Tag Archives: Drew VerHagen

NPB wrap 5-7-21

Matching tops and bottoms

Friday was a night for both leagues’ last-place clubs to make statements in home games against their league’s leaders as the Pacific League’s Rakuten Eagles pulled into Sapporo Dome against a Nippon Ham Fighters team that hadn’t played since Saturday—when the club became classified as a coronavirus cluster.

In Yokohama, the DeNA BayStars, who struggled out of the gate this season under new manager Daisuke Miura welcoming the Hanshin Tigers, who have dominated the early going in the Central League.

Fighters 6, Eagles 1

At Sapporo Dome, Drew VerHagen (1-2) allowed a run over five innings while striking out nine, while Nippon Ham utility man Kenshi Sugiya homered to open the scoring against Hideaki Wakui (4-1) and then drove in a fifth-inning insurance run with a suicide squeeze

Wakui surrendered all six runs on eight hits and a walk over six innings.

Marines 7, Buffaloes 5

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, both starting pitchers took their lumps, with Lotte’s Ayumu Ishikawa (2-1) surrendering four runs over seven only to be outdone by Orix’s Taisuke Yamaoka (1-3), who gave up five over five. Seiya Inoue made it 5-0 Marines in the fourth with a three-run home run, his first of the season. Brandon Laird added a two-run double for the Marines.

All five Buffaloes’ runs came via the home run, a three-run shot in the fifth by rookie Ryo Ota and two solo homers by Yutaro Sugimoto, who has six on the year.

Hawks 2, Lions 2

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Seibu tied it on solo homers by Hotaka Yamakawa and Takumi Kuriyama. It was the second for each of the veterans who have spent most of the season rehabbing.

Yamakawa, a two-time PL home run champ, was in his first game back since he both homered and hurt his left hamstring on March 30. Kuriyama was hurt on Opening Day and wasn’t reactivated until April 20.

Hawks right-hander Shuta Ishikawa allowed two runs over eight innings on four hits and a walk while striking out eight. Seibu’s Kona Takahashi gave up two runs, one earned, over seven innings. Kaima Taira pitched out of trouble in the Hawks’ eighth. After SoftBank southpaw Livan Moinelo retired the Lions in the ninth, Reed Garret, back from taking a shot off the knee on Tuesday, did the same in the home half to seal the tie.

Swallows 6, Giants 4

At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri ace Tomoyuki Sugano was pulled for a pinch-hitter after four sparkling innings with a 3-0 lead, only for lefty setup man Kota Nakagawa to surrender four Yakult runs in the eighth.

After the game, the Giants revealed that Sugano left the game due to discomfort in his right elbow, which was not at all apparent from his pitching, which appeared — at least in the first inning — as precise and effortless as I think I’ve ever seen from anyone.

Hayato Sakamoto and Zelous Wheeler hit back-to-back one-out homers off Albert Suarez in the first. The pair reached base in the third to set up a Kazuma Okamoto sacrifice fly.

Norichika Aoki doubled and scored on Yasutaka Shiomi’s pinch-hit single off Ryoma Nogami. Shiomi homered off Nakagawa with one out in the eighth. A walk and four straight two-out singles put the visitors in charge. Sakamoto lined a first-pitch fastball down the pipe from Scott McGough over the wall in center for his seventh home run, but the right-hander struck out three to keep the hosts from tying it.

Domingo Santana opened the Swallows’ ninth with his fourth home run.

Giants-Swallows highlights

BayStars 12, Tigers 6

At Yokohama Stadium, Hanshin’s Chen Wei-Yin cruised through three innings but blew a 2-0 lead when DeNA chased him with one out in the BayStars’ four-run fourth. But after the Tigers came back to tie it 6-6 on Jefry Marte’s seventh-inning RBI single, Tyler Austin led off the BayStars’ seventh with his fifth home run in 22 games this season.

