Kota Futaki (8-3) had one hiccup in his seven-inning stint, Stefen Romero’s ice-breaking three-run fourth-inning home run, but allowed nothing else as the Lotte Marines snapped a four-game losing streak to beat the Rakuten Eagles 6-3 at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium on Saturday.
The win gave the second-place Marines a two-game lead in the fight for the Pacific League’s final playoff spot over the Seibu Lions, who were busted up 11-2 by the SoftBank Hawks. The Eagles, in fourth, are another half-game further back.
Futaki allowed only one base runner before the fourth and retired the last 10 batters he faced after hanging a 2-2 pitch that Romero blasted into the left-field stands for his 24th home run.
Eagles starter Ryota Ishibashi (1-6) allowed four runs over 5-1/3 innings. D.J. Johnson got Rakuten out of the five run inning, retiring all five batters he faced, while J.T. Chargois also stamped his initials on the proceedings in a scoreless ninth.
HIrokazu Sawamura, the loser on Friday, worked a scoreless eighth for the Marines, while Naoya Masuda recorded 30 saves for the first time in seven years.
Hawks tattoo Lions
Shuta Ishikawa (10-3) allowed a run over six innings, and Kenji Akashi doubled twice, tripled, singled scored three runs and drove in four in the SoftBank Hawks’ 11-2 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome.
Seibu’s Ernesto Mejia enlivened the game in the seventh inning by scoring after hitting his first triple in six years.
Kawano ends win drought
Nippon Ham Fighters rookie Ryosei Kawano (3-4) allowed a run over six innings in a 6-1 win over the Orix Buffaloes and southpaw Andrew Albers (4-8) at Sapporo Dome. Kawano, who hadn’t won since August, gave up three singles. The lefty struck out three without issuing a walk.
Okamoto powers Sugano to victory
Kazuma Okamoto hit his Central League-leading 29th home run, a three-run shot that bumped his league-best RBI total to 89 as ace Tomoyuki Sugano (14-2) allowed a run over five innings despite giving up five hits, walking two and hitting two in the 6-4 win at Tokyo Dome.
Rubby De La Rosa worked the ninth for his 17th save.
Naomasa Yokawa gave the Hanshin Tigers the early lead with a first-inning grand slam and added a solo shot in a 13-5 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium, although his home runs might not have been as memorable as two of the three hit by the BayStars.
Jose Lopez’s fourth-inning solo shot off Takumi Akiyama (10-3) was his 11th of the season and was his 1,000th hit in Japan. He is the 14th imported player to reach the milestone and only the third player to reach that figure in both NPB and MLB. The other two are Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui.
Lopez is the 14th import to reach 1,000 hits in Japan and the fourth Venezuelan after Alex Ramirez, Bobby Marcano and Alex Cabrera.
Tyler Austin reached 20 homers in the 61st game of his debut season, while Yamato Maeda took former teammate, retiring Tigers reliever Kyuji Fujikawa out in the ninth for two runs.
Jefry Marte and Jerry Sands also helped power the Hanshin onslaught. Marte went 2-for-2 with two runs and three walks, while Sands went 3-for-5 with two doubles, two runs and two RBIs.
Japan’s 1,000-hit foreign imports through Oct. 31, 2020 and the next guy
Note:This table has been updated. It originally omitted Wally Yonamine, Chico Barbon and Matt Murton.
Aizawa, Carp get ‘lucky’
Tsubasa Aizawa’s three-run eighth-inning double brought the Hiroshima Carp from behind against a lefty whose last name means luck in Japanese, Hiroto Fuku (5-5) in a 9-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Nagoya Dome.
Active roster moves 10/31/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/10
Kotaro Otake (2-0) came up from the farm, surrendered one run over five innings and Ukyo Shuto sparked the offense as the SoftBank Hawks clinched a postseason spot for the seventh straight year with a 7-2 win over the Seibu Lions at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Otake allowed three singles, all in the Lions’ second, and five relievers finished up while the Hawks offense scored early and often.
Shuto opened the bottom of the first with a single, stole his Japan-best 45th base, and scored on a Yuki Yanagita single to center. Lions center fielder Yuji Kaneko charged his hardest to keep Shuto from scoring, but failed to collect the ball, and Yanagita–even with his diminished 32-year-old wheels–circled the bases easily and scored standing up.
