Tag Archives: Joe Gunkel

NPB wrap 7-1-21

Players share their all-star votes

A total of 756 players cast ballots for who THEY think should be in the All-Star games, and while no one was close to a unanimous selection, the player most players believe should be there turned out to be Yuki Yanagita, who was named as on 573 ballots.

Individual players who were not voted in by fans, are added to their leagues’ teams if they lead the player voting. Yanagita was already in, so this was just the cherry on top of the sundae for him.

NPB All-Star Players ballot results

Otherwise, the players added were:

Pacific League

  • P: Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Buffaloes
  • 3B: Nobuhiro Matsuda, Hawks

Central League

  • P: Yuya Yanagi, Dragons
  • 1B: Dayan Viciedo, Dragons
  • 2B: Ryosuke Kikuchi, Carp
  • 3B: Kazuma Okamoto, Giants
  • SS: Hayato Sakamoto, Giants
  • OF: Zelous Wheeler, Giants

I have no idea why the players and fans disagreed so much in the CL and so little in the PL, although the PL’s DH vote was WEIRD. First of all, the winner, Lotte’s Leonys Martin, won an outfield spot on both ballots and won the DH with just 85 votes. His teammate, Brandon Laird, won the fan ballot for DH but didn’t crack the top three in the players’ ballot, as reported by NPB.

Fighters 2, Eagles 1

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park,Nippon Ham rookie Hiromi Ito (6-4) won a duel with Rakuten veteran Takayuki Kishi (3-6). Both pitched seven innings, both allowed one earned run.

The rain-buffeted game was decided by the right fielders. Rakuten’s Rusney Castillo failed to catch a ball that led to an unearned first-inning run, driven in by Fighters right fielder Kensuke Kondo.

The Eagles had a chance to tie it with two outs, but somehow Kondo, a former catcher, managed to throw out Hiroto Kobukata trying to score on a single from second. The throw was strong enough but offline, forcing Fighters catcher Ryo Ishikawa to make an acrobatic tag.

Lions 1, Hawks 0

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Seibu’s Cory Spangenberg blasted his fifth home run in the seventh inning off Shota Takeda (4-4), who went seven innings. Lions starter Kona Takahashi (7-3) went eight and Kaima Taira set a record by not being charged with a run over 39 consecutive pitching appearances despite allowing a single and a double. He was helped out of the jam when Hawks pinch-runner Naoki Sato barely over-slid the bag at third, where Spangenberg tagged him out.

After the game, asked about what got him through his jam, Taira said, “I was lucky.”

Giants 10, Carp 4

At Tokyo Dome, Hiroshima chased Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano in the third inning before Yomiuri roared back to turn this one into a laugher, with Seiya Matsubara reaching base four times, scoring twice and driving in four runs.

Matsubara and Zelous Wheeler each hit their eighth home run, while Hayato Sakamoto hit his 10th for the Giants. The Carp went deep twice, Ryoma Nishikawa hitting his seventh and Seiya Suzuki his 11th.

As for Sugano, Pro Yakyu News analyst Tomoya Satozaki said, “His velocity was down and he couldn’t locate, so there weren’t a lot of positives.”

Giants-Carp highlights

Swallows 6, Tigers 1

At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin closer Robert Suarez (1-1) blew up a 1-1 tie in the ninth when he just didn’t appear to have much feel for the ball. Tetsuto Yamada, who tied it in the seventh with his 21st homer, off Joe Gunkel, singled with one out. With two outs, Jose Osuna singled for the third time, and pinch-hitter Shingo Kawabata walked. After that, Suarez’s pitches got a little straight, and career minor leaguer Takeshi Miyamoto lined a straight 160-kph fastball to left for a two-run single. Kosuke Baba entered but allowed two inherited runs to score plus one he let on himself.

When Suarez took the mound, all I could think of was how lucky I was to watch such a well-pitched game. Gunkel struck out 10, walked none and allowed four hits over seven innings. Yamada’s homer was a fly to right that found the sweet spot at huge Koshien Stadium, where the outfield fence curves in at the foul pole to make an inviting home run target.

Swallows rookie Yasunobu Okugawa struck out six, walked none and allowed four hits over seven innings, including catcher Ryutaro Umeno’s sixth-inning leadoff homer.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Lions vs Buffaloes: MetLife Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Takeru Sasaki (0-0, 5.87) vs Yoshinobu Yamamoto (7-5, 1.90)

Marines vs Eagles: Zozo Marine Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Fumiya Motomae (1-1, 5.40) vs Takahiro Norimoto (6-3, 3.01)

Central League

BayStars vs Giants: Jingu Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Taiga Kamichatani (0-3, 10.69) vs C. C. Mercedes (3-1, 3.32)

Dragons vs Swallows: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Yuya Yanagi (6-3, 2.33) vs Keiji Takahashi (2-0, 2.08)

Carp vs Tigers: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shogo Tamamura (1-3, 3.82) vs Yuki Nishi (4-4, 2.84)

Active roster moves 7/1/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/11

Central League


GiantsP18Tomoyuki Sugano
SwallowsP11Yasunobu Okugawa


SwallowsP38Yugo Umeno

Pacific League


HawksIF55Daiju Nomura
EaglesIF9Brandon Dixon


HawksIF36Taisei Makihara
MarinesP35Shota Suzuki
MarinesP64Yuta Ohmine
MarinesOF31Tsuyoshi Sugano
MarinesOF38Akito Takabe
EaglesIF5Eigoro Mogi
FightersP33Kazuaki Tateno

NPB Wrap 6-13-21

Interleague Day 18: CL on brink of success

The regularly scheduled interleague games ended on Sunday, with the leagues splitting the six games, leaving the Central League with a 42-40 lead with 11 ties, while trailing in runs 461-431. There are three games remaining, all in Hiroshima, so this could go either way, although the PL will most likely lead in runs for the 15th time in 16 seasons.

