Tag Archives: Kazuma Okamoto

NPB 2020 7-28 GAMES AND NEWS

Bour, Sands slam Swallows in Tigers’ rout

Justin Bour and Jerry Sands each hit a grand slam for the Hanshin Tigers in a 20-5 blood-letting against the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

With the Swallows trailing 3-0 in the second, Gabriel Ynoa (0-2) fell behind Bour 3-0. The left-handed hitter socked Ynoa’s 3-1 pitch so hard Yakult left fielder Norichika Aoki was shown staring across the field at the foul pole, perhaps looking for signs of jet exhaust lingering in the rainy Tokyo evening.

With Yakult star Tetsuto Yamada sidelined, ostensibly due to upper body fitness issues, 25-year-old Takeshi Miyamoto did a good impression of his slugging teammate. Miyamoto filled in at second and cracked his first career home run, a three-run shot in the second.

Sands singled in a run in the Tigers’ two-run third, before cranking his sixth home run of the season to the opposite field in right. Bour got his fifth RBI in a sixth-inning single, and Tigers shortstop Seiya Kinami capped a six-run rally with a three-run home run.

Kinami, who went 4-for-4 with two walks, doubled to lead off the ninth, when he scored his third run.

Tigers right-hander Takumi Akiyama (3-1) earned the complete-game victory.

Sugano stops BayStars, earns 5th win

Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (5-0) allowed two runs, one earned, over seven innings while striking out seven in a 4-2 win over the DeNA BayStars at Tokyo Dome.

The Giants defense helped Sugano give away a run in the first at Tokyo Dome. Takayuki Kajitani reached on an Infield single, went to third on a two-base throwing error on second baseman Naoki Yoshikawa and scored on Neftali Soto’s sacrifice fly.

Hayato Sakamoto tied it with solo home run in the home half, and the Giants took their first lead off right-hander Shoichi Ino (2-2) in the fourth, when with one out and none on, Kazuma Okamoto hit his 12th home run. Takumi Oshiro walked and scored after a Zelous Wheeler double and a groundout.

BayStars cleanup hitter Keita Sano, the club’s unheralded 25-year-old captain, homered to open the sixth. Jose Lopez followed with a hard-hit single, but Sugano worked around that and a two-out Tatsuhiro Shibata double to preserve the lead.

Giants lefty Kota Nakagawa entered with one out and a man on in the ninth, and worked around a Kajitani infield single to record his third save.

Viciedo to rescue as Dragons top Carp

Dayan Viciedo doubled in the tying run in the top of the eighth inning, and bailed the Chunichi Dragons out in the bottom of the inning with his glove as the Chunichi Dragons edged the Hiroshima Carp 3-2 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Moments after the Carp upended the Dragons 1-0 lead, Yohei Oshima singled with one out against lefty Atsuya Horie (1-1), who surrendered Viciedo’s game-tying two-out double. A walk and a wild pitch put runners on the corners. Right-hander Yasunori Kikuchi came on, and Ariel Martinez, the Dragons Cuban catching phenom, singled in the go-ahead run.

Carp starter Allen Kuri pitched his way out of trouble in the fourth and fifth innings, only for the game’s first run to come with no one on from Toshiki Abe’s second home run of the year.

The Dragons went with right-hander Koji Fukutani. After 218 games in relief, Chunichi’s top draft pick in 2012 was making his season debut and his second career start. The 29-year-old allowed four singles and no walks while striking out 10. Last year, he appeared in one game, also a start, and allowed one run over six innings.

Fukutani was pulled for a pinch-hitter with one out and two on in the seventh, and lead runner Yota Kyoda was tagged off third following a force at second to complete a double play.

The base-running goof proved costly in the bottom of the inning after the Carp tied it on a walk and two no-out singles against reliever Yu Sato. With that, Fukutani finished the day with a 0.75 ERA as a starter and no decisions.

Tsubasa Aizawa, who hit two late home runs in Sunday’s epic comeback win in Yokohama, singled in the go-ahead run. Lefty Toshiya Okada (1-2), who saved 13 games last season, however, put out the fire, and the Dragons regained the lead against in the eighth against Hiroshima’s patchwork quilt of a bullpen.

Trailing again, Hiroshima’s Seiya Suzuki singled and took second on a wild pitch that barely got away from Martinez. Viciedo then made a sliding catch on a ball down the line from pinch-hitter Shogo Sakakura and threw to first for the final out.

Dragons right-hander worked around a two-out double to record his fourth save.

Inoue, Nakamura decide see-saw game

Seiya Inoue belted three home runs, and Shogo Nakamura hit one and then was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the ninth as the Lotte Marines walked-off 13-12 winners over the Rakuten Eagles at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

The hosts built a 6-1 lead centered around Inoue’s two-run second-inning home run and his third-inning solo shot off Ryota Ishibashi. But the Eagles came back in the fourth.

With one out and the bases loaded against Lotte starter and former Eagle Manabu Mima, first-year skipper Hajime Miki pulled his catcher for a pinch-hitter, and Stefen Romero made it a one-run game with his eighth home run.

The Marines counterattacked in the home half, with Yasuda capping a three-run inning with a two-run homer.

Mima allowed six runs over 4-1/3 innings, but the Marines’ third pitcher, Tsuyoshi Ishizaki retired only one of the six batters he faced in Rakuten’s five-run sixth.

Trailing 12-9 in the eighth, Nakamura homered with one out, and Inoue’s two-run shot tied it. J.T. Chargois (0-2) retired the final Marines hitter in the eighth, but surrendered a leadoff single to Brandon Laird in the ninth.

After a hit batsman and a sacrifice, Miki ordered the bases loaded, and Chargoi hit Nakamura with his third pitch to end it.

Hawks’ Nakamura batters Lions

Akira Nakamura had four hits and five RBIs, allowing the SoftBank Hawks to crush the Seibu Lions 9-4 at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome despite Kodai Senga (3-1) surrendering four runs over six innings.

The Hawks’ ace established his fastball in classic fashion in the first, striking out the first two batters, the first on three fastballs, but surrendered the game’s first runs in the second inning.

Senga, whose ability to locate is typically his main concern, issued a leadoff walk to Shuta Tonosaki that sparked Seibu’s two-run second. A Takumi Kuriyama single and a rocket-powered Corey Spangenberg double brought in one run, and Kuriyama scored on a groundout.

The Hawks got a runin the second against Tatsuya Imai on a Nakamura leadoff single, a two-out walk and Nobuhiro Matsuda’s flare single.

A one-out Tomoya Mori walk and Hotaka Yamakawa’s 11th home run made it 4-1 Lions in the third, but the Hawks wasted no time keeping the scoreboard ticking over. Four-straight one-out singles by Kenta Imamiya, Yuki Yanagita, Nakamura and Ryoya Kurihara made it a one-run game. With the tying run on third, Imai struck out Wladimir Balentien on five pitches away to assist in his getaway.