The Hawks put the game away in a four-run second, with Shuto singling home the first run off Lions starter Wataru Matsumoto (5-6). Yanagita walked with the bases loaded and Yurisbel Gracial doubled in two runs.
The Hawks have a magic number to clinch the franchise’s 21st pennant and will play the second-place Lotte Marines at home starting on Tuesday.
Iwashita returns to plague Buffaloes
Daiki Iwashita, Patient Zero in the Lotte Marines recent novel coronavirus outbreak, returned to duty with five scoreless innings in a 10-1 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
Iwashita (6-7) allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four. On the other side of the equation Taiwan’s Chang Yi (2-3) gave up an unlucky run in the first before the roof caved in on him in the third.
“In the third and fifth innings, I made mistakes with my out pitches,” he said after allowing seven runs on 11 hits but now walks over five innings. “I threw fat pitches and that was it.”
Romero steals show in Sendai
Stefen Romero did everything except hit for the cycle, playing great defense in left field while going 4-for-4 with a double and a triple in the Rakuten Eagles’ 13-4 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
Romero robbed Sho Nakata of an RBI extra-base hit to end the first with a catch near the top of the fence in left. He singled and scored the game’s first run in the third off Fighters ace Kohei Arihara (7-9) and tripled in two and scored in Rakuten’s three-run fourth.
A single off a big swing in his final at-bat ended Romero’s day as he failed to put his name in the record books next to baseball’s stupidest accomplishment.
Ryota Takinaka (2-1) walked five but allowed no runs over seven innings to earn the win. Rakuten’s D.J. Johnson allowed no hits or walks but gave up an unearned run in the eighth.
Akiyama stops Giants
Right-hander Takumi Akiyama (9-3) allowed six hits over the distance and Yusuke Oyama powered the Hanshin Tigers’ offense in a 4-2 win over the Central Legue-leading Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo Dome.
Akiyama struck out five and allowed both runs on Yoshihiro Maru’s 24th home run. He struck out five without issuing a walk.
The Tigers opened the scoring in the first against Seishu Hatake (3-4) on three straight one-out singles by Kento Itohara, Jefry Marte and Oyama.
Oyama doubled in the fifth and scored on Naomasa Yokawa’s fifth home run.
The Giants’ magic number to clinch the pennant remained at four after the second-place Chunichi Dragons won their late game at nearby Jingu Stadium.
In the first game since DeNA BayStars manager Alex Ramirez announced he would leave at the end of the season, a parade of six relievers held the Hiroshima Carp to six hits in a 3-0 win at Yokohama Stadium.
With the BayStars leading 1-0 after Toshiro Miyazaki’s first-inning RBI single off Yuta Nakamura (3-3), Neftali Soto drove in an eighth-inning insurance run with his 22nd home run. Tyler Austin followed with a single and scored on a Yamato Maeda single.
Kinoshita doubles down for die-hard Dragons
Takuya Kinoshita doubled in three second-inning runs as the Chunichi Dragons refused to roll over and give up the pennant race in a 5-1 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
Dayan Viciedo homered, singled twice and scored twice for the Dragons, who got 6-1/3 scoreless innings from Yuya Yanagi (5-6). The right-hander allowed four hits, three walks and hit a batter while striking out seven.
Swallows starter Albert Suarez (4-3) also had trouble with location as he allowed three runs over five innings after walking four, hitting one and giving up three hits.
Igarashi goes out on top
Ryota Igarashi threw one pitch in his 823rd and final NPB game, entering the game between the Yakult Swallows and Chunichi Dragons in the eighth inning and left after throwing one pitch and getting an out thanks to a good play at third by Alcides Escobar.
He entered the game to hugs from his teammates, left to a standing ovation, and tossed the ball he threw into the fans at Jingu Stadium.
Buffaloes deactivate Jones
The Orix Buffaloes deactivated outfielder Adam Jones on Sunday due to the season’s most overused catch-all reason, “a lack of lower-body fitness.”
In 87 games, Jones has posted a .331 on-base percentage with a .417 slugging average. He has hit 12 home runs, scored 29 runs and driven in 43.
Meanwhile, the Yakult Swallows activated reliever Ryota Igarashi for the express purpose of allowing him to pitch in his retirement game and for that reason were allowed to exceed the 31-man active roster limit.
The SoftBank Hawks turned a pitchers’ duel into a rout with seven runs off the Nippon Ham Fighters’ bullpen in a 9-1 win at Sapporo Dome on Wednesday. The Hawks, looking to win their first Pacific League pennant in three years, lowered their magic number to eight.
