Tag Archives: Norichika Aoki

NPB 2020 Sept. 17

Tigers crush Giants

Yuki Nishi (7-3) threw his second-straight four-hit shutout as the Hanshin Tigers bedeviled Angel Sanchez (4-3) in an 11-0 Central League win at Tokyo Dome on Thursday.

Koji Chikamoto launched a high-straight fastball from Sanchez to open the game and the Tigers simply overran the Giants. Sanchez issued a two-out bases-loaded walk in the first and then caught a break with a doubtful interference call when second baseman Akihiro Wakabayashi cut in front of the runner from first to get a slow chopper and clipped him with his hand.

In a three-run second, Tigers captain Kento Itohara scored from first on a single to center, speeding home from third when center fielder Yoshihiro Maru made a lazy lob of his throw to the infield.

The Tigers win snapped an eight-game losing streak at Tokyo. Chikamoto homered again in the sixth for his second two-homer game of the series and Justin Bour homered in the seventh to make it 7-0.

“Yano wasn’t really at his best. He worked really carefully. When he doesn’t have a lot of room for error, that’s when you see his real skill,” said Tigers manager Akihiro Yano, who was also asked about Chikamoto’s success at Tokyo Dome.

“Does he do well in this park? Is that really a thing?”

Giants manager Tatsunori Hara, who stirred a national debate on Aug. 6 by using utility man Daiki Masuda as an emergency pitcher–something rarely seen in Japan–sent his top pinch-runner to the bullpen late in the game to warm him up but he didn’t take the mound.

Giants-Tigers highlights.

Enemies of the Peoples: Baby Swallows a hit

Rookie Taiki Hamada homered in a three-run fifth inning to chase Michael Peoples (2-2) as a pair of 2018 Yakult draftees took center stage in a 9-0 win for the Swallows over the DeNA BayStars at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

The hosts got on the board in the second when 36-year-old Tomotaka Sakaguchi singled and scored on a throwing error when shortstop Tatsuhiro Shibata airmailed his short throw to second on a force play.

The 20-year-old Hamada, a fourth-round pick, homered to open the fifth. Alcides Escobar followed with his second double and scored on a double by his former Kansas City Royals teammate Norichika Aoki.

Sakaguchi plated Aoki with a sac fly to close the book on Peoples, and 23-year-old Shota Nakayama, the Swallows’ second pick in 2018, homered off nominal closer Yasuaki Yamasaki with one out in the sixth. Nakayama tied a 44-year-old team record of three pinch-hit home runs in a month set by Hall of Famer Katsuo Osugi.

Yakulty yak

Osugi is best known for a home run that ignited the most famous protest in Japan Series history.

The 1978 series MVP hit one down the line in the sixth inning that saw Hall of Fame manager Toshiharu Ueda pull his team off the field at Tokyo’s Korakuen Stadium, delaying the game for 1 hour and 16 minutes. This led the Pacific League to punish teams pulling their players off the field with a forfeit–a rule that was not adopted in the Central League or in the  Japan Series–where Chunichi Dragons manager Hiromitsu Ochiai did it in Game 1 of the 2004 series.

Hawks get emotional

Akira Nakamura, who along with superstar Yuki Yanagita is now the second big wheel in the SoftBank Hawks’ offense, singled to help break up a scoreless tie in the ninth inning of a 2-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.

The Hawks are now mourning Wednesday’s death of longtime conditioning coach Takashi Kawamura at the age of 55. The 30-year-old Nakamura, who has spent much of the last two years with the team’s rehab group where he worked a lot with the trainer, was asked to take part in the postgame hero interview, where the interviewer did what “hero” interviewers tend to do when a team or a player is dealing with a death, ask the player over and over about the deceased.

Nakamura sounded both heartfelt and patient dealing with the incessant badgering.

“Kawamura-san helped me from the time I came out of high school. He invited me to train in the offseason with him and he taught me what it means to be a pro,” Nakamura said. “I owe him so much. Extending my career as long as I can take it will be my way of repaying my debt of gratitude.”

The game was tremendous pitchers’ duel between natives of Urama, Okinawa Prefecture (population 121,843), Nao Higashihama (4-1) the Hawks’ Opening Day starter, and Kenta Uehara (0-1) of the Fighters.

The Hawks defense turned the Fighters back in the third and the sixth. Higashihama made a great play on a safety squeeze in the third to cut down a runner at the plate. In the sixth, Christian Villanueva was out trying to advance from second on a foul fly by right fielder Ryota Nakamura.

Uehara threw 90 pitches through eight innings and came out in the ninth. He issued a leadoff walk, and Nakamura singled only after fouling off two attempts.

“I felt like I had to gain some redemption after being unable to get a bunt down,” Nakamura said of his 1,000th career hit on a ground smash fumbled at third.

Yurisbel Gracial singled in one run, and the second run–the one Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo had not been playing for–scored on an error. The two-run edge allowed closer Yuito Mori to overcame a tremendous opposite-field homer by Sho Nakata to record his 22nd save.

Graceless under pressure

The postgame interviews following a death can be awfully trying. Generally, the questioner isn’t satisfied until he gets some grand emotional response and hopefully tear. This happened famously when current Eagles pitcher Yuya Fukui was a rookie with the Hiroshima Carp and was asked to comment on the death of his brother.

These pitiless interviewers typically ask, “Don’t you think the deceased is looking down on you from heaven now and smiling?”

The nadir came after one player’s wife died after a long illness, that those around him said was exacerbated by his womanizing and shabby treatment of her. In his first hero interview that spring, he was asked the routine interview questions, the tears flowed, and the fans were pleased.

Marines maul Lions every which way

The Lotte Marines bunted the Seibu Lions senseless in a two-run second inning and Leonys Martin hit his 21st and 22nd home runs to back Daiki Iwashita (5-5) in an 8-1 win at MetLife Dome.

Ikuhiro Kiyota opened the second with a double off 38-year-old lefty Tetsuya Utsumi (1-2), who then nearly collided with catcher Tomoya Mori as they both chased a sacrifice bunt that Mori fumbled for an error.

Kiyota held at second on the play, and when the Marines tried again to bunt him over, Mori’s throw to third sailed and a run scored. The second run came home on a safety squeeze and the Marines never looked back.

Iwashita, who struck out Lions cleanup hitter Hotaka Yamakawa three times, allowed a run in the ninth, giving up four hits and a walk while striking out five over eight-plus innings.

