Tag Archives: Kris Johnson

NPB 2020 8-27 Games and news

Starter Matsui overpowers Marines

Former Rakuten Eagles closer Yuki Matsui earned his first win as a starter in nearly two years on Thursday, going seven innings in a 15-0 win over the Lotte Marines at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

The 1.74-meter lefty’s fastball had too much spin for the Marines to square up. His inability to locate it consistently led to him walking four batters and hitting one, but that hardly mattered as he allowed one single and struck out 11.

The win ended the Eagles’ four-game losing streak, and Matsui was asked about whether that weighed on him.

“To be honest, I had bigger things to think about,” he said.

Matsui last worked out of the rotation as a rookie in 2014, when he went 5-12 in 17 starts. He got two starts at the end of the 2018 season and went 1-1, but went back to the bullpen last season when he led the Pacific League in saves. Both of his last two wins, in September 2018 and September 2014, came against the Marines.

The Eagles stranded two runners in each of the first two innings against right-hander Daiki Iwashita (3-4), but with two out and two on in the third, Stefen Romero hit his 16th home run of the season.

Iwashita allowed seven runs over four innings on 10 hits, four walks and one hit batsman.

Yamakawa lifts Lions over Fighters

Hotaka Yamakawa homered to help the Seibu Lions overcome an early deficit and finished the game with a two-run sayonara single in an 8-7 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.

Sho Nakata and Taishi Ota hit two-run home runs, Nakata in the first and Ota in the second to put the Fighters up 4-0. Yamakawa homered in the third off rookie Ryusei Kawano, who allowed five runs, three allowed, over 4-1/3 innings.

The Lions took a 6-4 lead into the eighth, but Reed Garrett uncharacteristically blew it, surrendering three runs on three hits, two hits and a hit batsman.

The Fighters brought in middle reliever Mizuki Hori to get out of the eighth by striking out Tomoya Mori. But the lefty gave up an infield single, and after a sacrifice, Sosuke Genda and Takumi Kuriyama walked to load the bases. The Fighters pulled the infield and outfield in tight, and Yamakawa lined a pitch just past left fielder Kenshi Sugiya to win it.

Kasaya gives Hawks 5 in win over Buffs

Shunsuke Hara (2-2) earned his first win as a starter, striking out seven, while allowing one run over five innings in the SoftBank Hawks’ 4-2 win over the Orix Buffaloes.

Catcher Takuya Kai hit a two-run homer, while Seiji Uebayashi hit a sacrifice fly and a solo homer. Hawks closer Yuito Mori surrendered three-straight singles to open the ninth, but got Adam Jones to hit into a double play before ending it and earning his 15th save.

Buffaloes Opening Day starter Taisuke Yamaoka (0-1) returned to duty for the first time in two months following an oblique muscle injury in his second start. On a short pitch count, he allowed three runs in three innings.

Yanagita DH with stiff legs and neck

Hawks superstar Yuki Yanagita failed to get a hit in the three-game series with the Buffaloes, was used as a DH on Thursday due to neck and leg stiffness.

“The move (to DH) was because of what the trainer told me,” manager Kimiyasu Kudo said. “I’m not worried about him not getting a hit. I don’t think it’s related. Sometimes hitters don’t hit.”

Ino doubles BayStars past Carp

Right-hander Shoichi Ino (5-3) allowed two runs over 5-1/3 innings and brought the DeNA BayStars from a run down with a fourth-inning double in a 3-2 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Yokohama Stadium.

Kris Johnson (0-5) lacked his best command and fell behind in counts as he surrendered three runs on six hits, three walks and a hit batsman over six innings.

Carp skipper Shinji Sasaoka said of the lefty who in 2016 won the Eiji Sawamura Award as Japan’s most impressive starting pitcher, “One win and he’ll turn things around.”

Ino left with runners on the corners and one out in the sixth, handing off to Spencer Patton, who worked around a two-out walk to escape the inning with the lead intact, and said afterward he was surprised 155 kph (96.3 mph) during his stint.

