fumiya Motomae
LionsP43Mitsuo Yoshikawa
LionsP64Towa Uema
FightersP31Toru Murata
FightersP40Suguru Fukuda
FightersIF2Kenshi Sugiya
FightersOF4Yuya Taniguchi

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Olympics 1, Japan 0

This result just in, the residents and citizens of Japan have been defeated by the national Olympic team.

The victory, not by athletes but by bureaucrats, politicians, monied interests and grifters, was probably never in doubt. But it pulled clearly into view Wednesday night with a report of the latest move by Japan’s government to put the Olympics ahead of the people.

Kyodo News (English) reported that Japan’s already delayed vaccination program could be put further behind schedule so that Olympic athletes can be vaccinated before the most vulnerable members of society, those aged 65 or older.

We knew this was coming. Thirteen months ago, Japan’s government made every effort to make it look like the nation would be a safe haven from the virus, denying testing to all those without the most severe cases of specific symptoms.

At first, Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker numbers had to come from local websites because Japan didn’t publish nationwide figures. It didn’t want to know and didn’t want others to know. People who died without being tested were considered to be not infected.

Japan’s second state of emergency officially ended on Sunday, March 21, but we were told to be wary, and local governments, particularly in Osaka, which has become a hotspot, have begun begging for emergency status.

So why was the state of emergency lifted?

I’m sure there were a number of reasons, but Japan’s Olympic organizers have planned the longest re-enactment of Nazi Germany’s torch relay propaganda stunt in history, and there was no way in hell it was going to be canceled or run out of public view. The 121-day relay kicked off from Fukushima Prefecture on March 25, the fourth day after the state of emergency.

One hundred and twenty-one days. That’s 10 times longer than Hitler’s relay, likely a point of pride for Japan’s vice prime minister Taro Aso, an avowed admirer of der Fuhrer.

With roughly 80 percent of the public against holding the Olympics, the relay of the Olympic flame–known as “seika 聖火, the sacred flame”–it was felt, was a crucial tool in putting the Olympics in a positive light, and we all know the pandemic will be over by July, right?

Yet, even that has not gone without a hitch. On Wednesday, the torch relay was banished from the streets in Osaka Prefecture, with that leg still being held, but away from prying eyes at Expo ’70 Commemorative Park in the Suita, the site of the 1970 Worlds Fair.

In January, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, in solidarity with the people of the world, said it encouraged nations not to put Olympians at the head of the line.

“We always made it clear we are not in favor of athletes jumping the queue. In the first lines must be the high-risk groups, the healthcare workers and the people who keep our society alive. That is the first priority and this is a principle we have established.”

–IOC President Thomas Bach, January 2021

But like tolerating openly sexist remarks from former Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee, Yoshiro Mori, the IOC has shown world-class flexibility in its values regarding vaccines: “If Japan wants its athletes to be vaccinated ahead of its senior citizens for the sake of Olympic gold medals? Well, that’s none of our business, really.”

All this time, Japan and the organizers have stressed the need to get the public on board for holding the Olympics when it is not considered safe for non-residents to enter Japan and watch.

These Olympics have been a con from Day 1. To gain support for them, Japan’s real Olympic team, politicians, grifters and influence peddlars, renamed it the “reconstruction Olympics,” as if it would benefit the three prefectures decimated by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear disaster.

Yet the games are all about Tokyo, about spending lots and lots of money in and on Tokyo and to influential businesses, and to secure it after numerous past failures, millions of dollars flowed down suspicious avenues, with the head of the bid committee now being investigated in France for corruption.

But it now seems the idea of getting the taxpayers to understand this scam is no longer a necessary part of the con, and Japan is going to get its Olympics one way or another. So if people have to die before they get vaccinated so Japan can have an Olympics, well, so be it.

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Tigers halt sales

The Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Central League have halted ticket sales for its games starting Tuesday and running through at least May 2 due to Kyodo News (Japanese) reported Friday.

Kyodo News (English) reported Friday that Japan’s government has responded to surging infections by calling for stricter measures in three prefectures, Osaka, neighboring Hyogo Prefecture — where the Tigers are based — and northeastern Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture.

Tickets already sold and those reserved by season-ticket holders will not be affected, the club said.

The announcement comes as Japan’s government battles to save the Tokyo 2020 Olympics this summer in a sequel to its March 2020 postponement acceptance drama.

The Pacific League’s Orix Buffaloes, who play their home games at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, and the PL’s Rakuten Eagles, whose home park is in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, will likely be forced to take additional steps.