The Hawks tied it in the fifth on a Yanagita double and a Nakamura single and beat up on Lions relief workhorse, right-hander Katsunori Hirai (3-2), to take the lead in the sixth. With two outs and the bases loaded, Nakamura cleared the bags with a double.

Balentien and Imamiya each hit a late solo homer to complete the rout for the Hawks.

Nakata blasts off as Uwasawa earns 1st win

Denied a three-run home run when a runner was picked off base ahead of his third-inning homer, Sho Nakata blasted a three-run shot in the seventh as the Nippon Ham Fighters left an 5-1 mark on the Orix Buffaloes at Sapporo Dome.

Buffaloes lefty Andrew Albers walked the first two batters he faced in the third. Albers picked off Kenshi Sugiya, but Sho Nakata’s 11th home run, and his second in three games, made it a 2-0 game.

The Buffaloes got a run back in the fourth on three no-out singles off Naoyuki Uwasawa (1-1) by Yuma Mune, Masataka Yoshida and Andrew Jones.

The visitors had a chance to tie it in the sixth, but Fighters right fielder Taishi Ota threw a strike to the plate to cut down Mune trying to score from second on a Takahiro Okada single. With two on and two outs in the top of the seventh, Ota made a good catch on Mune near the right field corner that could have spelled trouble.

Uwasawa’s win was his first since his left knee cap was broken in June 2019 by a drive off the bat of DeNA BayStars slugger Neftali Soto.

Albers left with two out and two on the seventh, and right-hander Ryo Yoshida served up Nakata’s second home run.

Takatsu explains Yamada deactivation

Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu filled in some background information on second baseman Tetsuto Yamada’s deactivation on Tuesday according to Sports Nippon Annex.

Takatsu said Yamada’s upper body was not sufficiently fit, and that Yamada himself was going to keep playing if left to his own devices.

“He said, ‘I can keep going as I am’, but I don’t want him playing if he’s not fit,” Takatsu said. “He’ll never say, ‘I’ll take a break for myself.’ But what I really want is to see Tetsuto Yamada really swinging. It was a difficult decision.”

Yamada apparently said he’d be back in 10 days–the minimum time needed for reactivation–but Takatsu said there was no need for him to rush.

Active roster moves 7/28/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/7

Central League

Activated

BayStarsP15Shoichi Ino
DragonsP24Koji Fukutani
SwallowsP26Koshiro Sakamoto
SwallowsIF66Taisei Yoshida
SwallowsOF9Yasutaka Shiomi

Dectivated

DragonsP54Kento Fujishima

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP34Yasuo Sano
LionsC78Masato Saito
EaglesP12Hiroki Kondo
FightersP15Naoyuki Uwasawa
BuffaloesP26Daiki Tomei
BuffaloesIF67Keita Nakagawa

Dectivated

BuffaloesIF2Hiroyuki Shirasaki

NPB 2020 7-23 games and news

Giants ride Mercedes in win over Dragons

Cristopher Mercedes (2-2) allowed a run over seven innings and Kazuma Okamoto’s two-run eighth-inning double broke up a tie game in for the Yomiuri Giants’ 6-1 win over the Chunichi Dragons on Thursday at Nagoya Dome.

Lefty Hiroto Fuku (1-1), who has been solid for the Dragons all season, surrendered a leadoff single thanks to some good hitting by Yoshiyuki Kamei.

Although home plate ump Fumihiro Yoshimoto had been giving away wide outside strikes like Halloween candy all game, Fuku couldn’t buy one against Hayato Sakamoto, who smacked a 3-2 cutter in the heart of the zone for a double. Yoshihiro Maru walked to load the bases for Okamoto.

The Giants cleanup hitter pulled an inside pitch past the third-base bag for a two-run double. Maru scored on a groundout before Zelous Wheeler crushed a fat first-pitch fastball for his second home run.

Mercedes struck out eight while allowing six hits, a walk and a hit batsman. He got a 1-0 lead in the fourth on catcher Takumi Oshiro’s fourth home run only for the Dragons to tie it in the sixth.

Dragonst starter Yuichiro Okano allowed a run over five innings on three hits and a walk. The right-hander struck out seven.

Dayan Viciedo, who missed Wednesday’s game after being hit by a pitch on Tuesday, had the third of three-straight singles to bring in Yohei Oshima. The right-handed hitter adjusted to Yoshimoto calling strikes well off the outside corner by diving into those and collecting two hits.

Onuki pitches BayStars past Swallows

Shinichi Onuki (2-2) allowed a hit and two walks over seven innings, and the DeNA BayStars hammered lefty Keiji Takahashi (0-1) for three runs in the first inning in a 6-0 win over the Yakult Swallows at Yokohama Stadium.

Keita Sano, a 25-year-old with fewer than 400 career plate appearances was promoted to team captain and dropped into the cleanup spot following the departure of Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. Manager Alex Ramirez has come under fire for batting him fourth. The youngster has been raking, except with runners in scoring position and had no home runs through July 21.

On Wednesday, Sano homered in the first inning to open the scoring, and on Thursday, he singled in the game’s first run and added a late two-run homer.

Takahashi (0-1) lacked some of the explosive movement he’s had on his pitches in his good outings and was missing the strike zone more than he missed bats.

Morishita wins Fujinami comeback game

Masato Morishita, the Hiroshima Carp’s first draft pick last autumn, allowed two runs on a first-inning homer but struck out 10 over six innings and earned his first win in a 4-2 victory over the Hanshin Tigers.

The rookie right-hander matched up at historic Koshien Stadium with Shintaro Fujinami, the Tigers’ top pick in the 2012 draft, whose career has been on a steady downward slide for four years. This spring, he contracted COVID-19 and was also banished to the farm team for coming late to one practice too many.

With hopes always high in Tigers land that at any moment he might regain the quality of his first few seasons and become a plus in the rotation, his return to Koshien turned Thursday’s game into a highly anticipated matchup.

Fujinami pitched out of a first-inning jam before Yusuke Oyama’s two-run homer in the first gave him the lead. The game remained 2-0 until a single and a pair of one-out walks in the sixth, which Jose Pirela converted with a two-out grand slam. The opposite-field fly just landed fair inside the right field foul pole. It was the Venezuelan’s fourth home run of the year.

“I don’t know if it was going to be a home run, but I hit it hard. At least if it fell it was going to be a double. I was always looking for fastballs. He threw me a lot of fastballs and that’s what I hit for the homer,” Pirela said.

Yoza earns 1st win as Lions clip Marines

The Seibu Lions hitters made the most of their limited opportunities and the fielders preserved a slim lead in a 3-2 win over the Lotte Marines at MetLife Dome.

Rookie submariner Kaito Yoza (1-2) allowed two runs on six hits, two walks and a hit batsman over five innings, and clutch pitching and defense kept the Marines from catching up.

Yoza surrendered a booming two-out RBI double in the first to rookie Hisanori Yasuda, who scored on a Shogo Nakamura single. Although the Marines had numerous chances, they would be unable to add on.

