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





Pacific League


BuffaloesIF40Seiichiro Oshita


EaglesP23Hayato Yuge
BuffaloesOF60Yukikazu Sano

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.