Tag Archives: Rick van den Hurk

Ramping up: 8 days to go

We’re bordering on one week to go before Nippon Professional Baseball joins its Asian rivals from Taiwan and South Korea by playing regular season games.

Hawks pick six starters

The SoftBank Hawks on Thursday revealed their starting rotation when they open the season next Friday on June 19, the Hochi Shimbun reported. Ace Kodai Senga, who is rehabbing from a right-forearm injury only made his first pitching appearance of the year last Friday in a minor league practice game, and was not on the list.

Kudo had already named right-hander Nao Higashihama, former ace lefty and former Chicago Cub Tsuyoshi Wada, and veteran big leaguer Matt Moore. On Thurday he added Rick van den Hurk, Shuta Ishikawa and journeyman Akira Niho.

“The first couple of weeks, it’s not like the starters will be going deep into games,” Kudo said. “In a context like that, it’s better to have guys who can throw two or three innings.”

Open and shut: March 4, 2020 – Full house in the Casa de PayPay

Steve Martin’s career in stand up comedy picked up as I was finishing high school and starting college, and as such his humor left a mark. One routine was about Americans’ aversion to French’s large number of difficult vowel sounds. In contrast, he presented Spanish, using the sentence: “Where is Pepe’s house? or Donde esta casa de Pepe?”

Thanks to the SoftBank Hawks’ use Fukuoka Dome to advertise SoftBank group companies, it has been Yahoo! Japan Dome, Yafuoku Dome (Yahoo! Auctions Dome). From this year it has been labeled “PayPay Dome” to represent the recently launched online billing company. It’s not identical to Martin’s famous casa, but it’s close enough that I can’t get it out of my pea brain. So for the time being I can’t think of Fukuoka Dome as anything but the Casa de PayPay.

Welcome Matt!

On Wednesday, journeyman major league starting pitcher Matt Moore struck out five of the 10 batters he faced as the SoftBank Hawks showed off their pitching depth in an 8-1 preseason win over the Central League’s Yakult Swallows.

Moore’s fastball sat at 150 kph (93.2 mph) and he complimented that with his slider and a changeup and had generally good command of his pitches, making him a strong candidate for the Hawks’ starting rotation.

The game highlights are HERE.

If Moore executes his secondary pitches, he’s going to be a success in Japan. His outing came in relief of former ace lefty Tsuyoshi Wada, who other than winning the final game of last year’s Japan Series, has not been that fit over the last three seasons.

Wada gave up a solo homer on a mistake but struck out five over four innings. Rick van den Hurk, who appeared in just three games last season, was sharp on Tuesday. That means that while the Hawks appear capable of overcoming season-opening injury to 2019 rookie of the year Rei Takahashi, they are going to have tough decisions to make regarding their import players.

Teams are allowed four active foreign-registered players. New acquisition Wladimir Balentien does not count against the limit by virtue of nine years of service time, but that still leaves the Hawks with van den Hurk, Moore, lefty reliever Livan Moinelo, infielder-outfielder Yurisbel Gracial and designated hitter Alfredo Despaigne. Further complicating things is the return of closer Dennis Sarfate, who has missed most of the last two seasons.

Open and shut: March 3, 2020 – Sarfate returns to Fukuoka mound

Dennis Sarfate returned to the mound in Fukuoka on Tuesday for the first time in nearly two years. In one of five preseason games (“Open sen” in Japanese) played Tuesday — all behind closed doors — the Hawks took on the Yakult Swallows in an interesting contest.

Here are the game highlights, courtesy of PL TV.

As he has in the videos he’s been posting to social media that past year or so, Sarfate looked comfortable throwing although was nowhere near regular season velocity, touching 143 kilometers per hour compared to his average fastball velocity in 2017 of 153.3. He allowed a single and got two flyouts.

Rick van den Hurk threw 3-2/3 innings for the Hawks, and looked ready for Opening Day, with his fastball touching 150 kph, and good command of all his pitches. Van den Hurk pitched in just three games last year during the regular season.

Swallows starter Hirotoshi Takanashi also looked ready for Opening Day with generally good movement and command of his fastball. Although he was a little inconsistent and a little lucky, he threw five solid innings.

Peoples makes spring debut

New import Michael Peoples made his preseason debut with the DeNA BayStars, allowing three runs over three innings in which he gave up a home run, walked a batter and hit a batter against the Rakuten Eagles in Shizuoka.

Tyler Austin resumed his hit parade with a double and a single in three at-bats, raising his spring exhibition average to .615 with three homers and three triples in 15 plate appearances. The Eagles’ Jabari Blash hit his second homer of the spring.

Lions’ Takahashi goes 5 strong

Kona Takhashi, who for an instant had been in the running to start the Seibu Lions’ opener according to manager Hajime Tsuji, struck out six over five scoreless innings against the Chunichi Dragons.

Daisuke Yamai, who at the age of 41 is trying to secure some starts this season, showed he has more work to do. He walked three while allowing four runs over two innings of relief.