Rookie Shohei Suzuki led off the first with a hustling double off Daiki Iwashita (3-1) and scored when Sosuke Genda stroked a fat first-pitch fastball up the middle.

The Lions were unable to bring Genda home from second, but a Corey Spangenberg triple and a long home run, the first of rookie Seiji Kawagoe’s career, made it 3-2.

The Marines should have tied it or taken the lead in the fourth. WIth two outs and runners on second and third, Yoza somehow snared Shuhei Fukuda’s line drive for the third out. Perfect innings from Katsunori Hirai and Kaima Taira got the game to the eighth, where Reed Garrett took over for the Lions.

With two outs and pinch-runner Hiromi Oka on first, Seiay Inoue launched a drive that Suzuki tracked down and caught with a leaping grab before it struck the fence in dead center. Tatsushi Masuda then worked a scoreless ninth for his eighth save.

Fighters’ VerHagen stops Hawks

Drew VerHagen (2-1) allowed two runs over six innings, and catcher Shingo Usami belted a three-run second-inning homer in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 3-2 win over the SoftBank Hawks at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

VerHagen surrendered a run in the bottom of the first on a leadoff walk and a Yuki Yanagita triple. But after a walk, VerHagen recorded two of his eight strikeouts to hold the Hawks to a run.

Hawks lefty Shunsuke Kasaya (0-1) retired the first five batters he faced before a walk and a Christian Villanueva single brought the light-hitting Fighters catcher to the plate. Kasaya missed with a 1-1 slider and Usami drilled it well back in the seats for his first home run since he hit for for the Yomiuri Giants in 2017.

VerHagen didn’t need much help from his defense but he did get a gem from second baseman Kenshi Sugiya to catch a flare for the third out of the third inning and rob Yanagita of a single.

The Hawks narrowed the gap in the fifth on a walk, a double and a Ryoya Kurihara sac fly, but neither team would record a hit after that as three Fighters relievers closed it out and Ryo Akiyoshi earned his sixth save.

Kasaya was pulled after three innings, but the Hawks got four stellar innings of long relief from Yugo Bando, who struck out five while allowing a walk and a single.

Mission accomplished as Buffs play for tie

For the second straight night, Orix Buffaloes skipper Norifumi turned to the sacrifice bunt when trailing in the late innings on the road. Although the Buffaloes scored six runs in the ninth on Wednesday and did better than tie, Nishimura got what he paid for this time.

Adam Jones singled in two runs as Orix came from behind to finish in a 2-2 tie with the Rakuten Eagles at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Lefties Hayato Yuge of the Eagles and Sachiya Yamasaki of the Buffaloes each threw five scoreless innings. Yuge worked around a leadoff single in the sixth before the Eagles scored in the home half.

Hiroto Kobukata, Rakuten’s top draft pick last autumn, and Eigoro Mogi singled to open the inning. After a Daichi Suzuki sacrifice, Kobukata did well to score around the tag at the plate after Stefen Romero’s fly to medium deep right field.

Hideto Asamura singled in a second run, but the Buffaloes got to Yuge in the eighth.

After a walk and a hit batsman, No. 2 hitter Koji Oshiro sacrificed and slugger Masataka Yoshida walked. Jones then ripped a game-tying single off Alan Busenitz and was replaced by a pinch-runner. Both teams wasted scoring opportunities before the game was called at the conclusion of the 10th inning.

NPB finally backs down on bigger crowds

Nearly a week after Japan’s government asked event promotors not to expand the sizes of their audiences from Aug. 1, Nippon Professional Baseball on Thursday said it would follow suit.

Prior to Thursday’s announcement, only two teams had said they would back from their plans to admit crowds up to half of their venues’ capacity. Since July 10, NPB and pro soccer’s J-League have limited their audiences to a maximum of 5,000 fans.

See the Kyodo News story here.

jballallen.com’s NPB coronavirus timeline.

Tigers lose Itohara with broken hand

Kento Itohara, the Hanshin Tigers’ 27-year-old second baseman broke the hamate bone in his right hand during Wednesday’s game against the Hiroshima Carp. He was deactivated on Thursday, snapping his string of playing in 312 consecutive games since Opening Day 2018.

Active roster moves 7/23/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/2

Central League

Activated

BayStarsIF23Tyler Austin
TigersP19Shintaro Fujinami
TigersP22Kyuji Fujikawa
CarpP18Masato Morishita
CarpIF4Tetsuya Kokubo

Dectivated

TigersIF33Kento Itohara
CarpP46Mikiya Takahashi
CarpOF50Hiroki Takahashi

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP44Kaito Yoza
MarinesOF7Shuhei Fukuda

Dectivated

LionsP13Kona Takahashi
MarinesOF0Takashi Ogino

NPB 2020 7-21 games and news

Sugano shuts out Dragons

Tomoyuki Sugano (4-0) struck out 11, while allowing three singles in a 4-0 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Nagoya Dome on Tuesday. The win was the Giants’ sixth straight.

Gerardo Parra opened the scoring in the third inning. He opened the inning with a single off of Dragons right-hander Takumi Yamamoto (1-3) and scored on Yoshiyuki Kamei’s two-out single.

Yamamoto left the bases loaded by getting cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto to ground out, but surrendered a leadoff home run to Takumi Oshiro in the fourth and a two-out, two-run shot to Okamoto in the fifth. It was Okamoto’s 10th of the season.

Sugano surrendered a leadoff single and a no-out walk in the first, but was virtually untouchable after that working batters over with his fastball, cutter and slider.

Yamamoto allowed four runs over 4-2/3 innings on eight hits and two walks. He struck out seven.

Swallows’ Hara beats BayStars in season debut

Yakult Swallows right-hander Juri Hara (1-0) overcame a rough first inning to earn his first win in a 6-4 victory over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

After Norichika Aoki put the visitors up 2-0 with a home run off right-hander Michael Peoples (0-1), Takayuki Kajitani homered to open the bottom of the first.

Neftali Soto walked and Jose Lopez singled to put two on with no out, but Hara retired the next two batters before Tatsuhiro Shibata singled home two. With a 3-2 lead, Peoples fashioned three scoreless innings before the Swallows got to him in the fifth.

Back-to-back singles by Tomotaka Sakaguchi and Tetsuto Yamada were followed by doubles from Aoki and Munetaka Murakami. Edwin Escobar added a sac fly that made it 6-3.

Scott McGough allowed a run in the sixth, but 21-year-old Yugo Umeno and 23-year-old Noboru Shimizu added scoreless innings, as did journeyman closer Taishi Ishiyama, who recorded his fifth save.

Peoples was tagged for six runs on six hits and four walks.He struck out three. Edwin Escobar, who worked the eighth for the BayStars, surrendered a leadoff single before getting his cousin, Swallows shortstop Alcides Escobar, to ground into a double play.

Sands, Tigers batter Carp

Jerry Sands and three Hanshin Tigers teammates each drove in two runs in a 9-4 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Koshien Stadium outside Osaka.

