Tag Archives: Munetaka Murakami

NPB 2020 8-8 GAMES AND NEWS

Dragon Fukuda toasts Giants

Nobumasa Fukuda’s second homer of the season, a three-run, seventh-inning shot off Yomiuri Giants starter Seishu Hatake (0-1) lifted the Chunichi Dragons to a 3-1 win at Nagoya Dome on Saturday.

Hatake got out of a first-inning jam when he loaded the bases with two outs on two walks and a hit batsman. The right-hander made his escape on two pitches against Ariel Martinez, getting the Cuban catcher to chase an 0-1 curve away and hit an easy grounder to third.

The Dragons got a leadoff single in the third only for Hatake to retire the next 13 batters.

Dragons right-hander Akiyoshi Katsuno let the Giants score in the fourth on cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto’s 15th home run. Katsuno had allowed two runners through the first three innings, and caught a break to open the fourth, when Yoshihiro Maru hammered a low-inside fastball to first that Dayan Viciedo managed to catch.

After a fastball inside for a strike and two bounced sliders, Katsuno missed in the heart of the zone, and Okamoto put a good swing on it, launching it out to center. The pitcher left after six innings having allowed a run on three hits and two walks while striking out five.

Stocky lefty Hiroto Fuku, pitching for the first time in over a week, missed high with a fastball to Gerardo Parra, who hit it hard up the middle for a single. The lefty lucked out when Naoki Yoshikawa, who had been peppering the left field line with foul balls, hit a sharp grounder that third baseman Shuhei Takahashi dove for and got the force at second.

Fuku missed a 1-2 fastball up that light-hitting catcher Ginjiro Sumitani was able hammer through past first to put runners on the corners. Hatake struck out, and a first-pitch cutter on the hands of right-handed-hitting pinch-hitter Hiroyuki Nakajima got the Dragons out of the inning.

With one out in the seventh, Martinez grounded another low-away curve to third, but beat the throw for an infield single. Masataka Iryo put a good swing on the next pitch, a high changeup and drilled it past first to put runners on the corners for Fukuda, who walked up to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”

Hatake missed down the pipe with a slider that Fukuda let go. When Hatake missed with a fastball in the same spot, Fukuda blasted it.

“He’d been throwing really good pitches, but his fastball had been his best, so that’s what I was looking for, nothing else,” Fukuda said, echoing the analyst who said that was probably the case after watching him pass on the first pitch.

The Dragons bullpen recorded six-straight outs, three by setup man Daisuke Sobue and three by closer Raidel Martinez.

Sano sinks Swallows with homer in epic at-bat

DeNA BayStars captain Keita Sano’s two-run, fifth-inning homer broke up a tie game en route to a 5-4 win over the Yakult Swallows at Jingu Stadium.

Sano, who singled in the tying run in the third after Yakult took the lead on Munetaka Murakami’s two-run first-inning homer, fouled off six 3-2 pitches from Yakult right-hander Yasuhiro “Ryan” Ogawa (4-2). Sano leaned into Ogawa’s 12th pitch, a slider away, and knocked it out to center for his seventh home run and a 4-2 BayStars lead.

Kazuki Kamizato, who singled three times and scored three, came home on a Toshiro Miyazaki single in the seventh to make it 5-2, but then helped give away two runs in the bottom of the eighth. With one out and a runner on first, the BayStars center fielder misplayed Alcides Escobar’s single, and it rolled to the wall. Escobar wound up at third and scored on a groundout.

After back-to-back two out walks put the go-ahead run on, Escobar’s cousin, Edwin, took the mound and ended the inning with a strikeout.

DeNA lefty Shota Imanaga (5-2) allowed two runs on four hits and a walk, while striking out six, and Kazuki Mishima earned his fifth save.

Carp ace Osera bounces back to outlast Tigers

Daichi Osera (4-1) returned from his 10-day stint on the inactive list by allowing a run over seven innings in the Hiroshima Carp’s 2-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

After an exchange of homers between Yusuke Ono of the Tigers and the Carp’s Hisayoshi Chono, the pitching duel between Osera and Nishi went on for six innings. The Tigers loaded the bases in the seventh with one out, but Osera got Kosuke Fukudome to hit into a double play and end it.

In the bottom of the inning, rookie Minoru Omori drew a leadoff walk from Kyuji Fujikawa (1-3) went to second on a wild pickoff throw and scored on Shogo Sakakura’s pinch-hit single.

The best moment of the game came after the game, when Carp closer Geronimo Franzua, who struck out two in the ninth to record his fourth save, tossed the ball from the final out, the “winning ball” into the crowd. This forced Chono to lead a posse of Carp players to the edge of the stands to plead for its return so Osera could keep it as a souvenir.

