Justin Smoak has agreed to contract terms with the Yomiuri Giants, the two-time defending champs of Japan’s Central League announced Thursday. The contract is reportedly a two-year deal worth $3 million a year.
The Giants who in 2020 failed to win Japan’s pro baseball championship for a franchise-record eighth-straight year, have now brought in the 34-year-old switch-hitting first baseman Smoak, and proven slugging corner outfielder-first baseman Eric Thames.
Smoak is coming off a truly awful 36-game 2020 season in which he hit for decent power and struck out a lot but that was a small sample. The Giants are gambling he’ll revert to something like his major league career .322 OBP and .419 slug at home run-friendly Tokyo Dome, but $6 million seems a lot for that kind of production.
The acquisition will probably mean more time behind the plate for hard-hitting catcher Takumi Oshiro.
The Pacific League champion SoftBank Hawks said Thursday they have agreed to terms with 30-year-old right-hander Colin Rea while negotiations to re-sign lefty Matt Moore are not progressing as hoped Hochi Shimbun reported.
According to the Hawks, the 1.96-meter Rae has a 153-kph fastball he supplements with a curve, slider and change.
The Hawks wanted to re-sign Moore and were unable to reserve him, while they also non-tendered veteran right-hander Rick van den Hurk.
“He put up solid numbers in Triple A, and I’ve heard he has a strong desire to play in Japan. As he adapts to the different culture and playing syle here, that would be a plus,” Hochi quoted Hawks GM Sugihiko Mikasa as saying.
Swallows Murakami latest to test positive
Yakult Swallows first baseman Munetaka Murakami, the CL’s 2019 rookie of the year, and last year’s Best Nine winner at age 20, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the club announced Thursday.
Five players who had been in close contact with Murakami, including veteran outfielder Norichika Aoki, have all tested negative.
Murakami is the latest in what has been a daily reporting of new cases as Japan announced a new state of emergency for Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures. On Thursday, Tokyo announced 2,000 new infections for the first time.
On Wednesday, Hanshin Tigers pitcher Minoru Iwata‘s infection was announced, while Lotte Marines’ pitcher Ayumu Ishikawa was named on Tuesday.
Sumo grand champion Hakuho has also contracted the virus and has been hospitalized.
Retiring player-coach Naoto Watanabe got a heck of a send-off from fellow former Lion Takayuki Kishi (7-0) as the Rakuten Eagles beat Seibu 4-2 at Sendai’s Rakuten Semei Park Miyagi.
The Lions fell back into a tie for second and the Pacific League’s final playoff spot with the Lotte Marines. Both teams have three games remaining, with the Lions holding the advantage in a tie-breaker.
Watanabe who spent five seasons with the Lions from 2013 to 2017 before returning to Sendai where he began his career in 2007, the same year Kishi debuted as a rookie with the Lions and finished a distant runner-up in the rookie of the year voting to Masahiro Tanaka.
Batting leadoff and starting at DH, the 40-year-old Watanabe doubled, scored the game’s first run, singled and took over at shortstop in the ninth inning, where he helped Kishi out of a jam by starting a double play and earned a standing ovation from the home crowd.
“I wanted to stay in the game long enough for Naoto to take the field on defense,” said Kishi said, who struck out 11 over the distance.
Lions rookie Shota Hamaya (3-3) allowed all four runs to suffer the loss.
Buffaloes sock it to rookie Kawano
The Orix Buffaloes tagged Nippon Ham Fighters rookie Ryusei Kawano (3-5) for four runs, three earned, over six innings in a 4-3 win at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome between the PL’s bottom-two clubs.
Orix’s first draft pick last autumn, 19-year-old Hiroya Miyagi (1-1) allowed three runs, two earned, over five innings to earn his first career win. Twenty-three-year-old righty Yu Suzuki, who showed some tremendous stuff if inconsistent command in his first real playing time this season, earned his first save.