Sands, who played in the majors for the Los Angeles Dodgers and led South Korea’s Korea Baseball Organization in RBIs last year, was in his second game in the No. 3 hole. His first-inning homer off right-hander Allen Kuri (1-2) tied it 1-1.

Kento Itohara hit a two-run homer for the Tigers in the third, and Sands singled in starting pitcher Takumi Akiyama, who had doubled to open the inning.

Akiyama allowed four runs on a walk and seven hits while striking out five.

Tigers first baseman Justin Bour remained out of the lineup for the second-straight game with strained right glutes.

Sugiura outpitches Senga in Fighters’ win

Right-hander Toshihiro Sugiura, who was principally employed as a short starter last season, allowed a run over six innings to earn the win as the Nippon Ham Fighters came from behind to beat Kodai Senga and the SoftBank Hawks 2-1 at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Sugiura (2-1) made 14 starts last season but only amassed 65 innings. On Tuesday, he walked two and allowed five hits, including a solo home run to Wladimir Balentien, while striking out four.

Trailing 1-0, Sugiura retired his final batter by striking out Balentien with two on in the sixth with a nasty splitter.

Senga (2-1) walked three, hit a batter and allowed six hits over 6-2/3 innings.

The Fighters tied it in the seventh on doubles by Toshitake Yokoo and Haruki Nishikawa. Senga left after allowing a single to right-handed-hitting Taishi Ota. Left-hander Shinya Kayama gave up the go-ahead run, when Kensuke Kondo singled on a 1-1 slider.

Katsuhiko Kumon allowed two runners in a scoreless seventh for the Fighters. Veteran lefty Naoki Miyanishi worked the eighth, starting with an impressive strikeout of slugger Yuki Yanagita.

With a 3-2 count, Yanagita appeared to be looking for one of Miyanishi’s bread-and-butter low-and-away sliders, but got fastballs instead. He managed to foul off two before swinging under a third.

Fighters closer Ryo Akiyoshi, who struggled in two of his last three games, worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his fifth save.

Buffaloes snap losing streak against Eagles

Orix catcher Kenya Wakatsuki hit a sixth-inning grand slam and the Buffaloes came from two runs down to beat the Rakuten Eagles 10-3 in a rain-shortened game at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi that was called in the top of the eighth.

Lefty Andrew Albers (2-2) allowed two runs on five hits while striking out one to earn the win for Orix. He gave up the game’s first run on a Jabari Blash solo homer in the second.

Adam Jones, dropped to the Buffaloes’ No. 6 slot, singled with one out in the sixth when his chopper to third evaded Daichi Suzuki’s stab. A single by rookie Ryo Ota and a walk by Ryoichi Adachi loaded them for Wakatsuki, who homered off a 1-2 changeup from Taiwan right-hander Sung Chia-hao (0-1).

Lions Marines

Corey Spangenberg had three hits and drove in three runs as the Seibu Lions came from behind to beat the Lotte Marines 8-3 at MetLife Dome in Saitama Prefecture.

Lions right-hander Tatsuya Imai (2-3) gave up three runs over five innings but was able to earn the win after Seibu took the lead in a three-run fifth against Manabu Mima (2-2).

Through four innings, the Lions could manage only one base runner against Mima, Takeya Nakamura’s fourth home run of the year in the second. But an infield single by Tomoya Mori, a single off the wall in center by Nakamura, and a walk to Takumi Kuriyama loaded the bases.

Spangenberg then smashed a first-pitch fastball from Mima past first base to tie it. A sacrifice bunt and a sac fly to deep right by Shohei Suzuki put the Lions ahead for good, and the Lions bullpen allowed just three runners to reach the rest of the way.

The Marines opened the scoring in the first when Leonys Martin’s fly fell for a double as Spangenberg in left and Suzuki couldn’t decide who would catch it. and scored on a single by rookie Hisanori Yasuda that nearly took off Imai’s head. Yudai Fujioka drove in single runs in the second with a booming double, and in the fourth with a broken-bat single to make it 3-1.

Active roster moves 7/21/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/31

Central League

Activated

BayStarsP45Michael Peoples
DragonsP14Keisuke Tanimoto
SwallowsP16Juri Hara

Dectivated

DragonsIF9Shun Ishikawa

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesOF46Ko Shimozuru
MarinesP28Takahiro Matsunaga
FightersP57Toshihiro Sugiura
BuffaloesOF25Ryo Nishimura

Dectivated

None

NPB 2020 7-19 games and news

Niho outduels Buffs ace Yamamoto

There were quips made when Hawks manager named Akira Niho to be the last man in his six-man starting pitching rotation. When the 30-year-old right-hander did as well as expected out of the gate, Kudo stuck with him, and on Sunday, Niho did what he was capable of walked away with a win after matching up with one of Japan’s best, Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

Niho (2-2) threw six scoreless innings, and the SoftBank Hawks took advantage of their one chance against Yamamoto to leave Osaka’s Kyocera Dome with 3-2 win.

Niho escaped a two-out bases-loaded jam in the third when Adam Jones grounded into the final out.

After starting the Buffaloes cleanup hitter on the outside edge with his two-seam fastball, he left a slider up in the heart of the zone and then missed with a fastball inside. Jones fouled off the fat slider and was jammed by the 89-mph fastball on the hands.

Niho then retired eight of the last nine batters he faced before three good swings changed the game in the seventh.

Left-handed-hitting Seiji Uebayashi hit a high fastball away and sliced it into the left field corner for a leadoff double and the Hawks’ second hit of the game. Yuki Yanagita, who struggled against Yamamoto’s splitter in his second at-bat made some headway against it his third time up.

Yanagita survived a narrow escape when he grounded a splitter to first (again) only for it to bounce foul by inches. The next pitch, Yamamoto’s seventh to him, hung up and the left-handed-hitting slugger slammed it to the warning track in right for a tie-breaking double.

Akira Nakamura followed, and somehow pulled a fastball up and over the outside part of the plate and his drive just cleared the wall in right for his first home run of the year.

“I was waiting for something fast. It’s a confidence boost to be able to hit one of the best pitchers in baseball,” Nakamura said.

Submarine right-hander Rei Takahashi, the PL’s 2019 rookie of the year, whose been in relief this season, worked a scoreless seventh against the bottom of the Buffaloes order, but dependable lefty Livan Moinelo couldn’t locate in the eighth and ran into trouble.

The Cuban reliever surrendered a leadoff single before issuing three walks, forcing in a run, and bringing Jones to the plate with a chance to turn the game around.

Jones, who has seen precious few fastballs in the strike zone this season, fouled off an 0-1 heater and then chased and fouled off a curve out of the zone. Moinelo missed up high with a change up and Jones got under it, flying out to center to bring home a run.

The play resulted in the second out when Ryoichi Adachi took off for third and was tagged out on the throw from Yanagita in center when he over-slid the bag.

Hawks closer Yuito Mori worked a 1-2-3 ninth to record his fifth save.

Orix manager Norifumi Nishimura blamed the loss on failure to execute, pointing to a failed sacrifice in the third inning after Ryo Ota opened with a leadoff single.

