Tag Archives: Drew VerHagen

NPB 2020 Oct. 21

Wednesday’s games

Other news

Senga deals Hawks to victory

The SoftBank Hawks turned a pitchers’ duel into a rout with seven runs off the Nippon Ham Fighters’ bullpen in a 9-1 win at Sapporo Dome on Wednesday. The Hawks, looking to win their first Pacific League pennant in three years, lowered their magic number to eight.

The Japanese news on Thursday will be the Hawks HAVE a magic number. But don’t be confused. That’s just the way they do things here.

Hawks ace Kodai Senga (9-6) allowed a run in the second on three ground balls that weren’t particularly well hit. He left after 6-1/3 innings having allowed seven hits and a walk while striking out five.

Drew VerHagen (7-6) allowed three runs over 6-2/3 innings. He gave up eight hits and a walk while striking out six.

Until the bullpen got involved everything revolved around the Hawks’ Ukyo Shuto and the Fighters’ Taishi Ota.

Shuto dropped a ground ball at second, allowing second-inning leadoff hitter Sho Nakata to reach on an error. Ryo Watanabe reached on a grounder to third. Ota smacked a breaking ball up in the zone through the infield, and Nakata just beat the throw home.

The Hawks took the lead in the fifth. Takuya Kai singled and scored when Shuto burned around the bases on a triple to the gap in left center. The Hawks’ speedster then scored on Akira Nakamura’s fly to right, barely beating the tag after a strong throw from Ota arrived on the first-base side of the plate.

With one out and two on in the bottom of the sixth, Ota hit a fly to medium deep right field,  Nakata barreled home, but Ryoya Kurihara’s throw was on the third-base side of the plate, and lacking Shuto’s speed, Nakata was out. Shuto sparked a three-run seventh with a two-out walk that chased VerHagen. Reliever Mizuki Hori walked Nakamura and surrendered an RBI single to Yuki Yanagita. Takahiro Nishimura came in and gave up a two-run double to Yurisbel Gracial.

Déjà vu all over again

For the second straight night, Shuta Tonosaki led off the bottom of the ninth against Lotte Marines closer Naoya Masuda (3-4) and scored the winning run on a ball hit by Kakeru Yamanobe to lift the Seibu Lions to a 2-1 win at MetLife Dome.

For the second straight night, Lions closer Tatsushi Masuda (5-0) worked dangerously. A night after he blew a one-run save, he pitched out of trouble to keep the game tied. Tonosaki drew a leadoff walk and instead of scoring on a dropped fly ball as he did on Tuesday, scored on a Yamanobe single.

Ernesto Mejia’s fourth-inning RBI single opened the scoring, and the Marines tied it in the seventh on a double play after Ikuhiro Kiyota and Hisanori Yasuda singled to open the inning.

Oshiro HR lifts Buffaloes

Koji Oshiro homered in the ninth inning off Yuki Matsui (4-5) to lift the Orix Buffaloes to a 6-5 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Buffaloes setup man Tyler Higgins (3-3) earned the win after he surrendered the tying run in the bottom of the eighth. Brandon Dickson loaded the bases in the ninth but allowed no runs to notch his 15th save.

The Eagles’ Stefen Romero capped a four-run first inning with a three-run home run, his 21st.

Swallows win battle for the ages

Forty-year-old Masanori Ishikawa (2-7) allowed a run over six innings and Munetaka Murakami, who is 20 years, 11 days younger, brought the Yakult Swallows from a run down with his 24th home run to beat the Central League-leading Yomiuri Giants 2-1 at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto broke up the scoreless game with a fourth-inning home run, his 17th. The visitors blew a chance for a fifth-inning insurance run when Yoshihiro Maru was put out trying to score from third when Takumi Oshiro failed to bunt a breaking ball in the strike zone.

With Norichika Aoki aboard in the sixth, Murakami hit an improbably low pitch from Giants lefty Yuki Takahashi and hit a nine-iron into the left-field stands for an opposite-field home run.

Dragons centurian Viciedo beats BayStars

Dayan Viciedo’s three-run home run, his 16th of the season and the 100th of his Japan career, overturned a 2-1 deficit and lifted the Chunichi Dragons to a 4-2 win over the DeNA BayStars at Nagoya Dome.

Tyler Austin singled in both of DeNA’s runs in the first and third, but Edwin Escobar surrendered one-out hits to Yohei Oshima and Yota Kyoda before Viciedo took him deep with two outs. The Dragons bullpen, weakened by the loss of closer Raidel Martinez, allowed six of the BayStars’ final 13 batters to reach but no runs.

Marte returns, homers in Tigers’ win

Jefry Marte returned after a 3-1/2 month absence to smash a two-run homer that lifted the Hanshin Tigers to a 2-0 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Koshien Stadium.

Koyo Aoyagi (7-8) worked 5-1/3 innings. He gave up a hit, two walks and hit a batter while striking out eight. Closer Robert Suarez, the Tigers’ fifth pitcher, worked a 1-2-3 ninth to take over the CL saves lead with his 22nd.

Carp starter Atsushi Endo (3-6) allowed two runs over six innings. He struck out nine.

Tigers may be done with Fukudome

Kosuke Fukudome, who at 43 is the oldest player in Nippon Professional Baseball, has been notified by the Central League’s Hanshin Tigers that he is not in their plans for next year, the Nikkan Sports reported Wednesday.