The Tigers came back from a 6-2 deficit on Yoshio Itoi’s first homer, a solo shot off Edwin Escobar, and three runs off new import Kevin Shackelford, but a pair of relievers combined to strand two runners and the BayStars blew out the Tigers’ bullpen. Neftali Soto just missed a fourth-inning grand slam and had to settle for a bases-loaded RBI single on a ball that hit high off the wall in right. He walked, singled three times, scored twice, and drove in two. Toshiro Miyazaki also had three hits, scored twice, and drove in three.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Fighters vs Eagles: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Naoyuki Uwasawa (2-2, 3.99) vs Masahiro Tanaka (2-1, 2.12)

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

Manabu Mima (2-0, 3.94) vs Daiki Tajima (1-1, 2.97)

Hawks vs Lions: PayPay Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Nick Martinez (1-0, 0.00) vs Wataru Matsumoto (1-3, 4.18)

Central League

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

Fernando Romero (-) vs Masashi Ito (2-0, 1.71)

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

Koji Fukutani (1-2, 4.18) vs Allen Kuri (3-3, 3.23)

Active roster moves 5/7/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/17

Central League

Activated

TigersIF62Kai Ueda
SwallowsC33Soma Uchiyama

Dectivated

None

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP44Kaito Yoza
LionsIF3Hotaka Yamakawa
LionsOF9Fumikazu Kimura
FightersC64Yua Tamiya
FightersIF70Junnosuke Imai
FightersIF93Ryunosuke Higuchi
FightersOF4Yuya Taniguchi
FightersOF50Ryota Isobata

Dectivated

LionsP15Tetsu Miyagawa

NPB wrap 4-30-21

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Dickson on the outside

Orix Buffaloes right-hander Brandon Dickson may be unable to come to Japan this season due to difficulties obtaining visas for his family during the current state of emergency, Nikkan Sports reported Friday.

The 36-year-old in his ninth season with Orix, spent the entire 2020 season away from his family due to the coronavirus pandemic but had expected them to come with him this year. Dickson, a starter for his first six seasons before spending time as the Buffaloes – and Team USA closer – from 2019, was expected to return to Orix’s starting rotation this season.

3 Fighters KO’d by virus

Three Nippon Ham Fighters, outfielder Haruki Nishikawa, shortstop Takuya Nakashima and catcher Yushi Shimizu were all sidelined Friday by positive coronavirus tests, and they were joined by outfielder Daiki Asama, who is quarantining as a potential close contact.

The Coronavirus Kid returns

The Lotte Marines on Friday lifted the indefinite suspension on Ikuhiro Kiyota, who was held responsible for the Lotte Marines’ 2020 coronavirus outbreak that sidelined 14 players. The outbreak was discovered after the club returned from a road trip to Sapporo, although no players were known to have violated protocols. Kioyota, however, was suspended after photos of him eating out with a female companion while in Sapporo were later published.

Yanagi outduels Sugano

Dragons 3, Giants 2

At Tokyo Dome, Chunichi’s Yuya Yanagi (2-1) threw an artistic seven innings, locating his fastball and mixing it with a dynamite curve and changeup to strike out nine while allowing two runs in his seventh and final inning of work.

The right-hander gave up four hits, two in the seventh, and walked three. The walks forced him to escape a two-out bases-loaded jam in the second by retiring Sugano. Yanagi dominated for the next four innings before hard-hit balls by Justin Smoak and Zelous Wheeler set the table for the Yomiuri fightback.

Tomoyuki Sugano (2-2) lacked his customary razor-sharp command, and threw hittable strikes when he got behind in counts and allowed six hits but no walks. Sugano was burned in the second when Dayan Viciedo turned on an inside fastball and lined it into the left-field stands at the ballpark – emptied of fans due to the coronavirus state of emergency in effect that also forced the games at Koshien and Kyocera Dome to be held behind closed doors. The home run was Viciedo’s third.

With two on and one out in the inning, Akira Neo grounded to first but Smoak failed to stop it for a run-scoring error. After Yanagi hit the ball hard for the second out, Sugano hit a batter to load the bases. However, the ace passed his biggest test of the night by striking out Yota Kyoda on four pitches.

