Returning Rakuten Eagles ace Masahiro Tanaka has launched his Youtube channel, which quickly brought some comments from his peers I thought were worth sharing.
The news in Japan Thursday of Tanaka’s return sent a buzz through Japan, and Tanaka’s venture into Youtube, titled “Ma-kun Channel Masahiro Tanaka” was apparently a little bland for veteran Yutube Yu Darvish, who replied, “Don’t you mean God’s channel?”
By 9 a.m. Sunday morning in Japan, Tanaka’s channel had two videos, one of his Saturday presser, English transcript, and another private video of him on the way to the press conference in Tokyo and 68,300 subscribers.
Darvish then retweeted it saying he recalled somewhere saying it should be called the channel “Masahiro Tanaka’s God Channel,” which drew a response from irrepressible former Hanshin Tigers closer Kyuji Fujikawa.
“‘Masahiro Tanaka’s God Channel!’ what a great name for a channel.”
On a night of beginnings and endings in Japan’s Central League, one of the young prizes in last year’s draft made his debut, while one of the game’s icons took his last bow.
At Koshien Stadium outside Osaka, reliever Kyuji Fujikawa took the mound for the final time, the 40-year-old finishing his career fourth on Japan’s career saves list with 243. Fujikawa, who recaptured the closer role last summer and started the season as the last man out of the pen, struck out two batters in the ninth.
The Giants, who have nothing to play for, won 4-0 as five pitchers combined on a one-hitter.
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, 19-year-old Yasunobu Okugawa allowed five runs on nine hits in two-plus innings in a 7-3 loss to the Hiroshima Carp. Okugawa, one of the stars of last year’s summer national high school championship, was named by three teams as their top pick in the 2019 draft.
His season has been marred since the spring by a series of minor arm issues, and he appeared in just seven Eastern League games.
Active roster moves 11/10/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/20
Kodai Senga (11-6) got a late start to the season but qualified for the Pacific League’s ERA title with eight innings in the SoftBank Hawks’ 2-0 win on Wednesday at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, over the Lotte Marines, who fell into third place, a game behind the Seibu Lions for the final playoff spot.
The Hawks’ win left them tied in their season series against Lotte after the three-time defending Japan Series champs starting the season 4-11-1 against the Marines.
With nine strikeouts over eight innings, Senga now leads the league with a 2.16 ERA and is tied with Orix’s Yoshinobu Yamamoto for the strikeout lead with 149 and tied with Hideaki Wakui for the lead in wins.
The Hawks scored on solo homers by Alfredo Despaigne, his sixth, and Ryoya Kurihara, his 17th, off former major leaguer Chen Wei-yin (0-3), and have now beaten the Marines in seven straight games. Yuito Mori notched his 32nd save.
Spangenberg, Lions feast on rookie Yoshida
Corey Spangenberg homered for the second straight night and drove in four runs as the Seibu Lions tattooed rookie Kosei Yoshida (0-2) for eight runs over two innings in a 10-3 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at MetLife Dome.
Zach Neal (6-8) allowed three runs over five innings to pick up the win. Shuta Tonosaki homered, drove in two runs and scored three, and Reed Garrett worked a scorless inning of relief for the Lions.
Buffaloes bounce Eagles
The Orix Buffaloes broke an eighth-inning tie with two runs off Alan Busenitz (1-4) in an 8-7 win at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome over the Rakuten Eagles, who fell 3-1/2 games out of the final playoff spot with four games left to play.
Orix lit up Hideaki Wakui for six runs over five innings before the visitors came back to tie it.
Endo goes distance for Carp
Atsushi Endo (5-6) threw a four-hitter for the Hiroshima Carp in a 5-1 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Hisayoshi Chono went 2-for-3 with two walks a homer three RBIs and his first stolen base since he was with the Giants two years ago, while Jose Pirela had three hits for the Carp.
Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto went 0-for-4 to remain three hits shy of 2,000 in his career.
Fujinami goes 6 scoreless innings in Tigers’ win
Shintaro Fujinami overcame three two-out walks to go six scoreless innings in the Hanshin Tigers’ 3-2 walkoff win over the Yakult Swallows at Koshien Stadium.
Yusuke Oyama homered in the ninth off Yugo Umeno (4-2) to end it and make a winner out of closer Robert Suarez (3-1) after the Swallows tied it with single runs in the seventh, off Suguru Iwazaki, and in the eighth, off Jon Edwards.