Edwin Escobar, Yuki Kuniyoshi and acting closer Kazuki Mishima finished up with three scoreless innings. Mishima earned his eighth save.

Cool customer

What you don’t see in the postgame “hero interview” is that Ino and Patton each received a refrigerator from the interview sponsor, Nojima Electric, which set BayStars Twitter abuzz because Patton missed a chunk of last season when he struck the door on the little refrigerator used for drinks on the BayStars bench and broke a bone in his hand.

Sands blasts Dragons with 2 homers

A day after Justin Bour hit two home runs for the Hanshin Tigers, it was teammate Jerry Sands’ turn as he drove in four runs in a 6-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Koshien Stadium.

Koyo Aoyagi (6-3) allowed two runs over seven innings to earn the win, and Robert Suarez struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 10th save for the Tigers. Dayan Viciedo doubled in a run and scored another in the Dragons’ two-run first, only for Aoyagi to face just 18 hitters over his final six innings.

Togo’s Giant juggling act beats Swallows

Rookie Shosei Togo improved to (7-2) with five scoreless innings despite giving up four hits and five walks in the Yomiuri Giants’ 5-2 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

The right-hander was spared a run in the fourth when with two outs and a runner on third, Swallows pitcher Hirotoshi Takanashi hit a bullet to right. Giants right fielder Seiya Matsubara fielded the ball on a hop and fired to first for the 9-3 groundout to right field.

Active roster moves 8/27/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/6

Central League

Activated

SwallowsP24Tomoya Hoshi

Dectivated

GiantsP96Nattino Diplan
SwallowsP15Yuma Ohshita

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP45Keisuke Honda
EaglesC27Takero Okajima
EaglesOF51Yuya Ogo
FightersP28Ryusei Kawano
BuffaloesP19Taisuke Yamaoka

Dectivated

LionsP11Tatsuya Imai
LionsP30Daiki Enokida
EaglesP13Kohei Morihara
EaglesC65Kengo Horiuchi
EaglesOF46Ko Shimozuru
FightersIF32Ryota Yachi
BuffaloesOF00Hayato Nishiura

Central League

Activated

GiantsP96Nattino Diplan
BayStarsOF52Seiya Hosokawa
CarpIF00Kaisei Sone
SwallowsP20Kazuki Kondo

Dectivated

BayStarsIF2Jose Lopez
CarpIF63Ryoma Nishikawa
SwallowsP13Hikaru Nakao

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP21Tsuyoshi Wada
HawksOF64Yusuke Masago
EaglesP72Shun Ikeda
BuffaloesOF56Yusuke Matsui

Dectivated

HawksP16Nao Higashihama
HawksOF54Alfredo Despaigne
EaglesP23Hayato Yuge
MarinesP15Manabu Mima
BuffaloesIF42Aderlin Rodriguez

Starting pitchers for Aug. 28, 2020

Pacific League

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

Takahiro Norimoto (4-3, 3.59) vs Zach Neal (2-3, 5.06)

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

Sachiya Yamasaki (2-2, 3.97) vs Ayumu Ishikawa (4-2, 4.18)

Hawks vs Fighters: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shota Takeda (-) vs Chihiro Kaneko (1-1, 5.76)

Central League

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

Kazuto Taguchi (2-3, 4.89) vs Takahiro Matsuba (2-3, 2.70)

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

Michael Peoples (1-1, 5.75) vs Daiki Yoshida (1-3, 6.04)

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

Masato Morishita (5-2, 2.14) vs Yuki Nishi (4-3, 2.30)

NPB 2020 8-20 games and news

Marines traverse 10th-inning mine field to beat Hawks

The Lotte Marines pulled into a tie for the Pacific League lead on Thursday with the SoftBank Hawks, whom they beat 5-4 in 10 innings.

