A trio of SoftBank Hawks relievers pitched out of late-inning jams to preserve a 4-4 10-inning tie after the Seibu Lions’ Hotaka Yamakawa leveled the scores with a three-run seventh-inning home run at MetLife Dome.
Shuta Ishikawa worked seven innings and allowed seven hits and three walks. The Hawks battered Lions starter Tatsuya Imai for four runs on eight hits and a walk over three innings, but six Lions relievers allowed just four base runners the rest of the way.
Ernesto Mejia doubled to open Seibu’s second inning and scored the tying run on a Takumi Kuriyama single.
Ishikawa nearly got out of the seventh unscathed after a Tomoya Mori leadoff single. He struck out Mejia and survived a blast from Kuriyama that fell short of the warning track. But Corey Spangenberg singled and Ishikawa hung a curve to Yamakawa that he hit well back among the fans in left field.
Livan Moinelo worked around a leadoff single in the eighth. Closer Yuito Mori came on in the ninth and surrendered a leadoff double to Kuriyama. A sacrifice put the go-ahead run on third and the Hawks loaded the bases intentionally. Mori fell behind Fumikazu Kimura 2-0 but struck him out before ending the inning on a fly to right.
Lions closer Tatsushi Masuda worked a scoreless ninth and Reed Garrett pitched the 10th to snuff out the Hawks’ chance of victory.
Submarine right-hander Rei Takahashi walked the first two hitters in the 10th but struck out Mejia for the first out before preventing the Lions from walking off.
Kishi pitches Eagles to victory
Takayuki Kishi (3-0) worked into the seventh inning for the first time this season and Hideto Asamura had a two-run single in the Rakuten Eagles’ 4-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.
Kishi allowed four hits and two walks while striking out seven. Yuki Matsui struck out three of the four batters he faced in relief in 1-1/3 perfect innings before handing it over to Alan Busenitz, who did the same in the ninth for his 17th save.
Nick Martinez (1-6) got out of a first-inning jam but had less luck in the fourth when the Eagles scored on three straight hits to set up a four-run inning. Martinez, who allowed six hits and four walks, walked Daichi Suzuki with the bases loaded before Asamura capped the rally with a two-run single.
Giants survive late onslaught
Angel Sanchez (7-3) allowed two runs over seven innings for the Yomiuri Giants, who survived a late challenge to hold off the DeNa BayStars 9-7 at Tokyo Dome.
Kazuma Okamoto and Yoshihiro Maru each hit two-run home runs as the Giants built a 9-1 lead by the fourth inning. Okamoto’s was his league-leading 25th, while Maru’s was his 21st.
BayStars right-hander Shoichi Ino (6-6) allowed four runs over two innings to take the loss, although his teammates nearly took him off the hook in a five-run eighth inning.
Tyler Austin and Jose Lopez each hit two-run homers. Austin’s was his 15th in just his 43rd game, while Lopez’s was his third two-run shot of his old team in the series. Daisuke Nakai, another former Giant, capped the rally with an RBI single.
Spencer Patton worked the eighth to keep it close but Giants closer Rubby De La Rosa ended the game with the tying runs on to secure his 16th save.
Gerardo Parra returned to duty for the first time since July 22, but went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts for the Giants.
Yuki Nishi (9-4) struck out 12 over eight innings for the Hanshin Tigers in a 9-1 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Nishi allowed a run on four hits and a walk, while his teammates took batting practice against finesse right-hander Yusuke Nomura (6-3).
Nomura allowed eight runs over five-plus innings. Fumiya Hojo put the visitors up for good with a two-run first-inning homer, while Jerry Sands and Justin Bour homered back-to-back to open the Tigers’ six-run sixth.
Active roster moves 10/8/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/18
In a season that started behind closed doors on June 19, and welcomed in up to 5,000 per game starting from July 10, Saturday saw teams bring in somewhat larger crowds after a month and a half with no reported infections among spectators.
In the four day games played, only one was held out doors, where Yokohama Stadium welcomed 13,106 allowing fans to sit in the new left-field wing seats for the first time.
The other day games all saw smaller crowds: Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome had 11,937, Nagoya Dome 9,732 and Sapporo Dome 8,740.
“We were told it was only 13,000 people but it felt like 40,000 the way you guys cheered for the teams. Thank you so much,” BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said in his customary on-field interview after home games.
Hawks look to expand fans overseas
Starting Saturday, the SoftBank Hawks’ YouTube channel will be posting videos accessible in multiple languages in order to build their overseas fan base. Whether or not one is a fan of the Hawks, it’s kind of fun.
