Tag Archives: Gerardo Parra

NPB 2020 7-12 games and news

Yamamoto outduels rookie Kawano

Yoshinobu Yamamoto (3-0) struck out a career-high 13 after getting an early lead and some big plays behind him and needed it all to outlast rookie southpaw Ryusei Kawano (0-2) in the Orix Buffaloes’ 2-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Making less use of his cutter than usual but with that same electric rise in his fastball and a good splitter and generally good location, Yamamoto needed little help from his fielders through the first five innings at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

The Buffaloes had two early chances to score off Kawano, the Fighters’ top draft pick last autumn. After two one-out walks in the first, Adam Jones hit a hard grounder to short for an easy double play.

Some good hitting by Takahiro Okada produced a leadoff single in the second, but after Aderlin Rodriguez struck out and third baseman Christian Villanueva snared a hard liner for the second out, things were not looking up. Reserve infielder Tatsuya Yamaashi, rewarded with a start after coming off the bench on Saturday and singling to lead off Orix’s winning rally, put a good swing on a Kawano changeup and drove it to center for an RBI double.

Buffaloes shortstop Ryoichi Adachi then lined a hanging curve to center to make it 2-0. There wasn’t a lot left in the inning, but Adachi made sure that would be it by wandering off first base and getting tagged out 1-3-4.

Adachi is one of those players who has always had outstanding tools, especially on defense, but who has been dogged by inconsistent play. He has missed time with a serious illness, but he’s also established a reputation as a player whose concentration wanders.

But with the exception of his TOOTBLAN in the second, he had a huge game with three hits and three defensive gems at short that secured the victory. Those became necessary when Kawano hung in and worked more aggressively than he had in his previous starts.

In the sixth, however, it became clear this game was going to be tougher than it appeared as Yamamoto seemed unable to produce the same spin he had earlier and more of his pitches were getting hit hard.

It started with Shingo Usami’s one-out single on a 3-2 fastball that Yamamoto left up. Usami rifled it into center, although Yamamoto waved at it as it whistled over his head. Yamamoto’s next pitch also might have done him bodily harm, but he got his glove on it. Kazunari Ishii’s liner spilled out, but Yamamoto was still able to get a force at second.

After a stolen base, Haruki Nishikawa’s flare to shallow right fell in for an RBI single. The Fighters might have scored again in the seventh, but Adachi and Yamamoto didn’t give them the chance.

Adachi backhanded a grounder deep in the hole to nail the leadoff man. He then ranged to his left and fired across his body for the second out, and Yamamoto dispatched the final batter with a strikeout.

Villanueva, who added another web gem in the fifth inning, led off the Fighters’ eighth with a single. Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama, who used to order more sacrifices than anyone in Japan, slipped back into his old habits and played for a tie on the road. He sent a pinch-hitter up to sacrifice, but Kenshi Sugiya popped his bunt to catcher Kenya Wakatsuki, who caught Takuya Nakashima off first for a double play.

Adachi then finished off the inning when Usami grounded up the middle. Going to his left, Adachi spun and threw in the air to nail the runner for the final out.

Yamamoto allowed four singles but no walks in a 119-pitch effort that was the PL’s first complete-game victory of the season.

Kawano lasted 7-1/3 innings but was fortunate to hold the Buffaloes to two runs after giving up eight hits and three walks. He left after loading the bases for Jones. But when the game was primed to slip out of control, right-hander Kazutomo Iguchi did a superb job. A two-pitch pitcher, Iguchi popped up Jones on the second splitter he threw him, and punched out Okada who watched two-straight fastballs on the outside corner.

Hawks’ Ishikawa mows down Eagles

Right-hander Shuta Ishikawa (2-0) struck out nine of the first 10 batters he faced and didn’t allow a base runner until the fifth inning for the SoftBank Hawks in their 6-1 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Ishikawa allowed a run on two hits without walking a batter. With a 3-0 fifth-inning lead, he gave up a leadoff single to Hideto Asamura and an RBI double to Stefen Romero.

Eagles starter Ryota Ishibashi (1-3) struck out nine over six innings. The right-hander surrendered six runs on eight hits and a walk. After retiring the first two batters in the first inning, Yuki Yanagita took him deep to the home run terrace in left for an opposite-field home run and his eighth homer of the season.

Kenji Akashi went 3-for-4 and scored twice, while Takuya Kai had a two-run sixth-inning single and a second-inning sacrifice fly that made it 2-0.

Lions’ Kuriyama rocks Marines again

Takumi Kuriyama went 2-for-2 with an RBI double, a three-run homer and two walks for the Seibu Lions in their 8-5 win over the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Kuriyama doubled in the opening run in the second inning for Seibu off Jose Flores (0-1), who was making his first-team debut.

After the Marines scored twice in the second against submarine right-hander Kaito Yoza, Shuta Tonosaki doubled in two runs to retake the lead and scored on Kuriyama’s third home run of the season and second of the series.

Flores, who retired the Lions in order in the first, allowed six runs on seven hits and two walks over three innings. He struck out five. Yoza allowed four runs in 4-2/3 innings, and last year’s bullpen workhorse, Katsunori Hirai (2-0) earned the win in relief for 1-1/3 perfect innings.

Kaima Taira, new import Reed Garrett and closer Tatsushi Masuda wrapped it up. Cory Spangenberg went 2-for-4 for the Lions with his third home run, a two-run shot.

The Marines’ Brandon Laird went 2-for-5 and drove in two runs, on a fifth-inning double and a ninth-inning single.

Swallows luck into 1st place

The Yakult Swallows moved into first place in the Central League with a 3-2 win over the Yomiuri Giants made possible when Gerardo Parra’s unfamiliarity with Japan’s rules turned a run-scoring groundout into an inning-ending double play.

Double play, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo

Trailing 3-2 in the sixth with one out and runners on the corners, Ginjiro Sumitani grounded to short. Alcides Escobar threw to second baseman Tetsuto Yamada for the force on Parra at second.

Parra slid to the bag and upended Yamada and tipped him over when he rose out of his slide. Yamada, who had virtually no chance of throwing out Sumitani at first was knocked over as the run scored.

Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu requested a video review of Parra’s slide to determine whether it was legal or not. The result of the review was an inning-ending double play.

“When the batter hits a possible double play ball, runners who appear to intentionally interfere with a fielder trying to make a throw by the manner in which they slide will be ruled out as will the batter.”

–Official Baseball Rules 6.01

Former second baseman Yutaka Takagi, speaking as an analyst on Fuji TV’s “Pro Yakyu News” said, “Parra went straight to the bag. Maybe he over-slid a little. What sold that (umpire’s) decision was Yamada’s performance. That’s an awfully difficult double play to make but by tumbling he get’s a double play. That’s a good defensive play.”

