Tag Archives: Tadahito Iguchi

NPB 2020 Sept. 27

Other news

Togo impresses over 7

Yomiuri Giants rookie Shosei Togo (8-4) shut down the Chunichi Dragons for seven innings in a 5-1 win at Tokyo Dome on Sunday.

The 20-year-old right-hander, the Giants’ sixth pick in the 2018 draft, located his 150-kph (93.2 MPH) fastball that set the table for a nasty splitter and a good slider. He allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four.

Why call Togo “the Admiral?” Sunday’s members notes

The Dragons threatened in the first when Yohei Oshima rolled a tough pitch through the infield and Yota Kyoda smashed a high straight fastball for a single, but Togo bore down and took out the heart of the Chunichi order, Zolio Almonte, Dayan Viciedo and Shuhei Takahashi.

Seiya Matsubara tripled twice and scored three runs for the Giants, who peppered lefty Takahiro Matsuba (3-5). Matsubara opened the scoring in the first with an RBI triple off the top of the wall, and scored on a Hayato Sakamoto ground out.

With a runner on first and two outs in the fifth, the Dragons opted to walk Sakamoto intentionally rather than letting him hack at a 3-0 pitch from the lefty. Moving the runner to second proved costly, when cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto put a picture-perfect swing on a pitch away and drove it to right to make it 3-0.

Almonte and Viciedo combined to produce a run off Rubby De La Rosa in the ninth. Sakamoto doubled in the third, his 1,964th career hit.

Giants-Dragons highlights

Onuki wins 7th

Shinichi Onuki (7-4) allowed a run on three hits and a walk over 6-2/3 innings as the DeNA BayStars beat the Hiroshima Carp 3-1 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Takayuki Kajitani got the BayStars on the board in the first, leading off against Yuta Nakamura (0-2) with his 15th home run. Neftali Soto then doubled and scored on a ground out.

In the second, Kajitani saved a run with a diving catch in the gap, causing manager Alex Ramirez to say the play brought back memories — of center fielders diving to grab balls because he had no range in left field.

Onuki left after allowing Ryuhei Matsuyama’s two-out home run in the seventh, but the DeNA bullpen then set down the last seven hitters. Spencer Patton dispatched the bottom of the order 1-2-3 in the eighth, and Kazuki Mishima fanned two in a 1-2-3 ninth against the top of the order to record his 11th save.

Haraguchi, Sands bury Swallows

Fumihito Haraguchi homered, singled, walked, scored two runs and drove in three, while Jerry Sands had three hits and made a run-saving catch in the outfield as the Hanshin Tigers beat the Yakults Swallows 9-3 at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Sands singled in the game’s opening run off rookie Daiki Yoshida (1-5) after Koji Chikamoto opened the game with a single and stole second.

Haraguchi homered to open the second to tie it, and the Tigers took the lead in the third. The Swallows hit Tigers starter Takumi Aoyama (6-2) in the fourth, but failed to tie it thanks to two defensive gems.

Munetaka Murakami led off with a drive to the wall in center that Chikamoto somehow caught for the first out. Tomotaka Sakaguchi followed with a double and was poised to score on a sinking liner to left, but Sands was able to make a diving catch and hold onto the ball for the third out.

Chikamoto had four hits for the Tigers and drove in three.

No coaching in the press box–Sunday’s members notes

Shadow ball

Normal programming was restored at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, where the SoftBank Hawks’ normal program is the “Twilight Zone,” in particular, the episode “Shadow Play.

On Sunday the three-time defending Japan Series champs lost 8-4 to the Lotte Marines, who now lead their season series 10-4-1. Last year, the Marines went 16-8-1 against manager Tadahito Iguchi’s old team.

Leonys Martin became the sixth player in Pacific League history to walk five times in a game. The Japan record is held by Hall of Famer Hiromitsu Ochiai. He scored twice. Seiya Inoue’s two RBI doubles drove in four of the Marines’ first seven runs, all charged to Hawks starter Akira Niho (4-5) who didn’t finish the second inning.