The Japanese news on Thursday will be the Hawks HAVE a magic number. But don’t be confused. That’s just the way they do things here.
Hawks ace Kodai Senga (9-6) allowed a run in the second on three ground balls that weren’t particularly well hit. He left after 6-1/3 innings having allowed seven hits and a walk while striking out five.
Drew VerHagen (7-6) allowed three runs over 6-2/3 innings. He gave up eight hits and a walk while striking out six.
Until the bullpen got involved everything revolved around the Hawks’ Ukyo Shuto and the Fighters’ Taishi Ota.
Shuto dropped a ground ball at second, allowing second-inning leadoff hitter Sho Nakata to reach on an error. Ryo Watanabe reached on a grounder to third. Ota smacked a breaking ball up in the zone through the infield, and Nakata just beat the throw home.
The Hawks took the lead in the fifth. Takuya Kai singled and scored when Shuto burned around the bases on a triple to the gap in left center. The Hawks’ speedster then scored on Akira Nakamura’s fly to right, barely beating the tag after a strong throw from Ota arrived on the first-base side of the plate.
With one out and two on in the bottom of the sixth, Ota hit a fly to medium deep right field, Nakata barreled home, but Ryoya Kurihara’s throw was on the third-base side of the plate, and lacking Shuto’s speed, Nakata was out. Shuto sparked a three-run seventh with a two-out walk that chased VerHagen. Reliever Mizuki Hori walked Nakamura and surrendered an RBI single to Yuki Yanagita. Takahiro Nishimura came in and gave up a two-run double to Yurisbel Gracial.
Déjà vu all over again
For the second straight night, Shuta Tonosaki led off the bottom of the ninth against Lotte Marines closer Naoya Masuda (3-4) and scored the winning run on a ball hit by Kakeru Yamanobe to lift the Seibu Lions to a 2-1 win at MetLife Dome.
For the second straight night, Lions closer Tatsushi Masuda (5-0) worked dangerously. A night after he blew a one-run save, he pitched out of trouble to keep the game tied. Tonosaki drew a leadoff walk and instead of scoring on a dropped fly ball as he did on Tuesday, scored on a Yamanobe single.
Ernesto Mejia’s fourth-inning RBI single opened the scoring, and the Marines tied it in the seventh on a double play after Ikuhiro Kiyota and Hisanori Yasuda singled to open the inning.
Oshiro HR lifts Buffaloes
Koji Oshiro homered in the ninth inning off Yuki Matsui (4-5) to lift the Orix Buffaloes to a 6-5 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
Buffaloes setup man Tyler Higgins (3-3) earned the win after he surrendered the tying run in the bottom of the eighth. Brandon Dickson loaded the bases in the ninth but allowed no runs to notch his 15th save.
The Eagles’ Stefen Romero capped a four-run first inning with a three-run home run, his 21st.
Swallows win battle for the ages
Forty-year-old Masanori Ishikawa (2-7) allowed a run over six innings and Munetaka Murakami, who is 20 years, 11 days younger, brought the Yakult Swallows from a run down with his 24th home run to beat the Central League-leading Yomiuri Giants 2-1 at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto broke up the scoreless game with a fourth-inning home run, his 17th. The visitors blew a chance for a fifth-inning insurance run when Yoshihiro Maru was put out trying to score from third when Takumi Oshiro failed to bunt a breaking ball in the strike zone.
With Norichika Aoki aboard in the sixth, Murakami hit an improbably low pitch from Giants lefty Yuki Takahashi and hit a nine-iron into the left-field stands for an opposite-field home run.
Dragons centurian Viciedo beats BayStars
Dayan Viciedo’s three-run home run, his 16th of the season and the 100th of his Japan career, overturned a 2-1 deficit and lifted the Chunichi Dragons to a 4-2 win over the DeNA BayStars at Nagoya Dome.
Tyler Austin singled in both of DeNA’s runs in the first and third, but Edwin Escobar surrendered one-out hits to Yohei Oshima and Yota Kyoda before Viciedo took him deep with two outs. The Dragons bullpen, weakened by the loss of closer Raidel Martinez, allowed six of the BayStars’ final 13 batters to reach but no runs.
Marte returns, homers in Tigers’ win
Jefry Marte returned after a 3-1/2 month absence to smash a two-run homer that lifted the Hanshin Tigers to a 2-0 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Koshien Stadium.
