Tag Archives: Shun Yamaguchi

NPB games, news of Aug. 12, 2019

SoftBank Hawks southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada returned to action and the day brightened.

The 38-year-old lefty has no secrets. He’s going to throw his good changeup and his 88.2 mile-per-hour fastball a lot, and mix in a slider that is nothing really special but looks like the other two pitches coming out of his hand. He’s going to stay around the zone and more or less throw all his pitches where he wants them.

Having left his last two starts with discomfort in his right hamstring, Wada had not pitched since July 20. He was worth waiting for.

Pacific League

Hawks 6, Buffaloes 3

At Yafuoku Dome, Tsuyoshi Wada (2-1) announced his return to duty by striking out the side in the first inning, while Alfredo Despaigne homered twice to lift SoftBank past Nippon Ham and to a series sweep despite a slick performance from veteran right-hander Chihiro Kaneko.

“The way I left the mound in my last outing here — and the one before that — was pretty lame,” Wada said. “It took me about 22 days to be able to pitch again, but I’m pretty happy to be back.”

“I had the sense that everyone was concerned about the fitness of my leg, so I thought the best thing I could do was show people I was 100 percent. To do that, I wanted to come out pitching as well as I could, and that turned out OK.”

Game highlights are HERE.

Wada struck out leadoff man Haruki Nishikawa looking on three fastballs. A called first-strike slider started Taishi Ota, who missed badly on a 1-1 change and a 1-2 fastball. Compared to them, Kensuke Ota’s five-pitch at-bat was a prolonged siege. The Fighters’ leading hitter, too, went down flailing at a pitch out of the zone.

Yoshikawa (0-3) made his third “short starter” appearance since he returned to the Fighters in a trade from the Yomiuri Giants. His last one, on July 30 was moderately successful, two runs over four innings as the Fighters were shut out 2-0 by Eagles rookie Hayato Yuge. But overall, the lefty has now allowed eight earned runs in 8-1/3 innings.

My other favorite Hawk, grinding utility infielder Keizo Kawashima, returned to the lineup for the first time since June 1, and singled to open the game. After a sacrifice, Seiichi Uchikawa drove him home and then scored when Despaigne got under a fastball away that carried farther than he expected and landed on the other side of Yafuoku Dome’s inner fence near the right field foul pole.

After that, it was a case of Wada fooling batters and getting away with his mistakes. He missed with two fastballs to cleanup hitter Sho Nakata, who got under both of them for high fly outs. Wada had to pitch out of a two-out, two-on jam in the fourth, and another one in the fifth — when he surrendered a leadoff homer to Toshitake Yokoo.

“I used up a lot of my strength in the first inning, and as a result, I was missing with pitches in the second and third inning,” Wada said. “But somehow with the help of Takuya (catcher Takuya Kai), we got through it.”

“The team handed me the start having won Saturday and Sunday, and I didn’t want to be the one to drop the ball.”

Kaneko allowed three runners to reach in his five-inning stint, and two were erased on double plays. He left trailing by two runs because rookie Hiroshi Kaino came on in the top of the sixth. After two singles to open the inning, leadoff batter, Nishikawa (.378 on-base percentage) tried to bunt his way on for the first time this season and succeeded in sacrificing the runners into scoring position.

Rookie reliever Hiroshi Kaino, however, struck out two of the Fighters’ best, Ota and Kondo, on two-strike splitters to end the inning.

“He (Ota) a good batter, so I knew I had to be careful with him,” Kaino said. “Kondo, too, is a great hitter as well, so I had to trust in the pitches that my catcher called for and execute.”

Despaigne homered again in the bottom of the eighth to make it a 6-1 game, and the Fighters rallied for two in the ninth against Ren Kajiya. Closer Yuito Mori hit a batter to load the bases with two outs before recording his 24th save.

Lions 9, Marines 2

At Zozo Marine Stadium, Zach Neal (6-1) allowed one run — on Leonys Martin’s sixth home run — over 6-2/3 innings as Seibu handed Lotte its fourth-straight loss.

Mike Bolsinger (3-4) surrendered three runs, one earned, over five innings in which he walked five. But the Lions broke the game open in the seventh in a four-run seventh against the Marines bullpen.

Game highlights are HERE.

Eagles 3, Buffaloes 2, 10 innings

At Rakuten Seimei Park, 22-year-old rookie Yoshiaki Watanabe doubled in the winning run from first base with two outs in the 10th innings of Rakuten’s win over Orix.

