Tag Archives: Neftali Soto

NPB 2020 Oct. 14

Wednesday’s games

Other news

Ono hangs on for 5th shutout

Yudai Ono (9-5) returned to his complete-game victory fixation on Wednesday with his fifth shutout of the season as the lefty pitched out of a ninth-inning jam in the Chunichi Dragons’ 3-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Nagoya Dome.

The win lifted the Dragons into second place in the Central League at two games above .500 despite being outscored this season 396 to 356. Second place is largely symbolic as the Yomiuri Giants run away with the pennant and no possibility of advancing to the Japan Series since the CL has canceled its playoffs this year.

Ono struck out seven and walked one. He allowed two-out singles to Yusuke Oyama and Justin Bour in the ninth.

Tigers submarine right-hander Koyo Aoyagi (6-8) allowed three runs over seven innings to take the loss. Dayan Viciedo singled and scored in the second for the Dragons, and Zoilo Almonte singled in a run in the third.

Ono has now worked 36 consecutive scoreless innings. The Japan record is 64-1/3 by Hall of Famer Masaichi Kaneda, who accomplished the feat in 1958 with the Kokutetsu Swallows.

The lefty’s nine complete games are the most in Japan since Tomoyuki Sugano had 10 in 2018, when he won his second consecutive Sawamura Award, although eight of those were shutouts, which may be hard for Ono to match in this shortened season.

Masahiro Tanaka was the last pitcher in Japan with more than 10 complete games, when he had 14 in 2011.

Yudai Ono seals his shutout with a nice play from the mound.

Giants trim magic number to 9

Yuki Takahashi (1-0) allowed a run over five innings and tripled in the tie-breaking run in the second as the Yomiuri Giants beat the Hiroshima Carp 6-1 at Tokyo Dome.

Although the outfield was playing the pitcher shallow, Takahashi got some distance on his drive to the gap.

The win, combined with the Tigers’ loss, dropped the Giants’ magic number to clinch the pennant to nine.

Giants-Carp highlights

BayStars bash Swallows

The DeNA BayStars bashed out nine runs over the first six innings and then had to call on closer Kazuki Mishima after Naomichi Nishiura’s second homer of the game made it close in the eighth inning of their 9-6 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

BayStars starter Yuya Sakamoto (4-1) held the Swallows to a run over five innings, while 40-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa (1-7) allowed five runs over five. Mishima earned his 14th save.

Tyler Austin had three hits and two RBIs for the visitors, while Neftali Soto scored twice. Toshiro Miyazaki drove in three runs on three singles and Keita Sano homered for the third straight game.

Wakui outpitches Chen

Chen Wei-yin’s return to Japanese pro ball was impressive until a belt-high center-cut fastball to Hideto Asamura put the Rakuten Eagles in front in their 4-1 win over Chen’s new team, the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Hideaki Wakui (11-3) appeared to lose his footing on the mound on his first pitch, a 143-kph fastball down the middle to rookie Kyota Fujiwara who looked like he was geared up for a first-pitch fastball because he really hammered it for his first career home run.

Asamura singled and scored the tying run in the fourth on a Stefen Romero sacrifice fly and blasted his 31st home run in the sixth, driving it well back in the left-field stands for a 2-1 lead.

Chen allowed two runs over six innings, while Wakui went seven. Lefty Yuki Matsui worked a scoreless eighth and Alan Busenitz did the same in the ninth for his 18th save.

Senga strikes out 10

SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga (8-6) struck out 10 over six innings to earn the win in a 4-0 victory over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome that was scoreless through six innings.

Lefty Sachiya Yamasaki (4-5) surrendered a leadoff double to Ryoya Kurihara in the seventh. He scored on a wild pitch, and three two-out walks loaded the bases for Yuki Yanagita, who delivered a three-run double.

It was the Buffaloes’ second straight shutout loss. The win lifted SoftBank three games clear of the second-place Marines.

VerHagen shuts down Lions

Drew VerHagen (7-5) struck out 10 over eight scoreless innings as the Nippon Ham Fighters took advantage of nine walks in a 7-2 win over the Seibu Lions at Sapporo Dome.

VerHagen allowed three hits and walked two to earn his first winsince he last threw eight shutout innings to beat the Rakuten Eagles on Sept. 14.

Taishi Ota hit a two-run first-inning home run off rookie Shota Hamaya (2-2).