Former Hawk Shuhei Fukuda had four hits and drove in three runs for the hosts, while another free agent acquisition, pitcher Manabu Mima (8-2) won despite allowing four runs over five innings.

Lions sweep Eagles

Wataru Matsumoto (4-3) scattered four walks and four hits to allow two runs over seven innings, and Ernesto Mejia doubled twice and drove in two runs for the Seibu Lions in a 6-2 win over the Rakuten Eagles to complete a three-game sweep at MetLife Dome.

Mejia, who was hit by a pitch in the first, doubled in both runs in the Lions’ two-run second. He doubled again in the seventh to set up an insurance run.

Both Eagles runs came on solo homers, Stefen Romero’s 20th — his 89th in four Japan season — and the first of rookie Hiroto Kobukata’s career.

Fighters pay Buffaloes’ roaming charges

Teams virtually always take batting practice before the game, but the Orix Buffaloes kept going after home plate umpire Yuta Sudo shouted “play ball.,” in a 20-hit 12-8 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Four different Buffaloes hitters recorded a “modasho,” and Steven Moya continued to hit balls over the wall with his fourth homer in five games, a two-run shot that broke a 4-4 third-inning tie.

Adam Jones, who had been deactivated due to a stiff lower back, returned to the Orix lineup for the first time since Sept. 15. He went 1-for-4 with a first-inning sacrifice fly.

Kotaro Kiyomiya, whose three-run pinch-hit double tied Saturday’s game in the ninth, allowing Nippon Ham to win in extra innings, came off the bench in the ninth and hit a two-run pinch-hit home run.

Fighters rookie Kosei Yoshida, the epic hero of 2018’s national high school championship, started and allowed four runs in 1-1/3 innings.

Active roster moves 9/27/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/7

Central League

Activated

CarpC27Tsubasa Aizawa

Dectivated

GiantsP17Kan Otake
CarpOF49Yuya Shozui

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP13Akira Niho
EaglesC65Kengo Horiuchi
MarinesC22Tatsuhiro Tamura
FightersP18Kosei Yoshida
BuffaloesOF10Adam Jones

Dectivated

LionsP49Sean Nolin
HawksP14Ren Kajiya
EaglesC2Hikaru Ota
MarinesC39Yuta Yoshida
FightersP40Suguru Fukuda
BuffaloesP27Andrew Albers

Starting pitchers for Sept. 28, 2020

Central League

Carp vs BayStars: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Allen Kuri (4-5, 4.46) vs Masaya Kyoyama (1-0, 6.55)

NPB 2020 Sept. 13

Lions’ Matsumoto turns back Hawks

Shuta Tonosaki opened the game with a home run and Wataru Matsumoto (3-3) worked seven scoreless innings to outduel Shuta Ishikawa (6-2) in the Seibu Lions’ 1-0 win over the SoftBank Hawks at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Tonosaki appeared to geared up for a fastball and when Ishikawa threw a straight 1-0 pitch down the pipe, the Lions super utility man drove it well back into the permanent seats in left for his fifth home run.

The Hawks threatened to score in the home half when Taisei Makihara squared up a first-pitch center-cut fastball for a leadoff double. But Matsumoto’s fastball was too much for Akira Nakamura who continually hit under it, fouling it off twice before a popping up for the first out. After a cautiously walking Yuki Yanagita, Yurisbel Gracial grounded a low fastball into a double play.

Matsumoto got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, again with some extra mustard on his fastball, as the normally deadly Nakamura miss-hit a heater to second for an inning-ending groundout.

Ishikawa allowed four hits, two walks and hit a batter while striking out six in a typically solid performance, but after Lions middle reliever Kaima  Taira set the Hawks down in order, the hosts wasted a two-on no-out chance in the ninth against closer Tatsushi Masuda.

A sacrifice advanced two pinch-runners into scoring position, Masuda overpowered grinding right-handed hitter Keizo Kawashima for the second out, and then came within a hair of disaster. The right-hander missed up with a 1-0 fastball that Makihara hammered down the third base line where it was caught by Wu Nien-ting for the final out instead of going for a game-winning two-run single. The save was Masuda’s 17th.