Swallows spoil Yoshimi’s exit
Taishi HIrooka homered and squeezed in a run in the 10th inning as the Yakult Swallows outlasted the Chunichi Dragons 5-4 at Nagoya Dome that was the last for former ace Kazuki Yoshimi.
The 36-year-old right-hander who went 69-26 over a five-year stretch from 2008 to 2012, was limited by injury over his last eight seasons. He started Friday’s game with a strikeout before turning the ball over to rookie Yariel Rodriguez, who surrendered three runs through 4-2/3 innings.
Scott McGough (4-1) worked a scoreless ninth, and slugger Munetaka Murakami doubled to lead off the 10th with a drive near the top of the wall in dead center and scored on Hirooka’s safety squeeze. Swallows closer Taichi Ishiyama recorded his 19th save.
Active roster moves 11/6/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/16
Things went south in a hurry for Nao Higashihama, and the Lotte Marines exploited their advantage to pick up a crucial 6-1 win over the SoftBank Hawks on Thursday at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium to stay in the Pacific League playoff picture.
Higashihama (9-2) needed two big plays from Yusuke Masago. The Hawks center fielder saved two runs by making a catch against the wall in the second inning, but couldn’t quite haul in Hisanori Yasuda’s two-out fifth-inning fly to the gap in left.
The Marines came from a run down in the inning after Seiya Inoue, who was robbed by Masago in the second, got justice with a one-out broken-bat single. With first baseman Kenji Akashi holding the big Marine at first, Yudai Fujioka bounced one over his head to put two on. With two outs, a decent 0-2 fastball drifted into the heart of the zone, and the rookie Yasuda put a good swing on it, driving it to left center. Masago came up short and the ball bounced to the wall. Fujioka, who had to hesitate on the play scored on a close play at the plate.
Trailing 2-1 in the sixth, Higashihama gave up a one-out single and three two-out walks.
Manabu Mima (10-4) allowed an unearned run in the third. With two on and two outs, he gloved a liner from Yuki Yanagita but lost control of the ball. He retrieved it and threw wide to first, scoring the Hawks’ only run of the game. With the tying run at the plate in the form of slugger Alfredo Despaigne, Hirokazu Sawamura came in and struck out the big Cuban on four straight splitters. The Marines’ lucky two-run fifth snapped a 28-scoreless-inning streak since Lotte scratched him for a run in the Hawks’ 5-1 win on Oct. 10.
Eagles ride late rally
Thirty-two-year-old veteran Ginji Akaminai and rookie Hiroto Kobukata each doubled in a ninth-inning run off Taiwan right-hander Chang-Yi (2-4) as the Rakuten Eagles broke up a 2-2 tie to beat the Orix Buffaloes 4-2 at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
Former Padre Kazuhisa Makita (2-2) earned the win, and lefty Yuki Matsui earned his second save as he transitions back to the bullpen after spending the first half of the season transitioning to the starting rotation. Longtime starter Wataru Karashima, who spent the first half of the season in the bullpen, allowed two runs over seven innings in which he struck out 10, walked one and allowed five hits.
Ono earns Dragons an ‘A’
Sawamura Award winner in waiting Yudai Ono (11-6) struck out seven and walked one over seven innings to pitch the Chunichi Dragons to a 2-0 win over the DeNA BayStars at Nagoya Dome. The win clinched the Dragons’ first top-three “A-class” finish since 2012.
That 2012 second-place finish came under the late Morimichi Takagi in the first year after the club fired their best manager ever, Hiromitsu Ochiai, for not being fan friendly, and three years after the team’s parent company began cutting spending in the wake of the downturn in Japan’s newspaper business.
Ono leads the CL with a 1.82 ERA, 148 strikeouts, 10 complete games, six shutouts and 148-2/3 innings.
Speedy Murakami swipes 3 in 1 inning
Munetaka Murakami raised his career stolen base total to 16 with three in the second inning of the Yakult Swallows’ 8-7 loss to the Hanshin Tigers.