Active roster moves 10/14/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/24

Central League

Activated

TigersIF33Kento Itohara
TigersOF32Kota Inoue

Dectivated

TigersP29Haruto Takahashi
TigersIF2Fumiya Hojo
TigersOF9Shun Takayama

Pacific League

Activated

MarinesP58Chen Wei-yin
BuffaloesP11Sachiya Yamasaki
BuffaloesIF0Shoki Katsumata

Dectivated

MarinesP41Kakeru Narita
BuffaloesOF99Yutaro Sugimoto

Starting pitchers for Oct. 15, 2020

Pacific League

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

Nick Martinez (1-6, 4.58) vs Zach Neal (4-6, 4.78)

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

Kazuya Ojima (7-6, 3.28) vs Takayuki Kishi (3-0, 4.72)

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

Daiki Tajima (4-4, 3.67) vs Shuta Ishikawa (7-3, 2.58)

Central League

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

Angel Sanchez (7-3, 2.92) vs Yusuke Nomura (6-3, 4.59)

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

Daiki Yoshida (1-6, 5.01) vs Kentaro Taira (3-3, 2.57)

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

Takahiro Matsuba (3-6, 3.92) vs Minoru Iwata (1-1, 4.41)

NPB 2020 Oct. 10

Saturday’s games

Other news

Higashihama mows down Marines

SoftBank Hawks Opening Day starter Nao Higashihama (7-1) allowed a run over eight innings in a 5-1 win over the Lotte Marines on Saturday at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome that kept his team atop the Pacific League standings.

The win was SoftBank’s fifth in16 tries this season against their nemeses, who pulled into a virtual tie with a 3-1 win on Friday.

Higashihama gave up three hits and three walks while striking out eight. Rookie Kazuki Sugiyama pitched around a pair of one-out singles in the ninth to close it out.

Keizo Kawashima opened SoftBank’s account in the second with a one-out single off rookie lefty Toshiya Nakamura (2-5). He scored on a Nobuhiro Matsuda double, and Ryoya Kurihara capped the inning with his 14th home run.

The Marines changed pitchers in the third, with rookie Takuro Furuya making his first-team debut. The right-hander issued a one-out walk to Akira Nakamura. A wild pitch and a Yuki Yanagita single made it 4-0.

A base-running out by Matsuda allowed Furuya to work around a single and three straight walks in the fourth. The Marines got their lone run in the sixth on a Kenji Nishimaki double and a Kyota Fujiwara single. Both were called up Tuesday, when the Marines switched out 11 players following a series of coronavirus infections.

Yurisbel Gracial completed the scoring in the seventh with his ninth home run.

Arihara throws 1st shutout

Nippon Ham Fighters ace Kohei Arihara (6-8) did everything right in his six-hitter except get Pacific League batting leader Masataka Yoshida out in a 4-0 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Sapporo Dome.

Yoshida went 3-for-4 with a double to raise his average to .354, but his teammates couldn’t solve the right-handed Arihara.

“Their hitters came in ready to swing at the first pitch and I used that to my advantage,” said Arihara, who walked two and struck out six.

Buffaloes right-hander Taisuke Yamaoka (2-4) allowed three runs over six innings on six hits, a walk and a hit batsman but got zero run support for the second straight outing. He gave up a one-out solo homer to Ryo Watanabe in the second and two more runs in the sixth before making his exit.

“I was the one who allowed the first run. And that was the ballgame,” said Yamaoka.

Hatake silences Dragons

Yomiuri Giants right-hander Seishu Hatake extended a pre-game moment of silence at Nagoya Dome, muting the Chunichi Dragons’ offense for seven innings in a 7-1 win.

With the home team wearing the No. 88 of late Dragons manager and Hall of Fame second baseman Morimichi Takagi, who passed away in January, a moment of silence was observed in his memory.

Hatake (3-3) overcame an awkward start as he worked seven scoreless innings after allowing five this and three walks. Dragons starter Yariel Rodriguez (2-4) kept the Giants in check until the wheels fell off in a four-run fifth.

Rodriguez, who had impressed in his first two outings this season against the Giants, allowed a second-inning run on a Yoshihiro Maru single and a Zelous Wheeler double.

The right-hander struck out the side in the third and fourth before Wheeler singled to open the fifth. Wheeler was caught stealing for the second out on a busted run-and-hit, but Gerardo Parra followed with the first of five straight hits.

Wheeler homered in the sixth, while Zoilo Almonte cashed in the Dragons’ only run with an eighth-inning RBI single.

