Tag Archives: Kazuma Okamoto

NPB Wrap 4-21-21

Okamoto lightning strikes twice

Giants 3, Tigers 2

At Tokyo Dome, a terrific game basically came down to two good pitches that got murdered.

Kazuma Okamoto homered twice on a pair of low first-pitch two-seamers from side-armer Koyo Aoyagi (2-1) and assisted in the go-ahead run as the Yomiuri Giants overcame two first-inning homers from the Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers to snap the visitors’ eight-game winning streak.

Seishu Hatake (2-1), who got beat up in his April 1 start against Hanshin, looked like going that route again, surrendering a leadoff homer to Koji Chikamoto, and a one-out shot to Jefry Marte, his fourth in three games and sixth of the season.

Koyo Aoyagi got out of the first by throwing out Takayuki Kajitani trying to steal on a 1-2 pitch to Okamoto. The Giants right fielder made up for it by saving a run by tracking down a drive into the gap with one out and a man on in the top of the second. Okamoto then led off the second, golfing Aoyagi’s first pitch for his second homer of the season.

The Tigers battery must have been thinking, “There’s no way he hits that pitch again,” because Aoyagi started Okamoto with the same pitch with one out in the fourth and got the same result: a low two-seamer that ended up as a souvenir.

The Tigers pitcher allowed infield singles in the sixth, but showed he’s been doing his PFP, pitchers fielding practice, by fielding a squibber in front of the mound and nailing Okamoto at home with a glove toss.

With two outs and two on, however, he hung a pitch to Naoki Yoshikawa. The Giants second baseman, who’d made a sparkling play to end the Tigers’ sixth, singled to left to put Yomiuri in front.

Kota Nakagawa worked the eighth for the Giants and Thyago Vieira worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save in Japan and his first since Aug. 4, 2018, when he saved a 2-1 Chicago White Sox win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Giants-Tigers highlights

Dragons 7, BayStars 1

At Yokohama Stadium, Chunichi’s Akiyoshi Katsuno threw six no-hit innings before surrendering Tyler Austin’s leadoff homer in the seventh. Katsuno improved to 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in two games – against DeNA. Including his two starts against the Giants, the right-hander is 2-1 with a 4.19 ERA.

Dragons third baseman Shuhei Takahashi robbed Austin of a hit to end the BayStars’ first by protecting his face with his glove and catching a line drive at the same time. Takahashi then made a diving stop to his left to rob Keita Sano of a second-inning leadoff single. When Katsuno pitches against the BayStars, that stuff happens.

Toshifumi Abe’s three-run fourth-inning home run capped a five-run inning off Taisei Irie (0-4). The BayStars’ top signing from last year’s draft coughed up five runs over four innings. With one out and two in the inning, Dayan Viciedo broke the ice with an RBI single under the glove of third baseman Toshiro Miyazaki. Takahashi hit a well-place fly for a double before Abe laid into a high straight fastball from the rookie.

Neftali Soto followed Austin’s homer with a double, but was picked off second by 20-year-old rookie Dragons catcher Kota Ishibashi.

Edwin Escobar made his season debut for the BayStars, allowing a run in the eighth on a hit batsman and Ryosuke Hirata triple.

The BayStars have lost their last nine decisions.

Carp 1, Swallows 1

At Mazda Stadium, Yakult starter Albert Suarez struck out seven and scattered seven hits, a walk and a hit batsman, allowing a run over six innings. He’s now allowed two runs over his last 18 innings. He had a little help from Seiya Suzuki. The Carp cleanup hitter doubled off the wall with two outs in the fourth, but was caught trying to sneak home from third when Hisayoshi Chono beat out an infield single.

Hiroshima’s Hiroki Tokoda was better, only facing one tough spot, but surrendering the go-ahead run on a two-out Norichika Aoki single. The Carp tied it on Tsubasa Aizawa’s one-out bases-loaded sac fly in the home half. Carp rookie closer Ryoji Kuribayashi closed it out with his third straight two-strikeout 1-2-3 ninth.

