Hawks release, Moore, van den Hurk, Uchikawa, Colas on cut day
The Pacific League’s SoftBank Hawks parted company, at least technically with pitchers Matt Moore and Rick van den Hurk, while making longtime captain Seiichi Uchikawa free to complete a deal with the Central League’s Yakult Swallows on Wednesday.
Nippon Professsional Baseball’s teams are required to submit their reserve lists for the 2021 season on Dec. 2, the big day for releases across Japan. The moves don’t necessarily mean that neither Moore nor van den Hurk will be back with the four-time defending Japan Series champions, but it does mean they were unable to or unwilling to exercise an option to keep them.
Cuban two-way player Oscar Colas, who has been on the restricted list since Feb. 19, was released by not being placed on the Hawks’ 2021 reserve list, meaning he will be free to sign with an MLB club as an international amateur when the next international signing period opens in June.
Cuts throw import market wide open
The winter NPB market for import players heated up considerably with Tuesday’s cuts when a number of experienced players with established value were left off their clubs’ reserves list. Here’s a brief rundown:
Ukyo Shuto made up for a dropped ball that contributed to a loss the night before by driving in four runs to help lift the SoftBank Hawks to a 7-3 win over their nemeses, the Lotte Marines, at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
With two outs in the second and runners on second and third, Shuto singled off Toshiya Nakamura (2-4) to put the Hawks up by two. The speedster took second when the ball got past center fielder Takashi Ogino and scored on a Keizo Kawashima single.
Shuto then capped a three-run third with his second RBI single of the game to make it 6-2. He added to his day with a good play at second base to deny the Marines a fifth-inning leadoff single.
Nao Higashihama (5-1) allowed three runs over six innings, retiring 10 of the last 11 batters he faced after Leonys Martin hit his 23rd home run of the year in the third to make it 6-3 Hawks.
The Hawks win improves their record against Lotte this season to a dismal 4-9-1.
Kiyomiya saves day for Fighters
Kotaro Kiyomiya’s three-run double tied it in the ninth off Buffaloes closer Brandon Dickson. Taishi Ota drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th and scored an insurance run for Nippon Ham Fighters in their 6-5 win over Orix at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
Four of Orix’s runs came on solo homers. Two by Takahiro Okada, one by Steven Moya and one by Hayato Nishiura in the bottom of the 10th, when Katsuhiko Kumon stranded two runners to earn his first save.
Lefty Andrew Albers started for the Buffaloes and allowed a run on six hits and no walks over 5-1/3 innings. He struck out six.
Fighters ace Kohei Arihara allowed three runs over six innings, and though neither bullpen was lights out, the Fighters scored five late runs to come from behind. Dickson got one out before loading the bases on a singled and two walks for Kiyomiya, who went down for a low pitch and found the gap to tie it.
Steven Moya drew a leadoff walk in the ninth from veteran lefty Naoki Miyanishi (2-1), He was pulled for a pinch-runner but the Buffs left the bases loaded in the eighth.
Trailing by a run in the 10th, Moya, who’d hit four homers in the last six games, was out of the game when his spot came up with one out and one on against Kumon.
Lions survive loss of starter
Seven relivers picked up after the Seibu Lions lost starter Sean Nolin after one inning in a 5-1 win over the Rakuten Eagles at MetLife Dome with Sosuke Genda tripling in two runs to break a 1-1 seventh-inning tie.
Nolin worked a 1-2-3 first but left due to severe tightness in his left shoulder. The Eagles took the lead in the second on a Stefen Romero RBI single. With the game tied 1-1 in the fifth, Lions center fielder Fumikazu Kimura threw out a runner trying to score from second on a two-out single.
Eagles starter Ryota Ishibashi allowed a run over five innings, and D.J. Johnson worked a 1-2-3 sixth before the roof caved collapsed in the seventh with Tomohito Sakai on the mound. Corey Spangenberg, who reached base three times, singled in Genda to make it 4-1.