Akira Neo doubled and scored in the fourth on a single by rookie Wataru Takamatsu, who drove in the first run of his career.

Katsuki Matayoshi worked a scoreless eighth instead of regular setup man Daisuke Sobue, and Raidel Martinez carved up the heart of the Giants order in the ninth for his third save.

Giants-Dragons highlights

Swallows 4, BayStars 0

At Yokohama Stadium, Yakult rookie Yuto Kanakubo (1-1) struck out six over six innings, while DeNA lefty Yuya Sakamoto took a direct hit on his pitching shoulder from a Munekata Murakami line drive to open the second and left the game.

Tetsuto Yamada doubled in two runs in the third inning, and the visitors added two more in the sixth, when Jose Osuna doubled with two outs and scored on Domingo Santana’s second home run off fellow first-year import Kevin Shackelford.

Tigers 4, Carp 2

At Koshien Stadium, Hiroshima’s Allen Kuri (3-3) did well to only allow four runs over five innings after walking four over the first two. He walked six and allowed eight hits, while Hanshin’s Takumi Akiyama (3-2) gave up two runs over 7-1/3 innings.

Jerry Sands broke the ice in the first with a two-out RBI single, and walked and scored in the Tigers’ two-run fifth. Kevin Cron broke up the Tigers’ bid for a shutout in the eighth with a pinch-hit leadoff homer, his third. Hanshin closer Robert Suarez pitched a scoreless ninth for his seventh save.

Rookie Takumu Nakano reached base twice and scored the Tigers second run while putting on a fielding clinic at shortstop.

Eagles 8, Marines 1

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Rauten’s  Hideaki Wakui (4-0) walked four, including three straight in the second inning to give Lotte the lead, only for the Marines to return the favor with back-to-back two-out errors and two unearned runs in the home half.

Brandon Dixon and Japanese baseball culture

Marines starter Toshiya Nakamura (0-1) allowed five runs, three earned over five innings. Brandon Dixon tripled in two runs in the third as the Eagles cruised.

Lions 5, Fighters 1

At Sapporo Dome, Seibu’s Kona Takahashi (4-0) allowed a run over six innings, followed by scoreless innings from Reed Garrett and Kaima Taira before the Lions opened the game up in the ninth on Sosuke Genda’s two-run triple. Tomoya Mori doubled and tripled and scored two of Seibu’s first three runs.

Drew VerHagen (0-2) allowed three runs, two earned, over 5-1/3 innings to take the loss.

Buffaloes 5, Hawks 4

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Orix victimized SoftBank’s normally reliable bullpen to overturn the visitors’ late 4-2 lead, scoring a run off setup man Livan Moinelo and two off Sho Iwasaki (1-1), who worked the ninth in place of right-handed closer Yuito Mori, who was deactivated to have inflammation in his left elbow treated.

Shuta Ishikawa allowed two runs, one earned, over seven innings but came up empty.

Masataka Yoshida opened Orix’s eighth with his sixth home run on an off night for Moinelo, who walked two batters. The lefty got a double play and escaped the inning with the tying run at the plate when pinch-runner Yuya Ota was out trying to take second on a bounced pitch.

Yuma Tongu and Kotaro Kurebayashi singled to open the ninth. After a failed two-strike bunt, Yuma Mune doubled them both home over the drawn-in outfield to win it.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Fighters vs Lions: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Naoyuki Uwasawa (2-2, 4.31) vs Keisuke Honda (0-1, 4.91)

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

Masahiro Tanaka (1-1, 3.27) vs Kota Futaki (1-1, 2.42)

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

Hirotoshi Masui (1-2, 2.82) vs Nick Martinez (-)

Central League

Giants vs Dragons: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Nobutaka Imamura (2-0, 1.62) vs Shinnosuke Ogasawara (1-2, 2.45)

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

Ko Nakagawa (0-0, 0.00) vs Hirotoshi Takanashi (2-0, 3.43)

