Tag Archives: Hatsuhiko Tsuji

NPB 2020 Oct. 10

Saturday’s games

Other news

Higashihama mows down Marines

SoftBank Hawks Opening Day starter Nao Higashihama (7-1) allowed a run over eight innings in a 5-1 win over the Lotte Marines on Saturday at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome that kept his team atop the Pacific League standings.

The win was SoftBank’s fifth in16 tries this season against their nemeses, who pulled into a virtual tie with a 3-1 win on Friday.

Higashihama gave up three hits and three walks while striking out eight. Rookie Kazuki Sugiyama pitched around a pair of one-out singles in the ninth to close it out.

Keizo Kawashima opened SoftBank’s account in the second with a one-out single off rookie lefty Toshiya Nakamura (2-5). He scored on a Nobuhiro Matsuda double, and Ryoya Kurihara capped the inning with his 14th home run.

The Marines changed pitchers in the third, with rookie Takuro Furuya making his first-team debut. The right-hander issued a one-out walk to Akira Nakamura. A wild pitch and a Yuki Yanagita single made it 4-0.

A base-running out by Matsuda allowed Furuya to work around a single and three straight walks in the fourth. The Marines got their lone run in the sixth on a Kenji Nishimaki double and a Kyota Fujiwara single. Both were called up Tuesday, when the Marines switched out 11 players following a series of coronavirus infections.

Yurisbel Gracial completed the scoring in the seventh with his ninth home run.

Arihara throws 1st shutout

Nippon Ham Fighters ace Kohei Arihara (6-8) did everything right in his six-hitter except get Pacific League batting leader Masataka Yoshida out in a 4-0 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Sapporo Dome.

Yoshida went 3-for-4 with a double to raise his average to .354, but his teammates couldn’t solve the right-handed Arihara.

“Their hitters came in ready to swing at the first pitch and I used that to my advantage,” said Arihara, who walked two and struck out six.

Buffaloes right-hander Taisuke Yamaoka (2-4) allowed three runs over six innings on six hits, a walk and a hit batsman but got zero run support for the second straight outing. He gave up a one-out solo homer to Ryo Watanabe in the second and two more runs in the sixth before making his exit.

“I was the one who allowed the first run. And that was the ballgame,” said Yamaoka.

Hatake silences Dragons

Yomiuri Giants right-hander Seishu Hatake extended a pre-game moment of silence at Nagoya Dome, muting the Chunichi Dragons’ offense for seven innings in a 7-1 win.

With the home team wearing the No. 88 of late Dragons manager and Hall of Fame second baseman Morimichi Takagi, who passed away in January, a moment of silence was observed in his memory.

Hatake (3-3) overcame an awkward start as he worked seven scoreless innings after allowing five this and three walks. Dragons starter Yariel Rodriguez (2-4) kept the Giants in check until the wheels fell off in a four-run fifth.

Rodriguez, who had impressed in his first two outings this season against the Giants, allowed a second-inning run on a Yoshihiro Maru single and a Zelous Wheeler double.

The right-hander struck out the side in the third and fourth before Wheeler singled to open the fifth. Wheeler was caught stealing for the second out on a busted run-and-hit, but Gerardo Parra followed with the first of five straight hits.

Wheeler homered in the sixth, while Zoilo Almonte cashed in the Dragons’ only run with an eighth-inning RBI single.

Austin, Soto overpower Tigers

Tyler Austin hit his 16th home run and Neftali Soto continued to climb back into the home race with his 20th and 21st homers as the DeNA BayStars overcame an early two-run deficit to beat the Hanshin Tigers 5-3 at Koshien Stadium.

Tigers starter Joe Gunkel (1-4) allowed four runs, three earned, on nine hits over six innings. He struck out four without a walk.

Austin homered in the third and Soto went deep in the fourth to make it a 2-2 game. Hanshin’s Yusuke Oyama singled in his second run of the game in the bottom of the fourth to retake the lead for the Tigers. Austin re-tied it in the fifth with an RBI single, Soto homered in the sixth and Austin singled in another run in the seventh.