Lefty Haruhiro Hamaguchi (5-4) brought an unusually crisp fastball and abstained from his bread-and-butter changeup for much of the game as he allowed a run on two walks and two hits over 5-2/3 innings.
A run in the sixth snapped a 2x-inning scoreless streak for the Giants, who avoided a shutout but not a third straight loss.
Takayuki Kajitani reached on a first-inning error and scored on a Keita Sano single and then drove in three runs with his 13th and 14th home run. Soto, who is trailing in the race to win a third-straight home run title, hit his 16th.
Giants starter Nobutaka Imamura (3-1) lost the southpaw struggle, allowing three runs, two earned, over five innings.
In the end decided on two pitches in the sixth and six in the seventh. With DeNA leading 3-1 in the sixth, Giants right-hander Yohei Kagiya loaded the bases with one out. Tatsuhiro fouled out on one pitch, and Yasutaka Tobashira popped up lefty Ryusei Oe’s first pitch.
In the top of the seventh, the Giants loaded the bases on one out against Yuki Kuniyoshi. Lefty Edwin Escobar entered to face Gerardo Parra, who rolled the sixth pitch back to the pitcher and a 1-2-3 double play.
Carp squeak past Swallows
Shota Dobayashi hit an eighth-inning game-tying home run and scored the go-ahead run in the 10th-inning when rookie Minoru Omori bounced a two-out two-strike pitch past the reach of second baseman Tetsuto Yamada that lifted the Hiroshima Carp to a 3-2 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
The game was a duel between rookies, Carp right-hander Masato Morishita, a highly-sought after amateur who has been extremely solid, and Yakult’s second-pick last autumn, right-hander Daiki Yoshida, whose stuff and command has been a little less dominant.
Tomotaka Sakaguchi brought the Yakult Swallows from a run down with a second-inning home run.
With one out and a runner on first, Sakaguchi went after a low first-pitch fastball like he knew it was coming and pulled it into the right-field stands for his ninth home run. Prior to this season, Sakaguchi’s high was five home runs, in 2009 and 2010 with the Orix Buffaloes.
He then did what low-power hitters are supposed to say after they hit a home run, that they were trying to play small ball and trying hard not to be Mr. Big Shot home run hitter by using the word “tsunagu” – つなぐ.
“My focus was on batting aggressively from the first pitch so I could set the table for the batters behind me,” said Sakaguchi, who was followed by the seventh, eighth and ninth spots in a lineup that is fifth in a six-team league in runs scored and 10th worst in Japan.
Abe homer beats Tigers
Toshiki Abe hit a three-run home run and Koji Fukutani (4-2) worked 6-2/3 scoreless innings in a 4-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Nagoya Dome.
Tigers right-hander Takumi Akiyama (5-2) allowed five hits and committed two errors that made all four Dragons runs unearned.
Fledgling Eagle holds off Hawks
Ryota Takinaka, the Rakuten Eagles’ sixth pick in last year’s draft, held the SoftBank Hawks to a run over 5-1/3 innings in his pro debut and Hideto Asamura singled in the tie-breaking run in the seventh in a 3-1 win over the three-time defending Japan Series champs at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Takinaka a 25-year-old right-hander, scattered five hits and one walk while striking out one.
Former Padre Kazuhisa Makita worked 1-1/3 scoreless innings to protect a one-run lead, and Alan Busenitz worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 12th save for the Eagles.
Buffaloes beat misbehaving Lions
Sachiya Yamasaki (3-4) allowed a run over seven innings and Aderlin Rodriguez doubled in two runs to break a 1-1 sixth-inning tie in the Orix Buffaloes’ 6-3 win over the Seibu Lions.
The Daily Sports blamed the Lions loss on their mistakes, and they certainly didn’t help, but five walks by lefty Sean Nolin (1-2) didn’t help either.
Nolin left in the sixth with one out and the bags juiced. Rookie Tetsu Miyagawa hung a 1-2 slider that Rodriguez lined into the left-field corner. A wild pitch made it 4-1.
The Lions had two on with no outs in the seventh but shat themselves. Rookie catcher Sena Tsuge pulled back a first-pitch bunt attempt and the lead runner failed to make it back for the first out. A sharp grounder to third, which was not a mistake — except in the sense that people who write those dumb articles have to include them — was turned for a double play.
Roller coaster Arihara spills Marines
The roller coaster season of Nippon Ham Fighters ace Kohei Arihara (5-7) continued with eight scoreless innings in a 3-1 win over the Lotte Marines at Sapporo Dome.
