Tigers’ Sato goes off for 5th time
Teruaki Sato hit his fifth home run of the spring for the Hanshin Tigers in their 9-6 win at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium over the Yakult Swallows on Tuesday.
Twenty-year-old Swallows outfielder Taiki Hamada hit his fourth. Hamada, a fourth pick in 2018, has hit 19 homers in 609 minor league plate appearances, but little else from his stat profile would suggest he’s actually a prospect, but one never knows.
While players habitually who crush minor league pitching in a large sample size virtually never fail at the top level given enough chances, a number of stars have had great careers after really poor minor league performances. Unless they’ve failed miserably in over 1,000 minor league at-bats, I wouldn’t be too quick too judge.
One of Hamaya’s weaknesses so far has been strikeouts, and he has no whiffed just once in 29 spring plate appearances.
Neftali Soto, the article pointed out, led the preseason with six home runs in 2018, then led the CL in his first season with 41, but he’s the only in the past nine seasons.
Jon Edwards and Robert Suarez each worked an inning of relief for the Tigers, with Edwards allowing a run on two hits and a walk. Robert’s older brother Albert gave up six innings in his three-inning start for the Swallows. He surrendered Jefry Marte’s fourth home run of the spring.
What do preseason homers mean?
Not much, former Lotte Marines catcher Tomoya Satozaki said in a Nikkan Sports story published Tuesday morning about young Mr. Sato’s home run hoopla.
“How many preseason home run champs have gone on to win the home run title? How about batting champs?” Satozaki asked. “It’s different if you’re an established player with a track record, but for a rookie or a new import, those spring numbers don’t tell you much.”
At MetLife Dome, Wataru Matsumoto struck out five and walked two over 6-2/3 innings as the Seibu Lions beat the Hiroshima Carp 1-0. Reed Garrett worked a scoreless ninth for the Lions.
Masato Morishita, the CL’s 2020 rookie of the year, allowed an unearned run over 4-2/3 innings.
In Shizuoka, Steven Moya doubled and singled, and Adam Jones doubled in three trips to the plate for the Orix Buffaloes in their 5-3 win over the Rakuten Eagles. Alan Busenitz worked a scoreless inning of relief for Rakuten.
At Vantelin (Nagoya) Dome, Sawamura Award winner Yudai Ono allowed a run over five innings in a 6-1 win over the Yomiuri Giants. The lefty struck out four, walked one and allowed four hits.
Angel Sanchez started for the Giants. He struck out three, walked two, hit one as he allowed three runs on four hits over 5-1/3 innings. Flame-throwing Brazilian Thyago Vieira struck out two and walked one in the eighth, when Chunichi failed to put the ball in play.
At Sapporo Dome, second-year lefty Ryusei Kawano allowed a run over six innings while striking out four, walking two and hitting a batter and allowing two hits for the Nippon Ham Fighters in their 3-2 win.
At PayPay Dome, a party of five SoftBank Hawks pitchers combined to strike out 12 in a 1-0 win over the DeNA BayStars. The one pitcher we’d have expected to strike out a batter for the Hawks, closer Yuito Mori, didn’t.
Sasaki to start
The 19-year-old Sasaki, who did not pitch at all in a game last year after he turned pro, faced three batters in his first game with the Marines and struck out one batter, while touching 95 mph.
“Next time will be on Sunday and he’ll go two innings,” manager Tadahito Iguchi said. “Going forward, we hope to stretch him out to three innings.”
The news came the same day the team began selling shirts and towels commemorating Sasaki’s debut, with his image and the words “The beginning.”
“I think it would be great if I’m allowed to try out different things,” said Sasaki, who added that the promotion was a surprise.
“I’m really happy to be imagine fans holding up those towels.”
Giants to test fans
As a kid, my favorite ballpark promotion, or at least the one we got taken to every year at Candlestick was Bat Day. Thinking back on those days, it’s hard to imagine having much enthusiasm for the Yomiuri Giants’ new promotion, “Coronavirus Test Day.”
OK, it’s not called that, but according to Sankei Sports, the team announced it will provide testing for the coronavirus to fans attending their April 25 home game at Tokyo Dome against the Hiroshima Carp.
If attendance is limited to 5,000 fans, the tests will be supplied to season ticket holders eligible for admission. If more fans are admitted, some fans using other tickets will be eligible to receive a free antibody test kit in the mail, or if a PCR test is desired, a voucher for a free test.