Tag Archives: Kris Johnson

NPB 2020 8-6 games and news

Tigers’ late-comer Takahashi hamstrings Giants

Hanshin Tigers lefty Haruto Takahashi overpowered the Yomiuri Giants hitters en route to an 11-0 demolition of the Central League leaders at Koshien Stadium.

Takahashi, who was unable to start the season with the team due to shoulder issues, made his debut on Thursday. Relying mostly on his four-seamer, a two-seamer and a cutter, the 24-year-old was able to pinpoint the bottom of the zone and jam batters inside.

He struck out 11 over seven innings, gave up three hits on ground balls, a walk. Hayato Sakamoto’s fifth-inning fly out was the only ball the Giants managed to hit into the air.

Leading 1-0 against Cristopher Mercedes (2-4) Ryutaro Umeno walked with one out and Seiya Kinami singled. The pair executed a double steal and reserve utility man Kai Ueda doubled them both in.

Joe Gunkel worked a 1-2-3 eighth, and the Tigers broke the bank with seven runs in the home half, started by a Jerry Sands leadoff single. Justin Bour doubled in one run and Masahiro Nakatani delivered a pinch-hit grand slam to complete the celebrations.

Born to run or pitch

It’s no secret that Giants manager Tatsunori Hara loves his pinch-runners probably as much as any manager in Japanese baseball history. One year when he managed the CL all-star team, Hara famously rewarded his all-time favorite pinch-runner, Takanori Suzuki, with an undeserved spot on the CL squad.

On Thursday, with one out in the bottom of the eighth and his team now losing by 11 runs, Hara probably figured there was nowhere to make use of his favorite toy except to put him on the mound.

Masuda retired two of the three batters he faced in the heart of the Tigers order with a fastball that maxed out at 85.7 mph.

Since Japanese teams rarely have more than one or two starting pitchers taking up space on their active rosters and since games–in non-pandemic seasons–are limited to 10 innings, and teams typically–although not next week–have Mondays off, this is pretty rare. The last position player to appear in a sanctioned NPB game was Akihito Igarashi on June 3, 2000 for the Orix BlueWave and their iconoclastic skipper Akira Ogi–the same guy who had Ichiro Suzuki pitch in an all-star game.

Onuki, BayStars add to Dragons’ misery

Shinichi Onuki (4-2) worked seven innings and two relievers completed the four-hitter as the DeNA BayStars downed the Chunichi Dragons 3-0 at Yokohama Stadium.

The shutout loss was the sixth of the season for the last-place Dragons, who fell to 0-6 against DeNA this season.

Dragons lefty Takahiro Matsuba (2-2), who has been enjoying a career renaissance this year following his trade from the Orix Buffaloes, allowed three runs over four-plus innings.

BayStars reserve infielder Daisuke Nakai marked a rare start by homering in his first at-bat to lead off the second. Kazuki Kamizato homered to open the third and singled home Takayuki Kajitani in the fifth to complete the scoring.

Kenta Ishida worked a 1-2-3 eighth and Kazuki Mishima did the same in the ninth to record his fourth save since he began filling in for closer Yasuaki Yamasaki on July 29.

One of the bright spots for the Dragons was their top draft pick from 2018, infielder Akira Neo. Although he went 0-for-2 and remains hitless for his career, Neo put the ball in play twice, made a good catch in left and threw a runner out at the plate.

Another tough outing for Carp lefty Johnson

Hiroshima lefty Kris Johnson allowed five runs over three innings in the Carp’s 9-5 loss to the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Johnson, coming off one of his two quality starts this year, gave up seven hits and walked two while striking out four. His teammates took him off the hook on three home runs by Ryuhei Matsuyama, Ryosuke Kikuchi and Hisayoshi Chono and tied it in the seventh on a Seiya Suzuki RBI single.

Swallows lefty Keiji Takahashi started and allowed four runs over five innings in his worst start of the season. Scott McGough (3-0) surrendered a run on two seventh-inning singles but earned the win after Yakult scored three times in the bottom of the inning.

Journeyman reserve catcher Suguru Ino tripled against Kazuki Yabuta (0-2) and scored on a sacrifice fly. Alcides Escobar singled and two more runs came in on back-to-back two-out doubles RBI by Tomotaka Sakaguchi and Yasutaka Shiomi.

Matsui goes 5 in loss to Hawks

One of the big moves this spring for the Rakuten Eagles was taking left-handed closer Yuki Matsui and putting him back in the starting rotation.

Making his first appearance in over a month after two poor outings, Matsui (0-1) allowed three runs on eight hits and a walk in a 3-1 loss to the SoftBank Hawks at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

The diminutive southpaw was victimized by some tough hops in the infield that contributed to two of the Hawks’ runs.