Swallows starter Hirotoshi Takanashi (1-1) earned the win after allowing two runs over five innings. He got a huge out in the third, when he caught one of Japan’s most disciplined hitters, Yoshihiro Maru looking at a called third strike with two on and two out to protect a 2-0 lead.

Munetaka Murakami doubled in Norichika Aoki in the first off Giants starter Toshiki Sakurai. Aoki homered for the second-straight day to make it 2-0 in the third.

After Hiroyuki Nakajima homered to trim the Swallows’ lead to a run in the fourth, Takanashi singled for the second time and scored on a Murakami single.

Oyama, Iwasada lead Tigers past BayStars

Cleanup hitter Yusuke Oyama went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs, while starter Yuta Iwasada (2-1) worked eight scoreless innings in a 2-1 win over the DeNA BayStars at Koshien Stadium.

Iwasada struck out eight and walked two, while allowing three hits. BayStars starter Kentaro Taira (2-1) allowed a run over six innings on one walk and six hits. He struck out six.

Edwin Escobar worked a scoreless seventh for the BayStars but Spencer Patton surrendered an insurance run on two hits and a walk in the eighth.

The Tigers, who had deactivated closer Kyuji Fujikawa earlier in the day, turned to Robert Suarez, who had last saved a game in 2016 when he was with the Pacific League’s SoftBank Hawks.

A walk and an RBI single by Jose Lopez made it a one-run game again, but Suarez retired former batting champ Toshiro Miyazaki on a fly to center to end it.

Endo fans 9 as Carp hammer Dragons

Right-hander Atsushi Endo struck out nine while allowing a run over six innings as the Hiroshima Carp beat the Chunichi Dragons 7-2 at Nagoya Dome.

The 21-year-old Endo (1-2) walked two and gave up five hits after allowing 16 runs over 13 innings in his first three starts. The Dragons’ starter, 23-year-old Kodai Umetsu (2-2) allowed four runs over six innings.

Jose Pirela, who opened Saturday’s game with a home run for Hiroshima, singled and scored in the first and third, and walked and scored in the seventh. Carp right fielder Seiya Suzuki went 2-for-4 with a double a run and three RBIs.

Tigers deactivate Fujikawa

The Hanshin Tigers deactivated 39-year-old right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa on Sunday, a day after the closer saying his right arm is not fit. On Saturday, the former Cub and Ranger surrendered three ninth-inning runs in a 4-2 loss to the DeNA BayStars.

“I’v been asked to hold down an important role, and in my current condition cannot contribute to the team,” he said in a statement released by the team.

Meanwhile, the Yakult Swallows have deactivated veteran catcher Motohiro Shima due to a fracture of the navicular bone in his right foot. The longtime captain of the Pacific League’s Rakuten Eagles, Shima moved to the Swallows over the winter.

Shima suffered a broken bone in his right hand in March when he was hit by a pitch.

Matsuzaka has back surgery

Daisuke Matsuzaka has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his back and was discharged from an Ibaraki Prefecture hospital on Sunday the Nikkan Sports reported. The 39-year-old two-time World Baseball Classic MVP this season rejoined his first pro club, the Seibu Lions of Japan’s Pacific League, for the first time in 14 years.

He started the season on the Lions’ Eastern League farm club, and as his innings and pitch counts increased, he began to feel numbness in his right hand and the decision was made to have surgery. He is expected to be out two to three months, and is aiming toward returning to action this season.

Tazawa signs with independent club

Right-hander Junichi Tazawa has joined the Musashino Heat Bears of the independent Baseball Challenge league, the Hochi Shimbun reported Sunday. Nippon Professional Baseball’s 12 teams have reached an ungentlemanly agreement to not sign Tazawa for a period of two years after he leaves the U.S. because he declined to enter NPB’s draft and instead chose to sign with the Boston Red Sox.

The “Tazawa Rule” is not in fact a rule but an agreement, and nothing prevents teams from ignoring it. It was quickly written after Tazawa indicated he would sign overseas and just days before he finalized his deal with the Red Sox. Because Japan’s national team, Samurai Japan, is organized not by Japan’s national federation but by NPB, Tazawa has been blacklisted from playing for his country because he exercised his right to work where he chose.

Tazawa entered this season on a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds, but was released in March.

NPB 2020 7-4 GAMES AND NEWS

Sunday’s announced starting pitchers in NPB.

Wada gets assist from Fighters in 1st win

Former Cub Tsuyoshi Wada took a no-hitter into the seventh and ended up with his first win of the season as the SoftBank Hawks beat the Nippon Ham Fighters 8-3 at Sapporo Dome.

The 39-year-old lefty frequently missed in the zone, but the Fighters only hit two balls hard off him through six, both drives straight to Hawks outfielders. Instead of playing “see the ball, hit the ball” against a pitcher whose fastball sat at 85 miles per hour, they guessed and watched and looked and waited.

Wada’s changeup was first rate, and it was if the Fighters were waiting for him to throw it up in the zone, something he refused to do. Instead, whenever they got a fastball up they either watched it, missed it or miss-hit it. He surrendered his first hit to Kensuke Kondo to open the seventh.

The Fighters’ most patient hitter had taken strike after strike in the zone in his first two at-bats, and should have been rung up on a low 0-2 changeup. But umpires are umpires the world over, Kondo got a second life and pulled an inside 1-2 fastball between first and second for a single.

In the seventh, the Fighters changed tactics and began taking easy swings at mistakes in the zone. They loaded the bases with three no-out singles and Wada was gone.

“They are professional hitters. It wasn’t a matter of if they would get a hit, but when,” Wada said.

The Hawks opened the scoring in the first, when Kenta Imamiya homered with one out and none on against Takayuki Kato (0-1). Imamiya, on Friday moved into a tie for seventh all-time in career sacrifice hits with 300. Three straight hits, including a Wladimir Balentien double gave the Hawks the lead for good.

Here are the game highlights:

Kishi wins season debut

The Rakuten Eagles won a seven-inning rain-shortened 3-1 game over the Lotte Marines at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi. Takayuki Kishi (1-0) allowed a first-inning run over five innings in his season debut by pitching out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the fourth.

Former Padre Kazuhisa Makita worked a scoreless sixth, and former Dodger JT Chargois pitched the seventh to earn his first save in Japan.

Here are the game highlights:

Yoshida homer lifts Buffaloes over Lions

Masataka Yoshida’s third home run of the season, a two-run shot in the eighth inning, brought the Orix Buffaloes from a run down and lifted them to a 4-3 win over the defending Pacific League champion Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.

Buffaloes starter Daiki Tajima (1-0) had one brush with trouble and it cost him in a three-run fourth, capped by Takeya Nakamura’s two-run double. Aderlin Rodriguez’s fifth-inning solo homer made it a 3-1 game in the fifth and Tajima left after seven.

A one-out walk, a wild pickoff throw and an RBI single by Koji Oshiro made it a 3-2 game before Yoshida homered with two outs.