Tigers vs Carp: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Masashi Ito (2-0, 1.71) vs Koya Takahashi (1-0, 1.74)

Active roster moves 4/30/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/10

Central League

Activated

TigersOF53Kairi Shimada
BayStarsP35Tomoya Mikami

Dectivated

TigersOF97Dan Onodera
BayStarsP48Masaya Kyoyama

Pacific League

Activated

MarinesIF55Adeiny Hechavarria
LionsOF72Seiji Kawagoe
EaglesP40Takuma Uchima
FightersP49Katsuhiko Kumon
FightersC22Shinya Tsuruoka
FightersC30Shingo Usami
FightersIF2Kenshi Sugiya
FightersIF45Shota Hiranuma

Dectivated

HawksP18Shota Takeda
HawksP38Yuito Mori
MarinesIF23Ryo Miki
LionsOF51Manaya Nishikawa
FightersC10Yushi Shimizu
FightersIF9Takuya Nakashima
FightersOF7Haruki Nishikawa
FightersOF26Daiki Asama

NPB games 4-16-21

Fujinami takes Swallows back to school

Tigers 2, Swallows 0

At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin Tigers righty Shintaro Fujinami (2-0) gave the Yakult Swallows a blast from the past, homering at spacious Koshien Stadium for the first time since he was a high schooler playing there in Japan’s prestigious national invitational and national championships.

Manaka breaks down Fujinami blast

The two-run blast, the third of Fujinami’s career, sealed a battle between youth and age, velocity and finesse that could easily have gone to 41-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa (0-1) in his season debut.

Ishikawa walked and beat out an infield single and owned rookie Teruaki Sato, needing six pitches to strike the young slugger out twice.

Fujinami allowed three hits and three walks while hitting two batters, but was yanked with two on and two outs in the sixth after plunking Yasutaka Shiomi. A quartet of relievers finished what Fujinami started with Robert Suarez earning his fourth save.

Giants 7, BayStars 0

At Yokohama Stadium, Yomiuri ace Tomoyuki Sugano (1-1) located his fastball well as he manhandled the DeNA BayStars from the mound and contributed to the offense by singling and scoring a sixth-inning insurance run.

Lefty Yuya Sakamoto, DeNA’s second pick in 2019, allowed three runs over five innings in his season debut. Sakamoto, who went 4-1 with a 5.67 ERA last season in 10 starts, threw some good pitches, but his command was inconsistent and the Giants put good swings on pitches in the zone.

The Giants’ top two hitters, Seiya Matsubara and Hayato Sakamoto, playing in an NPB record 1,778th game at shortstop, set the table with no-out singles and Kazuma Okamoto broke the ice with a two-run double. Sakamoto homered to lead off the fifth, although the BayStars’ Sakamoto ended the inning without further damage and the bases jammed with Giants.

Sugano reached on a one-out infield single in the sixth and scored on former BayStar Takayuki Kajitani’s two-run double, a flare that dropped and rolled away from the DeNA fielders.

Carp 7, Dragons 3

At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, Ryosuke Kikuchi ended Hiroshima’s scoreless streak at 31 innings and one pitch, hitting the second delivery from Chunichi lefty Taiki Matsuba (0-2) out for a leadoff home run.

Atsushi Endo, making his season debut for the Carp after some weak results in the Western League (15 runs in 1-2/3 innings), made a wild pickoff throw with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the first and the Carp were back to Square 1.

Seiya Suzuki’s fourth home run, a three-run shot, put Hiroshima back on top but the Dragons answered with two in the fourth, when manager Shinji Sasaoka ran out of patience with his starter. With a two-run lead in the fifth, 22-year-old rookie lefty Daisuke Moriura came out of the pen with the bases loaded to retire 43-year-old pinch-hitter to end the Dragons’ last threat.

OK, Moriura took a smash off his body that bounced to the catcher who threw Fukudome out, but it looks good in the box score.

