Tag Archives: Joe Gunkel

NPB wrap 9-19-21

Although the Lotte Marines have twice won the Japan Series in the past 16 years, they haven’t led the PL in regular-winning percentage since 1974, and now they’re in a dogfight with a team, Orix, that hasn’t won the league since 1996.

In the Central League, the first-place Hanshin Tigers went head-to-head with the third-place Yomiuri Giants, allowing the second-place Yakult Swallows a chance to gain on one of them.

Marines 4, Fighters 1

At Sapporo Dome, Kazuya Ojima (8-3, 4.20) threw a four-hit shutout to win a southpaw showdown with Takayuki Kato (4-7, 4.07) behind three RBIs from Brandon Laird to keep Lotte 2-1/2 games ahead of Orix in the PL pennant race.

Kato retired the first 11 batters he faced before a single and a walk brought Laird up with two out and two on in the fourth. He singled in one run and Koki Yamaguchi singled in another.

Laird hit his 24th home run in the sixth and singled in a run in the eighth.

Ojima’s shutout came within a hair of evaporating in the bottom of the sixth when the Fighters put two on with one out. With two down, Adeiny Hechavarria robbed Kensuke Kondo of an RBI single by diving for the ball and flipping to second for the third out.

Eagles 4, Hawks 2

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Hiroaki Shimauchi’s two-run seventh-inning home run off Sho Iwasaki (2-4) snapped a 2-2 tie as third-place Rakuten beat fourth-place SoftBank, which fell nine games out of first place and four games out of the PLs final playoff spot.

Rakuten’s Takayuki Kishi allowed two runs over 5-2/3 innings on eight hits and a walk. SoftBank starter Shuta Ishikawa went five, allowing two runs on three hits, two walks and two hit batsmen. Hiroshi Kaino, the second Hawks pitcher, loaded the bases with walks, but the game remained tied until Iwasaki allowed a leadoff single and Shimauchi’s 18th home run with two outs in the seventh.

The Eagles had a relief scare after Nobuhiro Matsuda tied it in the sixth and chasing Kishi with an RBI single. Tomohiro Anraku walked the first batter he faced before getting out of jail with the bases loaded. Sung Chia-hao and Tomohito Sakai each pitched a scoreless inning with Sakai earning his third save.

Shimauchi opened the scoring in the second when he walked and Ishikawa hit a batter with the bases loaded. Kenta Imamiya tied it with a third-inning RBI single, and Ginjiro Sumitani muscled up to put Rakuten back in front in the fifth with his third home run.

Buffaloes 4, Lions 1

At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Orix lefty Sachiya Yamasaki (6-9, 3.66) and Seibu rookie Yutaro Watanabe were dead even through four innings, each having allowed a fourth-inning solo homer. Watanabe received an automatic ejection in the bottom of the fifth for grazing the chin of Buffaloes catcher Torai Fushimi, and the game changed.

Rookie reliever Yoshinobu Mizukami (0-1) preserved the tie-score in the inning by leaving three Orix runners on base, but allowed a leadoff double to Yutaro Sugimoto in the sixth, and the runner came home against Katsuhiko Kumon on a Steven Moya sac fly.

Takahiro Okada, whose 12th homer, into the third deck, tied it off Watanabe in the fourth, homered again with a man on in the eighth, off Ryosuke Moriwaki with a shot that hit off the façade above the second deck.

Takeya Nakamura opened the scoring with his 12th home run in the top of the fourth.

Yamasaki allowed three hits but no walks while striking out three over six innings. Five relievers combined to allow one walk and one hit over the remaining three innings with Yoshihisa Hirano earning his 19th save.

Swallows 5, Carp 1

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Yakult jumped on Koya Takahashi (3-6, 5.53) for three first-inning runs, two on Norichika Aoki’s fifth home run and Munetaka Murakami’s 35th. Murakami’s home run made him the youngest player in Japanese pro baseball history with 100, surpassing Kazuhiro Kiyohara’s record of 21 years, 9 months by two months.

Juri Hara (2-1, 2.45) scattered eight hits, a walk and a hit batsman to allow a run over six innings. A night after hitting for the cycle, leadoff man Yasutaka Shiomi had three hits, twice singling in runs.

The win lifted Swallows to within 1-1/2 games of the CL-leading Hanshin Tigers, and kept them a game ahead of the third-place Giants.

BayStars 9, Dragons 1

At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA lefty Shota Imanaga (5-4, 2.77) threw a four-hitter without allowing a walk for his first complete-game victory in two seasons. Masayuki Kuwahara led off the BayStars first against Yariel Rodriguez (0-3, 4.66) with his 11th home run.

A Tyler Austin sac fly made it 2-0, Toshiro Miyazaki singled in a run and Neftali Soto’s RBI single capped the four-run rally. The hosts completed the beatdown against Chunichi’s bullpen in a five-run sixth inning.

Giants 8, Tigers 1

At Koshien Stadium, Tomoyuki Sugano (5-6, 3.52) allowed a run over seven innings for the second straight start, while Joe Gunkel (7-3, 3.40) blew a 1-0 first-inning lead in a seven-run second. Takumi Oshiro singled in two with one out, and leadoff man Naoki Yoshikawa drove in three with his fifth home run, and Hayato Sakamoto capped the rally with a two-run home run, his 17th.

Monday’s starting pitchers

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

Ryusei Kawano (2-3, 2.63) vs Ayumu Ishikawa (2-2, 4.80)

Eagles vs Hawks: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Masahiro Tanaka (4-5, 2.82) vs Tsuyoshi Wada (5-6, 4.38)

Buffaloes vs Lions: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Hitomi Honda (0-0, 3.60) vs Kona Takahashi (10-5, 3.22)

Swallows vs Carp: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT

Masanori Ishikawa (3-3, 2.30) vs Masato Morishita (6-7, 3.12)

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

Fernando Romero (2-2, 3.80) vs Shinnosuke Ogasawara (7-7, 3.10)

Active roster moves 9/19/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/29

Pacific League


HawksP57Shinya Kayama
BuffaloesP28Ryoga Tomiyama
BuffaloesC44Yuma Tongu
BuffaloesIF0Shoki Katsumata


MarinesP46Daiki Iwashita
LionsIF22Cory Spangenberg
BuffaloesP56Glenn Sparkman
BuffaloesC33Masato Matsui

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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