With the game tied 2-2 after nine innings, the Marines walked Yuki Yanagita with one out and a runner on third. As much as I hate intentional walks, facing Yanagita with the go-ahead run on third is not a pleasant thought. It still proved to be a poor decision as the free pass resulted in the Hawks scoring twice on a two-out Ryoya Kurihara single to make it 4-2.

The Marines got the first two runners on in the bottom of the 10th, but Shogo Nakamura had to beat the throw to first to stay out of the triple play. Leonys Martin then tied it with a home run off the wall behind the right-field stands at Zozo Marine Stadium. With two on and two out, Hawks reliever Arata Shiino uncorked a wild 3-2 pitch. Takashi Toritani, the 39-year-old former Hanshin Tigers captain who was signed over the winter after a tryout, took off from second with the pitch and scored to win it.

Shimauchi homer derails Fighters’ victory plans

Hiroaki Shimauchi’s two-out, two-strike, three-run homer off closer Ryo Akiyoshi took Rakuten Eagles starter Yuki Matsui off the hook for a tough loss while depriving Nippon Ham Fighters starter Nick Martinez of his second win as

Martinez threw five scoreless innings at Sapporo Dome, leaving only after a line drive stung his pitching hand as he recorded a tough out to end the fifth inning. Martinez got a lot of weak contac,t although he went through a stretch in the third where the Eagles seemed to be sitting fastball and he obliged them with misses in the heart of the zone.

Matsui, who is transitioning this season from closer to starter, allowed two runs on three hits and two walks over six innings. A leadoff walk and a single off a good pitch put runners on the corners. Matsui missed badly to Sho Nakata, but the Fighters cleanup hitter miss-timed it and hit a tough grounder into the hole, where rookie shortstop Hiroto Kobukata made a good play to record the second out as Haruki Nishikawa scored.

In the fourth inning, Nakata blasted a fastball in the heart of the zone in the well up into the outfield seats for his 19th home run of the season and his fourth in five games. Like Martinez, Matsui got away with some mistakes, but after the first inning, he established a rhythm as he mixed his bread-and-butter slider with well-located fastballs and splitters.

The Fighters scored off reliever J.T. Chargois in the seventh after leadoff hitter Ryo Watanabe put a good swing on a good low fastball to reach on a leadoff single. After pinch-hitter Kenshi Sugiya’s textbook sacrifice, Chargois, who had been unleashing some of the filthiest sliders you’ll see, hung one in the heart of the zone and light-hitting catcher Yushi Shimizu got it through the infield for an RBI single.

A trio of Fighters relievers, lefty Mizuki Hori, right-hander Taisho Tamai and lefty setup man Naoki Miyanishi retired nine straight, while Eagles right-hander Tomohiro Anraku survived loading the bases with two outs to keep it a 3-0 game going into the ninth.

After a one-out walk and a single, Akiyoshi struck out Eagles batting star Hideto Asamura for the second out. Shimauchi hit a foul fly that was nearly caught to run the count to 1-2, when the side-armer hung a fastball up in the zone, and the left-handed-hitting Shimauchi launched if 15 rows back into the distant right-field stands.

Veteran Chihiro Kaneko stranded a runner in scoring position and left the mound pumping his fist after striking out two batters looking at fastballs away to keep the game tied going into the bottom of the 10th.

Eagles right-hander Alan Busenitz, however, matched him in the bottom of the 10th, escaping a two-on, one-out jam against – despite a hanging 3-2 breaking ball to Nakata – to preserve the tie.

Lions send Nishimura out on losing note

What looked like a bullpen day for the Seibu Lions was one fitting their relief warhorse, Katsunori Hirai (5-2), who threw five scoreless innings in his first career start before six teammates finished up a 6-4 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Buffaloes skipper Norifumi Nishimura announced his resignation after the game and he will be replaced by long time former Nippon Ham Fighters player coach Satoshi Nakajima, who has coached with Orix since last year and is currently their Western League farm manager.