Austin, Soto overpower Tigers

Tyler Austin hit his 16th home run and Neftali Soto continued to climb back into the home race with his 20th and 21st homers as the DeNA BayStars overcame an early two-run deficit to beat the Hanshin Tigers 5-3 at Koshien Stadium.

Tigers starter Joe Gunkel (1-4) allowed four runs, three earned, on nine hits over six innings. He struck out four without a walk.

Austin homered in the third and Soto went deep in the fourth to make it a 2-2 game. Hanshin’s Yusuke Oyama singled in his second run of the game in the bottom of the fourth to retake the lead for the Tigers. Austin re-tied it in the fifth with an RBI single, Soto homered in the sixth and Austin singled in another run in the seventh.

Rookie Hiromu Ise (1-0), the BayStars’ third pick last autumn, struck out two in two perfect innings to earn his first career win. Spencer Patton and Edwin Escobar followed with one scoreless inning apiece before Kazuki Mishima earned his 13th save.

Jon Edwards allowed one run in an inning of relief for the Tigers.

Rookie Morishita dodges bullets for 8th win

The Hiroshima Carp’s top pick in last year’s draft, Masato Morishita extricated from a pair of bases-loaded predicaments to go six innings in a 3-0 victory over the Yakult Swallows at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Morishita (8-3) allowed four hits, issued three walks and hit a batter while striking out eight. Koki Ugusa, the Carp’s second pick last autumn, had two hits, driving in two in the fifth with a high chopper over the head of the shortstop.

“It’s not like we didn’t have an approach planned for him (Morishita),” Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu said. “We just didn’t do a very good job of executing it.”

Tsuji slams decision to start in rain

Seibu Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji was not in a forgiving mood on Saturday when Daiki Enokida, called up to bolster his depleted starting rotation, needed to throw 75 pitches against the Rakuten Eagles in a game that began in the rain Sendai and was called after three innings.

The game is to be replayed on Tuesday, putting Tsuji in a bind.

“This is a problem, because we simply don’t have the pitchers,” Tsuji said.

The game started in a steady rain, with water standing in pools.

“Common sense would tell you we couldn’t play baseball in that,” Tsuji said.

Active roster moves 10/10/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/20

Central League

Activated

GiantsP47Takahiro Fujioka
BayStarsP43Takuya Shindo
DragonsP82Kento Marc Ishida

Dectivated

None

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP30Daiki Enokida
FightersOF26Daiki Asama

Dectivated

LionsP50Shunta Nakatsuka
FightersIF44Christian Villanueva
FightersOF3Wang Po-jung

Dectivated

None

Starting pitchers for Oct. 11, 2020

Pacific League

Fighters vs Buffaloes: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Kenta Uehara (1-2, 2.60) vs Hirotoshi Masui (1-2, 3.28)

Eagles vs Lions: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Ryota Takinaka (0-1, 4.61) vs Wataru Matsumoto (4-4, 4.12)

Hawks vs Marines: PayPay Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Tsuyoshi Wada (6-1, 3.20) vs Manabu Mima (9-2, 4.31)

Central League

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

Tatsuya Shimizu (0-0, 3.00) vs Shosei Togo (8-4, 2.75)

Tigers vs BayStars: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Takumi Akiyama (6-3, 2.82) vs Taiga Kamichatani (2-2, 3.71)

Carp vs Swallows: Mazda Stadium 1:30 pm, 0:30 am EDT

Yuta Nakamura (1-2, 3.45) vs Yasuhiro Ogawa (9-4, 3.70)

NPB 2020 Sept. 29

Other news

Sugano improves to 12-0

Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano surrendered a first-inning run, and then bossed the Hiroshima Carp for five more innings in a 6-1 win at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium on Tuesday.

Speedy rookie Minoru Omori hustled a leadoff triple and scored on a sac fly but allowed four hits in total and a walk over six innings, hitting his spots in a virtuoso performance as he struck out nine.

“I gave up a run from the get-go, but then I think I was able to work diligently one inning at a time,” he said upon becoming the second Opening Day pitcher in NPB history to win his first 12 decisions.

Hisashi Iwakuma, now with the Giants’ farm team, started the 2004 final season of the Kintetsu Buffaloes 12-0.

No. 8 hitter Akihiro Wakabayashi took the reins of the Giants’ offense, starting Yomiuri’s two-run third with a leadoff walk against Atsushi Endo (2-4) was sacrificed to second by Sugano and scored the on a Seiya Matsubara single.

