Tag Archives: Kona Takahashi

NPB 2020 Sept. 8

No cigar, but Takahashi smokes Buffaloes

Kona Takahashi (5-6) got three quick outs after losing his no-hit bid in the top of the ninth to throw a one-hit shutout Tuesday in the Seibu Lions’ 2-0 win over the Orix Buffaloes and their ace, Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

On a night when he rarely missed catcher Masatoshi Okada’s glove, the 23-year-old right-hander painted with his fastball and got swinging strikes with his splitter en route to seven strikeouts. Takahashi walked one and allowed one hit, although he needed a couple of good plays from first baseman Ernesto Mejia and shortstop Sosuke Genda to hold the Buffaloes hitless through eight.

Yamamoto (4-3) struck out nine and walked two while allowing two runs on five hits over seven innings. Corey Spangenberg singled and scored the first run in the fifth after a Mejia walk, a sacrifice and a ground ball off the bat of reserve Lions catcher Masatoshi Okada.

“Against one of the best pitchers in Japan, I thought I’d need to keep them from scoring first. I’m grateful to Okada for his quality hitting,” Takahashi said of his catcher, who moments earlier had said he was just happy to get the bat on the ball since his batting average was “on the verge of disappearing.”

Genda, who back-handed a ball in the hole at shortstop to rob Orix catcher Torai Fushimi of a two-out single and end the sixth, singled with one out in the home half, stole second and scored on a Hotaka Yamakawa single.

In his previous start, Takahashi threw seven scoreless innings against the Lotte Marines.

“At that time, I knew I had to make my next outing a good one,” he said. “I was able to establish a good rhythm today.”

Acting Buffaloes manager Satoshi Nakajima said Takahashi proved too hard for his hitters to solve.

“We came into the game with plans in mind, but his quality tonight did not allow us to execute them,” Nakajima said. “I think it shows that we still have a way to go in making adjustments.”

When Buffaloes pinch-hitter Masahiro Nishino lashed a high fastball up the middle for a ninth-inning leadoff single, Lions pitching coach Fumiya Nishiguchi rushed to the mound to check on the right-hander.

Nishiguchi, who knows as much about losing no-hitters as anyone, having lost one perfect game with two outs in the ninth and another with two outs in the 10th, and whose No. 13 Takahashi inherited, must have said the right thing, because Takahashi went back to work and took out the next three hitters with little fanfare, ending the game on an easy comebacker.

Before Takahashi took the mound in the ninth, Nishiguchi had some encouragement.

“I said, ‘Pitch the same way I did until I had two outs,'” Nishiguchi said.

Yamamoto’s loss was the 22-year-old’s first against the Lions.

“Because my opponent pitched so well, I was the one who gave up the first run,” said Yamamoto, Japan’s hardest-throwing starting pitcher. “I have to take hard look in the mirror.”

Senga goes 8 as Hawks shut out Eagles

Softbank Hawks ace Kodai Senga (6-3) struck out 13 over eight innings and Yurisbel Gracial hit his seventh home run and his fifth in six games in a 2-0 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Veteran Eagles lefty Wataru Karashima (2-1) made his second-straight start after beginning the season in the bullpen. He allowed both runs on five hits and two walks while striking out three.

Senga allowed three hits and three walks in a 108-pitch outing, and closer Yuito Mori allowed one hit in the ninth before recording his 19th save.

Martin,Sawamura star against Fighters

Leonys Martin hit another massive bomb, off the façade high above the right-field stands at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium and singled in two runs in the fifth inning to lift the Lotte Marines to a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Martin opened the scoring in the first with his 20th home run, off right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa (5-3), although he had to share the spotlight with reliever Hirokazu Sawamura. Acquired in a trade from the Yomiuri Giants the same day, Sawamura went to the mound in the sixth and struck out all three batters he faced in his Pacific League debut.