Koyo Aoyagi (7-8) worked 5-1/3 innings. He gave up a hit, two walks and hit a batter while striking out eight. Closer Robert Suarez, the Tigers’ fifth pitcher, worked a 1-2-3 ninth to take over the CL saves lead with his 22nd.
Carp starter Atsushi Endo (3-6) allowed two runs over six innings. He struck out nine.
Tigers may be done with Fukudome
Kosuke Fukudome, who at 43 is the oldest player in Nippon Professional Baseball, has been notified by the Central League’s Hanshin Tigers that he is not in their plans for next year, the Nikkan Sports reported Wednesday.
Such notices usually mean a player will be released or sold, but that is not always the case. It is noteworthy that when the Tigers became a novel coronavirus cluster in September, Fukudome had been one of those who had broken team protocols by dining out in a group of eight — twice the team’s limit.
As happens in Japan, at least one head had to role when a problem occurred in conjunction with rulebreaking and team president Kenji Ageshio announced on Oct. 9 that he would step down.
Another thing that happens in Japan is that the punishment and blame handed to athletes who break the rules is in inverse proportion to their competitiveness.
When a number of Japanese badminton players were found to have visited a casino–which are illegal in Japan–the most lenient treatment was reserved for world No. 2 Kento Momota, who missed the 2016 Olympics but has since returned to competition.
When a number of Yomiuri Giants pitchers were found to have bet on baseball, the lightest punishment was reserved for the only one who was any good. And after sitting out for one year and showing remorse, lefty Kyosuke Takagi resumed his career.
In 2019, Fukudome posted a .347 on-base-percentage, his worst as a regular in Japan. This year, his struggles have intensified, making him vulnerable to pay a price for his failure to follow the rules.
A former CL MVP, Fukudome spent five seasons in the United States, where he may have had the worst NPB-to-MLB translated value in history.
An on-base machine with good power (career .383 OBP .495 slug), who was killed by his first pro home park, Nagoya Dome, Fukudome’s offensive numbers in the majors (.359 .395) fell off considerably despite playing in excellent hitters’ parks.
Using Bill James Win Shares, most Japanese players lose some value going to the States, and after coming back past their prime, regain a little or stay about where they were in terms of value. Fukudome dropped sharply when he left and rebounded sharply when he returned.
I haven’t had a chance to speak with him about it, but MLB’s more challenging travel requirements and training routines may have been particularly hard on him. These differences can be very tough on Japanese players–regardless of Hideki Okajima‘s assertion that it was easy for him and “if it’s hard to adjust, you don’t belong in MLB.”
He was deactivated on Aug. 5 and traveled to the States 11 days later. He has played in 39 games this year with six home runs, giving him 169 in Japan. Laird was instrumental in the Nippon Ham Fighters winning the 2016 PL pennant and Japan Series, and is well known in Japan for his “sushi-making” home run celebration.
Buffaloes drop ace Yamamoto
A day after yet another sharp outing in which he allowed two runs over seven innings, the Orix Buffaloes dropped ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto on Wednesday.
Yamamoto was taken off the hook for the loss when Orix came back to tie it 2-2 in the ninth inning. The 22-year-old leads both leagues with 149 strikeouts and tops the Pacific League with a 2.20 ERA and 126-2/3 innings. The move, according to the Daily Sports, was made out of consideration for his lower-body fitness and overall fatigue.
The Chunichi Dragons also made a move, dropping closer Raidel Martinez, who has struck out over 11 batters per nine innings and is tied for the league saves lead with Robert Suarez of the Hanshin Tigers.
As usual, the Dragons failed to specify any reason for Martinez’s move other than saying it was due to a lack of lower-body fitness.”
Active roster moves 10/21/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/31
Nao Higashihama struggled with his location but got enough on his pitches to keep the Rakuten Eagles from squaring him up over seven innings in the SoftBank Hawks’ 5-0 win at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Higashihama (8-1) started on Opening Day for the Hawks, but was up and down over the first two months. He allowed four hits, walked two and hit while striking out seven en route to winning his sixth straight start.
Yuki Yanagita took Ryota Ishibashi (1-5) deep in the first inning for his 27th home run, and the game was still 1-0 when Higashihama’s lack of command allowed the Eagles to juice the bags with one out on two walks and a Stefen Romero single. But even though he missed up in the heart of the zone, Higashihama got two easy outs to end it.
