Right-hander Jon Edwards made his debut at Japan’s baseball mecca, Koshien Stadium outside Osaka on Friday. The normally loud park was subdued by the fact that Nippon Professional Baseball’s spring exhibition season is being held behind closed doors to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
Edwards issued a walk and followed with a balk, for failing to observe Japan’s dictum that pitchers pause for at least three seconds before delivering to the plate. Edwards halted for about 1.5 and nodded in agreement, so it seemed clear he’d been warned about that one.
It’s not just foreign pitchers who run afoul of the rule either. Former New York Mets pitcher Masato Yoshii said checked his delivery with the umps when he returned to play in NPB. But despite getting assurances in camp during interasquad games, he was flagged for a balk in his preseason debut.
Edwards’ game was otherwise uneventful. He located his fastball fairly well, his slider and curve not so well. After the game ended, however, he returned to the mound — almost as if he was going to take part in a post game hero interview, of which there aren’t because there are no fans.
Instead, he went out to talk to the grounds crew. At first I thought he had an issue with the mound, but it appeared he lost something on the mound and wanted help finding it.
Hit it hard and make it fly
There were no fans for the afternoon game between the hometown Tigers and Nippon Ham Fighters, but for some reason, the scoreboard operator displayed the lyrics to Jerry Sands‘ cheer song.
“Hit it hard, make it fly Jerry. Strike a powerful blow. Out to left, out to right, home run Jerry. Jerry Sands let’s go. Jerry Sands let’s go.”
Just thought you’d want to know that.
Sands popped up to second and struck out looking twice. Fellow newcomer Justin Bour walked in three plate appearances.
Nearby in Osaka
The Orix Buffaloes and Yomiuri Giants sent their Opening Day starters to the mound at Kyocera Dome in Osaka. Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano and his elaborate new take-back surrendered a solo homer to Orix’s fifth draft pick from last autumn, 22-year-old infielder Shoki Katsumata that accounted for all the scoring.
Orix starter Taisuke Yamaoka‘s pitches looked very crisp as he struck out eight over seven innings.
Adam Jones hit the ball hard a couple of times, once for a high fly to the warning track the other a single, while big swinging Giants outfielder Israel Mota struck out twice as the ump gave Sugano some good calls on the outside edge. Mota has chased a lot but at least he was trying to stay in the zone.
Hard-throwing former Mariners and White Sox reliever Thyago Vieiera threw some very straight fastballs and a slider that didn’t move a lot.
Elsewhere in games without fans
Because Rakuten plays outdoors in the northeast, the Eagles have a hard time getting clubs to play preseason games in their cold hometown, so they have to make do.
Hosting the Chunichi Dragons in Shizuoka, Takahiro Norimoto struck out four over five innings, while new Eagle Stefen Romero singled and doubled. Dayan Viciedo singled and doubled for the Dragons.
In Hiroshima, Seibu Lions Opening Day starter Zach Neal said he was trying out a few things and was satisfied after allowing two runs over 4-1/3 innings against the Carp.
New Lions import Reed Garrett faced the last five hitters in Hiroshima’s order and struck out three of them in a perfect outing.