Tyler Higgins worked the eighth for Orix and Brandon Dickson closed in the ninth to record his first save of the season.

Maru drives in 6 as Giants whip Dragons

Yoshihiro Maru homered twice and added an RBI double as the Yomiuri Giants beat the Chunichi Dragons 7-3 at Tokyo Dome.

Hayato Sakamoto walked twice, homered, singled and scored three runs, while Gerardo Parra doubled twice and singled.

Marte, Bour rip as Tigers gut Carp

Jefry Marte hit a two-run first-inning home run off Carp ace Daichi Osera (2-1) in a 9-3 Hanshin Tigers win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Justin Bour had three hits for the Tigers and a sacrifice fly, while starting pitcher Yuta Iwasada (1-1) allowed three runs over six innings to earn the win.

Osera, who entered the game having opened the season with back-to-back complete-game victories, allowed five runs on eight hits over four innings. Osera failed to score or drive in a run on Saturday, but did single in his only at-bat, raising his average to .625.

Marte did not return to third base in the bottom of the third inning after complaining of tightness in his left calf.

Martinez 1st import to catch in 20 years

A day after being called up, 24-year-old Cuban catcher Ariel Martinez saw his first duty behind the plate on Saturday. Coming on as a sixth-inning pinch-hitter, Martinez walked, scored and stayed in to catch.

In so doing, he became the first imported player to catch in an NPB game since former Australian big leaguer Dave “Dingo” Nillson caught in one game for the Dragons in 2020. Prior to that, Mike Diaz caught 21 games for the Lotte Orions from 1990 to 1991.

Martinez, who joined Chunichi as a non-roster developmental signing in 2018, was signed to a standard contract this past week and added to the Dragons’ 70-man roster. He looked good behind the plate and threw out the first runner who tried to steal against him.

Swallows walk the walk

The Yakult Swallows overcame home runs by Neftali Soto and Jose Lopez by drawing seven walks in a 10-8 win over the DeNA BayStars, who outhit the Swallows 15-6.

Soto had four hits, including two homers, but Naomichi Nishiura and Norichika Aoki each hit two-run shots for the Swallows. Nishimura, who had lost his shortstop job to Alcides Escobar, has grabbed it back by hitting four homers in four games.

Swallows closer Taishi Ishiyama entered the ninth with a four-run lead but allowed two runs on Soto’s third home run of the year.

NPB 2020 7-1 GAMES AND NEWS

Thursday’s announced starting pitchers in NPB

Suzuki has career night against Lions

For most of the first five years of his pro baseball career, Yu Suzuki has been a reliever. But going 6-3 as a starter in the Western League last season with a 2.81 ERA must have caught someone’s attention.

On Wednesday, the 23-year-old right-hander who was Orix’s ninth draft pick in 2014, was handed the ball for his first top-team start and threw five hitless innings, nearly doubling his career output with the Pacific League club. The result was his first career win as Orix snapped a seven-game losing streak in a 6-0 win over the Seibu Lions.

For five innings, he and Lions starter Tatsuya Imai (0-2) traded hitless innings, until in the sixth, the jig was up for the Seibu starter. After issuing a leadoff walk, Imai left a slider up a little too much to diminutive power hitter Masataka Yoshida, and the left-handed-hitter launched it over MetLife Dome’s right field fence.

An Adam Jones double and an Aderlin Rodriguez RBI single made it 3-0, when Seibu self-destructed. An error and three-straight bases-loaded walks completed the six-run sixth inning.

Four Orix relievers came in, and the Lions, who haven’t been no-hit in 20 years, didn’t get a hit until veteran slugger Takeya Nakamura’s hard grounder found a hole to lead off the eighth off new import Tyler Higgins.

Asamura punishes Marines some more

Hideto Asamura homered for the second-straight night in Sendai, while Hideaki Wakui (2-0) allowed two runs over five innings as the Rakuten Eagles beat the Lotte Marines 5-3 to pull into a tie for first place in the Pacific League.

Pitching against the club that sold him over the winter, Wakui sturck out seven, while allowing five hits and a walk.

Leonys Martin homered for the Marines, while JT Chargois and Alan Busenitz each worked an inning of relief for the Eagles. Busenitz allowed a run on three hits.

Ishikawa strikes out 10 in Sapporo

Shuta Ishikawa (1-0) of the SoftBank Hawks struck out 10, while walking one and allowing five hits in a 4-0 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.

Nick Martinez (0-2) started for the Fighters. He gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits and two walks while striking out five.

Austin, Patton turn on power against Giants

Tyler Austin’s three-run eighth-inning double off the wall at Tokyo Dome helped lift the DeNA BayStars to a 5-3 win over the Yomiuri Giants.

Reliever Spencer Patton (2-0), who entered in the seventh to face Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto and struck him out, got the win in relief. He provided an encore in the eighth by striking out the side, starting with cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto and finishing with Gerardo Parra.

Giants starter Cristopher Mercedes allowed a run over 5-2/3 innings but it could have been worse without a good catch from newly acquired utility man Zelous Wheeler, who denied the BayStars a leadoff single in the sixth with a sliding catch in left.

Escobar treats Swallows to ice cream cone

Naomichi Nishiura hit his second game-changing home run of the week with a fourth-inning two-run shot that put the Yakult Swallows in front in a 4-3 win over the Hiroshima Carp at at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

On Thursday, Nishiura hit a pinch-hit, three-run sayonara shot off Tigers closer Kyuji Fujikawa. On Wednesday, he went deep off Sawamura Award-winning lefty Kris Johnson (0-2).

Right-hander Albert Suarez (2-0) started for Yakult and allowed three runs, one earned, over five innings, while Scott McGough worked a scoreless eighth. The Carp mounted a rally against closer Taishi Ikeyama, and the lead looked blown on a two-out liner, only for new Swallow Alcides Escobar to save the game.

Yamamoto stops Tigers

Twenty-year-old Takumi Yamamoto (1-1) allowed two runs over five innings, while Zoilo Almonte doubled, walked and scored twice, and Dayan Viciedo singled in a couple of runs as the Chunichi Dragons beat the Hanshin Tigers 6-3.

Jerry Sands singled in a run for the Tigers, while Justin Bour hit his first home run in Japan, a ninth-inning consolation shot.

Dragons add catcher Martinez to roster

The Chunichi Dragons inked 24-year-old Cuban catcher Ariel Martinez to a standard contract on Wednesday. Martinez, signed to a non-roster developmental contract in 2018, hurt his right knee playing in Cuba’s Series Nacional prior to camp the Chunichi Sports reported.

He rejoined the Dragons for practice games from June 2 after completing his rehab.

Marines’ Futaki, Buffaloes’ Nakagawa dropped

Because Japanese baseball has no options and players can be activated or dropped from the active roster an unlimited number of times. So it’s common for a player, ostensibly on the active roster because the manager believes in him, to get sent down for a couple of bad plays.