Fumiya Ono (2-2) earned the win for a scoreless fifth in relief of Yuta Omine. Yuki Karakawa, Frank Herrmann and Naoya Masuda each worked one scoreless inning to preserve the slim lead with Masuda earning his 21st save.

Giants ace Sugano runs win streak to 10

In the Central League’s marquee matchup, Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (10-0) failed to match his previous results against the Chunichi Dragons, but still managed to best lefty Yudai Ono (5-4) in a 2-0 win at Nagoya Dome.

Ironically, this was Sugano’s worst result of the season against the Dragons, his first two starts having produced complete-game shutouts. Sugano allowed five hits and a walk, and hit a batter while striking out six.

Ono, who entered having won five-straight complete games, including two against the Giants, went the distance again, allowing six hits and a walk while striking out five. His six complete games matches his career high.

The Giants opened the scoring in the third. With one out, Naoki Yoshikawa lined a high 2-0 fastball to center, was sacrificed to second and scored on a Hayato Sakamoto double. Ono hung a 2-0 splitter up and over the outside corner and Sakamoto put a great swing on it, missing a home run by a few feet, but easily bringing Yoshikawa home from second.

Yoshikawa doubled to lead off the eighth with his third hit. A pinch-hitter sacrificed in place of Sugano, and Yoshikawa scored on a Yoshiyuki Kamei’s sacrifice fly.

Giants lefty Kota Nakagawa worked a 1-2-3 eighth, while Rubby De La Rosa pitched the ninth to earn his 10th save.

BayStars ambush Tigers in 7-7 tie

Yusuke Oyama hit a grand slam and a two-run home run, and Jerry Sands added a solo shot to give the Hanshin Tigers a seven-run lead before the DeNA BayStars came back to earn a 10-inning 7-7 tie at Yokohama Stadium.

Tigers starter Onelki Garcia took a 7-0 lead into the sixth inning, but couldn’t limit the damage after Keita Sano’s three-run homer made it 7-4. The southpaw left with no outs and two runners on. Veteran lefty Atsushi Nomi allowed both to score and allowed one run of his own.

Kuri stops Swallows

Allen Kuri (3-4) walked five over six innings but allowed no runs in the Hiroshima Carp’s 5-1 victory over the Yakult Swallows at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Veteran Swallows lefty Masanori Ishikawa (0-3) allowed four runs, two earned, to take the loss.

Active roster moves 9/8/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/18

Central League

Activated

GiantsP33Ryu Ota
BayStarsP20Yuya Sakamoto
BayStarsOF61Tatsuo Ebina
DragonsP54Kento Fujishima
SwallowsP38Yugo Umeno

Dectivated

GiantsP54Daisuke Naoe

Pacific League

Activated

HawksOF54Alfredo Despaigne
EaglesOF38Masaki Iwami
MarinesP57Hirokazu Sawamura

Dectivated

MarinesP24Yusuke Azuma

Starting pitchers for Sept. 4, 2020

Pacific League

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

Hideaki Wakui (8-1, 2.43) vs Tsuyoshi Wada (4-1, 3.13)

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

Tetsuya Utsumi (1-1, 2.45) vs Daiki Tajima (1-3, 3.10)

Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kazuya Ojima (4-5, 3.76) vs Chihiro Kaneko (1-2, 7.27)

Central League

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

Taiga Kamichatani (0-1, 4.85) vs Koyo Aoyagi (6-3, 3.23)

Dragons vs Giants: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yuichiro Okano (2-1, 4.82) vs Kazuto Taguchi (3-3, 4.40)

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

Yusuke Nomura (4-1, 2.86) vs Hirofumi Yamanaka (1-1, 3.13)

NPB 2020 7-22 games and news

Buffaloes stampede through Eagles bullpen

The Rakuten Eagles bullpen wasted a stellar start from veteran right-hander Hideaki Wakui, allowing the Orix Buffaloes to score nine late runs in an 11-7 loss at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi on Tuesday.