Afterward the Daily Sports bemoaned the Tigers’ mistakes, the pickoff throw and Jerry Sands getting caught off base in the top of the seventh. With runners on the corners and no outs after singles by Sands and Justin Bour, Ryutaro Umeno grounded back to the pitcher, who threw Sands out, costing the Tigers not an out, but a base, which became moot when Osera walked the next hitter.

It didn’t cost the Tigers an out or a run, and was only significant for writers of articles cataloging teams’ mistakes.

Romero rocks Hawks as Shiomi rolls for Eagles

Stefen Romero hit his 14th home run and his third in two nights while Takahiro Shiomi threw 6-2/3 shutout innings for the Rakuten Eagles in their 4-2 win over the SoftBank Hawks at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Romero also doubled twice and was hit by a pitch in the win that pushed the Eagles out of a tie for first place in the Pacific League with the Hawks. Shiomi (3-2) struck out six while hitting a batter and allowing three singles.

The Hawks might have taken the lead in the first but for this catch by Eagles center fielder Kazuki Tanaka, whose RBI double in the second made it 2-0 Rakuten.

Hawks starter Akira Niho (3-3) allowed three runs over seven innings to take the loss.

Martin leads charging Marines past Buffaloes

Leonys Martin homered and doubled twice, scored three runs and drove in four for the Lotte Marines in a 9-3 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

The Marines torched Buffaloes starter Kohei “K” Suzuki (0-2) for seven runs in 3-1/3 innings, while the Marines’ Kota Futaki (1-1) gave up two over seven innings to earn the win.

Martin’s home run was his 10th of the year.

Fighters get past Lions guardian Garrett

Reed Garrett has been a pillar of the Seibu Lions’ bullpen but on Saturday, he got carried along by the tide as the third pitcher in a five-run seventh inning that lifted the Nippon Ham Fighters to a 7-6 come-from-behind win at Sapporo Dome.

Katsunori Hirai retired two of the first three batters he faced in the seventh but couldn’t get the fourth. Rookie Tetsu Miyagawa (0-1) allowed four-straight runners to reach before giving way to Garrett. With the Lions’ lead down to a run, and two on, Garrett allowed an infield single that loaded the bases and a two-run single to Ryo Watanabe.

Watanabe hit a two-run home in the second to briefly give the hosts the lead only for Hotaka Yamakawa to hit his 14th homer, a two-run shot in the Lions’ three-run third.

Marte reinjures left calf in rehab game

Hanshin Tigers infielder Jefry Marte, who has been sidelined since injuring his left calf on July 4, reinjured the leg on Saturday during a Western League game.

The 29-year-old, playing in his second season in Japan, was unable to get as far as first base in the Tigers’ minor league game at the Hiroshima Carp’s minor league park in Yuu, Yamaguchi Prefecture.

Blash deactivated due to neck pain

The Rakuten Eagles dropped Jabari Blash from the active roster on Saturday for the first time since the outfielder joined the Pacific League club a year ago

Blash, who turned 31 in July, is suffering from neck pain and has exhibited mild whiplash symptoms according to Jiji.com.

Active roster moves 8/8/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/18

Central League

Activated

GiantsP49Thyago Vieira
BayStarsP68Yoshiaki Fujioka
TigersP27Yuya Onaka
CarpP14Daichi Ohsera
CarpC31Yoshiyuki Ishihara

Dectivated

GiantsP92Shohei Numata
BayStarsP27Taiga Kamichatani
TigersP92Kazuo Ito
CarpP46Mikiya Takahashi
CarpC22Shosei Nakamura
SwallowsP44Hiroki Onishi

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP61Masato Okumura
EaglesIF48Yoshiaki Watanabe
MarinesP18Kota Futaki
FightersP63Ryuji Kitaura
BuffaloesP30Kohei ”K” Suzuki

Dectivated

EaglesOF69Jabari Blash
MarinesP49Chen Kuan-yu
FightersP57Toshihiro Sugiura
BuffaloesP61Tsubasa Sakakibara

Starting pitchers for Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020

Pacific League

Fighters vs Lions: Sapporo Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Drew VerHagen (3-1, 3.38) vs Keisuke Honda (0-3, 3.92)

Eagles vs Hawks: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Yuya Fukui (0-0, 1.80) vs Shunsuke Kasaya (1-2, 5.93)

Buffaloes vs Marines: Kyocera Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Andrew Albers (2-3, 3.78) vs Toshiya Nakamura (0-0, 4.58)

Central League

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

Hirofumi Yamanaka (0-0, 0.00) vs Kentaro Taira (2-2, 1.99)

Dragons vs Giants: Nagoya Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Yariel Rodriguez (-) vs Ryosuke Miyaguni (0-0, 2.81)

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

Atsushi Endo (2-1, 4.50) vs Takumi Akiyama (3-1, 4.83)

NPB 2020 7-29 GAMES AND NEWS

Mishima earns 1st save for BayStars

Veteran right-hander Kazuki Mishima worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn his first career save in place of battered closer Yasuaki Yamasaki on Wednesday as the DeNA BayStars held on to a 3-2 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome.

