Tag Archives: Neftali Soto

NPB Wrap 5-25-21


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.

Giants-Eagles highlights

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

Starting pitchers


Giants vs Eagles: Tokyo Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Yuki Takahashi (5-1, 2.55) vs Takahiro Norimoto (4-1, 2.56)

Swallows vs Fighters: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT

Kazuto Taguchi (1-3, 3.02) vs Takayuki Kato (3-1, 2.35)

BayStars vs Buffaloes: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Shinichi Onuki (1-4, 6.75) vs Hiroya Miyagi (4-0, 2.05)

Dragons vs Hawks: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Shinnosuke Ogasawara (3-2, 2.72) vs Nao Higashihama (-)

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

Takumi Akiyama (3-2, 3.13) vs Daiki Iwashita (4-2, 3.23)

NPB wrap 5-7-21

Matching tops and bottoms

Friday was a night for both leagues’ last-place clubs to make statements in home games against their league’s leaders as the Pacific League’s Rakuten Eagles pulled into Sapporo Dome against a Nippon Ham Fighters team that hadn’t played since Saturday—when the club became classified as a coronavirus cluster.

In Yokohama, the DeNA BayStars, who struggled out of the gate this season under new manager Daisuke Miura welcoming the Hanshin Tigers, who have dominated the early going in the Central League.

Fighters 6, Eagles 1

At Sapporo Dome, Drew VerHagen (1-2) allowed a run over five innings while striking out nine, while Nippon Ham utility man Kenshi Sugiya homered to open the scoring against Hideaki Wakui (4-1) and then drove in a fifth-inning insurance run with a suicide squeeze

Wakui surrendered all six runs on eight hits and a walk over six innings.

Marines 7, Buffaloes 5

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, both starting pitchers took their lumps, with Lotte’s Ayumu Ishikawa (2-1) surrendering four runs over seven only to be outdone by Orix’s Taisuke Yamaoka (1-3), who gave up five over five. Seiya Inoue made it 5-0 Marines in the fourth with a three-run home run, his first of the season. Brandon Laird added a two-run double for the Marines.

All five Buffaloes’ runs came via the home run, a three-run shot in the fifth by rookie Ryo Ota and two solo homers by Yutaro Sugimoto, who has six on the year.

Hawks 2, Lions 2

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Seibu tied it on solo homers by Hotaka Yamakawa and Takumi Kuriyama. It was the second for each of the veterans who have spent most of the season rehabbing.

Yamakawa, a two-time PL home run champ, was in his first game back since he both homered and hurt his left hamstring on March 30. Kuriyama was hurt on Opening Day and wasn’t reactivated until April 20.

Hawks right-hander Shuta Ishikawa allowed two runs over eight innings on four hits and a walk while striking out eight. Seibu’s Kona Takahashi gave up two runs, one earned, over seven innings. Kaima Taira pitched out of trouble in the Hawks’ eighth. After SoftBank southpaw Livan Moinelo retired the Lions in the ninth, Reed Garret, back from taking a shot off the knee on Tuesday, did the same in the home half to seal the tie.

Swallows 6, Giants 4

At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri ace Tomoyuki Sugano was pulled for a pinch-hitter after four sparkling innings with a 3-0 lead, only for lefty setup man Kota Nakagawa to surrender four Yakult runs in the eighth.

After the game, the Giants revealed that Sugano left the game due to discomfort in his right elbow, which was not at all apparent from his pitching, which appeared — at least in the first inning — as precise and effortless as I think I’ve ever seen from anyone.

Hayato Sakamoto and Zelous Wheeler hit back-to-back one-out homers off Albert Suarez in the first. The pair reached base in the third to set up a Kazuma Okamoto sacrifice fly.

Norichika Aoki doubled and scored on Yasutaka Shiomi’s pinch-hit single off Ryoma Nogami. Shiomi homered off Nakagawa with one out in the eighth. A walk and four straight two-out singles put the visitors in charge. Sakamoto lined a first-pitch fastball down the pipe from Scott McGough over the wall in center for his seventh home run, but the right-hander struck out three to keep the hosts from tying it.

Domingo Santana opened the Swallows’ ninth with his fourth home run.

Giants-Swallows highlights

BayStars 12, Tigers 6

At Yokohama Stadium, Hanshin’s Chen Wei-Yin cruised through three innings but blew a 2-0 lead when DeNA chased him with one out in the BayStars’ four-run fourth. But after the Tigers came back to tie it 6-6 on Jefry Marte’s seventh-inning RBI single, Tyler Austin led off the BayStars’ seventh with his fifth home run in 22 games this season.

The Tigers came back from a 6-2 deficit on Yoshio Itoi’s first homer, a solo shot off Edwin Escobar, and three runs off new import Kevin Shackelford, but a pair of relievers combined to strand two runners and the BayStars blew out the Tigers’ bullpen. Neftali Soto just missed a fourth-inning grand slam and had to settle for a bases-loaded RBI single on a ball that hit high off the wall in right. He walked, singled three times, scored twice, and drove in two. Toshiro Miyazaki also had three hits, scored twice, and drove in three.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

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

Naoyuki Uwasawa (2-2, 3.99) vs Masahiro Tanaka (2-1, 2.12)

Marines vs Buffaloes: Zozo Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Manabu Mima (2-0, 3.94) vs Daiki Tajima (1-1, 2.97)

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

Nick Martinez (1-0, 0.00) vs Wataru Matsumoto (1-3, 4.18)

Central League

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

Fernando Romero (-) vs Masashi Ito (2-0, 1.71)

Dragons vs Carp: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Koji Fukutani (1-2, 4.18) vs Allen Kuri (3-3, 3.23)

Active roster moves 5/7/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/17

Central League


TigersIF62Kai Ueda
SwallowsC33Soma Uchiyama



Pacific League


LionsP44Kaito Yoza
LionsIF3Hotaka Yamakawa
LionsOF9Fumikazu Kimura
FightersC64Yua Tamiya
FightersIF70Junnosuke Imai
FightersIF93Ryunosuke Higuchi
FightersOF4Yuya Taniguchi
FightersOF50Ryota Isobata


LionsP15Tetsu Miyagawa