Lions 2, Hawks 1

At MetLife Dome, Tomoya Mori, the Seibu Lions’ 2019 PL MVP reached base four times and decided a pitchers’ duel with a sixth-inning home run in a battle between Opening Day starters, hammering a 2-1 fastball down the pipe from Shuta Ishikawa (1-2) out to right for his third home run.

Kona Takahashi (3-0) was coming off a poor start against Lotte last week when he gave up four runs on five walks over six innings. He retired the first two batters he faced before Yurisbel Gracial took him deep for his second home run.

Rookie Lions leadoff man Gakuto Wakabayashi tied it in the home half, with some help from Gracial. Thinking Wakabayashi’s deep fly was going out, the Hawks’ left fielder stopped short of the wall only for the ball to strike off the padding and roll away from him. The Lions bunted the rookie to third from where he scored on a wild pitch.

Still, that didn’t stop Ishikawa from getting some blame for it, that allowing the first run demonstrated a lack of sufficient will power on his part.

Ishikawa needs more will to win

Kaima Taira, the 2020 PL rookie of the year worked around a pinch-hit leadoff single in the eighth before Tatsushi Masuda nailed down his sixth save with a game-ending double play.

Eagles 4, Fighters 1

At Tokyo Dome, a week after going full contact mode with one K over eight innings in his previous start, Rakuten Eagles right-hander Hideaki Wakui’s strikeout train resumed normal service with 10 strikeouts over seven innings. Drew VerHagen, who went 8-6 with a 3.22 ERA in his 2020 debut season, had a kind of cold opening, making a three-inning start in his season debut after no spring training and no tune-ups with the farm team.

VerHagen allowed a run over three innings, as the Fighters temporarily jumped back into the short starter routine that was their M.O. in 2019. Ryusei Kawano, who has been really ineffective in his starts this season, was, however, in his element. The second-year side-arm lefty struck out four of the nine batters he faced over three perfect innings.

The Eagles tied the game 1-1 in the third on back-to-back two-out doubles by Hiroto Kobukata and Hiroaki Shimauchi. In keeping with the Fighters’ flash back night at their former home park, Mizuki Hori (1-1), Nippon Ham’s ace opener from 2019, made an appearance, but the seventh inning was not as kind to him as first innings used to be. He surrendered back-to-back leadoff doubles to Daichi Suzuki and rookie Fumiya Kurokawa, who untied the score for good.

Kobukata tripled and scored in the eighth on a Shimauchi sac fly, and Suzuki led off the ninth with a single and scored his second run to make it 4-1. Lefty closer Yuki Matsui closed the door with two on in the bottom of the ninth to earn his fourth save.

Buffaloes 3, Marines 3

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, the Orix Buffaloes wasted an outstanding start from Taisuke Yamaoka, who struck out nine over seven scoreless innings, when rookie reliever Taisei Urushihara surrendered a three-run eighth-inning home run to Hisanori Yasuda.

The home run took Kota Futaki, the Marines’ Opening Day starter off the hook after he allowed three runs, one earned, over seven innings. The unearned runs came in the seventh after Yasuda fumbled a grounder at third to open the inning.

Yasuhiro Tanaka pitched out of trouble in the bottom of the eighth, while the Buffaloes’ Tyler Higgins and Lotte closer Naoya Masuda shut the doors to ensure a share of the points – or rather a non-event, since ties count for nothing.

NPB 2020 Nov. 16

Ishikawa backs off on majors

Right-handed starting pitcher Ayumu Ishikawa of the Lotte Marines has backtracked on his plan to move to the major leagues via the posting system, the Nikkan Sports reported Monday.

The report suggested that the uncertain situation with the coronavirus is among the reasons that have dissuaded the 32-year-old from going this winter.

Striking his name from the list leaves two players who have declared they want to go: the Nippon Ham Fighters’ outfielder Haruki Nishikawa and ace pitcher Kohei Arihara. The club has said it would discuss those possible moves with them, but no such decision has been announced.