Matsui wins duel of former closers

Rakuten Eagles lefty Yuki Matsui (2-3) allowed two runs over five innings to beat Hirotoshi Masui (0-2) in a battle of former closers in a 5-4 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Hotto Motto Field Kobe.

Eagles first baseman Daichi Suzuki made the play of the day diving to catch a foul pop and end the bottom of the first. He then singled with two outs in the third and scored on Kazuki Tanaka’s sixth home run.

Alan Busenitz allowed an unearned run in the ninth, and wrapped up his 11th save when Suzuki made a good play in foul territory to end it with two runners on.

Jones deactivated

Adam Jones was deactivated with a stiff lower back, and was replaced on the active roster by Aderlin Rodriguez, who singled in a run in the Buffaloes’ two-run fourth.

Carp ace Osera has surgery

Daichi Osera, the Opening Day starter for the Central League’s Hiroshima Carp the past two seasons, has undergone right shoulder surgery the team announced Wednesday.

No timeline was given for the 29-year-old right-hander’s return, but he will likely miss the rest of the season after having arthroscopic surgery to clean out the joint at a hospital in Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture.

Osera opened the season with back-to-back complete games for first-year manager and former Carp pitcher Shinji Sasaoka. He has twice been deactivated for “poor form.”

Marines’ Hermmann out of action

Lotte Marines reliever Frank Herrmann was deactivated Wednesday after he was diagnosed with tendon damage in his right index finger. He reportedly will refrain from throwing for two weeks.

Active roster moves 9/17/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/27

Central League

Activated

SwallowsP14Hirotoshi Takanashi
SwallowsOF65Shotaro Tashiro

Dectivated

DragonsP29Daisuke Yamai
SwallowsP64Ren Kazahari
SwallowsOF50Tsuyoshi Ueda

Pacific League

Activated

BuffaloesP17Hirotoshi Masui
BuffaloesIF42Aderlin Rodriguez
BuffaloesOF1Steven Moya

Dectivated

HawksP13Akira Niho
BuffaloesC62Katsuki Yamazaki
BuffaloesOF10Adam Jones

Starting pitchers for Sept. 18, 2020

Pacific League

Fighters vs Marines: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Nick Martinez (1-4, 3.49) vs Toshiya Nakamura (2-2, 3.80)

Buffaloes vs Lions: Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Taisuke Yamaoka (0-3, 3.09) vs Zach Neal (3-5, 4.68)

Hawks vs Eagles: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Matt Moore (2-1, 2.60) vs Ryota Ishibashi (1-3, 6.88)

Central League

Swallows vs Carp: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Albert Suarez (2-0, 0.78) vs Hiroki Tokoda (1-5, 5.34)

BayStars vs Giants: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shoichi Ino (5-4, 3.23) vs Shosei Togo (7-3, 2.37)

Dragons vs Tigers: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yuya Yanagi (3-4, 3.10) vs Onelki Garcia (2-5, 3.93)

NPB 2020 Sept. 12

Austin returns with bang

Tyler Austin, missing from the DeNA BayStars lineup since his unfortunate encounter with an outfield wall on July 31, hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat on Saturday to spark a 7-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Yokohama Stadium.

Austin saw two fastballs and hit a low 1-0 pitch from Takahiro Matsuba (2-4) out for his fifth home run in Japan.

“I have been out of games for a while so I was extremely excited I was able to contribute tonight,” said Austin, who proved to still lack the essentials of Japanese postgame hero interviews.

Most Japanese players asked to comment on their home run would deny that driving the ball was their goal: “I was just trying to keep the rally alive, not try to do too much.”

Manager Alex Ramirez said he batted Austin sixth on a last-minute decision.

“The original plan was not to use Austin, but to rest him, maybe give him one at-bat as a ‘dai-da’ (pinch-hitter), but we needed him so bad, and I realized we needed him in the lineup, which was already done, so I put him there batting sixth, and I said from tomorrow I’ll be using him maybe second, but that’s why he was ‘roku-ban’ (sixth) today.”

“It means a lot. He brings hope to the team. When he’s in the lineup, the whole lineup looks way different. I’m very happy that he’s in the lineup.”

Haruhiro Hamaguchi (4-4) allowed three runs, one earned, on four hits and four walks while striking out four. A quartet of relievers, Spencer Patton, Edwin Escobar, Kenta Ishida and Kazuki Mishima held the Dragons to one hit and walk the rest of the way.

Oyama, Akiyama lead Tigers past Carp

Young Hanshin Tigers cleanup hitter Yusuke Oyama hit a three-run first-inning home run, and right-hander Takumi Akiyama (5-1) made it stand up in a 3-1 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Koshien Stadium.

The 25-year-old Oyama blasted his 18th home run out to center off 23-year-old Carp right-hander Atsushi Endo (2-3). Endo hung on for 4-2/3 innings but the Carp couldn’t make a dent in Akiyama until the right-hander issued his only two walks to open the eighth. One run scored after reliever Joe Gunkel got a double play. Robert Suarez worked the ninth for his 15th save.

Akiyama was asked afterward how it felt when Oyama gave him the lead. Instead of saying how the home run changed everything and gushing about his teammate, he said he still had to do his job.

“Frankly, I’m happy to get the lead, but it doesn’t change what I have to do. I still have to concentrate on every hitter and execute every pitch,” he said, while admitting that prepare as he might he still found the on-field interview format daunting.

“What (reliever Suguru) Iwazaki said the other day was so cool, so I thought I should have something ready in case I was called to the podium. I’m afraid I’ve flubbed it though. So now my goal is to pitch really well so I get another chance and can do it right.”

Two-homer Okamoto sinks Swallows

The Yomiuri Giants’ Kazuma Okamoto joined Saturday’s three-run first-inning home run party with his 20th of the season and then finished off the Yakult Swallows with a seventh-inning solo shot in a 5-4 win at Tokyo Dome.

The Swallows tied it in the fifth on a pair of home runs, including a two-run shot from Norichika Aoki. His 13th homer tied it. After the Swallows took the lead in the sixth, Giants catcher Takumi Oshiro went deep to make it a 4-4 game and set the stage for Okamoto’s seventh-inning blast.