The steals came in his 265th career game, as he became the 17th player in Japan to manage the feat. The 20-year-old cleanup hitter singled, took second on the next pitch, stole third as part of a double steal. He stole home when the Tigers tried to pick off his teammate at second.
The feat hadn’t occurred in the CL since 1953. It last happened in Japan when Nippon Ham’s Makoto Shimada did it in 1979.
The Tigers overcame a seven-run implosion by right-hander Yuki Nishi.
Chono leads Carp, Sakamoto inches closer
Former Giant Hisayoshi Chono hit his 10th home run and set up the winning run with a 10th-inning leadoff single as the Hiroshima Carp came from behind to beat Yomiuri 5-4 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto belted his 18th home run in the sixth inning. The two-run shot tied it 2-2 and moved Sakamoto within two hits of 2,000 for his career.
Government slams ‘Tazawa Rule’
Japan’s government announced Thursday that it was a day late and a dollar short. According to the Mainichi Shimbun, the fair trade commission said it suspected Nippon Professional Baseball’s Tazawa Rule was a violation of Japan’s antimonopoly act.
NPB gave up on the rule this summer, and the FTC said it has dropped its investigation. The biggest surprise is less that the FTC dropped its inquiry than the realization that Japan actually has an antimonopoly law.
The rule in question was created in 2008 in the days before Tazawa, a top amateur prospect with corporate club Japan Energy, signed with the Boston Red Sox. The rule was aimed at players who turned pro overseas, and prohibited Japanese clubs from signing them after they returned to Japan for a period of two-to-three years.
The whole thing was riddled with irony, no less because the rule was put into place about the same time that lefty reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi was named Central League rookie of the year. Yamaguchi had turned pro in the United States, where he played rookie ball in Missoula, Montana.
The rule may have influenced high school pitchers Yusei Kikuchi and Shohei Ohtani as they chose to remain in Japan after declaring their intent to go overseas.
NPB did away with the Tazawa rule this summer when he returned to Japan and joined the Musashino Heat Bears of the independent Baseball Challenge League.
In retrospect, the rule negatively impacted Tazawa and NPB, while limiting the options of two other players who were keen on turning pro with a major league club, Yusei Kikuchi and Shohei Ohtani.
The rule prevented Tazawa from choosing to enter NPB’s 2019 draft rather than accept a camp invite with the Cincinnati Reds. It also prevented Japan from selecting him in the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classic.
The 2013 squad, Japan’s first not to reach the final, was prohibited from selecting Tazawa, despite both head coach Masataka Nashida and pitching coach Tsuyoshi Yoshida saying how useful his participation would have been.
By getting rid of the rule, it made Tazawa eligible to be drafted last October, but no teams even took a flyer on him–a common practice when a player has broken one of the owners’ unwritten rules. Players of known quality who leave their teams in contract disputes have historically been ignored.
Martin re-enlists with Marines
Outfielder Leonys Martin, who is currently out with an ankle sprain and is expected to miss most or all of the postseason if the Lotte Marines qualify, has agreed to a two-year extension, ESPN’s Enrique Rojas has reported.
The deal according to Rojas is worth $6 million. The 32-year-old joined Lotte just before last year’s July 31 new-signing deadline joined Lotte just before last year’s July 31 new-signing deadline. Since then, he has made a big contribution with his powerful arm and his home run pop.
Although his numbers have been remarkably consistent since he arrived, his on-base percentage has jumped in 2020 because he is leading both of Japan’s leagues in being hit by pitches with 17, in 448 plate appearances.
Active roster moves 11/5/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/15
Reliever Hiromu Ise (3-0) helped delay the Yomiuri Giants final push toward their second straight Central League pennant on Wednesday when he got league-home run leader Kazuma Okamoto to hit into a double play, allowing the DeNA BayStars to pull out a 10-6 win at Yokohama Stadium.
