The Central League-leading Yakult Swallows had more COVID-19 infections, and are now without their top two catchers and one backup from the major league club as well as some key relievers and their middle infield.
This forced Yakult to postpone Sunday’s game with the Hanshin Tigers. The Pacific League-leading SoftBank Hawks meanwhile looked to salvage the final game of their home series against the last-place Nippon Ham Fighters, with the Seibu Lions now hot on their heels in second place.
So let’s get started.
Fighters 2, Hawks 0: At Fukuoka Dome, Nippon Ham journeyman Takahide Ikeda (1-1) outpitched his offseason workout partner and fellow Soka University graduate Shuta Ishikawa (3-4). Ishikawa struck out nine but had one tough inning when the Fighters scored both their runs.
Shogo Akiyama has landed in Hiroshima, and Lotte scored eight runs in a game on Monday. I’m not certain which of those things seemed less likely two weeks ago.
And he can keep the red hat, too
Shogo Akiyama was courted by three teams, and selected the Central League’s Hiroshima Carp over the Pacific League’s Seibu Lions and SoftBank Hawks. He settled on a three-year deal with the Carp
The Lions, his old team tried to get the 34-year-old got less than 400 plate appearances with the Cincinnati Reds over two seasons. I’m sure there are a half dozen people who “know” why he failed in Cincinnati. I can’t guess.
Akiyama’s numbers were in slow but steady decline before he moved to Cincinnati and, according to Bob Whiting someone referred to him as a second Ichiro. Other than being Japanese left-handed-hitting outfielders with line-drive power and better than average speed, I don’t see that, and it’s doubtful the Reds thought that.
There certainly were real reasons why he failed, and there is also the possibility that he needed more time to adjust than he was allowed. But he’s back now, exchanging the PL for the CL.
As for the other teams, it’s considered good form for teams to try and re-sign their former stars. SoftBank seems an outlier, since they have no obvious need for an outfielder of Akiyama’s talents. One can only guess this was owner Masayoshi Son’s doing. Son has a history of throwing money at every returning star who’ll bother to glance his way, much to the dismay of his front office.
The Carp made the most sense because they really don’t have a center fielder of any stature, and the notoriously penny-pinching Carp probably figured they could save a few bucks by having Akiyama bring his Reds’ cap.
Marines 8, Hawks 1: At Tokyo Dome, Brandon Laird hit a three-run home run, his 12th, Shogo Nakamura drove in three runs and hit his fifth homer as the Marines took advantage of Kotaro Otake (0-1) standing in for Tsuyoshi Wada, who was sidelined by coronavirus.
Enny Romero (6-4) worked seven scoreless innings.
To be fair, it was the third time this season the Marines have scored eight-plus runs, once against the Giants in interleague, and once on May 20, when Roki Sasaki beat SoftBank and Kodai Senga.