Such notices usually mean a player will be released or sold, but that is not always the case. It is noteworthy that when the Tigers became a novel coronavirus cluster in September, Fukudome had been one of those who had broken team protocols by dining out in a group of eight — twice the team’s limit.

As happens in Japan, at least one head had to role when a problem occurred in conjunction with rulebreaking and team president Kenji Ageshio announced on Oct. 9 that he would step down.

Another thing that happens in Japan is that the punishment and blame handed to athletes who break the rules is in inverse proportion to their competitiveness.

When a number of Japanese badminton players were found to have visited a casino–which are illegal in Japan–the most lenient treatment was reserved for world No. 2 Kento Momota, who missed the 2016 Olympics but has since returned to competition.

When a number of Yomiuri Giants pitchers were found to have bet on baseball, the lightest punishment was reserved for the only one who was any good. And after sitting out for one year and showing remorse, lefty Kyosuke Takagi resumed his career.

In 2019, Fukudome posted a .347 on-base-percentage, his worst as a regular in Japan. This year, his struggles have intensified, making him vulnerable to pay a price for his failure to follow the rules.

A former CL MVP, Fukudome spent five seasons in the United States, where he may have had the worst NPB-to-MLB translated value in history.

An on-base machine with good power (career .383 OBP .495 slug), who was killed by his first pro home park, Nagoya Dome, Fukudome’s offensive numbers in the majors (.359 .395) fell off considerably despite playing in excellent hitters’ parks.

Using Bill James Win Shares, most Japanese players lose some value going to the States, and after coming back past their prime, regain a little or stay about where they were in terms of value. Fukudome dropped sharply when he left and rebounded sharply when he returned.

I haven’t had a chance to speak with him about it, but MLB’s more challenging travel requirements and training routines may have been particularly hard on him. These differences can be very tough on Japanese players–regardless of Hideki Okajima‘s assertion that it was easy for him and “if it’s hard to adjust, you don’t belong in MLB.”

Marines: Laird has undergone surgery

Lotte Marines third baseman Brandon Laird underwent surgery for a lumbar disk hernia on Monday in Arizona, the Pacific League club announced Wednesday. The 33-year-old is in his sixth Japan season and his second with the Chiba-based Marines.

He was deactivated on Aug. 5 and traveled to the States 11 days later. He has played in 39 games this year with six home runs, giving him 169 in Japan. Laird was instrumental in the Nippon Ham Fighters winning the 2016 PL pennant and Japan Series, and is well known in Japan for his “sushi-making” home run celebration.

TIme for sushi.

Buffaloes drop ace Yamamoto

A day after yet another sharp outing in which he allowed two runs over seven innings, the Orix Buffaloes dropped ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto on Wednesday.

Yamamoto was taken off the hook for the loss when Orix came back to tie it 2-2 in the ninth inning. The 22-year-old leads both leagues with 149 strikeouts and tops the Pacific League with a 2.20 ERA and 126-2/3 innings. The move, according to the Daily Sports, was made out of consideration for his lower-body fitness and overall fatigue.

The Chunichi Dragons also made a move, dropping closer Raidel Martinez, who has struck out over 11 batters per nine innings and is tied for the league saves lead with Robert Suarez of the Hanshin Tigers.

As usual, the Dragons failed to specify any reason for Martinez’s move other than saying it was due to a lack of lower-body fitness.”

Active roster moves 10/21/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/31

Central League

Activated

TigersP66Ippei Ogawa
TigersIF31Jefry Marte
TigersIF55Naomasa Yokawa
DragonsP53Luis Gonzalez

Dectivated

TigersP77Onelki Garcia
TigersP92Kazuo Ito
TigersOF32Kota Inoue
DragonsP97Raidel Martinez

Pacific League

Activated

BuffaloesP61Tsubasa Sakakibara
BuffaloesP68Yu Suzuki

Dectivated

HawksP67Shunsuke Kasaya
FightersP15Naoyuki Uwasawa
BuffaloesP18Yoshinobu Yamamoto
BuffaloesP28Ryoga Tomiyama

Starting pitchers for Oct. 22, 2020

Pacific League

Fighters vs Hawks: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kosei Yoshida (0-0, 8.53) vs Matt Moore (5-3, 3.00)

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

Takayuki Kishi (4-0, 3.74) vs Daiki Tajima (4-5, 4.01)

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

Zach Neal (4-7, 5.13) vs Kazuya Ojima (7-7, 3.50)

Central League

Swallows vs Giants: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Daiki Yoshida (2-6, 4.82) vs Angel Sanchez (7-3, 3.34)

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

Yudai Ono (9-5, 1.92) vs Kentaro Taira (3-4, 2.48)

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

Minoru Iwata (1-1, 4.58) vs Kazuki Yabuta (0-2, 4.99)

NPB 2020 Oct. 20

Tuesday’s games

Other news

Norimoto-Yamamoto duel as advertised

Torai Fushimi hit a game-tying home run in the ninth inning off Rakuten Eagles closer Alan Busenitz as the Orix Buffaloes salvaged a 2-2 10-inning tie at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi in which the teams’ two aces delivered.

Fushimi’s home run took Yoshinobu Yamamoto off the hook for the loss after he allowed two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out 10 over seven innings.

