Tag Archives: Hideto Asamura

NPB news: April 18, 2023

On Tuesday, rookies took center stage in Hokkaido, while for 32-year-old Hideto Asamura had the kind of game we used to expect from him in past years, while Kaima Taira and Shuta Tonosaki led the Lions. The Central League’s games were all about pitching, with very little to separate the winners and losers.

On another note, I went on to the field for the first time prior to an official NPB game for the first time since Oct. 23, 2019 when the SoftBank Hawks completed their sweep of the Japan Series at Tokyo Dome.

MLB, South Korea’s KBO and Taiwan’s CPBL have all returned to their pre-pandemic pre- and postgame reporting norms, but Japan has been holding out, allowing teams to set their own COVID-19 restrictions on fans and reporters. Some teams have resumed letting fans on the field during batting practice so they can get up close to the players, while those same teams are still restricting reporters to the stands.

Reporting on the field

At Tokyo Dome on Tuesday, Seibu, hosted the SoftBank Hawks, who have been restricting their beat writers, to the stands and camera pen. The Lions side of the field was back to pre-pandemic normal. When I went to the SoftBank side, all the reporters were either still in the stands or in with the photographers, from where they were expected to talk to players.

I was allowed to stand on my own near the dugout until I started speaking to Kensuke Kondo. We were interrupted by a Hawks PR person who suggested I go over to where the other reporters were.

The Tokyo Sports Kisha Club, which organizes Japan’s pro baseball media, filed a complaint with NPB in 2021 and was told to mind its own business, but on May 8, Japan will officially downgrade COVID-19 to the status of a common cold, so it will be very interesting to see what restrictions remain.

I won’t be surprised if some teams want to hold out as long as they can to prevent reporters from loitering on the field where they can question everybody in uniform without the team’s permission.

Tuesday’s games

BayStars 2, Giants 0: At Nagasaki, Kenta Ishida (2-1) allowed four singles, while striking out eight and walking none over eight innings, Neftali Soto’s bases-loaded RBI infield single broke up a scoreless game against Shosei Togo in the fourth.

Toshiro Miyazaki, who doubled in the fourth to contribute to the BayStars’ first run, singled in an eighth-inning insurance run after Keita Sano’s leadoff double, and Yasuaki Yamasaki retired three straight pinch-hitters in the ninth for his fourth save.

Lions 7, Hawks 3: At Tokyo Dome, Seibu erupted for four home runs while Kaima Taira (2-0) allowed a run over six innings on two hits by Ryoya Kurihara and four walks.

Shuta Tonosaki tied it 1-1 in the fourth with his third home run, off Shuta Ishikawa (1-1), and Takeya Nakamura hit his second to put the Lions in front.

Takeya Nakamura‘s second homer of the season gives Seibu a 2-1 lead.

Ishikawa left in the fifth with one out and two one, but Tonosaki treated reliever Katsuki Matayoshi no less rudely, belting a three-run homer before Mark Payton’s third made it 7-1.

Shuta Tonosaki’s fourth homer of the season.

Swallows 2, Dragons 0: At Matsuyama, Chunichi created plenty of scoring opportunities but

Cy Sneed (3-0) stranded nine runners over six innings, while two catchable balls to Aristides Aquino in the first inning were not caught. One a routine fly to left, was charged an error, the second, to the warning track was ruled an RBI double for Munetaka Murakami.

Hideaki Wakui (0-3) only had one really tough inning, when the Swallows loaded the bases in the fourth, and got a run on a groundout. Instead, Sneed remained unbeaten in his career against the Dragons.

“Mucho (catcher Yuhei Nakamura) called a great game, we played pretty good defense and the bullpen did a fantastic job closing it out,” Sneed said. “Lot of runners on base today, but that’s where you have confidence in your catcher and in the fielders behind you and just keep trying to make good pitches.”