BayStars lefty Haruhiro Hamaguchi (2-1) was effectively wild at the start, walking four and hitting one threw four hitless and scoreless innings thanks to a pair of inning-ending 4-6-3 double plays. Hamaguchi allowed two runs on three hits over 5-2/3 innings while striking out seven.

Takayuki Kajitani homered with two outs in the third off Giants right-hander Shosei Togo to record the visitors’ first hit, while catcher Shuto Takajo added a two-run homer for the visitors in the fifth.

Togo (3-2) allowed three runs on four hits and a walk while striking out seven over five innings.

The Giants got their first hit in the fifth, Yang Dai-kang’s leadoff single, and their first run in the seventh, when Yoshihiro Maru opened the inning with his eighth home run. With two outs, mid-season acquisition Zelous Wheeler pulled the Giants within one with his fourth home run to drive Hamaguchi from the mound.

With the BayStars leading by a run in the seventh, manager Alex Ramirez called on Yamasaki to see if his struggling closer might regain his stuff in a middle relief role. The right-hander allowed a one-out infield single to speedy pinch-hitter Shinnosuke Shigenobu. A stolen base on a strikeout, and a wild pitch put the tying run on third with two outs, but Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto flied out to end the inning.

Spencer Patton worked the eighth and walked Wheeler with one out. Wheeler was replaced by Daiki Masuda, the flagship of manager Tatsunori Hara’s pinch-running fleet. Patton, however, struck out the next two batters to get the game to Mishima.

The 30-year-old right-hander, who had not allowed a hit or a walk since he was lit up for three runs on July 16, got tough left-handed hitter Takumi Oshiro swinging at a 1-2 splitter out of the zone. Veteran left-handed-hitting grinder Yasuyuki Kamei flied out before Shigenobu went down swinging to end it.

Nothing to do with the game story, but couldn’t resist.

Swallows kiddy corps beats Tigers

Twenty-year-old Munetaka Murakami brought the Yakult Swallows from behind with a two-run fourth-inning home run and 21-year-old lefty Hiroki Hasegawa saved the day out of the bullpen in a 3-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

After allowing the visitors on the scoreboard in the first, Yakult right-hander Juri Hara (2-0) got out of a one-out bases-loaded jam in the first inning with a pair of strikeouts. Hara worked five innings, allowing three hits and five walks while striking out six.

Tigers lefty Onelki Garcia cruised through the first three innings before surrendering a leadoff double to Norichika Aoki in the fourth. Murakami followed with his fifth home run.

Yugo Umeno, a 21-year-old right-hander, followed Hara in the sixth and walked the first batter he faced. He left with one out the bases loaded. Hasegawa, however, popped up leadoff hitter Koji and struck out veteran Yoshio Itoi.

Yakult’s Yasutaka Shiomi, who homered when he returned to action on Tuesday, a month after being injured by a pitch, homered off veteran lefty Atsushi Nomi to open the bottom of the sixth.

Scott McGough pitched a 1-2-3 seventh for the hosts, while impressive 23-year-old rookie Noboru Shimizu worked around a pair of walks in the eighth when he caught Chikamoto looking at Strike 3. Taishi Ishiyama worked the ninth for his sixth save.

The Tigers opened the scoring through Chikamoto. He doubled to open the game when his drive popped out of center fielder Kotaro Yamasaki’s glove, stole third and came home on a Yusuke Oyama infield single. Garcia gave up four hits and a walk, while striking out five.

Carp’s Suzuki decides pitchers’ duel

Seiya Suzuki broke open a scoreless game in the sixth inning, when he homered for the ninth time this year with a two-run shot off lefty Takahiro Matsuba in a 2-0 Hiroshima Carp win over the Chunichi Dragons at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Making his second start of the season, veteran Carp right-hander Yusuke Nomura (1-0) was perfect through five innings. He allowed four hits and no walks over eight innings while striking out two.

Geronimo Franzua struck out the side in the ninth to earn his first save.