On a bullpen day, Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo shook up his lineup, batting a pair of struggling big hitters, Nobuhiro Matsuda and Wladimir Balentien one, two, respectively, in his order.

The only contribution either made at the plate was when Matsuda made poor contact for an infield single in the third, allowing Yuki Yanagita to drive in the tying run with a single.

Rookie Yugo Bando (1-1) the second of seven Hawks pitchers, worked three scoreless innings to earn his first career win.

Buffaloes’ Yamazaki halts Marines

Sachiya Yamasaki (2-1) worked six scoreless innings for the Orix Buffaloes in their 3-1 win over the Lotte Marines at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Yamasaki allowed three singles and a walk while striking out four. Marines starter Daiki Iwashita (3-3) walked five batters during his six innings on the mound and one of the three runs he allowed was unearned.

With a two-run lead in the eighth, Tyler Higgins worked a 1-2-3 eighth, and Brandon Dickson a 1-2-3 ninth for his sixth save.

Fighters rookie Kawano earns 2nd win

Lefty Ryusei Kawano got an early three-run lead and allowed two runs over five innings for the Nippon Ham Fighters in their 5-3 win over the Seibu Lions at Seibu Dome.

Kawano (2-3) walked three and allowed four hits, including a solo home run by Ernesto Mejia, his first of the season. The lefty struck out five.

Haruki Nishikawa singled to open the bottom of the first off rookie Lions submariner Kaito Yoza (2-3), who walked Kensuke Kondo with one out. Sho Nakata doubled off the wall in left. Taishi Ota, a huge thorn in the Lions’ paw this season, doubled Nakata home to make it 3-0.

Hawks resume farm team activities

The SoftBank Hawks said Thursday that with the exception of six individuals, baseball activities have resumed at their minor league facility in Chikugo, Fukuoka Prefecture.

Even so, the team’s Western League farm games at Tama Stadium Chikugo against the Chunichi Dragons on Aug. 7 and 8, have been postponed. Following the announcement of Hasegawa’s test result on Saturday, the Pacific League game set for the Seibu Lions and Hawks in Fukuoka was also postponed.

Four players who were determined by local health officials to have had close contact with either outfielder Yuya Hasegawa, whose positive test for coronavirus was revealed Saturday, and a rehab staff member, whose result was announced Wednesday, have been ex

The rehab group shares the organization’s minor league facility with the Western League farm team and the Hawks’ third team, and for that reason, minor league activities have been suspended.

Umetsu works out with rehab group

Chunichi Dragons right-hander Kodai Umetsu reported to the team’s rehab group at Nagoya Stadium on Wednesday apparently due to discomfort in his right elbow, the Chunichi Sports reported.

The 23-year-old threw a career-high 10 innings and 127 pitches in his shutout on Sunday at Nagoya Dome in a 0-0 tie with the Yakult Swallows. He has not thrown since.

Although his condition is said not to be serious, it comes at a time when the team is in last place, eight games below .500 and two games into a stretch of nine games in nine days.

Active roster moves 8/6/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/16

Central League

Activated

TigersP29Haruto Takahashi

Dectivated

DragonsP28Kodai Umetsu

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP1Yuki Matsui
EaglesP72Shun Ikeda
FightersP28Ryusei Kawano
BuffaloesP39Keisuke Kobayashi
BuffaloesP49Keisuke Sawada

Dectivated

HawksP29Shuta Ishikawa
EaglesP12Hiroki Kondo
EaglesP58Wataru Karashima
FightersP59Yuki Yoshida
BuffaloesP60Yu Hidarisawa
BuffaloesP68Yu Suzuki
BuffaloesIF9Koji Oshiro

Starting pitchers for Friday, Aug. 7, 2020

Pacific League

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

Toshihiro Sugiura (3-1, 2.28) vs Zach Neal (2-1, 4.46)

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

Takahiro Norimoto (3-3, 3.55) vs Nao Higashihama (2-0, 2.35)

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

Tsubasa Sakakibara (1-1, 3.20) vs Ayumu Ishikawa (1-2, 4.23)

Central League

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

Daiki Yoshida (0-1, 6.57) vs Taiga Kamichatani (0-0, 5.25)

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

Yudai Ono (1-3, 3.83) vs Kazuto Taguchi (2-0, 2.25)

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

Masato Morishita (2-2, 2.56) vs Koyo Aoyagi (4-1, 2.23)

NPB 2020 7-16 games and news

Fukudome, Sands power Tigers’ comeback

Former major leaguers Jerry Sands and Kosuke Fukudome hit late home runs to lift the Hanshin Tigers to a 6-4 come-from-behind victory over the Yakult Swallows in the Central League on Thursday at Koshien Stadium.