Takahashi lifts Dragons over ‘Stars
Dragons captain Shuhei Takahashi scored twice and hit a tie-breaking eighth-inning home run in a 5-4 win at Nagoya Dome after the DeNA BayStars tied it on home runs by Neftali Soto and Jose Lopez.
Soto’s 25th made it a 4-1 game in the fifth and Lopez’s 12th, with two on, tied it in the sixth.
Kodai Senga fastest NPB starter to 1,000 Ks
SoftBank Hawks right-hander Kodai Senga, whose family name literally means “1,000 celebrations,” notched his 1,000th strikeout in his 855-1/3 inning on Wednesday night at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
Only Kyuji Fujikawa, the longtime former closer of the Central League’s Hanshin Tigers, who will retire this year, reached 1,000 in fewer innings. Fujikawa notched 92 of his strikeouts in 102 career innings as a starter, but he was primarily used as a reliever whose 243 saves are fourth-most in NPB history.
Senga, however, took over the Pacific League record from Hall of Famer Hideo Nomo. Senga started his career as a reliever and has pitched 82 career innings out of the bullpen. Signed after being taken in the developmental draft, Senga notched his first strikeout on April 30, 2012, fanning Lotte catcher Tomoya Satozaki, who was working the game as an analyst on TV Tokyo.
Active roster moves 11/4/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/14
Kota Futaki (8-3) had one hiccup in his seven-inning stint, Stefen Romero’s ice-breaking three-run fourth-inning home run, but allowed nothing else as the Lotte Marines snapped a four-game losing streak to beat the Rakuten Eagles 6-3 at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium on Saturday.
The win gave the second-place Marines a two-game lead in the fight for the Pacific League’s final playoff spot over the Seibu Lions, who were busted up 11-2 by the SoftBank Hawks. The Eagles, in fourth, are another half-game further back.
Futaki allowed only one base runner before the fourth and retired the last 10 batters he faced after hanging a 2-2 pitch that Romero blasted into the left-field stands for his 24th home run.
Eagles starter Ryota Ishibashi (1-6) allowed four runs over 5-1/3 innings. D.J. Johnson got Rakuten out of the five run inning, retiring all five batters he faced, while J.T. Chargois also stamped his initials on the proceedings in a scoreless ninth.
HIrokazu Sawamura, the loser on Friday, worked a scoreless eighth for the Marines, while Naoya Masuda recorded 30 saves for the first time in seven years.
Hawks tattoo Lions
Shuta Ishikawa (10-3) allowed a run over six innings, and Kenji Akashi doubled twice, tripled, singled scored three runs and drove in four in the SoftBank Hawks’ 11-2 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome.
Seibu’s Ernesto Mejia enlivened the game in the seventh inning by scoring after hitting his first triple in six years.
Kawano ends win drought
Nippon Ham Fighters rookie Ryosei Kawano (3-4) allowed a run over six innings in a 6-1 win over the Orix Buffaloes and southpaw Andrew Albers (4-8) at Sapporo Dome. Kawano, who hadn’t won since August, gave up three singles. The lefty struck out three without issuing a walk.
Okamoto powers Sugano to victory
Kazuma Okamoto hit his Central League-leading 29th home run, a three-run shot that bumped his league-best RBI total to 89 as ace Tomoyuki Sugano (14-2) allowed a run over five innings despite giving up five hits, walking two and hitting two in the 6-4 win at Tokyo Dome.
Rubby De La Rosa worked the ninth for his 17th save.
Naomasa Yokawa gave the Hanshin Tigers the early lead with a first-inning grand slam and added a solo shot in a 13-5 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium, although his home runs might not have been as memorable as two of the three hit by the BayStars.
Jose Lopez’s fourth-inning solo shot off Takumi Akiyama (10-3) was his 11th of the season and was his 1,000th hit in Japan. He is the 14th imported player to reach the milestone and only the third player to reach that figure in both NPB and MLB. The other two are Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui.
Lopez is the 14th import to reach 1,000 hits in Japan and the fourth Venezuelan after Alex Ramirez, Bobby Marcano and Alex Cabrera.
Tyler Austin reached 20 homers in the 61st game of his debut season, while Yamato Maeda took former teammate, retiring Tigers reliever Kyuji Fujikawa out in the ninth for two runs.
Jefry Marte and Jerry Sands also helped power the Hanshin onslaught. Marte went 2-for-2 with two runs and three walks, while Sands went 3-for-5 with two doubles, two runs and two RBIs.