Japan Series 2019 Game 3

There was a little reminiscing at the start of Tuesday’s Game 3, when the Japan Series moved to the home of the Central League champions, with the Yomiuri Giants trailing 2-0. That’s the same deficit they overcame in the 2000 neural surgeon series to beat the Hawks.

Hawks cruise past Giants rookies

Giants rookie Yuki Takahashi lasted 2-2/3 innings, while SoftBank starter Rick van den Hurk was pulled after four frames with both starters giving up two innings. The game was decided in that 1-1/3-inning gap in which another Giants rookie, Shosei Togo, allowed four unearned runs in a third of an inning.

After a Seiichi Uchikawa single and a walk, the fun began with van den Hurk not squaring to bunt on the first pitch. TV cameras showed that this had taken the Giants bench by surprise, and the infielders had to gather at the mound to consider the implications of the Hawks not bunting in an automatic bunt situation.

Van den Hurk got a poor bunt down on the next pitch, Togo pounced and threw a one-hopper that third baseman Kazuma Okamoto could have caught but didn’t to load the bases. A pinch-hit sacrifice fly, an infield single and a walk made it 4-2 and Alfredo Despaigne completed the scoring with a two-run single.

Despaigne, a designated hitter playing left field, had one outfield incident, playing a potential out into a second-inning double for Cuban compatriot Alex Guerrero. But the Hawks’ home run leader drove in three runs with a pair of singles.

The Giants leadoff man, a hard-hitting 37-year-old on-base machine named Yoshiyuki Kamei, homered twice, while Yurisbel Gracial hit his second homer of the series.

The Giants narrative will no doubt switch from 2000 to 1989, when Yomiuri bounced back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Kintetsu Buffaloes. The Buffaloes operated from 1950 to 2004 and at the time they merged with the Orix BlueWave, were the only existing NPB team without a Japan Series championship.

Some other notes

  • The Giants may have set a Japan Series record by going through four pitchers in the first four innings.
  • van den Hurk retired Giants cleanup hitter Okamoto twice on seven pitches, all curveballs.
  • Hawks rookie Hiroshi Kaino allowed one hit in his four-batter seventh inning, with all three outs recorded on called third strikes.
  • Hawks closer Yuito Mori has pitched and wrapped up all three games but has yet to enter in a save situation.
  • Needing four runs in the ninth, Giants pinch-runner Daiki Masuda tried to go from first and third on a one-out wild pitch and didn’t make it.
  • Game 4 will pit Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano, who has been suffering from lower back issues since September against 38-year-old lefty Tsuyoshi Wada, who was once the Hawks ace and who has been struggling with fitness issues the past few months as well.
  • No team has swept the Japan Series since the Lotte Marines beat the Hanshin Tigers in 2005.
  • The Hawks and Giants are playing each other for a record 11th time, with the Hawks having won just once, 60 years ago, when Nankai Hawks Hall of Famer Tadashi Sugiura won all four games in a 4-0 sweep, starting Games 1, 3 and 4, and finishing the series with back-to-back complete game victories.

NPB games, news of Sept. 20, 2019

Not all of Japan was focused on a different sport as the Rugby World Cup kicked off in Tokyo on Friday, when NPB played four games and both pennant-race leaders took a step toward clinching a championship.

Yamaguchi returns as winner

Pitching in just his second game at his old home park since he left as a free agent for the Central League rival Yomiuri Giants after the 2016 season, Shun Yamaguchi pitched into the seventh inning in a 9-4 win over the DeNA BayStars on Friday.

Squaring off against Kentaro Taira, whom the BayStars received in compensation for him, Yamaguchi left the game with a five-run lead after six innings. Taira (5-6) allowed four runs over 3-2/3 innings in the NPB’s first match-up between a pitcher who left as a free agent and the pitcher his former team took as compensation.

Yamaguchi (15-4), allowed two runs through the first six innings, but left two on with two outs, and Kan Otake surrendered a two-run double to Yamato Maeda before the third reliever of the inning, Hirokazu Sawamura struck out home run king Neftali Soto with the bases loaded.

Hayato Sakamoto hit two home runs to move to 39, four back of Soto in the home run race, while Kazuma Okamoto drove in two runs for the Giants with a double and a home run.

Game highlights are HERE.

Pacific League

Lions 5, Eagles 3

At MetLife Dome, Seibu cut its magic number to repeat as PL champs to four when Ernesto Mejia hit a pinch-hit sayonara home run in the ninth inning to down Rakuten.

Here’s the Lions’ hero interview featuring Katsunori Maeda, who set a franchise record by pitching in his 79th game of the season, and Mejia.

Game highlights are HERE.

Hawks 1, Fighters 0

At Yafuoku Dome, Rick van den Hurk returned to SoftBank’s first team for the first time since his June season debut and allowed three hits and a walk while striking out eight over six innings to beat Nippon Ham.

Here’s Rick van den Hurk’s hero interview.

Game highlights are HERE.

Buffaloes 11, Marines 8

At Kyocera Dome, Stefen Romero homered and drove in four runs while Brandon Dickson recorded his 17th save as Orix kept Lotte from moving back into third place.

Romero took part in the Buffaloes’ hero interview HERE.

Game highlights are HERE.