Matsuba (2-1) allowed five hits and two walks while striking out five and hitting a batter. He surrendered Jose Pirela’s second hit of the game with one out in the sixth, and with two outs, Suzuki took him deep.

39-year-old Wada shuts down Lions

Veteran southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada (3-0) turned back the clock as he combined his usual guts and finesse with good movement on his fastball to strike out nine over six-plus innings for the SoftBank Hawks in a 4-2 win over the Seibu Lions at Fukuoka’s PayPayDome.

The 39-year-old Wada, who said afterward he wanted to come out with guns blazing after not getting out of the fifth inning in his last start, came out getting swings and misses with his fastball and struck out two batters in a 1-2-3.

Hawks speedster Ukyo Shuto opened the scoring for the Hawks in the bottom of the first, when he tripled and scored on Kenta Imamiya’s sacrifice fly. Three-straight one-out singles made it 2-0 as Ryoya Kurihara drove in Yuki Yanagita.

The Lions got their first runners of the game on in the top of the second, but Wada stranded two, and the Hawks added a third run in the bottom of the inning. Nobuhiro Matsuda singled, took second on a throwing error by the pitcher, went to third on a groundout and scored on a Shuto sac fly.

Seibu’s Fumikazu Kimura, who struck out to end the Lions’ second with two in scoring position, hit a solo home run in the fifth, but Yanagita answered that with his 10th home run, a one-out solo shot in the home half.

Wada gave up a run in the seventh on a leadoff double to Takeya Nakamura and a Takumi Kuriyama RBI single. Lefty Shinya Kayama, however, worked around a one-out single to strand two runners. Another lefty, Livan Moinelo, worked the eighth, while closer Yuito Mori pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his eighth save.

Matsumoto (1-3) gave up all four runs on seven hits and two walks over five innings.

Martinez, Kondo get Fighters past Buffs

Nick Martinez allowed a run over six innings and Kensuke Kondo drove in four runs for the Nippon Ham Fighters in their 6-2 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Sapporo Dome.

Orix right-hander Yu Suzuki struggled but stranded six runners as he held the Fighters to a run over four innings. Taishi Ota drew a leadoff walk in the second and opened the scoring on Kotaro Kiyomiya’s bases-loaded sac fly.

The Buffaloes repeatedly threatened to blow the game open, but Martinez prevailed through tough pitching and some good luck.

Masato Matsui got the Buffaloes’ first hit off Martinez when first baseman Kiyomiya fielded a ball Martinez couldn’t reach, and then neglected to see the pitcher covering first and waiting for his throw that never came.

Orix skipper Norifumi Nishimura’s customary sacrifice when trailing on the road and a Ryo Nishimura single put runners on the corners with one out. A stolen base and a comebacker opened first base with two outs, and after Martinez fell behind Masataka Yoshida 3-0, Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama ordered the left-handed slugger walked. Martinez then won a 10-pitch duel with Adam Jones by getting a routine fly out to center.

The Buffaloes tied it in the fifth after a walk and two singles, one an infield dribbler, and a Yoshida sac fly.

Once more, Jones came up with a chance to some damage with two outs, but home plate umpire Atsushi Fukuya called him out on a 2-2 pitch that missed badly inside. Martinez tried to hide the disbelief at his good luck behind his glove as he walked off the mound. Jones could do little but express his own disbelief with Fukuya’s perception of the strike zone.

With Suzuki out of the game after 85 pitches, Buffaloes right-hander Kazumasa Yoshida allowed the Fighters to retake the lead. He promptly gave up a Kenshi Sugiya leadoff double. A sacrifice bunt and a Kondo sac fly put the Fighters back in front. That, too, was short-lived.

With Martinez gone, the Buffaloes tied it in the seventh when Aderlin Rodriguez was struck near the wrist with the bases loaded. But that was it for Orix. Sugiya drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the inning, was sacrificed to second on Takuya Nakashima’s second sac bunt of the game and the 230th of his career. Kondo singled to bring in the go-ahead run and scored on a two-out Ota double.

Fighters lefty Naoki Miyanishi worked the eighth inning and became the 16th pitcher in Japanese pro baseball history to appear in 700 games. The active leader is Ryota Igarashi of the Swallows (822).

Wakui continues remarkable turnaround

After going 3-0 in his first three starts and looking truly mediocre, Hideaki Wakui has been rock solid since and continued that on Tuesday when he allowed a run in seven innings as the Rakuten Eagles beat the Lotte Marines 5-1 at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Wakui (5-0) has allowed three runs, two earned, over his last 20-1/3 innings after giving up tons of hits in his early games. Against the team that sold him in December, the 34-year-old right-hander went to the mound with a two-run lead thanks to Hideto Asamura’s 12th homer of the season.