Yurisbel Gracial homered in the home half and Ryoya Kurhihara doubled with the bases loaded in the fifth to complete the scoreline.
We’re only here for the beer
Postgame hero interviews run the gamut from completely inane to hilarious, and somedays it seems like the purpose of the exercise for SoftBank Hawks players is to be as campy as possible.
With Asahi brewers the sponsors for Saturday’s hero interview, Yuki Yanagita, Ryoya Kurihara and winning pitcher Nao Higashihama all spoke about their motivation for the day being to earn a one-year’s supply of Asahi beer.
Chang delivers on Lions’ Taiwan Day
Chang Yi (2-2) struck out eight over six scoreless innings, and the Orix Buffaloes got home runs from rookie Seiichiro Oshita and Steven Moya to beat the Seibu Lions 4-1.
The Lions were having one of their regular Taiwan Day promotions at their MetLIfe Dome ballpark across the border from Tokyo in Saitama Prefecture. Chang, a cousin of Yang Dai-kang and Yang Yao-hsun, who attended high school and university in Japan, ended up celebrating the day at his hosts’ expense.
Tyler Higgins worked a 1-2-3 eighth to preserve a two-run lead and Brandon Dickson recorded his 14th save in the ninth for the last-place Buffaloes.
Oblgatory lip service
Rookie Seiichiro Oshita broke up a scoreless game on Saturday when he led off the Orix Buffaloes’ fifth inning with his second career home run and then, as Ray Liotta’s character said in “Goodfellas,” he did the right thing, by denying he wanted to hit a home run.
The Nikkan Sports published a story based on the flash quotes distributed during the game by the team from every player who drives in a run.
“My plan going up to the plate first and foremost was to get on base,” Oshita said through the team. “The contact felt really good, so I thought it was gone the instant I hit it.”
“I so wanted to get in that first run, so I’m glad I could do that with a home run.”
Had he reversed that, and started talking about the home run, and then added the afterthought that his first thought was getting on base, Oshita would have been guilty of violating Japanese baseball norms, by suggesting he was trying to hit a home run.
Carp bullpen blows up again
For the second straight day the Hiroshima Carp bullpen surrendered four late runs, this time allowing the Chunichi Dragons to turn a one-run deficit into a 5-2 win at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Rookie of the year candidate Masato Morishita was rock solid through seven, allowing a run on five hits and no walks while striking out eight. But setup man Atsuya Horie (3-4) left with two on and one out in the eighth.
Geronimo Franzua, who has often been called on to get four outs, came in to get five. He got ahead of Yohei Oshima 1-2 but couldn’t get a called strike and walked him to load the bases.
With two outs, Franzua made a decent first pitch to Toshiki Abe, but the Dragons second baseman got the end of the bat on it and bounced it through the infield for a two-run single. Dayan Viciedo then iced the game with another two-run single.
Dragons starter Yuya Yanagi (4-6) scattered eight hits and two walks over seven innings to earn the win. The damage would have been worse but Moises Sierra made a couple of tricky catches in left when he appeared to struggle with the sun.
Raidel Martinez struck out the side in the ninth to earn his 21st save.
Hanshin forms women’s club
The Hanshin Tigers announced Saturday it was forming a women’s hardball club that will begin play next year, according to the Nikkan Sports.
The club will be the second operated by a Nippon Professional Baseball team following the announcement in April that the Pacific League’s Seibu Lions had established a club.
The Tigers’ club is an offshoot of the organization’s outreach programs to make the game more accessible to women. The Tigers said its purpose was three-fold:
To cultivate the desire among women to play baseball
To create an environment where it is easier for women to start in baseball.
To increase the number of women players, women fans and Tigers fans.
The Tigers will begin accepting applications this month, with practices to be held once a week in the area around the club’s home base in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture. Some practices may take place at the Tigers’ home park, historic Koshien Stadium, or its minor league facility in Naruohama.
Active roster moves 10/17/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/27
After being shutout in two straight games, the Orix Buffaloes finally managed to score, but 14-year veteran Yuya Hasegawa broke up a close game in the sixth inning with his first career grand slam in the SoftBank Hawks’ 9-4 win at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
The three-game sweep moved the Hawks four games clear atop the Pacific League standings ahead of the Lotte Marines, who lost 6-0 at home to the Rakuten Eagles. The Hawks have won the last three Japan Series, but haven’t won a PL pennant since 2017.