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Japan’s Olympic challenge

A year after Japan was forced to accept the reality that opening the 2020 Olympics on schedule was a fool’s errand, the government finds itself in a similar bind as it balances half-hearted emergency steps while once more putting on a good face to keep the event on schedule for this July.

That face-saving has been apparent in a refusal — for much of last year — to expand testing to all but those with the most obvious and persistent symptoms. Right up until international pressure forced Japan to agree to postpone the Olympics on March 24, 2020, Japan insisted they would go ahead without a hitch and that the coronavirus would be contained and controlled in time.

Japan would have gone ahead with the Olympics at all costs and said it would do so even after national Olympic committees began pulling out in March 2020. Tokyo’s house of cards only collapsed after the United States’ influential swimming and athletics federations said they were not on board.

With no U.S. swimming and athletics, TV money from the U.S. would dwindle and the games would go from an acceptable revenue-producing money pit to a black hole. The first visible sign of similar writing on Tokyo’s Olympic wall this year came Friday. Kyodo reported that the international aquatics federation is considering pulling three of its final Olympic qualifying tournaments from Japan.

Although Japan was spared the irresponsible mixed messaging on mask-wearing that turned the United States into a hot spot and the coronavirus into a political identity issue, Japan has bent over backward to prioritize holding the Olympics over the safety of its citizens.

Roughly 80 percent of those polled have responded they do not support holding the Olympics this summer in Tokyo, but the machinery is in motion, beginning with an epic 121-day torch relay to build enthusiasm for the unpopular event that has also been dogged by inflated costs, a sexism scandal and accusations of corruption in the bid process that are seriously being investigated in France — but not in Japan.

The new president of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee, former Olympic speed skating medalist Seiko Hashimoto, is now in a fight with elected officials in Osaka over that prefecture’s desire to keep Japan’s version of Nazi Germany’s torch relay from entering the prefecture and becoming a super spreader event.

Although the organizing committee has assured local governments it would hold relay segments “behind closed doors” off public streets should crowds form that would present a risk of infection, crowds have turned out, and the committee has yet to act.

On the first day of the relay, an organizing official was interviewed on television, discussing the success of safety measures in place. The spokesperson’s nose, however, was uncovered by the mask, a common sight in Japan and a good analogy for Japan’s coronavirus effort. It has the appearance of complying with science and having a social conscience while being ineffective and incompetent at the same time.

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NPB wrap 3-23-21

No extra innings for 2021 league games

As the season prepares to get underway, NPB announced Monday night that no extra innings will be played in either league this season following an extraordinary meeting of the 12 teams representatives.

In a parallel announcement, all March and April night games in Tokyo as well as Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures will start before 6 p.m. The moves are part of an effort to comply with the government’s request that businesses in the areas hardest hit by the current wave of the coronavirus pandemic close by 9 p.m.

Young and wild: Sasaki starts

At Yokohama Stadium, Lotte Marines rookie Roki Sasaki pitched two innings in a practice game against the DeNA BayStars in a makeup game for the rainout of Sunday’s preseason finale, Nikkan Sports reported.

The flame-throwing 19-year-old right-hander retired the first five batters he faced before surrendering two runs on two hits and two walks. Sasaki, who turned pro a year ago but had not pitched in a game with the Marines until last week, touched 95.7 mph and sat at 93.

“There are things you can only understand if you pitch in a situation like this,” Sasaki told the media. “Unlike what I’d been doing, this reveals issues that I think I can proactively address in practice.”

Sasaki is scheduled to join the farm team to begin pitching for real this season on the Marines’ Eastern League farm team.

Masahiro Tanaka interview

Masahiro Tanaka spoke about his reasons for coming back to play in Japan, which touched on a few things that weren’t mentioned when he made the announcement:

  1. His primary concern was the best interest of his family. This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the way he left the States in March 2020. Perhaps anti-Asian incidents weren’t a big issue. He didn’t say. But if it were my family, and I had a choice, I might choose to be where I thought my kids would be safer.
  2. The offers he received from major league teams were much better than those reported in the media. So it was, as expected, less about being lowballed by MLB and more about not being paid enough to overcome his other concerns.
  3. He’d never considered playing in the States until 2012 when he said he was approached by MLB teams, although more likely it was people telling him that scouts were interested in them. Sometimes scouts will have intermediaries tell the players that U.S. teams are interested in them.

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