Tag Archives: Shinnosuke Abe

NPB news: June 8, 2024

On Saturday in Japan, Roki Sasaki was back, Jeremy Beasley continued to impress and win for Hanshin, Cy Sneed continued to impress and finally won for Yakult, and Carter Stewart Jr. threw six scoreless innings for SoftBank.

Also, four of the six starters whose teams lost on Friday were deactivated, while the troubled Seibu Lions called up former Tiger Naomasa Yokawa for their game at Koshien, which didn’t go any better than their previous five interleague contests.

I also have notes about DeNA BayStars lefty Yofrec Diaz, whose long Japan journey has finally led him to the majors, and what the Yomiuri Giants staff had to say about Elier Hernandez‘s outfield adventures on Friday. A day after Daichi Osera threw the 102nd complete game no-hit shutout, I wrote about the four no-hitters Japan doesn’t count, and why it might be that Japan doesn’t count them…

Saturday’s games:

Swallows 6, Fighters 3: At Jingu “Tokyo’s sacrifice to corporate greed and governmental malfeasance” Stadium, Yakult’s Cy Sneed (1-2) threw his fourth straight quality start and earned his first win of the season, getting the run and bullpen support that has so far eluded his games this year.

Chusei Mannami homered off Sneed to give Nippon Ham a 1-0 third-inning lead. In the fourth, Nippon Ham’s Shoma Kanemura (1-2) pitched around Munetaka Murakami, walking him on four pitches, with a runner on second and two outs. Kanemura then missed three times to Domingo Santana, the third time in the strike zone. Santana’s high fly to right reached the seats for his second home run in two games. The Swallows made it 6-1 in the seventh on their second three-run homer, from reserve catcher Naoki Matsumoto.

Sneed allowed a run on five hits and a walk over six innings. The Fighters narrowed the gap in a two-run eighth on a Mannami leadoff single, an error and singles by Shun Mizutani and Yua Tamiya, but Kazuto Taguchi stranded a leadoff runner in the ninth for his second straight save.

Tigers 4, Lions 1: At Koshien Stadium, Jeremy Beasley (3-0)??, 1W continued his impressive run after a belated start to the season. He lost his shutout bid with two outs in the ninth, but hung on for his first complete game victory in Japan and consigned Seibu to its sixth straight loss.

The 28-year-old right-hander struck out six while surrendering four singles and three walks in his 119-pitch effort.

Takumu Nakano‘s one-out RBI double opened the scoring and Shota Morishita‘s two-out two-run single capped Hanshin’s three-run third off Kona Takahashi (0-6). Morishita singled in Nakano in the fifth, Takahashi’s final frame on the mound where he pitched Maebashi Ikue High School to the national title as a sophomore in 2013.

Hawks 5, BayStars 3: At Yokohama Stadium, Carter Stewart Jr. struck out seven over six scoreless innings without a decision as SoftBank extended DeNA’s losing streak to four games.

Takuya Kai drove in SoftBank’s first run for the second straight day, singling in Kensuke Kondo with one out in the fourth off Katsuki Azuma. Stewart twice pitched out of two-on one-out jams through six scoreless innings before he was pulled for pinch-hitter Hiroki Minei. The reserve catcher, who left DeNA as a free agent over the winter, then belted a two-run homer off his former batterymate.

Tyler Austin tied it in the eighth with a three-run homer off reliever Yuki Matsumoto, his fifth and second in two games. Matsumoto (2-0) got the win after DeNA closer Kohei Morihara (1-2) allowed two runs on four ninth-inning singles.

Buffaloes 5, Giants 0: At Tokyo Ugly Dome, 19-year-old rookie Kyosuke Saito (1-0) struck out six while allowing one hit, two walks and a hit batsman to earn his first major league win as Orix shut out Yomiuri for the second straight day. The three-time defending PL champs have won four straight.