Giants-Swallows highlights

Takaya punches out Lions

Reserve catcher Hiroaki Takaya hit a three-run homer, what else, and drove in the SoftBank Hawks’ first four runs in an 8-4 win over the Seibu Lions.

In the game at Fukuoka’s Casa de Pepe — Does anybody else remember the Steve Martin routine about speaking French or am I just too freaking old? – Shota Takeda (2-0) came back from taking a line drive to the gut in his last start to deliver a gut punch to the Seibu Lions, holding them scoreless for four innings.

Meanwhile, the Hawks offense did what the Hawks offense does, which is put good swings on good pitches and then blow games up when pitchers – in this case – Sean Nolin (1-1) make mistakes. Two hits off good pitches, a Nobuhiro Matsuda double and a Takaya single, made it 1-0 in the second, before the Hawks just wore the lefty out in the third.

A leadoff walk and a missed two-strike fastball to Akira Nakamura put runners on the corners. A grounder to first didn’t produce an out. Ernesto Mejia, who has been putting on clinics in hitting and playing first base, opted for the out at the plate on a grounder to first but failed to get it.

A one-out walk loaded the bases, and some quality hitting from Yurisbel Gracial produced a shot that second baseman Shuta Tonosaki dived for but couldn’t gather in and two more runs scored.

With two on and two outs, Nolin got ahead of Takaya 0-2 with two slow pitches before missing a 1-2 slider in the heart of the zone that Takaya lined over the right-field fence for his second home run – the highlight is that he was able to turn the tables on Gracial, whom he assists in his home run celebration.

Any runners on base will wait at home plate for the home run hitter, and then follow him to the dugout to receive high fives and fist bumps from their team. But Takaya, who normally awaits Gracial at the end of the dugout and where he is “punched out” by Gracial after an exchange of play punches. But to return the favor, Gracial had to break the rules, run ahead of Takaya so that he could wait for the catcher to return and punch him out for a change.

Active roster moves 9/12/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/22

Central League

Activated

GiantsOF39Soichiro Tateoka
BayStarsIF23Tyler Austin

Dectivated

GiantsOF43Shinnosuke Shigenobu
BayStarsOF52Seiya Hosokawa

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP61Masato Okumura

Dectivated

HawksP50Yugo Bando
EaglesP12Hiroki Kondo
FightersP18Kosei Yoshida

Starting pitchers for Sept. 13, 2020

Pacific League

Eagles vs Fighters: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Takayuki Kishi (1-0, 7.30) vs Kohei Arihara (4-6, 3.43)

Marines vs Buffaloes: Zozo Marine Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Manabu Mima (6-2, 4.84) vs Chang Yi (1-2, 3.74)

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

Shuta Ishikawa (6-1, 2.69) vs Wataru Matsumoto (2-3, 4.27)

Central League

Giants vs Swallows: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Cristopher Mercedes (3-4, 3.25) vs Yasuhiro Ogawa (8-2, 3.05)

BayStars vs Dragons: Yokohama Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Shinichi Onuki (6-2, 2.03) vs Kazuki Yoshimi (1-2, 6.23)

Tigers vs Carp: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Shintaro Fujinami (1-5, 5.27) vs Kazuki Yabuta (0-2, 4.13)

NPB 2020 Sept. 4

Mori, Yamakawa get Neal a win

Zach Neal (3-4) got the help he needed to secure his first win since July 17 as he allowed 10 base runners but just two runs over 5-1/3 innings in the Seibu Lions’ 6-2 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters.

The Lions were handed the early lead when Corey Spangenberg’s two-out bases-loaded grounder was misplayed. First baseman Kotaro Kiyomiya retreated to first instead of grabbing it and flipping to his pitcher. Instead of making the third out, Spangenberg was credited with an RBI infield single.

Tomoya Mori made it 3-0 in the second, hitting his sixth homer with Sosuke Genda on base. Sho Nakata hit his Japan-best 23rd homer in the fourth and Ryo Watanabe tripled and scored on a Christian Villanueva infield single in the sixth to make it a one-run game. With one on and one out, rookie Tetsu Miyagawa preserved the lead. Kaima Taira, Reed Garrett and Tatsushi Masuda finished up for Seibu.

Fighters starter Toshihiro Sugiura retired 12 straight after Mori’s home run, and stranded two runners in the sixth before making his exit.

Hotaka Yamakawa, trailing Nakata in the race for his third-straight PL home run crown, made it 6-2 in the seventh with his 20th, a three-run shot off right-hander Kazutomo Iguchi.

Asamura carries Eagles over Buffaloes

Hideto Asamura homered twice and the player the Rakuten Eagles see as his future heir at second base, Fumiya Kurokawa, drove in a game-tying run in his first career plate appearance in a 4-3 win over the Orix Buffaloes.

Taisuke Yamaoka (0-2), Orix’s Opening Day starter, allowed four runs over seven innings. The right-hander surrendered three solo home runs, but allowed just a run in the second, when loaded the bases with no outs. His inning was put in jeopardy when right fielder Yuya Oda misplayed a ball that put two men in scoring position. But after a walk, Yamaoka regrouped and allowed only a sacrifice fly on a good swing from Kurokawa, the Eagles’ second draft pick last year.

The Buffaloes broke the ice when Masataka Yoshida extended his hitting streak to 22 games with a two-out RBI single off Takahiro Norimoto.

Norimoto loaded the bases in the top of the third, allowing the go-ahead run on a one-out bases-loaded sacrifice fly. The Eagles ace was pulled after the third having thrown 48 pitches due, according to Pro Yakyu News analyst Hiroki Nomura, to “a cut on his pitching hand.”

Asamura tied it in the third with his 19th homer, and catcher Yuichi Adachi put the hosts up with a homer in the fifth. After the Buffs tied it in the top of the sixth, Asamura went deep again in the home half to make it 4-3.

Six Rakuten relievers finished up. Alan Busenitz pitched out of a two-out, two-on jam to earn his ninth save.

Ishikawa pitches Marines past Hawks

Ayumu Ishikawa (6-2) allowed two runs over seven innings and the Lotte Marines got to the SoftBank Hawks bullpen as they overcame two Yurisbel Gracial home runs in a 4-3 win at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Ishikawa allowed three hits and a walk while striking out four, and was on the losing end against Hawks southpaw Matt Moore, who battled his command for 5-2/3 innings. The first-year-import scattered five hits and three walks, and got a big play to end the Marines’ fifth from first baseman Akira Nakamura and preserve a 2-0 lead.