“We had the failed bunt,” he said. “There are times when things will take a wrong turn if you don’t execute properly.”

Rookie Kawano earns 1st win

Rookie lefty Ryusei Kawano allowed two runs over eight innings to win his first game as a pro in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 9-2 win over the Lotte Marines at Sapporo Dome.

Sho Nakata’s three-run, third-inning home run capped a four-run outburst against right-hander Yuki Ariyoshi (1-1).

Kawano, who has shown good stuff since Day 1, has become more and more assertive in the strike zone with each passing day, and Sunday’s start was another step in that direction.

Through the early innings, Kawano, the Fighters’ top pick last autumn in NPB’s draft, tried to hit corners but was less hesitant about challenging hitters in the zone with his fastball and then making them look bad against his changeup.

With a 4-0 lead in the fourth, catcher Shingo Usami began setting his target squarely in the zone and Kawano responded to the encouragement.

Through seven innings, he allowed three base runners. He finished with seven strikeouts, two walks and four hits after allowing two eighth-inning runs on a Leonys Martin double. Brandon Laird went 2-for-4 in his old home park.

Former Lion Asamura flies with Eagles

HIdeto Asamura bounced back from two hitless games with two days worth of hits and four RBIs to lead the Rakuten Eagles’ comeback in a 9-5 win over his old team, the Seibu Lions, at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Stefen Romero opened the scoring with a solo homer off lefty Daiki Enokida, making his first start of the season, but Hotaka Yamakawa’s third home run in three days, a three-run third-inning shot off former Lions ace Takayuki Kishi made it 5-1 Seibu.

Former Lion (one can say that A LOT in Sendai) Asamura made it a 5-2 game in the third with his second hit, an RBI single that plated Daichi Suzuki.

Kishi was pulled after 2-13 innings, but the bullpen picked up the slack and Asamura hit his Japan-best 11th home run to lead off the sixth against Enokida. The Lions lefty was yanked after allowing three runs over five-plus innings.

Seibu’s bullpen workhorse Katsunori Hirai took over and worked around a hit batsman to keep it 5-3 through six. Eagles right-hander Alan Busenitz (1-0) worked a scoreless seventh, and Asamura tied it with a two-run single in the bottom of the inning.

Hirai (2-1), who led both leagues in games pitched last season with 81, allowed three runs on two walks, a hit batsman and six hits over one-plus inning of work. He was replaced by stocky Kaima Taira.

The right-hander, who struck out Romero on a 99.4 mph fastball after entering with no outs and the bases loaded, went into Asamura’s kitchen with a 1-2, 98 mph heater that brushed him back. Asamura, however, brushed that off and stroked a cutter away into right for a two-run single that tied it.

With two outs and the bases reloaded, Yasuhito Uchida homered off Taira to complete the Eagles’ comeback.

Okamoto, Giants burn BayStars closer in 9th

Pinch-runner Daiki Masuda stole second with one out in the ninth inning and scored the tying run from second on an infield singe before Kazuma Okamoto blasted a two-run home run in the Yomiuri Giants’ 5-3 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

With a one-run lead in the ninth, Yasuaki Yamasaki (0-2) took the mound for the BayStars and surrendered a one-out single to Hayato Sakamoto. Pinch-runner Daiki Masuda stole second and with two outs, he gambled and was safe at home on Yoshihiro Maru’s grounder deep into the hold behind first.

BayStars manager Alex Ramirez yanked his closer, and Yuki Kuniyoshi served up an 0-1 fastball to Okamoto who drove it out well beyond the wall in right center for his ninth home run.

The BayStars’ Neftali Soto scored three runs and homered to tie it 2-2 in the third inning. Soto was hit by a pitch in the fifth and scored on a Jose Lopez double.

Swallows Carp

The Hiroshima Carp bullpen proved able to solve the Yakult Swallows once the game was tied and the bases loaded, which they did in both the ninth and 10th innings to finish in a 3-3 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

The visitors took a 2-0 lead into the seventh, but the heart of the Hiroshima attack found their third look at right-hander Hirotoshi Takanashi to their liking. After allowing just two hits and a walk through six innings, Takanashi gave up a single to Shota Dobayashi and back-to-back doubles by Seiya Suzuki and Ryuhei Matsuyama that tied it up.

Yugo Umeno got out of the inning but not before Tsubasa Aizawa singled in the go-ahead run. In the eighth, 23-year-old Noboru Shimizu loaded the bases on two one-out walks and a single but struck out Matsuyama and Hisayoshi Chono to prevent the game from getting away.

Norichika Aoki singled in the tying run in the ninth and the Swallows loaded the bases with one out for Munetaka Murakami. But journeyman right-hander Yasunori Kikuchi got the easiest double play imaginable, when the 20-year-old slugger tipped a low forkball into the dirt in front of home plate. Aizawa collected it, stepped on the plate and threw to first to end the inning.

New Carp D.J. Johnson loaded the bases in the 10th — the last inning allowed in NPB this season — but ended the inning with a strikeout. Swallows closer Taishi Ishiyama then pitched out of a two-on, one-out pickle in the bottom of the 10th to ensure the tie.

Tigers blow out Dragons

On a night when hard-hitting first baseman Justin Bour was out of the Hanshin lineup, the Tigers still erupted for 11 runs on 14 hits and eight walks in an 11-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons and a sweep of their three-game series at Koshien Stadium outside Osaka.

Jerry Sands, batting third in manager Akihiro Yano’s lineup singled in the game’s first run and scored on Kosuke Fukudome’s sacrifice fly in the Tigers’ three-run first.

The 43-year-old Fukudome, who came off the bench to wreak havoc on the Swallows on Thursday, was in the starting lineup and responded with two singles, a double, two sacrifice flies and four RBIs.

Sands also doubled and drew one of the Tigers’ two bases-loaded walks in their three-run fourth inning.

The Dragons’ Dayan Viciedo continued to rip it up at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a walk and a home run.

Active roster moves 7/19/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/29

Central League

Activated

BayStarsC36Shuto Takajo
DragonsOF60Yuki Okabayashi

Dectivated

BayStarsC29Hikaru Ito
DragonsOF31Masaru Watanabe

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP30Daiki Enokida
MarinesP36Yuki Ariyoshi

Dectivated

LionsP17Wataru Matsumoto
FightersP14Takayuki Kato

NPB 2020 7-14 games and news

Senga makes do with less as Buffaloes stumble

A week after SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga made his belated season debut, his splitter remains a work in progress. But even without any obvious feel for it, Senga was still able to locate his high-velocity fastball, cutter and slider often enough to overcome an Orix Buffaloes team that booted its early opportunities in a 10-3 Hawks win at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Buffaloes lefty Andrew Albers was unable to locate his slider in the first and worked too carefully for his own good and was fortunate not to allow more than two runs. After walking Yuki Yanagita on four pitches to put two on with one out, Wladimir Balentien hit a good two-seam fastball on the outside edge and singled to center fielder Yuma Mune.