The result kept the Giants from lowering their magic number to one following a loss by the second-place Chunichi Dragons. To clinch on Thursday, the Giants will need to win and the Hanshin Tigers will need to come out on top in what could be a great pitchers’ duel between Yudai Ono (10-5) and Yuki Nishi (10-5).
Okamoto, whose 27th home run, a three-run third-inning shot, tied the game 4-4 came up in the fifth with no outs, the bases loaded and the BayStars leding 8-4. But Ise got him to ground to third. A run scored as Okamoto beat the throw to first that would have completed a triple play.
Tyler Austin and Neftali Soto each had two hits for the BayStars, with Soto’s two-run double highlighting a four-run first. Spencer Patton worked an inning of scoreless relief for the hosts.
Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto went 1-for-2 with a walk and a sac fly to move within seven of Japan’s iconic 2,000-hit milestone.
The BayStars’ Jose Lopez went 0-for-4 with a walk to remain four hits shy of becoming the first imported player with 1,000-plus hits in both MLB and NPB. Two Japanese players, Ichiro Suzuki, and Hideki Matsui, have accomplished the feat.
Fujinami overcomes shaky start
Shintaro Fujinami, making his first start since Sept. 13, cruised after leaving the bases loaded in a one-run first inning and left after four innings in the Hanshin Tigers 9-1 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Koshien Stadium.
Fujinami, once considered the top pitching prospect in a draft class that included Shohei Ohtani, is only now rebuilding his career after a four-year skid. At the end of September, he was put into middle relief, and was impressive.
“He was good in that role,” manager Akihiro Yano said according to Sponichi Annex. “So I thought about keeping him there, but I also wanted to see him start once. Now I want him to start next time.”
Fujinami issued a bases-loaded walk in the first inning after he lost a good-looking third strike on an umpire’s call, but retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced and notched six strikeouts.
Jerry Sands singled and scored the tying run for the Tigers in the sevond, and Jefry Marte doubled in a run and scored in the fifth, and delivered a seventh-inning sacrifice fly. Jon Edwards worked a scoreless inning for the Tigers.
Carp withstand Murakami homers
Atsushi Endo (4-6) allowed a run over seven innings and the Hiroshima Carp scored three runs in the first off lefty Masanori Ishikawa (2-8) in a 3-2 win over the Yakult Swallows at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Munetaka Murakami moved into a tie for second place in the race for the CL home run title with his 25th and 26th home runs, tying him with Hanshin’s Yusuke Oyama.
Geronimo Franzua recorded his 17th save.
Hawks knock off Marines
SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga (10-6) struck out 12 over eight innings in a 2-0 win on Wednesday over the Lotte Marines at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
The loss by the second-place Marines left them just one game ahead of the third-place Seibu Lions in the fight for the Pacific League’s final playoff spot after the Hawks clinched the pennant on Tuesday.
Senga allowed four hits and three walks in a 128 effort, while former major leaguer Chen Wei-yin (0-2) also went eight innings. Ryoya Kurihara opened the scoring with his 15th home run to lead off the fifth. Yurisbel Gracial doubled to open the seventh and pinch-runner Yusuke Masago scored on a Nobuhiro Matsuda single.
A day after throwing 39 pitches in a marathon ninth inning, Hawks closer Yuito Mori worked the ninth for his 29th save.
Shuto ties record 11-game stolen base streak
SoftBank’s Ukyo Shuto tied Hall of Famer Yutaka Fukumoto’s NPB record of stealing a base in 11-straight games when he broke toward second base before a pickoff throw to first by the lefty Chen and then slid in safely. Fukumoto, who played his whole career for the PL’s Hankyu Braves, set his record in 1974.
Shuto, like a number of Hawks regulars including Senga and catcher Takuya Kai, turned pro on a non-roster developmental contract. He leads both leagues in steals with 47.
