Hawks release, Moore, van den Hurk, Uchikawa, Colas on cut day
The Pacific League’s SoftBank Hawks parted company, at least technically with pitchers Matt Moore and Rick van den Hurk, while making longtime captain Seiichi Uchikawa free to complete a deal with the Central League’s Yakult Swallows on Wednesday.
Nippon Professsional Baseball’s teams are required to submit their reserve lists for the 2021 season on Dec. 2, the big day for releases across Japan. The moves don’t necessarily mean that neither Moore nor van den Hurk will be back with the four-time defending Japan Series champions, but it does mean they were unable to or unwilling to exercise an option to keep them.
Cuban two-way player Oscar Colas, who has been on the restricted list since Feb. 19, was released by not being placed on the Hawks’ 2021 reserve list, meaning he will be free to sign with an MLB club as an international amateur when the next international signing period opens in June.
Cuts throw import market wide open
The winter NPB market for import players heated up considerably with Tuesday’s cuts when a number of experienced players with established value were left off their clubs’ reserves list. Here’s a brief rundown:
The Yomiuri Giants got exactly what they needed to clinch their second straight pennant on Friday after the second-place Tigers tied. Knowing Hanshin had been held to a 3-3 tie in Yokohama. The Giants began celebrating as soon as they held the Yakult Swallows scoreless in the top of the 10th at Tokyo Dome in their own 3-3 tie.
The Swallows tied it 3-3 in the eighth, and Scott McGough allowed the Giants to load the bases in the bottom of the ninth but kept them from scoring, which was pretty much the story of the game as both team had big chances to score but failed at the last hurdle.
Giants manager Tatsunori Hara, whose team remained mired in a five-game losing streak and who barely scraped out a tie, said the game was a fitting pennant clincher in a season that only barely happened and said he was proud of the effort baseball had made to get it in.
The Swallows tied it in the fifth but failed to break the game open, stranding multiple runners in scoring position in the fifth and seventh.
The Giants, turned away in the fourth by starter Hiroaki Saiuchi, took the lead in the sixth when Yoshihiro Maru doubled and scored on a Takumi Oshiro single but left the bases loaded against rookie Naruki Terashima.
Kazuma Okamoto put some juice with a one-handed swing on a low straight fastball from Saiuchi in the bottom of the third to raise his league-leading home run total to 29 and make it a 2-1 game after Taishi Hirooka homered off Nobutaka Imamura in the top of the third.
Hirooka singled in the fifth, stole second and scored the tying run on singles by 19-year-old rookie Hideki Nagaoka and Yasutaka Shiomi.
Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto, their 31-year-old shortstop, moved within four hits of 2,000 in his career. Giants flame thrower Thyago Vieira hit 101 mph on the gun in the Swallows’ scoreless 10th.
Jose Lopez tied it in the ninth with a two-run home run off Tigers closer and fellow Venezuelan Robert Suarez. Lopez’s homer was his 10th of the season and his 999th hit since coming to Japan in 2013 with the Giants. With one more hit he will join Hideki Matsui and former Seattle Mariners teammate Ichiro Suzuki as third player with 1,000 hits in both MLB and NPB.
Joe Gunkel started for the Tigers and allowed a run over six innings and got the Tigers first-run started with a third-inning leadoff single. Jefry Marte went 2-for-4 with a walk, two doubles and an RBI, while Gunkel sacrificed a runner to contribute to the Tigers’ third run. Jon Edwards pitched a scoreless inning of relief for the visitors.
Carp blow up Dragons
Rookie leadoff man Minoru Omori and No. 2 hitter Kosuke Tanaka each drove in four runs and Seiya Suzuki came off the bench to deliver a game-tying seventh-inning single before hitting a two-run homer in the eighth as the Hiroshima Carp flayed the Chunichi Dragons in a 17-3 whipping at Nagoya Dome.
Rookie catcher Ariel Martinez marked his first-team return after a 10-week injury layoff by coming off the bench to bat for Cuban compatriot Yariel Rodriguez and delivered tie-breaking pinch-hit double in the fifth. Rodriguez allowed two unearned runs over five innings.
