Tag Archives: Kazuma Okamoto

Back to baseball: Sept. 17, 2023

Because Teruyo and I were in Hawaii for a few days’ vacation enjoying the beautiful sunsets and sunrises, it’s been a while since the last blog post. Sorry for that.

A few hours after we arrived, Yoshinobu Yamamoto threw his second no-hitter in two seasons. On the day we returned, the Hanshin Tigers clinched the pennant. I thought Jet lag and fatigue have since run their course for the most part, and after a busy night at the office Saturday, I was ready to get down to the real work, talking about baseball, but really struggled to get this out Sunday night, needing a nap half-way through after I got home and a shower.

With one pennant race decided and the other virtually in the bank, all the focus now is on whether the two fourth-place teams, the Central League’s Yomiuri Giants and the Pacific League’s Rakuten Eagles can squeeze into the postseason.

Sunday offered no change to the playoff picture in either league as the three rivals for the two remaining PL playoff spots, the Eagles, Lotte Marines and SoftBank Hawks all lost, while the three CL contenders, the Hiroshima Carp, the DeNA BayStars and Yomiuri Giants, all won. Roki Sasaki pitched, but his outing was nothing to salivate over. Since Japan is celebrating its Respect for the Aged Day on Monday, Tsuyoshi Wada squared off against a pitcher half his age.

Sunday’s games

Giants 3, Swallows 2: At Tokyo Ugly Dome, Japan’s best home run-hitting team came from behind via the long ball on sixth-inning home runs from Yoshihiro Maru, his 17th, and Kazuma Okamoto, his Japan-leading 41st, off side-armer Reiji Kozawa, who’d allowed an infield single and two walks to that point.

Yakult took a 1-0 fourth-inning lead on Domingo Santana‘s 16th homer. Santana’s ninth-inning leadoff double off Taisei Ota (3-0) set up the tying run before Yuki Okada singled to open the Giants ninth off Noboru Shimizu (1-8), and scored after Makoto Kadowaki fouled off five two-strike pitches with two outs before lining a pitch past second.

Continue reading Back to baseball: Sept. 17, 2023

NPB news: July 5, 2023

Roki Sasaki made a big adjustment and nearly went the distance, while his BFF, Hiroya Miyagi had a tough night in Sendai, where a high profile rookie earned his first win. Two Hanshin Tigers had big firsts in Hiroshima, while the Yakult Swallows and Yomiuri Giants both won in 12 innings on the road — the Giants win coming only after the umpires ignored the rules to deny them a ninth-inning run.

Wednesday’s games

Marines 2, Lions 1: At Chiba Marine Stadium, two fastballs into the game, Sasaki (6-2) was in trouble on a Shuta Tonosaki double and a Sosuke Genda single, but responded with three strikeouts and didn’t leave until he’d struck out 11 over eight innings.

Roki Sasaki gets out of jail in the first inning via the strikeout.

Through the first two innings he’d given up three hits, all on first-pitch fastballs, while striking out five. Then he adjusted, opening with splitters and sliders to those guys.

Lotte took the lead against Kaima Taira (5-4), on a third-inning double by rookie shortstop Atsuki Tomosugi and a sweet single from Katsuya Kakunaka. And while Sasaki cruised with hitters hunting fastballs and flailing at splitters, Shogo Nakamura homered to make it 2-0 in the sixth.

Marines closer Naoya Masuda struck out the first two batters in the ninth before surrendering an infield single and an RBI double on a difficult but catchable ball in left to speedy defensive substitute Koshiro Wada.

With the tying run on second, the right-hander secured his 20th save with another strikeout.

Asked about Sasaki’s game, Kakunaka talked about his high expectations for the 21-year-old.

“He’s not there yet,” Kakunaka said. “I keep expecting him to strike out 27. I was next to him in the dugout at the end, but was thinking he could have been out there to the end.”

Continue reading NPB news: July 5, 2023