Lions hold off Eagles, close on 2nd
Fumikazu Kimura homered and Takumi Kuriyama hit a two-run double off former Lions ace Hideaki Wakui (11-4) and Seibu closer Tatsushi Masuda overcame a leadoff homer in the ninth inning to close out his 31st save in a 4-3 win over the Rakuten Eagles at MetLife Dome.
The win pulled the Lions to within a game of the Marines for the second and final playoff spot and a berth in the best-of-five PL Climax Series.
Kimura opened the scoring with his seventh home run, a two-run second-inning shot, and Lions rookie Shota Hamaya (3-2) was saved a run in the fourth when first baseman Hotaka Yamakawa threw a runner out at the plate on a groundball to first. Kuriyama’s sixth-inning double off his former teammate made it 4-1 in the sixth.
VerHagen shuts out Buffaloes
Drew VerHagen (8-6) struck out 13 while allowing two hits and no walks, and catcher Shingo Usami singled home the only run in the ninth inning off Orix Buffaloes closer Brandon Dickson (0-4) in a 1-0 win at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
Buffaloes setup man Tyler Higgins struck out all three Fighters he faced in the ninth, including Kensuke Kondo and Sho Nakata, but Dickson walked two in the ninth to set up the tie-breaking run.
After being shutout in two straight games, the Orix Buffaloes finally managed to score, but 14-year veteran Yuya Hasegawa broke up a close game in the sixth inning with his first career grand slam in the SoftBank Hawks’ 9-4 win at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
The three-game sweep moved the Hawks four games clear atop the Pacific League standings ahead of the Lotte Marines, who lost 6-0 at home to the Rakuten Eagles. The Hawks have won the last three Japan Series, but haven’t won a PL pennant since 2017.
Hawks right-hander Shuta Ishikawa (8-3) was hard to hit as usual with his customary lack of command. He allowed two runs over five innings on three hits, two walks and three hit batsmen.
Akira Nakamura singled in the tie-breaking run in the sixth and Hasegawa, pinch-hitting for Wladimir Balentien, faced new pitcher Motoki Higa after Taiki Tajima (4-5) loaded the bases with one out.
Yurisbel Gracial went 3-for-4 with two runs for the Hawks, while Steven Moya went 2-for-4 with an RBI double for Orix.
Eagles close on 2nd behind Kishi shutout
Takayuki Kishi threw his first shutout in two years as the Rakuten Eagles moved to within four games of the second-place Lotte Marines with a 6-0 win at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
At the same park where in May 2014 he threw his only no-hitter while a member of the Seibu Lions, Kishi (4-0) struck out 13, one shy of his career high, set in 2018. The right-hander allowed two hits and walked one.
Good breaks and good swings put the visitors in front in a four-run second against Kazuya Ojima (7-7). Stefen Romero hit a flare off the end of the bat for a leadoff single. Kazuki Tanaka chased a pitch out of the zone but hit it well for a single. A fielders choice on a sacrifice loaded the bases with no outs.
Rookie Hiroto Kobukata lined a fastball down the pipe for a two-run double and Daichi Suzuki followed with a two-run single off his former team. Romero went 3-for-4 with two runs for the Eagles.
Double-time Kondo ravages Lions
Kensuke Kondo doubled four times, singled, scored twice and drove in four early runs in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 8-3 win over the Seibu Lions at Sapporo Dome.
The Fighters’ top two hitters, Haruki NIshikawa and Shota Hiranuma each reached in the first and second, helping the Fighters build a quick 5-0 lead against Zach Neal (4-5).
Nick Martinez (2-6) allowed three runs over six innings on three hits and three walks to earn the win. 2019 MVP Tomoya Mori accounted for all three Lions runs with a three-run, third-inning home run, his eighth.
Takahashi picks up Dragons pen
The Chunichi Dragons’ bullpen blew a lead for the first time in ages, but Shuhei Takahashi belted a three-run walk-off homer against Hanshin Tigers closer Robert Suarez (2-1) in a 5-3 win at Nagoya Dome.
