Tag Archives: Joe Gunkel

NPB wrap 4-11-21

Hawks get past rookie Hayakawa

Hawks 2, Eagles 0

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, five SoftBank Hawks pitchers combined on a four-hitter as the defending Pacific League champs beat the PL leading Rakuten Eagles and rookie Takahisa Hayakawa (1-2) to move within a game of first place.

Hayakawa allowed a run on six hits and a walk over 5-2/3 innings. The lefty struck out seven. Reliever Tomohiro Anraku, the Eagles’ top pick in 2014, inherited two runners in the sixth but got out of the inning by striking out Akira Nakamura on a beauty of a splitter to leave the bases jammed.

The Hawks scored off Hayakawa in the fifth on a Yuki Yanagita single and a one-out Alfredo Despaigne double. With one out, runners on second and third, and the infield in, Nakamura lined into an inning-ending double play.

The Eagles drew two walks against Livan Moinelo in the eighth, which counts for something but didn’t matter on the scoreboard. Despaigne singled in the ninth, Nakamura doubled in pinch-runner Taisei Makihara, and closer Yuito Mori worked a 1-2-3 ninth to notch his third save.

Lions 2, Marines 1

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Katsunori Hirai (3-0) pitched seven impressive innings, striking out eight while allowing a run on five hits and a walk for the Seibu Lions, who edged the Lotte Marines’ top draft last autumn, Shota Suzuki (0-1).

Lions shortstop Sosuke Genda tied it 1-1 in the fourth by singling, stealing two bases and scoring on a sac fly. The Marines contributed to another wild ride around the bases as Ryusei Sato singled with one out, went to third on a two-base wild pitch, and scored on a sac fly.

Suzuki left after five innings, having struck out seven, walked two and surrendered three singles. Frank Herrmann worked the seventh for Lotte, while rookie right-hander Tokito Kawamura loaded the bases only to strike out Sato and end the Lions’ eighth.

Kaima Taira, the PL’s 2020 rookie of the year, did the same in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases before striking out Tsuyoshi Sugano, who looked at a little 3-2 slider on the bottom of the zone from the flame-throwing right-hander.

Fighters 4, Buffaloes 4

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, the Orix Buffaloes came back to tie it in the ninth inning on Yuma Mune’s two-run, two-out triple tied it to end what through seven innings had been a pretty good pitchers’ duel between Nippon Ham Fighters lefty Takayuki Kato and rookie Hiroya Miyagi.

The rookie extricated himself from a fourth-inning pickle to take a 1-0 lead into the seventh. After two walks, he was handed an out on a failed sacrifice. Miyagi got a comebacker that had no chance to be a double play, but shortstop Ryoichi Adachi’s throw to first was wide and he apologized to the rookie.

Miyagi then gave up a line RBI single that tied it on a good first-pitch changeup. Nothing bad about that inning but the two walks, but Miyagi hung a 1-1 change to the next batter and he banged it off the wall for an RBI double.

Atsushi Nomi, who on Saturday became the oldest pitcher in Orix history to record a save, gave up a leadoff homer, a walk and an RBI double. The Buffaloes came back in the ninth against Taisho Tamai. Takahiro Okada got one run back on a pinch-hit single and Mune, launched a liner that right fielder Taishi Ota misjudged and couldn’t grab.

Tigers 3, BayStars 2

At Yokohama Stadium, Hanshin’s Joe Gunkel (3-0) gave up one run on three hits, including a solo homer to rookie Shugo Maki, and a walk over 6-1/3 innings. Gunkel, who went 3-2 last year, mostly as a reliever with a 3.18 ERA, saw his ERA rise to 0.96.

The Tigers scored twice again the first on back-to-back no-out singles, a double steal and a two-run throwing error by shortstop and former Tiger Yamato Maeda. The visitors made it 3-0 in the fourth on a Teruaki Sato double and the second of three singles in the game by Sato’s less-heralded fellow rookie Takumu Nakano.