On the final day — not counting the three make-ups — the Hanshin Tigers completed a three-game sweep of the Rakuten Eagles, while the Yakult Swallows, long the CL’s doormats, finished a three-game sweep of the four-time defending Japan Series champion SoftBank Hawks IN Fukuoka. Surprise, surprise, surprise.

Tigers 6, Eagles 5

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Hanshin’s Joe Gunkel returned to the mound for the first time in over a month and was lights out. He retired nine straight with ease, gave up two infield singles and a double in the fourth, and then retired nine straight for two runs over six innings.

The Tigers battled against Rakuten rookie lefty Takahisa Hayakawa, who, like his teammates couldn’t buy an easy third out. Takumu Nakano opened the scoring in the third. He singled with two outs, stole his CL-best 13th base, and scored on a Jefry Marte single. Ryutaro Umeno then triggered three run-scoring innings with two-out walks. Trailing 2-1 in the fifth, Koji Chikamoto hit his fifth homer to plate Umeno and put Hanshin in front.

Umeno walked and Chikamoto singled in the seventh and scored on a Nakano single.

The Eagles came behind on two runs against Kosuke Baba in the seventh, and Daichi Suzuki led off the eighth with his fourth homer against Shintaro Fujinami (3-1), who earned the win after Chikamoto tripled home Umeno off Yuki Matsui (0-2) in the ninth. Robert Suarez notched his Japan-best 21st save.

Swallows 6, Hawks 4

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, as one of the announcers said, “There are times when Tsuyoshi Wada (4-4) has it and times when he doesn’t.” This was one of those latter times. Tetsuto Yamada singled in a run in the first for Yakult, singled and scored on Munetaka Murakami’s Japan-best 20th home run in the third and hit his 17th home run, with a man on, in the fifth to chase Wada.

Yakult lefty Keiji Takahashi (1-0), who has gone from a windup worthy of the ministry of silly walks, to something approaching non-descript, gave up two runs in 6-1/3 innings. The Hawks’ first hit came on Wladimir Balentien’s 1,000th career hit and 300th home run against his former teammate. Balentien homered off new pitcher Taichi Ishiyama in the seventh to make it a 6-3 game.

And since it was officially “former Swallows hitting home runs off Yakult Day” in Fukuoka, Keizo Kawashima went deep for the second time this season in the eighth. Yuki Yanagita came up with a man on and one out in the eighth with a chance to tie it up, but hit into a double play.

Scott McGough worked the ninth for his 11th save.

Buffaloes 9, Carp 8

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Takahiro Okada singled in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as Orix blew a late four-run lead. With the game tied 8-8 after Kaito Kozono singled in his third run of the game in the ninth, Hiroshima rookie Ryoji Kuribayashi (0-1) walked the bases loaded before giving up Okada’s two-out single, allowing his first run in his 23rd career game.

Marines 5, Giants 4

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Lotte’s Brandon Laird went 2-for-2 with two sac flies and a solo homer, his 15th, while Leonys Martin bunted against the shift for a base hit, walked twice, scored twice and made an excellent catch on a sinking line drive in the ninth to secure the win and closer Naoya Masuda’s 17th save.

Katsuya Kakunaka doubled in the first of four runs against Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (2-4), who was yanked after 2-2/3 innings. The Giants scored four runs in the seventh, all charged to Kazuya Ojima (3-2). After allowing two hits and three walks through six scoreless innings, the lefty allowed two no-out singles, and with two outs, walked a batter, hit a batter to put the Giants on the board. Reliever Fumiya Ono allowed two of the three on base to score.

BayStars 4, Fighters 1

At Sapporo Dome, DeNA ace Shota Imanaga (1-1) earned his first win since having his left shoulder cleaned out last season, allowing a run on minor league home run leader Chusei Mannami’s first career homer at the top level.

Manami’s homer tied it 1-1 in the second, but RBI singles in the top of the third by Hikaru Ito and Neftali Soto put the visitors up for good against Drew VerHagen (1-5) who gave up four runs, three earned, in five innings.

Imanga allowed four hits, a walk and hit a batter while striking out six. Leadoff man Masayuki Kuwahara singled and scored three times. Edwin Escobar worked the eighth, setting a speed record for a lefty in Japan with a 163 kph fastball against his old team, while Kazuki Mishima saved his 11th game.

Lions 4, Dragons 3

At MetLife Dome, Seibu rookie Junichiro Kishi hit a first-inning home run and singled and scored a tie-breaking run in the eighth on a Wu Nien-ting single after the Chunichi Dragons overcame a three-run deficit to tie it in the seventh on Naomichi Donoue’s two-run double.

Zach Neal allowed a run over six innings for Seibu, while Chunichi’s Koji Fukutani (3-6) allowed three through seven but went out for the eighth and took the loss, allowing four runs over 7-2/3 innings, leaving two on for lefty Hiroto Fuku to face Wu.

Reed Garrett (1-2) worked the eighth to get the win, and Kaima Taira earned his sixth save, while setting a record by opening a season with 32 straight scoreless pitching appearances.

Starting pitchers


Carp vs Lions: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kazuki Yabuta (-) vs Kaito Yoza (0-1, 4.26)

Active roster moves 6/13/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 6/23

Central League


TigersP49Joe Gunkel
SwallowsP47Keiji Takahashi


TigersOF97Dan Onodera
DragonsP70Ren Kondo

Pacific League


LionsP54Zach Neal
FightersP36Drew VerHagen


MarinesP15Manabu Mima
FightersP52Takahide Ikeda
BuffaloesP29Daiki Tajima