The Eagles took a 2-1 lead after sixth-inning singles by Ginji Akaminai and rookie Hiroto Kobukata. Akaminai smacked a mistake from Yamamoto through the infield, and Kobukata, one of the few Eagles to get quality swings off the Buffaloes’ ace, smoked a liner to left. Hideto Asamura’s miss-hit ball off the end of his bat just fell for a two-run double.

Right fielder Yuya Oda, who came within a hair of ending the inning on that fly, cut down Asamura for the final out at the plate.

Norimoto pitched out of a couple of early pickles, and was cruising until Steven Moya crushed a curveball for his ninth home run with two outs in the sixth, giving Yamamoto a 1-0 lead. The right-hander allowed five hits and a walk while striking out six over seven innings.

Eagles lefty Yuki Matsui walked two in the eighth but ended the inning by overpowering Moya with a fastball for a swinging strikeout after Orix wasted one out sacrificing in an attempt to tie it on the road.

Fushimi led off the top of the ninth by hammering a straight fastball down the pipe nearly to the Ferris wheel behind the left-field seating for his sixth home run.

Tyler Higgins worked a scoreless ninth for the Buffaloes. Eagles submariner Kazuhisa Makita pitched out of a two-on one-out situation in the 10th before Brandon Dickson sealed the tie in the bottom of the 10th with a 1-2-3 inning.

Hawks blow out Fighters

Shunsuke Kasaya (4-3) threw six scoreless innings, while Yuki Yanagita had four hits and scored three runs, and Yurisbel Gracial and Nobuhiro Matsuda each drove in three as the SoftBank Hawks whipped the Nippon Ham Fighters 11-2 at Sapporo Dome.

The win, combined with the Lotte Marines’ 2-1 loss to the Seibu Lions, increased the Hawks’ Pacific League lead to 6-1/2 games.

Kasaya, who threw five scoreless innings in his previous start, allowed two hits and two walks while striking out eight. The Hawks blasted Fighters right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa (8-6) for seven runs over five innings.

Fighters right-hander Bryan Rodriguez allowed two runs in one inning of relief, marking his season debut after the team said in June he’d had surgery to clean out his left knee.

“He brought something and threw some really good pitches,” manager Hideki Kuriyama said of Rodriguez.

Christian Villanueva also returned to the Fighters lineup for the first time in two weeks and drew a walk in three plate appearances.

Wednesday’s game is going to see Hawks’ ace Kodai Senga take on first-year Fighters import Drew VerHagen.

Lions survive blown Masuda save

The Seibu Lions scored an unearned ninth-inning run to walk off 2-1 winners over the Lotte Marines at MetLife Dome after closer Tatsushi Masuda (4-0) allowed the tying run in the ninth.

Both starting pitchers went seven with Lotte’s Ayumu Ishikawa allowing a run, while Kona Takahashi left with a 1-0 lead.

Lions left fielder Corey Spangenberg helped keep the Marines off the board in the third by robbing Yudai Fujioka of a leadoff single. Marines second baseman Shogo Nakamura did the same in the home half with a good play to defuse a Lions rally.

Shuta Tonosaki broke the scoreless deadlock in the seventh. He singled with one out, went to third on a Kakeru Yamanobe run-and-hit single and scored on Yuji Kaneko’s booming sacrifice fly.

Lions right-hander Kaima Taira worked a scoreless eighth, but Masuda walked a batter and hit one before surrendering a Tatsuhiro Tamura RBI single.

Tonosaki, however, rescued the Lions in the home half when he doubled with two outs against the Marines’ Naoya Masuda (3-3) and scored when Leonys Martin and Nakamura collided in shallow right as Yamanobe’s fly fell untouched.

Swallows walk away with tie

Yomiuri Giants rookie of the year candidate Shosei Togo threw a career-high 134 pitches over six scoreless innings in which he struck out nine and walked six, but had nothing to show for it after three relievers combined to blow the save in the ninth in a 1-1 10-inning with the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Rubby De La Rosa issued a five-pitch leadoff walk and left with two outs and two on after a sacrifice, a single and a strikeout. Lefty Ryusei Oe walked Norichika Aoki on five pitches to load them up and Toyoki Tanaka walked Tetsuto Yamada on four pitches to tie it.

The Giants lead the second-place Chunichi Dragons by 10-1/2 games and their magic number to clinch their second-straight Central League championship is seven.

Dragons 6, BayStars 1

Koji Fukutani (7-2) allowed one run over six innings, and the Chunichi Dragons cashed in three of their six sixth-inning base runners to come from behind in a 6-1 win over the DeNA BayStars at Nagoya Dome.

Fukutani allowed three hits, including Tyler Austin’s first-inning home run, and a walk, while striking out seven. Hiroto Fuku and Daisuke Sobue closed it out with one scoreless inning apiece for the Dragons. Dayan Viciedo went 3-for-5 with a double, a run, and two RBIs, while Toshiki Abe also had three hits, scored twice and drove in two.

Spencer Patton struck out three in the eighth for the BayStars, but allowed a run on an Abe double and a one-out Viciedo single.

Kuri holds off Tigers

Allen Kuri (7-5), who retired the first 14 batters he faced, allowed a run over 8-1/3 innings while the Carp scored four times in the third inning against Onelki Garcia (2-6), who was pitching for the first time in a month, in a 5-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium.

