Tag Archives: Neftali Soto

NPB games, news of Aug. 2, 2019

The top two teams in each league as of Aug. 1, met for the start of three-game series on Friday at the home park of the second-place team. With Kodai Senga pitching for the Hawks in Sapporo and Tomoyuki Sugano going for the Giants in Yokohama, it made for an entertaining start to the weekend.

Central League

BayStars 4, Giants 2

At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA’s Kentaro Taira took his 138 kph (85.7 mph) side-arm fastball, a screwball a slider and kept the ball in or below the bottom of the strike zone to outpitch Yomiuri ace Tomoyuki Sugano (8-5).

Taira said teammates Neftali Soto and Jose “El Chamo” Lopez both promised to get hits for him, and in a sixth inning set up by a series of fat pitches from Sugano, Soto tied it with a line double before Lopez had to work for a hit, going down to get a decent slider and lofting it into right center for a two-run double.

Carp 7, Tigers 0

At Mazda Stadium, Xavier Batista hit a grand slam with his 25th home run of the season, and Daichi Osera (8-6) threw a five-hitter as third-place Hiroshima beat Hanshin to move within three games of the Giants.

Dragons 5, Swallows 4

At Jingu Stadium, Yota Kyoda drove in the winning run with a squeeze as Chunichi beat Yakult’s current closer, Scott McGough (4-2) in a game that saw five home runs.

Wladimir Balentien hit his 22nd of the season for the Swallows, giving Japan’s single-season record holder 277 home runs in NPB, tying him for fifth all-time among foreign hitters alongside former Minnesota Twins farmhand Greg “Boomer” Wells.

Pacific League

Hawks 2, Fighters 0

At Sapporo Dome, Kodai Senga (10-4) walked five but allowed just two hits, while striking out eight to post his first shutout of the season as SoftBank held off Nippon Ham.

Fighters right-hander Toshihiro Sugiura, who has been bouncing back and forth between the minors and the big club, making starts every two weeks or so and looking bad doing so, had his best game of the year, striking out five over five scoreless innings.

Alfredo Despaigne broke the scoreless deadlock in the sixth off Mizuki Hori, who had been dropped out of his short starter role after surrendering 13 runs over his last two starts.

Senga improved to 7-0 in his career at Sapporo Dome.

Game highlights are HERE.

Eagles 5, Marines 2

At Rakuten Seimei Park, 1.69-meter right-hander Manabu Mima (7-3) allowed one unearned run over six innings, and Rakuten skipper Yosuke Hiraishi got a chance to use his closer for a save in the ninth against Lotte.

A Shogo Nakamura leadoff homer in the top of the ninth made it a three-run game, and Takashi Ogino’s two-out single created a save situation. Hiraishi trotted out Japan’s save leader just to prove he could, and lefty Yuki Matsui struck out Leonys Martin on seven pitches to earn his Japan-best 29th save.

Game highlights are HERE.

Buffaloes 9, Lions 8

At Kyocera Dome, Steven Moya drove in three runs as Orix beat Seibu–the second-straight night the Lions lost by a run after scoring eight-plus.

Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji juggled his lineup, dropping No. 2 hitter Sosuke Genda to the No. 9 spot, and batting catcher Tomoya Mori third, from where he homered twice and drove in five runs.

Game highlights are HERE.


Former Tigers, Buffaloes infielder Kamada dies

Minoru Kamada, who played 1,482 games, mostly at second base for the Tigers and Kintetsu Buffaloes and is best known for introducing the infielder’s backward toss to Japan, has died at the age of 80.

Kamada first saw major leaguers flipping the ball to their double play partners when he visited major league spring camps in Florida with the Tigers in the early 1960s, but said it took him four years of practice to get the hang of it.

A story goes that he rarely tried it in games because he disliked the media so much and said that if he were to make one mistake doing it the Tigers beat writers would never let him forget it.

When he moved to the Buffaloes in 1967, legendary manager Osamu Mihara instructed him not to do it. One story goes that Mihara, a former infielder said it would cause problems with the team’s other infielders, who were not that skilled. In response to that, Kamada famously said, “That’s the other infielder’s problem, and has nothing to do with me.”

NPB games, news of June 28, 2019

League play resumed in Japan on Friday with four games. All six Pacific League teams were in action, while the Hiroshima Carp, who fell out of first place during interleague were in Yokohama in the Central League’s only game.

Pacific League

Hawks 7, Fighters 5

At Sapporo Dome, Kodai Senga and Kohei Arihara, the two hottest PL pitchers from the start of the season, showed some superb pitches, but were inconsistent in their location in a pitcher’s duel that turned out nothing like the announcers promised in the buildup.

Senga walked four and struck out a season-low five and gave up a bunch of hard-hit balls that allowed him to only give up one run over six innings.

Arihara, who started the season as a machine, getting everybody to swing and miss at his changeup, also gave up some shots while walking three and striking out four as he allowed three runs over six innings.

Here are the Hawks, Fighters highlights.

Marines 6, Eagles 5

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Rakuten had to call on closer Yuki Matsui, who did not see action on Tuesday because they wanted to give him six days off before pitching again perhaps?

Anyway, the lefty couldn’t find the strike zone. He got the first two batters out after falling behind but walked the next three. Afterward he said, “I should have been tougher with the bases loaded.”

Here are Marines, Eagles highlights.

Buffaloes 4, Lions 0

At Metlife Dome, Yoshinobu Yamamoto struck out 11 and walked two to win a tight pitchers’ duel with the Lions’ Tatsuya Ishii, who allowed one run over eight innings. It was the 20-year-old Yamamoto’s first career shutout and his first win since May 28.

Here are the Buffaloes-Lions highlights.

Central League

BayStars 13, Carp 3

At Yokohama Stadium, Jose Lopez and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo ruined my story about Alejandro Mejia’s first big game of the season after getting promoted back from Hiroshima’s farm team.

Lopez and Tsutsugo each belted a pair of homers while headline writers discarded themes such as “BayStars drop bombs on Hiroshima,” while Neftali Soto, last year’s CL champ, hit his league-leading 23rd home run.

Alejandro Mejia

My minor league season records go back to 1991, and during that span only eight players have hit 19 or more home runs in a Western League season. The WL is a notorious pitcher’s league with huge parks and low averages. Of those eight, four have become certified power hitters in NPB, Takahiro Okada, Nobuhiko Matsunaka, Kenji Jojima and Xavier Batista. Batista probably had the most impressive run of any of those guys, hitting 21 in 177 at-bats two years ago.

Mejia hit 20 last year in 300 plate appearances and joined the Carp first team at the end of interleague having hit 19 in 201 at-bats this spring in the minors.

In Friday’s game, Mejia, playing third with Batista at first, went 3-for-4 with a home run. So that’s a start after going hitless in three at-bats in Wednesday’s interleague finale against Rakuten.