Swallows hold off Tigers
Munetaka Murakami singled in one run and broke a 1-1 tie with his 18th home run, making a winner out of Albert Suarez (4-0) in a 2-1 win over the virus-hit Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
The Swallows loaded the bases from the get-go against Joe Gunkel with a hit batsman, a Norichika Aoki double and a walk to Tetsuto Yamada. Murakami singled in one run. Gunkel, however, caught a break on a line out to second before striking out the next two hitters.
Suarez issued a walk in the first but it could have been a disaster as the first two balls were squared up bit hit straight to Swallows defenders. The right-hander gave up the tying run in the third.
Gunkel was pulled for a pinch hitter after allowing a run over four innings, and Murakami homered off Shintaro Fujinami in ( 1-6) in the sixth.
The Tigers came within a hair of scoring the tying run in the seventh but were thwarted when left fielder Norichika Aoki reacted well to a ball coming off a teammate’s glove and reserve catcher Akihisa Nishida made a good tag for the third out at the plate.
Relievers Nobuhiro Shimizu held Hanshin scoreless in the eighth and closer Taichi Ishiyama did the same in the ninth to earn his 13th save.
More Tiger trouble
A day after the Tigers dropped nine players from the active roster after four of them tested positive for the coronavirus, Hanshin’s Western League farm team, played Saturday’s game with just 17 players.
On Saturday evening, the team said Naomasa Yokawa, one of the infected players, had been admitted to a Tokyo hospital with a high fever. This is the most serious symptom yet reported by an NPB player. The worst symptoms reported so far was in March when pitcher Shintaro Fujinami lost his sense of taste.
Kinoshita lifts Dragons over Giants
Dragons catcher Takuya Kinoshita homered to break a 2-2 eighth-inning tie off reliever Kan Otake (1-2), lifting the Chunichi Dragons to a 3-2 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome.
Yota Kyoda hit a two-run homer for the Dragons in the fifth, but Chunichi starter Koji Fukutani allowed the hosts to tie it in the seventh.
Hayato Sakamoto drew his second walk, Kazuma Okamoto doubled, and both scored on a single by the rejuvenated Hiroyuki Nakajima to chase Fukutani. Daisuke Sobue (1-0) retired both batters he faced to close out the seventh and earn the win.
Hiroto Fuku worked the eighth and Raidel Martinez earned his 14th save in the ninth, when he got an assist from Kinoshita, who gunned down pinch-runner Daisuke Masuda trying to steal second.
Toshiro Miyazaki went 4-for-5 with a homer, a triple an RBI and three runs to lead the DeNA BayStars attack against Hiroshima Carp rookie Masato Morishita (6-3) in a 5-2 win at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Haruhiro Hamaguchi (6-4) allowed two runs over six innings to earn the wins. Edwin Escobar, Kenta Ishida and Kazuki Mishima picked up the pieces over the final three innings. Mishima collected his 10th save.
Jose Lopez had four hits scored a run and drove in one, while Tyler Austin hit his ninth home run for the BayStars.
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.
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.
Haruki Nishikawa broke up an eighth-inning tie with a two-out, three-run triple off Reed Garrett (3-2), lifting the Nippon Ham Fighters to a 6-2 win over the Seibu Lions at Sapporo Dome on Saturday afternoon.
Sean Nolin allowed nine base runners but just two runs over six innings in his second start for the Lions, and Kaima Taira walked two in a scoreless seventh before the Lions’ luck ran out in the eighth.
With two outs, Takuya Nakashima fouled off three two-strike pitches before walking on nine pitches. Taishi Ota singled and Garrett hit Go Matsumoto to load the bases. A 1-1 splitter failed to tumble and Nishikawa hit a fly to the warning track. Center fielder Yuji Kaneko, was playing Nishikawa to pull and the ball fell just out of reach.
Sho Nakata followed with a drive near the top of the imposing center-field wall to drive in Nishikawa but was held to a single when he stumbled rounding first.
Kohei Arihara (4-6) who started the season 1-5 with three quality starts in his first eight games, has now rolled off four-straight solid outings. Some big plays from Nakashima at shortstop helped Arihara hold Seibu to two runs on six hits over eight innings.
Sean Nolin, making his second start since joining the Lions in the offseason, brought a very good fastball, but inconsistent location cost him. He allowed two runs on six hits, three walks and a hit batsman, while striking out 10.