Leonys Martin touched Wakui for a first-inning home run, but that was about it for the Marines offense as the right-hander continued to spin the ball away from opposing bats and mix his pitches.

Stefen Romero, who hit a pinch-hit grand slam the night before, took lefty Kazuya Odajima (2-3) out to dead center to open the fifth, and then tripled and scored in the seventh.

“I’ve been able to keep leadoff hitters off base, and that was what I was trying to keep up tonight,” said Wakui, who joined the Marines as a free agent from the Seibu Lions in 2014. “It did feel kind of strange tonight since I hadn’t been a visiting player her for so long. I’m just glad I didn’t go back to the wrong dugout.”

Active roster moves 7/29/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/8

Central League

Activated

BayStarsP35Tomoya Mikami
SwallowsP15Yuma Oshita

Dectivated

BayStarsOF1Masayuki Kuwahara
TigersP46Takumi Akiyama
SwallowsP25Gabriel Ynoa
SwallowsP26Koshiro Sakamoto

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP17Wataru Matsumoto
EaglesP91Yuya Kubo
MarinesP19Yuki Karakawa
MarinesP33Masaki Minami
MarinesP62Shoji Nagano

Dectivated

EaglesP13Kohei Morihara
MarinesP20Taiki Tojo
MarinesP27Daiki Yamamoto
MarinesP30Tsuyoshi Ishizaki
FightersP31Toru Murata
BuffaloesP27Andrew Albers

Pacific League

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

Toshihiro Sugiura (2-1, 2.66) vs Sachiya Yamasaki (1-0, 3.80)

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

Daiki Iwashita (3-1, 2.91) vs Hayato Yuge (2-1, 2.79)

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

Yugo Bando (0-0, 0.93) vs Kaito Yoza (1-2, 4.94)

Central League

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

Cristopher Mercedes (2-2, 3.18) vs Shinichi Onuki (2-2, 2.70)

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

Keiji Takahashi (0-1, 3.45) vs Shintaro Fujinami (0-1, 6.00)

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

Kris Johnson (0-3, 5.73) vs Yuichiro Okano (2-1, 4.13)

NPB 2020 7-22 games and news

Buffaloes stampede through Eagles bullpen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hawks survive strong start from Martinez

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

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

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

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

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

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

Odajima pitches Marines past Lions

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

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

Naoya Masuda worked the ninth to earn his ninth save.

BayStars’ Yamasaki provides thrills in 5-5 tie

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

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

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

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

Martinez shines as Dragons stop Giants

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

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

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

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

Sands continues to rock in tie with Carp

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

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

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

Active roster moves 7/22/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/1

Central League

Activated

CarpP19Yusuke Nomura

Dectivated

BayStarsP45Michael Peoples

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP68Kanji Teraoka
BuffaloesIF2Hiroyuki Shirasaki

Dectivated

EaglesP21Yoshinao Kamata
MarinesP47Yasuhiro Tanaka
BuffaloesP39Keisuke Kobayashi

NPB 2020 7-21 games and news

Sugano shuts out Dragons

Tomoyuki Sugano (4-0) struck out 11, while allowing three singles in a 4-0 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Nagoya Dome on Tuesday. The win was the Giants’ sixth straight.

Gerardo Parra opened the scoring in the third inning. He opened the inning with a single off of Dragons right-hander Takumi Yamamoto (1-3) and scored on Yoshiyuki Kamei’s two-out single.

Yamamoto left the bases loaded by getting cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto to ground out, but surrendered a leadoff home run to Takumi Oshiro in the fourth and a two-out, two-run shot to Okamoto in the fifth. It was Okamoto’s 10th of the season.

Sugano surrendered a leadoff single and a no-out walk in the first, but was virtually untouchable after that working batters over with his fastball, cutter and slider.

Yamamoto allowed four runs over 4-2/3 innings on eight hits and two walks. He struck out seven.

Swallows’ Hara beats BayStars in season debut

Yakult Swallows right-hander Juri Hara (1-0) overcame a rough first inning to earn his first win in a 6-4 victory over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

After Norichika Aoki put the visitors up 2-0 with a home run off right-hander Michael Peoples (0-1), Takayuki Kajitani homered to open the bottom of the first.

Neftali Soto walked and Jose Lopez singled to put two on with no out, but Hara retired the next two batters before Tatsuhiro Shibata singled home two. With a 3-2 lead, Peoples fashioned three scoreless innings before the Swallows got to him in the fifth.

Back-to-back singles by Tomotaka Sakaguchi and Tetsuto Yamada were followed by doubles from Aoki and Munetaka Murakami. Edwin Escobar added a sac fly that made it 6-3.