After five scoreless innings from Swallows southpaw Keiji Takahashi, the Tigers broke through to tie it in the sixth. Yusuke Oyama “tripled” on a ball to the wall that center fielder Kotaro Yamasaki failed to gather in. Right fielder Yuhei Takai retrieved it but dropped it twice before getting it back to the infield.

Oyama scored on a groundout by Justin Bour. Takahashi walked Sands, and his replacement Kazuki Kondo walked Ryutaro Umeno to bring up Fukudome, who then doubled to the warning track in right.

Instead of regular setup man Scott McGough or closer Taishi Ishiyama, Swallows skipper Shingo Takatsu opted for 23-year-old rookie right-hander Noboru Shimizu, the Swallows’ top draft pick from 2018.

Shimizu, who had allowed seven hits and a walk over 12-1/3 innings of relief this season while striking out 11, retired Bour to open the eighth before Sands pulled him down the line for his second home run. Umeno singled, and the 43-year-old Fukudome reached the seats in right.

Robert Suarez issued a leadoff walk in the ninth but ended the game with a double play to earn his third save.

Munetaka Murakami had three hits for the Swallows, including a double and scored twice, but was pulled for a pinch runner in the fifth with stiffness in his right leg.

Giants take advantage of Carp bullpen

The Yomiuri Giants behind Cristopher Mercedes (1-2) beat the Hiroshima Carp on a bullpen day 9-4 at Mazda Stadium.

Right-hander Kazuki Yabuta opened for the Carp and did his best to aim for the edges of the zone and miss outside it. Yoshiyuki Kamei doubled on the first pitch. After a groundout on the second pitch, Yabuta stayed out of the zone and walked the next batter. He nearly got away with avoiding the zone when Kazuma Okamoto chased Ball 4 and nearly grounded into a double play.

Okamoto beat the throw to first, allowing Kamei to score and bringing Takumi Oshiro to the plate. The Giants catcher got ahead 2-1, and when Yabuta missed up high with a fastball, Oshiro drove it high up into the stands in right center.

Although Shota Dobayashi hit a two-run fourth-inning home run off Mercedes, the Giants never trailed. No. 8 hitter Naoki Yoshikawa homered in the sixth and Okamoto hit his eighth home run in the seventh.

Abe leads Dragons rout of BayStars

Another bullpen day, this time by the visiting DeNA BayStars at Nagoya Dome, started well but turned into a rout and an 8-0 loss at the hands of the Chunichi Dragons.

Toshiki Abe went back into the starting lineup for the first time in four days and responded with three hits and four RBIs, while starting pitcher Yuichiro Okano (2-1) worked five scoreless innings thanks to three double plays.

The game stayed close for six innings until Kazuki Mishima took the mound in the seventh and surrendered three runs to let the game get away. In the end, it didn’t matter that one of the runs who scored was walked intentionally.

That was the second of the game and the Japan-high 12th for BayStars skipper Alex Ramirez, who leads Japan in intentional walks issued every year.

Ariel Martinez came off the bench and delivered a two-run pinch-hit single in the Dragons’ three-run eighth.

Eagles scrape past Lions without starter

Rakuten scored two early runs off Seibu Lions starter Kona Takahashi (2-2) and the Eagles held on to win 7-4 at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi despite losing their starting pitcher to an injury in the fourth inning.

Big lefty Hayato Yuge had scraped through three scoreless innings until a batted ball struck him above the right ankle. He stayed in the game to surrender a run before being pulled.

The Eagles led 2-1 in the fifth before former Lion Hideto Asamura drove in his second run of the game with a single. Jabari Blash, who doubled and scored in the second, walked in the sixth and scored on Ryosuke Tatsumi’s home run off Takahashi.

Marines Fighters

Leonys Martin tied it with a two-run single and Tsuyoshi Sugano singled in the go-ahead run as the Lotte Marines came from two runs down to beat the Nippon Ham Fighters 4-3 at Sapporo Dome.

Christian Villanueva, who appears to be settling in with the Fighters in a way he was unable to do last year with the Yomiuri Giants, opened the scoring in the first with a two-run single.

Marines starter Daiki Iwashita (3-0) allowed just those two runs over five innings, leaving the game with a 3-2 lead after he struck out Villanueva swinging on a big breaking ball with the bases loaded.

As he did during last week’s series in Osaka, Villanueva also turned heads with his defense at third base until his throwing error in the sixth allowed 39-year-old pinch-runner Takashi Toritani to score from first.