Hawks 4, Eagles 1

At PayPay Dome, 40-year-old Tsuyoshi Wada (2-1) put on a pitching clinic through five innings before his command faltered in the sixth. Yurisbel Gracial had three singles and a pair of RBIs for the Pacific League champs.

Takahiro Norimoto did not look that bad but the Hawks hitters generally get good swings and that was the case on Wednesday. He did miss to Gracial with a breaking ball up in the zone that resulted in an RBI single to open the Hawks’ three-run third.

Wada began missing up in the sixth, and Takero Okajima hit a high pitch out to make it a 3-1 game. A pair of one-out singles off high pitches and the Hawks brought in a lefty and a righty to get out of the inning. Sho Iwasaki, Livan Moinelo and Yuito Mori finished up for SoftBank with Mori earning his sixth save.

Buffaloes 4, Lions 2

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Yoshinobu Yamamoto (3-2) worked eight innings without his best stuff, while his Orix teammates put some superb swings on pitches from Seibu’sTatsuya Imai (1-2).

Lions’ No. 2 hitter Sosuke Genda owned Yamamoto in his first three at-bats with three solid singles, and after a Tomoya Mori sixth-inning double, the Buffaloes brought the infield in to protect their 1-0 lead. Takeya Nakamura, who wasn’t hitting Yamamoto bounced a ball past Yuma Mune at third and into left for a two-run single.

Masataka Yoshida opened the scoring for the Buffaloes with his second long homer in two days, and Adam Jones tied it 2-2 with a sixth-inning RBI double with a sweet swing on a fastball away while Mune’s two-run seventh-inning homer on a big curve completed the scoring.

Tyler Higgins bounced back from a four-walk nightmare blown save on Sunday to work a 1-2-3 ninth and earn his second save.

Marines 6, Fighters 5

At Zozo Marine Stadium, Hiromi Oka hit a two-out, two-run ninth inning homer to lift Lotte to a walk-off win over his former team, Nippon Ham, which blew a five-run lead after six innings.

Fighters’ top draft signing Hiromi Ito held the Marines to two singles and a walk over the first six innings while striking out seven. He left with a 5-3 lead after allowing three runs in the seventh. Takashi Ogino doubled and scored on a sac fly in the eighth.

Closer Toshihiro Sugiura (0-1) struck out the first batter he faced in the ninth before walking Yudai Fujioka on four pitches. With two outs, Oka blasted a 1-0 fastball out to center to end it.

The Fighters’ Kensuke Kondo appears to be going for a home run cycle. He hit his first of the year, a solo shot on Sunday, a two-run blast on Tuesday. His three-run homer off lefty Kazuya Ojima made it 4-0 in the fifth.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

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

Daiki Iwashita (2-1, 2.12) vs Takahide Ikeda (1-2, 4.32)

Buffaloes vs Lions: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hirotoshi Masui (1-2, 2.20) vs Sho Ito (0-0, 1.69)

Central League

Giants vs Tigers: Tokyo Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Yuki Takahashi (3-0, 0.41) vs Takumi Akiyama (2-1, 1.80)

BayStars vs Dragons: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Haruhiro Hamaguchi (0-3, 5.40) vs Koji Fukutani (0-1, 5.79)

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

Atsushi Endoh (0-0, 4.91) vs Yuto Kanakubo (1-0, 2.53)

Active roster moves 4/21/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/1

Central League

Activated

None

Dectivated

CarpOF59Minoru Omori

Pacific League

Activated

FightersP41Bryan Rodriguez

Dectivated

MarinesP18Kota Futaki
FightersP47Kenya Suzuki

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Spring wrap 3-10-21

On Wednesday, the Seibu Lions took a hammer to Koji Fukutani, who has been announced as the Chunichi Dragons’ Opening Day Starter. The 30-year-old right-hander allowed 10 runs on 12 hits over three innings in the exhibition at Vantelin Nagoya Dome in a 14-2 loss.