Two heads rolled on Wednesday after poor performances the night before. The Lotte Marines deactivated right-handed starting pitcher Kota Futaki after the Rakuten Eagles teed off on too many first-pitches in Lotte’s 15-4 loss. The defeat snapped the Marines’ eight-game winning streak.

The Orix Buffaloes pulled the plug on 24-year-old utility infielder Keita Nakagawa, who finished fourth in the rookie of the year voting last year, for not hitting and for making a throwing error that led to the Seibu Lions’ third run in a 3-2 loss. The Buffaloes have lost seven straight.

NPB 2020 6-30 GAMES AND NEWS

Go to today’s LIVE BLOG.

Giants knock off BayStars

The Yomiuri Giants hit three home runs in a come-from-behind 5-2 win over the DeNA BayStars on Tuesday. The win kept the Giants in first place in Japan’s Central League.

With a 2-1 lead in the sixth, BayStars skipper Alex Ramirez pulled left-handed starter Haruhiro Hamaguchi with one out and one on with three right-handed bats coming up. Hayato Sakamoto walked against hard-throwing right-hander Yuki Kuniyoshi and Kazuma Okamoto singled in the tying run.

With two outs, Gerardo Parra singled in the go-ahead run, and Yoshihiro Maru and Okamoto homered for the Giants in the eighth. Twenty-year-old Giants lefty Shosei Togo (2-0) surrendered two runs in the first but followed with five-straight scoreless innings before being pulled in the seventh.

Rubby De La Rosa allowed two runners in a scoreless ninth to earn his fourth save.

Giants activate Wheeler

Zelous Wheeler, whom the Giants acquired last week in a trade from the Pacific League’s Rakuten Eagles, was added to the active roster on Tuesday. He was inserted into the starting lineup, batting seventh and playing left field.

The Giants have the maximum of five imported players on their 31-man active roster, one of whom will not be eligible to play. Teams are allowed to suit up 26 players this season instead of the traditional 25 while using the additional non-playing spots on pitchers between starts.

Almonte slam lifts Dragons

Former New York Yankee Zoilo Almonte hit a game-breaking seventh-inning grand slam and starting pitcher Yuya Yanagi (1-1) overcame five walks over seven innings in a 5-0 Central League win over the Chunichi Dragons.

Moore bounces back with solid effort

Matt Moore came back from a disappointing Japan debut last week to strike out 10 over six innings, while allowing one run for the SoftBank Hawks in a 1-1, 10-inning tie with the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome. Moore allowed three hits and a walk.

Fighters starter Naoyuki Uwasawa, making his first start since a line drive shattered his kneecap on June 18, 2019, allowed a run over five innings.

Lions get past Albers, Buffaloes

Andrew Albers (0-1) allowed two unearned runs over four-plus innings to take the loss as the Seibu Lions held off the Orix Buffaloes 3-2 at MetLife Dome.

With two outs in the fourth, Albers walked two-time defending PL home run champ Hotaka Yamakawa and allowed a single to Shuta Tonosaki. An error loads the bases, and veteran left-handed-hitting grinder Takumi Kuriyama hits a flair to center for a two-run single.

The Buffaloes pulled two runs back on former Mets and Orioles farmhand Aderlin Rodriguez’s first homer in Japan.

But new Lions import Reed Garrett helped slam the door with his fourth-straight 1-2-3 inning in relief. Tatsushi Masuda worked the ninth for his fourth save.

Spangenberg day to day

Corey Spangenberg was held out of Tuesday’s game after feeling pain in his ribs in pregame practice, Seibu Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji told the Nikkan Sports, saying his new left fielder and leadoff man is now day to day.

“He goes full speed in practice and full speed in games,” Tsuji said. “And if he really gets hurt that’s going to cost us a lot.”

Carp, Swallows rained out

Tuesday’s game between the Hiroshima Carp and Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, has been postponed. It’s the first rain-out of the Nippon Professional Baseball Season, that started on June 19, nearly three months late on account of the coronavirus pandemic.

Note: A previous version of this incorrectly stated the game was in Hiroshima.

Go to NEWEST.

For those of you who are curious, you can read a little about these teams in my Japanese pro baseball guide.

Live blog: Eagles vs Marines

The Lotte Marines have won eight-straight, the last a labor-intensive, clinical dissection of Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto on Sunday. Tonight they’re up against the Rakuten Eagles. The Eagles send big lefty Hayato Yuge (1-0) against the Marines’ Kota Futaki (0-0).

The Marines are back with a bopper in the No. 2 spot as Katsuya Kakunaka starts against the right-hander.

Since I’m typically at the office watching games, this is the first time I’ve been able to casually take in the pregame. The Eagles did away with the national anthem before the first game of the series. With no fans in the stands, DH Stefen Romero just stood up in the dugout and kind of waved to the cameras.

Top 1st

Takashi Ogino somehow gets the barrel on a splitter below the zone and flairs it into center. He cruises into second with a double when the ball kicks off the glove of center fielder Ryosuke Tatsumi.

Kakunaka, up there ostensibly because he can hit the ball hard, sacrifices.

Announcer: “Of course you try to play for one run when you are playing well.”

Ikuhiro Kiyota homers on straight 1-0 fastball over the inside part of the plate and pulls it deep into the left field stands. Marines 2, Eagles 0.

Brandon Laird tries the same thing with a sinking fastball and flies out easily to left. Leonys Martin follows with an easy grounder to first.

Bottom 1st

Futaki starts Eigoro Mogi off with two called strikes at the bottom of the zone, but can’t get him to chase one outside. A 1-2 forkball doesn’t topple until after Mogi lashes it into center for a leadoff single.

Longtime Marines captain Daichi Suzuki up to bat against his former team. A generous call on a back-door slider to the left-handed hitter and a foul put Suzuki in a hole. The announcer feels it necessary to comment on the fact that the Eagles aren’t bunting when trailing 2-0 at home, because for many in Japan, this would be normal behavior.

Another splitter from Futaki, not a great one either, but Suzuki is fooled enough that he hits into an easy 6-3 double play. Blash fouls off an inside fastball. Blash miss-hits a high straight fastball and flies out to center.

Top 2nd

Shogo Nakamura draws a four-pitch leadoff walk. Yuge hangs a 2-0 fastball to Seiya Inoue, but he miss-hits it and flies out deep to center. Tatsuhiro Tamura up.

This guy had a GREAT game on Sunday against Orix with four superb at-bats that were instrumental in Lotte’s win. But with the run and hit on, Tamura misses a low inside pitch with a kind of cricket swing and catcher Hikaru Ota guns down Nakamura to complete the double play.

Bottom 2nd

Hideto Asamura turns on a first-pitch inside fastball and it dies at the wall for a leadoff double. Hiroaki Shimauchi rips a hanging first-pitch slider up the middle for an RBI single. Marines 2, Eagles 1.