Drew VerHagen (1-1) gave up four runs, three earned, over 5-1/3 innings. He led 2-0 with none on and two outs in the fifth after a double play but two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Martin and the Marines.

Naoya Masuda worked the ninth for Lotte to earn his seventh save.

Buffaloes come back to beat Hawks

The Orix Buffaloes came from a run down in the third on home runs by Ryo Ota and Adam Jones and Sachiya Yamasaki (1-0) allowed two runs over five innings to earn the win in a 4-3 victory over the SoftBank Hawks at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Ota, the Buffaloes’ top draft pick in 2018 out of high school, had much of his first year wiped out when he was hit by a pitch. He went 0-for-13 last year, but homered off Rick van den Hurk (1-2) who allowed four runs in 2-2/3 innings.

Two walks and a Masataka Yoshida RBI double set the stage for Jones’ fourth home run, which reached the third deck in left center.

Yamasaki, Orix’s first draft pick in 2014 shared the hero podium with Ota, whose father is a former pro ballplayer who currently works as a batting practice pitcher for the Buffaloes.

New import Tyler Higgins worked a scoreless eighth and Brandon Dickson allowed a run in the ninth as he secured his fourth save.

Carp deactivate Johnson

The Hiroshima Carp deactivated left-handed starting pitcher Kris Johnson on Thursday. The 35-year-old allowed five runs over five innings and walked four in Wednesday’s loss to the Yomiuri Giants. The winner of the Sawamura Award as Japan’s most impressive starting pitcher in 2016, Johnson is 0-3 this season with a 5.73 ERA.

The Rakuten Eagles have activated Shun Ikeda, the 27-year-old left-handed pitcher they acquired last month from the Yomiuri Giants in the Zelous Wheeler trade.

Active roster moves 7/16/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/26

Central League

Activated

BayStarsP93Ko Nakagawa
SwallowsC57Yudai Koga

Dectivated

BayStarsP13Hiromu Ise
CarpP42Kris Johnson
SwallowsC32Naoki Matsumoto

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP72Shun Ikeda
BuffaloesP15Yudai Aranishi
BuffaloesIF31Ryo Ota
BuffaloesOF00Hayato Nishiura

Dectivated

EaglesP52Taisei Tsurusaki
BuffaloesP26Daiki Tomei
BuffaloesIF64Shinya Hirosawa
BuffaloesOF8Shunta Goto

NPB 2020 7-15 games and news

Buffaloes pen turns pitchers’ duel into rout

Tsuyoshi Wada picked up his second win after he and unheralded Orix Buffaloes right-hander Yu Suzuki duked it out for six innings in a 1-0 pitchers’ duel in what became a 7-0 win for the SoftBank Hawks at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Wada (2-0) allowed a single and three walks, while striking out three and never allowed a leadoff runner to reach.

The 23-year-old Suzuki (1-2), who earned the victory his first career start, against the Seibu Lions on July 1, tried to be too careful in his second start last week in his loss to the Nippon Ham Fighters. This time, however, he went back to challenging hitters and making them hit his pitches.

“Obviously, he took a lot away from his last game and built on those lessons,” Buffaloes manager Norifumi Nishimura said.

The Hawks broke the scoreless deadlock in the fourth, when Kenta Imamiya doubled and scored on a Yuki Yanagita single, but it stayed a one-run game through six.

Lefty Nobuyoshi Yamada took the mound in the seventh, worked carefully to Yanagita and walked him. Wladimir Balentien followed with a smash up the middle that had “big inning” written all over it.

But the Buffaloes brought their “A” fielding game on Wednesday after being badly outplayed on defense the night before. Second baseman Koji Oshiro, got to Balentien’s grounder and flipped to shortstop Ryoichi Adachi to start a double play. Adachi, who had let a pop fly fall behind him in center in a mix-up with center fielder Yuma Mune on Tuesday, was on EVERYTHING in shallow left and center.

But Yamada then surrendered another smash up the middle, but Oshiro, shading the Akira Nakamura toward right, was in position to snag that one. Seiji Uebayashi followed by blasting his second home run in two nights.

Wakui earns 4th win with gem against Lions

Hideaki Wakui showed why he still has some value on Wednesday as he located his pitches to dominate his former club in the Rakuten Eagle’s 11-0 win over the Seibu Lions at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Wakui (4-0) walked four, but executed with precision whenever he found himself in a jam. With one out and one on in the first Wakui froze Shuta Tonosaki with a perfectly located changeup. He got out of the jam by attacking Tomoya Mori inside and getting him to foul out – with some help from third baseman Daichi Suzuki making a good catch at the edge of the seats.

The top three in the Eagles order, rookie Hiroto Kobukata, Suzuki and shortstop Eigoro Mogi combined to score five runs and drive in 10.