Yugo Bando (2-2) got the Hawks out of the sixth with a 2-1 lead but surrendered three runs in the seventh to take the loss. He was followed to the mound by Yuta Watanabe, who made his first team debut two weeks shy of his 29th birthday and worked a 1-2-3 eighth.

Frank Herrmann worked a scoreless eighth with a gift double play when the Hawks bunted into a twin killing with a runner on second. Closer Naoya Masuda surrendered Gracial’s second homer in the ninth en route to his 15th save.

Takahashi homer breaks tie in Dragons’ win

Shuhei Takahashi’s fourth homer proved to be the decisive blow, breaking a 2-2 tie in the Chunichi Dragons’ 4-2 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Zoilo Almonte tied it 2-2 with his third hit of the game, a two-out two-run fifth-inning double. Dayan Viciedo singled to open the Dragons’ sixth and scored on Takahashi’s fourth homer, off Hirotoshi Takanashi (2-4).

Katsuki Matayoshi (1-0) earned the win for two scoreless innings of relief, and three scoreless innings from Daisuke Sobue, Hiroto Fuku and Raidel Martinez, who earned his 10th save, wrapped it up.

The Swallows got on the board on Norichika Aoki’s 12th home run off starter Yuya Yanagi and made it 2-0 in the fourth when Yasutaka Shiomi doubled with two outs and scored on an Alcides Escobar single.

Tigers’ Nishi, Suarez hold off Giants

Starter Yuki Nishi (5-3) and closer Robert Suarez held off the Yomiuri Giants in a 5-4 win at Koshien Stadium after Jerry Sands homered for the third time in four games.

Yusuke Oyama homered and Justin Bour doubled and scored on a safety squeeze by pitcher Yuki Nishi in the second off rookie Shosei Togo (7-3). Jerry Sands hit his 15th home run, driving in two in Hanshin’s three-run sixth.

Nishi allowed four runs, three earned, over 7-2/3 innings. With two on and two out, closer Robert Suarez was brought on to face Yoshihiro Maru, who doubled in the Giants first run of the game in the seventh. Suarez struck him out swinging at a 159 kph (98.8 mph) fastball on his seventh pitch. He then worked a 1-2-3 ninth, wrapping up his 13th save when pinch-hitter Zelous Wheeler flied out to the warning track.

Nishi struck out nine and walked one while allowing seven hits in his 123-pitch outing. Togo allowed five runs in 5-2/3 innings.

Kikuchi powers Carp comeback

Ryosuke Kikuchi went 5-for-6 with two doubles, two runs and three RBIs to help power the Hiroshima Carp, who overcame two large deficits to salvage a 12-12 10-inning tie with the DeNA BayStars at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Kikuchi singled in two runs with two outs in the ninth as Kazuki Mishima blew a two-run save for the visitors, who led 5-0 after three 9-5 after the top of the sixth.

A battle between in-form right-handers Shoichi Ino and Carp rookie Masato Morishita devolved into a slug fest as each pitcher allowed five runs while neither made it through four innings.

Neftali Soto doubled and homered and drove in four runs for the BayStars, while Carp closer Geronimo Franzua and BayStars reliever Edwin Escobar each put up a zero in the 10th to ensure a tie.

Active roster moves 9/4/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/14

Central League

Activated

TigersIF33Kento Itohara

Dectivated

TigersC39Kenya Nagasaka
CarpP42Kris Johnson

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP29Ryuya Ogawa
HawksP48Yuta Watanabe
EaglesIF24Fumiya Kurokawa
BuffaloesP14Kazumasa Yoshida
BuffaloesC62Katsuki Yamazaki

Dectivated

LionsP19Hiromasa Saito
HawksP13Akira Niho
EaglesOF51Yuya Ogo
BuffaloesP17Hirotoshi Masui
BuffaloesC33Masato Matsui

Starting pitchers for Sept. 4, 2020

Pacific League

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

Kohei Arihara (3-6, 3.56) vs Sean Nolin (1-0, 4.50)

Eagles vs Buffaloes: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Takahiro Shiomi (3-5, 4.53) vs Sachiya Yamasaki (2-3, 4.38)

Hawks vs Marines: PayPay Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Shota Takeda (1-0, 1.29) vs Manabu Mima (5-2, 4.95)

Central League

Swallows vs Dragons: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Daiki Yoshida (1-4, 5.50) vs Takahiro Matsuba (2-3, 3.08)

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

Shintaro Fujinami (1-4, 4.26) vs Nobutaka Imamura (2-0, 4.02)

Carp vs BayStars: Mazda Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Daichi Osera (5-3, 3.45) vs Shinichi Onuki (5-2, 2.22)

NPB 2020 8-26 Games and news

Ojima ends Wakui’s win streak

Hideaki Wakui overcame a rough start to work seven innings, but Marines lefty Kazuya Ojima, 10 years his junior, struck out a career-high 11 to deny the 34-year-old his ninth win to open the season as the Lotte Marines beat the Rakuten Eagles and their former teammate 2-0 on Wednesday at Sendai’s Rakuten Semei Park Miyagi.

Wakui pitched out of a two-out bases-loaded jam in the first inning with a good inside fastball to Katsuya Kakunaka that the former PL batting champion popped up. After Ojima worked out of a first-inning pickle, Wakui fell behind light-hitting Yudai Fujioka to start the second. The right-hander threw the Marines shortstop a 3-1 fastball down the pipe that he skied to right only for it to reach the seats at the foul pole for his first home run of the season. With two outs, Wakui hung an 0-1 breaking ball and Shuhei Fukuda pulled it down the right-field line for his third home run.

Ojima worked around a defensive mixup in the second that helped Stefen Romero to a leadoff double, and that second zero proved to be the ballgame as he allowed only two more batters to reach through seven innings. Former Eagle Frank Herrmann worked the eighth, while Naoya Masuda notched his 17th save in the ninth.

Wakui also went seven, and though he battled his command more than he has for most of the season, he figured things out as the game went on. He finished with five walks, nine strikeouts and three walks.

Matsuda spearheads Hawks comeback

Nobuhiro Matsuda hit a game-tying seventh-inning home run and singled to give the Hawks a out, ninth-inning beachhead they exploited in their 5-4 come-from-behind win over the Orix Buffaloes at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Masataka Yoshida doubled off 39-year-old Hawks lefty Tsuyoshi Wada to drive in a first-inning run and broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth against Wada with his xth home run.