Keita Nakagawa doubled to open the game, and Orix’s Ryoma Nishikawa delivered a first-inning RBI single for the second straight game, unloading on a high 3-2 pitch from Foster Griffin (1-2). Fourth-inning singles by Ryo Ota and Nishikawa and a hit batsman set the table for Yuma Tongu‘s two-run single. Tongu doubled in Ota and Kotaro Kurebayashi in the eighth to make it 5-0.

After his team’s second straight shutout defeat, Giants manager Shinnosuke Abe made his postgame press conference a brief one. “I have nothing for you,” he said, and left the room.

Eagles 7, Dragons 2: At Nagoya Dome, Rakuten dismantled Humberto Mejia (3-3), who was coming off two straight impressive seven-inning wins, scoring seven runs, six earned off him in 3-1/3 innings with Eagles leadoff man Yuya Ogo contributing a grand slam as Rakuten came from two runs down in a six-run second.

The Dragons gave Tatsuki Kojiya (1-1), the Eagles’ top draft signing last year, a warm reception after the rookie retired the first two batters he faced. Hiroki Fukunaga homered, Seiya Hosokawa doubled and Orlando Calixte singled him home. Kojiya pitched out of further trouble to earn his first career win.

Marines 3, Carp 1: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Roki Sasaki, pitching for the first time in 15 days due to the prolonged recovery he needed after his previous start, struck out nine and got some offensive help from catcher Toshiya Sato to leave after six innings with a 3-1 lead.

Sasaki allowed one run — on a play that might easily been ruled defensive interference – and struck out nine while allowing three singles and a hit batsman. The Marines took the lead in the fifth when third baseman Ryutaro Hatsuki‘s two-out error plated two runs, set up by singles from Toshiya Sato and Shogo Nakamura and a sacrifice.  Akito Takabe beat out an infield single in the sixth and scored from second on a Sato single.

The Carp took a 1-0 lead in the second after Masaya Yano reached on an uncaught third strike, took second on Tomoki Ishihara‘s single. Carp pitcher Shogo Tamamura bunted back to Sasaki, whose high throw to first made the play close. Tamamura stepped on first baseman Neftali Soto‘s foot, and Soto tumbled to the ground, allowing the alert Amano to score on an error charged to Sasaki.

Diaz called up for major league debut

The DeNA BayStars signed developmental roster pitcher Yofrec Diaz to a standard contract and activated him Saturday. The 24-year-old Venezuelan lefty joined DeNA in November 2019 after a tryout in the Dominican Republic. In 2020 and 2021, he split his time between the Eastern League and Kanagawa Prefecture’s club in the eastern Japan’s BC independent minor league before his career went off the rails in 2022.

Diaz tested positive for COVID upon his arrival in Japan in January 2022, and underwent ligament reconstruction surgery on his left elbow in April. With the clock ticking on his three-year developmental contract, DeNA released and re-signed him that winter. Diaz returned to duty in the Eastern league last August and pitched in Venezuela over the winter.

This season, Diaz is 0-1 with one save in 14 games. He’s struck out 14 batters in 13-2/3 innings, while walking nine and allowing 15 hits, although no homers in the home run friendly EL.

Diaz, who will wear No. 93 when he gets his new uniform, took the mound in triple-digit non-roster No. 109 when entered in the ninth inning with one out and two on and DeNA trailing 5-3.

Diaz got his first out on the obligatory “let’s test the foreign pitcher to see if he can field a bunt.” He did, although it wasn’t pretty, and Diaz pounded his glove after striking out Tatsuru Yanagimachi to strand two runners.

Giants staff has Hernandez’s back

Although new Yomiuri Giants manager Shinnosuke Abe has worked hard to appease the old-time former Giants who hold so much sway within the organization that he is a hard-ass old-school manager who appears more suited to the managing style that prevailed here in the 1980s and ’90s, he showed Friday that he is more in tune with the times than his persona would indicate.