Kuri, who has allowed one run in each of his last three starts, gave up three of his four hits in the ninth inning, when Geronimo Franzua came in to record his 15th save.

Former Tigers closer Kyuji Fujikawa, who announced that this will be his last season, took the mound for the first time since Aug. 10 and worked a scoreless sixth inning.

Active roster moves 10/20/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/30

Central League

Activated

BayStarsP94Takamasa Kasai
TigersP77Onelki Garcia
SwallowsP48Yuto Kanakubo

Dectivated

TigersP49Joe Gunkel
SwallowsP61Takuma Kubo

Pacific League

Activated

MarinesP62Shoji Nagano
MarinesIF4Yudai Fujioka
MarinesOF0Takashi Ogino
FightersP40Suguru Fukuda
FightersP41Bryan Rodriguez
FightersIF44Christian Villanueva
BuffaloesIF5Masahiro Nishino

Dectivated

None

Starting pitchers for Oct. 21, 2020

Pacific League

Fighters vs Hawks: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Drew VerHagen (7-5, 3.47) vs Kodai Senga (8-6, 2.65)

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

Hideaki Wakui (11-3, 2.95) vs Tsubasa Sakakibara (1-2, 4.13)

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

Shota Hamaya (2-2, 6.19) vs Wei-Yin Chen (0-1, 3.00)

Central League

Swallows vs Giants: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Masanori Ishikawa (1-7, 4.92) vs Yuki Takahashi (1-0, 2.35)

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

Akiyoshi Katsuno (4-4, 3.70) vs Yuya Sakamoto (4-1, 5.24)

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

Koyo Aoyagi (6-8, 4.08) vs Atsushi Endo (3-5, 4.45)

NPB 2020 Oct. 14

Wednesday’s games

Other news

Ono hangs on for 5th shutout

Yudai Ono (9-5) returned to his complete-game victory fixation on Wednesday with his fifth shutout of the season as the lefty pitched out of a ninth-inning jam in the Chunichi Dragons’ 3-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Nagoya Dome.

The win lifted the Dragons into second place in the Central League at two games above .500 despite being outscored this season 396 to 356. Second place is largely symbolic as the Yomiuri Giants run away with the pennant and no possibility of advancing to the Japan Series since the CL has canceled its playoffs this year.

Ono struck out seven and walked one. He allowed two-out singles to Yusuke Oyama and Justin Bour in the ninth.

Tigers submarine right-hander Koyo Aoyagi (6-8) allowed three runs over seven innings to take the loss. Dayan Viciedo singled and scored in the second for the Dragons, and Zoilo Almonte singled in a run in the third.

Ono has now worked 36 consecutive scoreless innings. The Japan record is 64-1/3 by Hall of Famer Masaichi Kaneda, who accomplished the feat in 1958 with the Kokutetsu Swallows.

The lefty’s nine complete games are the most in Japan since Tomoyuki Sugano had 10 in 2018, when he won his second consecutive Sawamura Award, although eight of those were shutouts, which may be hard for Ono to match in this shortened season.

Masahiro Tanaka was the last pitcher in Japan with more than 10 complete games, when he had 14 in 2011.

Yudai Ono seals his shutout with a nice play from the mound.

Giants trim magic number to 9

Yuki Takahashi (1-0) allowed a run over five innings and tripled in the tie-breaking run in the second as the Yomiuri Giants beat the Hiroshima Carp 6-1 at Tokyo Dome.

Although the outfield was playing the pitcher shallow, Takahashi got some distance on his drive to the gap.

The win, combined with the Tigers’ loss, dropped the Giants’ magic number to clinch the pennant to nine.

Giants-Carp highlights

BayStars bash Swallows

The DeNA BayStars bashed out nine runs over the first six innings and then had to call on closer Kazuki Mishima after Naomichi Nishiura’s second homer of the game made it close in the eighth inning of their 9-6 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

BayStars starter Yuya Sakamoto (4-1) held the Swallows to a run over five innings, while 40-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa (1-7) allowed five runs over five. Mishima earned his 14th save.

Tyler Austin had three hits and two RBIs for the visitors, while Neftali Soto scored twice. Toshiro Miyazaki drove in three runs on three singles and Keita Sano homered for the third straight game.

Wakui outpitches Chen

Chen Wei-yin’s return to Japanese pro ball was impressive until a belt-high center-cut fastball to Hideto Asamura put the Rakuten Eagles in front in their 4-1 win over Chen’s new team, the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Hideaki Wakui (11-3) appeared to lose his footing on the mound on his first pitch, a 143-kph fastball down the middle to rookie Kyota Fujiwara who looked like he was geared up for a first-pitch fastball because he really hammered it for his first career home run.

Asamura singled and scored the tying run in the fourth on a Stefen Romero sacrifice fly and blasted his 31st home run in the sixth, driving it well back in the left-field stands for a 2-1 lead.

Chen allowed two runs over six innings, while Wakui went seven. Lefty Yuki Matsui worked a scoreless eighth and Alan Busenitz did the same in the ninth for his 18th save.

Senga strikes out 10

SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga (8-6) struck out 10 over six innings to earn the win in a 4-0 victory over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome that was scoreless through six innings.