Buffaloes lefty Daiki Tajima loaded the bases in the first but allowed no runs, but allowed a single and a home run in the fourth, reserve catcher Hiroaki Takaya’s first of the season. Tyler Higgins kept the Hawks off the board in the bottom of the eighth with the help of backup catcher Torai Fushimi, who cut down lightning-fast pinch-runner Ukyo Shuto trying to steal second.

After a scoreless ninth by Hawks closer Yuito Mori (1-1), Matsuda singled off Buffaloes closer Brandon Dickson (0-3) and Nakamura tripled home pinch-runner Taisei Makihara to end it.

Villanueva lands 1st punch in slugfest

The Nippon Ham Fighters’ Christian Villanueva blasted a three-run, second-inning homer to open the scoring off lefty Daiki Enokida (0-1) who surrendered seven early runs in an 8-5 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.

Fighters starter Toshihiro Sugiura allowed three runs over 5-1/3 innings. He didn’t allow a run until the sixth, when two walks and a single opened the floodgates to a five-run Lions innings, highlighted by a three-run Corey Spangenberg home run.

Wheeler boosts well-coached Giants

Zelous Wheeler hit a two-run first-inning home run and put his team in front with a sixth-inning RBI single for the Yomiuri Giants, who took advantage of an umpire’s inattention in a 12-5 see-saw win against the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

With the game tied 5-5 in the sixth, Wheeler put the Giants in front and cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto, hitless in his first three at-bats, singled in one more. A seven-hit five-run ninth turned the game into a rout.

The Swallows overturned their early deficit via a one-out Tetsuto Yamada home run, a Norichika Aoki walk and Munetaka Murakami’s 11th home run off Nattino Diplan. But the Giants retook the lead in the second with two runs against lefty Keiji Takahashi after a Hiroyuki Nakajima leadoff single and a double by rookie reserve catcher Yukinori Kishida.

The Swallows were denied an inning-ending double play because third base umpire Yoshiharu Yamaguchi wasn’t paying attention. Nakajima was caught between third and home on a grounder to third and beat a hasty retreat only to find Mota occupying the bag. Swallows catcher Yuhei Nakamura did the smart thing and tagged both men. Nakajima, mistakenly thinking he was out, walked off the bag until third base coach Koji Goto yanked him back.

Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu came out to argue but in the ump’s judgement, Goto preventing Nakajima from getting tagged out did not constitute help or he wasn’t looking. Either way, Hayato Sakamoto followed with a two-out two-run double.

Tomotaka Sakaguchi’s two-run homer in the fifth put Yakult back on top, only for Wheeler and the Giants to turn the game around once more.

Kishida walked to open the sixth, pinch-runner Daiki Masuda stole second and scored on Shinnosuke Shigenobu’s single. A walk put two on for Wheeler who singled between third and short.

Giants reliever Yuhei Takanashi (1-0) earned the win, extending his scoreless game streak to 15 with two scoreless innings.

Nomura pitches Carp past BayStars

Yusuke Nomura (3-1) allowed two runs over eight innings, while Shota Dobayashi and Seiya Suzuki each scored twice in the Hiroshima Carp’s 4-2 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohoma Stadium.

The Carp opened the scoring in the fourth on a one-out Dobayashi single, a Suzuki double and Ryuhei Matsuyama’s two-run single. In the home half, Carp center fielder Takayoshi Noma threw out Neftali Soto at the plate to end the inning. The BayStars tied it 2-2 in the fifth on Takayuki Kajitani’s 10th home run, but Dobayashi put the visitors ahead in the sixth. He walked, stole second and scored on Matsuyama’s second RBI single off Haruhiro Hamaguchi (3-3).

Suzuki’s 14th home run, off Spencer Patton in the ninth, completed the scoring, and Geronimo Franzua struck out the side in the bottom of the inning to record his seventh save.

Bour, Tigers maul Dragons

Justin Bour homered twice and drove in three runs, while Onelki Garcia (2-5) allowed two runs over six innings in the Hanshin Tigers’ 11-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Koshien Stadium.

Bour dropped his bombs against Dragons right-hander Koji Fukutani (2-2), who hit his first bump in the road in his transition to starting pitcher, allowing six runs in six innings to take the loss after four decent outings. The Tigers took the lead in the second when Bour hit his 11th of the season with two outs and none on. His two-run home run capped Hanshin’s five-run sixth

Hawks drop Despaigne, Higashihama

The SoftBank Hawks deactivated two-time Best Nine Award-winning designated hitter Alfredo Despaigne and Opening Day starter Nao Higashima on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old Despaigne has been suffering from pain in his left knee. The right-handed-hitting slugger returned to Japan in July with Cuban teammate Yurisbel Gracial and rejoined the first team on Friday and has appeared in three games.

Higashihama, named to start on Opening Day for the first time in June, was sent down due to a stiff neck. He threw 132 pitches in a five-inning start on Friday against the Lotte Marines in which he allowed three runs. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA. He was replaced on the active roster by Wednesday’s starting pitcher, 39-year-old lefty Tsuyoshi Wada.

Moore back with 1st team

First-year import Matt Moore rejoined the Hawks first team on Wednesday for practice prior their game against Orix in Fukuoka. The 31-year-old lefty suffered a left calf injury on July 7.

“His leg is no issue,” manager Kimiyasu Kudo said. “Once he’s in games, we’ll control his pitch counts to some extent. I’ve watched video. The only thing that concerns me is the number of pitches.”

Elsewhere, the Orix Buffaloes deactivated first-baseman Aderlin Rodriguez, while the Central League’s DeNA BayStars dropped first baseman Jose Lopez.