After back-to-back shutout wins in the series’ first two games, Takahiro Matsuba worked five scoreless innings despite putting two men on in three of them. Yoichi Oshima singled to open the Dragons’ first and scored on a Zoilo Almonte single.
Matsuba also had two hits and contributed to one of Chunichi’s runs, when Oshima doubled in a run in the fourth to make it 2-0.
Dragons relievers Keisuke Tanimoto and Hiroto Fuku kept the Tigers scoreless through seven before Daisuke Sobue blew the lead in Hanshin’s three-run eighth. Jon Edwards worked a scoreless eighth to preserve the visitors’ only lead of the series, but things went south in the ninth.
With one out and two on, Dayan Viciedo lined out to second. Reserve second baseman Kai Ueda’s throw to double off the runner at second was wild and put the winning run at second with two outs
Suarez threw Takahashi a 1-1 159-kph fastball down the pipe, and he hit it off the end of the bat. The fly ball sliced but just stayed fair down the left-field line for an opposite-field three-run home run.
Matsuyama salvages draw for Carp
Ryuhei Matsuyama hit a Tokyo Dome special, a high opposite-field fly to the the dome’s invitingly close walls in straight-away left and right, for a two-run game-tying home run for the Hiroshima Carp in their 5-5 10-inning tie against the Yomiuri Giants.
The Carp had a golden opportunity to break the tie in the eighth but it died in a failed squeeze attempt.
Ryosuke Kikuchi, the Carp’s seven-time Golden Glove Award-winning second baseman, set a Central League record by recording 434 consecutive errorless chances.
“If you ask me, a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage is boring, since human beings make mistakes and you want to know the guy out there is human.”
–Pro Yakyu News analyst Yutaka Takagi, when asked about Kikuchi’s chances of surpassing his own single-season record for highest fielding percentage at second base.
Rookie right-hander Daiki Yoshida (2-6) allowed two runs over six innings and drove in one run with a sacrifice fly in the Yakult Swallows’ 4-3 win over the DeNA BayStars at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
Keita Sano opened the scoring in the second inning by homering for the fourth straight game, but the Swallows took the lead in the home half on Yoshida’s sac fly. The Swallows’ Munetaka Murakami hit his 22nd home run, while Takayuki Kajitani hit his 17th for DeNA.
Active roster moves 10/15/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/25
Yudai Ono (7-5) threw his second straight shutout, allowing two hits and no walks, while reaching base twice and driving in two runs in the Chunichi Dragons’ 9-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium on Wednesday.
Ono pounded the zone with his fastball kept the Tigers off balance with a two-seamer that sank and tailed away from the right-handed hitters. He didn’t get to three balls on a batter until the ninth inning. It was his first win at Koshien in
“I was able to pitch like this because the fielders made the plays they did,” Ono said.
“For the most part I’ve been able to challenge hitters in the zone, keep my pitch count from getting up around 120 or 130. Working in the zone allows me to do it (complete games).”
The win at Koshien was Ono’s first in five years and his first at an outdoor park in three.
Ono said he didn’t used to like the Koshien mound, which was notorious for being soft and low. But, like the mounds in Hiroshima, Tokyo Dome and Nagoya Dome, Koshien’s mound has been built using harder American clay bricks since last year, making it more uniform.
“The mound here didn’t use to be very good, although I didn’t have a particularly bad feeling about it,” Ono said. “I did think about that fact, and I wanted to end that streak. The team also hadn’t won here this year.”
Ono singled in the second with two outs, a flare that fell just beyond center fielder Koji Chikamoto. With two on in the fifth, he hit another little fly to center, and Chikamoto went all out to get it and missed. The ball rolled toward the fence for a two-run triple.
Veteran Ishikawa earns 1st win
Forty-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa (1- ) allowed a run over 5-2/3 innings and Munetaka Murakami belted his 19th home run, a three-run third-inning shot off Taiga Kamichatani (2-2) in the Yakult Swallows’ 5-3 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium. Taichi Ishiyama recorded his 14th save.