Eagles outpunch Fighters

The Rakuten Eagles tattooed Kohei Arihara (4-7) for nine runs over 2-1/3 innings, who wasted a six-run second inning against Takayuki Kishi in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 14-6 loss at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Hideto Asamura opened the scoring for the hosts in the first inning with his 22nd home run, a two-run shot, but the Haruki Nishikawa’s three-run shot capped the visitors’ six-run second.

The Eagles tied in the third and took the lead in a three-run third on rookie Hiroto Kobukata’s RBI single. Kobukata, who singled and scored in the second, added a two-run double in the third.

The loss snapped a streak of four-straight solid outings for Arihara. Kishi stayed on the mound for 3-1/3 innings.

Fan-favorite Watanabe to hang it up

The game broadcast repeatedly cut to shots of Eagles player coach Naoto Watanabe, who announced he would retire at the end of the season.

A native of Miyagi Prefecture where Sendai is located, the 39-year-old Watanabe is a serviceable middle infielder. In his first few years was a good on-base percentage hitter and efficient base stealer for the Eagles before stints with the BayStars and Lions. A fan favorite in Sendai, he returned to Rakuten in 2018, but had played in 88 games since.

But if Japan likes melodrama more than almost anything, so when asked about Watanabe, manager Hajime Miki gushed during his postgame interview.

“We have a lot of emotions when it comes to Naoto and the players all agreed we should dedicate the rest of this season to him, so that his last year as a player is something special.”

–Eagles manager Hajime Miki on player-coach Naoto Watanabe’s announcing he would retire at the end of the season.

Marines breakthrough against Buffaloes pen

Manabu Mima (7-2) allowed two runs over seven innings and the Lotte Marines scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh off lefty reliever Nobuyoshi Yamada (2-3) to break up a tie game in a 9-2 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Hisanori Yasuda doubled in single runs in the first and third off Taiwan right-hander Chang Yi, who left after allowing two runs on two hits and four walks over five innings.

The Buffaloes tied it in the top of the seventh on a Masataka Yoshida RBI double, but Yoshida was gunned down at the plate trying to score against Leonys Martin’s arm to end the inning.

In a game twice interrupted by rain delays, Mima struck out seven without issuing a walk. He collected the win when the Marines began their seventh-inning rally after two were down. Yasuda capped the inning with a two-run single. The Marines’ 21-year-old rookie cleanup hitter has been struggling since a hot start to the season.

“Mima did a great job of shaking off the rain delays and staying on his game,” Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi said. “Real veteran stuff from him. Yasuda, has been having a hard time of it, and sure this game is a big relief to him, so he can mover forward now with a refreshed outlook.”

Martin piled on in the eighth with a three-run double for the Marines.

Dragons ride lucky bounce past stars

The DeNA BayStars lost a big first-inning double play when a batted ball deflected off the second-base bag, costing them two runs in their 3-2 loss to the Chunichi Dragons at Yokohama Stadium.

With two on and no outs, and the BayStars left-handed hitter Zoilo Almonte’s grounder was headed straight up the middle to where shortstop Yota Kyoda was poised to pick it and start an easy double play until the ball struck the bag and rolled into shallow left for an RBI single. With no outs, Dayan Viciedo supplied a sac fly before starting pitcher Shinichi Onuki (6-3) got out of the inning with a double play.

Neftali Soto homered off former ace Kazuki Fushimi in the first, but both bullpens shut the door after the fourth inning. Onuki lasted six innings, allowing three runs. Dragons closer Raidel Martinez struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 12th save.

“Onuki pitched a really good game today. The first inning he gave up a couple of hits, but those balls were good pitches and they just put good swings on good pitches. Other than that, he did a tremendous job today,” BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said. “Sometimes the ball bounces like that. It’s baseball. After he (Soto) hit a home run, I thought we would be able to score more runs. But we’re hitting pretty good. We couldn’t just come up with the big hit at the right moment. That happens.”