Lopez, Patton out of Yokohama picture

The Central League’s DeNA BayStars announced Monday they will not extend contracts to first baseman Jose Lopez and relief pitcher Spencer Patton.

Lopez is only the third player after Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui with 1,000 hits in both NPB and MLB, and has played eight seasons in Japan, the first two with the CL’s Yomiuri Giants. Patton has pitched in 219 games over four seasons in Yokohama. He’s 12-9 with 101 holds and seven saves.

Fighters extend Rodriguez, VerHagen

The Nippon Ham Fighters said Monday they will extend the contracts of pitchers Bryan Rodriguez and first-year import Drew VerHagen.

The 29-year-old Rodriguez has pitched three years in Japan, but suffered injury issues in 2018 and 2020. He’s pitched in 50 games with a 9-9 record and a 3.74 ERA.

The 30-year-old VerHagen, pitching for his first pro team other than the Detroit Tigers, went 8-6 with a 3.22 ERA in 111-2/3 innings.

Carp agree with Kron, Neverauskas

The Hiroshima Carp have come to terms with and 27-year-old first baseman Kevin Kron and 27-yaer-old Lithuanian pitcher Dovydas Neverauskas.

NPB 2020 Oct. 28

Wednesday’s games

Other news

Ise saves the day, delays Giants march to “C”

Reliever Hiromu Ise (3-0) helped delay the Yomiuri Giants final push toward their second straight Central League pennant on Wednesday when he got league-home run leader Kazuma Okamoto to hit into a double play, allowing the DeNA BayStars to pull out a 10-6 win at Yokohama Stadium.

The result kept the Giants from lowering their magic number to one following a loss by the second-place Chunichi Dragons. To clinch on Thursday, the Giants will need to win and the Hanshin Tigers will need to come out on top in what could be a great pitchers’ duel between Yudai Ono (10-5) and Yuki Nishi (10-5).

Okamoto, whose 27th home run, a three-run third-inning shot, tied the game 4-4 came up in the fifth with no outs, the bases loaded and the BayStars leding 8-4. But Ise got him to ground to third. A run scored as Okamoto beat the throw to first that would have completed a triple play.

Tyler Austin and Neftali Soto each had two hits for the BayStars, with Soto’s two-run double highlighting a four-run first. Spencer Patton worked an inning of scoreless relief for the hosts.

Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto went 1-for-2 with a walk and a sac fly to move within seven of Japan’s iconic 2,000-hit milestone.

The BayStars’ Jose Lopez went 0-for-4 with a walk to remain four hits shy of becoming the first imported player with 1,000-plus hits in both MLB and NPB. Two Japanese players, Ichiro Suzuki, and Hideki Matsui, have accomplished the feat.

Fujinami overcomes shaky start

Shintaro Fujinami, making his first start since Sept. 13, cruised after leaving the bases loaded in a one-run first inning and left after four innings in the Hanshin Tigers 9-1 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Koshien Stadium.

Fujinami, once considered the top pitching prospect in a draft class that included Shohei Ohtani, is only now rebuilding his career after a four-year skid. At the end of September, he was put into middle relief, and was impressive.

“He was good in that role,” manager Akihiro Yano said according to Sponichi Annex. “So I thought about keeping him there, but I also wanted to see him start once. Now I want him to start next time.”

Fujinami issued a bases-loaded walk in the first inning after he lost a good-looking third strike on an umpire’s call, but retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced and notched six strikeouts.

Jerry Sands singled and scored the tying run for the Tigers in the sevond, and Jefry Marte doubled in a run and scored in the fifth, and delivered a seventh-inning sacrifice fly. Jon Edwards worked a scoreless inning for the Tigers.

Carp withstand Murakami homers

Atsushi Endo (4-6) allowed a run over seven innings and the Hiroshima Carp scored three runs in the first off lefty Masanori Ishikawa (2-8) in a 3-2 win over the Yakult Swallows at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Munetaka Murakami moved into a tie for second place in the race for the CL home run title with his 25th and 26th home runs, tying him with Hanshin’s Yusuke Oyama.