Marines starter Tsuyoshi Ishizaki (0-1) allowed a run over three innings to take the loss without allowing a hit. He did, however, walk five and strike out five.
Arihara started the season 0-3, allowing 12 runs over 22 innings. He had another three-game stretch where he went 0-2 and allowed 16 runs 19-1/3 innings, and was coming off a start against the Rakuten Eagles on Sept. 13 when he gave up nine runs in 2-1/3. He improved to 3-0 against Lotte, however.
Matt Moore (3-1) overcame an awkward start to allow two runs over 6-1/3 innings as the SoftBank Hawks departed from protocol by not practicing prior to crushing the Rakuten Eagles at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Moore struggled with the bottom of umpire Tomiji Iizuka’s strike zone and threw 24 pitches in a first inning as he pitched out of a two-on one-out jam. He surrendered Stefen Romero’s 18th home run with no outs and one on in the seventh, registered his sixth strikeout and then made his exit.
Ukyo Shuto had four hits, stole two bases–he leads the PL with 20–and scored twice for the Hawks, while Yuki Yanagita hit his 24th home run for the hosts.
Neal triggers Buffaloes stampede
The Orix Buffaloes scored six runs off Zach Neal (3-6) and routed the Seibu Lions 8-2 to earn Opening Day starter Taisuke Yamaoka (1-3) his first win of the season at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
Steven Moya, activated on Thursday, hit his first home run of the year to open the scoring in the first with a two-run shot into the second deck. Neal then surrendered four-straight hits followed by a sac fly in the five-run inning.
Yamaoka allowed two runs over six innings on eight hits and a walk while striking out six. Yutaro Sugimoto, one of the minor leaguers acting manager Satoshi Nakajima activated had four hits, scored two runs and drove in two for the Buffaloes.
Marines lose fight with reserves
Reserve outfielder Go Matsumoto singled in a run in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ five-run third inning and added a two-run home run in a bullpen day for the hosts in their 7-3 win over the Lotte Marines at Sapporo Dome.
Nick Martinez, who started the season in the rotation but has been relieving of late, allowed three runs over three innings, but Takayuki Kato (2-1) picked up the slack with three scoreless innings to earn the win while three others worked one scoreless run apiece.
The Fighters did most of their damage against lefty Toshiya Nakamura (2-3) tagging him for six runs, five earned, over 3-2/3 innings.
Austin powers Ino to victory
Tyler Austin’s sixth home run, a three-run second-inning moon shot, was the big blow in the DeNA BayStars’ 6-0 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Yokohama Stadium.
Shoichi Ino (6-4) worked six innings, and Spencer Patton, Kenta Ishida and Tomoya Mikami finished up to hand the Giants their second shutout loss since their magic number “appeared” on Tuesday. The 34-year-year-old Ino got the better of 20-year-old rookie right-hander Shosei Togo (7-4).
The BayStars win moved them to within 11 games of the defending champion Giants.
Swallows gut Carp
Naomichi Nishiura drove in four runs, including the game’s first with a sacrifice fly as the Yakult Swallows left a 14-5 mark on the Hiroshima Carp at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
Albert Suarez (3-0) allowed four runs over six innings, striking out seven without issuing any of the walks that got him demoted in July when he was leading the CL in ERA, to earn his first win since July 1. Tetsuto Yamada brought the hosts back from a run down with his ninth homer, a two-run shot in the Swallows’ five-run fifth off Hiroki Tokoda (1-6).
Oyama kills Dragons in their lair
Yusuke Oyama homered twice and drove in six runs as the Hanshin Tigers overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the Chunichi Dragons 8-4 at Nagoya Dome.
Former Dodger and Korean RBI king Jerry Sands batted fourth in front of Oyama and reached base four times. He walked twice, singled and was hit by a pitch and scored on both of his teammate’s home runs.
Yakult Swallows right-hander Yasuhiro “Ryan” Ogawa became the 82nd top-flight pitcher to throw a no-hitter in Japanese pro baseball on Saturday, when he struck out 10 and walked three in a 9-0 Central League win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.
Ogawa, whose nickname comes from the Nolan Ryan leg kick he adopted as a youngster, became the first Swallows pitcher to throw a no-hitter since Rick Guttormson achieved the feat in May 2006. It was the 93rd no-hitter, called a “no-hit, no-run” game in the history of Japanese pro ball. No-hitter’s aren’t awarded without a shutout.