The Buffaloes outfielder misplayed the ball, allowing Yanagita to score and Balentien to take second. A walk and a bunt single loaded the bases but Albers struck out Nobuhiro Matsuda with a beauty of a changeup and jammed Kenji Akashi with a fastball inside to end the inning.

The Buffaloes evened it up in the bottom of the inning, thanks to four good two-out at-bats after leadoff man Kojji Oshiro led off with a walk. Singles by Adam Jones and Takahiro Okada, made it 2-1, and walks by Aderlin Rodriguez and Kenya Wakatsuki tied it. Ryoichi Adachi saw some mistakes up in the zone but was unable to do anything with them as Senga got out of the inning with the game tied.

Albers challenged Takuya Kai to open the second and the Hawks’ catcher doubled. Albers then did a poor job covering the bag on Ryoya Kurihara’s grounder to first, slowing as he neared the bag and letting the batter beat him to the base. Albers jammed Kenta Imamiya, but the ball fell in shallow center. It would have been a tough play but neither shortstop Adachi nor center fielder Mune committed to it, and that was, in short, the story of this game.

The Buffaloes looked more confident in their execution against another team that too often failed to execute routine plays, but against the Hawks, they looked just a little tight.

The Hawks batters succeeded in running up Albers’ pitch count, and it seemed that both he and Senga really only got warmed up after they hit the 50-pitch mark. He retired eight-straight hitters after Imamiya’s flare before giving up back-to-back triples in the fourth. Mune got to a ball off Imamiya’s bat and it would have been a heck of a catch, but it hit his glove and bounced away.

Yanagita then hit a ball too high off the left field wall for Okada to have a play on. By the time he got the ball back, Yanagita was on third and Albers was out of the game.

Albers (1-2) allowed four runs, three earned, on two walks and eight hits while striking out six. He doesn’t throw particularly hard, but he commanded his four-seam fastball, his two-seamer and change. The slider was effective after the first inning. It was more a case of lots of little things going wrong.

Once Albers was out of the way, the game was a piece of cake for the Hawks. Balentien singled off his replacement, Kazumasa Yoshida, and the Hawks took Orix’s bullpen to the bank.

Senga (2-0) did throw some good splitters, but more often than not, he could neither locate them or get them to tumble properly. But because Senga throws so hard and was able to locate his fastball and cutter better than he usually does, the absence of a reliable splitter was more an annoyance than a deal-breaker.

Seiji Uebayashi, who came on as a late substitute once the game was out of hand, and Kai, each belted a two-run home run for the Hawks.

Mima fans 7 as Marines beat Fighters

Manabu Mima (2-0) allowed two runs on six hits over seven innings while striking out seven, while Leonys Martin homered and had an RBI single in the Lotte Marines’ 5-2 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.

Leadoff man Takashi Ogino reached base three times, stole two bases and scored two runs, while relievers Frank Herrmann and Naoya Masuda each supplied a scoreless inning to close it out.

The Fighters’ difficulties with execution returned home with them after an ugly week in Osaka as catcher Yushi Shimizu hit his pitcher while throwing to second on one steal attempt and missed third base on another.

Lefty Naoyuki Uwasawa (0-1) gave up five runs, three earned, on six hits and two walks over five innings.

Akiyama, Kinami push Tigers past Swallows

Takumi Akiyama (1-1) allowed three runs over six innings, while Seiya Kinami drove in three runs with a sac fly and a home run as the Hanshin Tigers beat the Yakult Swallows 6-3 at Koshien Stadium.

Akiyama paid the price for a pair of one-out walks in the first as both runners came around to score on a Munetaka Murakami single and a grounder to third.

The Tigers got to 40-year-old Swallows lefty for three runs in the fourth. Yoshio Itoi doubled, Justin Bour singled with one out and Jerry Sands walked. Catcher Ryutaro Umeno doubled in two, and Kinami’s sac fly made it 3-2.

The Swallows, who are without their top two catchers, Yuhei Nakamura and Motohiro Shima, got a game-tying home run from reserve catcher Akihisa Nishida in the top of the fifth, but Itoi singled home Koji Chikamoto with the tie-breaking run in the home half.

After Sands singled to open the sixth, Kinami then homered off right-hander Tomoya Hoshi, and three Tigers relievers, Yusuke Baba, lefty Suguru Iwazaki and Robert Suarez kept Yakult off the board the rest of the way. Suarez earned his second save.

Tiger pitcher asks fans for quiet

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, teams are only allowed to admit up to 5,000 fans and those have been instructed not to shout or engage in organized cheering. One hears lots of clapping, and when Tigers batters come to the plate at Koshien Stadium, one can distinctly hear thousands of fans chanting together softly.

But Koshien being Koshien and Tigers fans being enthusiastic, the hecklers, who are normally hard to hear above the constant white noise background produced by the cheering groups, were too audible for Tigers pitcher Iwazaki’s comfort according to a Daily Sports story.

During the eighth inning, the pitcher called time and informed umpire Tomiji Iizuka, who, according to the Hochi Shimbun, asked them to be quiet by saying, “You can’t speak in a loud voice.”

Sugano, Okamoto lead Giants win over Carp

Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (3-0) tossed five shutout innings, and Kazuma Okamoto hit his sixth home run, a three-run, third-inning shot in Yomiuri’s 7-2 win over the Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Tomoyuki Sugano

Carp right-hander Allen Kuri (1-1) escaped a one-out bases-loaded jam in the second, but issued a four-pitch leadoff walk to Sugano to open the third. A one-out walk and a Yoshihiro Maru double at his old home park put the Giants up by a run. Okamoto followed with a homer.

Gerardo Parra singled in a run for the Giants against new Carp D.J. Johnson in a two-error, three-run sixth.


Hara surpasses Nagashima’s win total

The win was the 1,035th of Giants manager Tatsunori Hara’s career. It moved him out of a tie with his mentor, Shigeo Nagashima, and into sole possession of second place in franchise history behind Tetsuharu Kawakami, who managed the “V-9” Giants — winners of nine-straight Japan Series championships from 1965 to 1973.

Hara, who barely failed to win election to the Hall of Fame for his playing career, sprinted in once voters were allowed to consider his other accomplishments during his three-year hiatus as Giants skipper from 2016 to 2018.

BayStars’ Onuki shuts down Dragons

Shinichi Onuki (1-2) allowed two runs over eight innings, while his teammates sent 10 men to the plate in a five-run fourth inning as the DeNA BayStars beat the Chunichi Dragons 5-3 at Nagoya Dome.

Onuki struck out six without a walk. He allowed an unearned run in the first, and surrendered 24-year-old Cuban catcher Ariel Martinez’s first home run for the top team. Martinez also singled in a run in the ninth to keep his average at .500.

Dragons right-hander Takumi Yamamoto (1-2) gave up five runs, three earned, over 3-2/3 innings on six hits and three walks. The Dragons had a golden opportunity to get out of the inning on a double play. Unfortunately with the in-the-neighborhood double play a thing of the past, second baseman Shun Ishikawa’s failure to touch second on the pivot allowed a run to score and the bleeding to continue.