The BayStars got a 1-2-3 inning from former closer Yasuaki Yamasaki, which qualifies as news these days, and rallied for a run in the eighth on three singles. But Tigers reliever Suguru Iwazaki started an inning-ending double play, and closer Robert Suarez eased through three batters in the ninth for his third save.

Dragons 2, Swallows 1

At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, Chunichi Shinnosuke Ogasawara (1-1) allowed a run over seven innings while striking out six and getting the plays he needed from his fielders. Yakult lefty Kazuto Taguchi (2-0) hung a breaking ball to Nobumasa Fukuda in the third that he hit for an RBI double, and gave up a sixth-inning homer to Takuya Kinoshita – the Dragons’ first since Opening Day.

Ogasawara got out of his only real jam of the day by retiring the Yakult slugger Munetaka Murakami with two on and one out in the sixth to protect a 1-0 lead. Right-hander Daisuke Sobue allowed two on in the ninth, but earned his fifth save thanks to third baseman Shuhei Takahashi, who nailed a runner at the plate for the second out.

Giants 9, Carp 0

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima’s Yusuke Nomura (0-2) allowed five runs over 3-1/3 innings, raising his ERA to 4.73 and perhaps make some ask how he became the first pitcher in the history of Japanese pro baseball to start 188 games without a relief appearance thrown in there somewhere.

Giants lefty Nobutaka Imamura (2-0) stranded two runners in the fourth and three in the fifth en route to a seven-hit, one-walk, seven-strikeout complete game on 142 pitches.

Struggling Giants cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto, who led the CL in homers and RBIs last season, hit a two-run homer in the first inning, his first of the year, while pinch-running specialist Daisuke Masuda hit a two-run homer in the fifth, the first of his career.

Nikkan Sports quoted Masuda as saying.  “I’m so envious of those power hitters, getting to cruise around the bases like that.”

Active roster moves 4/11/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/21

Central League

Activated

None

Dectivated

None

Pacific League

Activated

BuffaloesIF40Seiichiro Oshita

Dectivated

EaglesP23Hayato Yuge
BuffaloesOF60Yukikazu Sano

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Spring wrap 3-21-21

Sunday was the final day of Japan’s preseason exhibition season, with teams scheduled to begin playing meaningful games from Friday. One game, between the Lotte Marines and DeNA BayStars was rained out, depriving us of our second look at flame-throwing 19-year-old Roki Sasaki, who was slated to throw two innings for the Marines.

I don’t know what was going on at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome this weekend, but the Hanshin Tigers and Orix Buffaloes struck out A LOT in their three games, 19 times on Friday, 22 times each on Saturday and Sunday.

Did Orix reduce the lighting in its home park to give their pitchers more confidence going into the season? I mean if your team is as bad as the Buffaloes, no hitters being able to see the ball kind of levels the playing field.

The teams tied 1-1 on Sunday, as Hanshin’s Joe Gunkel struck out six while allowing an unearned run over five innings. Taisuke Yamaoka, who opened the Buffaloes’ season last year, struck out 10 over six innings while allowing his first run over 13-2/3 preseason innings.

At MetLife Dome, Yakult Swallows slugger Munetaka Murakami homered twice, while the club’s top draft pick from 2019, teenager Yasunobu Okugawa started in an 8-6 loss to the Seibu Lions.

Katsunori Hirai, the Lions’ bullpen workhorse who’s moving to the rotation this year, allowed five runs over 5-2/3 innings.

At Nagoya’s Vanetelin Dome, Chunichi Dragons lefty Shinnosuke Ogasawara ended the preseason on a hopeful note, allowing a run on two walks and a hit over six innings in a 9-2 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters.

A day after hitting everything Dragons starter Yuya Yanagi threw up there, the Fighters returned to hitless wonder mode.

“Except for yesterday, we haven’t been hitting at all ,” manager Hideki Kuriyama said according to the Chunichi Sports. “As the manager, of course I’m concerned because we’re simply not hitting the ball hard.”