Lefty Sachiya Yamasaki (4-5) surrendered a leadoff double to Ryoya Kurihara in the seventh. He scored on a wild pitch, and three two-out walks loaded the bases for Yuki Yanagita, who delivered a three-run double.

It was the Buffaloes’ second straight shutout loss. The win lifted SoftBank three games clear of the second-place Marines.

VerHagen shuts down Lions

Drew VerHagen (7-5) struck out 10 over eight scoreless innings as the Nippon Ham Fighters took advantage of nine walks in a 7-2 win over the Seibu Lions at Sapporo Dome.

VerHagen allowed three hits and walked two to earn his first winsince he last threw eight shutout innings to beat the Rakuten Eagles on Sept. 14.

Taishi Ota hit a two-run first-inning home run off rookie Shota Hamaya (2-2).

Active roster moves 10/14/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/24

Central League

Activated

TigersIF33Kento Itohara
TigersOF32Kota Inoue

Dectivated

TigersP29Haruto Takahashi
TigersIF2Fumiya Hojo
TigersOF9Shun Takayama

Pacific League

Activated

MarinesP58Chen Wei-yin
BuffaloesP11Sachiya Yamasaki
BuffaloesIF0Shoki Katsumata

Dectivated

MarinesP41Kakeru Narita
BuffaloesOF99Yutaro Sugimoto

Starting pitchers for Oct. 15, 2020

Pacific League

Fighters vs Lions: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Nick Martinez (1-6, 4.58) vs Zach Neal (4-6, 4.78)

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

Kazuya Ojima (7-6, 3.28) vs Takayuki Kishi (3-0, 4.72)

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

Daiki Tajima (4-4, 3.67) vs Shuta Ishikawa (7-3, 2.58)

Central League

Giants vs Carp: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Angel Sanchez (7-3, 2.92) vs Yusuke Nomura (6-3, 4.59)

Swallows vs BayStars: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Daiki Yoshida (1-6, 5.01) vs Kentaro Taira (3-3, 2.57)

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

Takahiro Matsuba (3-6, 3.92) vs Minoru Iwata (1-1, 4.41)

NPB 2020 Oct. 7

Wednesday’s games

Other news

Dragons 4, Swallows 1: Ono CG a no go

In an era when complete games are rare, the news on Wednesday was that Yudai Ono didn’t throw one. For the first time this season, the lefty won a game without going the distance, laboring through six shutout innings in the Chunichi Dragons’ 4-1 win over the Yakult Swallows at Nagoya Dome.

Ono (8-5), announced as the Central League’s pitcher of the month for September earlier in the day, lacked the pin-point command that his been his calling card for much of the season. The Swallows loaded the bases with one out in the first, and he needed 26 pitches in the inning to keep them off the board.

“When I got to 26 pitches I knew at that point that it was going to be tough to finish up tonight,” said Ono, who handed a lead over to the Dragons bullpen for the second time this season.

On July 24, he left with a 2-1 lead at home after throwing 103 pitches over five innings, and the bullpen surrendered four runs in a 5-2 loss to the Dragons that left him 0-3 on the season. He then took things out of his relievers’ hands with five straight complete game victories followed by a complete game defeat.

“His pitching was all you could expect of an ace,” Dragons manager Tsuyoshi Yoda said.

Forty-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa (1-6) also pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the first but surrendered two runs on three third-inning singles by the Dragons import trio of Zoilo Almonte, Dayan Viciedo and Moises Sierra.

Almonte, who had three hits, homered in the seventh, and Tetsuto Yamada hit his 12th homer of the season in the eighth for the Swallows.

Dragons closer Raidel Martinez struck out the side in the ninth to earn his 17th save.

BayStars 6, Giants 3: Lopez strikes back

Jose Lopez broke a 2-2 tie with his second two-run home run in two nights at Tokyo Dome in the DeNA BayStars’ 6-3 win over the Yomiuri Giants.

Neftali Soto followed with his 19th homer. Shingo Hirata (1-0), the team’s second draft pick in 2013, allowed two runs for the BayStars over five innings to earn his first career win.

Lefties Edwin Escobar and Kenta Ishida pitched the seventh and eighth for the visitors, and Kazuki Mishima worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 12th save.

Giants-BayStars highlights

Carp 9, Tigers 3

Tsubasa Aizawa’s two-run fifth-inning double brought the Hiroshima Carp from a run down in their 9-3 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Lions 4, Hawks 3

Takumi Kuriyama’s second RBI single tied it 3-3 in the seventh inning before the Seibu Lions took the lead against the SoftBank Hawks in a 4-3 win at MetLife Dome.

Eighth-inning doubles by Hotaka Yamakawa and Fumikazu Kimura off Livan Moinelo (1-2) completed the comeback.

The Hawks opened the scoring in the first inning on Yuki Yanagita’s 26th home run. Yanagita walked twice and singled and scored twice. Ernesto Mejia opened the Lions’ sixth with his 11th home run to make it a one-run game.

Marines 4, Buffaloes 1

Seiya Inoue hit a three-run first-inning homer off Andrew Albers (3-7) and Kazuya Ojima (7-6) allowed an unearned run over six innings as the Lotte Marines beat the Orix Buffaloes 4-1 at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

The win was the Marines’ first since they switched out 11 members of the active roster on Tuesday and another on Wednesday due to a spate infections within the club.

The win moved the Marines to within one win of the Pacific League-leading Hawks.