For the second-straight week Hideaki Wakui, who was sold by the Lotte Marines over the winter, looked like one of Japan’s best pitchers. He attacked the zone with a fastball that batters continually swung under, while mixing it with some variations, cutters and running fastballs, a slider he generally kept out of the zone and even a few screwballs.

But trailing 7-2 in the eighth, the visitors scored three runs in the eighth, all charged to J. T. Chargois after Alan Busenitz allowed two inherited runners to cross the plate.

Eagles closer Kohei Morihara (1-1) allowed a leadoff double on an innocuous fly by Yuma Mune that left fielder Hiroaki Shimauchi failed to catch after he cut in front of center fielder Ryosuke Tatsumi. Buffaloes catcher Kenya Wakatsuki, who drove in five runs on Tuesday, and who singled in a run in the Buffaloes’ two-run sixth, singled to make it a one-run game.

With no outs and the tying run on first in the ninth, Buffaloes manager Norifumi Nishimura played for a tie with a sacrifice bunt, but got more than he asked for when Morihara failed to get the force at second. No. 3 hitter Koji Oshiro followed a successful sacrifice with a two-run single. An intentional walk, a two-run Adam Jones double and a run-scoring Takahiro Okada single completed the scoring.

Wakui, who entered the game 4-0 despite being mediocre in his first three starts was untouchable through six innings. He struck out 10, while allowing two runs over 6-1/3 innings.

On-again off-again Buffaloes right-hander Yu Suzuki was off again. The right-hander has quality stuff but his location was not there. Eigoro Mogi tripled off his first pitch, a center-cut two-seamer, and scored on a groundout. In the second inning, Hikaru Ota followed a one-out walk and a Jabari Blash single by launching a first-pitch slider for his first home run of the year. Stefen Romero hit a 3-2 slider in the third inning for his sixth home run.

Wakui struck out 10, while allowing two runs over 6-1/3 innings.

Hawks survive strong start from Martinez

Nick Martinez came close to being the second straight Nippon Ham Fighters starter to score an upset win in Fukuoka but surrendered three runs in the seventh inning in a 3-2 loss to the Softbank Hawks at PayPay Dome.

A day after Toshihiro Sugiura outpitched Hawks ace Kodai Senga, Martinez easily outclassed veteran lefty Tsuyoshi Wada, who just barely managed to keep the game scoreless through four.

Right fielder Seiji Uebayashi and catcher Hiroaki Takaya combined to save a run in the top of the first when Kensuke Kondo was out trying to score from second on a two-out single. Wada got out of a one-out bases-loaded situation in the second on a double play and escaped a two-on, no-out pickle in the fourth.

After three close shaves, Wada ran out of get-out-of-jail-free cards in the fifth. Right-hander Keisuke Izumi inherited two runners with one out. A wild pitch let in the game’s first run. A second scored on a Taishi Ota single.

The Hawks got on the board against Martinez in a three-run seventh. A Yuki Yanagita leadoff single and an Akira Nakamura double trimmed the lead to one. Martinez left with two outs and two on after a walk to Wladimir Balentien. Nobuhiro Matsuda singled in the tying and go-ahead runs off reliever Taisho Tamai after the Hawks added speed on the bases and a stolen base put both men in scoring position.

Martinez (1-3) was absolutely solid with good command of all his pitches. He allowed three hits, walked two and struck out six.

Odajima pitches Marines past Lions

Kazuya Odajima (2-1) worked out of a first-inning predicament by retiring Hotaka Yamakawa and Tomoya Mori and then allowed one run over 6-2/3 innings for the Lotte Marines in a 2-1 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome.

Lions starter Kona Takahashi (2-3) allowed two runs on eight hits, a walk and two hit batsmen over seven innings. He gave up the first run in the fifth on a Yudai Fujioka double, a sacrifice and a wild pitch. Seiya Inoue made it a 2-0 game in the sixth with his fifth home run.

Naoya Masuda worked the ninth to earn his ninth save.