Center fielder Gakuto Wakabayashi, the Lions’ fourth pick out of Komazawa University, drew a first-inning walk from Fukutani and hit a three-run homer in the third. Third baseman Brandon Taiga Tysinger, the Lions sixth pick out of the Tokyo University of Agriculture, Okhotsk, singled twice was hit by a pitch and belted a three-run home run off lefty Hiroto Fuku, one of the Dragons’ key bullpen guys.

Lions starter Tatsuya Imai, who walked more batters last season (52) than he struck out (44) in 61-2/3 innings last season, allowed an unearned run over five innings.

At Koshien Stadium, Hiroshima Carp newcomer Kevin Cron struck out in both of his at-bats after homering in each of his last two games, but the big news will be new Tiger youngster Teruaki Sato, who put a sweet swing on a straight fastball down the pipe from Tayler Scott and knocked it 10 rows back in left center, a huge poke.      

Sato, the Tigers’ first pick out of Kinki University, has been the talk of the spring. He started at third and had an infield single and a double in three at-bats. Jerry Sands, who homered in his first two preseason at-bats last weekend, went 1-for-3 with a double.

In Shizuoka, because no visiting team wants to play outdoor games in chilly Sendai in the spring until they have to when the regular season starts, the Rakuten Eagles hosted the Lotte Marines away from home. Lotte scored eight runs off three of the Eagles’ key pitchers, tagging starter Takahiro Norimoto for three runs on four hits but no walks over 4-1/3 innings.

Alan Busenitz, who saved 18 games in a 2020 season split between setting up and closing, gave up two runs on four hits in the seventh, and Yuki Matsui, the team’s closer for four of the last six seasons, for three runs on four hits and a walk in the eighth.

Daiki Iwashita started for the Marines and worked four scoreless innings, while Frank Herrmann allowed an infield hit, his first of the spring in a scoreless seventh.

In Yokohama, 20-year-old third baseman Yuki James Nomura, the Nippon Ham Fighters’ second pick in 2018, singled twice and hit his third homer of the spring in an 8-3 win over the DeNA BayStars. Naoyuki Uwasawa, the Fighters’ Opening Day starter, scattered a double, five singles and two walks, while striking out five over six scoreless innings.

Right-hander Taisei Irie, the BayStars’ first-round signing out of last year’s draft, allowed three runs on five hits and two walks while striking out three over four innings. He twice pitched out of jams against Fighters cleanup hitter Sho Nakata.

DeNA’s second pick last autumn, Shugo Maki, started at first and went 2-for-5, for his second straight multi-hit game.

Taiki Sekine, a 25-year-old outfielder with a superb track record in the minors, continues to flay the ball in the spring, although the organization seems convinced his future is as a reserve outfielder. Sekine’s career is now on course to be one of those guys like Takeshi Yamasaki or Shigenobu Shima, who in his age 27 season hits absolutely everything in the spring, forcing the team to give him a starting job and then becoming the story of the season.

But you know how those stories go, right? Instead of asking what the heck the team had been doing with this guy for the last five years, every story will be how he “suddenly became good.”

I rank Sekine among the five best hitting prospects in Japan’s minor leagues.

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Adam Jones drove in a run each with a single and a double off veteran Swallows southpaw Masanori Ishikawa. Prior to the game, he tweeted that he was about to something he had never done on a ball field. 0stensibly what he had never done was play first base, where he started for the Buffaloes in their 7-6 win over Yakult.

And since @SimplyAJ10 asked for it… his first-ever putout at first base as he completes a double play to retire Norichika Aoki on March 10, 2021.

The Buffaloes tagged Ishikawa for seven runs on nine hits in 1-2/3 innings. Steven Moya, who singled off the lefty in the first, sent him packing in the second with his first home run of the spring.

Swallows slugger Munetaka Murakami hit his first exhibition season homer, a two-run shot off second-year right-hander Tyler Higgins, who allowed a hit, a walk and an unearned run in the sixth.