Swallows-Dragons highlights

Eagles 5, Buffaloes 1: At Osaka Dome, Hideto Asamura turned back the clock. After 5-1/3 innings from Taisuke Yamaoka and 1-2/3 innings from Yuki Udagawa left Orix with a 1-0 lead, after Takahiro Norimoto surrendered Kotaro Kurehara’s fourth-inning RBI single.

Jacob Waguespack (1-2) got two quick outs, but the game went south on a Yuma Tongu error that extended the inning and brought Asamura to the plate. He hit Waguespack’s second pitch for his first home run of the season. Waguespack walked Maikel Franco and Hitomi Honda allowed the runner on first to score on a single and two more walks.

Hideto Asamura’s 1st home run of 2023

Asamura’s two-out homer in the ninth sparked a two-run final inning.

Tigers 2, Carp 1: At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin’s Yuki Nishi (1-1) lost his shutout bid with two outs in the ninth when Ryan McBroom doubled home Ryosuke Kikuchi on a 2-2 pitch to put Hiroshima up 1-0, but picked up the win when the Ryoji Kuribayashi (0-2) blew the save opportunity.

Ryutaro Umeno singled with one out, and Seiya Kinami doubled. The Carp put Koji Chikamoto on to face Takumu Nakano, who doubled in both runners to end it.

Takumu Nakano‘s walk-off RBI double.

Marines 4, Fighters 2: At Kitahiroshima Taxpayers Burden Field, it was rookie day.

Kazuya Ojima (1-1) surrendered a third-inning run on rookie Taiki Narama’s first career homer, but the Marines came back in the fourth on a Kyota Fujiwara triple and a single by rookie Atsuki Tomosugi who then scored with the help of two wild pitches by Fighters’ rookie Shoma Kanemura (1-1).

Kanemura struck out eight without a walk while allowing four runs, two earned, on four singles over six innings. A sixth-inning error, a Tomosugi single and a Koki Yamaguchi double made it 4-1.

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NPB wrap 5-3-21

1-strike pitch to Yuma

Buffaloes 6, Lions 3

At MetLife Dome, Orix performed two different versions of the Elmore Leonard western “3:10 to Yuma.” Instead of an impoverished rancher getting a villain onto a train bound for Yuma Arizona, the NPB versions involved downtrodden Buffaloes getting the surviving dangerous Lions –on two fastballs: a 2-1 pitch to Yuma Tongu and a 1-1 heater to Yuma Mune.

Tongu’s fourth home run, a three-run sixth-inning homer, opened the scoring. Mune’s, a low liner to center against a drawn-in Lions outfield, iced the game in the eighth. Mune’s was his third of the season and his second in two games.

Keita Sano and Adam Jones co-starred in both versions, opening the sixth and eighth inning with singles off Tetsu Miyagawa (0-1) in the sixth and Ryosuke Moriwaki in the eighth, and then before the Lions knew it, or “あっという間” (attoiuma) as they say in Japanese, it was Yuma time.

The Lions got two back in the seventh against 19-year-old Buffaloes’ lefty Hiroya Miyagi, who had faced one batter over the minimum to that point. A leadoff walk and a single set up one-out Takumi Kuriyama and Cory Spangenberg RBI singles.

The Lions came within a hair of tying it when Wu Nien Ting lined a pitch down the left field line that was ruled to have gone foul by smidgen – or a 10th of a smidge. Wu struck out and Miyagi was charged with two runs over 6-2/3 innings on two walks, a hit batsman and four hits. The rookie struck out five.

By the way, I went to two games at Tigers Stadium in 1999, to see Masao Kida, who earned his only major league game the first night, the same game that Elmore Leonard kicked off by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

The Seibu Lions wasted five scoreless innings from Matt Dermody, whose biggest difficulty in his Japan debut was navigating umpire Shinichiro Hara’s strike zone. Dermody struck out three, walked three and allowed five hits.

Eagles 7, Hawks 4

Eagles 7, Hawks 4

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Hideto Asamura scored three runs and drove in two as the Rakuten Eagles overcame an early three-run deficit. Ryota Takinaka (2-2) struggled with his control in the first inning, when two of SoftBank’s three runs were unearned, but settled in to go five innings.