Scott McGough allowed a run in the sixth, but 21-year-old Yugo Umeno and 23-year-old Noboru Shimizu added scoreless innings, as did journeyman closer Taishi Ishiyama, who recorded his fifth save.

Peoples was tagged for six runs on six hits and four walks.He struck out three. Edwin Escobar, who worked the eighth for the BayStars, surrendered a leadoff single before getting his cousin, Swallows shortstop Alcides Escobar, to ground into a double play.

Sands, Tigers batter Carp

Jerry Sands and three Hanshin Tigers teammates each drove in two runs in a 9-4 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Koshien Stadium outside Osaka.

Sands, who played in the majors for the Los Angeles Dodgers and led South Korea’s Korea Baseball Organization in RBIs last year, was in his second game in the No. 3 hole. His first-inning homer off right-hander Allen Kuri (1-2) tied it 1-1.

Kento Itohara hit a two-run homer for the Tigers in the third, and Sands singled in starting pitcher Takumi Akiyama, who had doubled to open the inning.

Akiyama allowed four runs on a walk and seven hits while striking out five.

Tigers first baseman Justin Bour remained out of the lineup for the second-straight game with strained right glutes.

Sugiura outpitches Senga in Fighters’ win

Right-hander Toshihiro Sugiura, who was principally employed as a short starter last season, allowed a run over six innings to earn the win as the Nippon Ham Fighters came from behind to beat Kodai Senga and the SoftBank Hawks 2-1 at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Sugiura (2-1) made 14 starts last season but only amassed 65 innings. On Tuesday, he walked two and allowed five hits, including a solo home run to Wladimir Balentien, while striking out four.

Trailing 1-0, Sugiura retired his final batter by striking out Balentien with two on in the sixth with a nasty splitter.

Senga (2-1) walked three, hit a batter and allowed six hits over 6-2/3 innings.

The Fighters tied it in the seventh on doubles by Toshitake Yokoo and Haruki Nishikawa. Senga left after allowing a single to right-handed-hitting Taishi Ota. Left-hander Shinya Kayama gave up the go-ahead run, when Kensuke Kondo singled on a 1-1 slider.

Katsuhiko Kumon allowed two runners in a scoreless seventh for the Fighters. Veteran lefty Naoki Miyanishi worked the eighth, starting with an impressive strikeout of slugger Yuki Yanagita.

With a 3-2 count, Yanagita appeared to be looking for one of Miyanishi’s bread-and-butter low-and-away sliders, but got fastballs instead. He managed to foul off two before swinging under a third.

Fighters closer Ryo Akiyoshi, who struggled in two of his last three games, worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his fifth save.

Buffaloes snap losing streak against Eagles

Orix catcher Kenya Wakatsuki hit a sixth-inning grand slam and the Buffaloes came from two runs down to beat the Rakuten Eagles 10-3 in a rain-shortened game at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi that was called in the top of the eighth.

Lefty Andrew Albers (2-2) allowed two runs on five hits while striking out one to earn the win for Orix. He gave up the game’s first run on a Jabari Blash solo homer in the second.

Adam Jones, dropped to the Buffaloes’ No. 6 slot, singled with one out in the sixth when his chopper to third evaded Daichi Suzuki’s stab. A single by rookie Ryo Ota and a walk by Ryoichi Adachi loaded them for Wakatsuki, who homered off a 1-2 changeup from Taiwan right-hander Sung Chia-hao (0-1).

Lions Marines

Corey Spangenberg had three hits and drove in three runs as the Seibu Lions came from behind to beat the Lotte Marines 8-3 at MetLife Dome in Saitama Prefecture.

Lions right-hander Tatsuya Imai (2-3) gave up three runs over five innings but was able to earn the win after Seibu took the lead in a three-run fifth against Manabu Mima (2-2).

Through four innings, the Lions could manage only one base runner against Mima, Takeya Nakamura’s fourth home run of the year in the second. But an infield single by Tomoya Mori, a single off the wall in center by Nakamura, and a walk to Takumi Kuriyama loaded the bases.

Spangenberg then smashed a first-pitch fastball from Mima past first base to tie it. A sacrifice bunt and a sac fly to deep right by Shohei Suzuki put the Lions ahead for good, and the Lions bullpen allowed just three runners to reach the rest of the way.

The Marines opened the scoring in the first when Leonys Martin’s fly fell for a double as Spangenberg in left and Suzuki couldn’t decide who would catch it. and scored on a single by rookie Hisanori Yasuda that nearly took off Imai’s head. Yudai Fujioka drove in single runs in the second with a booming double, and in the fourth with a broken-bat single to make it 3-1.

