Fighters clear up Nakata mystery, sort of
Nippon Ham Fighters president Koji Kawamura said Tuesday that the team should have given Sho Nakata a chance to apologize to the team and fans in public before the slugging first baseman’s contract was given to the Yomiuri Giants.
Kawamura said that it was Nakata, whose voice could be heard on a video taken in April telling black teammate Chusei Mannami that he’d spent “too much time at a tanning salon.”
What Kawamura didn’t explain was why it took the Fighters a week to suspend Nakata after it discovered he’d assaulted a teammate on Aug. 4.
Marines, Swallows make late additions
Aug. 31 was Japan’s non-waiver roster addition deadline, and starting on Monday, a few teams filled out their 70-man rosters, mostly by switching players of various vintages on non-roster developmental contracts over to standard NPB contracts. Two teams that signed guys who were outside the system were the Marines, who hired former Carp infielder and pinch-hitter Tetsuya Kokubo, 36, and the Swallows, who signed 26-year-old 1.92-meter Dominican lefty Jose Kelyn.
Giants 10, Swallows 8
At Gifu Nagaragawa Stadium, Naoki Yoshikawa, whose hometown, Hashima City, is a stone’s throw from the ballpark, homered, tripled and drove in four runs in his first game there as a pro as Yomiuri held on to first place in the Central League.
Yoshikawa’s fourth homer made it 2-1 Giants in the first and he appeared to put the game on ice with a three-run sixth-inning triple that made it 8-4, but the Giants needed two seventh-inning insurance runs, driven in by Seiya Matsubara, to survive Yakult’s eighth-inning onslaught against Rubby De La Rosa.
The right-hander faced five batters and gave up five hits, leaving lefty Kota Nakagawa with the tying runs on base and no outs. But Nakagawa retired all three batters he faced and Thyago Vieira worked around a one-out single to record his 15th save.
Norichika Aoki homered in the first, doubled twice and scored three runs to power Yakult’s attack, while Yoshihiro Maru hit his 15th home run in the first, scored twice and had an RBI double. Zelous Wheeler also had three hits for the Giants.
The Giants knocked out Yasuhiro Ogawa (7-3, 3.90) in the fourth in his first game back since July 3 when he was deactivated for the coronavirus.
Dragons 8, Tigers 5
At Koshien Stadium, Chunichi’s Kosuke Fukudome got some sweet payback against the club that cut him last winter, doubling in the tie-breaking run in a three-run seventh inning. Fukudome went 2-for-5 and singled in the Dragons’ five-run third off starter Koyo Aoyagi.
Dayan Viciedo had four hits for the Dragons, scored twice and drove in a run, while Shuhei Takahashi had three hits, including a pair of two-run doubles.
Dragons starter Koji Fukutani took a 5-0 lead into the fifth and left after the first five batters reached against him. Jefry Marte, playing for the first time since before the Olympics, capped the rally with a one-out three-run double. Chunichi’s bullpen, however, allowed four runners over the final four innings with Raidel Martinez earning his 13th save.
BayStars 7, Carp 6
At Yokohama Stadium, Neftali Soto brought DeNA from a run down in the seventh with his 19th home run, while Shugo Maki also hit a two-run shot, his 16th, and Keita Sano hit a solo homer, his 10th.
The Carp hammered Haruhiro Hamaguchi for four runs, three earned, in 2-1/3 innings, while Hiroshima’s Masato Morishita went five innings but also left having allowed four runs on six walks and six hits.
Edwin Escobar, the BayStars’ fifth pitcher worked the seventh to earn the win and Yasuaki Yamasaki pitched a scoreless eighth before closer Kazuki Mishima escaped a two-out bases-loaded pickle with a double play ball.
Fighters 3, Buffaloes 1
At Sapporo Dome, Nippon Ham’s Naoyuki Uwasawa (8-5, 3.14) struck out 10, while allowing a run on seven hits but no walks over seven innings. Bryan Rodriguez survived a single and a double in the ninth to record his second save.
Yuki James Nomura’s fifth-inning RBI double broke a 1-1 tie, and Fumikazu Kimura had his first hit since his August trade from Seibu, an RBI double in the seventh to make it 3-1.
Fighters lefty Mizuki Hori worked a 1-2-3 eighth. In the ninth, Rodriguez erased the leadoff runner when Adam Jones hit into a double play. Ryoto Kita, an 18-year-old Orix rookie, doubled with two outs but got greedy and was thrown out easily at third to end the game in a relay started by Kimura’s bare-handed grab of the ball off the wall in right. Kurebayashi also doubled in the fifth and scored the tying run on the second of three hits by 19-year-old rookie shortstop Kotaro Kurebayashi.
Orix starter Sachiya Yamasaki (5-8, 3.83) allowed two runs in 4-2/3 innings.
Marines 5, Lions 1
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Lotte’s Manabu Mima (5-4, 5.60) allowed a run on four hits while striking out five over seven innings, while Leonys Martin drove in the Marines’ first three runs off Kona Takahashi (9-5, 3.20) with a two-run, fourth-inning double and a sixth-inning home run, his 23rd – tying him with SoftBank’s Yuki Yanagita for the PL lead.
Hisanori Yasuda, who also two of Lotte’s seven hits, capped the sixth inning with a two-run double.
Tomoya Mori, who had not played in six days after his personal assistant tested positive for COVID, singled in the Lions’ only run.
Eagles 6, Hawks 3
At Sun Marine Miyazaki Stadium, Rusney Castillo hit his first home run in Japan, driving in two and tying the game 3-3 in the fourth, and Hiroaki Shimauchi put third-place Rakuten in front for the second and final time with a three-run shot, his 16th, in the fifth off Softbank starter Nao Higashihama (3-2, 3.68), who allowed nine hits and a walk over four-plus innings.
Rakuten rookie Takahisa Hayakawa was yanked after allowing three runs in three innings. Rookie Naoto Nishiguchi (2-1), the last player taken in the 2016 draft – prior to the developmental draft – threw three scoreless innings to earn the win.
Sung Chia-hao worked the ninth for his second save.
Wednesday’s starting pitchers
Fighters vs Buffaloes: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Marines vs Lions: Zozo Marine Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Giants vs Swallows: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 6 pm, 5 am EDT
BayStars vs Carp: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Tigers vs Dragons: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 8/31/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/10