Maru homer lifts Giants past Swallows

Yoshihiro Maru’s 15th home run overturned a 1-0 fourth-inning deficit as the Yomiuri Giants came back to beat the Yakult Swallows 3-1 at Tokyo Dome.

Cristopher Mercedes (4-4) allowed a run over 5-1/3 innings, leaving after a one-out sixth-inning walk put two on with one out. Yohei Kagiya struck out both batters he faced and with Monday a day off, Giants manager Tatsunori Hara made liberal use of his bullpen, finishing with Rubby De La Rosa, who earned his 12th save.

Swallows right-hander Yasuhiro Ogawa (8-3) allowed three runs over six innings on seven hits and two walks. He struck out eight.

Giants-Swallows highlights

Suarez, Yokawa boost Tigers

Closer Robert Suarez (2-0) who has recently been tasked with getting four-out saves, entered a tie game in the eighth inning and earned the win after Naomasa Yokawa homered in the bottom of the eighth in the Hanshin Tigers’ 7-6 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Koshien Stadium.

Seiya Suzuki’s three-run homer in the top of the first put the Carp in front against Shintaro Fujinami, but the Tigers came back to score five runs, four earned, off Hiroshima starter Kazuki Yabuta.

Kento Itohara and Justin Bour singled in one run apiece in the first and third innings to put the Tigers in front briefly before the game turned into a battle of the bullpens, which the Tigers eventually won.

Active roster moves 9/13/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/23

Central League

Activated

GiantsIF51Shunta Tanaka
DragonsP19Kazuki Yoshimi

Dectivated

GiantsP33Ryu Ota

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP11Takayuki Kishi
FightersP49Katsuhiko Kumon

Dectivated

HawksP18Shota Takeda

Starting pitchers for Sept. 14, 2020

Pacific League

Eagles vs Fighters: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Takahiro Shiomi (4-5, 4.60) vs Drew VerHagen (5-3, 4.16)

Marines vs Buffaloes: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kota Futaki (3-2, 4.73) vs Andrew Albers (3-5, 3.62)

ramping up: 21 days to go

One aspect of the long layoff forced by the novel coronavirus is that players who were due to miss the original March 20 start of the season, are now regaining fitness and may be able to make the roster when the season finally starts on June 19.

350 days

That’s how long it will be between starts for Naoyuki Uwasawa when he takes the mound for the Nippon Ham Fighters in Tuesday’s practice game.

Last season, Uwasawa was a key component of the Rube Goldberg contraption that was the Fighters’ pitching rotation last season. Manager Hideki Kuriyama used him and Kohei Arihara as the pillars in conventional starting roles, with a handful of others tasked with going either once or twice through the opposing lineup depending on the skipper’s confidence in them.

In a June 18 interleague game, Uwasawa was kneecapped by a batted ball hit by Neftali Soto, the DeNA BayStars’ two-time Central League home run champ. Prior to that game, the Fighters starting pitchers were 26-18 with a 3.65 ERA. Afterward, even with some superb 1-inning opening acts by Mizuki Hori, they went 18-31 with a 4.32 ERA.

On Thursday, he faced five batters in a simulated game at the Fighters’ minor league facility in Kamagaya, Chiba Prefecture, and is expected to pitch two innings on Tuesday at the Lotte Marines’ Zozo Marine Stadium in Chiba.

Yanagita back with a bang

Yuki Yanagita, who until the recent ascension of Hiroshima Carp right fielder Seiya Suzuki, was considered the Japanese outfielder most coveted by MLB clubs, returned to the SoftBank Hawks’ first team for an intrasquad game on Saturday. Yanagita has been rehabbing since his 2019 dumpster fire of a season was capped with right elbow surgery in the offseason.

Yanagita missed most of the season with a knee injury and failed by the slimmest of margins to get the 140 days of service time needed to be a free agent this winter. Had the Hawks brought him up a few days earlier, he would have been on track to fulfil his stated goal of playing in the majors. They didn’t and he signed a long-ass contract that keeps him in Fukuoka for essentially the rest of his career.