Romero takes a borderline fastball away for Ball 1, and Futaki misses in the same spot with a slider and still no swing. He offers at a high splitter and knocks it past third and hustles into second with a double.

A bad first-pitch slider in the heart of the zone, and Ginji Akaminai’s eyes light up. He misses it a little, but it drops into shallow center. Tie game. Eagles 2, Marines 2.

After a conference at the mound, Hikaru Ota misses a bunt, but Akiminai steals second. Ota then grounds to second to bring home Romero. Eagles 3, Marines 2.

With the infield in for a play at the plate, Tatsumi grounds it through the infield. Eagles 4, Marines 2.

Mogi walks and there are two on, and Futaki is done. Manager Iguchi had no patience with his offense and now has no patience with a starter who’s throwing hittable pitches in the zone. The new pitcher is lefty Toshiya Nakamura, to face the left-handed-hitting Suzuki with one out and the game slipping away.

And there it goes… Suzuki blasts the first pitch into the right field stands. Eagles 7, Marines 2.

Asamura strikes out swinging to end the inning.

Top 3rd

Two quick outs for Yuge in the third. Guessing seven early runs will help his execution a little. But a Kakunaka single and a walk to Kiyota, and the Marines have a chance to get a run or two back.

Yuge sneaks a slow pitch past Laird in the zone for Strike 1. A foul and it’s 0-2. But Laird taps one back to the mound.

Bottom 3rd

Shimauchi strikes out swinging at a high hanging splitter. Romero gets ahead in the count again before swinging and missing a low fastball. Two more misses from Nakamura and Romero walks. Akaminai, however, goes down looking at a pitch on the outside corner, and Ota also goes down looking, on three pitches.

Top 4th

Leonys Martine up to lead off the Marines’ fourth. He hits under a fastball and it floats into shallow left for a single. Shogo Nakamura flies out to right. With Inoue at the plate, Martin takes second when Yuge bounces a splitter and scores easily on a liner to left center. Eagles 7, Marines 3.

Tamura goes down swinging for the second out, and Yudai Fujioka lines out.

Bottom 4th

After an impressive third, lefty Toshiya Nakamura walks Tatsumi to open the fourth. The Eagles are piping in the sound of their fans chanting for Eigoro Mogi. Tatsumi draws a bunch of pickoff throws from the left and then steals his second base of the game easily.

The 14th pitch to Mogi is his 11th foul of the at-bat, and he walks on the 15th. Two on and no outs for Suzuki, who hit the first pitch from Nakamura for a home run. This time he’s up there to surprise the world with a bunt but pops it up. Now he’s sacrificing. Suzuki strikes out looking and now with Blash up, Nakamura, having failed to pick Tatsumi off first, tries his luck with him at second.

Blash hammers a high 1-2 fastball, pulling it into the left field corner. Tatsumi scores, but Mogi is cut down on near-perfect throw from Kakunaka in left. Eagles 8, Marines 3.

Asamura this time clears the fence. Hammering a hanging Nakamura splitter out to left for his fourth home run of the season. Eagles 10, Marines 3.

Top 5th

Kakunaka with a nice swing on a high fastball produces a one-out single, but Kiyota grounds into an easy double play.

Bottom 5th

Lotte switches out their battery. Right-hander Tsuyoshi Ishiazki and rookie catcher Toshiya Sato in for Toshiya Nakamura and Tamura. Romero will be their first test. Romero strikes out swinging after missing a slider and a cutter low and away. Akaminai flies out. Ishizaki, a 29-year-old journeyman who spent most of his fringy career with the Central League’s Hanshin Tigers, is looking very sharp. He catches Ota looking and it’s a 1-2-3 inning.

Top 6th

Yuge still in there for the Eagles. A curve and a fastball and Laird is gone. A pair of two-out singles brings the rookie Sato up to the plate. He has a good at-bat but grounds out to end the inning.

Bottom 6th

Ishizaki is locating his slider and fastball. He gets four-straight ground balls off miss-hit balls, but ground balls sometimes get through. Suzuki beats out an infield single with two outs, Blash finds a hole and Asamura walks. An inning that was in control is perched on a precipice.

The battery tumbles over the cliff. Ishizakai gets ahead against Shimauchi by working outside with his fastball land slider. Sato calls for a low-inside 1-2 slider, Ishizaki gets it up just a bit and Shimauchi doubles in two runs. Eagles 12, Marines 3.

Romero follows by barreling up a fastball away and driving it out to right for an opposite-field home run. Eagles 15, Marines 3.

Top 7th

If this were international baseball, it would have just ended on the mercy rule. But it isn’t, so right-hander Tomohito Sakai is in for Yuge, who barring a catastrophe will improve to 2-0.

Top 8th

With former high school star Tomohiro Anraku on for the Eagles, Martin hits pay dirt with one of his big swings, taking it out to right for his first homer of the season. Eagles 15, Marines 4.

Final score: Eagles 15, Marines 4

Where’s the mercy rule when you need it?

NPB 2020 6-23 LiVE

Tuesday marked the start of the first full week of pro baseball in Japan, when the Pacific League enters into its pandemic travel protocols, limiting cross-country travel by playing six-game series.

Rookie Togo pitches Giants to 4th straight win

Twenty-year-old right-hander Shosei Togo, the Giants’ sixth pick in the 2018 draft allowed two runs over 6-2/3 innings while striking out seven to outduel Hiroshima’s Kris Johnson, who walked three and allowed three runs over five innings. It was Johnson’s first loss at Tokyo Dome in over three years.

Defending Central League champion Yomiuri won 3-2 to improve to 4-0 on the season. Kazuma Okamoto had two hits, singled in one run and forced in another with a walk.

Gerardo Parra, who homered twice in the opening series against Hanshin, went 2-for-3 with a line out, while Rubby De La Rosa earned his second save.

Marte, Tigers spoil Ynoa’s debut

Jefry Marte capped a three-run first inning at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium with a two-run home run off former Orioles right-hander Gabriel Ynoa, as the Hanshin Tigers beat the Swallows 5-1 for their first win of the season. Marte went 3-for-4.

Austin guns down 2, drives in 1 in BayStars win

DeNA BayStars right fielder Tyler Austin threw out a base runner to end a fourth-inning Chunichi Dragons rally and had four hits, including an RBI single that broke up a scoreless game in the fifth in a 3-0 win at Yokohama Stadium

The BayStars’ rally was keyed by a leadoff double by shortstop Yamato Maeda, leading off from the ninth spot after starting pitcher Haruhito Hamaguchi, batting eighth, ended the previous inning. Jose Lopez singled in the inning’s other run.

Austin, who threw out Toshiki Abe at the plate, was also cut down twice on the bases, but evened the score in the ninth, when he threw out Abe at home for the second time in the game.