Lots of little ups and downs

With the win, the BayStars have now become the first NPB team to have alternated wins and losses over a 15-game stretch, according to the Nikkan Sports.

Giants, Eagles swap pitchers

The Central League’s Yomiuri Giants and the Pacific League’s Rakuten Eagles announced a trade on Tuesday, with the Giants acquiring 28-year-old lefty Yuhei Takanashi in exchange for 22-year-old right-hander Hosei Takata.

It’s the second trade between the two clubs after the Eagles sent infielder Zelous Wheeler to Yomiuri in June for lefty Shun Ikeda.

The Daily Sports reported that Eagles general manager Kazuhisa Ishii is high on Takata’s potential, while noting Takanashi, a side-armer, will have an opportunity for more playing time with the Giants, who since their last trade have lost closer Rubby De La Rosa.

Takata led the Eastern league in wins and ERA in 2018.

Tigers’ Gunkel deactivated

The Hanshin Tigers deactivated right-hander Joe Gunkel on Tuesday after he felt lower back stiffness during pregame practice, Sponichi reported. A first-year-import, the 28-year-old Gunkel is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA after his only start for the Tigers.

Active roster moves 7/14/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/24

Central League

Activated

BayStarsIF38Kouki Yamashita
TigersP36Masumi Hamachi

Dectivated

TigersP49Joe Gunkel
DragonsIF3Shuhei Takahashi

Pacific League

Activated

MarinesP27Daiki Yamamoto
FightersP15Naoyuki Uwasawa
BuffaloesC33Masato Matsui

Dectivated

None

NPB 2020 6-21 live

Go to today’s LIVE BLOG.

Giants sweep Tigers

Angel Sanchez, who went 17-5 last year in KBO for the SK Wyverns, had a rocky start in his NPB debut Sunday, but earned the win as Kazuma Okamoto and Gerardo Parra homered to lift the Yomiuri Giants to a 7-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers and a three-game series sweep at Tokyo Dome for the defending CL champs.

Sanchez allowed one run, on a leadoff homer to Koji Chikamoto, allowed four walks and four hits, but lasted 5-2/3 innings.

Morishita shines in pro debut for Carp

Masato Morishita, Hiroshima’s top draft pick out of Meiji University, struck out eight in his pro debut against the DeNA BayStars. The righty, who I had a look at in the spring, walked two and gave up four hits in a 104-pitch, seven-inning outing at Yokohama Stadium.

Unfortunately, there was no fairy tale finish in Morishita’s debut as four-straight BayStars batters hit line drives off Tyler Scott in the ninth. Toshiro Miyazaki finishes it off by finding the gap against the drawn-in outfield and two runs scored to end it.

“I believe that our strategy was good but that guy was real good. He has the potential to be an ace pitcher. I was glad they took him out of the game,” DeNA skipper Alex Ramirez said.

BayStars right-hander Kentaro Taira allowed a run over six innings on a walk and five hits, while striking out two.

“It was a great game all the way from the beginning. Taira did a great job from the beginning and the relievers did a great job.”

Yuki Kuniyoshi worked two scoreless innings of relief, and Spencer Patton, who worked the eighth, got the win.

Lions rookie Yoza solid in losing debut

Kaito Yoza allowed three runs over six innings in his first-team for the Seibu Lions, but the bullpen blew up over the final three innings in a 12-2 loss to the Nippon Ham Fighters. Solo homers from Sho Nakata and Taishi Ota gave the visitors an early lead they would never give up.

Mima wins Marines debut

Manabu Mima, who joined Lotte over the winter as a free agent from the Rakuten Eagles, allowed a run while striking out nine in just five innings in the Marines’ 5-1 victory over the SoftBank Hawks.

Seiya Inoue homered in the second off reliever Yuki Tsumori after the Hawks starter, journeyman Akira Niho loaded the bases by hitting Shogo Nakamura in the head. Pitches that strike a batter in or around the head are referred to as “kikenkyu” (dangerous pitches) and call for an automatic ejection for the pitcher.

Former major leaguers Brandon Laird and Leonys Martin reached base before Nakamura was hit and scored as Inoue put the game out of reach early.

June 21 Live blog: Buffaloes vs Eagles

Off to a bit of a slow start on Sunday, folks. Having a look at Orix and Rakuten today, because my favorite Japanese pitcher, Yoshinobu Yamamoto is on the mound for the Buffaloes.

Go to NEWEST.

For those of you who are curious, you can read a little about these teams in my Japanese pro baseball guide.

Top 2nd

Yamamoto has consistently the best stuff in Japan, and it looks like he’s put some muscle on his once spindly frame. He struck out the side in order in the first and got a one-run lead in the home half, but two ground balls in the second produced the Eagles’ first hit.

  1. Dangerous Hideto Asamura grounds out softly to 2nd.
  2. Hiroaki Shimauchi gets a grounder through between 1st and 2nd
  3. Former Buffaloe Stefen Romero grounds to short and the enigmatic Ryoichi Adachi starts the inning-ending double play.

Bottom 2nd

Eagles starter Ryota Ishibashi went 8-7 as a rookie last year and was second on the team in innings pitched with 127-1/3 because the club’s two best starters, Takayuki Kishi and Takahiro Norimoto missed time with injuries

Ishibashi’s average fastball velocity last year was 145.2 kph, and he’s a four-seam, cutter, splitter, and two-seam guy, although be aware the two-seam description generally encompasses two distinctly different pitches, a hard running fastball and a two-seam sinking fastball–which is the rarer of the two in Japan.

  1. Kenya Wakatsuki grounds out.
  2. Ryoichi Adachi singles to center.
  3. Shunta Goto singles to right to put runners on the corners for Takahiro Okada.
  4. Okada, who slid home headfirst to score on Keita Nakagawa’s sac fly in the first, singles in the Buffaloes’ second run.
  5. Aderlin Rodriguez looks like a player built for Japan, a smooth compact swing, who makes excellent contact. Ishibashi hangs a forkball and Rodriguez hits it high up the wall in left for an RBI double, Buffaloes 3, Eagles 0.
  6. Rodriguez, however, contributes an out on the bases, thanks to some slick defense by Eagles first baseman Ginji Akaminai. Ginji goes to a knee to stab a ball off the bat of Masataka Yoshida, makes the play at first and then throws behind Rodriguez who is trapped between second and third.

Top 3rd

  1. Akaminai, who wears “Ginji” on his uniform as his registered name, grounds out to second, topping 1-2 splitter.
  2. Catcher Hikaru hits a little comebacker to Yamamoto for the second out.
  3. Ryosuke Tatsumi, the PL’s 2018 rookie of the year swings and misses at a low fastball for another 1-2-3 inning. The thing about Yamamoto is that he has so many quality pitches, that it’s very common to see everyone guessing wrong and getting terrible swings even at mistakes in the zone.