Ogawa, who leaned heavily on his fastball and splitter, issued a first-inning walk, while the BayStars managed a runner in the second, when rookie right fielder Taiki Hamada went down to a knee to catch a line drive, only for the ball to spill out of the webbing of his glove for an error.
The Swallows hit BayStars ace Shota Imanaga like a truck, scoring six runs, three earned, off the lefty on six hits and three walks over 3-1/3 innings.
Seven of Ogawa’s 10 strikeouts came after he had a 6-0 lead, and after Hamada’s misplay, the right-hander retired the next 12 batters before he walked Tatsuhiro Shibata with tow outs in the sixth.
Ogawa needed 102 pitches to get through the seventh and his no-hit bid was looking bleak when he walked the leadoff hitter in the eighth after a 10-pitch battle. Daisuke Nakai smacked his next pitch to short, but what looked like two quick outs soon looked like a long tough inning when second baseman Taishi Hirooka dropped the throw from his shortstop.
The first BayStars runner to reach second, would also be the last as Ogawa needed just 22 pitches to finish off the last six hitters, recording his final strike out with pitch No. 135 to end it.
Dragons’ Rodriguez stops Giants
Yariel Rodriguez went seven impressive innings for the Chunichi Dragons in their 7-4 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome.
The 23-year-old, who joined the Dragons on a non-roster developmental contract on Feb. 5 and was added to the 70-man roster on July 1, allowed a run on six hits, a walk and a hit batsman while striking out nine.
Dayan Viciedo hit his 10th home run of the season in the fourth, a no-out, two-run shot off Giants lefty Kazuto Taguchi (2-2) to make it 3-0. Nobumasa Fukuda, who had an RBI single in the first, walked ahead of Viciedo’s homer and also walked and scored in Chunichi’s four-run eighth.
Zelous Wheeler had three hits, including his sixth home run, a ninth-inning solo shot off closer Raidel Martinez.
The Yomiuri Giants indicated Saturday that they will deactivate outfielder Gerardo Parra, who is suffering from pain in his right knee, the Nikkan Sports reported.
“It’s been troubling him since well before this,” head coach Daisuke Motoki said. “It looked like he was in pain both when he ran and when he batted, so we’ve decided not to push him. Instead we want him to go to the farm team, get it healed and come back.”
Bour, Sands maul Carp in Tigers win
First-year imports Justin Bour and Jerry Sands each drove in three runs, and Yuki Nishi (3-3) allowed two runs over seven innings as the Hanshin Tigers whipped the Hiroshima Carp 10-2 at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
Carp ace Daichi Osera (4-2) was hammered for five runs on eight hits over five innings.
Sands drove in the game’s first run with an infield single, but went to the other end of the spectrum with his ninth home run, a two-run shot, in the sixth that made it 8-2.
Bullpen to the rescue as Buffaloes snap skid
Takahiro Okada’s two-run “excuse-me-swing” single opened the floodgates for the Orix Buffaloes, and their bullpen kept the SoftBank Hawks in check in an 8-2 win on Saturday afternoon to snap their seven-game losing streak.
Coming off a tough loss in which their starting pitcher did everything well except keep Yuki Yanagita from crushing a well-executed inside fastbal, the Buffaloes caught some breaks in a two-run first before hammering Hawks starter Akira Niho (3-4) for three more in the second.
The Buffaloes opened the scoring on Shuhei Fukuda’s one-out walk, a Yuma Mune single up the middle and a two-out, two-run double when Okada was fooled by 1-2 splitter out of the zone. The left-handed slugger managed to hit it off the end of the bat for a flare that dropped in shallow left that gave the visitors the lead.
Orix starter Kazumasa Yoshida worked three scoreless innings. He gave up two singles and two walks, and twice disposed of Yanagita on two pitches, including just one fastball well out of the zone.
The Buffaloes took the air out of the game in the second. Masato Matsui looked like he was sitting on a curveball when he drove an 0-1 breaking ball to the track for a one-out double. Niho failed to glove a comebacker for an error and hit a batter to load the bases for Fukuda, who drilled a hanging two-seamer for a two-run single. Masaki Mimori robbed Mune of a single with a diving catch of a liner to second only for Masataka Yoshida to bang an RBI double and make it 5-0.
Right-hander Yudai Aranishi made some good pitches to Wladimir Balentien, but Japan’s single-season home run record holder homered off the bat to center. Rookie right-hander Ryo Yoshida (1-1), the third of Orix’s seven-pitcher parade, was awarded his first career win for pitching a scoreless fifth.