Active roster moves 8/26/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/5

Central League

Activated

GiantsP96Nattino Diplan
BayStarsOF52Seiya Hosokawa
CarpIF00Kaisei Sone
SwallowsP20Kazuki Kondo

Dectivated

BayStarsIF2Jose Lopez
CarpIF63Ryoma Nishikawa
SwallowsP13Hikaru Nakao

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP21Tsuyoshi Wada
HawksOF64Yusuke Masago
EaglesP72Shun Ikeda
BuffaloesOF56Yusuke Matsui

Dectivated

HawksP16Nao Higashihama
HawksOF54Alfredo Despaigne
EaglesP23Hayato Yuge
MarinesP15Manabu Mima
BuffaloesIF42Aderlin Rodriguez

Starting pitchers for Aug. 27, 2020

Pacific League

Eagles vs Marines: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yuki Matsui (0-1, 5.16) vs Daiki Iwashita (3-3, 4.03)

Lions vs Fighters: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Keisuke Honda (1-4, 3.45) vs Ryusei Kawano (2-3, 4.46)

Hawks vs Buffaloes: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shunsuke Kasaya (1-2, 3.42) vs Taisuke Yamaoka (0-0, 1.23)

Central League

Swallows vs Giants: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hirotoshi Takanashi (2-2, 4.47) vs Shosei Togo (6-2, 2.11)

BayStars vs Carp: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shoichi Ino (4-3, 2.21) vs Kris Johnson (0-5, 5.83)

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

Koyo Aoyagi (5-3, 3.40) vs Yuya Yanagi (2-3, 2.36)

NPB 2020 8-22 games and news

Jones ruins Utsumi’s Cinderella comeback

Adam Jones homered twice, taking a bat to Tetsuya Utsumi’s hopes of winning his first game in two years, by driving in four runs in the Orix Buffaloes’ 5-2 Pacific League victory on Saturday afternoon.

Jones, who homered and drove in all of Orix’s runs on Friday, when they won their first game under acting skipper Satoshi Nakajima, broke open a scoreless pitching duel between the 38-year-old Utsumi (0-1) and unheralded 26-year-old Taiwan right-hander Chang Yi (1-1).

Chang, who went to school in Japan following in the footsteps of his cousin, Yang Dai-kang, joined Orix in 2017 on a non-roster developmental contract. Since he went to school here, he is still known by how the Chinese characters in his Mandarin name are read in Japanese “Cho Yaku.” After a tough start in his season debut nine days before, Chang’s fastball was crisp and hard for the Lions to handle.

The right-hander pitched out of jams in the third and fourth innings, and he left after allowing five hits, a walk and a hit batsman.

“Honestly, I was resigned to giving up runs (in the fourth inning), but even so I was going to fight them,” Chang said.

Nakajima, who has seen a lot of Chang during his time as the Buffaloes’ farm manager said Saturday’s performance is in line with his skill level.

“You saw what he does well,” Nakajima said. “He had late life on his fastball and attacked hitters. He had an elbow issue that delayed him getting to this point, but he’s going to contribute.”

Never a flame-thrower, Utsumi long thrived on precision and movement, getting foul strikes and soft contact. He retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced. With one out in the fourth, Buffaloes slugger Masataka Yoshida miss-hit a fastball and chopped it through the infield for a one-out single, Orix’s first hit.

Utsumi nearly got himself out of trouble, but instead set himself up for a fall. He fielded a one-hop comebacker but his uncatchable throw to second spoiled any chance for an out, let alone a double play. Utsumi’s next throw also missed by the smallest of margins, a first-pitch changeup to Jones just above the knees, that he lofted over the left-field wall.

“I just wanted in that situation to get a ball up and drive the runner in and I was fortunate enough to drive the ball out of the ballpark,” Jones said.

Seibu’s Takeya Nakamura, a six-time PL home run champ, hit his sixth of the year in the top of the sixth off reliever Keisuke Sawada.

Jones struck again in the sixth. With two outs and none on, Utsumi missed up just a little with a slider and Jones lined it into the second deck.

“The second one, that was a little more fun. I tried to be aggressive and not let the pitcher get ahead with a strike and just try to be aggressive in the zone. And I didn’t miss it at all,” Jones said.

After three home runs and seven RBIs in two games following a slow start to the season, Jones was asked the obligatory question about whether he was seeing the ball better or not.

‘I’ve been seeing the ball the same,” Jones said. “I am just trying to play the game the way I know how to play.”

“Our pitchers were terrific. Cho battled his butt off and gave us a great opportunity to win the game. And when the opportunity arose to drive some runners in, we did a good job.”

“Home runs are always fun to hit. The bench was going crazy. There’s been a lot of energy the last couple of days. We want to continue to play the game hard and have fun.”

The Lions added a run in the seventh against lefty Nobuyoshi Yamada, forcing setup man Tyler Higgins into the game with two outs and two on to preserve Orix’s lead. Nakamura lined a shot over short, but Koji Oshiro leaped to make a catch, end the inning and save at least a run.

After Higgins worked a scoreless eighth, defensive substitute Yuya Oda doubled in the Buffaloes’ fifth run. Oda, who made a big catch in the ninth on Friday, made another big play on Saturday.

After a Tomoya Mori single to lead off against closer Brandon Dickson, Hotaka Yamakawa drilled a liner to left that Oda short. Mori assumed the ball would be caught and was retreating to first when Oda forced him at second for 7-4 force. A double play followed and it was over.

It was a decent start for Utsumi, if not a winning one for the former ace of the Central League’s Yomiuri Giants. Utsumi joined Seibu after the 2018 season as part of the compensation package for the Giants signing free agent catcher Ginjiro Sumitani. The loss saw Utsumi’s career record against Orix to 2-3 with the previous four games coming in interleague play.

Ironically, Utsumi’s PL debut came against Orix, who drafted him first in 2000 out of high school. Utsumi turned them down out of desire to play for his grandfather’s old team, the Giants. After three seasons in corporate league ball, he turned pro with the Giants.

Yanagita puts on show against Marines

Yuki Yanagita hit a mammoth two-run homer to open the scoring and doubled in the tie-breaking run as the SoftBank Hawks moved back into a tie for first place in the Pacific League with the Lotte Marines, who they beat 3-2.

The camera’s at Zozo Marine Stadium were not prepared for the lunar launch trajectory of Yanagita’s 17th home run, and viewers on TV could only see it drop down and strike the top of the center-field fence, ostensibly after hitting high up on the scoreboard.

Akira Nakamura slashed a leadoff single in the eighth against Frank Herrmann (3-1) for his third hit of the game. Yanagita followed by finding the gap in left center for an RBI double.

Imamiya could be out for up to 2 months

SoftBank Hawks shortstop Kenta Imamiya is expected to miss between six to eight weeks due to a left calf injury. The club announced Saturday that an MRI revealed damage to the soleus muscle in his left leg.