Japan’s 1,000-hit foreign imports through Oct. 31, 2020 and the next guy
Note:This table has been updated. It originally omitted Wally Yonamine, Chico Barbon and Matt Murton.
Aizawa, Carp get ‘lucky’
Tsubasa Aizawa’s three-run eighth-inning double brought the Hiroshima Carp from behind against a lefty whose last name means luck in Japanese, Hiroto Fuku (5-5) in a 9-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Nagoya Dome.
Active roster moves 10/31/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/10
Torai Fushimi hit a game-tying home run in the ninth inning off Rakuten Eagles closer Alan Busenitz as the Orix Buffaloes salvaged a 2-2 10-inning tie at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi in which the teams’ two aces delivered.
Fushimi’s home run took Yoshinobu Yamamoto off the hook for the loss after he allowed two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out 10 over seven innings.
The Eagles took a 2-1 lead after sixth-inning singles by Ginji Akaminai and rookie Hiroto Kobukata. Akaminai smacked a mistake from Yamamoto through the infield, and Kobukata, one of the few Eagles to get quality swings off the Buffaloes’ ace, smoked a liner to left. Hideto Asamura’s miss-hit ball off the end of his bat just fell for a two-run double.
Right fielder Yuya Oda, who came within a hair of ending the inning on that fly, cut down Asamura for the final out at the plate.
Norimoto pitched out of a couple of early pickles, and was cruising until Steven Moya crushed a curveball for his ninth home run with two outs in the sixth, giving Yamamoto a 1-0 lead. The right-hander allowed five hits and a walk while striking out six over seven innings.
Eagles lefty Yuki Matsui walked two in the eighth but ended the inning by overpowering Moya with a fastball for a swinging strikeout after Orix wasted one out sacrificing in an attempt to tie it on the road.
Fushimi led off the top of the ninth by hammering a straight fastball down the pipe nearly to the Ferris wheel behind the left-field seating for his sixth home run.
Tyler Higgins worked a scoreless ninth for the Buffaloes. Eagles submariner Kazuhisa Makita pitched out of a two-on one-out situation in the 10th before Brandon Dickson sealed the tie in the bottom of the 10th with a 1-2-3 inning.
Hawks blow out Fighters
Shunsuke Kasaya (4-3) threw six scoreless innings, while Yuki Yanagita had four hits and scored three runs, and Yurisbel Gracial and Nobuhiro Matsuda each drove in three as the SoftBank Hawks whipped the Nippon Ham Fighters 11-2 at Sapporo Dome.
The win, combined with the Lotte Marines’ 2-1 loss to the Seibu Lions, increased the Hawks’ Pacific League lead to 6-1/2 games.
Kasaya, who threw five scoreless innings in his previous start, allowed two hits and two walks while striking out eight. The Hawks blasted Fighters right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa (8-6) for seven runs over five innings.
Fighters right-hander Bryan Rodriguez allowed two runs in one inning of relief, marking his season debut after the team said in June he’d had surgery to clean out his left knee.
“He brought something and threw some really good pitches,” manager Hideki Kuriyama said of Rodriguez.
Christian Villanueva also returned to the Fighters lineup for the first time in two weeks and drew a walk in three plate appearances.
Wednesday’s game is going to see Hawks’ ace Kodai Senga take on first-year Fighters import Drew VerHagen.
Lions survive blown Masuda save
The Seibu Lions scored an unearned ninth-inning run to walk off 2-1 winners over the Lotte Marines at MetLife Dome after closer Tatsushi Masuda (4-0) allowed the tying run in the ninth.
Both starting pitchers went seven with Lotte’s Ayumu Ishikawa allowing a run, while Kona Takahashi left with a 1-0 lead.
Lions left fielder Corey Spangenberg helped keep the Marines off the board in the third by robbing Yudai Fujioka of a leadoff single. Marines second baseman Shogo Nakamura did the same in the home half with a good play to defuse a Lions rally.
Shuta Tonosaki broke the scoreless deadlock in the seventh. He singled with one out, went to third on a Kakeru Yamanobe run-and-hit single and scored on Yuji Kaneko’s booming sacrifice fly.
Lions right-hander Kaima Taira worked a scoreless eighth, but Masuda walked a batter and hit one before surrendering a Tatsuhiro Tamura RBI single.
Tonosaki, however, rescued the Lions in the home half when he doubled with two outs against the Marines’ Naoya Masuda (3-3) and scored when Leonys Martin and Nakamura collided in shallow right as Yamanobe’s fly fell untouched.