Arihara gets it done in Fighters’ rout
Kohei Arihara (2-5) put his struggles behind him for one night as he struck out nine over seven scoreless innings, and Sho Nakata drove in three early runs in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 9-0 win over the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
Nakata belted his 16th homer, a two-run shot off Kota Futaki (1-2) in the fourth. The right-hander allowed four runs over seven innings to take the loss.
Eagles tie it off Lions top relievers
The two rocks in the Seibu Lions bullpen this season, setup man Reed Garrett and closer Tatsushi Masuda, combined to blow a late 3-0 lead against the Rakuten Eagles at MetLife Dome. Their game was called a 3-3 tie after 10 innings.
The Lions took a three-run first-inning lead on a Hotaka Yamakawa RBI double and Ernest Mejia’s two run home run, his fifth in five games. Rookie Wtaru Matsumoto left the game after seven shutout innings, having allowed one hit and three walks.
With the Lions’ game in their best hands, the Eagles struck. Ryosuke Tatsumi homered with one out in the eighth, and rookie Hiroto Kobukata doubled and scored on an Eigoro Mogi single.
Hiroaki Shimauchi singled to open the Eagles’ ninth and scored the tying run on a Tatsumi single.
Kotaro Otake made a lot out of a little on Thursday as his low-velocity deliveries frustrated hitters and helped earn him the win in his belated season debut as the SoftBank Hawks beat the Orix Buffaloes 3-1 to remain in a tie for first place in the Pacific League.
Otake, who has been with the minor league squad since feeling stiffness in his left elbow in camp and was 4-0 in the Western League, allowed five hits and a walk while striking out three over 5-2/3 innings. Although it was an impressive effort, Otake got off to a rocky start.
In the first inning, he challenged leadoff hitter Tatsuya Yamaashi with a 1-0 fastball down the pipe. But it wasn’t a very good one, and the light-hitting reserve showed what a professional hitter can do when giving a cookie, driving it well back in PayPay Dome’s left-field stands for his third career home run.
But otherwise, the Buffaloes hitters struggled to time Otake’s speeds: slow, slower, and molasses, as he mixed his 136-kph (84.5 mph) fastball with a two-seamer, a changeup and a curve. His occasional high misses didn’t hurt him as much as they perhaps changed batters’ eye levels. The end result was a lot of soft contact. Orix didn’t hit anything reasonably hard until Jones doubled with two outs in the fourth.
The Hawks wasted two walks in the first inning against Taiwanese right-hander Chang Yi but made up for it in the second. Kenta Imamiya led off with his fifth home run, Takuya Kai walked with one out and scored on leadoff man Ukyo Shuto’s two-out triple. Akira Nakamura singled and scored an insurance run in the fifth after a Ryoya Kurihara single and a Kenji Akashi double.
Chang (0-1) allowed six hits and three walks over his five innings. The right-hander, a cousin of NPB veterans Yang Dai-kang and Yang Yao-hsun, was taken by the Buffaloes in the first round of the 2016 developmental draft out of Japan University of Economics.
Otake issued his only walk of the game in the sixth and after retiring slugging left-handed hitters Masataka Yoshida and Takahiro Okada, was pulled for a righty with Jones coming to the plate. Arata Shiino got out of the inning on five pitches, and Yugo Bando, Livan Moinelo and Yuito Mori finished up with a scoreless inning each. Mori earned his 12th save.
Eagles keep pace with win over Lions
Rookie Hiroto Kobukata reached base four times and scored three runs for the Rakuten Eagles in their 7-4 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo. The win kept the Eagles tied with the Hawks for the PL lead.
Former closer Yuki Matsui allowed three runs on six hits over three innings. He left the game with a 4-3 lead and right-hander Tomohito Sakai retired all six batters he faced over two innings to earn the win. Ryosuke Tatsumi broke a 1-1 tie in the third with his fifth home run, a leadoff shot off Lions rookie Kaito Yoza (2-4).
Yoza allowed four runs over 2-1/3 innings as the Lions needed eight pitchers to get them through the night.
J.T. Chargois worked a scoreless eighth for Rakuten, while submarine right-hander Kazuhisa Makita worked the ninth to earn his first save in Japan since he saved three in 2015 for the Lions.
Marines power past Fighters
Leonys Martin’s fifth home run in six games was one of three solo shot the Lotte Marines hit in a three-run fifth en route to overcoming a five-run deficit in their 8-5 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
After Tsuyoshi Sugano doubled home Seiya Inoue with the tying run in the sixth, Martin reached on an error in the seventh and scored the go-ahead run.