At Fukuoka Dome, back-to-back ninth-inning doubles by Hayato Sakamoto and slugger Kazuma Okamoto tied the game 1-1 allowing the Yomiuri Giants to avoid losing 13 straight games to the SoftBank Hawks.

Shota Takeda, who is trying to reestablish himself as one of the Hawks’ front-line pitchers, allowed two hits and two walks while striking out five in five scoreless innings.

NPB 2020 Oct. 31

Saturday’s games

Other news

Futaki, Marines get over hump

Kota Futaki (8-3) had one hiccup in his seven-inning stint, Stefen Romero’s ice-breaking three-run fourth-inning home run, but allowed nothing else as the Lotte Marines snapped a four-game losing streak to beat the Rakuten Eagles 6-3 at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium on Saturday.

The win gave the second-place Marines a two-game lead in the fight for the Pacific League’s final playoff spot over the Seibu Lions, who were busted up 11-2 by the SoftBank Hawks. The Eagles, in fourth, are another half-game further back.

Futaki allowed only one base runner before the fourth and retired the last 10 batters he faced after hanging a 2-2 pitch that Romero blasted into the left-field stands for his 24th home run.

Eagles starter Ryota Ishibashi (1-6) allowed four runs over 5-1/3 innings. D.J. Johnson got Rakuten out of the five run inning, retiring all five batters he faced, while J.T. Chargois also stamped his initials on the proceedings in a scoreless ninth.

HIrokazu Sawamura, the loser on Friday, worked a scoreless eighth for the Marines, while Naoya Masuda recorded 30 saves for the first time in seven years.

Hawks tattoo Lions

Shuta Ishikawa (10-3) allowed a run over six innings, and Kenji Akashi doubled twice, tripled, singled scored three runs and drove in four in the SoftBank Hawks’ 11-2 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome.

Seibu’s Ernesto Mejia enlivened the game in the seventh inning by scoring after hitting his first triple in six years.

Kawano ends win drought

Nippon Ham Fighters rookie Ryosei Kawano (3-4) allowed a run over six innings in a 6-1 win over the Orix Buffaloes and southpaw Andrew Albers (4-8) at Sapporo Dome. Kawano, who hadn’t won since August, gave up three singles. The lefty struck out three without issuing a walk.

Okamoto powers Sugano to victory

Kazuma Okamoto hit his Central League-leading 29th home run, a three-run shot that bumped his league-best RBI total to 89 as ace Tomoyuki Sugano (14-2) allowed a run over five innings despite giving up five hits, walking two and hitting two in the 6-4 win at Tokyo Dome.

Rubby De La Rosa worked the ninth for his 17th save.

Giants-Swallows highlights

Yokawa bombs Yokohama

Naomasa Yokawa gave the Hanshin Tigers the early lead with a first-inning grand slam and added a solo shot in a 13-5 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium, although his home runs might not have been as memorable as two of the three hit by the BayStars.

Jose Lopez’s fourth-inning solo shot off Takumi Akiyama (10-3) was his 11th of the season and was his 1,000th hit in Japan. He is the 14th imported player to reach the milestone and only the third player to reach that figure in both NPB and MLB. The other two are Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui.

Lopez is the 14th import to reach 1,000 hits in Japan and the fourth Venezuelan after Alex Ramirez, Bobby Marcano and Alex Cabrera.

Tyler Austin reached 20 homers in the 61st game of his debut season, while Yamato Maeda took former teammate, retiring Tigers reliever Kyuji Fujikawa out in the ninth for two runs.

Jefry Marte and Jerry Sands also helped power the Hanshin onslaught. Marte went 2-for-2 with two runs and three walks, while Sands went 3-for-5 with two doubles, two runs and two RBIs.