Frank Herrmann (5-3), who worked a 1-2-3 10th inning for the Eagles earned the win, while Buffaloes closer Brandon Dickson (2-1), who walked last year’s PL rookie of the year Kazuki Tanaka with two outs, took the loss.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Swallows 4, BayStars 3

At Jingu Stadium, ninth-inning home runs by Wladimir Balentien and Munetaka Murakami off DeNA closer Yasuaki Yamasaki (3-2) lifted Yakult to a walk-off win after Swallows closer Scott McGough (5-3) surrendered two runs in the top of the inning and was poised to take the loss.

Murakami’s 25th home run ranks him fourth in a season by players under 20-years-old and at 19 years, 6 months, the youngest player to hit a sayonara home run in NPB. Seibu’s Kazuhiro Kiyohara hit 31 as an 18-year-old in 1986 and 29 the following year, while Nishitetsu Lions Hall of Fame shortstop Yasumitsu Toyoda hit 27 in 1953 as an 18-year-old.

Dragons 5, Tigers 1

At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi’s second-round draft pick last autumn, Kodai Umetsu (1-0) won his pro debut, allowing a run over six innings and striking out seven to beat former Dragon Onelki Garcia (2-6) in a win over Hanshin.

Former Dragon Kosuke Fukudome opened the scoring in the first with an RBI double. Garcia struck out 10 over seven innings, but the Dragons had four hits in a two-run first, and Noamichi Donoue hit a two-run homer in the fourth.

Umetsu, who hit 151 kph with his fastball, was a teammate at Toyo University with Hawks rookie flame thrower Hiroshi Kaino and BayStars top draft pick Taiga Kamichatani.

Game highlights are HERE.

Giants 8, Carp 7

At Mazda Stadium, Alex Guerrero made Hiroshima pay for hitting him with a pitch in a four-run first inning by belting a two-run home run in the third as Yomiuri held on to beat Hiroshima in a 4-hour, 17-minute marathon.

The Carp, however, did not go quietly into that good night as the top of the order, leadoff man Ryoma Nishikawa and No. 2 hitter Ryosuke Kikuchi combined to reach base eight times, score five runs and drove in four.

Game highlights are HERE.


1,000 whiffs of Yamaguchi

Yomiuri Giants starting pitcher Shun Yamguchi, who spent the first half of his career as a closer for the BayStars, became the 150th pitcher in Japanese pro ball to reach 1,000 career strikeouts on Monday, when he caught Hiroshima’s Seiya Suzuki looking in the third inning at Mazda Stadium.

His first strikeout victim was South Korean slugging star Lee Seung Yeop, on June 29, 2006, who was in his first season that year with the Giants.

Rookie Yoshida set for 3rd start

Fighters rookie pitcher Kosei Yoshida, Nippon Ham’s top draft pick last autumn, has been penciled in to start against the Lotte Marines on Wednesday, when Nippon Ham stages a home game at Tokyo Dome.

Yoshida, who famously threw 1,571 pitches last summer (636 in the Akita Prefecture championship and another 881 in the national summer finals at Koshien). It will be his first start against Pacific League opposition, having started on June 12 against the Hiroshima Carp and again on June 23 against the Chunichi Dragons.

NPB games, news of June 29, 2019

On a rainy day in eastern Japan, all 12 teams were in action for the first time since interleague’s final scheduled day last Sunday. The Swallows hosted the Giants in Akita and in a holdover from the old days, when playing in remote parks often involved uncertain travel connections by train, games played more remote locations often involve an extra day for travel.

Saturday’s highlight was an inside-the-park home run. By their nature, these are fluke plays, but I doubt you’ve seen one like this and it proved to be the decisive play of the game.

Pacific League

Hawks 5, Fighters 4

At Sapporo Dome, Nippon Ham’s understudy closer, Naoya Ishikawa, came within one strike of nailing down his third save. But Seiji Uebayashi followed Seiichi Uchikawa’s two-out, two-strike single with a strange home run in SoftBank’s come-from-behind win.

With one out, Fighters right fielder Taishi Ota robbed Nobuhiro Matsuda of a one-out single only for Uchikawa to lob 1-2 pitch off the end of his bat into right for a single. Then a little craziness ensued as Uebayashi’s drive bounced on the top of the wall and stayed in play, forcing him to speed up as he rounded third for a half-trotting, inside-the-park homer.

Here’s a clip of Seiji Uebayashi’s game winning inside-the-parker.

“With two outs, I had to be looking for extra-bases,” Uebayashi said. “I didn’t think I could hit a home run there, but I’m happy I did.”

“I wasn’t certain it went over, but (when I got around second coach (Arihito) Muramatsu was frantically waving me in, so half-way through I had to run for real.”