Geronimo Franzua recorded his 17th save.

Hawks knock off Marines

SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga (10-6) struck out 12 over eight innings in a 2-0 win on Wednesday over the Lotte Marines at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

The loss by the second-place Marines left them just one game ahead of the third-place Seibu Lions in the fight for the Pacific League’s final playoff spot after the Hawks clinched the pennant on Tuesday.

Senga allowed four hits and three walks in a 128 effort, while former major leaguer Chen Wei-yin (0-2) also went eight innings. Ryoya Kurihara opened the scoring with his 15th home run to lead off the fifth. Yurisbel Gracial doubled to open the seventh and pinch-runner Yusuke Masago scored on a Nobuhiro Matsuda single.

A day after throwing 39 pitches in a marathon ninth inning, Hawks closer Yuito Mori worked the ninth for his 29th save.

Shuto ties record 11-game stolen base streak

SoftBank’s Ukyo Shuto tied Hall of Famer Yutaka Fukumoto’s NPB record of stealing a base in 11-straight games when he broke toward second base before a pickoff throw to first by the lefty Chen and then slid in safely. Fukumoto, who played his whole career for the PL’s Hankyu Braves, set his record in 1974.

Shuto, like a number of Hawks regulars including Senga and catcher Takuya Kai, turned pro on a non-roster developmental contract. He leads both leagues in steals with 47.

Lions hold off Eagles, close on 2nd

Fumikazu Kimura homered and Takumi Kuriyama hit a two-run double off former Lions ace Hideaki Wakui (11-4) and Seibu closer Tatsushi Masuda overcame a leadoff homer in the ninth inning to close out his 31st save in a 4-3 win over the Rakuten Eagles at MetLife Dome.

The win pulled the Lions to within a game of the Marines for the second and final playoff spot and a berth in the best-of-five PL Climax Series.

Kimura opened the scoring with his seventh home run, a two-run second-inning shot, and Lions rookie Shota Hamaya (3-2) was saved a run in the fourth when first baseman Hotaka Yamakawa threw a runner out at the plate on a groundball to first. Kuriyama’s sixth-inning double off his former teammate made it 4-1 in the sixth.

VerHagen shuts out Buffaloes

Drew VerHagen (8-6) struck out 13 while allowing two hits and no walks, and catcher Shingo Usami singled home the only run in the ninth inning off Orix Buffaloes closer Brandon Dickson (0-4) in a 1-0 win at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Buffaloes setup man Tyler Higgins struck out all three Fighters he faced in the ninth, including Kensuke Kondo and Sho Nakata, but Dickson walked two in the ninth to set up the tie-breaking run.

Active roster moves 10/28/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/7

Central League

Activated

GiantsIF68Kazuya Katsuki
GiantsIF98Estamy Urena

Dectivated

GiantsP40Yuri Furukawa
GiantsOF39Soichiro Tateoka

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP18Shota Takeda
FightersP62Daiki Mochizuki
FightersOF3Wang Po-jung
BuffaloesP17Hirotoshi Masui

Dectivated

HawksP21Tsuyoshi Wada
FightersP19Chihiro Kaneko
FightersC60Takuya Khri
BuffaloesP61Tsubasa Sakakibara

Starting pitchers for Oct. 29, 2020

Pacific League

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

Kosei Yoshida (0-1, 5.84) vs Daiki Tajima (4-6, 4.20)

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

Zach Neal (5-7, 4.89) vs Wataru Karashima (0-3, 5.81)

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

Matt Moore (6-3, 2.69) vs Manabu Mima (9-4, 4.40)

Central League

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

Kentaro Taira (3-5, 2.35) vs Angel Sanchez (8-3, 3.05)

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

Yuki Nishi (10-5, 2.10) vs Yudai Ono (10-5, 1.79)

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

Kazuki Yabuta (1-2, 4.66) vs Yuto Kanakubo (0-0, 0.00)

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)