Kensuke Kondo singled in both of the Fighters early runs, while the Lions answered with Ernesto Mejia’s eighth home run, in the second, and a Hotaka Yamakawa RBI single in the sixth.
Japanese baseball 101: Don’t get high
Nearly every Japanese language description of a good pitching effort will include the phrase, “he was consistently low in the zone,” while the kneejerk reaction to nearly every hit is, “he left that up,” whether the pitch was actually well-located or even up in the zone.
The reason for this is that the Japanese game is so rooted in the way young kids are taught to hit grounders to the left side of the infield. They are taught this way because young children don’t field well and hitting the ball to the left side increases the batter’s chance of reaching on an error.
So instead of trying to launch pitches that miss up, the first instinct of many players trained here is to chop down on those balls and smash through the left side of the infield. The “best” pitchers are those who keep batters from hitting hard ground ball singles.
The Fighters’ first illustrated this. Nolin got slugger Sho Nakata to wave at a high fastball for Strike 3, but three other high pitches were chopped between third and short in textbook fashion: back-to-back one-out singles and a two-out chopper to the hole to bring in a run.
“Forrest Gump” Nakamura stars for Marines
Even when the Lotte Marines can’t get it right, they somehow still manage to compete against the SoftBank Hawks. On Saturday, Marines second baseman had a kind of Forrest Gump box-of-chocolates game, since he seemed to be present at numerous junctures in their 5-4 win at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
The visitors squandered two good scoring chances, and Nakamura had as up and down a day as one can have. He homered to open the scoring, only for a couple of fielding near-misses on defense at second base contribute to two infield singles in the Hawks’ three-run sixth. He also literally knocked out the Hawks’ starting pitcher, and assisted in the final scene.
“The margin of victory was paper thin, because of my mistakes,” Nakamura said. “I played very aggressively even in the field. I messed up in the field so I’m glad I could contribute with my bat.”
The win improved the Marines’ record against the Hawks since the start of last season to 24-11-1. In three seasons as Lotte’s manager, former Hawk Tadahito Iguchi now has a 33-26-2 mark against the three-time defending Japan Series champions.
With two on and no outs in the first, Ikuhiro Kiyota bunted into a force out before a fluke 6-5-4 double play ended the Marines’ inning. Leading 1-0 in the third after Nakamura homered off Shota Takeda, Ikuhiro Kiyota was thrown out easily at the plate trying to score from first on a one-out double. With two on and two outs, rookie Toshiya Sato hammered a hanging breaking ball straight to first baseman Kenji Akashi.
Marines starter Manabu Mima (6-2) allowed four runs, three earned, over seven innings. Takeda was knocked out of the game in the fifth inning, when he was hit in the gut by a Nakamura line drive. Takeda threw him out at first as he collapsed to the turf. Yuta Watanabe, who made his first-team debut the night before, got the final out, and lefty Shunsuke Kasaya worked a perfect sixth.
Mima got three ground balls to open the sixth. Nakamura nearly made a tremendous play to retire the leadoff hitter but the ball stayed in his glove on an attempted flip to first. With one out and one on, he made a good play to pick a grounder up the middle but his throw to first was wide, resulting in another infield single.
Yurisbel Gracial, who’d hit his third home run in two days in the fourth, lined a pitch up the middle to tie it 2-2. With two more runs in the inning, Kasaya was in line for the win. Unfortunately, he only retired one batter in the seventh as the visitors got a run back on a Nobuhiro Matsuda error and two singles.
With one out, right-hander Yuki Matsumoto came on to face Nakamura, who missed his second home run by a few feet, driving in two with a two-out double high off the wall in left.
Mima worked a 1-2-3 seventh, and Yuki Karakawa did the same in the eighth. Matsuda earned some redemption with a leadoff single against closer Naoya Masuda. A sacrifice moved pinch-runner Ukyo Shuto to second and he took third on a wild pitch, but with the infield in, Keizo Kawashima hit a bullet to Nakamura at second and he sealed the win by doubling the stunned Shuto off third.