Spangenberg breaks out

Corey Spangenberg put good swings on straight pitches in the zone for his first big game in Japan, going 4-for-5 with a grand slam and a strikeout in the Seibu Lions’ 11-3 win over the SoftBank Hawks at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.

It was a welcome sight for Lions fans after the left-handed hitter flailed at low and away breaking balls over the weekend with eight strikeouts over the first three games.

Matt Moore, making his first start in over a year, missed some locations, and made a costly fielding error on a potential double play comebacker and allowed six runs, four earned over 5-1/3 innings.

Here are the game highlights.

Here is Spangenberg’s hero interview.

Marines come back against closer Dickson

Lotte’s Seiya Inoue singled in the tying run in the ninth inning at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, and the Lotte Marines walked off 6-5 winners when Orix Buffaloes closer Brandon Dickson hit Takashi Ogino after an intentional walk loaded the bases to set up a force at the plate.

Trailing 3-0 after four thanks to first-inning homers from Ikuhiro Kiyota and Brandon Laird off Buffaloes starter Andrew Albers, Adam Jones hit his first home run in Japan and drew a walk in Orix’s three-run sixth.

Here are the game highlights.

Yuge shuts down Fighters in Martinez’ return

Hayato Yuge, a 1.93-meter lefty, struck out six and walked one over 6-1/3 innings, while Hideto Asamura and new Eagle Stefen Romero both hit long home runs in a 4-0 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Fighters’ starter Nick Martinez, making his first start since 2018 after his 2019 season was derailed by injury, struck out seven but allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks over five innings.

Here are the game highlights.

Live viewing

I didn’t really have a good idea how our live viewing event would turn out. The purpose was to make NPB games more accessible to readers, but with most of the participants already well-versed in the game here, it was a fun, free-wheeling discussion as the Lions-Hawks game went on in the background.

I hope to do about three a month, because I can only do them on my days off, and I can’t blog or do anything else while we’re doing it. More than half the participants were joining from the U.S. or Canada so it was hard with a 5 am EDT start time. I am in awe of these people.

Tuesday’s starting pitchers notes

Here were the starting pitchers. All three of the PL visiting starters are imports (Nick Martinez, Matt Moore, Andrew Albers), while two of the three CL starters (Kris Johnson and Gabriel Ynoa) are. Moore and Ynoa will be making their Japan debuts.

Pacific League

Eagles vs Fighters: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi

Hayato Yuge vs NICK MARTINEZ

Martinez went 10-11 in 2018 while eating up over 160 innings in his Japan debut after moving from the Texas Rangers. He missed all of 2019 with an injury to his right forearm.

Lions vs Hawks: MetLife Dome

Kona Takahashi vs MATT MOORE

Lions pitchers led Japan with a record 93 hit batsmen. The Lions had set the previous record of 84 in 2018. Only one other team, the 2004 Orix BlueWave, has hit more than 80. I mention this because Takahashi led all pitchers in Japan with 14, which doesn’t crack the top 20 all-time. I guess they just don’t make ’em like they used to. The record is 22, by Toshiaki Moriyasu of the 1969 Toei Flyers, but it took him 341-2/3 innings to get there.

Moore was one of three players taken in the eighth round of the 2007 MLB draft to reach the majors and turned 31 on Thursday, probably the first time in his career his birthday came before Opening Day. On April 6, 2019, his season ended when he damaged the meniscus in his right knee when fielding a bunt. This will be his first regular-season start since then.

I haven’t talked to the Hawks’ scouts but one would think that since virtually every Hawks pitcher throws a knuckle curve or a spike curve, Moore will fit right in.

Marines vs Buffaloes: Zozo Marine Stadium

Kota Futaki vs ANDREW ALBERS

Albers is coming off a tough 2019 season, when more or less everything went south for him. He gave up more had contact, gave up home runs twice as often as he had in 2018 when he went 9-2 with a 3.02 ERA, and his fielders caught few of the balls opponents did put in play.

He’s 4-0 in eight career games against the Marines with a 2.66 ERA, but that’s 1-0, 4.03 in Chiba, and 3-0, 1.44 elsewhere.

Central League

Giants vs Carp: Tokyo Dome

KRIS JOHNSON vs Shosei Togo*

Johnson is the veteran among Tuesday’s import starters, having won the prestigious Sawamura Award as Japan’s top starting pitcher in 2016–when his numbers were virtually identical to his 2015 figures.

He’s 57-30 in his Japan career, but 9-3 against the Giants, who though they won the league last year, were fairly mediocre from 2016 to 2018. Johnson is 5-1 at Tokyo Dome in his career. His only loss there an 8-inning complete-game defeat in May 2016.

BayStars vs Dragons: Yokohama Stadium

Haruhiro Hamaguchi vs Yuya Yanagi

Swallows vs Tigers: Jingu Stadium

GABRIEL YNOA vs Koyo Aoyagi

NPB 2020 6-21 live

Go to today’s LIVE BLOG.

Giants sweep Tigers

Angel Sanchez, who went 17-5 last year in KBO for the SK Wyverns, had a rocky start in his NPB debut Sunday, but earned the win as Kazuma Okamoto and Gerardo Parra homered to lift the Yomiuri Giants to a 7-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers and a three-game series sweep at Tokyo Dome for the defending CL champs.

Sanchez allowed one run, on a leadoff homer to Koji Chikamoto, allowed four walks and four hits, but lasted 5-2/3 innings.

Morishita shines in pro debut for Carp

Masato Morishita, Hiroshima’s top draft pick out of Meiji University, struck out eight in his pro debut against the DeNA BayStars. The righty, who I had a look at in the spring, walked two and gave up four hits in a 104-pitch, seven-inning outing at Yokohama Stadium.

Unfortunately, there was no fairy tale finish in Morishita’s debut as four-straight BayStars batters hit line drives off Tyler Scott in the ninth. Toshiro Miyazaki finishes it off by finding the gap against the drawn-in outfield and two runs scored to end it.

“I believe that our strategy was good but that guy was real good. He has the potential to be an ace pitcher. I was glad they took him out of the game,” DeNA skipper Alex Ramirez said.

BayStars right-hander Kentaro Taira allowed a run over six innings on a walk and five hits, while striking out two.

“It was a great game all the way from the beginning. Taira did a great job from the beginning and the relievers did a great job.”

Yuki Kuniyoshi worked two scoreless innings of relief, and Spencer Patton, who worked the eighth, got the win.

Lions rookie Yoza solid in losing debut

Kaito Yoza allowed three runs over six innings in his first-team for the Seibu Lions, but the bullpen blew up over the final three innings in a 12-2 loss to the Nippon Ham Fighters. Solo homers from Sho Nakata and Taishi Ota gave the visitors an early lead they would never give up.