Lions starter Tatsuya Imai (1-2) stranded five batters through the first three innings, surviving three two-out walks in the third before the roof collapsed in the fourth. For the fourth straight inning, the right-hander retired the first two batters before six straight reached in the five-run rally. Suzuki broke the ice with a bases-loaded single and Mogi followed with a three-run homer.

Nakata lifts Fighters past Marines

Cleanup hitter Sho Nakata drove in three runs and cracked a 4-4, eighth-inning tie with a sacrifice fly for the Nippon Ham Fighters in a 6-4 win over the Lotte Marines at Sapporo Dome.

Nakata’s two-run RBI single opened the scoring after Haruki Nishikawa singled and Kensuke Kondo doubled with one out to set the table in the first against Marines starter Kazuya Ojima.

The Marines took the lead in the fifth when Leonys Martin homered for the second-straight game with perhaps the longest home run I’ve ever seen at this ballpark. His one-out three-run shot made it 4-2 Marines.

Former Padre Christian Villanueva led off the sixth with a home run and Nishikawa singled in the tying run after Takuya Nakashima singled and stole second.

Nakashima scored the go-ahead run in the eighth when Nakata flied to the wall in right. Nakashima reached to open the inning on a throwing error by third baseman Brandon Laird.

Fighters starter Nick Martinez allowed four runs on five hits and five walks over six innings.

Togo earns 3rd win as Giants pound Carp

 Twenty-year-old right-hander Shosei Togo (3-0) worked six scoreless innings and Zelous Wheeler hit his first home run for his new team as the Yomiuri Giants clobbered the Carp 12-1 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Togo allowed two hits and three walks while striking out four, while the Giants got to Carp lefty Kris Johnson (0-3) for five runs over five innings. Kazuma Okamoto broke the ice in the first by singling home rookie Takumi Kitamura, who opened the game with a single. Wheeler, who joined the Giants in a June trade from the Pacific League’s Rakuten Eagles, completed the damage against Johnson with a two-run homer in the fifth.

Wheeler singled in two more runs in the Giants’ five-run sixth, when Okamoto added a two-run shot.

Matsuba earns 1st win as Dragon

Takahiro Matsuba (1-0) allowed a run over 5-1/3 innings and Dayan Viciedo doubled in two to pace the Chunichi Dragons to a 2-1 win over the DeNA BayStars at Nagoya Dome.

The loss extends the BayStars’ record streak of winning and losing alternating games to 16 straight. The visitors’ only run came on Neftali Soto’s sixth home run of the year in the sixth.

Matsuba, who was making his season debut, earned his first win in a Chunichi uniform since being traded last summer from the Orix Buffaloes.

Haruhiro Hamaguchi (1-1) took the loss for the BayStars. He struck out nine but walked three and surrendered seven hits over 5-1/3 innings.

Swallows wear down Tigers

Alcides Escobar had four hits including a two-run home run as the Yakult Swallows beat the Hanshin Tigers 9-5 at Koshien Stadium.

Swallows starter Gabriel Ynoa allowed a run over five innings, but lefty 21-year-old Hiroki Hasegawa allowed all three runners he faced in the sixth to reach, and Scott McGough allowed the two runners he inherited to score.

Munetaka Murakami, who singled to open the scoring in the first off Onelki Garcia, broke a 4-4 tie in the seventh with another RBI single.

Garcia, who beat out a bunt single to open the Tigers’ fifth and appeared to cramp up in the process, returned in the sixth after a 30-minute rain delay, when he issued a two-out walk and surrendered Escobar’s home run. The lefty allowed four runs on two walks six hits over six innings.

Justin Bour went 3-for-5 with his fourth home run for the Tigers.

Mariners’ Hirano tests positive

Yoshihisa Hirano has tested positive for COVID-19, according to Kyodo News.

Seattle placed the right-hander on the injured list earlier in the day. Hirano signed a one-year deal with Seattle in January after going 9-8 with a 3.47 ERA over two seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Yoshihisa Hirano

The 36-year-old had been the Orix Buffaloes’ closer until he filed for free agency after the 2017 season and signed with the Diamondbacks, whose manager Torey Lovullo, played in Japan for the Yakult Swallows.

According to Kyodo, Hirano is the first Japanese major leaguer to test positive. In March three Hanshin Tigers players tested positive, while two Yomiuri Giants players tested positive in May.

Transactions

Rakuten Eagles traded LHP Yuhei Takanashi to Yomiuri Giants for RHP Hosei Takata*

NOTE: To facilitate management of 70-man rosters, until recently it was customary to assign a player acquired in a trade the same number as a player he was traded for. I don’t know when it last happened, but the Takanashi-Takata trade simplified that matter since both were No. 53 with their former clubs.