At Tokyo Dome, it was a tough day for lefties as impressive Rakuten Eagles rookie Takahisa Hayakawa allowed five runs over 4-2/3 innings in an 8-4 loss to the Yomiuri Giants, whose southpaw starter, Nobutaka Imamura gave up four runs over five innings.

Giants skipper Tatsunori Hara had some harsh words for catcher Takumi Oshiro’s pitch calling, Daily Sports reported.

“When he’d get to two strikes, he’d pitch around, pitch around, pitch around, until the count was full and then they’d end up walking a guy. I think the pitchers see that the same way I do,” said Hara, whose team has become the Central League’s flag bearers of trying to stay out of the strike zone as much as possible in the hopes batters chase.

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, both SoftBank Hawks lefty Tsuyoshi Wada and Carp right-hander Yusuke Nomura had solid scoreless outings in Hiroshima’s 2-1 win. Wada struck out four over four innings, while Nomura fanned three over five.

Kevin Cron went hitless with two strikeouts for Hiroshima to finish the preseason batting .063.

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NPB 2020 Oct. 30

Friday’s games

Other news

Giants tie up title

The Yomiuri Giants got exactly what they needed to clinch their second straight pennant on Friday after the second-place Tigers tied. Knowing Hanshin had been held to a 3-3 tie in Yokohama. The Giants began celebrating as soon as they held the Yakult Swallows scoreless in the top of the 10th at Tokyo Dome in their own 3-3 tie.

The Swallows tied it 3-3 in the eighth, and Scott McGough allowed the Giants to load the bases in the bottom of the ninth but kept them from scoring, which was pretty much the story of the game as both team had big chances to score but failed at the last hurdle.

Giants manager Tatsunori Hara, whose team remained mired in a five-game losing streak and who barely scraped out a tie, said the game was a fitting pennant clincher in a season that only barely happened and said he was proud of the effort baseball had made to get it in.

The Swallows tied it in the fifth but failed to break the game open, stranding multiple runners in scoring position in the fifth and seventh.

The Giants, turned away in the fourth by starter Hiroaki Saiuchi, took the lead in the sixth when Yoshihiro Maru doubled and scored on a Takumi Oshiro single but left the bases loaded against rookie Naruki Terashima.

Kazuma Okamoto put some juice with a one-handed swing on a low straight fastball from Saiuchi in the bottom of the third to raise his league-leading home run total to 29 and make it a 2-1 game after Taishi Hirooka homered off Nobutaka Imamura in the top of the third.

Hirooka singled in the fifth, stole second and scored the tying run on singles by 19-year-old rookie Hideki Nagaoka and Yasutaka Shiomi.

Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto, their 31-year-old shortstop, moved within four hits of 2,000 in his career. Giants flame thrower Thyago Vieira hit 101 mph on the gun in the Swallows’ scoreless 10th.

Giants-Swallows highlights

BayStars tackle Tigers

Jose Lopez tied it in the ninth with a two-run home run off Tigers closer and fellow Venezuelan Robert Suarez. Lopez’s homer was his 10th of the season and his 999th hit since coming to Japan in 2013 with the Giants. With one more hit he will join Hideki Matsui and former Seattle Mariners teammate Ichiro Suzuki as third player with 1,000 hits in both MLB and NPB.

Joe Gunkel started for the Tigers and allowed a run over six innings and got the Tigers first-run started with a third-inning leadoff single. Jefry Marte went 2-for-4 with a walk, two doubles and an RBI, while Gunkel sacrificed a runner to contribute to the Tigers’ third run. Jon Edwards pitched a scoreless inning of relief for the visitors.

Carp blow up Dragons

Rookie leadoff man Minoru Omori and No. 2 hitter Kosuke Tanaka each drove in four runs and Seiya Suzuki came off the bench to deliver a game-tying seventh-inning single before hitting a two-run homer in the eighth as the Hiroshima Carp flayed the Chunichi Dragons in a 17-3 whipping at Nagoya Dome.

Rookie catcher Ariel Martinez marked his first-team return after a 10-week injury layoff by coming off the bench to bat for Cuban compatriot Yariel Rodriguez and delivered tie-breaking pinch-hit double in the fifth. Rodriguez allowed two unearned runs over five innings.