Rookie Hiromu Ise (1-0), the BayStars’ third pick last autumn, struck out two in two perfect innings to earn his first career win. Spencer Patton and Edwin Escobar followed with one scoreless inning apiece before Kazuki Mishima earned his 13th save.

Jon Edwards allowed one run in an inning of relief for the Tigers.

Rookie Morishita dodges bullets for 8th win

The Hiroshima Carp’s top pick in last year’s draft, Masato Morishita extricated from a pair of bases-loaded predicaments to go six innings in a 3-0 victory over the Yakult Swallows at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Morishita (8-3) allowed four hits, issued three walks and hit a batter while striking out eight. Koki Ugusa, the Carp’s second pick last autumn, had two hits, driving in two in the fifth with a high chopper over the head of the shortstop.

“It’s not like we didn’t have an approach planned for him (Morishita),” Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu said. “We just didn’t do a very good job of executing it.”

Tsuji slams decision to start in rain

Seibu Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji was not in a forgiving mood on Saturday when Daiki Enokida, called up to bolster his depleted starting rotation, needed to throw 75 pitches against the Rakuten Eagles in a game that began in the rain Sendai and was called after three innings.

The game is to be replayed on Tuesday, putting Tsuji in a bind.

“This is a problem, because we simply don’t have the pitchers,” Tsuji said.

The game started in a steady rain, with water standing in pools.

“Common sense would tell you we couldn’t play baseball in that,” Tsuji said.

Active roster moves 10/10/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/20

Central League

Activated

GiantsP47Takahiro Fujioka
BayStarsP43Takuya Shindo
DragonsP82Kento Marc Ishida

Dectivated

None

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP30Daiki Enokida
FightersOF26Daiki Asama

Dectivated

LionsP50Shunta Nakatsuka
FightersIF44Christian Villanueva
FightersOF3Wang Po-jung

Dectivated

None

Starting pitchers for Oct. 11, 2020

Pacific League

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

Kenta Uehara (1-2, 2.60) vs Hirotoshi Masui (1-2, 3.28)

Eagles vs Lions: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Ryota Takinaka (0-1, 4.61) vs Wataru Matsumoto (4-4, 4.12)

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

Tsuyoshi Wada (6-1, 3.20) vs Manabu Mima (9-2, 4.31)

Central League

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

Tatsuya Shimizu (0-0, 3.00) vs Shosei Togo (8-4, 2.75)

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

Takumi Akiyama (6-3, 2.82) vs Taiga Kamichatani (2-2, 3.71)

Carp vs Swallows: Mazda Stadium 1:30 pm, 0:30 am EDT

Yuta Nakamura (1-2, 3.45) vs Yasuhiro Ogawa (9-4, 3.70)

Tigers return all-star fire at Koshien

Koji Chikamoto had a night for the record books on Saturday. The Hanshin Tigers rookie became the second player to hit for an all-star cycle and was named the MVP of All-Star Game series Game 2, an 11-3 blowout by the Central League that ended the Pacific League’s five-game winning streak.

Chikamoto became the first rookie to lead off the first inning of an all-star game when he went deep off Orix Buffaloes pitcher Taisuke Yamaoka in the CL’s two-run first.

After Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano’s two scoreless innings, the CL hitters got to face Seibu Lions right-hander Kona Takahashi. To say they schooled him or took him to the woodshed would be an understatement. They went to the lumber yard and gave him a beating with some serious clubs.

Two Tigers catchers went deep back to back to open the inning. Fumihito Haraguchi, who homered in the ninth inning of Friday’s game as a pinch hitter led off. His catching partner Ryutaro Umeno, an early favorite for the CL’s Best Nine Award, followed. Chikamoto doubled and scored on the first of two doubles by the Chunichi Dragons’ Shuhei Takahashi.

After a Tetsuto Yamada singled, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo crushed a line drive out to left center, which takes a tremendous poke at Koshien, which boasts Japan’s deepest power alleys thanks to its original design as a multipurpose stadium.

“I felt my pitches just weren’t good enough to face the best CL hitters.” said Takahashi, who was added to his first PL all-star roster by his skipper, Hatsuhiko Tsuji of the Lions.