Eagles 2, Fighters 2

Nippon Ham Fighters starter Drew VerHagen and Rakuten Eagles right-hander Hideaki Wakui each went six innings as their teams finished in a 2-2, 10-inning tie at Sapporo Dome.

Both pitchers juggled runners on base, with VerHagen allowing a run on five hits and four walks, and Wakui two runs on six walks and six hits.

The visitors tied it in the seventh on Hideto Asamura’s second RBI single of the game.

mvp

Dragons’ Ono a surprise winner

September’s monthly award winners were named on Wednesday, with Chunichi Dragons lefty Yudai Ono the Central League’s pitcher of the month despite his having lost two games.

Ono, who went 3-2, was joined by CL player (read “hitter”) of the month Takayuki Kajitani of the DeNA BayStars, and the PL’s honorees, Rakuten Eagles second baseman Hideto Asamura and Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

Ono did everything except post a good win-loss record. His three wins were all two-hit shutouts, and that struck a chord with whoever it is who makes the selections, something unheard of in recent years.

I don’t think we should ignore wins, but if you did, it would be hard to see that any CL pitcher had a month in Ono’s league. Ono led the league in strikeouts, led the league in innings. His strikeout total of 42 was twice his combined hits and walks allowed.

The trouble over the past 15 years or so that I’ve been paying attention to these things is that they used to start with wins and pretty much ended there.

For years, my pitcher of the month search started by finding pitchers with three-plus wins with no more than one loss and an ERA under 3.50. If nobody qualified, then go through the relievers and see who didn’t allow a run, while getting eight or nine saves or holds. One month, Shohei Ohtani didn’t win despite going 2-0 with a 0.27 ERA in four starts with over 30 strikeouts.

I was surprised to find, however, that such wasn’t always the case. In June 2000 for example, the CL pitching honor went to Nate Minchey, after going 3-3 with a 2.02 ERA, when other candidates went 3-0 and 3-1 with worse ERAs.

Minchey also had a kicker in that we threw four of his starts on four-days rest, something not unheard of like it is now, but uncommon. The other two were on five days.

To get back to Ono, the award blurb mentioned that he was the first pitcher to throw three shutouts while allowing two or fewer hits in each since Hall of Famer Jiro Noguchi in October 1943.

Lotte OF Oka added to watch list

The Lotte Marines on Wednesday deactivated outfielder Hiromi Oka after determining that he too had been in close contact with pitcher Daiki Iwashita, the first player to test positive in the Pacific League team’s novel coronavirus cluster.

The Marines deactivated 11 players on Tuesday, seven who had tested positive and another four who had been in close contact with Iwashita on Friday’s flight back from Hokkaido, where they had traveled for a three-game series with the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Iwashita is so far the only player to exhibit any symptoms. He was tested Saturday night after falling ill and developing a fever.

Active roster moves 10/7/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/17

Central League

Activated

BayStarsOF37Taishi Kusumoto

Dectivated

BayStarsIF38Koki Yamashita

Pacific League

Activated

MarinesOF61Kazuma Mike
BuffaloesP27Andrew Albers

Dectivated

MarinesOF25Hiromi Oka
FightersP31Toru Murata

Starting pitchers for Oct. 7, 2020

Pacific League

Fighters vs Eagles: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Nick Martinez (1-5, 4.23) vs Takayuki Kishi (2-0, 5.53)

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

Tatsuya Imai (3-3, 5.70) vs Shuta Ishikawa (7-3, 2.37)

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

Takuro Furuya (-) vs Daiki Tajima (3-4, 3.72)

Central League

Giants vs BayStars: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Angel Sanchez (6-3, 2.97) vs Shoichi Ino (6-5, 3.68)

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

Yusuke Nomura (6-2, 3.82) vs Yuki Nishi (8-4, 2.25)

NPB 2020 Sept. 30

Other news

Ono throws 4th shutout

Yudai Ono (7-5) threw his second straight shutout, allowing two hits and no walks, while reaching base twice and driving in two runs in the Chunichi Dragons’ 9-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium on Wednesday.

Ono pounded the zone with his fastball kept the Tigers off balance with a two-seamer that sank and tailed away from the right-handed hitters. He didn’t get to three balls on a batter until the ninth inning. It was his first win at Koshien in

“I was able to pitch like this because the fielders made the plays they did,” Ono said.

“For the most part I’ve been able to challenge hitters in the zone, keep my pitch count from getting up around 120 or 130. Working in the zone allows me to do it (complete games).”

The win at Koshien was Ono’s first in five years and his first at an outdoor park in three.

Ono said he didn’t used to like the Koshien mound, which was notorious for being soft and low. But, like the mounds in Hiroshima, Tokyo Dome and Nagoya Dome, Koshien’s mound has been built using harder American clay bricks since last year, making it more uniform.

“The mound here didn’t use to be very good, although I didn’t have a particularly bad feeling about it,” Ono said. “I did think about that fact, and I wanted to end that streak. The team also hadn’t won here this year.”

Ono singled in the second with two outs, a flare that fell just beyond center fielder Koji Chikamoto. With two on in the fifth, he hit another little fly to center, and Chikamoto went all out to get it and missed. The ball rolled toward the fence for a two-run triple.