More zeros for Higashihama

Nao Higashihama (9-1) threw eight scoreless innings and Yuito Mori closed it out for his 30th save after Takeya Nakamura’s two-run ninth inning homer made it a one-run game as the SoftBank Hawks held off the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome 4-3.

Higashihama, the Hawks’ Opening Day starter has now thrown 24 consecutive scoreless innings, and has allowed two runs over his last 39-2/3 innings. Ukyo Shuto extended his record streak of consecutive games with a stolen base to 13.

The Lions’ loss left them in third place, one game out of the second and final Pacific League playoff spot and only half a game ahead of the fourth-place Rakuten Eagles.

Eagles go back to basics with Matsui

Former closer Yuki Matsui struck out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth to preserve a 2-1 Rakuten Eagles win over the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium in his first save of the season after Takayuki Kishi (6-0) allowed a run over eight innings.

Kishi struck out 10 without issuing a walk while allowing four hits. Hideto Asamura drew a leadoff walk in the eighth and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by Hirokazu Sawamura (0-2). Matsui’s return to the starting rotation was a key part of the Eagles plans this season, but he moved to middle relief after making 10 starts.

Yamaoka goes distance

Orix Buffaloes Opening Day starter Taisuke Yamaoka (4-5) allowed two runs over the distance while striking out eight to outduel Nick Martinez (2-7) in a 3-2 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome. Steven Moya halved the Fighters’ 2-0 lead in the fourth with an RBI double.

Active roster moves 10/30/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/9

Central League

Activated

BayStarsOF52Seiya Hosokawa
TigersP49Joe Gunkel
DragonsC57Ariel Martinez

Dectivated

BayStarsOF37Taishi Kusumoto

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP36Sho Ito
LionsOF53Aito Takeda
HawksOF32Tatsuru Yanagimachi
EaglesP15Jon Thomas Chargois
EaglesP20Tomohiro Anraku
FightersC22Shinya Tsuruoka

Dectivated

LionsP57Tsubasa Kokuba
LionsOF72Seiji Kawagoe
HawksP37Matt Moore
EaglesP52Taisei Tsurusaki
EaglesOF46Ko Shimozuru
FightersIF44Christian Villanueva

Starting pitchers for Oct. 31, 2020

Pacific League

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

Ryusei Kawano (2-4, 5.59) vs Andrew Albers (4-7, 3.55)

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

Ken Togame (1-1, 6.16) vs Shuta Ishikawa (9-3, 2.54)

Marines vs Eagles: Zozo Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Kota Futaki (7-3, 3.50) vs Ryota Ishibashi (1-5, 6.05)

Central League

Giants vs Swallows: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Tomoyuki Sugano (13-2, 2.05) vs Yasuhiro Ogawa (10-6, 4.29)

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

Shoichi Ino (6-6, 3.56) vs Takumi Akiyama (9-3, 3.00)

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

Takahiro Matsuba (3-7, 4.24) vs Yuta Nakamura (3-3, 2.08)

NPB 2020 Oct. 19

Monday’s games

PL

  • Marines vs Fighters, postponed, rain

Other news

Iwakuma to call it quits

Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma said Monday that this season will be his last. The 39-year-old turned pro out of high school after being taken in the fifth round of the 1999 draft by the now defunct Kintetsu Buffaloes.

Iwakuma went 107-69 in Japan and 63-39 in six seasons with the Seattle Mariners. He joined the Yomiuri Giants as a free agent in 2019, when he appeared in two Eastern League games. He has not played this year.

When the Buffaloes merged with the Pacific League rival Orix BlueWave in 2004, triggering Japanese baseball’s lone labor action, Iwakuma was sold to the Rakuten Eagles after a long dispute with Orix.

One of the key issues that summer was whether the owners could unilaterally remake NPB’s established format of two six-team leagues after the owners accepted a merger without any plan about how to move forward with 11 teams.

