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NPB news: Sept. 12, 2022

September means compacted schedules, two- and four-game series, and Monday baseball, where some series that started on Sunday continued, with the top-two teams in each league going head to head.

The Swallows suffered a painful loss on the scoreboard, while their lineup also took a hit, when triple crown candidate Munetaka Murakami was hit by a pitch.

Tsuyoshi Shinjo’s Fighters became the first team to be eliminated from postseason contention, while Kosuke Fukudome began his farewell tour, visiting Koshien Stadium, where he played eight of his 24 seasons for the Tigers, despite not being on the Dragons active roster.

Let’s get to it.

BayStars 7, Swallows 1: At Yokohama Stadium, the winning pitcher drove in the winning run. After Yasuhiro Ogawa won 1-0 on Sunday, Shota Imanaga (10-3) pitched out of one tight spot after another and then singled in two runs off Juri Hara (7-6) to bring the BayStars from behind in a five-run fourth inning.

Hara, who’d gotten the BayStars’ big wheel Shugo Maki to fly out and end the DeNA third, gave up a leadoff single and then issued a pair of walks to load them for Imanaga. Leadoff hitter Masayuki Kuwahara, who had a fantastic weekend with the glove in center field, and robbed Yakult of a first-inning leadoff single ahead of Tetsuto Yamada’s solo homer, doubled to make it 3-1. Taishi Kusumoto singled in another before Kuwahara scored on a groundout.

Imanaga then retired nine of the last 10 Swallows hitters to keep the game out of reach as DeNA pulled to within 6-1/2 games of Yakult with 19 games left to play in a bid for the team’s first CL title since 1998.

In the eighth inning, Edwin Escobar hit Murakami on the right thigh with a 155 kph fastball.

“He was in pain, so I took him out,” Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu said. “I think it hurt so much since it hit him square. I haven’t talked to the trainer so I won’t know until tomorrow how he is.”

Shota Imanaga arsenal

Here’s a breakdown of Imanaga’s pitches with the average Runs Created of each pitch thrown, the rate of swings that miss bats, and the rate of taken pitches called strikes.

PitchRCTotalMiss rateCalled rate
Data through Sept. 12, 2022

Imanaga’s deal is that his his cutter and fastball are both a little better than average, while his curve has been quite good this year. His fastball is comparable to Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s, although that’s Yamamoto’s third best pitch, but he’s fearless with it.

Continue reading NPB news: Sept. 12, 2022

NPB news: Aug. 25, 2022

It was a streak-ending Thursday in Japan, while Shosei Togo had a huge game for the Central League’s struggling Yomiuri Giants, and there were a pair of big comebacks in the Pacific League.

OK. It wasn’t the most exciting day in baseball this week, but it is Roki Eve, and perhaps he’ll be more impressive than his 5.48 ERA this season against Rakuten. Friday will also start another showdown series between Yakult and DeNA, so that should be fun.

Thursday’s games

Tigers 5, BayStars 0: At Osaka Dome, Junya Nishi (5-2), a former DH for Japan’s under-18 national team, spun six innings and went 2-for-3 as Hanshin snapped an eight-game losing streak, and ended DeNA’s eight-game win streak.

Continue reading NPB news: Aug. 25, 2022