Wakabayashi tripled in a run in the fourth, and singled in a run and scored in the sixth.

Itoi, bullpen win it for Tigers

Yoshio Itoi broke a 3-3 tie with a two-run home run and the Hanshin Tigers bullpen threw three shutout innings to finish up a 7-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Koshien Stadium.

Itoi hit his fifth home run of the season with two outs in the fifth off Akiyoshi Katsuno (2-4). Tigers starter Haruto Takahashi allowed three runs, one earned, over six innings. Jon Edwards, Shintaro Fujinami and Robert Suarez each worked a scoreless inning with Fujinami earning his first career hold.

The Dragons tied it in the top of the fifth, when Zoilo Almonte reached on his second single and scored on a sacrifice fly. He made a good play in the outfield to end the sixth with a good catch in left to keep the game from getting control the damage.

BayStars club Ogawa

Yasuhiro Ogawa (9-4) returned to the site of his Aug. 15 no-hitter but blew a two-run lead as the Yakult Swallows lost 8-4 to the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

Cleanup hitter Keita Sano put the BayStars in front with this 14th home run after Takayuki Kajitani opened with a single and Neftali Soto drew a one-out walk.

Kajitani led off the BayStars’ two-run third with another single and hit his 16th home run in the fifth with two outs to make it a 7-4 game.

A quartet of BayStars relievers then slammed the door on the last-place Swallows as Yuki Kuniyoshi, Spencer Patton, Edwin Escobar and Kenta Ishida buried the visitors’ hopes.

Yamamoto strikes out career-high 14

Yoshinobu Yamamoto maintained his dominance in home games, striking out a career-high 14 batters over eight innings for the Orix Buffaloes in their 3-0 win over the Seibu Lions at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

The 22-year-old right-hander allowed two walks and four hits. With better than usual command of his splitter and curve, he just tortured the Lions hitters.

Lions starter Kona Takahashi (5-8) pitched a solid game but Buffaloes hitters were able to get enough barrels on his pitches to rack up six hits over six innings, while he walked two and hit one.

Masataka Yoshida singled in two runs and Torai Fushimi hit a solo homer for the Buffaloes, and closer Brandon Dickson worked a perfect inning against the heart of the Lions order to close out his 11th save.

Senga deals out Eagles

Kodai Senga (7-5) allowed a run over seven innings while striking out 10 and the SoftBank Hawks chased Takahiro Norimoto (5-4) in a five-run fifth and held on to beat the Rakuten Eagles 6-2 at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Pitching for the first time since he cut his hand in his Sept. 4 start, Norimoto pitched out of a bases-loaded fourth inning jam, but did allow the Hawks to tie it. Ryoya Kurihara’s three-run homer in the fifth put the Eagles away.

Senga allowed five hits and walked three, while Norimoto allowed six hits, walked four and hit a batter while striking out six over 4-1/3 innings.

1st inning costly to Fighters

Nippon Ham Fighters right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa (7-4) continued his impressive run this season, but only after he allowed three first-inning runs in a 4-3 loss to the Lotte Marines at Sapporo Dome.

Uwasawa regrouped after allowing four hits and a walk in the first to go seven. Marines finesse artist Ayumu Ishikawa worked into the eighth, when he surrendered Wang Po-jung’s first homer of the season, a two-run shot.

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.

Giants sell catcher Tanaka to Eagles

The Giants said Tuesday they have assigned 28-year-old minor league catcher Takaya Tanaka to the Rakuten Eagles for cash consideration on Tuesday. Tanaka was taken in the third round of the 2014 developmental draft.

Tanaka has appeared in two first-team games. In the Eastern League, he has slashed .264/.340/.352. It is the third deal this season between the two clubs, starting with a June 29 trade that brought Zelous Wheeler to the Giants in exchange for pitcher Shun Ikeda.

Wednesday, Sept. 30 is this year’s non-waiver roster deadline.