Hawks right-hander Shuta Ishikawa (8-3) was hard to hit as usual with his customary lack of command. He allowed two runs over five innings on three hits, two walks and three hit batsmen.
Akira Nakamura singled in the tie-breaking run in the sixth and Hasegawa, pinch-hitting for Wladimir Balentien, faced new pitcher Motoki Higa after Taiki Tajima (4-5) loaded the bases with one out.
Yurisbel Gracial went 3-for-4 with two runs for the Hawks, while Steven Moya went 2-for-4 with an RBI double for Orix.
Eagles close on 2nd behind Kishi shutout
Takayuki Kishi threw his first shutout in two years as the Rakuten Eagles moved to within four games of the second-place Lotte Marines with a 6-0 win at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
At the same park where in May 2014 he threw his only no-hitter while a member of the Seibu Lions, Kishi (4-0) struck out 13, one shy of his career high, set in 2018. The right-hander allowed two hits and walked one.
Good breaks and good swings put the visitors in front in a four-run second against Kazuya Ojima (7-7). Stefen Romero hit a flare off the end of the bat for a leadoff single. Kazuki Tanaka chased a pitch out of the zone but hit it well for a single. A fielders choice on a sacrifice loaded the bases with no outs.
Rookie Hiroto Kobukata lined a fastball down the pipe for a two-run double and Daichi Suzuki followed with a two-run single off his former team. Romero went 3-for-4 with two runs for the Eagles.
Double-time Kondo ravages Lions
Kensuke Kondo doubled four times, singled, scored twice and drove in four early runs in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 8-3 win over the Seibu Lions at Sapporo Dome.
The Fighters’ top two hitters, Haruki NIshikawa and Shota Hiranuma each reached in the first and second, helping the Fighters build a quick 5-0 lead against Zach Neal (4-5).
Nick Martinez (2-6) allowed three runs over six innings on three hits and three walks to earn the win. 2019 MVP Tomoya Mori accounted for all three Lions runs with a three-run, third-inning home run, his eighth.
Takahashi picks up Dragons pen
The Chunichi Dragons’ bullpen blew a lead for the first time in ages, but Shuhei Takahashi belted a three-run walk-off homer against Hanshin Tigers closer Robert Suarez (2-1) in a 5-3 win at Nagoya Dome.
After back-to-back shutout wins in the series’ first two games, Takahiro Matsuba worked five scoreless innings despite putting two men on in three of them. Yoichi Oshima singled to open the Dragons’ first and scored on a Zoilo Almonte single.
Matsuba also had two hits and contributed to one of Chunichi’s runs, when Oshima doubled in a run in the fourth to make it 2-0.
Dragons relievers Keisuke Tanimoto and Hiroto Fuku kept the Tigers scoreless through seven before Daisuke Sobue blew the lead in Hanshin’s three-run eighth. Jon Edwards worked a scoreless eighth to preserve the visitors’ only lead of the series, but things went south in the ninth.
With one out and two on, Dayan Viciedo lined out to second. Reserve second baseman Kai Ueda’s throw to double off the runner at second was wild and put the winning run at second with two outs
Suarez threw Takahashi a 1-1 159-kph fastball down the pipe, and he hit it off the end of the bat. The fly ball sliced but just stayed fair down the left-field line for an opposite-field three-run home run.
Matsuyama salvages draw for Carp
Ryuhei Matsuyama hit a Tokyo Dome special, a high opposite-field fly to the the dome’s invitingly close walls in straight-away left and right, for a two-run game-tying home run for the Hiroshima Carp in their 5-5 10-inning tie against the Yomiuri Giants.
The Carp had a golden opportunity to break the tie in the eighth but it died in a failed squeeze attempt.
Ryosuke Kikuchi, the Carp’s seven-time Golden Glove Award-winning second baseman, set a Central League record by recording 434 consecutive errorless chances.
“If you ask me, a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage is boring, since human beings make mistakes and you want to know the guy out there is human.”
–Pro Yakyu News analyst Yutaka Takagi, when asked about Kikuchi’s chances of surpassing his own single-season record for highest fielding percentage at second base.
Rookie right-hander Daiki Yoshida (2-6) allowed two runs over six innings and drove in one run with a sacrifice fly in the Yakult Swallows’ 4-3 win over the DeNA BayStars at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
Keita Sano opened the scoring in the second inning by homering for the fourth straight game, but the Swallows took the lead in the home half on Yoshida’s sac fly. The Swallows’ Munetaka Murakami hit his 22nd home run, while Takayuki Kajitani hit his 17th for DeNA.