NameGHlast year
Alex Ramirez1,7442,0172013
Tuffy Rhodes1,6741,7922009
LeRon Lee1,3151,5791987
Leon Lee1,2561,4361987
Bobby Marcano2,5991,4181985
Boomer Wells1,1481,4131992
Alex Cabrera1,2391,3682012
Wally Yonamine1,2191,3371962
Jose Fernandez1,2531,2862013
Robert Rose2,0371,2752000
John Sipin1,8891,1241980
Chico Barbon2,5981,1231965
Matt Murton8321,0202015
Jose Lopez9891,0002020*
Wladimir Balentien1,0819912020*
Japan’s 1,000-hit foreign imports through Oct. 31, 2020 and the next guy

Note: This table has been updated. It originally omitted Wally Yonamine, Chico Barbon and Matt Murton.

Aizawa, Carp get ‘lucky’

Tsubasa Aizawa’s three-run eighth-inning double brought the Hiroshima Carp from behind against a lefty whose last name means luck in Japanese, Hiroto Fuku (5-5) in a 9-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Nagoya Dome.

Active roster moves 10/31/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/10

Central League

Activated

DragonsP59Takumi Yamamoto

Dectivated

BayStarsP48Masaya Kyoyama
DragonsP25Yu Sato
DragonsIF55Nobumasa Fukuda
SwallowsP91Hiroaki Saiuchi

Pacific League

Activated

LionsIF0Daichi Mizuguchi
FightersP17Hiroshi Urano
FightersP31Toru Murata
FightersP63Ryuji Kitaura

Dectivated

LionsIF3Hotaka Yamakawa
FightersP25Naoki Miyanishi
FightersP27Nick Martinez
BuffaloesP19Taisuke Yamaoka

Starting pitchers for Nov. 1, 2020

Pacific League

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

Kohei Arihara (7-9, 3.52) vs Hitomi Honda (-)

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

Wataru Matsumoto (5-6, 4.58) vs Shunsuke Kasaya (4-3, 2.60)

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

Daiki Iwashita (6-7, 4.20) vs Ryota Takinaka (2-1, 2.97)

Central League

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

Seishu Hatake (3-4, 3.52) vs Albert Suarez (4-3, 2.62)

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

Kosuke Sakaguchi (0-2, 11.57) vs Haruto Takahashi (5-4, 2.28)

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

Yuya Yanagi (5-6, 3.88) vs Masato Morishita (9-3, 2.04)

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. 28

Wednesday’s games

Other news

Ise saves the day, delays Giants march to “C”

Reliever Hiromu Ise (3-0) helped delay the Yomiuri Giants final push toward their second straight Central League pennant on Wednesday when he got league-home run leader Kazuma Okamoto to hit into a double play, allowing the DeNA BayStars to pull out a 10-6 win at Yokohama Stadium.

The result kept the Giants from lowering their magic number to one following a loss by the second-place Chunichi Dragons. To clinch on Thursday, the Giants will need to win and the Hanshin Tigers will need to come out on top in what could be a great pitchers’ duel between Yudai Ono (10-5) and Yuki Nishi (10-5).

Okamoto, whose 27th home run, a three-run third-inning shot, tied the game 4-4 came up in the fifth with no outs, the bases loaded and the BayStars leding 8-4. But Ise got him to ground to third. A run scored as Okamoto beat the throw to first that would have completed a triple play.

Tyler Austin and Neftali Soto each had two hits for the BayStars, with Soto’s two-run double highlighting a four-run first. Spencer Patton worked an inning of scoreless relief for the hosts.

Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto went 1-for-2 with a walk and a sac fly to move within seven of Japan’s iconic 2,000-hit milestone.

The BayStars’ Jose Lopez went 0-for-4 with a walk to remain four hits shy of becoming the first imported player with 1,000-plus hits in both MLB and NPB. Two Japanese players, Ichiro Suzuki, and Hideki Matsui, have accomplished the feat.

Fujinami overcomes shaky start

Shintaro Fujinami, making his first start since Sept. 13, cruised after leaving the bases loaded in a one-run first inning and left after four innings in the Hanshin Tigers 9-1 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Koshien Stadium.

Fujinami, once considered the top pitching prospect in a draft class that included Shohei Ohtani, is only now rebuilding his career after a four-year skid. At the end of September, he was put into middle relief, and was impressive.