More zeros for Higashihama
Nao Higashihama (9-1) threw eight scoreless innings and Yuito Mori closed it out for his 30th save after Takeya Nakamura’s two-run ninth inning homer made it a one-run game as the SoftBank Hawks held off the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome 4-3.
Higashihama, the Hawks’ Opening Day starter has now thrown 24 consecutive scoreless innings, and has allowed two runs over his last 39-2/3 innings. Ukyo Shuto extended his record streak of consecutive games with a stolen base to 13.
The Lions’ loss left them in third place, one game out of the second and final Pacific League playoff spot and only half a game ahead of the fourth-place Rakuten Eagles.
Eagles go back to basics with Matsui
Former closer Yuki Matsui struck out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth to preserve a 2-1 Rakuten Eagles win over the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium in his first save of the season after Takayuki Kishi (6-0) allowed a run over eight innings.
Kishi struck out 10 without issuing a walk while allowing four hits. Hideto Asamura drew a leadoff walk in the eighth and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by Hirokazu Sawamura (0-2). Matsui’s return to the starting rotation was a key part of the Eagles plans this season, but he moved to middle relief after making 10 starts.
Yamaoka goes distance
Orix Buffaloes Opening Day starter Taisuke Yamaoka (4-5) allowed two runs over the distance while striking out eight to outduel Nick Martinez (2-7) in a 3-2 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome. Steven Moya halved the Fighters’ 2-0 lead in the fourth with an RBI double.
Shuta Ishikawa (9-3) allowed a run over seven innings, and Takuya Kai plated Kenji Akashi to break a 1-1 tie with a sixth-inning squeeze before the SoftBank Hawks pulled away in a 8-1 win over the Seibu Lions on Friday at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
The Hawks lowered their magic number to clinch their first Pacific League pennant since 2017 to four.
Ishikawa hit one batter and struck out six, and did not walk a batter for only the second time this season.
Lions starter Tatsuya Imai (3-4) hung in until the sixth, when he surrendered a leadoff double to Akashi and a single to Nobuhiro Matsuda. The right-hander dropped Kai’s bunt to leave two on with no outs. He left after a sacrifice moved both runners into scoring position. Rookie Tetsu Miyagawa hit Akira Nakamura before surrendering a two-run single to Yuki Yanagita. Yurisbel Gracial capped the rally with an RBI single to make it 5-1.
Yanagita hit a two-run homer in the Hawks’ three-run eighth, his 28th of the season.
Another crazy Yanagita homer
Yuki Yanagita’s 28th home run was another head-shaker, an off-balance flailing swing at a pitch he was fooled on that looked to the world like an easy fly. But the ball landed in the “home run terrace” field seats built inside the dome’s outfield wall.
“I don’t understand. I really don’t,” said Kudo, a Hall of Fame pitcher. “How did that get out? When he came back to the bench he (Yangita) said, ‘Got it on the sweet spot,’ but even so, for him to be off balance like that?”
“From an opponent’s view point, that is something you absolutely hate.”
Okada takes a hammer to Marines
Takahiro Okada drove in a run in each of his four plate appearances, and Taisuke Yamaoka (3-5) dodged bullets left and right to allow only a run over 5-1/3 innings for the Orix Buffaloes in a 7-2 win over the Lotte Marines.
Okada brought home Kodai Sano with a sacrifice fly in the first after the Buffaloes’ leadoff hitter doubled to open the game against Kota Futaki (7-3) and took third on a wild pitch. Okada led off the two-run third with his 14th home run. Sano doubled and scored on an Okada single in the fourth to make it 5-0, and Okada doubled in Yuya Oda in the sixth to make it 6-1.
Steven Moya singled in Ryoichi Adachi in the first and doubled in Masataka Yoshida in the third.
Yamaoka allowed eight hits and two walks, but the only run he allowed came in the sixth when Ikuhiro Kiyota hit the first of his two solo homers. He hit his other off Tyler Higgins in the eighth.
Sano rubbed salt in the Marines’ wounds with an RBI triple in the bottom of the eighth.