On Saturday, according to the Sankei Sports, he hit an opposite-field homer from submarine right-hander Rei Takahashi, the Pacific League’s 2019 rookie of the year and another player who was due to miss the start of the season in March but now has a shot at helping out the rotation from the start.

Stewart takes drive off shin

The Hawks’ Carter Stewart Jr left the mound after pitching just one inning when he took a shot off his right shin that was turned into the final out of the inning.

Iguchi changes tune on Sasaki

Eighteen-year-old right-hander Roki Sasaki who repeatedly was clocked at over 100 miles per hour in his final high school season, apparently will appear in a practice game for the Lotte Marines in the coming weeks, manager Tadahito Iguchi indicated to the media on Saturday.

Earlier in the week, Iguchi had said Sasaki, who twice hit 160 kilometers per hour in a simulated game on Tuesday, would not be ready to appear in a game next month.

NPB games, news of Sept. 25, 2019

News

Former big leaguer Takatsu to manage Swallows

For the third time in recent years, the Yakult Swallows have turned to a man with experience running their farm team to manage their Central League team, according to a story published by Kyodo News.

Fifty-year-old Shingo Takatsu will succeed Junji Ogawa, who called an end to his second stint as the birds’ manager after finishing last this season. Ogawa, a former farm manager, was promoted to manager after Shigeru Takada quit. Ogawa, who led the Swallows to the playoffs three times in seven years, was replaced in 2015 by another farm manager, Mitsuru Manaka, who won the league that year and served for three seasons.

Takatsu becomes the second former Japanese major leaguer to run a top-level club in Japan after Tadahito Iguchi. So Taguchi has managed in the minors for the Orix Buffaloes, while Kazuo Matsui managed the Seibu Lions’ Eastern League club starting this season.

Under Takatsu, the Eastern League Swallows finished fifth in the seven-team EL this season.

Takatsu saved 286 games, second most in NPB, over 17 seasons. He pitched two seasons in the majors, another in South Korea and another in Taiwan. He also served as a player manager in the independent BC League.

Pacific League

Eagles 7, Lions 1

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Takahiro Norimoto pitched well in the season finale for both clubs, and Hideto Asamura hit his 33rd home run, tying Jabari Blash for the team home run lead, and finishing the regular season with 11 homers against his former club and 22 against the rest of NPB.

Sendai native and injury-plagued right-hander Yoshinori Sato finished the game in his debut with the Eagles, his first game since leaving Yakult over the winter.

Game highlights are HERE.

Fighters 4, Buffaloes 1

At Sapporo Dome, two teams with nothing to play for played, with former MVP Mitsuo Yoshikawa finishing up on the mound for Nippon Ham with 2-1/3 scoreless innings.

Game highlights are HERE.

NPB managers and pinch-hitters

Having examined what happens when individual batters come off the bench to hit in NPB, and knowing that pinch-hitters, as a whole, are less productive in that role than they are when taking their regular turn in the batting order.

While the pinch-hitting penalty described by Tom Tango, Mitchel G. Lichtman and Andrew E. Dolphin in “The Book” does not appear to be nearly as extreme in NPB, their advice holds. Because they calculated that pinch-hitters wOBA is .034 less than when they bat in other contexts, they recommend managers only hit for position players using guys off the bench who are significantly better hitters.

Even if the pinch-hitting penalty is only .006 points of OPS2, it would behoove managers to at least use pinch-hitters who are somewhat better, because some managers don’t even do that.