Imamiya, a two-time Best Nine shortstop with five Golden Gloves, complained of pain in the leg on Aug. 19.

Arihara sharp again for Fighters

Nippon Ham Fighters ace Kohei Arihara (3-5) produced his second-straight solid start, allowing a run over six innings, while Sho Nakata homered and drove in three runs in a 5-1 over the Rakuten Eagles at Sapporo Dome.

Arihara gave up six singles and a walk while striking out six, and he quickly had three runs to work with after his teammates opened the scoring in the bottom of the first off Takahiro Shiomi (3-4).

Haruki Nishikawa’s single, the third straight to open the inning, made it 1-0, and Nakata followed with a two-run double. Shiomi allowed four runs over five innings, and Nakata hit his Japan-best 20th home run in the fifth.

Dragons rookie Rodriguez blots out ‘Stars

Cuban rookie Yariel Rodriguez improved to 2-0 in three impressive starts for the Chunichi Dragons, who beat the DeNA BayStars 5-0 at Nagoya Dome.

Rodriguez allowed two singles and two walks over six innings, while striking out just three batters over six innings. The 23-year-old, who is eligible for the Rookie of the Year Award, has now allowed three runs over 19-1/3 innings.

Dragons captain Shuhei Takahashi opened the scoring in the first against DeNA rookie Kosuke Sakaguchi (0-1) with a one-out bases-loaded single. Takahashi added a two-run home run in the fifth.

Osera goes 8 as Carp walk past Giants

Hiroshima Carp ace Daichi Osera (5-2) allowed two runs over eight innings in a 10-4 win over the Yomiuri Giants, who issued nine walks in the game at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Osera allowed former Carp teammate Yoshihiro Maru to tie it 1-1 in the second with his 12th home run.

But Giants starter Seishu Hatake (0-3) didn’t survive the third inning. He opened it by walking Osera, and by the time the dust had settled, six runs were in and 12 batters had come to the plate.

Israel Mota, who the Giants signed this year from their developmental roster, had his first hit in Japan, a two-run ninth-inning home run.

Tigers survive Swallows ambush

Robert Suarez got Norichika Aoki to fly out with two on and two outs in the ninth to nail down his ninth save as the Hanshin Tigers held on to beat the Yakult Swallows 7-5 at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Aoki, whose eighth-inning grand slam brought the Swallows within two runs. Facing Suarez, he did his best to elevate a low 1-0 pitch but his high fly to center was held up by a stiff wind and died at the warning track along with the Swallows’ chances of a come-from-behind win.

Yusuke Oyama belted a three-run first-inning homer off Matt Koch (0-1), who allowed six runs over four innings in his Japan debut for the Swallows.

Tigers starter Yuki Nishi (4-3) allowed a run over seven innings and doubled in a run in Hanshin’s three-run fourth inning only for relievers Yuya Nakao and Yuta Iwasada to let the hosts get back in the game.

Setup man Joe Gunkel allowed a hit and a walk before getting the final out in the inning and turning it over to Suarez in the ninth.

Active roster moves 8/22/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/1

Central League

Activated

BayStarsP12Kousuke Sakaguchi
SwallowsP33Matt Koch

Dectivated

BayStarsOF37Taishi Kusumoto

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP27Tetsuya Utsumi
FightersP59Yuki Yoshida

Dectivated

LionsP23Shogo Noda
FightersP27Nick Martinez

Starting pitchers for Aug. 23, 2020

Pacific League

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

Drew VerHagen (4-1, 3.72) vs Yuya Fukui (0-2, 5.54)

Marines vs Hawks: Zozo Marine Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Toshiya Nakamura (1-0, 3.86) vs Shuta Ishikawa (5-0, 2.08)

Buffaloes vs Lions: Kyocera Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Andrew Albers (2-5, 4.04) vs Wataru Matsumoto (1-3, 5.10)

Central League

Swallows vs Tigers: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yasuhiro Ogawa (5-2, 3.43) vs Takumi Akiyama (4-1, 3.80)

Dragons vs BayStars: Nagoya Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Yudai Ono (3-3, 3.02) vs Hiromu Ise (0-0, 1.80)

Carp vs Giants: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Atsushi Endo (2-2, 3.77) vs Daisuke Naoe (-)

NPB 2020 8-20 games and news

Marines traverse 10th-inning mine field to beat Hawks

The Lotte Marines pulled into a tie for the Pacific League lead on Thursday with the SoftBank Hawks, whom they beat 5-4 in 10 innings.

With the game tied 2-2 after nine innings, the Marines walked Yuki Yanagita with one out and a runner on third. As much as I hate intentional walks, facing Yanagita with the go-ahead run on third is not a pleasant thought. It still proved to be a poor decision as the free pass resulted in the Hawks scoring twice on a two-out Ryoya Kurihara single to make it 4-2.

The Marines got the first two runners on in the bottom of the 10th, but Shogo Nakamura had to beat the throw to first to stay out of the triple play. Leonys Martin then tied it with a home run off the wall behind the right-field stands at Zozo Marine Stadium. With two on and two out, Hawks reliever Arata Shiino uncorked a wild 3-2 pitch. Takashi Toritani, the 39-year-old former Hanshin Tigers captain who was signed over the winter after a tryout, took off from second with the pitch and scored to win it.

Shimauchi homer derails Fighters’ victory plans

Hiroaki Shimauchi’s two-out, two-strike, three-run homer off closer Ryo Akiyoshi took Rakuten Eagles starter Yuki Matsui off the hook for a tough loss while depriving Nippon Ham Fighters starter Nick Martinez of his second win as

Martinez threw five scoreless innings at Sapporo Dome, leaving only after a line drive stung his pitching hand as he recorded a tough out to end the fifth inning. Martinez got a lot of weak contac,t although he went through a stretch in the third where the Eagles seemed to be sitting fastball and he obliged them with misses in the heart of the zone.

Matsui, who is transitioning this season from closer to starter, allowed two runs on three hits and two walks over six innings. A leadoff walk and a single off a good pitch put runners on the corners. Matsui missed badly to Sho Nakata, but the Fighters cleanup hitter miss-timed it and hit a tough grounder into the hole, where rookie shortstop Hiroto Kobukata made a good play to record the second out as Haruki Nishikawa scored.