Active roster moves 10/15/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/25
Yudai Ono (9-5) returned to his complete-game victory fixation on Wednesday with his fifth shutout of the season as the lefty pitched out of a ninth-inning jam in the Chunichi Dragons’ 3-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Nagoya Dome.
The win lifted the Dragons into second place in the Central League at two games above .500 despite being outscored this season 396 to 356. Second place is largely symbolic as the Yomiuri Giants run away with the pennant and no possibility of advancing to the Japan Series since the CL has canceled its playoffs this year.
Ono struck out seven and walked one. He allowed two-out singles to Yusuke Oyama and Justin Bour in the ninth.
Tigers submarine right-hander Koyo Aoyagi (6-8) allowed three runs over seven innings to take the loss. Dayan Viciedo singled and scored in the second for the Dragons, and Zoilo Almonte singled in a run in the third.
Ono has now worked 36 consecutive scoreless innings. The Japan record is 64-1/3 by Hall of Famer Masaichi Kaneda, who accomplished the feat in 1958 with the Kokutetsu Swallows.
The lefty’s nine complete games are the most in Japan since Tomoyuki Sugano had 10 in 2018, when he won his second consecutive Sawamura Award, although eight of those were shutouts, which may be hard for Ono to match in this shortened season.
Masahiro Tanaka was the last pitcher in Japan with more than 10 complete games, when he had 14 in 2011.
Giants trim magic number to 9
Yuki Takahashi (1-0) allowed a run over five innings and tripled in the tie-breaking run in the second as the Yomiuri Giants beat the Hiroshima Carp 6-1 at Tokyo Dome.
Although the outfield was playing the pitcher shallow, Takahashi got some distance on his drive to the gap.
The win, combined with the Tigers’ loss, dropped the Giants’ magic number to clinch the pennant to nine.
The DeNA BayStars bashed out nine runs over the first six innings and then had to call on closer Kazuki Mishima after Naomichi Nishiura’s second homer of the game made it close in the eighth inning of their 9-6 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
BayStars starter Yuya Sakamoto (4-1) held the Swallows to a run over five innings, while 40-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa (1-7) allowed five runs over five. Mishima earned his 14th save.
Tyler Austin had three hits and two RBIs for the visitors, while Neftali Soto scored twice. Toshiro Miyazaki drove in three runs on three singles and Keita Sano homered for the third straight game.
Wakui outpitches Chen
Chen Wei-yin’s return to Japanese pro ball was impressive until a belt-high center-cut fastball to Hideto Asamura put the Rakuten Eagles in front in their 4-1 win over Chen’s new team, the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
Hideaki Wakui (11-3) appeared to lose his footing on the mound on his first pitch, a 143-kph fastball down the middle to rookie Kyota Fujiwara who looked like he was geared up for a first-pitch fastball because he really hammered it for his first career home run.
Asamura singled and scored the tying run in the fourth on a Stefen Romero sacrifice fly and blasted his 31st home run in the sixth, driving it well back in the left-field stands for a 2-1 lead.
Chen allowed two runs over six innings, while Wakui went seven. Lefty Yuki Matsui worked a scoreless eighth and Alan Busenitz did the same in the ninth for his 18th save.
Senga strikes out 10
SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga (8-6) struck out 10 over six innings to earn the win in a 4-0 victory over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome that was scoreless through six innings.
Lefty Sachiya Yamasaki (4-5) surrendered a leadoff double to Ryoya Kurihara in the seventh. He scored on a wild pitch, and three two-out walks loaded the bases for Yuki Yanagita, who delivered a three-run double.
It was the Buffaloes’ second straight shutout loss. The win lifted SoftBank three games clear of the second-place Marines.
VerHagen shuts down Lions
Drew VerHagen (7-5) struck out 10 over eight scoreless innings as the Nippon Ham Fighters took advantage of nine walks in a 7-2 win over the Seibu Lions at Sapporo Dome.
VerHagen allowed three hits and walked two to earn his first winsince he last threw eight shutout innings to beat the Rakuten Eagles on Sept. 14.
Taishi Ota hit a two-run first-inning home run off rookie Shota Hamaya (2-2).
Active roster moves 10/14/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/24