After players went on strike and forced the cancellation of two weekends worth of games, the owners agreed to expedite the creation of an expansion franchise. This was something they originally argued was possible — and in so doing honor an age-old pro baseball tradition of owners telling something is impossible only to turn around and do just that when they have the will to do so.

Another part of the agreement, although not written, but spoken at the Nagoya Castle Hotel press conference, was a statement from Orix’s official representative that no Kintetsu player would be taken by Orix in the merger if they refused to play for the new club.

Iwakuma along with Kintetsu players rep Koichi Isobe was the most vocal of the Buffaloes about refusing to sign with Orix. But when the distribution draft was held to allow the new Rakuten Eagles access to surplus talent on the Orix and Kintetsu rosters, Iwakuma was among those protected from selection.

Orix’s explained its decision “We promised but you can’t expect us to honor it when a player is actually important to us.”

Iwakuma, however, stuck to his guns and refused to go to Orix, eventually forcing the team to sell him to the fledgling Eagles.

After the 2010 season, the Rakuten Eagles posted Iwakuma, but he returned to the Eagles after failing to reach a deal with the Oakland Athletics, who won the sole right to negotiate with him in the bidding.

Ties can be thrillers, too

Although not enjoyable because of its see-saw nature, the Hanshin Tigers’ 10-inning 1-1 tie with the Yakult Swallows on a Monday makeup game at Koshien Stadium was just a terrific game.

It was well pitched, well played, some good swings on tough pitches, a personal speed record by one of Japan’s fastest pitchers, two brothers pitching on opposing sides and both teams seeing their 10th-inning rallies on nice catches.

Joe Gunkel started for the Tigers and went five innings. He did well to allow only a run after allowing four hits in the fourth inning, but a sharply hit grounder to third with the bases jammed was turned for an inning-ending double play.

The game also saw the Tigers’ Justin Bour bunt in attempt to beat the shift before smashing a pitch to the left of second for a single.

Albert Suarez allowed an unearned run over six innings when pinch-hitter Kento Itohara did well to put the bat on the ball for an RBI game-tying single. Shintaro Fujinami hit 162 kph on the radar gun as he struck out the side in the top of the seventh.

Scott McGough answered with a 1-2-3 inning in the home half for the Swallows and so it went. Suarez’s younger brother Robert struck out two in the top of the ninth for the Tigers, while Swallows closer Taishi Ishiyama worked around a Jerry Sands single in the home half.

Both teams put the potential go-ahead run on base in the 10th, but the Swallows’ rally died with the runner on second as shortstop Ryuhei Kobata made an outstanding catch to snare a liner. The Swallows returned the favor in the bottom of the inning, when second baseman Tetsuto Yamada caught a one-out liner with the runner going for an easy game-ending double play.

Active roster moves 10/19/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/29

Central League

Activated

SwallowsP24Tomoya Hoshi

Dectivated

BayStarsP27Taiga Kamichatani
DragonsP50Tatsuya Shimizu
SwallowsOF51Taiki Hamada

Pacific League

Activated

None

Dectivated

MarinesP15Manabu Mima
MarinesIF40Koki Fukuda
MarinesOF10Shohei Kato
FightersP20Kenta Uehara
FightersP29Kazutomo Iguchi
FightersP39Ryo Akiyoshi
FightersP57Toshihiro Sugiura
BuffaloesP13Hiroya Miyagi
BuffaloesIF0Shoki Katsumata

Starting pitchers for Oct. 20, 2020

Pacific League

Fighters vs Hawks: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Naoyuki Uwasawa (8-5, 2.54) vs Shunsuke Kasaya (3-3, 2.93)

Eagles vs Buffaloes: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Takahiro Norimoto (5-5, 3.84) vs Yoshinobu Yamamoto (8-4, 2.18)

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

Kona Takahashi (7-8, 3.87) vs Ayumu Ishikawa (7-4, 4.15)

Central League

Swallows vs Giants: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hirotoshi Takanashi (3-5, 4.72) vs Shosei Togo (8-5, 2.76)

