Tag Archives: Hayato Sakamoto

NPB 2020 8-12 games and news

Eagles’ Ota backs Wakui in win over Lions

The Seibu Lions snapped their former ace’s scoreless-inning streak but that was small consolation in their 6-2 loss to Hideaki Wakui (7-0) and the Rakuten Eagles at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.

Hiroaki Shimauchi doubled with one out in the second and opened the scoring off 21-year-old right-hander Sho Ito (0-1) on a one-out single by Eagles catcher Hikaru Ota. Shimauchi doubled and scored in the fourth on Ota’s second homer of the year.

Coming off a one-hit shutout in his previous start, Wakui had not allowed a run since the first inning of his start on July 29. He was in complete command until a couple of lazy fastballs resulted in seventh-inning solo homers by Tomoya Mori and Ernesto Mejia, who had homered twice on Tuesday. Wakui left the game hurt with two outs and 40-year-old right-hander Yuya Kubo had to finish off pinch-hitter Hotaka Yamakawa for the final out.

Wakui allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out two and started a season 7-0 for the first time in his career.

Ito, the Lions’ third draft pick in 2017, suffered his first pro loss. He allowed three runs on two walks and seven hits over four-plus innings.

J.T. Chargois and Alan Busenitz each worked a scoreless inning for the Eagles, who are locked in a tie for first place in the Pacific League with the SoftBank Hawks.

Buffaloes still can’t solve Wada

Tsuyoshi Wada is 39-years-old and in his 13th season in Japan, but at the speed their going, the Orix Buffaloes may never figure him out. The lefty allowed three singles and no walks while striking out five over 6-2/3 scoreless innings in the SoftBank Hawks’ 6-0 win at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

“This has been going on for a long time,” Buffaloes manager Norifumi Nishimura said of Wada, who shut them out over six innings on July 15. “We have to find a way to hit him.”

Nobuhiro Matsuda, dropped to the No. 9 spot for lack of hits, went 2-for-4 with three RBIs to raise his batting average to .205.

Nakata routs Marines

Nippon Ham Fighters cleanup hitter Sho Nakata hit his 14th and 15th home runs and drove in six runs in a 12-4 rout of the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Nakata opened the scoring in the first inning with a two-out, two-run homer off lefty Kazuya Oda (3-4), who gave up six runs over 6-2/3 innings to take the loss. Leading 4-1 in the seventh, Nakata iced it with a three-run shot.

Side-arm Fighters lefty Naoki Miyanishi (35) reached 350 career holds. No. 2 on the list is former Giants lefty Tetsuya Yamaguchi, who had 273.

Sakamoto powers Giants as Sugano wins 7th

Hayato Sakamoto homered twice and Tomoyuki Sugano (7-0 ) allowed a run over x innings for the Yomiuri Giants in an 8-1 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo Dome

The Swallows took the lead on two-out second-inning doubles by Takeshi Miyamoto and Alcides Escobar, but the Giants effectively put the game out of reach in the home half against Juri Hara (2-1).

A leadoff walk, an error, and a sacrifice put two in scoring position and No. 8 hitter Naoki Yoshikawa singled in both of them. With two outs, Sakamoto hit his eighth home run, and Gerardo Parra followed with his fourth to make it 5-1. Prior to his first homer, Sakamoto had been hitless in 20 plate appearances.

Vieira brings the heat

Brazilian flame thrower Thyago Vieira became the second pitcher recorded at 163 kph (101.3 mph). The NPB record is 165 kph, set by Shohei Ohtani.

 

Dragons’ Yanagi shuts down Carp

Yuya Yanagi (2-2) allowed a run over 7-2/3 innings for the Chunichi Dragons in their 4-1 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Yanagi allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four. Lefty Kris Johnson (0-4) gave up four runs, three earned, on five hits and four walks without a strikeout over 5-1/3 innings.

Nobumasa Fukuda drew a leadoff walk in the fourth and opened the scoring on a Dayan Viciedo single and a groundout. Masataka Iryo singled in another run to make it 2-0 Dragons. Fukuda opened the Dragons’ two-run seventh with a single and scored when Iryo drew a bases-loaded walk.

Raidel Martinez worked the ninth to earn his seventh save.