Tanaka, Asamura power Eagles
Kazuki Tanaka homered twice and Hideto Asamura hit his third in two games and the Rakuten Eagles beat the Orix Buffaloes 6-5 at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
Tanaka hit a two-run shot in the first off Sachiya Yamasaki (2-4). Adam Jones singled to open the Buffaloes’ three-run second against Takahiro Shiomi (4-5), but Asamura turned the game around again by going deep with two on for his 21st home run.
Yamasaki left after five innings, but not before surrendering Tanaka’s second homer.
Shiomi allowed three runs over five innings. Kazuhisa Makita, the Eagles’ fourth pitcher, threw a scoreless eighth, catching a liner off Jones’ bat for the final out, while Alan Busenitz surrendered two runs in the ninth before locking down his 10th save.
Masataka Yoshida extended his hitting streak to 23 games in the Buffaloes’ third, nine short of Atsushi Nagaike’s Pacific League and franchise record and 10 short of Yoshihiko Takahashi’s NPB record.
Soto slugs Carp as Onuki goes distance
Two-time defending CL home run champ Neftali Soto homered twice and scored three runs as the DeNA BayStars took a hammer to the Hiroshima Carp 10-1 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Carp ace Daichi Osera (5-4) failed to make it through the fourth inning for his second start in a row, surrendering eight runs in 3-1/3 innings on nine hits.
In a season that started on June 19 following weeks of improvised preparations due to the coronavirus pandemic, most teams were talking about easing players into the season. Despite that, the Carp ace was allowed to throw back-to-back complete games in his first two starts. He has been deactivated once already due to lack of fitness after going just two innings in Yokohama on July 24.
Takayuki Kajitani doubled to open the game and scored on a one-out Soto single. A Keita Sano single and a groundout plated Soto with the visitors’ second run.
Shinichi Onuki (6-2) scattered eight hits over the distance while striking out four and walking none in his first career complete-game victory.
Soto made it 3-0 in the third with his 11th home run and his second in two days. He capped DeNA’s six-run fourth with a three-run shot.
Hard to Swallow
For the second time in three days, the key play for the Yakult Swallows was a tie-breaking two-run error as center fielder Kotaro Yamasaki raced to catch a fly in the gap for the final out of the 10th inning, only to have it hit off his glove in a 3-1 extra-inning loss to the Chunichi Dragons.
The Swallows had 15 hits but were being shut out until they tied it in the eighth with three singles off lefty Hiroto Fuku, who was pitching for the third-straight day.
Closer Raidel Martinez (2-0) worked out of a one-out bases-loaded pickle in the ninth by striking out the Swallows’ most productive hitter, Munetaka Murakami, and getting Norichika Aoki to ground out.
The Dragons opened the scoring in the fourth when Nobumasa Fukuda’s opposite-field drive to right went for a triple and he scored on a Dayan Viciedo single.
Fujinami comeback hits 11-run snag
For the first time since he returned to the mound this year, the story about Shintaro Fujinami was why he’s fumbling ground balls. Instead, the one-time elite pitching prospect allowed a career-high 11 runs in the Hanshin Tigers’ 11-2 loss to the Yomiuri Giants at Koshien Stadium.
Giants starter Nobutaka Imamura (3-0) got the win after allowing one run over eight innings.
Fujinami (1-5) allowed nine hits and six walks while striking out six. Fujinami’s career basically slid into the tank when Tomoaki Kanemoto became manager in 2016. The good news was that Tigers manager Akihiro Yano yanked him after he’d thrown 125 instead of letting him labor past 160 like Kanemoto once did when Fujinami displeased him.
The 11 runs was also the most ever allowed in one game by a Tigers pitcher.
Cuban rookie Yariel Rodriguez didn’t bring his best command to Tokyo Dome on Saturday, when the Yomiuri Giants pummeled him in a 12-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons.
In his two previous starts against the Giants, Rodriguez (2-1) allowed three runs over 13-1/3 innings. But this time, the right-hander missed too many pitches, Giants hitters put good swings on what they saw, and seven-time Golden Glove-winning center fielder Yohei Oshima made a huge error in a five-run second inning.
“Today’s opposing pitcher has tremendous stuff, so our focus was on trying not to do too much, basically try and hit it back up the middle. He did miss a little and we handled some of those well,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said.
