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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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