In terms of the OPS2 managers have sacrificed and production gained during the period studied, here are the NPB managers who gotten the most mileage out of pinch-hitting for position players:

ManagerFranchisePH for pos playerPH season OPS2PH OPS2replaced OPS2PH GainPH expected gain
TanishigeD2080.3240.4080.2710.1370.053
OgiBu2250.3330.3790.3090.0700.024
OchiaiD6140.320.3540.2990.0550.021
NashidaE4090.3090.3110.2710.0400.038
HaraG12910.3260.3420.3040.0380.022
TakagiD2610.3250.3010.2640.0370.061
NomuraC5460.3080.3020.2660.0360.042
TakahashiG2930.3190.3260.2910.0350.028
TaoE2410.3140.3220.2870.0350.027
IshigeBu2380.2990.3190.2850.0340.014
RamirezBS2890.3010.2990.2690.0300.032
MayumiT3650.3130.3390.3100.0290.003
OhH10750.3010.3230.2950.0280.006
YamamotoC3010.3170.3290.3010.0280.016
FukuraBu5190.2990.3000.2720.0280.027
AkiyamaH7410.3060.3000.2740.0260.032
KudoH6160.3280.3190.2940.0250.034
ItoL7710.3380.3390.3150.0240.023
OkadaBu4690.2860.2930.2700.0230.016
MoriD2510.3100.3090.2880.0210.022
NPB managers with largest average gain in OPS2 when pinch-hitting for positon players from 2002-2018, minimum 200 PH appearances.

The next table gives the 20 managers who’ve replaced one position player with another at least 200 times between 2002 and 2018 and who got the least mileage for their changes.

In these lists, a few managers are given twice — for results with individual teams and for all the teams they managed during this period combined.

Least productive managers when pinch-hitting for position players

ManagerFranchisePH for pos playerPH season OPS2PH OPS2replaced OPS2PH GainPH expected gain
YamamotoM5390.3250.2720.315-0.0430.01
HoshinoE3350.2920.2510.293-0.042-0.001
HoshinoT & E total5050.3110.2570.295-0.0380.016
OkuboE2740.3020.2480.272-0.0240.03
MoriwakiBu4450.30.2770.301-0.024-0.001
NishimuraM4680.270.2490.272-0.023-0.002
OgataC3410.3540.2990.321-0.0220.033
YamadaD2070.3270.3080.326-0.0180.001
NashidaF6060.3010.2830.297-0.0140.004
NashidaKB6630.3430.3070.318-0.0110.025
IharaBu2000.3240.3370.345-0.008-0.021
NomuraE7470.3230.2910.297-0.0060.026
Nashida totalKB & F & E16780.3200.2990.2990.0000.021
KuriyamaF11170.3030.2920.290.0020.013
HillmanF8970.3150.3120.310.0020.005
LeeBu2120.3410.340.3380.0020.003
OishiBu2790.3230.3120.3090.0030.014
WatanabeL11840.2950.2920.2880.0040.007
OkadaT4870.3340.3230.3170.0060.017
ValentineM10340.3280.3340.3260.0080.002
NPB's least productive managers from 2002-2018 when pulling a position player for a pinch-hitter, minimum 200 pinch-hit appearances.

So the most successful employer of pinch-hitters in recent years was a playing-manager, Motonobu Tanishige, who often delegated bench decisions to his head coach, Shigekazu Mori, while No. 2 was Hall of Fame manager Akira Ogi, who was manager for only one year during the study, 2005, before his untimely death.

At the bottom of the table is the late Koji Yamamoto, who managed the Lotte Marines before Bobby Valentine took over the reins in 2004. Another Hall of Fame manager, Senichi Hoshino, finishes second worst with the Rakuten Eagles, and third worst for his time with both the Hanshin Tigers and Eagles combined.

And then there are the managers who’ve chosen, on average to replace position players with pinch-hitters of lesser value. The good news for Marines fans is that while Iguchi made some ostensibly dreadful choices last season, they did not hurt his club, since the pinch-hitters exceeded anyone’s expectations — except perhaps the skippers’.

Silly pinch-hitting choices

ManagerFranchisePH for pos playerPH season OPS2PH OPS2replaced OPS2PH GainPH expected gain
IguchiM1330.2710.3130.2950.018-0.024
IharaBu2000.3240.3370.345-0.008-0.021
BrownE980.290.2740.302-0.028-0.012
NakamuraBu1790.3130.3110.316-0.005-0.003
NishimuraM4680.270.2490.272-0.023-0.002
HoshinoE3350.2920.2510.293-0.042-0.001
MoriwakiBu4450.30.2770.301-0.024-0.001
Recent NPB managers who've used pinch-hitters of lower quality than the players they've batted for.