Mima wins Marines debut

Manabu Mima, who joined Lotte over the winter as a free agent from the Rakuten Eagles, allowed a run while striking out nine in just five innings in the Marines’ 5-1 victory over the SoftBank Hawks.

Seiya Inoue homered in the second off reliever Yuki Tsumori after the Hawks starter, journeyman Akira Niho loaded the bases by hitting Shogo Nakamura in the head. Pitches that strike a batter in or around the head are referred to as “kikenkyu” (dangerous pitches) and call for an automatic ejection for the pitcher.

Former major leaguers Brandon Laird and Leonys Martin reached base before Nakamura was hit and scored as Inoue put the game out of reach early.

June 21 Live blog: Buffaloes vs Eagles

Off to a bit of a slow start on Sunday, folks. Having a look at Orix and Rakuten today, because my favorite Japanese pitcher, Yoshinobu Yamamoto is on the mound for the Buffaloes.

Go to NEWEST.

For those of you who are curious, you can read a little about these teams in my Japanese pro baseball guide.

Top 2nd

Yamamoto has consistently the best stuff in Japan, and it looks like he’s put some muscle on his once spindly frame. He struck out the side in order in the first and got a one-run lead in the home half, but two ground balls in the second produced the Eagles’ first hit.

  1. Dangerous Hideto Asamura grounds out softly to 2nd.
  2. Hiroaki Shimauchi gets a grounder through between 1st and 2nd
  3. Former Buffaloe Stefen Romero grounds to short and the enigmatic Ryoichi Adachi starts the inning-ending double play.

Bottom 2nd

Eagles starter Ryota Ishibashi went 8-7 as a rookie last year and was second on the team in innings pitched with 127-1/3 because the club’s two best starters, Takayuki Kishi and Takahiro Norimoto missed time with injuries

Ishibashi’s average fastball velocity last year was 145.2 kph, and he’s a four-seam, cutter, splitter, and two-seam guy, although be aware the two-seam description generally encompasses two distinctly different pitches, a hard running fastball and a two-seam sinking fastball–which is the rarer of the two in Japan.

  1. Kenya Wakatsuki grounds out.
  2. Ryoichi Adachi singles to center.
  3. Shunta Goto singles to right to put runners on the corners for Takahiro Okada.
  4. Okada, who slid home headfirst to score on Keita Nakagawa’s sac fly in the first, singles in the Buffaloes’ second run.
  5. Aderlin Rodriguez looks like a player built for Japan, a smooth compact swing, who makes excellent contact. Ishibashi hangs a forkball and Rodriguez hits it high up the wall in left for an RBI double, Buffaloes 3, Eagles 0.
  6. Rodriguez, however, contributes an out on the bases, thanks to some slick defense by Eagles first baseman Ginji Akaminai. Ginji goes to a knee to stab a ball off the bat of Masataka Yoshida, makes the play at first and then throws behind Rodriguez who is trapped between second and third.

Top 3rd

  1. Akaminai, who wears “Ginji” on his uniform as his registered name, grounds out to second, topping 1-2 splitter.
  2. Catcher Hikaru hits a little comebacker to Yamamoto for the second out.
  3. Ryosuke Tatsumi, the PL’s 2018 rookie of the year swings and misses at a low fastball for another 1-2-3 inning. The thing about Yamamoto is that he has so many quality pitches, that it’s very common to see everyone guessing wrong and getting terrible swings even at mistakes in the zone.

Bottom 3rd

  1. Adam Jones had two hits on Saturday, and put a sweet swing on a straight fastball in the first for a single that contributed to Orix’s first run. Ishibashi gets a generous call on a low pitch from home plate ump Masanobu Suginaga, and Jones goes down looking.
  2. Keita Nakagawa, who had a strong rookie season playing all over the musical chairs game the Buffaloes’ infield resembled last year, flies out to left.
  3. Koji Oshiro, another of those versatile infielders from 2019, grounds out to short.

Top 4th

  1. Eigoro Mogi gets under a high 151-kph fastball and flies out to left.
  2. Daichi Suzuki, the former Marines captain who moved to Sendai as a free agent over the winter, swings under a high 1-2 running fastball to go down swinging.
  3. Jabari Blash, who struck out looking in the first, flails at a beauty of an 0-2 curve.

Bottom 4th

  1. Buffaloes catcher Kenya Wakatsuki launches a hanging first-pitch slider away to the warning track for an opposite-field leadoff double.
  2. Adachi tops an attempted sacrifice bunt in front of the plate, and Ota throws out his opposite number at third.
  3. Akaminai, playing in tight at first base, makes a good play on a little chopper by Goto.
  4. Okada, who raked in the spring and in practice games, pulled a high hanging forkball over Akaminai and down the right-field line for his second double of the game and a 4-0 Buffaloes lead. This is quite a turnaround for Okada, whose career has been in decline for nearly a decade, and who spent most of the 2019 season on the farm after a handful of sloppy at-bats and fielding misplays at first base.
  5. Ishibashi snaps off a nasty curve to send Rodriguez down swinging.

Top 5th

  1. Not a great fastball, but Asamura doesn’t get a great swing on it and pops up down the left field line.
  2. An easy fly to lefty by Shimauchi and Yamamoto appears to be operating on cruise control.
  3. He works carefully to Romero, who ends a good 6-pitch at-bat by fouling out.

Bottom 5th

Rookie right-hander Taisei Tsurusaki on the mound for the Eagles after Ishibashi gives up four runs in four innings. Tsurusaki is making his debut against the middle of the Buffaloes lineup. He looks to have a repeatable delivery, comes over the top and keeps his hand on top of the ball.

  1. Yoshida, one of the best hitters in the PL, swings at a huge 12-6 curve before taking a cutter on the outside corner for Strike 3.
  2. Jones provides less of a challenge, grounding a first-pitch fastball away to second.
  3. Nakagawa walks on seven pitches and steals second easily.
  4. Oshiro walks on 6 pitches.
  5. Wakatsuki flies out off the handle, and the rookie survives without any damage done.

Top 6th

  1. Nice at-bat by Ginji, but he tips a 2-2 shoot into Wakatsuki’s glove for Strike 3.
  2. Backup catcher Ayatsugu Yamashita batting for his catching partner Ota and grounds out easily to first.
  3. Yamamoto is toying with Tatsumi, going after the corners with his hard stuff while getting three strikes with his curve. Tatsumi goes down swinging at one low out of the zone.
Thanks for that Jason. A Yamamoto curve is not fair to pinch-hitters.

Bottom 6th

Veteran lefty Wataru Karashima on the mound for the Eagles. He had a serviceable year in the rotation last season, going 9-6 in 117-1/3 innings. He is in middle relief this year with closer Yuki Matsui moving back into the rotation. He’s basically a fastball, slider, curve change guy.

