Tag Archives: Joe Gunkel

NPB 2020 Oct. 3

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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)

NPB 2020 Sept. 26

Shuto gains redemption

Ukyo Shuto made up for a dropped ball that contributed to a loss the night before by driving in four runs to help lift the SoftBank Hawks to a 7-3 win over their nemeses, the Lotte Marines, at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

With two outs in the second and runners on second and third, Shuto singled off Toshiya Nakamura (2-4) to put the Hawks up by two. The speedster took second when the ball got past center fielder Takashi Ogino and scored on a Keizo Kawashima single.

Shuto then capped a three-run third with his second RBI single of the game to make it 6-2. He added to his day with a good play at second base to deny the Marines a fifth-inning leadoff single.

Nao Higashihama (5-1) allowed three runs over six innings, retiring 10 of the last 11 batters he faced after Leonys Martin hit his 23rd home run of the year in the third to make it 6-3 Hawks.

The Hawks win improves their record against Lotte this season to a dismal 4-9-1.

Kiyomiya saves day for Fighters

Kotaro Kiyomiya’s three-run double tied it in the ninth off Buffaloes closer Brandon Dickson. Taishi Ota drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th and scored an insurance run for Nippon Ham Fighters in their 6-5 win over Orix at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Four of Orix’s runs came on solo homers. Two by Takahiro Okada, one by Steven Moya and one by Hayato Nishiura in the bottom of the 10th, when Katsuhiko Kumon stranded two runners to earn his first save.

Lefty Andrew Albers started for the Buffaloes and allowed a run on six hits and no walks over 5-1/3 innings. He struck out six.

Fighters ace Kohei Arihara allowed three runs over six innings, and though neither bullpen was lights out, the Fighters scored five late runs to come from behind. Dickson got one out before loading the bases on a singled and two walks for Kiyomiya, who went down for a low pitch and found the gap to tie it.

Steven Moya drew a leadoff walk in the ninth from veteran lefty Naoki Miyanishi (2-1), He was pulled for a pinch-runner but the Buffs left the bases loaded in the eighth.

Trailing by a run in the 10th, Moya, who’d hit four homers in the last six games, was out of the game when his spot came up with one out and one on against Kumon.

Lions survive loss of starter

Seven relivers picked up after the Seibu Lions lost starter Sean Nolin after one inning in a 5-1 win over the Rakuten Eagles at MetLife Dome with Sosuke Genda tripling in two runs to break a 1-1 seventh-inning tie.

Nolin worked a 1-2-3 first but left due to severe tightness in his left shoulder. The Eagles took the lead in the second on a Stefen Romero RBI single. With the game tied 1-1 in the fifth, Lions center fielder Fumikazu Kimura threw out a runner trying to score from second on a two-out single.

Eagles starter Ryota Ishibashi allowed a run over five innings, and D.J. Johnson worked a 1-2-3 sixth before the roof caved collapsed in the seventh with Tomohito Sakai on the mound. Corey Spangenberg, who reached base three times, singled in Genda to make it 4-1.

Swallows hold off Tigers

Munetaka Murakami singled in one run and broke a 1-1 tie with his 18th home run, making a winner out of Albert Suarez (4-0) in a 2-1 win over the virus-hit Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

The Swallows loaded the bases from the get-go against Joe Gunkel with a hit batsman, a Norichika Aoki double and a walk to Tetsuto Yamada. Murakami singled in one run. Gunkel, however, caught a break on a line out to second before striking out the next two hitters.

Suarez issued a walk in the first but it could have been a disaster as the first two balls were squared up bit hit straight to Swallows defenders. The right-hander gave up the tying run in the third.

Gunkel was pulled for a pinch hitter after allowing a run over four innings, and Murakami homered off Shintaro Fujinami in ( 1-6) in the sixth.

The Tigers came within a hair of scoring the tying run in the seventh but were thwarted when left fielder Norichika Aoki reacted well to a ball coming off a teammate’s glove and reserve catcher Akihisa Nishida made a good tag for the third out at the plate.

Relievers Nobuhiro Shimizu held Hanshin scoreless in the eighth and closer Taichi Ishiyama did the same in the ninth to earn his 13th save.

More Tiger trouble

A day after the Tigers dropped nine players from the active roster after four of them tested positive for the coronavirus, Hanshin’s Western League farm team, played Saturday’s game with just 17 players.

On Saturday evening, the team said Naomasa Yokawa, one of the infected players, had been admitted to a Tokyo hospital with a high fever. This is the most serious symptom yet reported by an NPB player. The worst symptoms reported so far was in March when pitcher Shintaro Fujinami lost his sense of taste.

Kinoshita lifts Dragons over Giants

Dragons catcher Takuya Kinoshita homered to break a 2-2 eighth-inning tie off reliever Kan Otake (1-2), lifting the Chunichi Dragons to a 3-2 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome.

Yota Kyoda hit a two-run homer for the Dragons in the fifth, but Chunichi starter Koji Fukutani allowed the hosts to tie it in the seventh.

Hayato Sakamoto drew his second walk, Kazuma Okamoto doubled, and both scored on a single by the rejuvenated Hiroyuki Nakajima to chase Fukutani. Daisuke Sobue (1-0) retired both batters he faced to close out the seventh and earn the win.

Hiroto Fuku worked the eighth and Raidel Martinez earned his 14th save in the ninth, when he got an assist from Kinoshita, who gunned down pinch-runner Daisuke Masuda trying to steal second.

Giants-Dragons highlights

BayStars beat rookie Morishita

Toshiro Miyazaki went 4-for-5 with a homer, a triple an RBI and three runs to lead the DeNA BayStars attack against Hiroshima Carp rookie Masato Morishita (6-3) in a 5-2 win at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Haruhiro Hamaguchi (6-4) allowed two runs over six innings to earn the wins. Edwin Escobar, Kenta Ishida and Kazuki Mishima picked up the pieces over the final three innings. Mishima collected his 10th save.

Jose Lopez had four hits scored a run and drove in one, while Tyler Austin hit his ninth home run for the BayStars.

Active roster moves 9/26/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/6

Central League

Activated

TigersP27Yuya Onaka
DragonsOF31Masaru Watanabe

Dectivated

DragonsOF6Ryosuke Hirata

Pacific League

Activated

FightersC64Yua Tamiya
BuffaloesC33Masato Matsui

Dectivated

FightersIF44Christian Villanueva
BuffaloesIF31Ryo Ota

Starting pitchers for Sept. 27, 2020

Pacific League

Lions vs Eagles: MetLife Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Wataru Matsumoto (3-3, 4.06) vs Ryota Takinaka (0-0, 1.69)

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

Manabu Mima (7-2, 4.50) vs Akira Niho (4-4, 4.09)

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

Sachiya Yamasaki (3-4, 4.55) vs Kosei Yoshida (0-0, 3.60)

Central League

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

Shosei Togo (7-4, 2.97) vs Takahiro Matsuba (3-4, 3.33)

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

Daiki Yoshida (1-4, 4.81) vs Takumi Akiyama (5-2, 2.75)

Carp vs BayStars: Mazda Stadium 1:30 pm, 0:30 am EDT

Yuta Nakamura (0-1, 5.79) vs Shinichi Onuki (6-4, 2.45)