Tigers hold off BayStars

Masahiro Nakatani’s three-run fourth-inning home run brought the Hanshin Tigers from behind and they held on for a 7-6 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

Jerry Sands followed Nakatani with his eighth home run to make it 6-3, while Joe Gunkel pitched a scoreless inning of relief for the Tigers. Robert Suarez allowed a run on three hits in the ninth to nail down his seventh save.

Hawks superstar Yuki Yanagita apparently finds the Orix Buffaloes’ Lucky Seven fight song catchy too.

BayStars Austin diagnosed with concussion

DeNA BayStars outfielder Tyler Austin has been diagnosed with concussion and whiplash the Hochi Shimbun reported Wednesday. The 28-year-old in his first Japanese season, slammed into the outfield wall at Koshien Stadium on July 31.

He was deactivated on Aug. 5 and rules would allow him to return as early as Aug. 15, but BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said he he didn’t expect Austin to return that soon.

The player is now being treated at the club’s farm and rehab facility in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, to return this week.

In 22 games, Austin has posted a .393 on-base percentage and a .627 slugging average.

Murakami joins monthly MVP frequent flyers

Yakult Swallows corner infielder Munetaka Murakami, the Central League’s 2019 Rookie of the year, was named the league’s hitter of the month for June and July–Ok it’s the (position) player of the month–but the selectors don’t seem to understand defense is part of the game.

It was the first monthly award for the 20-year-old, although had some veteran company as Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano was named pitcher of the month for the seventh time. The Pacific League’s awards went to four-time winning pitcher Hideaki Wakui of the Rakuten Eagles and six-time winning center fielder Yuki Yanagita of the SoftBank Hawks.

The awards have traditionally gone to hitters with the best triple crown stats and the starting pitcher with the most wins and no more than one loss.

Murakami led the CL with 37 RBIs, had the league’s second-best on-base-percentage (.441). Sugano went 5-0 to lead the league in wins while throwing two complete games, including a one-hit shutout.

The NPB blurb babbles on about how Sugano was entrusted with starting on Opening Day for the sixth time, and how he was the winning pitcher in the franchise’s 6,000th win which have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not he was the best pitcher in the league.

Wakui became the first PL player to win a monthly award with three teams after winning with Seibu and Lotte, and is the second after current DeNA BayStars manager Alex Ramirez to win with three different clubs (Yakult, Yomiuri, DeNA). The award is his first in four years.

The 34-year-old right-hander, who was sold by the Marines to the Eagles over the winter, had 9.88 strikeouts per nine innings, the highest figure among ERA leader eligible pitchers.

Yanagita scored 38 runs in 37 games, a rare reference in these awards to runs scored and also led the PL in hits, triples, total bases, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging average. Because of a leg injury last season, Yanagita lacked the plate appearances needed to lead the league in on-base percentage and slugging average for the fifth-straight time.

Only Hall of Famer Sadaharu led his league in both categories more than three years straight. Here’s another look at his one-handed home run on Tuesday:

Active roster moves 8/12/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/22

Central League

Activated

GiantsP12Rubby De La Rosa
GiantsIF51Shunta Tanaka
GiantsOF36Shingo Ishikawa
CarpP26Ren Nakata
SwallowsP16Juri Hara
SwallowsIF60Ryusei Takeoka
SwallowsOF51Taiki Hamada

Dectivated

CarpP30Ryuji Ichioka
SwallowsOF9Yasutaka Shiomi

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP23Shogo Noda
FightersP14Takayuki Kato
FightersP31Toru Murata
FightersOF26Daiki Asama

Dectivated

LionsP34Yasuo Sano
FightersIF91Yuto Takahama
FightersOF4Yuya Taniguchi

Starting pitchers for Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020

Pacific League

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

Kaito Yoza (2-3, 4.79) vs Yuki Matsui (0-1, 5.27)

Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Daiki Iwashita (3-3, 3.48) vs Ryusei Kawano (2-3, 4.05)

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

Kotaro Otake (-) vs Chang Yi (-)

Central League

Giants vs Swallows: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Cristopher Mercedes (2-4, 3.72) vs Hirotoshi Takanashi (1-2, 4.73)

Do the right thing

Japanese pro baseball is trying to open its season in a responsible way, but that does not mean it’s easy. This was made clear on Wednesday, when one of its 2019 MVPs, on one of the nation’s more popular teams tested positive.