The Marines comeback made a winner out of Jose Flores (1-1). The 31-year-old right-hander from Venezuela spent 10 years in the minors with the Cleveland Indians, Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants. The Marines acquired him from the Toyama Thunderbirds of Japan’s independent Baseball Challenge League.
Giants bang, bloop their way to comeback win
Yoshiyuki Kamei’s ninth-inning pinch-hit single lifted the Yomiuri Giants to a 4-3 walk-off win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo Dome.
Lefty Cristopher Mercedes allowed three doubles and a walk in a three-run first, and spent his remaining five innings on the mound pitching with me on base but allowing no more runs.
The Giants closed within a run on back-to-back two-out solo homers in the fourth inning from Yoshihiro Maru and Hiroyuki Nakajima. The hosts tied it in the fifth on a two-out bloop RBI single by cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto. Swallows right-hander Hirotoshi Takanashi allowed three runs over six innings, and two relievers kept it tied until right-hander Yuma Oshita (0-1) allowed a leadoff single.
After a stolen base, Kamei pinch hit and got enough of the first pitch thrown by Scott McGough to hit a fly into shallow center that won it.
ToSpo pandering to the populists
There’s always some writer somewhere who’ll put a populist or racist spin on something they probably don’t understand. The Tokyo Sports used to have a pretty sordid reputation for writing the most loathsome stuff and one writer of theirs seems keen to resurrect that image when he wrote a story titled “Manager Hara spills the real truth behind Parra’s substitution.”
Hara pulled Gerardo Parra out of the game during the top of the sixth inning, and Tokyo Sports would like us to think because he was solely because he wasn’t hustling on a foul fly that dropped safely.
The manager said, “You saw what happened. It looked he was favoring his leg,” although the Tokyo Sports neglected to mention that last bit. Instead, it implied Parra was fit because no trainer came out and didn’t look hurt. They then reminded readers of the time when a Japanese star was not hustling and was sent home by Hara, implying that was the reason here.
The real truth is the thing that story wasn’t interested in when a pile of made-up shit made a better headline.
Yamada rejoins Swallows
Yakult Swallows second baseman Tetsuto Yamada was activated on Thursday and practiced as usual with the team before their game against the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome, according to the Nikkan Sports.
He was deactivated on July 27, ostensibly due to lack of upper body fitness, whatever that means.
Despaigne, Gracial to start on farm
Big-hitting Cubans Alfredo Despaigne and Yurisbel Gracial practiced with the Hawks Western League farm team on Thursday, and are scheduled to play in Friday’s home WL game against the Hiroshima Carp, the Nishinihon Sports reports.
The pair had gone to Cuba train with the national team in March ahead of World Baseball Classic qualifying. After qualifying was canceled, they were unable to travel to Japan until Havana’s airport re-opened for international travel in July.
The two arrived in Japan last month despite Japan’s ban on foreign nationals entering the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. After they completed quarantine they were to train with the farm team until minor league operations were suspended after infections were discovered at the minor league facility. Instead, they traveled to Sendai last week and trained with the first team.
Tigers drop Fujikawa
The Hanshin Tigers have deactivated 40-year-old reliever Kyuji Fujikawa. According to the Hochi Shimbun, the move was made due to the dreaded “lack of upper body fitness” although the article specified the afflicted area to be the right side of his upper body.
Fujikawa, who converted every save opportunity he faced after being restored to the closer’s role last summer for the first time in seven seasons, has been largely ineffective this year. He was deactivated on July 12 due to right shoulder fitness.
“Simple is best” poster boy Keiji Takahashi continued his mound turnaround on Thursday with eight impressive scoreless innings as he outdueled Shintaro Fujinami in the Yakult Swallows’ 6-0 Central League win over the Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
The lefty, whose old leg kick, arm raise, double-pump leg raise delivery used to look like one of those sci-fi movie transformers morphing into a car, has been precisely commanding his fastball, slider, changeup package with his new, very orthodox looking delivery this year.
After three starts in which he allowed six earned runs over 15-2/3 combined innings, Takahashi struck out six, walked one and hit one, while giving up three singles. After giving up a leadoff single in the first, he recorded two assists on a tricky force at second and a pickoff-throw caught stealing in a three-batter inning.
Fujinami brought his good stuff and was on target, walking just one batter over eight innings. The Swallows bunched their hits against him to score a run in the second, and added three more in the seventh, when shortstop Fumiya Hojo had a night to forget.