Dragons vs BayStars: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Koji Fukutani (6-2, 2.78) vs Shinichi Onuki (9-4, 2.21)

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

Onelki Garcia (2-5, 4.11) vs Allen Kuri (6-5, 3.44)

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)

NPB 2020 Oct. 3

Other news

Marines’ counterattack levels Lions

Three-run homers by Shuhei Fukuda and Hisanori Yasuda lifted the Lotte Marines to a 6-3 win over the Seibu Lions on Saturday at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Fukuda’s homer canceled out two by the Lions, a Takumi Kuriyama solo shot and two-run homer by Fumikazu Kimura. After Friday’s game was decided 1-0 by Ernesto Mejia’s solo homer, all10 runs scored in two game have crossed the plate on home runs.

Reed Garrett made his first start for the Lions after beginning the season with some success as their setup man. The right-hander was pulled after issuing his first walk, leaving two on with two outs in the third inning. The next pitcher issued a walk to load the bases, but retired Yasuda to end the inning.

Marines closer Naoya Masuda allowed the tying run to come to the plate in the ninth but held on to record his Japan-best 27th save.

Snappy answers to stupid questions

The loss meant the Lions, the two-time defending Pacific League champions, can no longer win the league under their own power. Asked the obligatory questions about the significance of this event that nobody seems to care about except Japanese sports editors, Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji said, “We don’t care about things like that.”

Yanagita homers in Hawks’ cleanup battle

A day after the SoftBank Hawks employed light-hitting utility infielder Keizo Kawashima in the No. 4 spot, Yuki Yanagita, the Pacific League’s premier hitter, took over the cleanup duties and homered in a 2-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Instead of Kawashima, with a career .254/.335/.363 slash line, Yanagita took over. Easily Japanese ball’s most productive hitter over the last seven seasons, opened the scoring in the second with his 25th home run, this one to the opposite field off Fighters ace Kohei Arihara (5-8) who took the complete-game loss.

Yanagita is one of only two players in Japanese pro baseball history to lead his league in on-base percentage and slugging average in four straight years (2015-2018).

This led to another memorable Hawks hero interview as Yanagita deadpanned about his competition with Kawashima for the No. 4 spot, although it probably doesn’t match the time Seiichi Uchikawa and Tsuyoshi Wada suggested a powerful God lived in the restroom behind the Hawks’ bench.

  • Q: How did you feel going up to bat in the second inning?
    • Yanagita: “Keizo batted fourth yesterday, and even though he got results, I usurped his spot. Because of that, I felt I had to do more to make up for his production we lost.”
  • Q: Kawashima was the hero yesterday, and now you’re the cleanup hitter and your a hero, too. Is there something special about being the Hawks’ cleanup hitter?
    • Yanagita: “To be honest, my only feeling was one of anxiety about whether I could compare favorably with Keizo.”

Kudo: “Cut that shit out”

Veteran Hawks outfielder Akira Nakamura was hurt sliding head-first into second legging out a double and was taken out of the game. He’s one of the hardest players in Japan to get a swinging strike against, and skipper Kimiyasu Kudo spoke about the incident afterward.

“He wanted the extra-base and thought he could get it, but from my point of view, I want him to be more careful, so I told him to forget about doing that stuff,” Kudo said.

Asamura hits 29th HR in Eagles’ win

The Rakuten Eagles shook off the loss of slugger Stefen Romero in the first inning as Hideto Asamura hit his Japan-best 29th home run to tie it en route to a 5-3 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Romero was hit in the head by a pitch in the first inning to load the bases with two outs, but reliever Koki Saito (1-1) retired veteran Ginji Akaminai to end the inning.

Steven Moya hit a two-run homer for the Buffaloes in the bottom of the first, but Asamura tied it in the third, when Akaminai singled in the go-ahead run.

Alan Busenitz allowed a run in the ninth but held on to earn his 16th save for the third-place Eagles.