Active roster moves 7/15/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/25

Central League

Activated

CarpP30Ryuji Ichioka
CarpC40Yoshitaka Isomura
DragonsP38Takahiro Matsuba

Dectivated

CarpC31Yoshiyuki Ishihara
SwallowsP19Masanori Ishikawa

Pacific League

Activated

LionsIF52Haruka Yamada
HawksP21Tsuyoshi Wada
HawksIF00Hikaru Kawase
FightersP59Yuki Yoshida
FightersC22Shinya Tsuruoka
BuffaloesP66Ryo Yoshida

Dectivated

HawksP40Kazuki Sugiyama
HawksIF36Taisei Makihara
FightersP15Naoyuki Uwasawa
FightersC10Yushi Shimizu
BuffaloesP49Keisuke Sawada

NPB 2020 7-15 pitchers

Announced starting pitchers in Japanese pro baseball for Wednesay, July 15.

Pacific League

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

Nick Martinez (1-2, 3.71) vs Kazuya Ojima (1-2, 6.60)

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

Hideaki Wakui (3-0, 5.29) vs Tatsuya Imai (1-2, 5.00)

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

Yu Suzuki (1-1, 6.75) vs Tsuyoshi Wada (1-0, 4.96)

Central League

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

Takahiro Matsuba (-) vs Haruhiro Hamaguchi (1-0, 1.89)

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

Onelki Garcia (0-2, 4.60) vs Gabriel Ynoa (0-1, 10.64)

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

Kris Johnson (0-2, 4.76) vs Shosei Togo (2-0, 2.77)

NPB 2020 7-8 GAMES AND NEWS

Dobayashi powers Carp to 1st home win

Despite having struggled to field and hit for the bulk of his career, one-time prospect Shota Dobayashi has people talking about his future again.

On Wednesday, he singled in a run and belted a grand slam in the Hiroshima Carp’s 6-3 win over the DeNA BayStars at Mazda Stadium.

So far this season, Dobayashi is playing third base with confidence, chasing less, forcing pitchers to throw strikes and making better contact — although he is still striking out a lot.

The BayStars took a 3-2 lead into the eighth after a scoreless inning of relief from lefty Edwin Escobar. But Spencer Patton hit Seiya Suzuki with one out, allowed a single to Ryuhei Matsuyama and another walk loaded the bases for Dobayashi. The one-time would-be wunderkind belted a 1-1 fastball that got too much of the outside half of the plate and drilled it over the center field fence.

In the ninth, the Carp turned to 30-year-old journeyman right-hander Yasunori Kikuchi, and he held on to earn his first save, partly thanks to a big play from his namesake, Ryosuke Kikuchi, who turned what looked like an infield single that would have loaded the bases with no outs into a force at second.

Carp lefty Kris Johnson allowed three runs over seven innings on six hits and two walks. BayStars lefty Haruhiro Hamaguchi allowed just two runs despite surrendering nine walks and six hits and hitting a batter in his 5-1/3 innings on the mound.

Swallows, Dragons draw after 10

There were few points of interest about this game at Nagoya Dome that was tied 5-5 after four innings and stayed that way until the coronavirus 10-inning limit ended it. The main one was the red-hot start of 24-year-old Chunichi Dragons catcher Ariel Martinez.

Martinez’s first-inning double.

Martinez, who had been crushing balls in the minors, struck out in his July 3 debut as a pinch-hitter. In 12 at-bats, he’s had five singles, a double and a walk, while looking competent behind the plate. Having been in Japan for two-plus seasons, he appears able to have some conversations in Japanese.

Fighters’ Martinez rock solid against Buffaloes

Nippon Ham’s Nick Martinez (1-2) located and executed all his pitches in a dominant effort against the Orix Buffaloes in a 10-4 Fighters win at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

The right-hander, who missed all of last season, allowed a run over six innings on five hits and a walk while striking out five. His fastball was crisp and he mixed in his splitter and curve for effect. The one run he surrendered was on a mammoth sixth-inning homer from Adam Jones that reached the third deck.

Lions’ Imai rides tailwind in win over Marines

Seibu Lions right-hander Tatsuya Imai came in hoping the gusting winds at Zozo Marine Stadium could give his pitches extra life, and it worked out in a 3-0 win over the Lotte Marines.

Imai walked five and hit a batter, but few Marines got good swings as he located his hard stuff while letting his two-seamer and breaking pitches knuckle and twist in the wind off Tokyo Bay.

Lotte lefty Kazuya Odajima (1-2) who tends to work away to everyone and continued to be troubled by left-handed hitters. Cory Spangenberg doubled to the fence in the first and scored from third on a Shuta Tonosaki single.