Hojo fumbled a grounder to allow the leadoff man to reach. With two outs and runners on the corners, Tomotaka Sakaguchi reached on an infield single and Fujinami’s throwing error allowed the runner on first to scoot over to third. Hojo then dropped a pop fly in shallow center when he ran into center fielder Koji Chikamoto, allowing two runs to score.
The Swallows opened the scoring in the second through a trio of their less-heralded players. Kotaro Yamasaki opened with a single, was sacrificed to second by reserve infielder Takeshi Miyamoto and scored on a double by another reserve infielder, rookie shorstsop Taisei Yoshida.
Fujinami pitched around a leadoff double in the sixth, but Takahashi followed with his third straight 1-2-3 inning–thanks to Norichika Aoki’s good catch in left to rob Jerry Sands of a leadoff single in the seventh.
BayStars make out like bandits against Giants
There’s an expression in Japanese baseball “breaking open the safe” that is used when the first run in a scoreless game finally crosses the plate. Gerardo Parra may have cracked open the safe on Thursday at Tokyo Dome, but the DeNA BayStars made off with the cash in a 4-2 win over the Yomiuri Giants.
For five scoreless innings, Giants lefty Cristopher Mercedes (2-3) dueled it out with BayStars right-hander Shinichi Onuki (3-2). Parra got the Giants on the board in the bottom of the sixth. He tripled with two outs and scored when Naoki Yoshikawa beat out an infield single, sliding head-first into the bag.
Mercedes, who had retired 19 of the first 21 batters he faced ran into trouble with two outs in the top of the seventh. Jose Lopez, a former Giants, singled, and Toshiro Miyazaki walked. Pinch-hitter Hiroki Minei singled in the tying run and Toshihiko Kuramoto singled home Miyazaki to put the visitors in front.
As he had the day before with a one-run lead in the seventh, DeNA closer Yasuaki Yamasaki came on in the seventh. He gave up a one-out single to Hayato Sakamoto. Yamasaki, whose splitter has been poor this year, threw two of his best to get ahead of Yoshihiro Maru, before striking him out looking at a 1-2 splitter low in the zone that failed to tumble.
The right-hander walked slugger Kazuma Okamoto. Lefty Edwin Escobar came in to face tough left-handed-hitting Takumi Oshiro, but Giants manager Tatsunori Hara sent in light-hitting right-handed hitter Shingo Ishikawa up to pinch-hit, and Ishikawa grounded out of the inning.
One of the things Hara was famous for in his first decade as Giants manager, along with going through second basemen like Kleenex and his fondness for pinch-runners, was in going with every platoon advantage regardless of the gap in quality of the hitters involved. Glad to see he hasn’t changed much with age.
BayStars right-hander Spencer Patton surrendered Zelous Wheeler’s eighth-inning leadoff single. Para’s single off lefty Kenta Ishida put runners on the corners with no out. But the lefty somehow gutted it out.
Ishida struck out veteran Hiroyuki Nakajima on six pitches, and a delayed double steal saw pinch-runner Daiki Masuda out at the plate. With first base open, Ishida walked Yang Dai-kang to face tough lefty Yasuyuki Kamei. On the eighth pitch after three two-strike fouls, Kamei grounded out to end the inning.
Miyazaki homered with a man on in the top of the ninth, and Okamoto blasted his 13th homer of the year in the home half off of Kazuki Mishima, who earned his second career save after collecting his first on Wednesday.
Johnson back with Carp, but Dragons craft tie
Hiroshima Carp lefty Kris Johnson returned to active duty and looked like his old self through two innings, retiring the first five Chunichi Dragons hitters on grounders in their 4-4, 10-inning tie at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
The lefty allowed two runs over six innings, which made it his best start of the season, but reliever Yasunori Kikuchi allowed Chunichi to tie it 4-4 in the seventh.
The Dragons opened the scoring in the third inning on a one-out single by Kengo Takeda, a sacrifice by the pitcher and a single by unlikely leadoff hitter Nobumasa Fukuda. Ryoma Nishikawa, however, tied it in the bottom of the second against Yuichiro Okano with his second homer of the year.
Dayan Viciedo doubled and scored the go-ahead run for the Dragons in the fourth on a single by catcher Takuya Kinoshita.
Again, the Carp had an answer. No-out singles by Seiya Suzuki and Ryuhei Matsuyama set the table for Shota Dobayashi’s seventh home run.
With two outs and the bases loaded after back-to-back pinch-hit singles and a walk to Fukuda, Viciedo singled in two runs and was declared a tie after this season’s coronavirus 10-inning limit.