Hatake, Oshiro lead Giants pastTigers

Seishu Hatake (2-3) worked 5-1/3 scoreless innings in the Yomiuri Giants’ 7-4 win over the Hanshin Tigers, who were held scoreless for eight innings at Koshien Stadium.

Takumi Oshiro’s three-run sixth-inning homer was the big hit for the Giants, who needed three pitchers to close ut the bottom of the ninth.

First-year Tigers right-hander Joe Gunkel (1-3) made his second start in Japan and trailed 2-0 through five innings. The Giants denied a Tigers run in the bottom of the fifth when Koji Chikamoto tried to score from first on a double to the gap. The relay from center fielder Yoshihiro Maru to shortstop Hayato Sakamoto got the ball to Oshiro, who applied a good tag.

Chikamoto capped the Tigers’ ninth with a three-run homer before Rubby De La Rosa came on to get the final out.

Dragons hold off feisty BayStars

The Chunichi Dragons came close to blowing an eight-run lead but held on for a 9-7 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

Closer Raidel Martinez allowed a run in the ninth but stranded the potential tying run to earn his 16th save, lifting Chunichi into third place ahead of the BayStars.

Dragons catcher Takumi Kinoshita drove in five runs with a homer and a two-run first-inning single, but the BayStars scored six runs over the final four innings to make a game out of it.

DeNA starter Haruhiro Hamaguchi (6-5) allowed eight runs over 1-1/3 innings.

Carp slaughter Swallows

Rookie Masato Morishita (7-3) allowed six hits and a walk while striking out five in the Hiroshima Carp’s 13-2 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

With the Carp leading 13-0 in the bottom of the eighth, reliever Yasunori Kikuchi lost control of a ball that went behind Norichika Aoki, knocking him to the ground and out of the game.

As Tetsuto Yamada took his spot in the batter’s box, first base coach Ryosuke Morioka approached home plate, benches emptied and pushing and shoving ensued. Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu then informed the umpires he was playing the game under protest. It was NPB’s first protest of the season.

Swallows starter Albert Suarez (4-1) allowed four runs on 10 hits and a walk over 6-1/3 innings to take the loss.

Romero stretchered off field

Rakuten Eagles outfielder Stefen Romero was carried off the field in the top of the first inning on Saturday at Kyocera Dome after being struck on the helmet by a 145-kph pitch from Taiwan right-hander Chang Yi, who earned the automatic ejection for a “dangerous pitch.”

Chang, known here by the Japanese reading of his name’s Chinese characters, “Cho Yaku,” was the fifth pitcher ejected this season for hitting a batter in the head and the third in the Pacific League.

Despaigne to miss 2-3 weeks

The SoftBank Hawks announced Saturday that Best Nine-winning designated hitter Alfredo Despaigne will miss two to three weeks due to a bone bruise on his right tibia.

The 34-year-old Cuban complained of pain in his right knee on Thursday.

“Once the inflammation goes down, he should quickly be able to move again,” Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo said.

Active roster moves 10/3/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/13

Central League

Activated

SwallowsC45Motohiro Shima

Dectivated

GiantsP45Nobutaka Imamura
SwallowsP33Matt Koch

Pacific League

Activated

None

Dectivated

None

Starting pitchers for Oct. 4, 2020

Pacific League

Marines vs Lions: Zozo Marine Stadium 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Manabu Mima (8-2, 4.66) vs Wataru Matsumoto (4-3, 3.92)

Buffaloes vs Eagles: Kyocera Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Hiroya Miyagi (-) vs Ryota Takinaka (0-1, 7.04)

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

Tsuyoshi Wada (5-1, 3.03) vs Ryusei Kawano (2-3, 4.64)

Central League

Swallows vs Carp: Jingu Stadium 6:30 pm, 5:30 am EDT

Daiki Yoshida (1-5, 4.77) vs Yuta Nakamura (0-2, 4.22)

BayStars vs Dragons: Yokohama Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Shinichi Onuki (7-4, 2.36) vs Takahiro Matsuba (3-5, 3.54)

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

Takumi Akiyama (6-2, 2.77) vs Shosei Togo (8-4, 2.70)