Active roster moves 9/29/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/9

Central League

Activated

GiantsP19Toyoki Tanaka
BayStarsC29Hikaru Ito
DragonsP13Yuki Hashimoto
DragonsOF45Moises Sierra

Dectivated

BayStarsP48Masaya Kyoyama
BayStarsC39Hiroki Minei
DragonsP53Luis Gonzalez

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP25Katsunori Hirai
HawksP40Kazuki Sugiyama
HawksIF8Kenji Akashi
HawksOF24Yuya Hasegawa
EaglesP14Takahiro Norimoto
EaglesIF24Fumiya Kurokawa
EaglesIF36Yasuhito Uchida
FightersP35Takahiro Nishimura
BuffaloesP58Kazuyuki Kaneda

Dectivated

None

Starting pitchers for Sept. 30, 2020

Pacific League

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

Drew VerHagen (6-4, 4.08) vs Kazuya Ojima (5-6, 3.76)

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

Hideaki Wakui (9-3, 3.13) vs Shota Takeda (2-1, 4.64)

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

Hirotoshi Masui (0-2, 4.34) vs Shota Hamaya (2-0, 6.30)

Central League

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

Taiga Kamichatani (2-1, 3.00) vs Masanori Ishikawa (0-5, 4.84)

Tigers vs Dragons: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Koyo Aoyagi (6-6, 3.76) vs Yudai Ono (6-5, 2.37)

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

Yusuke Nomura (5-2, 4.14) vs Kazuto Taguchi (5-3, 4.35)

NPB 2020 Sept. 27

Other news

Togo impresses over 7

Yomiuri Giants rookie Shosei Togo (8-4) shut down the Chunichi Dragons for seven innings in a 5-1 win at Tokyo Dome on Sunday.

The 20-year-old right-hander, the Giants’ sixth pick in the 2018 draft, located his 150-kph (93.2 MPH) fastball that set the table for a nasty splitter and a good slider. He allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four.

Why call Togo “the Admiral?” Sunday’s members notes

The Dragons threatened in the first when Yohei Oshima rolled a tough pitch through the infield and Yota Kyoda smashed a high straight fastball for a single, but Togo bore down and took out the heart of the Chunichi order, Zolio Almonte, Dayan Viciedo and Shuhei Takahashi.

Seiya Matsubara tripled twice and scored three runs for the Giants, who peppered lefty Takahiro Matsuba (3-5). Matsubara opened the scoring in the first with an RBI triple off the top of the wall, and scored on a Hayato Sakamoto ground out.

With a runner on first and two outs in the fifth, the Dragons opted to walk Sakamoto intentionally rather than letting him hack at a 3-0 pitch from the lefty. Moving the runner to second proved costly, when cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto put a picture-perfect swing on a pitch away and drove it to right to make it 3-0.

Almonte and Viciedo combined to produce a run off Rubby De La Rosa in the ninth. Sakamoto doubled in the third, his 1,964th career hit.

Giants-Dragons highlights

Onuki wins 7th

Shinichi Onuki (7-4) allowed a run on three hits and a walk over 6-2/3 innings as the DeNA BayStars beat the Hiroshima Carp 3-1 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Takayuki Kajitani got the BayStars on the board in the first, leading off against Yuta Nakamura (0-2) with his 15th home run. Neftali Soto then doubled and scored on a ground out.

In the second, Kajitani saved a run with a diving catch in the gap, causing manager Alex Ramirez to say the play brought back memories — of center fielders diving to grab balls because he had no range in left field.

Onuki left after allowing Ryuhei Matsuyama’s two-out home run in the seventh, but the DeNA bullpen then set down the last seven hitters. Spencer Patton dispatched the bottom of the order 1-2-3 in the eighth, and Kazuki Mishima fanned two in a 1-2-3 ninth against the top of the order to record his 11th save.

Haraguchi, Sands bury Swallows

Fumihito Haraguchi homered, singled, walked, scored two runs and drove in three, while Jerry Sands had three hits and made a run-saving catch in the outfield as the Hanshin Tigers beat the Yakults Swallows 9-3 at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Sands singled in the game’s opening run off rookie Daiki Yoshida (1-5) after Koji Chikamoto opened the game with a single and stole second.

Haraguchi homered to open the second to tie it, and the Tigers took the lead in the third. The Swallows hit Tigers starter Takumi Aoyama (6-2) in the fourth, but failed to tie it thanks to two defensive gems.

Munetaka Murakami led off with a drive to the wall in center that Chikamoto somehow caught for the first out. Tomotaka Sakaguchi followed with a double and was poised to score on a sinking liner to left, but Sands was able to make a diving catch and hold onto the ball for the third out.

Chikamoto had four hits for the Tigers and drove in three.

No coaching in the press box–Sunday’s members notes

Shadow ball

Normal programming was restored at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, where the SoftBank Hawks’ normal program is the “Twilight Zone,” in particular, the episode “Shadow Play.