NPB games, news of Sept. 8, 2019

Tough to Swallow

Junji Ogawa announced Sunday for the second time in six years that he no longer wants to manage the Central League’s Yakult Swallows. The team is in last place and has been eliminated from playoff contention. Ogawa took over last year and led the Swallows to second place. In six seasons over two terms, he has led them to the postseason three times.

Head coach Shinya Miyamoto, who was expected to take over after a brief coaching stint, said he wants no part of the job either. One potential candidate to manage is current farm manager and former pitching coach Shingo Takatsu.

If Takatsu does take over, he’ll become the second Japanese former major leaguer to manage a top-flight NPB club after fellow former White Sox infielder Tadahito Iguchi took over the Pacific League’s Lotte Marines in 2018.

Pacific League

Hawks 9, Marines 6

At Yafuoku Dome, Lotte’s Brandon Laird homered, reached base four times and drove in four runs, but SoftBank came back against starter Atsuki Taneichi to tie it in the seventh inning on a pinch-hit RBI single by Keizo Kawashima. Kenji Akashi’s eighth-inning pinch-hit double put the Hawks ahead in the eighth before Kawashima doubled in an insurance run.

Hawks starter Shota Takeda put the home team in a bind by allowing four runs over four innings. Taneichi allowed six runs in 6-1/3, and the Marines bullpen let the game get away further.

Game highlights are HERE.

Lions 3, Eagles 2

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Takeya Nakamura doubled in two runs for Seibu and Hotaka Yamakawa doubled in another run in the eighth after Rakuten’s Jabari Blash tied it in the sixth with his 31st home run.

Game highlights are HERE.

Fighters 2, Buffaloes 0

At Sapporo Dome, the future and past crossed paths as former Orix ace Chihiro Kaneko (6-4) matched his season-high of six innings to outpitch the Buffaloes best young pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (6-5), who held Nippon Ham to an unearned run over six innings.

Yamamoto was on the mound for the first time since straining his left oblique muscles on Aug. 3. He allowed three hits and struck out six without issuing a walk.

The Fighters’ future and past also collided as their former closer, Hirotoshi Masui surrendered a solo homer to up-and-coming slugger Kotaro Kiyomiya.

Game highlights are HERE.

Let’s pretend it never happened

For some reason, Nippon Ham Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama has decided to ditch the idea of openers and short starters. On Sunday, Chihiro Kaneko worked six innings, marking the first time this season that Fighters starters have worked six innings or more in three consecutive games.

They have also equaled the team’s longest streak of consecutive five-plus inning starts.

Mizuki Hori, who had been dynamite as the opener, has been demoted to the farm, where he is pitching occasionally and striking out batters, something one imagines would be more useful on the first team.

It’s almost as if there was a purge and evidence of the experiment, Hori, has been sent into exile in the team’s Kamagaya gulag.

Central League

Dragons 5, BayStars 2

At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi’s Yudai Ono (8-8) lost his bid for a shutout when DeNA’s Neftali Soto hit his 36th home run, a two-run shot in the ninth. The win was Chunichi’s sixth straight after sweeping the league’s top two teams, the Giants and BayStars.

As they have for the past week or so, the Dragons continued to be tenacious at the plate and on the bases. Yota Kyoda legged out a triple in the fourth inning and scored from third on a foul pop down the first base line. With Ono cruising, Nobumasa Fukuda essentially put the game away in the sixth with a two-run double.

Carp 3, Tigers 2

At Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima’s Hisayoshi Chono singled in two runs and made a good catch in left field to help Kris Johnson (11-7) earn the win over Hanshin with six scoreless innings.

Geronimo Franzua entered the game with two outs in the eighth and a runner on second. He surrendered an RBI double to make it a 3-2 game and walked the next batter before retiring the last four he faced to earn his 11th save.