Tatsumi saves the day for Eagles
Ryosuke Tatsumi doubled in one run, scored another and saved the day with a 10th-inning catch in center field to start an inning-ending double play to help the Rakuten Eagles salvage a 4-4 tie with the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
The Fighters spotted starter Nick Martinez a three-run lead after Christian Villanueva’s RBI single made it a 3-0 game in the fourth. The Eagles came back for three runs in the home half, and Stefen Romero’s RBI single made it 4-3 with no outs in the fifth. Taishi Ota tied it for the visitors with a solo home run, his 13th, off Kazuhisa Makita in the eighth.
Rakuten closer Alan Busenitz worked a 1-2-3 ninth against the bottom of the Fighters order, but D.J. Johnson needed some defensive help to keep it tied in the 10th.
Romero came within a hair of retiring the leadoff hitter in the 10th with a sliding grab in left field only for the ball to spill from his glove. A juggling catch on a foul sacrifice attempt by reserve rookie catcher Tsuyoshi Ishihara got one out. With one out and speedy Haruki Nishikawa on first, Tatsumi went deep into the gap in left for the out. Nishikawa hustled back to first but needed two tries to retouch second base and was out easily to end the inning.
Imamura pitches Giants past Tigers
Lefty Nobutaka Imamura (4-2) allowed three runs in 7-1/3 innings and squeezed in a run as the Yomiuri Giants held off the Hanshin Tigers 5-4 at Tokyo Dome to lower their magic number to clinch the Central League pennant to five.
Imamura went to the mound in the eighth with a 5-1 lead after surrendering Jefry Marte’s fourth home run and his second in two days since he was reactivated on Thursday. With one out, the lefty allowed a walk and a Jerry Sands pinch-hit single and a two-run Fumihito Haraguchi pinch-hit double–his third hit off the bench in three games.
Giants closer Rubby De La Rosa also had trouble after one out, leaving after giving up a run on a walk and two hits. Lefty Kazuto Taguchi came in with the two runners in scoring position. He struck out veteran Yoshio Itoi swinging on seven pitches before a fly out ended it.
Tigers starter Yuki Nishi (10-5) allowed five runs, two earned in five innings. Yoshihiro Maru opened the scoring in the second when he led off with his 23rd home run.
The Tigers’ Jefry Marte was charged with a record four errors in Friday’s game, and he tied the league record for a team’s first basemen by making three errors in one inning.
Dragons come back for 4th straight win
The second-place Chunichi Dragons continued to scrape and scratch, earning a 4-3 win against the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium after catcher Takuya Kinoshita brought them from a run down in the sixth.
Dragons captain Shuhei Takahashi, who doubled in a run in the first, singled to open the sixth against the new Swallows pitcher Yugo Umeno (3-1. Moises Sierra followed with a single. With one out, Kinoshita hit a fly to the gap in right that bounced just past the glove of center fielder Yasutaka Shiomi.
Shiomi, activated earlier in the day for the first time Sept. 12, hit a two-run homer in the second off Dragons right-hander Yariel Rodriguez, who allowed three runs in 4-2/3 innings. The right-hander allowed four hits and five walks. Katsuki Matayoshi (4-0) struck out Shiomi on seven pitches to end the fifth with two men on and earned the win after a quartet of relievers worked one perfect inning apiece.
BayStars shut out Carp
Masaya Kyoyama (2-1) worked out of a two-on, no-out sixth-inning predicament and three relievers finished up as the DeNA BayStars held on for a 2-0 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Yokohama Stadium.
Kyoyama allowed two hits and walked three while striking out six over six innings.
The BayStars scored both their runs off Carp starter Hiroki Tokoda (3-8) in the fifth after back-to-back singles by Yasutaka Tobashira and Yamato Maeda. After an error, Takayuki Kajitani broke the scoreless deadlock with an RBI single and Kazuki Kamizato followed with a sac fly. Spencer Patton, lefty Kenta Ishida and closer Kazuki Mishima each worked a scoreless inning with Mishima earning his 16th save. Patton’s 51st appearance is second in Japan to teammate Edwin Escobar’s 54.
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
A trio of SoftBank Hawks relievers pitched out of late-inning jams to preserve a 4-4 10-inning tie after the Seibu Lions’ Hotaka Yamakawa leveled the scores with a three-run seventh-inning home run at MetLife Dome.