“He was good in that role,” manager Akihiro Yano said according to Sponichi Annex. “So I thought about keeping him there, but I also wanted to see him start once. Now I want him to start next time.”

Fujinami issued a bases-loaded walk in the first inning after he lost a good-looking third strike on an umpire’s call, but retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced and notched six strikeouts.

Jerry Sands singled and scored the tying run for the Tigers in the sevond, and Jefry Marte doubled in a run and scored in the fifth, and delivered a seventh-inning sacrifice fly. Jon Edwards worked a scoreless inning for the Tigers.

Carp withstand Murakami homers

Atsushi Endo (4-6) allowed a run over seven innings and the Hiroshima Carp scored three runs in the first off lefty Masanori Ishikawa (2-8) in a 3-2 win over the Yakult Swallows at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Munetaka Murakami moved into a tie for second place in the race for the CL home run title with his 25th and 26th home runs, tying him with Hanshin’s Yusuke Oyama.

Geronimo Franzua recorded his 17th save.

Hawks knock off Marines

SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga (10-6) struck out 12 over eight innings in a 2-0 win on Wednesday over the Lotte Marines at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

The loss by the second-place Marines left them just one game ahead of the third-place Seibu Lions in the fight for the Pacific League’s final playoff spot after the Hawks clinched the pennant on Tuesday.

Senga allowed four hits and three walks in a 128 effort, while former major leaguer Chen Wei-yin (0-2) also went eight innings. Ryoya Kurihara opened the scoring with his 15th home run to lead off the fifth. Yurisbel Gracial doubled to open the seventh and pinch-runner Yusuke Masago scored on a Nobuhiro Matsuda single.

A day after throwing 39 pitches in a marathon ninth inning, Hawks closer Yuito Mori worked the ninth for his 29th save.

Shuto ties record 11-game stolen base streak

SoftBank’s Ukyo Shuto tied Hall of Famer Yutaka Fukumoto’s NPB record of stealing a base in 11-straight games when he broke toward second base before a pickoff throw to first by the lefty Chen and then slid in safely. Fukumoto, who played his whole career for the PL’s Hankyu Braves, set his record in 1974.

Shuto, like a number of Hawks regulars including Senga and catcher Takuya Kai, turned pro on a non-roster developmental contract. He leads both leagues in steals with 47.

Lions hold off Eagles, close on 2nd

Fumikazu Kimura homered and Takumi Kuriyama hit a two-run double off former Lions ace Hideaki Wakui (11-4) and Seibu closer Tatsushi Masuda overcame a leadoff homer in the ninth inning to close out his 31st save in a 4-3 win over the Rakuten Eagles at MetLife Dome.

The win pulled the Lions to within a game of the Marines for the second and final playoff spot and a berth in the best-of-five PL Climax Series.

Kimura opened the scoring with his seventh home run, a two-run second-inning shot, and Lions rookie Shota Hamaya (3-2) was saved a run in the fourth when first baseman Hotaka Yamakawa threw a runner out at the plate on a groundball to first. Kuriyama’s sixth-inning double off his former teammate made it 4-1 in the sixth.

VerHagen shuts out Buffaloes

Drew VerHagen (8-6) struck out 13 while allowing two hits and no walks, and catcher Shingo Usami singled home the only run in the ninth inning off Orix Buffaloes closer Brandon Dickson (0-4) in a 1-0 win at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Buffaloes setup man Tyler Higgins struck out all three Fighters he faced in the ninth, including Kensuke Kondo and Sho Nakata, but Dickson walked two in the ninth to set up the tie-breaking run.