Giants complete shutout sweep of Tigers

Hayato Sakamoto drove in both runs to earn rookie Shosei Togo (6-2) the win in a 2-0 Yomiuri Giants victory over the Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo Dome that completed a three-game shutout sweep.

Togo worked 6-2/3 innings. He gave up three hits and a walk while striking out 11. Rubby De La Rosa worked a scoreless ninth to earn his fifth save.

Koyo Aoyagi (5-3) allowed a run over six innings, with the lone run coming in the sixth off a hustling leadoff triple by Shinnosuke Shigenobu and a high first pitch to Hayato Sakamoto that was tailor made to drive for a long fly to bring in the run.

BayStars hammer Johnson in Peoples’ 1st win

First-year DeNA BayStars import Michael Peoples (1-1) allowed a run over five innings to earn his first win in Japan in a 12-1 blood-letting against the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Peoples allowed three hits, including Shota Dobayashi’s 10th home run, without issuing a walk. Carp starter Kris Johnson, the 2016 Sawamura Award winner, fell to 0-5 after allowing four runs over 5-1/3 innings. DeNA’s Neftali Soto, the two-time defending Central League home run champ, hit his ninth home run, a three-run shot in the eighth inning.

Swallows’ Takanashi stops Dragons’ streak

Hirotoshi Takanashi (2-2) allowed two runs over six innings for the Yakult Swallows in their 7-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium. The loss snapped Chunichi’s longest win streak of the year at four games.

The game was the first of the season for Swallows catcher Yuhei Nakamura, who during the summer fell victim to the team’s most frequent malady, a lack of upper-body fitness. Nakamura singled, had an RBI double, twice reached on errors and scored twice. Norichika Aoki broke a 2-2 tie, when he led off Yakult’s five-run fifth with his eighth home run.

Lions suspend 2 for covid-19 rule violations

The Seibu Lions have suspended two minor leaguers for violating the team’s protocols to prevent infections from the novel coronavirus, the Daily Sports reported Thursday.

The pair, 23-year-old infielder Ryuse Sato and 26-year-old outfielder Makoto Aiuchi, have been suspended indefinitely after it was learned that the two went to Chiba Prefecture to play golf when they were under orders to refrain from unnecessary activities.

Sato committed a moving violation while driving his car on their outing, ostensibly the reason they were caught out.

BayStars’ Patton has with lower-back sprain

DeNA BayStars reliever Spencer Patton (32) is dealing with a minor lower-back sprain manager Alex Ramirez revealed Thursday according to Sanspo.com.

The right-hander took the mound on Tuesday to start the eighth inning in Hiroshima, but left the game with lower-back stiffness after issuing a seven-pitch walk. According to Ramirez, Patton’s status is day to day.

Active roster moves 8/20/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/30

Central League

Activated

GiantsOF43Shinnosuke Shigenobu
BayStarsP45Michael Peoples
SwallowsP44Hiroki Onishi
SwallowsC52Yuhei Nakamura

Dectivated

GiantsP42Cristopher Mercedes
GiantsOF94Shuhei Kato
BayStarsP59Kentaro Taira
SwallowsP16Juri Hara
SwallowsP54Masato Nakazawa
SwallowsC57Yudai Koga

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP66Yuki Matsumoto
HawksIF36Taisei Makihara
FightersP27Nick Martinez

Dectivated

HawksP10Kotaro Otake
HawksIF6Kenta Imamiya
FightersP35Takahiro Nishimura

Starting pitchers for Aug. 21, 2020

Pacific League

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

Takayuki Kato (0-1, 3.98) vs Takahiro Norimoto (3-3, 3.95)

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

Ayumu Ishikawa (3-2, 4.21) vs Nao Higashihama (2-1, 2.90)

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

Sachiya Yamasaki (2-2, 4.46) vs Zach Neal (2-2, 5.26)

Central League

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

Daiki Yoshida (1-2, 4.81) vs Shintaro Fujinami (0-4, 4.00)

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

Takahiro Matsuba (2-3, 3.08) vs Shinichi Onuki (5-2, 1.86)

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

Masato Morishita (4-2, 2.31) vs Kazuto Taguchi (2-2, 4.03)

NPB 2020 8-19 games and news

Wakui improves to 8-0 in blowout win

The Rakuten Eagles’ Hidaki Wakui’s stuff was more inconsistent than it’s been in recent weeks, but he summoned his best stuff when he needed it as the Rakuten Eagles’ right-hander improved to 8-0 thanks to a 12-2 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters on Wednesday at Sapporo Dome.