Active roster moves 7/21/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/31

Central League

Activated

BayStarsP45Michael Peoples
DragonsP14Keisuke Tanimoto
SwallowsP16Juri Hara

Dectivated

DragonsIF9Shun Ishikawa

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesOF46Ko Shimozuru
MarinesP28Takahiro Matsunaga
FightersP57Toshihiro Sugiura
BuffaloesOF25Ryo Nishimura

Dectivated

None

NPB’s salary structure

Japan doesn’t have a CBA, but it does have a charter, the “Pro Yakyu Kyoyaku,” approved by the 12 teams, that establishes its operating rules. Japan’s players’ union has the right — thanks to Japan’s fairly liberal labor laws — as opposed to its often draconian labor customs — to approve changes to their working conditions.

Years ago, former NPB star Leon Lee grumbled how hard it was in his then job as a scout for the Chicago Cubs to sign hungry Japanese players, and a large reason for that, he said, are the good working conditions of Japanese pro ballplayers — even those who are not yet ready for action at the top level.

Taking care of the kids

There are three tiers of NPB players. The lowest are on developmental  or “ikusei” contracts. These have a minimum salary of 2.4 million yen ($21,000) a year, cannot be activated to play in first-team Pacific and Central league games but can play in official minor league games in the Eastern and Western leagues. These players do not count against each team’s 70-man organizational roster.

They can, however, be signed to a uniform NPB contract with a 4.4 million yen ($40,000) minimum salary, where they can be activated to the first team, but do count against the 70-man roster, and can only be reserved as developmental players for three years.

Each team can also have up to 29 players on its first team active roster – although only 25 are game usable on any given day. These players’ salary – if under 14.3 million yen ($128,000) are raised to that amount every day they are on the active roster. In 2020, that goes up to 16 million yen ($144,000).

In addition to their living wages, young players have access to room and board at team dormitories, weight rooms and training facilities.

No need to sugar coat it

The Nippon Ham Fighters easily secured the negotiating rights to Shohei Ohtani at NPB’s 2012 amateur draft because the 11 other teams assumed he would sign his first pro contract with a major league team.

So five years before a host of MLB teams mapped out plans to secure Ohtani’s services, the Fighters did the same. A huge part of that was an explanation of what it meant to sign a minor league contract with a major league team, the pay, the working conditions and the cultural difficulties. The club also pointed out the relatively poor record of Japanese athletes who had turned pro overseas.

The Fighters approach, which included an opportunity to pitch and hit, and supposedly an offer to be made available to the majors via the posting system, eventually swayed him.

For a young Japanese player of exceptional talent, the advantages of turning pro here are numerous, since you can make a side deal with

The Japanese way

In MLB, minor league salaries and major league minimums are strictly monitored to make sure clubs don’t engage in private deals that would violate the terms of the CBA that limit the bargaining power of amateurs.

Japan has similar rules for first-year players, but after that teams can pay their players whatever they like. First-year players coming out of the draft are limited to:

  • 100 million yen signing bonus ($900,000) *
  • 50 million yen in incentives *
  • 16 million yen in salary

*-The signing bonus and incentive caps are limits agreed to by the teams that have not been formally added to the baseball charter and thus are not technically “rules.”

Until recently, it was customary for teams to exceed the signing bonus limits by paying cash under the table. In 2006, then Lotte Marines manager Bobby Valentine hit out at teams violating these “guidelines.” Shigeru Murata, then secretary general of the Pacific League estimated at the average first-round draft pick in NPB was getting in the neighborhood of $2.5 million under the table.

See also “NPB under the table.”

Players ineligible to enter through the draft, primarily foreign nationals who have not played amateur ball in Japan, have no salary restrictions. This allowed the SoftBank Hawks to sign Carter Stewart Jr to a six-year $6 million deal last summer.

Under-the-table deals and private personal-service contracts are how NPB teams do business with players. These can even include a promise to be posted to the big leagues in the future. All multiyear deals follow this pattern in that they only specify the ways in which the official salaries will be calculated in future one-year official contracts filed with NPB.

The sky’s the limit

Once players are under contract, however, the teams are allowed to raise their salaries as much as possible. This being Japan, teams are expected to reward big seasons by players on one-year contracts with large pay raises and no one asks questions.

The Central League’s 2019 rookie of the year, slugging first baseman Munetaka Murakami, entered last season under the first-team minimum, making 8 million yen ($72,000). His 2020 salary has been reported at 45 million ($405,000), well more than double the first-team minimum.