Active roster moves 10/28/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/7

Central League

Activated

GiantsIF68Kazuya Katsuki
GiantsIF98Estamy Urena

Dectivated

GiantsP40Yuri Furukawa
GiantsOF39Soichiro Tateoka

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP18Shota Takeda
FightersP62Daiki Mochizuki
FightersOF3Wang Po-jung
BuffaloesP17Hirotoshi Masui

Dectivated

HawksP21Tsuyoshi Wada
FightersP19Chihiro Kaneko
FightersC60Takuya Khri
BuffaloesP61Tsubasa Sakakibara

Starting pitchers for Oct. 29, 2020

Pacific League

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

Kosei Yoshida (0-1, 5.84) vs Daiki Tajima (4-6, 4.20)

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

Zach Neal (5-7, 4.89) vs Wataru Karashima (0-3, 5.81)

Hawks vs Marines: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Matt Moore (6-3, 2.69) vs Manabu Mima (9-4, 4.40)

Central League

BayStars vs Giants: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kentaro Taira (3-5, 2.35) vs Angel Sanchez (8-3, 3.05)

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

Yuki Nishi (10-5, 2.10) vs Yudai Ono (10-5, 1.79)

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

Kazuki Yabuta (1-2, 4.66) vs Yuto Kanakubo (0-0, 0.00)

NPB 2020 Oct. 22

Thursday’s games

Other news

Ono hurls 6th shutout, scoreless streak at 45

Chunichi Dragons lefty Yudai Ono (10-5) went the distance for the 10th time on Thursday to win a 1-0 nail-biting Central League win over the DeNA BayStars at Nagoya Dome.

Ono allowed six hits but no walks while striking out six. He also started two double plays, made a slick behind-the-back catch for the second out of the ninth inning and notched a big strikeout to end the eighth inning after the BayStars put two runners in scoring position.

Ono’s behind-the-back catch.

After winning a tough battle to strike out pinch-hitter Taishi Kusumoto with his 111th pitch, the extraordinarily cool Ono slapped his glove and pumped his fist as he returned to the dugout.

Ono ends the 8th inning with some emotion.

The Dragons loaded the bases with no outs in the first against BayStars starter Kentaro Taira (3-5) but only managed to score on a Dayan Viciedo sacrifice fly.

Taira allowed four hits and a walk while striking out six over seven innings. Edwin Escobar worked a scoreless ninth for the BayStars.

Okamoto powers Giants past Swallows

Yomiuri Giants cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto homered and drove in three runs while Angel Sanchez (8-3) and three relievers combined on a four-hit 6-0 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Swallows rookie Daiki Yoshida (2-7) took the loss, allowing four runs in two-plus innings. He walked in the game’s first run with a bases-loaded walk to Zelous Wheeler.

Kazuma Okamoto’s home run

Carp’s Yabuta ends victory drought

Kazuki Yabuta (1-2) allowed two runs over six innings to earn his first win in two seasons, and Jose Pirela put the game on ice with his 11th home run, a three-run shot in the ninth as the Hiroshima Carp beat the Hanshin Tigers 9-5 at Koshien Stadium.

Pirela was walked intentionally in the Carp’s two-run first and also doubled and singled. Fumiya Haraguchi hit a three-run pinch-hit homer for the Tigers to make it a 6-5 game in the sixth.

Moore pitches Hawks to 11th straight win

Matt Moore (6-3) struck out 10 over seven scoreless innings to outpitch 19-year-old rookie Kosei Yoshida (0-1) in a 4-2 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.

The win was the Hawks’ 11th straight as the three-time defending Japan Series champs drive toward their first Pacific League pennant in three years. The win, and the Marines’ loss, dropped SoftBank’s magic number to clinch to six.

Yoshida, the standout pitching star of the 2018 national high school championships at Koshien, was the Fighters’ second pick that year. He went 1-3 in four starts last season. On Thursday, he allowed four runs, two earned, in six innings.

Hawks closer Yuito Mori, pitching for the first time in nine days—when the Hawks last had a save opportunity to give him—allowed Sho Nakata’s 30th home run with one out before earning his 28th save with the potential tying runs on base.

Neal, Spangenberg, Tonosaki hold off Marines

Zach Neal (5-7) allowed a run in five innings, and was backed by a two-run Corey Spangenberg home run and a three-run Shuta Tonosaki blast in the Seibu Lions’ 7-4 win over the Lotte Marines at MetLife Dome.