The subtext was a pitfall-filled evening in center field from new import Elier Hernandez. He misjudged a catchable liner in the first inning and came in to make a catch before it dropped, but the ball sailed on him and bounced to the wall for a triple that led to Orix’s first run. In the third inning, he went too close to the wall to grab the rebound of a drive off the wall, turning Ryo Ota’s double into a triple.

Hernandez cooled his jets in the fourth, and his cautious approach let a soft liner from Yuma Tongu fall for a single.

“I never played in the outfield, so I don’t really know, but…” Abe said with a touch of ambivalence when asked about the first-inning triple. Outfield coach Yoshiyuki Kamei, however, stood up for Hernandez.

“As an outfielder, I know that (first-inning) ball was really tricky,” Kamei said. “Even a real good outfielder could have had trouble with it. What I want is for him to not get down on himself.”

Giants pitcher Shosei Togo shouldered his share of the blame.

“It’s the pitcher’s job to pick up his teammates. If I had held them scoreless there, the game would have been different,” he said, although I’m not certain pitching from behind led to his throwing a disaster slider that Kotaro Kurebayashi hit way back into the left field stands in the 2-0 loss.

The forgotten 4 and a history of miss-translations

For some reason, probably a miss-translation, Japanese pro baseball only counts no-hitters that are also shutouts. Daichi Osera’s gem on Friday was the 102nd of those thrown in Japan’s majors during the regular season. I knew of at least one other, but hadn’t done the leg work to identify more. So I was happy to learn that Osera’s no-hitter was actually the 104th individual effort.

As for why Japan’s rule for counting no-hitters is different from MLB’s, my guess is that a miss-translation on this side likely caused generations of Japanese to believe that only shutouts could be no-hitters. There are at least two precedents for this:

  • A miss-translation of MLB’s ballpark dimension rules allowed 11 NPB owners to browbeat Nippon Ham in 2022 over the distance between their new park’s stands and home plate.
  • Japan’s miss-translation of MLB’s save rule created a similar rule here in which it was slightly easier to record saves. This was weird in that my noticing the discrepancy led to NPB changing its rule, and likely costing Kyuji Fujikawa the chance to set Japan’s single-season save record in 2007.

Shukan Baseball Online on Saturday provided some details of these game, which appear on a fairly new NPB page titled “near no-hit shutouts.” You should check this one out, since it also contains a list of those no-hitters lost with two outs in the ninth inning, and the no-hitters that evaporated in extra innings.

Anyway, here is an introduction to the four no-no’s no one talks about.

May 6, 1939. This was the first spring of Japanese pro baseball with only a single season instead of spring, summer or fall leagues. That day the Hankyu Braves hosted the Nankai Hawks in the opener of a double header at Koshien, while the Hawks hosted the nightcap with the Braves winning both games 2-1.

The Hawks’ Yoshikichi Miyaguchi allowed seven hits and three walks in eight innings to take the complete-game loss in the opener. He then started the nightcap and allowed an unearned run on six walks but no hits over six innings. Miyaguchi left with the game tied 1-1, but reliever Shotaro Hirano surrendered another unearned run in his three innings on a walk and no hits. Back in the day, real pitchers, it seems, not only finished what they started but came back for seconds. Even so, the night-cap was Japanese pro baseball’s first combined no-hitter.

Aug. 3, 1939. The Eagles’ Tadashi Kameda, who would probably win a “most likely to throw a no-hitter while walking 10 batters” poll, did just that while allowing two unearned runs to Nagoya Kinko in a 2-1 loss at Nishinomiya Stadium. Kameda, who set Japan’s major league record for walks in a season that year, 280 in 371 innings, would, however, fall a walk short the following March, when he walked nine in his no-hit shutout against Lion, also at Nishinomiya.

Kameda’s name came up last year, when Yoshinobu Yamamoto became the third pitcher to throw two no-hit shutouts in two consecutive years. The first was Sawamura, of course, and Kameda was the other. If you don’t limit it to shutouts, Kameda, who also threw a no-hit shutout on April 14, 1940, threw no-hitters in three consecutive seasons.