Bottom 3rd

  1. Adam Jones had two hits on Saturday, and put a sweet swing on a straight fastball in the first for a single that contributed to Orix’s first run. Ishibashi gets a generous call on a low pitch from home plate ump Masanobu Suginaga, and Jones goes down looking.
  2. Keita Nakagawa, who had a strong rookie season playing all over the musical chairs game the Buffaloes’ infield resembled last year, flies out to left.
  3. Koji Oshiro, another of those versatile infielders from 2019, grounds out to short.

Top 4th

  1. Eigoro Mogi gets under a high 151-kph fastball and flies out to left.
  2. Daichi Suzuki, the former Marines captain who moved to Sendai as a free agent over the winter, swings under a high 1-2 running fastball to go down swinging.
  3. Jabari Blash, who struck out looking in the first, flails at a beauty of an 0-2 curve.

Bottom 4th

  1. Buffaloes catcher Kenya Wakatsuki launches a hanging first-pitch slider away to the warning track for an opposite-field leadoff double.
  2. Adachi tops an attempted sacrifice bunt in front of the plate, and Ota throws out his opposite number at third.
  3. Akaminai, playing in tight at first base, makes a good play on a little chopper by Goto.
  4. Okada, who raked in the spring and in practice games, pulled a high hanging forkball over Akaminai and down the right-field line for his second double of the game and a 4-0 Buffaloes lead. This is quite a turnaround for Okada, whose career has been in decline for nearly a decade, and who spent most of the 2019 season on the farm after a handful of sloppy at-bats and fielding misplays at first base.
  5. Ishibashi snaps off a nasty curve to send Rodriguez down swinging.

Top 5th

  1. Not a great fastball, but Asamura doesn’t get a great swing on it and pops up down the left field line.
  2. An easy fly to lefty by Shimauchi and Yamamoto appears to be operating on cruise control.
  3. He works carefully to Romero, who ends a good 6-pitch at-bat by fouling out.

Bottom 5th

Rookie right-hander Taisei Tsurusaki on the mound for the Eagles after Ishibashi gives up four runs in four innings. Tsurusaki is making his debut against the middle of the Buffaloes lineup. He looks to have a repeatable delivery, comes over the top and keeps his hand on top of the ball.

  1. Yoshida, one of the best hitters in the PL, swings at a huge 12-6 curve before taking a cutter on the outside corner for Strike 3.
  2. Jones provides less of a challenge, grounding a first-pitch fastball away to second.
  3. Nakagawa walks on seven pitches and steals second easily.
  4. Oshiro walks on 6 pitches.
  5. Wakatsuki flies out off the handle, and the rookie survives without any damage done.

Top 6th

  1. Nice at-bat by Ginji, but he tips a 2-2 shoot into Wakatsuki’s glove for Strike 3.
  2. Backup catcher Ayatsugu Yamashita batting for his catching partner Ota and grounds out easily to first.
  3. Yamamoto is toying with Tatsumi, going after the corners with his hard stuff while getting three strikes with his curve. Tatsumi goes down swinging at one low out of the zone.
Thanks for that Jason. A Yamamoto curve is not fair to pinch-hitters.

Bottom 6th

Veteran lefty Wataru Karashima on the mound for the Eagles. He had a serviceable year in the rotation last season, going 9-6 in 117-1/3 innings. He is in middle relief this year with closer Yuki Matsui moving back into the rotation. He’s basically a fastball, slider, curve change guy.

  1. I love watching Ginji Akaminai play first base. He is everywhere on everything, and knows where to look and when to throw. Another good play opens the first as he throws out Adachi to open the seventh.
  2. Goto flies out to left.
  3. Okada’s confidence is dialed up to “11” now after floundering for several seasons. He is balanced at the plate and ready to attack EVERYTHING. He walks to bring up Rodriguez.
  4. And Rodriguez, short to the ball on an inside pitch and pulls it down the line in left for a double. Okada to third.
  5. Okada, a small guy with a quiet stance in the left-handed batters box, doesn’t look like he should be dangerous, but he has serious power and plate discipline. Not this time though, as Karashima gets him to ground to short.

Top 7th

Don’t remember when the PL started the innovation of playing the visiting team’s Lucky Seventh song on the stadium speakers, but it is a nice touch, since no matter what park you’re at in the top flight there will be at least five or six hundred fans on the visitor’s side of the outfield waving their flags and cheering on their guys.

With no fans in the stands, the Kyocera Dome scoreboard was showing Eagles fans cheering from home on streaming video while, the Eagles song, what Casey McGehee called the “Igloo song,” plays.

  1. Mogi grounds out to open the visitors’ seventh.
  2. Suzuki misses a 3-2 inside fastball for Yamamoto’s 10th strikeout.
  3. Blash grounds one up the middle for an infield single.
  4. Asamura miss-hits a cutter to short for an easy out.

Bottom 7th

Tomohiro Anraku, who made a name for himself in high school with his brutal pitch counts, comes in to pitch the seventh for the Eagles.

  1. Jones looks at two fastballs low and away before grounding out to second.
  2. Nakagawa lined a pitch to short right center, and nearly got caught out thinking it would get through when Tatsumi cut it off in center.
  3. Pinch runner for Nakagawa at first, and Yuya Oda swipes second. Oshiro flies out to center but not deep enough to send Oda to third.
  4. Wakatsuki grounds out and we’re going to the 8th with the Eagles trailing 4-0.

Top 8th

  1. Shimauchi flies out to first on the second pitch.
  2. Romero flies out to second on the second pitch.
  3. Yasuhito Uchida, batting for Ginji, who may have twisted something when he miss-stepped making that play to open the seventh, rips a single to right.
  4. Yamashita his what they call a “bonda” in Japanese, an easy out, on a grounder to second.

That’s 94 pitches for Yamamoto and with a four-run lead, he won’t be back. Thirty years ago, I guarantee, he’d be getting ready for the ninth. Back then, there was no good excuse for lifting a starter who was leading. “How can you take him out? It’s a close game” or “How can you take him out with that big lead.” You name it, there was an excuse for it.

Bottom 8th

Anraku, the Eagles’ top draft pick in 2014, is back for the ninth.

  1. Adachi lines out.
  2. Goto fouls off two, two-strike pitches before striking out swinging in an eight-pitch at-bat.
  3. Anraku finally makes Okada look like the guy who could possibly be lost at the plate as he hesitates on a 1-2 fastball on the inside corner for Strike 3.

Return to TOP

Top 9th

United States international closer Brandon Dickson on in the ninth. He was a productive starter for the Buffaloes for six seasons, but last year, with no one else to turn to, he was thrust into the closer’s role, where he’s been dynamite. He finished 2019 as the closer for Team USA in the Premier 12.

  1. Pinch-hitter Kazuya Fujita flies out to left.
  2. Mogi grounds out to second.
  3. Suzuki fouls off a tough two-strike fastball on the outside corner. Takes a ball low for 2-2, and puts a good swing on a fastball but lines it straight to Goto in center for the Buffs’ first win of the season.

Final score: Buffaloes 4, Eagles 0