Marines lefty Kazuya Ojima (7-8) allowed six runs over five innings. The Marines came back in a three-run sixth against Reed Garrett, but Tetsu Miyagawa, Ryosuke Moriwaki and Kaima Taira finished up with one scoreless inning apiece. After a couple of shaky outings, regular closer Tatsushi Masuda was given a breather as the rookie Taira earned his first save of the season and the second of his career.

Ernesto Mejia doubled to lead off the eighth to set up a Lions insurance run. In addition to his home run, Sotozaki singled, doubled, was hit by a pitch and contributed to the Marines’ tying the game 1-1 with an error in the outfield.

Romero blasts Buffaloes

Stefen Romero homered twice walked and drove in four runs as the veteran right-hander Takayuki Kishi (5-0) overcame a three-run Adam Jones home run in the Rakuten Eagles’ 6-3 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Romero’s 22nd home run, a three-run shot off lefty Daiki Tajima (4-6) made it 5-0 in the fifth innings. Adam Jones went deep off Kishi with his 12th homer in the top of the sixth. Romero hit his 23rd in the eighth off Yu Suzuki to complete the scoring.

Nomi joins Fukudome inTigers checkout line

Hanshin Tigers lefty Atsushi Nomi, who was for many years the ace of the iconic Central League club, revealed Thursday that the Tigers do not expect to keep him for next season, Sponichi Annex reported.

The 41-year-old, who in 2004 selected the Tigers when he turned pro the following year out of corporate league club Osaka Gas, has a career record of 103-94. Since 2018, he has been working out of the Tigers bullpen.

In a comment released by the club, Nomi said, “It is true I’ve spoken with the team about the future, but I won’t be the one to repeat the content of that discussion.”

“The one thing I want to say to all the fans is that this year will be last to play before everyone wearing a Tigers uniform.”

The news came a day after sources revealed that Japan’s oldest player, 43-year-old outfielder Kosuke Fukudome was told this week that he is surplus to the team’s needs next year.

Bour, Martin deactivated

Hanshin Tigers first baseman Justin Bour was deactivated on Thursday, as was outfielder Leonys Martin of the Pacific League’s Lotte Marines.

Martin sprained his left ankle running to first base in Wednesday’s game against the Seibu Lions and was unable to leave the field without assistance. The right fielder, who joined the club in the summer of 2019, has 25 home runs this season.

Bour’s deactivation is his first since he joined the Tigers over the winter. He took part in Thursday’s pregame practice as usual.

Active roster moves 10/22/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/1

Central League

Activated

BayStarsOF61Tatsuo Ebina
CarpP23Kazuki Yabuta
CarpOF37Takayoshi Noma
SwallowsC57Yudai Koga

Dectivated

BayStarsP94Takamasa Kasai
TigersIF41Justin Bour
CarpP58Reira Fujii
CarpOF38Koki Ugusa
SwallowsC30Akihisa Nishida

Pacific League

Activated

MarinesOF25Hiromi Oka
MarinesOF31Tsuyoshi Sugano
FightersP18Kosei Yoshida

Dectivated

EaglesP43Sung Chia-hao
MarinesIF68Kenji Nishimaki
MarinesOF79Leonys Martin

Starting pitchers for Oct. 22, 2020

Pacific League

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

Yuya Fukui (0-4, 5.26) vs Nick Martinez (2-6, 4.57)

Buffaloes vs Marines: Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Taisuke Yamaoka (2-5, 2.78) vs Kota Futaki (7-2, 3.07)

Hawks vs Lions: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shuta Ishikawa (8-3, 2.63) vs Tatsuya Imai (3-3, 5.50)

Central League

Giants vs Tigers: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Nobutaka Imamura (3-2, 3.45) vs Yuki Nishi (10-4, 2.05)

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

Hiroaki Saiuchi (1-2, 4.70) vs Yariel Rodriguez (3-4, 4.23)

BayStars vs Carp: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Masaya Kyoyama (1-1, 6.50) vs Hiroki Tokoda (3-7, 5.77)