On Sunday the three-time defending Japan Series champs lost 8-4 to the Lotte Marines, who now lead their season series 10-4-1. Last year, the Marines went 16-8-1 against manager Tadahito Iguchi’s old team.

Leonys Martin became the sixth player in Pacific League history to walk five times in a game. The Japan record is held by Hall of Famer Hiromitsu Ochiai. He scored twice. Seiya Inoue’s two RBI doubles drove in four of the Marines’ first seven runs, all charged to Hawks starter Akira Niho (4-5) who didn’t finish the second inning.

Former Hawk Shuhei Fukuda had four hits and drove in three runs for the hosts, while another free agent acquisition, pitcher Manabu Mima (8-2) won despite allowing four runs over five innings.

Lions sweep Eagles

Wataru Matsumoto (4-3) scattered four walks and four hits to allow two runs over seven innings, and Ernesto Mejia doubled twice and drove in two runs for the Seibu Lions in a 6-2 win over the Rakuten Eagles to complete a three-game sweep at MetLife Dome.

Mejia, who was hit by a pitch in the first, doubled in both runs in the Lions’ two-run second. He doubled again in the seventh to set up an insurance run.

Both Eagles runs came on solo homers, Stefen Romero’s 20th — his 89th in four Japan season — and the first of rookie Hiroto Kobukata’s career.

Fighters pay Buffaloes’ roaming charges

Teams virtually always take batting practice before the game, but the Orix Buffaloes kept going after home plate umpire Yuta Sudo shouted “play ball.,” in a 20-hit 12-8 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Four different Buffaloes hitters recorded a “modasho,” and Steven Moya continued to hit balls over the wall with his fourth homer in five games, a two-run shot that broke a 4-4 third-inning tie.

Adam Jones, who had been deactivated due to a stiff lower back, returned to the Orix lineup for the first time since Sept. 15. He went 1-for-4 with a first-inning sacrifice fly.

Kotaro Kiyomiya, whose three-run pinch-hit double tied Saturday’s game in the ninth, allowing Nippon Ham to win in extra innings, came off the bench in the ninth and hit a two-run pinch-hit home run.

Fighters rookie Kosei Yoshida, the epic hero of 2018’s national high school championship, started and allowed four runs in 1-1/3 innings.

Active roster moves 9/27/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/7

Central League

Activated

CarpC27Tsubasa Aizawa

Dectivated

GiantsP17Kan Otake
CarpOF49Yuya Shozui

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP13Akira Niho
EaglesC65Kengo Horiuchi
MarinesC22Tatsuhiro Tamura
FightersP18Kosei Yoshida
BuffaloesOF10Adam Jones

Dectivated

LionsP49Sean Nolin
HawksP14Ren Kajiya
EaglesC2Hikaru Ota
MarinesC39Yuta Yoshida
FightersP40Suguru Fukuda
BuffaloesP27Andrew Albers

Starting pitchers for Sept. 28, 2020

Central League

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

Allen Kuri (4-5, 4.46) vs Masaya Kyoyama (1-0, 6.55)

NPB 2020 Sept. 23

Asamura wrecks Marines again

One day after Hideto Asamura routed the Lotte Marines single handed with three home runs, his 28th home run of the year broke a 3-3 tie to lift Hideaki Wakui (9-3) and the Rakuten Eagles to a 5-3 win at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi on Wednesday.

With a man on in the seventh, a ferocious swing launched a high two-strike straight-as-string cutter from reliever Yuki Karakawa (0-1) well beyond the center-field fence.

“I was only trying to set the table for the hitters coming up behind me,” said Asamura, who now leads both leagues in home runs.

Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi, speaking more out of frustration than logic, said, “He burned us with the home run again, and at a time when the only thing we couldn’t afford to give up was a home run.”

Considering there was indeed more meat coming up after Asamura, despite his claims of trying to play small ball, a walk or any kind of hit could easily have sunk the Marines at that stage.

Wakui, who last won on Aug. 19, allowed four hits and hit a batter and gave up three runs, all in the sixth inning with Leonys Martin’s two-run double tying it.

Kazuhisa Makita torpedoed the Marines in the eighth and Alan Busenitz worked the ninth to record his 14th save as the Eagles won four straight for the first time this season.

Buffaloes hand Hawks 5th straight loss

Daiki Tajima (3-4) allowed two runs in five innings, while Steven Moya drove in three runs and hit his third home run in five games as the Orix Buffaloes beat the SoftBank Hawks 10-5 at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

With Yuki Yanagita not on the game roster for the first time this season due to stiffness in the neck. Hawks right-hander Shota Takeda (2-1) walked four and hit one as he allowed six runs over three innings.