“We were trying to get one run and things went our way in a hurry.”
Lefty Nobutaka Imamura (2-0) allowed the Dragons to open the scoring in the top of the second on a Dayan Viciedo single and a walk. A force at second set up a possible double play on a comebacker. Imamura went for it instead of checking Viciedo, who scored when the Giants failed to turn two.
But after a five-run fifth, in which he drove in the tying run, Imamura executed pitches. He allowed a run over seven innings on six hits and two walks while striking out eight.
Taking a 1-0 lead into the second, Rodriguez struck Yoshihiro Maru out swinging on a slider in the dirt. But four-straight balls put a man on, and Takumi Oshiro did well to get the head on a 2-2 low inside fastball and hit a flare to left. Akihro Wakabayashi fouled off a pair of 2-2 pitches before lashing a hanging slider for a single to load the bases.
With the pitcher up, Rodriguez had a chance to get out of the inning, but Imamura fouled off a couple of fastballs before knocking a straight 1-2 heater down the pipe between third and short to tie it 1-1. Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto chased a slider high and away, but the ball hit off the end of the bat and landed in shallow center for a single. Oshima charged the ball to set up a throw to the plate but came up empty and by the time left fielder Zoilo Almonte retrieved it and got the ball back, Sakamoto was on second with a two-run single and three runs had scored.
“There were some anxious early moments for him (Imamura),” Hara said. “But with the big rally, and his getting a hit in that, he began establish his fastball. He mixed in his secondary pitches, and pitched up to his abilities.”
Rodriguez hit Zelous Wheeler with a pitch before Kazuma Okamoto singled in Sakamoto with two outs. The right-hander then retired the last seven batters he faced before making his exit and the Giants exploded for seven runs over the final four innings, including two on Wheeler’s eighth home run.
Fujinami fails to earn 2nd win
Right-hander Shintaro Fujinami nearly squandered a five-run lead, exiting in the fifth inning in the Hanshin Tigers’ 6-5 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda stadium.
Jerry Sands opened the Tigers’ three-run third with a single and and singled their two-run third off ace Daichi Osera (5-3). But Shota Dobayashi scored three runs for the hosts and Ryohei Matsuyama continued to hit the ball hard when it counts, delivering one-run singles in each of the fourth and fifth innings.
Jose Pirela also reached base three times for the Carp and drove in a run.
Tigers lefty Yuta Iwasada (3-2) earned the win for 1-1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Joe Gunkel worked a scoreless seventh for the Tigers.
Soto, ‘Stars pen stops Swallows
Neftali Soto singled in a run in the DeNA BayStars’ two-run first, and was credited with three more in their 9-3 come-from-behind win over the Yakult Swallows at Yokohama Stadium.
Five DeNA relievers allowed three hits but no walks or runs over the final five innings to seal the win.
BayStars right-hander Shinichi Onuki was yanked after blowing a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Yuki Kuniyoshi (3-2) took over in the fifth and struck out the side. He then led off the BayStars’ five-inning fifth with a single en route to earning the win.
Nominal BayStars closer Yasuaki Yamasaki allowed single and a double with one out in the eighth but no runs came across. The fourth of five reliei
Swallows starter Matt Koch (2-0) allowed seven run, two earned, on 10 hits. He struck out two but did not walk a batter in his 4-2/3-inning stint.
Moore returns, earns 1st Japan win
Matt Moore survived a scary swing from Sho Nakata to work five scoreless innings,while Nippon Ham Fighters ace Kohei Arihara was victimized by a pair of errors as the SoftBank Hawks won 3-0 at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Moore (1-1) was pitching for the first time since he was scratched from a July 7 start due to a left calf muscle injury. With two on and one out in the first, he left a knuckle curve up and away to Nakata. The Fighters cleanup hitter got under it a tiny bit too much and only managed a towering fly to the warning track in left.
Speedster Ukyo Shuto put the Hawks on the board by beating out a one-out bunt in the third and going to second on the errant throw to first. Arihara followed a walk by getting a double play grounder, but second baseman Ryo Watanabe’s throw to his shortstop missed and Shuto scored. With runners on second and third, Yurisbel Gracial squared up an 0-1 fastball down the pipe, but hit a bullet to short for the second out. Arihara got out of the inning by getting Friday’s hero for the Hawks, Ryoya Kurihara, to go down swinging at a good changeup in the dirt.