Wakui may have had more trouble generating misses with his fastball than he has in his last two starts, but he was good enough to allow a run on four hits and a walk over eight innings. The 34-year-old right-hander last won this many games in 2016, when he went 10-7 for the Lotte Marines, who sold him to the Eagles over the winter.

If Wakui was less sharp, Fighters right-hander Toshihiro Sugiura’s game was a disaster. The 28-year-old was coming off three solid starts but just couldn’t execute his pitches as he has so far this year. Fastball after fastball came in high and straight, resulting in extra batting practice for the Eagles hitters, who took a 6-0 lead after the top of the third inning.

Sugiura (4-2) surrendered six runs, four earned, on four hits, two walks and a hit batsman over three innings.

The Fighters’ only run off Wakui came on a lazy slider that Haruki Nishikawa hit into the stands in the bottom of the third for his second homer of the season.

Self-inflicted wounds seal Buffaloes fate in 9th

The Orix Buffaloes allowed the Seibu Lions to steal a 4-3 win in the ninth inning on a series of defensive lapses at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

With the score tied 2-2 after Orix’s Tyler Higgins pitched out of a two-out, bases-loaded pickle in the eighth, closer Brandon Dickson took over for the Buffaloes in the ninth.

Third baseman Yuma Mune failed to make a good play on a chopper to third, dropping the ball on what would have been a tough out at first for an error that put Yuji Kaneko on with no outs. A sacrifice and a groundout put Kaneko on third with two outs.

Shuta Tonosaki, who had singled and doubled earlier in the game, put a good swing on a low curve ball and lined it to center. Center fielder Kodai Sano failed to make a shoe-string grab and the ball rolled to the wall. Right fielder Hayato Nishiura retrieved it as Tonosaki approached third and hit the cutoff man. The relay throw arrived in plenty of time but was offline and not caught.

In kind of a throwback to the days in NPB when groundballs that went through outfielders’ legs were ruled triples, Tonosaki was credited with an inside-the-park home run.

The Buffaloes got three hits and a run against Lions closer Tatsushi Masuda, but it was not enough to keep him from recording his 11th save. Dickson (0-2) was charged with two unearned runs and took the loss.

Lions’ eighth-inning bulldog Reed Garrett (3-0) got the win.

Hawks, Marines scrape out tie

The Lotte Marines’ Ikuhiro Kiyota struck out looking at a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded in the ninth inning to end the game against the SoftBank Hawks in a 10-inning, 2-2 tie at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Marines lefty Kazuya Ojima allowed two runs over 5-2/3 innings, while Hawks lefty Kotaro Otake also allowed two runs over five to set up what was to be an entertaining defensive struggle.

A pair of no-out walks from Rei Takahashi and a sacrifice gave the Marines a scoring opportunity in the sixth, but first baseman Keizo Kawashima threw a runner out at the plate and the submarine right-hander got out of the inning on a comebacker.

Marines rookie Koshiro Wada, who made his first start on Sunday after being used as a pinch-runner, reached base three times and stole two bases, raising his league-leading total to 14. In the top of the eighth, he robbed Kenta Imamiya of a leadoff single, allowing Frank Herrmann to work around a two-out single and preserve the tie.

Hawks closer Yuito Mori walked the leadoff man in the ninth but escaped trouble thanks to a great catch in foul territory by catcher Takuya Kai and a sparkling double play from shortstop Hikaru Kawase and second baseman Ukyo Shuto, part of the Hawks’ seemingly endless supply of reserve middle infielders.