Alfredo Despaigne drove in two consolation runs in the seventh with his fourth home run of the season and the 2,000th of the Hawks’ franchise.

Kimura leads Lions comeback

Fumikazu Kimura produces some electrifying swings as he hit a three-run homer and added an RBI single as the Seibu Lions overturned a 3-0 deficit in their 6-5 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at MetLife Dome.

Rookie lefty Shota Hamaya (2-0) looked poised for a 21-year-old. He allowed four runs over 5-1/3 innings. Fighters starter Drew VerHagen (6-4) allowed six runs, five earned, over 4-1/3 innings.

Six-time PL home run champ Takeya Nakamura was back for the first time since Sept. 1, having missed 19 games due to pain in right wrist.

Fighters rookie Ryunosuke Higuchi went 1-for-2 with a walk and was hit by a pitch in his debut. Drafted in the second round of the 2019 developmental draft from independent Albirex Niigata, the 26-year-old Higuchi has been demolishing Eastern League pitching this summer, slashing .342/.441/.651.

Seibu closer Tatsushi Masuda earned his 21st save.

Taguchi flashes old form for Giants

Lefty Kazuto Taguchi (5-3) came within two outs of his first complete game in two years but earned the win in the Yomiuri Giants’ 7-3 victory over the Hiroshima Carp at Tokyo Dome.

For eight innings, the 25-year-old Taguchi looked like the guy who was a mainstay of the Giants rotation in 2016 and 2017 until Jose Pirela chased him in the ninth with a two-run homer. Takumi Oshiro drove in two runs for the Giants and Hayato Sakamoto’s three hits moved him to within 39 of 2,000 in his career.

What are his chances of reach 3,000? Find out in today’s members notes.

Kamichatani shuts out Tigers

Taiga Kamichatani (2-1) threw his second career shutout, and Neftali Soto hit his 17th home run, a three-run shot in the seventh as the DeNA BayStars beat the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium.

Using an absolutely wicked cutter, Kamichatani struck out 10. He allowed six hits and walked three in his 144 pitches, causing Pro Yakyu News analyst Takenori Emoto and former pitcher to praise manager Alex Ramirez: “Ramirez-san understands how important it is to get complete games.”

Dragons bash Swallows

The Chunichi Dragons overcame home runs by Tetsuto Yamada and Munetaka Murakami grinding out a 14-hit 11-5 win over the Yakult Swallows at Nagoya Dome.

Shuhei Takahashi drove in three runs and Dayan Viciedo four with an eighth-inning grand slam for the Dragons as the Swallows lost after holding a lead for the 21st time this season.

Active roster moves 9/23/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/3

Central League

Activated

GiantsIF98Estamy Urena

Dectivated

GiantsOF88Gerardo Parra

Pacific League

Activated

LionsIF60Takeya Nakamura
HawksP18Shota Takeda
MarinesOF7Shuhei Fukuda
FightersIF32Ryota Yachi
FightersIF93Ryunosuke Higuchi
BuffaloesP48Koki Saito

Dectivated

LionsOF58Masato Kumashiro
EaglesP58Wataru Karashima
MarinesC53Naoya Emura
MarinesIF67Kenta Chatani
FightersIF38Kazunari Ishii
FightersOF26Daiki Asama
BuffaloesP14Kazumasa Yoshida

Starting pitchers for Sept. 22, 2020

Pacific League

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

Yuki Matsui (2-3, 4.05) vs Daiki Iwashita (5-5, 4.52)

Lions vs Fighters: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Sho Ito (0-1, 3.15) vs Kenta Uehara (0-1, 1.04)

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

Tsuyoshi Wada (5-1, 2.83) vs Chang Yi (1-2, 3.71)

NPB 2020 9-19 members notes

Neftali Soto’s place

With his 100th career home run on Saturday in his 1,202nd at-bat in Japan, Neftali Soto became the 81st imported player to reach 100 home runs here.

The all-time leader is Tuffy Rhodes, with 464, while Soto’s manager with the DeNA BayStars, Alex Ramirez, hit 380 for second place on the list.

Of those 81, Soto is the 12th to win more than one home run title. Again, Rhodes leads that race as the only imported player with four, where he is the only Hall of Fame eligible player in Japanese pro baseball history to lead his league in home runs, who has not been voted into the Hall of Popularity — I mean the Hall of Fame.