“I think I’ll be happy to avoid the all-star game from now on.”

After one win and one loss, Tsuji said.

Chikamoto became the first player with four extra-base hits in an all-star game and the second to have five hits, the other being Yakult’s Roberto Petagine in 2001.

The series, at Japan’s two biggest parks, set a two-tame attendance record of 90,008 spectators.

The two home run derby finalists, each homered in the game. Seiya Suzuki of the Hiroshima Carp won this year’s derby, beating Friday’s finalist Masataka Yoshida of Orix 4-3.

Suzuki beat Tomoya Mori of the Lions 4-3 in his first round and then knocked off Tsutsugo 5-4 in their semifinal. Tsutsugo advanced past Japan home run leader Hotaka Yamakawa on a tie-breaker.

Catching up with Tomoya Mori

Tomoya Mori

Four years after his bat kept him in the Seibu Lions lineup when his defense behind the plate would not, 23-year-old Tomoya Mori has gone from pleading for an opportunity to catch to becoming the club’s everyday backstop.

The Lions No. 1 draft pick in 2013 out of high school powerhouse Osaka Toin, Mori had trouble with passed balls in his 2014 rookie year in the minors. But having destroyed minor league pitching with his bat, the Lions made Mori their designated hitter in 2015, but didn’t play a single game behind the plate.

But Mori worked hard that offseason and in camp and caught 33 games from 2015 to 2016 as a backup to two-time Golden Glove winner Ginjiro Sumitani. A year ago, Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji made Mori his No. 1 catcher.

Mori hit like an MVP when he was in the lineup as a catcher as the Lions won the Pacific League, overcoming the PL’s worst ERA with a 792-run battering ram of an offense.

“That (being an everyday catcher) has always been my goal. Last year, manager Tsuji stuck with me, and I’m grateful to him for that,” Mori said in an April interview. “Because of that, I feel I have to produce good results this season.”

“I believe catching is pretty hard, and so it’s worth doing –if only for that reason alone. So I want to not only catch but play that position for all I’m worth.”

Tomoya Mori throw
Seibu’s Tomoya Mori practices his craft before a game. In 2018, he threw out 37.3 percent of the runners who tried to steal off him, the second best figure in NPB.

“Last season, the batters really helped us out. That’s something I thought about all season. My theme for this entire season is to be part of a battery that gives us a chance to win games. Even if it only happens once, I want to be a part of a game where people say the battery won it for us. For their part, the pitchers share in that desire.”

Opposing batters’ 2018 offense with different Seibu Lions pitchers and catchers.

“First and foremost is getting results. Getting those demands we shut down our opponents. The biggest issue from last year was the quality of our battery work when everything fell apart after we gave up the first run.”

Although Mori did not call all the pitches last year, he said he had to share responsibility for the outcomes.

“No (I don’t call every pitch). But if I put down a sign, I have to take some responsibility for that,” he said. “But rather than trying to assign blame to the catcher or to the pitcher that we think of those as mistakes by the battery.”

So how do you minimize those mistakes?

“Communication is important, whether or not you get a batter out or not, if you’re always talking about pitch selection, then you don’t have to say it because you are in sync,” he said. “Having a battery that is thinking along the same lines is a big factor in getting batters out.”

He said there are times when he gets a bad feeling from the pitcher’s body language about a pitch.

“Those times, I think, ‘Oh, no. This is going to get hit,'” he said. “So sometimes, I’ll think I’ll want a pitch that might lead to a walk but will avoid giving up an extra-base hit. Of course, you plan to change the pitch selection based depending on the situation.”

One situation where Mori’s performance definitely looked like he was uncomfortable last year was at designated hitter, where he hit like a catcher — a .318 OBP with a .330 slugging average. When he caught, his OBP was .396 and he slugged .420.

“I wasn’t aware of that until some people in the media pointed it out,” he said. “After that I started thinking that maybe I did feel a little different as a DH, but it wasn’t like I wanted to change things or tried to do anything differently.”

Also see my thoughts on Mori as a candidate for the PL’s top catcher last year.