Veteran Ishikawa earns 1st win

Forty-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa (1- ) allowed a run over 5-2/3 innings and Munetaka Murakami belted his 19th home run, a three-run third-inning shot off Taiga Kamichatani (2-2) in the Yakult Swallows’ 5-3 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium. Taichi Ishiyama recorded his 14th save.

Kamichatani allowed five runs over three innings.

Nomura snaps Carp losing streak

Yusuke Nomura (6-2) tossed five scoreless innings despite allowing base runners in every inning, and Seiya Suzuki blasted a two-run home run as the Hiroshima Carp ended a four-game losing streak to the Yomiuri Giants with a 4-1 win at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

The Carp scored opened the scoring in the fifth inning against Kazuto Taguchi (5-4). One run scored when the pitcher was unable to start an inning-ending double play, and Seiya Suzuki reached the seats with a two-run home run two pitches later.

Giants cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto hit his league-leading 24th home run.

Ojima outduels VerHagen

The Lotte Marines moved to within winning-percentage points of first place with a 2-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome. Kazuya Ojima (6-6) throwing six scoreless innings to outduel Drew VerHagen (6-5).

Shuhei Fukuda singled in the first, stole second and broke the ice on a Leonys Martin single. Tsuyoshi Sugano doubled to open the seventh, was sacrificed to third and scored on a Yudai Fujioka squeeze.              

Yuki Karakawa worked a scoreless seventh for the visitors, but Hirokazu Sawamura allowed a run on two hits and a walk in the eighth. Naoya Masuda took out the bottom of the order in the ninth to record his Japan-best 26th save.

Wakui wins 10th as Takeda implodes

Hidaki Wakui (10-3) went eight innings, while the Rakuten Eagles took batting practice against SoftBank Hawks right-hander Shota Takeda, who lost control and surrendered seven runs in one-plus inning, the briefest start of his career, in a 9-3 win at Sendai’s Rakuten Semei Park Miyagi.

Masui turns back the clock

Hirotoshi Masui (1-2) rocked his starting assignment like it was 2016, throwing six scoreless innings as the Orix Buffaloes shut out the Seibu Lions for the second straight day, 5-0 at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

In 2016, Masui was dropped from his role as the Nippon Ham Fighters’ closer and resurrected that summer as an effective starter in a patchwork rotation while Shohei Ohtani recovered from blisters that limited him to an offensive role. Masui earned his first win as a starter since 2016, despite issuing five walks.

The Buffaloes finished September with a1 13-11-2 record.

Aacting manager, Satoshi Nakajima said, “I think we’re doing well by not thinking beyond the game in front of us.”

“We didn’t start the season well, but we seem to have rallied. I want to win and build some momentum.”

Lions rookie Shota Hamaya (2-1) settled down after allowing two runs in the second and two more in the third, which Adam Jones capped with his 11th home run.

“We are not hitting that badly, but when you get shut out two days in a row, I think guys are trying to do much, trying too hard and perhaps getting a little too tight,” Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji said.

Tigers approach viral cluster status

A member of the Hanshin Tigers’ first-team staff has tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Wednesday. It is the ninth member of the organization to test positive over the past week.

The Japanese government defines any body where 10 infections occur to be a cluster. So far five players and four staff members have tested positive.

The staff member who tested positive on Tuesday did not travel with the team to Tokyo last week, and is now resting at home. On Wednesday, he reported a fever of 37.5 C.

Leonys Martin blasted another long home run, his 24th, with two outs in the ninth off Ryo Akiyoshi to score an insurance run that came in handy after Marine closer Naoya Masuda surrendered a run in the home half on three singles.

Tigers add 2 lefties from “D” roster

The Hansin Tigers signed two players from the developmental roster on Wednesday, the deadline for making non-waiver roster additions. The two were 26-year-old lefty Yuya Yokoyama, the Tigers’ injury plagued 2014 top draft pick, and 25-year-old southpaw Masaki Ishii, whom they took in the first round of the 2017 developmental draft.

Yokoyama is 2-2 in 13 Western League games this season, having allowed five home runs and 19 walks over 47 innings while striking out 22.

Ishii has struck out 10 batters in 17 innings, while walking seven. He has not allowed a home run.

Active roster moves 9/30/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/10

Central League

Activated

TigersC44Ryutaro Umeno
SwallowsC57Yudai Koga

Dectivated

TigersIF00Hiroki Uemoto
SwallowsC32Naoki Matsumoto

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesOF51Yuya Ogo
BuffaloesP17Hirotoshi Masui
BuffaloesOF41Kodai Sano

Dectivated

EaglesIF5Eigoro Mogi
BuffaloesOF25Ryo Nishimura

Starting pitchers for Oct. 1, 2020

Pacific League

Fighters vs Marines: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Toshihiro Sugiura (5-3, 2.95) vs Daiki Iwashita (5-6, 4.58)

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

Takayuki Kishi (2-0, 7.06) vs Shuta Ishikawa (6-3, 2.44)

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

Daiki Tajima (3-4, 3.57) vs Tatsuya Imai (3-3, 5.74)

Central League

BayStars vs Swallows: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yuta Muto (0-0, 5.75) vs Hiroaki Saiuchi (0-1, 8.59)

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

Minoru Iwata (0-0, 5.40) vs Yariel Rodriguez (2-2, 3.77)

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

Tayler Scott (0-2, 22.50) vs Angel Sanchez (5-3, 3.02)

NPB 2020 Sept. 23

Asamura wrecks Marines again

One day after Hideto Asamura routed the Lotte Marines single handed with three home runs, his 28th home run of the year broke a 3-3 tie to lift Hideaki Wakui (9-3) and the Rakuten Eagles to a 5-3 win at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi on Wednesday.