Swallows walk away with tie
Yomiuri Giants rookie of the year candidate Shosei Togo threw a career-high 134 pitches over six scoreless innings in which he struck out nine and walked six, but had nothing to show for it after three relievers combined to blow the save in the ninth in a 1-1 10-inning with the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
Rubby De La Rosa issued a five-pitch leadoff walk and left with two outs and two on after a sacrifice, a single and a strikeout. Lefty Ryusei Oe walked Norichika Aoki on five pitches to load them up and Toyoki Tanaka walked Tetsuto Yamada on four pitches to tie it.
The Giants lead the second-place Chunichi Dragons by 10-1/2 games and their magic number to clinch their second-straight Central League championship is seven.
Dragons 6, BayStars 1
Koji Fukutani (7-2) allowed one run over six innings, and the Chunichi Dragons cashed in three of their six sixth-inning base runners to come from behind in a 6-1 win over the DeNA BayStars at Nagoya Dome.
Fukutani allowed three hits, including Tyler Austin’s first-inning home run, and a walk, while striking out seven. Hiroto Fuku and Daisuke Sobue closed it out with one scoreless inning apiece for the Dragons. Dayan Viciedo went 3-for-5 with a double, a run, and two RBIs, while Toshiki Abe also had three hits, scored twice and drove in two.
Spencer Patton struck out three in the eighth for the BayStars, but allowed a run on an Abe double and a one-out Viciedo single.
Kuri holds off Tigers
Allen Kuri (7-5), who retired the first 14 batters he faced, allowed a run over 8-1/3 innings while the Carp scored four times in the third inning against Onelki Garcia (2-6), who was pitching for the first time in a month, in a 5-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium.
Kuri, who has allowed one run in each of his last three starts, gave up three of his four hits in the ninth inning, when Geronimo Franzua came in to record his 15th save.
Former Tigers closer Kyuji Fujikawa, who announced that this will be his last season, took the mound for the first time since Aug. 10 and worked a scoreless sixth inning.
Active roster moves 10/20/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/30
Kotaro Otake made a lot out of a little on Thursday as his low-velocity deliveries frustrated hitters and helped earn him the win in his belated season debut as the SoftBank Hawks beat the Orix Buffaloes 3-1 to remain in a tie for first place in the Pacific League.
Otake, who has been with the minor league squad since feeling stiffness in his left elbow in camp and was 4-0 in the Western League, allowed five hits and a walk while striking out three over 5-2/3 innings. Although it was an impressive effort, Otake got off to a rocky start.
In the first inning, he challenged leadoff hitter Tatsuya Yamaashi with a 1-0 fastball down the pipe. But it wasn’t a very good one, and the light-hitting reserve showed what a professional hitter can do when giving a cookie, driving it well back in PayPay Dome’s left-field stands for his third career home run.
But otherwise, the Buffaloes hitters struggled to time Otake’s speeds: slow, slower, and molasses, as he mixed his 136-kph (84.5 mph) fastball with a two-seamer, a changeup and a curve. His occasional high misses didn’t hurt him as much as they perhaps changed batters’ eye levels. The end result was a lot of soft contact. Orix didn’t hit anything reasonably hard until Jones doubled with two outs in the fourth.
The Hawks wasted two walks in the first inning against Taiwanese right-hander Chang Yi but made up for it in the second. Kenta Imamiya led off with his fifth home run, Takuya Kai walked with one out and scored on leadoff man Ukyo Shuto’s two-out triple. Akira Nakamura singled and scored an insurance run in the fifth after a Ryoya Kurihara single and a Kenji Akashi double.
Chang (0-1) allowed six hits and three walks over his five innings. The right-hander, a cousin of NPB veterans Yang Dai-kang and Yang Yao-hsun, was taken by the Buffaloes in the first round of the 2016 developmental draft out of Japan University of Economics.
Otake issued his only walk of the game in the sixth and after retiring slugging left-handed hitters Masataka Yoshida and Takahiro Okada, was pulled for a righty with Jones coming to the plate. Arata Shiino got out of the inning on five pitches, and Yugo Bando, Livan Moinelo and Yuito Mori finished up with a scoreless inning each. Mori earned his 12th save.
Eagles keep pace with win over Lions
Rookie Hiroto Kobukata reached base four times and scored three runs for the Rakuten Eagles in their 7-4 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo. The win kept the Eagles tied with the Hawks for the PL lead.