Moore (1-1) allowed four hits and walked three while striking out seven in a 95-pitch effort. Yuki Matsumoto retired all six Fighters he faced in the sixth and seven, while Livan Moinelo retired Nakata to escape the eighth with one on.
For the second-straight game, closer Yuito Mori allowed three hits in the ninth but a base-running error helped him record his 16th save.
Arihara (3-6) worked seven innings, allowing an unearned run on three walks and four hits while striking out seven in his third-straight solid outing.
Asked about the errors behind him, Arihara said, “They helped me out a lot of times today.”
Martin again provides Marines’ firepower
Leonys Martin’s 17th home run did not reach the third deck at Kyocera Dome as each of his two home runs had the day before, but his two-run fourth-inning home run off Chang Yi (1-2) overturned a 1-0 deficit in the Lotte Marines’ 5-1 win over the Orix Buffaloes.
Here’s a collection of Martin’s latest blasts:
Kota Futaki (2-2) allowed a first-inning run on back-to-back one-out doubles by Masahiro Nishino and Keita Nakagawa but retired Masataka Yoshida and Adam Jones to end the inning and left the game with 2-1 lead after seven. He scattered six hits but walked none and struck out eight.
The Buffaloes threatened to tie in the fifth, but with two outs and a runner on second, rookie center fielder Koshiro Wada made a diving catch in the gap to rob Shuhei Fukuda an RBI double.
The Marines got to Chang for two more runs in the eighth. Martin scored the third run of the inning after being intentionally walked.
Spangenberg rakes as Nolin wins debut
Corey Spangenberg went 4-for-4 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs, while Sean Nolin (1-0) allowed three runs over six innings to earn the win in the Seibu Lions’ 6-3 victory over the Rakuten Eagles at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
Rookie Sena Tsuge, Seibu’s fifth pick in last autumn’s draft, homered for the second-straight game to make it 2-0 in the third against Takahiro Shiomi (3-5).
Nolin did not allow a base runner until the fourth, when he led 5-0. Eigoro Mogi singled with two outs and scored on former Lion Hideto Asamura’s 18th homer. Stefen Romero opened the Eagles’ fifth with this 17th.
J.T. Chargois walked a pair of batters in the top of the sixth, and Spangenberg completed the scoring with an RBI single.
The Eagles loaded the bases against Lions closer Reed Garrett with one out in the eighth, but he struck out Romero and ended the inning on a grounder to the pitcher. Lions closer Tatsushi Masuda worked the ninth for his 13th save.
Nolin, a first-year-import, allowed five hits but no walks while striking out six in a 100-pitch effort.
The Seibu Lions have acquired former Detroit Tigers right-hander Reed Garret, the two-time defending Pacific League champions announced Tuesday according to Kyodo News in Japanese.
Garret pitched 15-1/3 innings for the Tigers over 13 games in 2019, but has spent most of his career in the Texas Rangers organization. He’ll turn 27 on Jan. 2. According to a Nikkan Sports report, general manager Hisanobu Watanabe wants to use the 1.88-meter, 95-kilogram Garret in a setup role.
“He imparts a lot of force on his pitches,” Watanabe said. “He has a breaking ball and a slider that drops and that he can miss bats with. He is really quick to the plate so that’s a non-issue. If possible we want to use him to get us to (closer Tatsushi) Masuda.”
If Garret is a power pitcher, as Watanabe suggests, he is one who has only struck out nine batters per nine innings once in his career, in 2014 with Double-A Frisco. Having said that, Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas learned to get strikeouts in Japan after being a pitch-to-contact guy in the States, and Watanabe – who won 125 games in NPB — knows a bit about pitching.
Garrett is the third new import the Lions have signed this winter following the acquisition of former Mariner Sean Nolin, and do-it-all utility man Cory Spangenberg. The club is bringing back first-baseman/pinch-hitter Ernesto Mejia and right-hander Zach Neal.