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NPB news: April 16, 2023

Baseball in Japan on Sunday was really fun.

Rakuten’s Takayuki Kishi entered his start Sunday in position to reach two milestones, his 2,000th strikeout and 150th win, while Orix showed off its pitching depth in Chiba, where bromance was in the air, and Seibu got a leg up on Nippon Ham with the help from its imports.

In the Central League, Yakult manager Shingo Takatsu faced some tough questions, Yomiuri manager Tatsunori questioned a young pitcher’s attitude, and Hanshin deactivated its closer.

Saturday in MLB was Jackie Robinson day, which is not a thing in Japan except for a handful of players, including Chunichi’s Kenta Bright.

Kenta Bright

Every day is Bright’s Jackie Robinson Day

I didn’t know Dragons outfielder Kenta Bright, their first pick in the 2021 draft, even wore No. 42, but a story published on Saturday’s anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s MLB debut, reminded us that he wears the number to honor Robinson.

When he was first introduced along with his fellow newly signed Dragons draftees, Bright said that his father, who is from Ghana, taught him about Robinson, and the MLB Hall of Famer became one of the youngster’s heroes. Lots of Japanese wear No. 42, but Bright and Masao Kida, currently the Fighters’ minor league manager, are the only two I’m aware of that have worn it to honor Robinson.

Sunday’s games

Carp 7, Swallows 5: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Yakult’s Hideki Nagaoka capped a five-run three-hit three-walk first inning with a two-run single off Shogo Tamamura. And though Yakult got the leadoff man on in four of the next five innings, they failed to break through. The Carp got a run back in the fourth against rookie Kojiro Yoshimura on a Shogo Akiyama triple and a Ryan McBroom sac fly.

The game unraveled after Yoshimura failed to sacrifice after back-to-back no-out singles in the top of the sixth. Yakult wouldn’t get another base runner, and the rookie left with two outs and the bases loaded and a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the inning. Kosuke Tanaka put reliever Tomoya Hoshi second pitch into the seats to tie it with his second home run, a grand slam.

Kosuke Tanaka’s grand slam off Tomoya Hoshi.

Kaito Kozono tripled and scored on McBroom’s second sacrifice fly, and Shogo Sakakura homered in the eighth.

In his postgame Q&A, Yakult skipper Shingo Takatsu had some good answers to the sometimes over-simplistic questioning.

Continue reading NPB news: April 16, 2023