Fighters starter Toshihiro Sugiura, looked sharp through four innings, and Ryo Watanabe overturned a 1-0 deficit with a three-run, fourth-inning homer after Hawks starter Kotaro Otake walked a batter and surrendered a flare single off the end of Wang Po-jung’s bat.

Remember the line in Bull Durham, where Tim Robbins said a guy hit a pitch, “like he knew I was going to throw a fastball”? That’s what Ryo Watanabe’s home run looked like. The Fighters’ 1.78-meter second baseman stayed back on a first pitch curveball on the outside part of the plate and leaned into it, driving it out to distant left center.

Manager Hideki Kuriyama pulled Sugiura after two hard-hit balls to open the fifth, but reliever Kazutomo Iguchi hit a batter and missed with a high 1-0 fastball that was smoked for a two-run, game-tying single.

The Fighters retook the lead on a leadoff double in the fifth, a drag-bunt sacrifice and a sacrifice fly by Ota. After using four pitchers to get through the fifth inning, Kuriyama, who appeared to be practicing his scowl for most of the game needed four more to get his team within one strike of a victory.

The game highlights are HERE.

Eagles 2, Marines 2, 6 innings, rain

At Rakuten Seimei Park, the Rakuten Eagles hit a pair of leadoff home runs, but stranded seven runners over five innings before their game with Lotte was called due to rain.

For the life of me, I don’t understand Japan’s aversion to suspended games. In a country that deals with high school pitching marathons in the blistering heat of summer, one would think they could suspend those games, but perhaps that would violate some unwritten rule that says if you start a game today, you have to finish it today.

For years, the high school federation’s answer has been to take games that go past a certain number of innings and, wait for it, replay them from the start — ostensibly to spare the pitchers’ arms, when so often it is the same guy who just threw 12 innings who will have to start from scratch.

The game highlights are HERE.

Lions 7, Buffaloes 0

At MetLife Dome, Lions starter Keisuke Honda located his little 140-kph fastball and his changeup well, and was spared when the Buffaloes failed to do much with his mistakes as he struck out five and walked two over six scoreless innings.

Buffaloes starter Tsubasa Sakakibara, looking to throw his 11th straight quality start, gave up two runs in the first before striking out cleanup hitter Hotaka Yamakawa with no outs and a runner on third and getting an inning-ending double play.

Chris Marrero, who had been cooling his heels on the Buffaloes’ farm team since the start of June drove a hanging changeup foul before striking out in his first at-bat and drilled a hanging slider for an out in his second, but was hitless.

The game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Giants 6, Swallows 2

At Akita’s Komachi Stadium, Shun Yamaguchi pitched seven scoreless innings i in Yomiuri’s win over Yakult, making him the 353rd pitcher to reach 1,000 innings pitched.

Yamaguchi dueled veteran Swallows lefty Masanori Ishikawa through six innings. Ishikawa left trailing 2-0, only for the bullpen to cough up three more runs in the seventh.

Dragons 6, Tigers 1

At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi lefty Yudai Ono allowed a run on eight hits over seven innings, while striking out five and walking none, while Hanshin side-armer Koyo Aoyagi gave up five runs in the second inning.

Joely Rodriguez pitched out of a one-out, two-on jam in the eighth and Raidel Martinez struck out the side in order in the ninth to close it out.

Dragons catcher Takuma Kato drilled a 2-1 fastball down the line for a one-out, second-inning, bases-loaded double that plated the first two runs in a five-run inning off Aoyagi.

BayStars 2, Carp 1, 10 innings

At Yokohama Stadium, Toshiro Miyazaki’s two-out, bases-loaded single lifted DeNA past Hiroshima to its third straight win. The loss left the Carp 2-1/2 games back of the Giants in second place.


Tigers’ Fujinami appears ready for return

In what was billed as his final tuneup before returning to the first team, Hanshin Tigers right-hander Shintaro Fujinami allowed a run over eight innings and touched 154 kph on Saturday in a Western League game against the Hiroshima Carp at Mazda Stadium. He allowed four hits, while striking out eight and walking one.

The Sankei Sports story is HERE.

Blash out of action after Japan-high 10th plunking

Jabari Blash was held out of the Eagles’ lineup on Saturday after being hit by a pitch on the right arm on Friday by Eagles closer Naoya Masuda in the ninth inning. He was removed for a pinch runner.

Blash is leading the team with 19 home runs and 57 RBIs. He has been by pitches 10 times to lead the PL in that category. Chunichi’s Dayan Viciedo leads the CL with 10.