Soto’s two titles puts him ahead of Alex Cabrera, LeRon Lee and Boomer Wells, each of whom hit 200-plus in Japan but only led their league one time.

Ten Hall of Fame eligible players have led their league exactly three times. Of those, five are in the Hall of Fame (Hideki Matsui, Fumio Fujimura, Hiromitsu Kadota, Tetsuharu Kawakami and Hiroshi Oshita), two are likely to get in (Masayuki Kakefu and Atsushi Nagaike). The other three are not. Those guys are Orestes Destrade, Ralph Bryant and Tyrone Woods.

Frequent fliers — top 10 imports in HR rate

NameAB per HRHRsLast year
Randy Bass10.932021988
Charlie Manuel11.251891981
Orestes Destrade11.351601995
Ralph Bryant11.512591995
Tony Solaita11.521551983
Neftali Soto*12.021002020
Roberto Petagine12.152332010
Tyrone Woods12.252402008
Wladimir Balentien*12.362972020
Alex Cabrera12.633572012
*– still active

Japan’s big attendance crash

From June 19 until July 9, no fans were allowed to attend games in Japanese pro ball to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. And while infections began jumping again about the time the start of the season was announced in May, no infections were reported at ballparks among fans.

It struck me today that this is the second time attendance at NPB took a huge hit.

Prior to the 2005 season, in perhaps the weirdest turn of events, the Yomiuri Giants led a kind of truth commission in which the teams agreed to begin announcing “realistic” attendance figures.

This baseball glasnost was caused not by a virus but by a sense that the fans were tired of the bullshit teams had been spouting the year before.

In addition to telling the fans and players to shut the “F” up and do what they are told in response to the owners’ decision to put the Pacific League’s Kintetsu Buffaloes out of business, the ball had become an issue.

It had been fairly obvious for nearly a decade that the dominant baseball manufacturer in NPB, Mizuno, had captured much of the market by selling teams hyper-lively balls. Nobody was talking about it, but the numbers were undeniable.

During the summer of 2004, the Chunichi Dragons, a team with virtually no power who play in central Japan’s version of the mammoth caves, decided that having a lively ball that allowed opponents to hit home runs there was counterproductive.

And then they broke the first rule of the juiced baseball code: Don’t talk about juiced baseballs. The Dragons held a press conference to announce that cheap home runs were a problem, and the teams, already dealing with the PR fallout from their hardball stance against the players that resulted in NPB’s only work stoppage, took another hit.

If that wasn’t enough, it was learned that a number of teams had — in their effort to lure marquee amateur pitcher Yasuhiro Ichiba to their clubs — been handing him cash payments under a variety of guises.

This caused owners to step down in disgrace, including the most pernicious, backward-thinking and influential of them all, Yomiuri Shimbun president Tsuneo Watanabe, As an employee of the Yomiuri Shimbun at that time, I can confirm that the news was taken within the head office in the same manner the residents of Munchkin Land greeted the sudden demise of the wicked witch.

So in 2005, the Giants, who had announced every game at Tokyo Dome as a 55,000-capacity sellout, decided to act. It was as Donald Trump came out one day and didn’t exactly say he’s a liar and a scoundrel but did say that to avoid confusion he would no longer make shit up at press conferences.

The Giants’ official reasoning was this: “We’re not ALWAYS sold out, and because people think we are, they don’t try and buy tickets.” This, of course, ignored the fact that anyone watching on TV could see large blocks of empty seats at many games as the announcers touted “another sell-out crowd.”

And the media, who knew the old figures were lies from Day 1 now went on to report the new figures as if they hadn’t been lying to the public for years. We don’t have a Republican Party in Japan, but if we did, a lot of people in the media would feel right at home.

Anyway, here is how average attendances shifted in Japan from 2004 to 2005. There are only 10 teams listed since the Buffaloes went out of business and the Rakuten Eagles began operating.

TeamPark20042005change
SoftBankFukuoka D47,06431,344-15,720
YomiuriTokyo D55,00042,076-12,924
YokohamaYokohama22,12313,670-8,453
SeibuSeibu D24,40916,338-8,071
YakultJingu25,05018,327-6,723
HanshinKoshien51,32846,318-5,010
LotteChiba Marine24,09519,770-4,325
Nippon HamSapporo Dome24,32020,725-3,595
OrixKobe21,30020,976-324
HiroshimaHiroshima12,44414,423+979