With a man on in the seventh, a ferocious swing launched a high two-strike straight-as-string cutter from reliever Yuki Karakawa (0-1) well beyond the center-field fence.

“I was only trying to set the table for the hitters coming up behind me,” said Asamura, who now leads both leagues in home runs.

Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi, speaking more out of frustration than logic, said, “He burned us with the home run again, and at a time when the only thing we couldn’t afford to give up was a home run.”

Considering there was indeed more meat coming up after Asamura, despite his claims of trying to play small ball, a walk or any kind of hit could easily have sunk the Marines at that stage.

Wakui, who last won on Aug. 19, allowed four hits and hit a batter and gave up three runs, all in the sixth inning with Leonys Martin’s two-run double tying it.

Kazuhisa Makita torpedoed the Marines in the eighth and Alan Busenitz worked the ninth to record his 14th save as the Eagles won four straight for the first time this season.

Buffaloes hand Hawks 5th straight loss

Daiki Tajima (3-4) allowed two runs in five innings, while Steven Moya drove in three runs and hit his third home run in five games as the Orix Buffaloes beat the SoftBank Hawks 10-5 at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

With Yuki Yanagita not on the game roster for the first time this season due to stiffness in the neck. Hawks right-hander Shota Takeda (2-1) walked four and hit one as he allowed six runs over three innings.

Alfredo Despaigne drove in two consolation runs in the seventh with his fourth home run of the season and the 2,000th of the Hawks’ franchise.

Kimura leads Lions comeback

Fumikazu Kimura produces some electrifying swings as he hit a three-run homer and added an RBI single as the Seibu Lions overturned a 3-0 deficit in their 6-5 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at MetLife Dome.

Rookie lefty Shota Hamaya (2-0) looked poised for a 21-year-old. He allowed four runs over 5-1/3 innings. Fighters starter Drew VerHagen (6-4) allowed six runs, five earned, over 4-1/3 innings.

Six-time PL home run champ Takeya Nakamura was back for the first time since Sept. 1, having missed 19 games due to pain in right wrist.

Fighters rookie Ryunosuke Higuchi went 1-for-2 with a walk and was hit by a pitch in his debut. Drafted in the second round of the 2019 developmental draft from independent Albirex Niigata, the 26-year-old Higuchi has been demolishing Eastern League pitching this summer, slashing .342/.441/.651.

Seibu closer Tatsushi Masuda earned his 21st save.

Taguchi flashes old form for Giants

Lefty Kazuto Taguchi (5-3) came within two outs of his first complete game in two years but earned the win in the Yomiuri Giants’ 7-3 victory over the Hiroshima Carp at Tokyo Dome.

For eight innings, the 25-year-old Taguchi looked like the guy who was a mainstay of the Giants rotation in 2016 and 2017 until Jose Pirela chased him in the ninth with a two-run homer. Takumi Oshiro drove in two runs for the Giants and Hayato Sakamoto’s three hits moved him to within 39 of 2,000 in his career.

What are his chances of reach 3,000? Find out in today’s members notes.

Kamichatani shuts out Tigers

Taiga Kamichatani (2-1) threw his second career shutout, and Neftali Soto hit his 17th home run, a three-run shot in the seventh as the DeNA BayStars beat the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium.

Using an absolutely wicked cutter, Kamichatani struck out 10. He allowed six hits and walked three in his 144 pitches, causing Pro Yakyu News analyst Takenori Emoto and former pitcher to praise manager Alex Ramirez: “Ramirez-san understands how important it is to get complete games.”

Dragons bash Swallows

The Chunichi Dragons overcame home runs by Tetsuto Yamada and Munetaka Murakami grinding out a 14-hit 11-5 win over the Yakult Swallows at Nagoya Dome.

Shuhei Takahashi drove in three runs and Dayan Viciedo four with an eighth-inning grand slam for the Dragons as the Swallows lost after holding a lead for the 21st time this season.

Active roster moves 9/23/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/3

Central League

Activated

GiantsIF98Estamy Urena

Dectivated

GiantsOF88Gerardo Parra

Pacific League

Activated

LionsIF60Takeya Nakamura
HawksP18Shota Takeda
MarinesOF7Shuhei Fukuda
FightersIF32Ryota Yachi
FightersIF93Ryunosuke Higuchi
BuffaloesP48Koki Saito

Dectivated

LionsOF58Masato Kumashiro
EaglesP58Wataru Karashima
MarinesC53Naoya Emura
MarinesIF67Kenta Chatani
FightersIF38Kazunari Ishii
FightersOF26Daiki Asama
BuffaloesP14Kazumasa Yoshida

Starting pitchers for Sept. 22, 2020

Pacific League

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

Yuki Matsui (2-3, 4.05) vs Daiki Iwashita (5-5, 4.52)

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

Sho Ito (0-1, 3.15) vs Kenta Uehara (0-1, 1.04)

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

Tsuyoshi Wada (5-1, 2.83) vs Chang Yi (1-2, 3.71)