Former closer Yuki Matsui allowed three runs on six hits over three innings. He left the game with a 4-3 lead and right-hander Tomohito Sakai retired all six batters he faced over two innings to earn the win. Ryosuke Tatsumi broke a 1-1 tie in the third with his fifth home run, a leadoff shot off Lions rookie Kaito Yoza (2-4).
Yoza allowed four runs over 2-1/3 innings as the Lions needed eight pitchers to get them through the night.
J.T. Chargois worked a scoreless eighth for Rakuten, while submarine right-hander Kazuhisa Makita worked the ninth to earn his first save in Japan since he saved three in 2015 for the Lions.
Marines power past Fighters
Leonys Martin’s fifth home run in six games was one of three solo shot the Lotte Marines hit in a three-run fifth en route to overcoming a five-run deficit in their 8-5 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
After Tsuyoshi Sugano doubled home Seiya Inoue with the tying run in the sixth, Martin reached on an error in the seventh and scored the go-ahead run.
The Marines comeback made a winner out of Jose Flores (1-1). The 31-year-old right-hander from Venezuela spent 10 years in the minors with the Cleveland Indians, Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants. The Marines acquired him from the Toyama Thunderbirds of Japan’s independent Baseball Challenge League.
Giants bang, bloop their way to comeback win
Yoshiyuki Kamei’s ninth-inning pinch-hit single lifted the Yomiuri Giants to a 4-3 walk-off win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo Dome.
Lefty Cristopher Mercedes allowed three doubles and a walk in a three-run first, and spent his remaining five innings on the mound pitching with me on base but allowing no more runs.
The Giants closed within a run on back-to-back two-out solo homers in the fourth inning from Yoshihiro Maru and Hiroyuki Nakajima. The hosts tied it in the fifth on a two-out bloop RBI single by cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto. Swallows right-hander Hirotoshi Takanashi allowed three runs over six innings, and two relievers kept it tied until right-hander Yuma Oshita (0-1) allowed a leadoff single.
After a stolen base, Kamei pinch hit and got enough of the first pitch thrown by Scott McGough to hit a fly into shallow center that won it.
ToSpo pandering to the populists
There’s always some writer somewhere who’ll put a populist or racist spin on something they probably don’t understand. The Tokyo Sports used to have a pretty sordid reputation for writing the most loathsome stuff and one writer of theirs seems keen to resurrect that image when he wrote a story titled “Manager Hara spills the real truth behind Parra’s substitution.”
Hara pulled Gerardo Parra out of the game during the top of the sixth inning, and Tokyo Sports would like us to think because he was solely because he wasn’t hustling on a foul fly that dropped safely.
The manager said, “You saw what happened. It looked he was favoring his leg,” although the Tokyo Sports neglected to mention that last bit. Instead, it implied Parra was fit because no trainer came out and didn’t look hurt. They then reminded readers of the time when a Japanese star was not hustling and was sent home by Hara, implying that was the reason here.
The real truth is the thing that story wasn’t interested in when a pile of made-up shit made a better headline.
Yamada rejoins Swallows
Yakult Swallows second baseman Tetsuto Yamada was activated on Thursday and practiced as usual with the team before their game against the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome, according to the Nikkan Sports.
He was deactivated on July 27, ostensibly due to lack of upper body fitness, whatever that means.
Despaigne, Gracial to start on farm
Big-hitting Cubans Alfredo Despaigne and Yurisbel Gracial practiced with the Hawks Western League farm team on Thursday, and are scheduled to play in Friday’s home WL game against the Hiroshima Carp, the Nishinihon Sports reports.
The pair had gone to Cuba train with the national team in March ahead of World Baseball Classic qualifying. After qualifying was canceled, they were unable to travel to Japan until Havana’s airport re-opened for international travel in July.
The two arrived in Japan last month despite Japan’s ban on foreign nationals entering the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. After they completed quarantine they were to train with the farm team until minor league operations were suspended after infections were discovered at the minor league facility. Instead, they traveled to Sendai last week and trained with the first team.
Tigers drop Fujikawa
The Hanshin Tigers have deactivated 40-year-old reliever Kyuji Fujikawa. According to the Hochi Shimbun, the move was made due to the dreaded “lack of upper body fitness” although the article specified the afflicted area to be the right side of his upper body.
Fujikawa, who converted every save opportunity he faced after being restored to the closer’s role last summer for the first time in seven seasons, has been largely ineffective this year. He was deactivated on July 12 due to right shoulder fitness.