Imai faced a couple of tough situations, but both times was able to get out of trouble on miss-hit balls off well-located fastballs.

Asamura blast helps Wakui survive beating

Hideto Asamura homered for the fourth-straight game with his ninth home run of the season, a second-inning two-run shot off inexperienced 23-year-old Shunsuke Kasaya in the Rakuten Eagles’ 12-8 win over the SoftBank Hawks.

Kasaya (0-1) surrendered seven runs over two innings, allowing Rakuten starter Hideaki Wakui (3-0) to pick up a win in which he threw a lot of straight pitches and gave up six runs in a five-inning, 124-pitch effort.

Yuki Yanagita had three hits and two home runs for the Hawks.

Hawks’ Moore, Fighters Nomura deactivated

The SoftBank Hawks on Wednesday deactivated right-handed starting pitcher Matt Moore. The 31-year-old Moore suffered an injury to his left calf muscle during pregame practice on Tuesday at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome according to a Nikkan Sports report.

“I get a sense this might take some time but we need him to pitch,” Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo said. “It isn’t going to heal all of a sudden, but I told him I want him back as soon as possible.”

The Hawks are replacing Moore on the active roster with 22-year-old rookie right-hander Kazuki Sugiyama.

Meanwhile, the Fighters will be without impressive 20-year-old rookie Yuki James Nomura after a batted ball broke his right pinky while he was playing third base in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game against the Orix Buffaloes in Osaka.

Nomura is expected to miss about three months.

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Suzuki has career night against Lions

For most of the first five years of his pro baseball career, Yu Suzuki has been a reliever. But going 6-3 as a starter in the Western League last season with a 2.81 ERA must have caught someone’s attention.

On Wednesday, the 23-year-old right-hander who was Orix’s ninth draft pick in 2014, was handed the ball for his first top-team start and threw five hitless innings, nearly doubling his career output with the Pacific League club. The result was his first career win as Orix snapped a seven-game losing streak in a 6-0 win over the Seibu Lions.

For five innings, he and Lions starter Tatsuya Imai (0-2) traded hitless innings, until in the sixth, the jig was up for the Seibu starter. After issuing a leadoff walk, Imai left a slider up a little too much to diminutive power hitter Masataka Yoshida, and the left-handed-hitter launched it over MetLife Dome’s right field fence.

An Adam Jones double and an Aderlin Rodriguez RBI single made it 3-0, when Seibu self-destructed. An error and three-straight bases-loaded walks completed the six-run sixth inning.

Four Orix relievers came in, and the Lions, who haven’t been no-hit in 20 years, didn’t get a hit until veteran slugger Takeya Nakamura’s hard grounder found a hole to lead off the eighth off new import Tyler Higgins.

Asamura punishes Marines some more

Hideto Asamura homered for the second-straight night in Sendai, while Hideaki Wakui (2-0) allowed two runs over five innings as the Rakuten Eagles beat the Lotte Marines 5-3 to pull into a tie for first place in the Pacific League.

Pitching against the club that sold him over the winter, Wakui sturck out seven, while allowing five hits and a walk.

Leonys Martin homered for the Marines, while JT Chargois and Alan Busenitz each worked an inning of relief for the Eagles. Busenitz allowed a run on three hits.

Ishikawa strikes out 10 in Sapporo

Shuta Ishikawa (1-0) of the SoftBank Hawks struck out 10, while walking one and allowing five hits in a 4-0 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.

Nick Martinez (0-2) started for the Fighters. He gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits and two walks while striking out five.

Austin, Patton turn on power against Giants

Tyler Austin’s three-run eighth-inning double off the wall at Tokyo Dome helped lift the DeNA BayStars to a 5-3 win over the Yomiuri Giants.

Reliever Spencer Patton (2-0), who entered in the seventh to face Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto and struck him out, got the win in relief. He provided an encore in the eighth by striking out the side, starting with cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto and finishing with Gerardo Parra.

Giants starter Cristopher Mercedes allowed a run over 5-2/3 innings but it could have been worse without a good catch from newly acquired utility man Zelous Wheeler, who denied the BayStars a leadoff single in the sixth with a sliding catch in left.

Escobar treats Swallows to ice cream cone

Naomichi Nishiura hit his second game-changing home run of the week with a fourth-inning two-run shot that put the Yakult Swallows in front in a 4-3 win over the Hiroshima Carp at at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

On Thursday, Nishiura hit a pinch-hit, three-run sayonara shot off Tigers closer Kyuji Fujikawa. On Wednesday, he went deep off Sawamura Award-winning lefty Kris Johnson (0-2).