Kamichatani allowed five runs over three innings.
Nomura snaps Carp losing streak
Yusuke Nomura (6-2) tossed five scoreless innings despite allowing base runners in every inning, and Seiya Suzuki blasted a two-run home run as the Hiroshima Carp ended a four-game losing streak to the Yomiuri Giants with a 4-1 win at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
The Carp scored opened the scoring in the fifth inning against Kazuto Taguchi (5-4). One run scored when the pitcher was unable to start an inning-ending double play, and Seiya Suzuki reached the seats with a two-run home run two pitches later.
Giants cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto hit his league-leading 24th home run.
Ojima outduels VerHagen
The Lotte Marines moved to within winning-percentage points of first place with a 2-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome. Kazuya Ojima (6-6) throwing six scoreless innings to outduel Drew VerHagen (6-5).
Shuhei Fukuda singled in the first, stole second and broke the ice on a Leonys Martin single. Tsuyoshi Sugano doubled to open the seventh, was sacrificed to third and scored on a Yudai Fujioka squeeze.
Yuki Karakawa worked a scoreless seventh for the visitors, but Hirokazu Sawamura allowed a run on two hits and a walk in the eighth. Naoya Masuda took out the bottom of the order in the ninth to record his Japan-best 26th save.
Wakui wins 10th as Takeda implodes
Hidaki Wakui (10-3) went eight innings, while the Rakuten Eagles took batting practice against SoftBank Hawks right-hander Shota Takeda, who lost control and surrendered seven runs in one-plus inning, the briefest start of his career, in a 9-3 win at Sendai’s Rakuten Semei Park Miyagi.
Masui turns back the clock
Hirotoshi Masui (1-2) rocked his starting assignment like it was 2016, throwing six scoreless innings as the Orix Buffaloes shut out the Seibu Lions for the second straight day, 5-0 at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
In 2016, Masui was dropped from his role as the Nippon Ham Fighters’ closer and resurrected that summer as an effective starter in a patchwork rotation while Shohei Ohtani recovered from blisters that limited him to an offensive role. Masui earned his first win as a starter since 2016, despite issuing five walks.
The Buffaloes finished September with a1 13-11-2 record.
Aacting manager, Satoshi Nakajima said, “I think we’re doing well by not thinking beyond the game in front of us.”
“We didn’t start the season well, but we seem to have rallied. I want to win and build some momentum.”
Lions rookie Shota Hamaya (2-1) settled down after allowing two runs in the second and two more in the third, which Adam Jones capped with his 11th home run.
“We are not hitting that badly, but when you get shut out two days in a row, I think guys are trying to do much, trying too hard and perhaps getting a little too tight,” Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji said.
Tigers approach viral cluster status
A member of the Hanshin Tigers’ first-team staff has tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Wednesday. It is the ninth member of the organization to test positive over the past week.
The Japanese government defines any body where 10 infections occur to be a cluster. So far five players and four staff members have tested positive.
The staff member who tested positive on Tuesday did not travel with the team to Tokyo last week, and is now resting at home. On Wednesday, he reported a fever of 37.5 C.
Leonys Martin blasted another long home run, his 24th, with two outs in the ninth off Ryo Akiyoshi to score an insurance run that came in handy after Marine closer Naoya Masuda surrendered a run in the home half on three singles.
Tigers add 2 lefties from “D” roster
The Hansin Tigers signed two players from the developmental roster on Wednesday, the deadline for making non-waiver roster additions. The two were 26-year-old lefty Yuya Yokoyama, the Tigers’ injury plagued 2014 top draft pick, and 25-year-old southpaw Masaki Ishii, whom they took in the first round of the 2017 developmental draft.
Yokoyama is 2-2 in 13 Western League games this season, having allowed five home runs and 19 walks over 47 innings while striking out 22.
Ishii has struck out 10 batters in 17 innings, while walking seven. He has not allowed a home run.
Active roster moves 9/30/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/10