  1. I love watching Ginji Akaminai play first base. He is everywhere on everything, and knows where to look and when to throw. Another good play opens the first as he throws out Adachi to open the seventh.
  2. Goto flies out to left.
  3. Okada’s confidence is dialed up to “11” now after floundering for several seasons. He is balanced at the plate and ready to attack EVERYTHING. He walks to bring up Rodriguez.
  4. And Rodriguez, short to the ball on an inside pitch and pulls it down the line in left for a double. Okada to third.
  5. Okada, a small guy with a quiet stance in the left-handed batters box, doesn’t look like he should be dangerous, but he has serious power and plate discipline. Not this time though, as Karashima gets him to ground to short.

Top 7th

Don’t remember when the PL started the innovation of playing the visiting team’s Lucky Seventh song on the stadium speakers, but it is a nice touch, since no matter what park you’re at in the top flight there will be at least five or six hundred fans on the visitor’s side of the outfield waving their flags and cheering on their guys.

With no fans in the stands, the Kyocera Dome scoreboard was showing Eagles fans cheering from home on streaming video while, the Eagles song, what Casey McGehee called the “Igloo song,” plays.

  1. Mogi grounds out to open the visitors’ seventh.
  2. Suzuki misses a 3-2 inside fastball for Yamamoto’s 10th strikeout.
  3. Blash grounds one up the middle for an infield single.
  4. Asamura miss-hits a cutter to short for an easy out.

Bottom 7th

Tomohiro Anraku, who made a name for himself in high school with his brutal pitch counts, comes in to pitch the seventh for the Eagles.

  1. Jones looks at two fastballs low and away before grounding out to second.
  2. Nakagawa lined a pitch to short right center, and nearly got caught out thinking it would get through when Tatsumi cut it off in center.
  3. Pinch runner for Nakagawa at first, and Yuya Oda swipes second. Oshiro flies out to center but not deep enough to send Oda to third.
  4. Wakatsuki grounds out and we’re going to the 8th with the Eagles trailing 4-0.

Top 8th

  1. Shimauchi flies out to first on the second pitch.
  2. Romero flies out to second on the second pitch.
  3. Yasuhito Uchida, batting for Ginji, who may have twisted something when he miss-stepped making that play to open the seventh, rips a single to right.
  4. Yamashita his what they call a “bonda” in Japanese, an easy out, on a grounder to second.

That’s 94 pitches for Yamamoto and with a four-run lead, he won’t be back. Thirty years ago, I guarantee, he’d be getting ready for the ninth. Back then, there was no good excuse for lifting a starter who was leading. “How can you take him out? It’s a close game” or “How can you take him out with that big lead.” You name it, there was an excuse for it.

Bottom 8th

Anraku, the Eagles’ top draft pick in 2014, is back for the ninth.

  1. Adachi lines out.
  2. Goto fouls off two, two-strike pitches before striking out swinging in an eight-pitch at-bat.
  3. Anraku finally makes Okada look like the guy who could possibly be lost at the plate as he hesitates on a 1-2 fastball on the inside corner for Strike 3.

Return to TOP

Top 9th

United States international closer Brandon Dickson on in the ninth. He was a productive starter for the Buffaloes for six seasons, but last year, with no one else to turn to, he was thrust into the closer’s role, where he’s been dynamite. He finished 2019 as the closer for Team USA in the Premier 12.

  1. Pinch-hitter Kazuya Fujita flies out to left.
  2. Mogi grounds out to second.
  3. Suzuki fouls off a tough two-strike fastball on the outside corner. Takes a ball low for 2-2, and puts a good swing on a fastball but lines it straight to Goto in center for the Buffs’ first win of the season.

Final score: Buffaloes 4, Eagles 0

Camping World: Feb. 16, 2020 – Tyler Austin 2 to the 2nd power

DeNA BayStars manager Alex Ramirez loves to be unconventional, and he also knows enough that the way to be unconventional in Japan is to make up conventional bullshit explanations reporters can then regurgitate as suitable explanations for unorthodox behavior.

On Sunday, new BayStars import Tyler Austin batted second in the team’s preseason opener against the Yomiuri Giants in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture. On Saturday, Ramirez explained he liked to have good hitters bat second, not because they were good hitters and putting lame guys who can bunt second is dumb, but rather because a power hitter there will see more fastballs after the leadoff man reaches base.

Tyler Austin’s 1st swing

Of course, when your leadoff hitter is Kazuki Kamizato, career OBP .319, that’s kind of weak, but you get the point. In Japan, unorthodox behavior is only acceptable if it is wrapped in some kind of bullshit cover-your-ass excuse that won’t suggest that the orthodox ways are dumb.

Ramirez catches flak for batting his pitchers eighth, which makes perfect sense, and last year was roasted for batting new Tampa Bay Ray Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, the national team cleanup hitter, second. It was, one talking head on Fuji TV’s Pro Yakyu News said, “An insult to Japanese baseball,” and that one could do it in a DH league, “as the Angels do with Mike Trout, but not in the Central League,” because well, you can’t.

Tyler Austin off to an auspicious start in NPB’s preseason

Austin homered in each of his first two spring at-bats, both with no one on base and then singled in his third, again after Kamizato failed to reach.

Batting 2nd: Lip Service

My favorite story about paying lip service to Japan’s cultural craving for punchless No.2 hitting defensive specialists was that of Hall of Famer Rikuo Nemoto, as manager of the Daiei Hawks in 1994, batted slugging outfielder Kazunori Yamamoto second. Yamamoto bunted once in 509 plate appearances.

Nemoto, who is in the Hall of Fame for his role as the architect of three dynasties — often through somewhat shady dealings to secure amateur talent, forestalled criticism by saying he had no punchless glove guys to bat second, so he just had to bite his lip and make do.

What happened was the perennial doormats’ best season in 18 years. The Hawks were fourth, with a .5348 winning percentage behind the Orix Blue Wave (Ichiro Suzuki‘s breakout season) and Kintetsu Buffaloes (Hideo Nomo) who tied for second at .5354

Of course, everyone knew Nemoto was full of shit, but it’s OK to be full of shit as long as you don’t imply that others who do dumb shit because dogma demands it are morons. OK, the late great Katsuya Nomura did that frequently when it suited his purposes, but for most mere mortals, like former BayStars manager Hiroshi Gondo, calling orthodoxy into question will get you fired.

Baby shark school

One of the other non-game highlights was Gerardo Parra instructing veteran Yomiuri Giants outfielder Yoshiyuki Kamei on the proper hand technique for “Baby Shark.”

Moore throws 1st pen for Hawks

New SoftBank Hawks import Matt Moore threw a 53-pitch bullpen on Sunday, his first since the start of spring training on Feb. 1, and left manager Kimiyasu Kudo suitably impressed, according to Fullcount.

The Hawks may be without 2019 rookie of the year, Rei Takahashi, at the start of the season due to a left-hamstring issue, and so could be in need of another starter to take his place.