SoftBank starter Akira Niho (0-1) cruised through four innings but allowed an unearned run in the fourth and was lit up in the fifth. Asamura, who singled and scored in the fourth, tied it with a two-out, two-run double and scored on a Hiroaki Shimauchi single.

With two outs and first base open in the seventh, the Hawks elected to walk Asamura intentionally, but he scored on a two-run Shimauchi double.

Yuki Matsui earned his eighth save, but the Hawks made him work for it with some gritty at-bats in a 23-pitch inning.

BayStars 2, Dragons 1

At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, DeNA starting pitcher Michael Peoples (1-0) couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune time for the Central League’s last-place BayStars. The second-year right-hander struck out six while allowing four hits and walking none over six scoreless innings to win a pitchers’ duel with another 2021 debutant, Chunichi’s Kodai Umetsu (0-1).

Umetsu allowed two runs, one earned, over five innings on two hits, two walks and a hit batsman. The BayStars took the lead thanks to a leadoff error that allowed Peoples to reach and score on a walk, a sacrifice and a groundout. Keita Sano made it 2-0 in the sixth, when he hammered a hanging slider from Keisuke Tanimoto for his third home run.

After a scoreless seventh by Edwin Escobar, right fielder Tyler Austin just barely misjudged a ball, turning a double into a leadoff triple, and allowing Akira Neo to score from third on a ground out against Yasuaki Yamasaki. But that was it for Chunichi’s offense as Kazuki Mishima struck out Mike Gerber and Dayan Viciedo en route to a 1-2-3 ninth and his fifth save.

Giants  3, Carp 2

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Zelous Wheeler hit the Yomiuri Giants’ third home run, a seventh-inning tie-breaking shot off Masato Morishita (3-3), and Yohei Kagiya  (1-0) retired all four batters he faced, including Kevin Cron after he inherited a two-out bases-loaded jam to earn the win.

Hayato Sakamoto fifth homer opened the scoring for the Giants, and Yoshihiro Maru’s second tied it in the sixth. Hiroshima’s Seiya Suzuki hit a two-run shot in the third. The Giants used four pitchers to get through the ninth. Thyago Vieira entered with one out and surrendered two hits. Yuhei Takanashi entered with two outs and the bases loaded and retired pinch-hitter Kosuke Tanaka to earn his first save.

I leave you with 8-time Golden Glove winner Ryosuke Kikuchi’s 5th inning robbery.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Lions vs Buffaloes: MetLife Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Towa Uema (1-1, 5.02) vs Daichi Takeyasu (1-0, 3.21)

Hawks vs Eagles: PayPay Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Shunsuke Kasaya (1-2, 4.30) vs Takayuki Kishi (2-2, 3.34)

Central League

Swallows vs Tigers: Jingu Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Kazuto Taguchi (1-2, 4.26) vs Yuki Nishi (3-2, 2.38)

Dragons vs BayStars: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Yudai Ono (1-2, 2.50) vs Shinichi Onuki (1-2, 5.27)

Carp vs Giants: Mazda Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Hiroki Tokoda (1-2, 4.56) vs Yuki Takahashi (5-0, 1.80)

Active roster moves 5/3/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/13

Central League


DragonsP18Kodai Umetsu
BayStarsP13Hiromu Ise
BayStarsP45Michael Peoples
CarpOF59Minoru Omori


BayStarsP12Kosuke Sakaguchi
CarpP19Yusuke Nomura
SwallowsP29Yasuhiro Ogawa

Pacific League


HawksP13Akira Niho
HawksOF51Seiji Uebayashi
LionsP28Ryosuke Moriwaki
LionsP98Matt Dermody
EaglesP57Ryota Takinaka
BuffaloesP13Hiroya Miyagi


HawksOF54Alfredo Despaigne
BuffaloesP11Sachiya Yamasaki