May 21, 1959. A month before he became a principle actor in Japanese pro baseball’s most famous game as the losing pitcher on a Shigeo Nagashima sayonara home run in the first pro game attended by a Japanese Emperor on June 25, Hanshin Tigers’ Hall of Famer Minoru Murayama threw his only career no-hitter in a 3-2 win over the Giants at Koshien Stadium. It was the Tigers’ first no-hitter against the Giants after they had been no-hit by Hall of Famer Eiji Sawamura in 1936 and 1937.

May 13, 1964. Another combined effort in the Kintetsu Buffaloes’ 3-1 win over the Nankai Hawks at Osaka’s Namba Stadium. The Buffaloes, who would go on to finish last, 28-1/2 games behind the Hawks that year, started Noboru Makino, who allowed a run on four walks, the last of which led to the Hawks’ earned run – on two stolen bases and a groundout that tied it 1-1 before Kintetsu scored twice in the eighth.

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NPB news: June 5, 2024

On Wednesday in Japan, Rakuten and Orix both came from behind as the Pacific League took four of six interleague games on the road and improved to 26-19-2. Meanwhile, a day after his team brutalized the Lotte Marines, Yomiuri manager Shinnosuke Abe’s commitment to Japan’s one-run dogma left his team on the short end.

In other news, the Seibu Lions deactivated one of their big bats, second baseman Shuta Tonosaki with a tight left hamstring, and I do a big of a Tuesday rewind.

I generally don’t blog on days when I am not required to work my other job, and so I skipped games to focus on some other tasks. But late last night a reader texted me to see if I’d caught the end of the Swallows walk-off win over the Lions.

Also on Tuesday, Tigers manager Akinobu Okada showed once more that his patience has its limits. After allowing runs in three consecutive appearances, Javy Guerra, who has been sharing the Tigers’ closer duties with lefty Suguru Iwazaki, was deactivated, along with first baseman Yusuke Oyama. An on-base machine with power, Oyama’s OBP Tuesday was .282, his slugging average an abysmal .272.

Wednesday’s games:

Marines 4, Giants 3: At Tokyo Ugly Dome, Lotte’s Atsuki Taneichi (4-3) struck out nine over eight scoreless innings, and Yomiuri manager Abe gave away a critical ninth-inning insurance run that cost him when the Giants’ ninth-inning rally fell a run short.

The Marines responded to the 18-2 butt-kicking they received Tuesday by scoring first. Fourth-inning ingles by Gregory Polanco and Akito Takabe set up Neftali Soto‘s sixth home run, off Kenshin Hotta (3-2). Takabe singled to open the Marines’ ninth, stole second and scored an insurance run on a Toshiya Sato “double” – a soft liner over the head of the Giants’ left fielder who was pulled in to prevent Takabe from scoring on a ground single.

The run came in handy when Lotte’s Rikuto Yokoyama surrendered two singles in the ninth. With two outs and a run in, pinch-hitter Takumi Oshiro singled off Naoya Masuda, who walked Yoshihiro Maru. Elier Hernandez singled off a beauty of a low splitter to make it a one-run game. Hernandez has so far been an absolute find but Masuda held on for his eighth save in what has been a difficult season for him.

The 29-year-old Hernandez, who has played in over 1,100 games in the MLB’s minor leagues, got called up to Japan’s majors after going 12-for-29 for the Eastern League Giants. He’s now 15-for-34 against PL pitching with two homers.

Carp 6, Fighters 0: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Hiromi Ito (4-1) struck out eight over seven innings, but allowed three runs, one earned, as he failed to become Nippon Ham’s first starting pitcher to begin a season 5-0 since Shohei Ohtani, while Masato Morishita (5-2) held the Fighters to five singles and no walks over eight innings to snap Hiroshima’s five-game losing streak.

Continue reading NPB news: June 5, 2024