Romero, Kubo clinch win for Eagles
Stefen Romero broke up a seventh-inning tie with an RBI single and 40-year-old Yuya Kubo (1-0) retired the only batter he faced in relief to win his season debut as the Rakuten Eagles came from behind to beat the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
Former Marines captain Daichi Suzuki homered off Lotte right-hander Daiki Iwashita in the first, but Eagles southpaw Hayato Yuge surrendered the lead on single runs in the first and second on one hit, two walks and an error. Leonys Martin homered for the second-straight day with a towering blast to make it 3-1 before Hideto Asamura slammed a high-straight pitch from Yamashita into the stands for his 13th of the year and a 3-2 game.
With one on and two down in the fifth, right-hander Kubo came in to face the left-handed-hitting Martin and got him to tap back to the mound on the ninth pitch to end the inning.
Suzuki tied it against his former team when he singled to open the sixth and came home on a groundout after Iwashita walked Eigoro Mogi and Asamura to load the bases with no outs. Romero, who had homered in each of the last two games, singled in the go-ahead run.
Kazuhisa Makita worked the eighth for the Eagles, and former Eagle Frank Herrmann worked a 1-2-3 ninth for the Marines, but the hosts were unable to score against Alan Busenitz, who recorded his second save.
Fighters’ Sugiura corrals Buffaloes
Right-hander Toshihiro Sugiura (3-1) was happy to win but less so to allow a run over his eight innings in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 7-3 victory over the Orix Buffaloes at Sapporo Dome.
With a 7-0 lead in the fifth, Sugiura took his foot off the gas, failed to execute his pitches and was fortunate to only allow a run before he recovered his composure.
“You have a big lead like that, you’re supposed to go all the way and give the relievers a rest. I failed to do that as well as I should have,” said the right-hander, surrendered a hit on his first pitch but still faced the minimum through four. He allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four.
Taishi Ota singled, drove in a run and scored in the Fighters’ four-run first off lefty Sachiya Yamasaki (1-1His two-run homer in the third made it 6-0
Sho Nakata, who struck out in the first, singled and scored on Ota’s third homer of the year. Nakata added the Fighters’ seventh run on a fourth-inning sacrifice fly. The Fighters might have had more but Kensuke Kondo was doubled off first on the play.
Adam Jones drove in two in the ninth with his fifth home run of the year for the Buffaloes.
Mori breaks out of funk against Hawks
Tomoya Mori, moved to second in the order from third due to his poor run of form, doubled, homered twice, scored three and drove in three for the Seibu Lions in their 6-0 win over the SoftBank Hawks at Fukuoka’s PayPayDome.
Rookie Hawks right-hander Yugo Bando (0-1), making his first career start after three long relief appearances, gave up a Mori double and a Hotaka Yamakawa single that put the Lions on the board in the first.
Corey Spangenberg homered with one out in the second, and Mori did likewise in the third. Sosuke Genda, batting in the No. 9 spot due to poor form, singled to open the fifth and Mori homered in his second-straight at-bat to make it 5-0.
Submarine right-hander Kaito Yoza (2-2) threw five scoreless innings for the Lions to earn the win, the first time this season that SoftBank has been shut out.
Lions to re-sign 2015 top pick Tawata
The Pacific League’s Seibu Lions announced Thursday that they have re-signed pitcher Shinsaburo Tawata. Their top pick in the 2015 draft, Tawata was not extended a contract after he was diagnosed with dysautonomia, an autonomic nerve disorder.
Although not under contract, Tawata began working out with the club’s third team on March 24 according to website Full Count.
Tawata is the second prominent Japanese player to be sidetracked by dysautonomia. It also struck popular former major leaguer Munenori Kawasaki prior to the 2018 season. Kawasaki spent last winter as a player-coach for Taiwan’s Wei Chuan Dragons.
Fighters’ Villanueva, Buffs’ Rodriguez dropped
The Nippon Ham Fighters deactivated third baseman Christian Villanueva on Thursday after he fouled a ball off his foot in Wednesday’s game against the Orix Buffaloes at Sapporo Dome.
He was joined on the deactivated list by Orix’s Aderlin Rodriguez, who was hit by a pitch to force in the tying run in the same game. Rodriguez was diagnosed with a contusion on his left forearm, according to Hochi Shimbun.
Fighters reliever Katsuhiko Kumon, who hit Rodriguez and blew the Fighters’ one-run lead was also sent down due to a strained adductor muscle in his left leg. He is expected to miss four weeks, Full Count reports.