Right-hander Albert Suarez (2-0) started for Yakult and allowed three runs, one earned, over five innings, while Scott McGough worked a scoreless eighth. The Carp mounted a rally against closer Taishi Ikeyama, and the lead looked blown on a two-out liner, only for new Swallow Alcides Escobar to save the game.

Yamamoto stops Tigers

Twenty-year-old Takumi Yamamoto (1-1) allowed two runs over five innings, while Zoilo Almonte doubled, walked and scored twice, and Dayan Viciedo singled in a couple of runs as the Chunichi Dragons beat the Hanshin Tigers 6-3.

Jerry Sands singled in a run for the Tigers, while Justin Bour hit his first home run in Japan, a ninth-inning consolation shot.

Dragons add catcher Martinez to roster

The Chunichi Dragons inked 24-year-old Cuban catcher Ariel Martinez to a standard contract on Wednesday. Martinez, signed to a non-roster developmental contract in 2018, hurt his right knee playing in Cuba’s Series Nacional prior to camp the Chunichi Sports reported.

He rejoined the Dragons for practice games from June 2 after completing his rehab.

Marines’ Futaki, Buffaloes’ Nakagawa dropped

Because Japanese baseball has no options and players can be activated or dropped from the active roster an unlimited number of times. So it’s common for a player, ostensibly on the active roster because the manager believes in him, to get sent down for a couple of bad plays.

Two heads rolled on Wednesday after poor performances the night before. The Lotte Marines deactivated right-handed starting pitcher Kota Futaki after the Rakuten Eagles teed off on too many first-pitches in Lotte’s 15-4 loss. The defeat snapped the Marines’ eight-game winning streak.

The Orix Buffaloes pulled the plug on 24-year-old utility infielder Keita Nakagawa, who finished fourth in the rookie of the year voting last year, for not hitting and for making a throwing error that led to the Seibu Lions’ third run in a 3-2 loss. The Buffaloes have lost seven straight.

1 of Japan’s unwritten rules

Yudai Ono led Japan’s Central League in earned run average this season, passing Hiroshima’s Kris Johnson on Monday in his final start, when he was pulled after not allowing a base runner over 3-1/3 scoreless innings.

The issue

The game was a meaningless one for the Dragons, but not for their opponents, the Hanshin Tigers, who needed to win in order to advance to the playoffs at the expense of the Hiroshima Carp.

By pulling an effective starter, the Dragons reduced their ability to compete and make the Tigers earn the win, but guaranteed Ono would lead the league in ERA. The Tigers went on to win 3-0, scoring seconds after Ono left the mound.

Both the Dragons and Carp had something to gain from a situation if Ono did not allow an earned run over 3-1/3 innings and the Tigers won the game. That doesn’t mean there was an agreement, tacit or otherwise, to defraud the Carp, but such things happen in sports when teams pursue their selfish interests.

Kris Johnson weighed in on Twitter, expressing shock that gambling was going on in a casino. But it’s very typical behavior in Japanese society, where social rules give precedence to the workgroup over the law.

Japan rules

Team sports often demand an individual sacrifice individual gain for the greater good of the team. That means you don’t swing for the fences in an effort to win the home run title on a 3-2 pitch out of the strike zone if taking that pitch will force in a run and win your team a game.

I’ve written this before but in Japan, teams are also expected to generate rewards for team members in helping them pursue individual accomplishments. This is why pitcher Satoru Kanemura had a meltdown in 2006 when Nippon Ham Fighters manager Trey Hillman pulled him in the fifth inning of what would be his last start of the season, leaving him just one win shy of reaching double digits in wins.

Kanemura believed the team owed him a chance to win 10 games, and Hillman was violating that contract. He believed that because teams bend over backward to do stupid things in order to block opponents from beating their players to individual titles.

The Seibu Lions once threw intentional wild pitches with Lotte’s Makoto Kosaka on first base so he wouldn’t steal second and beat Kazuo Matsui for the Pacific League stolen base crown. Intentional walks are common. The Yomiuri Giants in 1985 and later the Daiei Hawks in 2001 and 2002 famously refused to challenge opposing hitters who were in danger of threatening the single-season home run record of their manager, managerSadaharu Oh.

Oh himself has called that sort of behavior distasteful because he was a fierce competitor and is a gentleman. But the culture here expects it.

Had Ono needed a win to lead the league in wins, there is no chance he would have come out early.

Players expect this behavior, fans expect this behavior. That’s the way it is. I don’t like it, but the regular season is 143 games long. I suppose if a few games here and there are marginally tainted because stupid stuff happens, I can live with it.

It’s not like six or seven teams here are tanking because spending less is more profitable.