Shuta Ishikawa worked seven innings and allowed seven hits and three walks. The Hawks battered Lions starter Tatsuya Imai for four runs on eight hits and a walk over three innings, but six Lions relievers allowed just four base runners the rest of the way.
Ernesto Mejia doubled to open Seibu’s second inning and scored the tying run on a Takumi Kuriyama single.
Ishikawa nearly got out of the seventh unscathed after a Tomoya Mori leadoff single. He struck out Mejia and survived a blast from Kuriyama that fell short of the warning track. But Corey Spangenberg singled and Ishikawa hung a curve to Yamakawa that he hit well back among the fans in left field.
Livan Moinelo worked around a leadoff single in the eighth. Closer Yuito Mori came on in the ninth and surrendered a leadoff double to Kuriyama. A sacrifice put the go-ahead run on third and the Hawks loaded the bases intentionally. Mori fell behind Fumikazu Kimura 2-0 but struck him out before ending the inning on a fly to right.
Lions closer Tatsushi Masuda worked a scoreless ninth and Reed Garrett pitched the 10th to snuff out the Hawks’ chance of victory.
Submarine right-hander Rei Takahashi walked the first two hitters in the 10th but struck out Mejia for the first out before preventing the Lions from walking off.
Kishi pitches Eagles to victory
Takayuki Kishi (3-0) worked into the seventh inning for the first time this season and Hideto Asamura had a two-run single in the Rakuten Eagles’ 4-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.
Kishi allowed four hits and two walks while striking out seven. Yuki Matsui struck out three of the four batters he faced in relief in 1-1/3 perfect innings before handing it over to Alan Busenitz, who did the same in the ninth for his 17th save.
Nick Martinez (1-6) got out of a first-inning jam but had less luck in the fourth when the Eagles scored on three straight hits to set up a four-run inning. Martinez, who allowed six hits and four walks, walked Daichi Suzuki with the bases loaded before Asamura capped the rally with a two-run single.
Giants survive late onslaught
Angel Sanchez (7-3) allowed two runs over seven innings for the Yomiuri Giants, who survived a late challenge to hold off the DeNa BayStars 9-7 at Tokyo Dome.
Kazuma Okamoto and Yoshihiro Maru each hit two-run home runs as the Giants built a 9-1 lead by the fourth inning. Okamoto’s was his league-leading 25th, while Maru’s was his 21st.
BayStars right-hander Shoichi Ino (6-6) allowed four runs over two innings to take the loss, although his teammates nearly took him off the hook in a five-run eighth inning.
Tyler Austin and Jose Lopez each hit two-run homers. Austin’s was his 15th in just his 43rd game, while Lopez’s was his third two-run shot of his old team in the series. Daisuke Nakai, another former Giant, capped the rally with an RBI single.
Spencer Patton worked the eighth to keep it close but Giants closer Rubby De La Rosa ended the game with the tying runs on to secure his 16th save.
Gerardo Parra returned to duty for the first time since July 22, but went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts for the Giants.
Yuki Nishi (9-4) struck out 12 over eight innings for the Hanshin Tigers in a 9-1 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Nishi allowed a run on four hits and a walk, while his teammates took batting practice against finesse right-hander Yusuke Nomura (6-3).
Nomura allowed eight runs over five-plus innings. Fumiya Hojo put the visitors up for good with a two-run first-inning homer, while Jerry Sands and Justin Bour homered back-to-back to open the Tigers’ six-run sixth.
Active roster moves 10/8/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/18
The Lotte Marines exploited a few bad pitches and a fumbled ground ball to put five runs off Matt Moore (3-2) in a 7-4 win over the SoftBank Hawks at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium on Friday.
The win moved the second-place Marines to within one game of the league-leading Hawks, who are now 3-9-1 against Lotte but have a winning record against the other four PL teams.
Former Marine Alfredo Despaigne popped the cork on this one in the second inning with a solo homer off Kota Futaki (5-2), who allowed four runs over 6-1/3 innings and earned the win.
Moore was hammered in one bad inning when the Marines hit their share of bad pitches, second baseman Ukyo Shuto dropped a ball after the first two runners reached and Leonys Martin hit a flare single when he was jammed inside with a good fastball.