In the fourth inning, Nakata blasted a fastball in the heart of the zone in the well up into the outfield seats for his 19th home run of the season and his fourth in five games. Like Martinez, Matsui got away with some mistakes, but after the first inning, he established a rhythm as he mixed his bread-and-butter slider with well-located fastballs and splitters.

The Fighters scored off reliever J.T. Chargois in the seventh after leadoff hitter Ryo Watanabe put a good swing on a good low fastball to reach on a leadoff single. After pinch-hitter Kenshi Sugiya’s textbook sacrifice, Chargois, who had been unleashing some of the filthiest sliders you’ll see, hung one in the heart of the zone and light-hitting catcher Yushi Shimizu got it through the infield for an RBI single.

A trio of Fighters relievers, lefty Mizuki Hori, right-hander Taisho Tamai and lefty setup man Naoki Miyanishi retired nine straight, while Eagles right-hander Tomohiro Anraku survived loading the bases with two outs to keep it a 3-0 game going into the ninth.

After a one-out walk and a single, Akiyoshi struck out Eagles batting star Hideto Asamura for the second out. Shimauchi hit a foul fly that was nearly caught to run the count to 1-2, when the side-armer hung a fastball up in the zone, and the left-handed-hitting Shimauchi launched if 15 rows back into the distant right-field stands.

Veteran Chihiro Kaneko stranded a runner in scoring position and left the mound pumping his fist after striking out two batters looking at fastballs away to keep the game tied going into the bottom of the 10th.

Eagles right-hander Alan Busenitz, however, matched him in the bottom of the 10th, escaping a two-on, one-out jam against – despite a hanging 3-2 breaking ball to Nakata – to preserve the tie.

Lions send Nishimura out on losing note

What looked like a bullpen day for the Seibu Lions was one fitting their relief warhorse, Katsunori Hirai (5-2), who threw five scoreless innings in his first career start before six teammates finished up a 6-4 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Buffaloes skipper Norifumi Nishimura announced his resignation after the game and he will be replaced by long time former Nippon Ham Fighters player coach Satoshi Nakajima, who has coached with Orix since last year and is currently their Western League farm manager.

Giants complete shutout sweep of Tigers

Hayato Sakamoto drove in both runs to earn rookie Shosei Togo (6-2) the win in a 2-0 Yomiuri Giants victory over the Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo Dome that completed a three-game shutout sweep.

Togo worked 6-2/3 innings. He gave up three hits and a walk while striking out 11. Rubby De La Rosa worked a scoreless ninth to earn his fifth save.

Koyo Aoyagi (5-3) allowed a run over six innings, with the lone run coming in the sixth off a hustling leadoff triple by Shinnosuke Shigenobu and a high first pitch to Hayato Sakamoto that was tailor made to drive for a long fly to bring in the run.

BayStars hammer Johnson in Peoples’ 1st win

First-year DeNA BayStars import Michael Peoples (1-1) allowed a run over five innings to earn his first win in Japan in a 12-1 blood-letting against the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Peoples allowed three hits, including Shota Dobayashi’s 10th home run, without issuing a walk. Carp starter Kris Johnson, the 2016 Sawamura Award winner, fell to 0-5 after allowing four runs over 5-1/3 innings. DeNA’s Neftali Soto, the two-time defending Central League home run champ, hit his ninth home run, a three-run shot in the eighth inning.

Swallows’ Takanashi stops Dragons’ streak

Hirotoshi Takanashi (2-2) allowed two runs over six innings for the Yakult Swallows in their 7-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium. The loss snapped Chunichi’s longest win streak of the year at four games.

The game was the first of the season for Swallows catcher Yuhei Nakamura, who during the summer fell victim to the team’s most frequent malady, a lack of upper-body fitness. Nakamura singled, had an RBI double, twice reached on errors and scored twice. Norichika Aoki broke a 2-2 tie, when he led off Yakult’s five-run fifth with his eighth home run.

Lions suspend 2 for covid-19 rule violations

The Seibu Lions have suspended two minor leaguers for violating the team’s protocols to prevent infections from the novel coronavirus, the Daily Sports reported Thursday.

The pair, 23-year-old infielder Ryuse Sato and 26-year-old outfielder Makoto Aiuchi, have been suspended indefinitely after it was learned that the two went to Chiba Prefecture to play golf when they were under orders to refrain from unnecessary activities.

Sato committed a moving violation while driving his car on their outing, ostensibly the reason they were caught out.

BayStars’ Patton has with lower-back sprain

DeNA BayStars reliever Spencer Patton (32) is dealing with a minor lower-back sprain manager Alex Ramirez revealed Thursday according to Sanspo.com.

The right-hander took the mound on Tuesday to start the eighth inning in Hiroshima, but left the game with lower-back stiffness after issuing a seven-pitch walk. According to Ramirez, Patton’s status is day to day.

Active roster moves 8/20/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/30

Central League

Activated

GiantsOF43Shinnosuke Shigenobu
BayStarsP45Michael Peoples
SwallowsP44Hiroki Onishi
SwallowsC52Yuhei Nakamura

Dectivated

GiantsP42Cristopher Mercedes
GiantsOF94Shuhei Kato
BayStarsP59Kentaro Taira
SwallowsP16Juri Hara
SwallowsP54Masato Nakazawa
SwallowsC57Yudai Koga

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP66Yuki Matsumoto
HawksIF36Taisei Makihara
FightersP27Nick Martinez

Dectivated

HawksP10Kotaro Otake
HawksIF6Kenta Imamiya
FightersP35Takahiro Nishimura

Starting pitchers for Aug. 21, 2020

Pacific League

Fighters vs Eagles: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Takayuki Kato (0-1, 3.98) vs Takahiro Norimoto (3-3, 3.95)

Marines vs Hawks: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Ayumu Ishikawa (3-2, 4.21) vs Nao Higashihama (2-1, 2.90)

Buffaloes vs Lions: Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Sachiya Yamasaki (2-2, 4.46) vs Zach Neal (2-2, 5.26)

Central League

Swallows vs Tigers: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Daiki Yoshida (1-2, 4.81) vs Shintaro Fujinami (0-4, 4.00)

Dragons vs BayStars: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Takahiro Matsuba (2-3, 3.08) vs Shinichi Onuki (5-2, 1.86)

Carp vs Giants: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Masato Morishita (4-2, 2.31) vs Kazuto Taguchi (2-2, 4.03)