BayStars’ Yamasaki provides thrills in 5-5 tie

BayStars closer Yasuaki Yamasaki continued to make things interesting by loading the bases in the ninth inning of a tie game before closing out the inning as DeNA and the Yakult Swallows finished in a 5-5, 10-inning tie.

After a leadoff single and two one-out walks, Yamasaki struck out Munetaka Murakami, who had earlier hit his fourth homer of the season, before getting out of the inning on a flyball.

Swallows starter Gabriel Ynoa allowed five runs over four innings. The right-hander surrendered back-to-back two-out first-inning home runs to Jose Lopez and Keita Sano and another to reserve catcher Shuto Takajo in the second.

BayStars starter Haruhiro Hamaguchi allowed five runs over 5-2/3 innings on four walks eight hits.

Martinez shines as Dragons stop Giants

With slugging first baseman Dayan Viciedo unavailable, the Chunichi Dragons put put 24-year-old Cuban catcher Ariel Martinez into the cleanup spot. He responded with a home run in a 5-0 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Nagoya Dome.

Lefty Takahiro Matsuba, who failed to earn a win last season when he was traded from Orix, allowed a walk, a hit batsman and four hits over six innings to improve to 2-0 in two games this season. With two on and two outs in the first he got out of trouble with a cutter on the hands of right-handed-hitting Zelous Wheeler that produced a little tapper back to the mound.

The Dragons’ top draft pick last autumn 19-year-old third baseman Takaya Ishikawa drew a one-out walk in the third from impressive 20-year-old Giants right-hander Shosei Togo (3-1) and scored on a Yohei Oshima double. Ishikawa went 2-for-2 with an RBI and two runs.

The Dragons snapped a four-game losing streak with the win, while Giants manager Tatsunori Hara’s club saw its seven-game win streak end on his 62nd birthday.

Sands continues to rock in tie with Carp

Jerry Sands homered, doubled and drove in two runs for the Hanshin Tigers in their 3-3, 10-inning tie with the Hiroshima Carp at Koshien Stadium.

Both teams came from a run down in the ninth to force a 10th inning in a game that was dominate by the starting pitchers, Yusuke Nomura of the Carp and Onelki Garcia of the Tigers.

Nomura allowed a run on five hits and a walk over six innings, while Garcia allowed a run over seven.

Active roster moves 7/22/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/1

Central League

Activated

CarpP19Yusuke Nomura

Dectivated

BayStarsP45Michael Peoples

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP68Kanji Teraoka
BuffaloesIF2Hiroyuki Shirasaki

Dectivated

EaglesP21Yoshinao Kamata
MarinesP47Yasuhiro Tanaka
BuffaloesP39Keisuke Kobayashi

Open and shut: March 3, 2020 – Sarfate returns to Fukuoka mound

Dennis Sarfate returned to the mound in Fukuoka on Tuesday for the first time in nearly two years. In one of five preseason games (“Open sen” in Japanese) played Tuesday — all behind closed doors — the Hawks took on the Yakult Swallows in an interesting contest.

Here are the game highlights, courtesy of PL TV.

As he has in the videos he’s been posting to social media that past year or so, Sarfate looked comfortable throwing although was nowhere near regular season velocity, touching 143 kilometers per hour compared to his average fastball velocity in 2017 of 153.3. He allowed a single and got two flyouts.

Rick van den Hurk threw 3-2/3 innings for the Hawks, and looked ready for Opening Day, with his fastball touching 150 kph, and good command of all his pitches. Van den Hurk pitched in just three games last year during the regular season.

Swallows starter Hirotoshi Takanashi also looked ready for Opening Day with generally good movement and command of his fastball. Although he was a little inconsistent and a little lucky, he threw five solid innings.

Peoples makes spring debut

New import Michael Peoples made his preseason debut with the DeNA BayStars, allowing three runs over three innings in which he gave up a home run, walked a batter and hit a batter against the Rakuten Eagles in Shizuoka.