Moore reasserted himself until he was finally pulled in the eighth inning after a leadoff single and a sacrifice with the Hawks trailing 5-4. Yuki Matsumoto allowed the inherited run and one more to score.
Marines right-hander Yuki Karakawa surrendered an inherited run in the seventh in relief of Futaki, but Hirokazu Sawamura and closer Naoya Masuda shut the door on their way out with Masuda earning his 24th save.
Spangenberg wins Padre challenge
Corey Spangenberg broke a 4-4 seventh-inning tie with a single off former San Diego Padres teammate Kazuhisa Makita (1-1) as the Seibu Lions beat the Rakuten Eagles 5-4 at MetLife Dome.
Ernesto Mejia drove in three runs with a pair of RBI singles for the Lions and took the Fighters by surprise with his baserunning and a great slide into home in the fifth inning. Lions starter Zach Neal, allowed four runs over five-plus innings but was taken off the hook by his teammates in a win that snapped the Eagles’ five-game winning streak.
Moya slams Fighters
Steven Moya homered for the third time in three games with a fourth-inning grand slam off Nick Martinez (1-5) as the Orix Buffaloes beat the Nippon Ham Fighters 9-2 at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
Opening Day starter Taisuke Yamaoka (2-3) delivered his third straight solid start, allowing two runs over 6-2/3 innings to earn the win as Orix improved to 7-2-1 over the last 10 games.
Sakamoto, Giants march on
Hayato Sakamoto drove in two runs and had two hits to move within 37 of 2,000 in his career, while cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto hit his Central League-leading 23rd home run, drove in four and drew three walks in the Yomiuri Giants’ 8-4 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Tokyo Dome.
The Giants lowered their magic number to 26 to clinch their second straight pennant and the 47th league championship.
Jerry Sands and Justin Bour each drove in a run for the Hanshin Tigers, who twice blew leads in a 6-3 loss to the Yakult Swallows on a day in which Hanshin dropped nearly a third of its active roster due to novel coronavirus infections.
Bour homered in the second and doubled with a man on in the sixth, when Hanshin wasted a two-on, no-out opportunity with two strikeouts and an out on the bases.
Norichika Aoki homered for the Swallows, while his former Kansas City Royals teammate Alcides Escobar singled in two runs in the fourth to tie it 3-3. Naomichi Nishiura singled in Aoki in the sixth to put the Swallows ahead against Yuki Nishi (7-4).
Takahiro Araki hit a two-run homer off Atsushi Nomi, who had been called up that day, to ice it in the seventh.
Tokoda puts brakes on BayStars
Hiroki Tokoda (2-6) allowed a run over seven innings and the Hiroshima Carp bludgeoned Shoichi Ino (6-5) for five runs in five-plus innings in a 5-3 win over the DeNA BayStars at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Tokoda, who last won on July 11, snapped a streak of five straight losing starts. The southpaw struck out nine and walked one while allowing eight hits.
Carp shortstop Kosuke Tanaka delivered the big blow for the hosts with a two-run homer in the third following Tokoda’s leadoff single.
Tigers’ show goes on
The Hanshin Tigers announced Friday that teamwide testing in the wake of a positive coronavirus test on the farm team, four first-team players, including captain and second baseman Kento Itohara, and two first-team staff members have also tested positive.
A number of Tigers players were deemed to have been in close contact with those infected, resulting in nine players being dropped from the active roster on Friday.
Despite the result, Hanshin’s game against the Yakult Swallows went on as scheduled at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, where the plague cats lost 6-3 to the hosts, with two runs scoring off Atsushi Nomi, one of Friday’s nine call-ups.
On Sunday when the team was in Nagoya, two groups of players including those who tested positive dined out.
The team allows players to eat out provided they do so in private rooms with no more than four individuals, but one of the groups included eight people.
The Tigers’ Western League farm game against the Chunichi Dragons on Friday was called off. Meanwhile, the Hiroshima Carp canceled their Western League game on Saturday against the Orix Buffaloes after Wednesday’s report that one of Orix’s minor league pitchers had tested positive.
The Tigers were the first team with reported infections when pitcher Shintaro Fujinami and two others tested positive in March. The Yomiuri Giants also reported two infections just prior to Opening Day.