— For another take on this phenomenon, see “Marvin Miller’s legacy and Japan.”

The only limitations on salaries have to do with pay cuts and minimum salaries.

Players earning 100 million yen ($900,000) can be forced to take pay cuts up to 25 percent, while those earning more than 100 million yen can be forced to accept 40 percent pay cuts. Players offered pay cuts in excess of those figures can opt to be released so they can sign with another team.

NPB games, news of Sept. 16, 2019

Well-prepared Marines grind down Lions

After a pair of embarrassing extra-inning walk-off losses due to poor play in their outfield, the Lotte Marines on Monday simply looked better prepared than the Seibu Lions as they salvaged the finale of their series at MetLife Dome with a 9-3 win.

Riding a high after taking over the Pacific League lead the day before and seeing their magic number to clinch a second-straight pennant drop to nine, the Lions simply could not keep up.

Ayumu Ishikawa (7-5), whose career went downhill after he was selected for Japan’s team to the 2017 World Baseball Classic, barely outpitched Lions starter Keisuke Honda, but with his teammates putting on a clinic in disciplined hitting, that’s all he needed to win his third-straight start.

Ishikawa allowed three runs over seven innings on the road against Japan’s No. 1 offense. He gave up eight hits and issued three walks while striking out seven.

The Lions opened the scoring in the second on back-to-back no-out singles by Takeya Nakamura and Shuta Tonosaki on a pair of bad pitches, and a two-run Hotaka Yamakawa double off a 0-1 fastball that was low and straight. But the right-hander got the next three Lions to chase out of the zone.

Ishikawa repeated the feat in the fourth, with three-straight strikeouts after Tonosaki led off with a double.

Keisuke Honda (6-6) gave the Lions a solid start, holding the visitors scoreless through four innings. With one out in the fifth, he hung a first-pitch slider and light-hitting Yudai Fujioka pulled it out to right for his second home run of the season.

The Marines had been having good at-bats against Honda and crushed him in the sixth by swinging at every pitch he threw in the strike zone.

Leonys Martin hammered a hanging 1-0 changeup for a leadoff single. Honda hung a first-pitch slider to Seiya Inoue who doubled to left. Katsuya Kakunaka loaded the bases with a walk in a super at-bat in which he laid off or spoiled tough pitches. Ikuhiro Kiyota, who saw 14 pitches in his first two at-bats against Honda, put a nice compact swing on an inside 1-1 fastball and smashed it past third to tie the game.

Tatsuhiro Tamura then put the visitors in front with a good swing on a first-pitch low-and-away slider to drive in two. Honda was yanked, but lefty Shogo Noda allowed both inherited runners to score and was charged with another.

Despite their defeat, the Hawks’ loss in Hokkaido dropped the Lions’ magic number to eight. The Lions have eight games remaining, the Hawks nine. This game marked the last time any of the PL’s top three teams will play each other during the regular season.

Game highlights are HERE.

Fighters 7, Hawks 2, 8 innings, rain

At Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Chihiro Kaneko (7-7) allowed a run through six innings, while Nippon Ham scored three off SoftBank starter Ariel Miranda (7-5) in 3-1/3 innings.

Game highlights are HERE.

Eagles 8, Buffaloes 2

At Kyocera Dome, Rakuten got to Andrew Albers (2-5) for four runs, three in the fifth inning, while Takayuki Kishi (7-7) worked seven innings to get the win against Orix. The victory kept the Eagles one game back of Lotte in the race for the PL’s final playoff spot.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Tigers 2, Giants 1

At Tokyo Dome, Onelki Garcia (3-8) allowed a run over 5-1/3 innings and four relievers completed a five-hitter as Hanshin outlasted Yomiuri. Kyuji Fujikawa walked a batter in the ninth but converted his 12th straight save opportunity.

My recent interview with Fujikawa is HERE.

After the game, Tigers skipper Akihiro Yano said, “Strong relief pitching is our trademark, but we sure could use an insurance run sometimes.”

The Giants’ magic number to clinch the pennant dropped to four thanks to the DeNA BayStars’ loss in Nagoya.

Game highlights are HERE.

Dragons 8, BayStars 1

At Nagoya Dome, diminutive 19-year-old right-hander Takumi Yamamoto (3-3) threw seven scoreless innings as Chunichi clobbered DeNA in a bullpen day for the BayStars.

Swallows 6, Carp 4

At Mazda Stadium, 19-year-old Munetaka Murakami homered twice, bringing his record total for a teenager in Japan to 35 as Yakult hit four home runs in a win over Hiroshima’s best pitcher, Daichi Osera (11-9), who gave up five runs, four earned, over six innings.