SoftBank first baseman Kenji Akashi saved the game with a diving catch of a liner for the second out with two men on. A walk loaded the bases for Kiyota, who fouled off Yugo Bando’s sixth pitch before looking at the seventh.

Giants’ lose Mercedes shut out Tigers

The Yomiuri Giants lost southpaw starter Cristopher Mercedes after the top of the first inning to what looks like an elbow injury, but their six relievers completed a four-hit shutout in an 8-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo Dome.

Kazuma Okamoto drove in two runs with a single and his Central League-best 18th home run, while Yoshihiro Maru, who had a sac fly off Tigers starter Onelki Garcia (1-5) in the first, delivered the kill shot with a seventh-inning grand slam.

The Tigers have now been held scoreless for 27 consecutive innings following their 1-0 loss to Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano on Tuesday.

Dragon Viciedo roasts Swallows

Dayan Viciedo homered twice and had an RBI double, while right-hander Koji Fukutani (2-1) allowed two runs over six innings for the Chunichi Dragons in their 12-2 plucking of the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Viciedo now has 12 home runs for the season, while Zoilo Almonte hit his third and Toshiki Abe hit his seventh for the Dragons. Fukutani struck out six without issuing a walk.

Pitching switch fails to do trick for ‘Stars

DeNA BayStars manager Alex Ramirez pulled his starting pitcher after he allowed a sixth-inning homer, only for his new pitcher to surrender another that tied it in their 2-2, 10-inning tie with the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

In what promises to usher in a new wave of complaints about Japan’s only foreign-born manager, Ramirez yanked lefty Haruhiro Hamaguchi after he gave up a one-out solo homer to Shota Dobayashi that cut the BayStars’ lead to a run.

Big right-hander Yuki Kuniyoshi got one out before surrendering Carp shortstop Kosuke Tanaka’s fourth home run of the year.

Active roster moves 8/19/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/29

Central League

Activated

SwallowsP64Ren Kazahari

Dectivated

None

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP30Daiki Enokida
FightersP57Toshihiro Sugiura

Dectivated

FightersC68Ryo Ishikawa

Tomorrow’s matchups in NPB

Thursday brings some interesting matchups in Japan. In Sapporo, Nick Martinez, who has pitched well despite his 1-4 record will take on Yuki Matsui, who has not pitched well but who is 0-1 in four starts.

On Tuesday, the Orix Buffaloes-Seibu Lions was decided by late relievers, but on Thursday, the bullpen door will open early as Buffaloes go with Kazumasa Yoshida against Seibu’s middle-relief warhorse, Katsunori HIrai.

At Tokyo Dome it will be a battle between two pitchers with 5-2 records, 20-yar-old Giants rookie Shosei Togo and 26-year-old Tigers side-armer Koyo Aoyagi.

In Hiroshima, Kris Johnson is still looking for his first win in his eighth start of the season. He has two quality starts under his belt, which is one more than first-year import Michael Peoples, allowed a run over six innings in his Japan debut on June 20, but has pitched just twice since then. After two respectable Eastern League outings in July, Peoples gave up four runs over five innings in EL loss to the Lotte Marines.

Starting pitchers for Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020

Pacific League

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

Nick Martinez (1-4, 4.17) vs Yuki Matsui (0-1, 5.94)

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

Daiki Iwashita (3-3, 4.19) vs Shunsuke Kasaya (1-2, 4.12)

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

Kazumasa Yoshida (1-0, 3.63) vs Katsunori Hirai (4-2, 4.76)

Central League

Giants vs Tigers: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shosei Togo (5-2, 2.45) vs Koyo Aoyagi (5-2, 3.65)

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

Hirotoshi Takanashi (1-2, 4.70) vs Yuya Yanagi (2-2, 2.10)

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

Kris Johnson (0-4, 5.70) vs Michael Peoples (0-1, 7.04)

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