Compared to the United States, Japan’s COVID0-19 response has been fairly apolitical, meaning disinformation has not been a huge problem here. But even still, this is a tricky issue here and something that does not bode well for American baseball this year.

Officials rushed in to declare that everything was normal, and a top epidemiologist concurred, but that doesn’t make it any less concerning about whether playing baseball in empty stadiums is still feasible.

Hayato Sakamoto, the Yomiuri Giants’ team captain and one of the faces of the Japanese game was reported to be asymptomatic. He and a teammate had PRC tests taken because the Giants asked everyone in the organization who comes in contact with players to have antibody tests taken.

The Giants were quick to point out that no one would have known about Sakamoto or Oshiro’s brushes with COVID-19 had they not undergone team-wide testing. Because epidemiology specialists ruled the players to be low risks to infect others, Nippon Professional Baseball, which has a long history of accommodating the Giants, said “Nothing to see here.”

That may be true. There is no indication that results are being fudged, but there are questions about how far teams are willing to go to make sure things are done in a safe manner. The PR-conscious Giants ordered everyone connected to the team who had come into contact with Sakamoto and Oshiro to undergo a PCR test within 24 hours.

But the Seibu Lions, who played the Giants on Tuesday at Tokyo Dome in a practice game in said essentially, “we were not told it would be necessary, so we are not having tests done.” The Lions and Giants were due to play another game on Wednesday but the Giants canceled it.

There’s the problem.

Japan has avoided doing rigorous testing, not because of a lack of capacity but because testing would increase the known number of infections. This has partly been a policy to put a good spin on the government’s handling of the situation although it most certainly started as a way of protecting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Japan in which the nation had invested huge sums.

People with symptoms have been unable to get tests until they’re really, really sick. People have died at home because they were told to self-quarantine and stop bothering doctors and government COVID 19 hotline operators.

That’s the social picture. But there are other questions.

1. Why wait to retest?

Sakamoto, Oshiro and the two others were reportedly given the PCR tests on Tuesday evening after they played against the Lions. But the antibody tests, which are said to produce very quick results were supposedly completed by Sunday.

What took the Giants so long to get PCR tests for their four COVID-19 candidates? Did nobody at the team bother to find out about the antibody test results until after a game was played?

Whatever it was that allowed the two to play after they were believed to have been infected raises a flag. Teams are trying to establish new procedures and manuals so it just might have been a case of something falling through the cracks.

So nobody’s perfect, and certainly most people aren’t perfect the first time they try out a new system. But if the Giants are the team pushing hardest to have a system in place, and they dropped the ball, what does that say for everyone else? NPB is trying hard but it isn’t easy, and no one should be fooled into thinking it is.

Taiwan has managed it because of national preparation and quick aggressive responses, but Japan is not Taiwan, or even South Korea for that matter.

2. What about NPB’s strict guidelines?

NPB is in the middle of formulating strict quarantine and isolation guidelines that would keep anyone testing positive away from their teammates for a long time.

These sounded harsh but practical. Any player or team staff member testing positive would be required to stay home until two weeks after testing negative. The first news that those guidelines were too impractical to teams whose job is to win games first and foremost was when the Giants told people they expected Sakamoto and Oshiro to return as soon as they tested negative.

To that end the two were hospitalized so they can be tested daily. The guidelines, which were due out a few days ago, are apparently still being hammered out.

NPB’s secretary general Atsushi Ihara, a former Yomiuri employee, said nothing that was learned Wednesday was going to change peoples’ thinking about starting the season on June 19 as planned. It should be noted that Ihara was a chief actor in the plot that overthrew former commissioner Ryozo Kato–when Kato wouldn’t introduce a livelier ball the teams wanted, Ihara got a few others to conspire behind the commissioner’s back to change the ball without his knowledge.

The hidden game of baseball and MLB

All this points to is that despite NPB working hard to appear to lay all its cards on the table and be open about how it will attack the coronavirus issue, things are not as transparent as they seem.

Even in a country where the government is not a huge spreader of disinformation and COVID-19 has not become a political football, nothing is exactly as it seems. Owners have declined to talk about financial losses, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a concern.

In the United States, where reopening is a political as well as an economic issue, it will be far harder to get straight answers to complicated questions. If anyone says it will be safe and feasible to play baseball even behind closed doors in the United States this year, there is an excellent chance they are talking out their ass.