Tyler Austin resumed his hit parade with a double and a single in three at-bats, raising his spring exhibition average to .615 with three homers and three triples in 15 plate appearances. The Eagles’ Jabari Blash hit his second homer of the spring.

Lions’ Takahashi goes 5 strong

Kona Takhashi, who for an instant had been in the running to start the Seibu Lions’ opener according to manager Hajime Tsuji, struck out six over five scoreless innings against the Chunichi Dragons.

Daisuke Yamai, who at the age of 41 is trying to secure some starts this season, showed he has more work to do. He walked three while allowing four runs over two innings of relief.

Camping World: Feb. 19, 2020 – Lions’ Neal to start Opening Day

Second-year Seibu Lions right-hander Zach Neal will get the ball on Opening Day, manager Hajime Tsuji told the team on Wednesday as they broke camp the Nikkan Sports reported.

The two-time defending Pacific League champion Lions will open at home, MetLife Dome on March 20 against the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Last season, Neal won 11 straight games and finished the season 12-1. He has since signed a two-year extension.

“Kona (Takahashi) was doing well and I was unsure (about who would pitch Opening Day,” Tsuji said. “I made up my mind with the first pitch I saw Neal throw in the bullpen.”

Hawks flamethrower Kaino to get PRP treatment

Hard-throwing SoftBank Hawks reliever Hiroshi Kaino revealed Wednesday he will undergo platelet rich plasma therapy for damage to the medial collateral ligament in his right elbow according to the Nishinihon Sports.

The 23-year-old Kaino finished second in the Pacific League’s rookie of the year voting last autumn to teammate Rei Takahashi, who is out with a hamstring issue and also doubtful for Opening Day.

Here’s Kaino’s English language NPB page.

Tigers unleash top draft pick Nishi

A day after we learned what Junya Nishi’s music will be at Koshien Stadium, the Hanshin Tigers’ top draft pick was permitted to throw breaking pitches in camp for the first time, the Nikkan Sports reported Wednesday.

Nishi, who was also a prodigious slugger in high school and for the national Under-18 team last summer, threw a spring-high 50 pitches in the bullpen at the Tigers’ minor league camp. He said he had a good feel for both his forkball and his changeup.

Swallows Koch, Ynoa take the mound

New Yakult Swallows right-handers Matt Koch and Gabriel Ynoa saw their first game action of the spring in a practice game against the Rakuten Eagles in Urasoe, Okinawa Prefecture, Sports Nippon Annex reported Wednesday.

Koch, a former Arizona Diamondback struggled with his control as he allowed five runs in two innings. Ynoa, who pitched for the Baltimore Orioles, allowed a run over two innings. He touched 151 kph (93.8 mph) and graded his effort as 95 out of 100.

Austin breaking the spring

The late Wayne Graczyk used to warn players who did TOO well in the spring to be prepared to adjust before games started counting because, most of their preseason opponents are from the rival league, and teams work hard to have plans against guys who do extremely well in the spring.

If Wayne were here, he’d be telling us that now about new DeNA BayStars outfielder Tyler Austin. In a practice game against the Lotte Marines on Wednesday, Austin doubled and walked twice, making him 6-for-8 with two homers and two doubles (at least) according to the Chunichi Sports.

Famous for not throwing

Roki Sasaki is famous for two things, throwing the fastest pitches ever recorded by a Japanese high schooler, and not throwing. He, or rather his Ofunato High School manager, made front-page news last summer when the star right-hander was held out of Iwate Prefecture’s championship game. The game decided whether his school or Shohei Ohtani’s alma mater would make it to the national championships at Koshien Stadium.

So it should be no surprise that the mere fact that the Lotte Marines’ top draft pick did strength training on Wednesday cause the Nikkan Sports to headline a story “Sasaki refrains from bullpen session — according to plan says coach.”

Sometimes it’s hard not to think of Japanese spring training as a time when pitchers arms are supposed to broken — as if that is part of the process.