In Japan’s six-team leagues, teams understandably spend a lot of energy analyzing and preparing for their league opponents — and then spend three weeks playing the other league’s six teams, and there is an impression, if not objective evidence, that players who are able to keep the task of hitting at its simplest level, due better in interleague.
If that is a trait more common to imported hitters, which I don’t know it is, we’d expect to see something like we saw on Tuesday with home runs from Justin Smoak, Zelous Wheeler, Neftali Soto, Jefry Marte, Jerry Sands and Leonys Martin, although Japanese hitters accounted for four more at Yokohama Stadium in addition to Soto’s two.
The study says
No such effect occurs. I compared the performances of teams’ domestic and imported players with 300-plus plate appearances in a given season and looked to see whether each group produced better or worse wOBAs during interleague. I then did a weighted average of the difference for each team and found the domestic players have done ever so slightly better in interleague than their import teammates. The margin in wOBA was .0065 better in wOBA, almost nothing.
Dragons 2, Hawks 0
At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, Chunichi right-hander Yuya Yanagi (4-1), who’s quietly been posting the Central League’s best numbers this season, leading the league in strikeouts and ERA, shutdown the SoftBank Hawks for seven innings, while the CL’s weakest offense managed one rally against Shota Takeda (3-3) scoring twice and having a runner barely thrown out at the plate on a walk and four straight one-out hits.
Nobumasa Fukuda doubled twice, drove in the Dragons’ first run and scored on Dayan Viciedo’s RBI single. Yanagi struck out six and walked two, while allowing six hits. His control was fairly sharp and his fastball lively and it seemed like he was needlessly falling behind in counts trying to get hitters to chase, but that’s kind of a CL thing.
Lefty Hiroto Fuku worked the eighth and, with closer Raidel Martinez off to join the Cuban national team ahead of Olympic qualifying, right-hander Katsuki Matayoshi worked around a one-out double to record his first save.
Giants 9, Eagles 4
At Tokyo Dome, former Eagle Zelous Wheeler, who joined Yomiuri last year in an early-season trade overturned a two-run deficit with a three-run fourth-inning home run, his sixth, off Takayuki Kishi (3-3). Hiroaki Shimauchi had brought the Pacific League leaders from 2-1 down in the top of the inning with a three-run homer, his fifth, off Shosei Togo (4-2).
New import Justin Smoak put the Giants up a run in the second with his fifth homer and singled in another in the third. The game was close until the eighth when Eagles reliever Alan Busenitz surrendered four innings.
Swallows 4, Fighters 2
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Nippon Ham’s Naoyuki Uwasawa (4-2) allowed a run over six innings, while Yakult rookie Yuto Kanakubo (3-1) returned to the mound for the first time since being struck in the chest by a line drive 11 days earlier.
RBI singles by Wang Po-jung and Ryo Watanabe put the Fighters up 2-0 in the third, and another run would have scored on a Ronny Rodriguez single, but Norichika Aoki ended the inning at the plate with a throw from left.
BayStars 10, Buffaloes 3
At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA’s Michael Peoples (2-1) allowed a run over seven innings and his teammates hit five home runs, Toshiro Miyazaki opening the scoring with his two-run second-inning homer off Taisuke Yamaoka (2-4).
Miyazaki’s homer was his fifth, Yamato Maeda capped the inning with his first, a solo shot, while Neftali Soto hit his sixth and seventh and drove in three runs and Keita Sano hit a two-run homer, his fifth, in the fifth.
Marines 5, Tigers 3
At Koshien Stadium, Lotte came behind against setup man Suguru Egoshi (1-1) on a two-run Leonys Martin homer, his Japan-best 15th. Shogo Nakamura, who also singled, and tripled, chased Egoshi with a double and scored on a Brandon Laird double to complete the scoring.
Yuki Nishi allowed two runs, one earned, for the Tigers over seven innings, the game’s first run scoring on a wild pickoff throw. Hanshin up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Jefry Marte homer, his ninth, and a solo shot by Jerry Sands, his 11th, both off Kota Futaki, who left after four. Four relievers finished up with Naoya Masuda recording his 12th save.
Takashi Toritani, a future Hall of Famer whom the Hanshin Tigers couldn’t push out the door fast enough two years ago that they had apparently planned his retirement ceremony, returned to Koshien with the Lotte Marines and cut the visitors’ deficit to 3-2 with a seventh-inning pinch-hit RBI single.
Carp vs Lions
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, postponed coronavirus
Giants vs Eagles: Tokyo Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Swallows vs Fighters: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT
BayStars vs Buffaloes: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Dragons vs Hawks: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Tigers vs Marines: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT