Tag Archives: Takahiro Norimoto


Saturday’s announced starting pitchers in NPB.

Sugano outduels Ono with 1-hitter

Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano struck out 11, while allowing one hit in a 5-0 shutout of the Chunichi Dragons on Friday at Tokyo Dome.

Sugano (2-0) walked two and hit a batter, while Ono (0-2) allowed two runs, one earned, while striking out 10 over seven innings. Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto broke up the scoreless game in the sixth inning with a solo homer.

Dayan Viciedo, who broke up Sugano’s no-hit bid with a seventh-inning double, ended the game by grounding out to second.

Ariel Martinez, a 24-year-old Cuban catcher who was activated on Friday after a hot streak in the Western League, struck out in the eighth as a pinch-hitter in his first-team debut.

Balentien makes Arihara pay

Wladimir Balentien broke a 1-1 tie at Sapporo Dome with a two-run home run, his third in two games, off Kohei Arihara (0-3) in the SoftBank Hawks’4-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Coming to the plate after Yuki Yanagita singled in the tying run, Balentien extended his arms on a lazy first-pitch slider and drove it well past the wall in center for his fifth home run of the season.

In the eighth, Balentien didn’t reach the seats, but he did double off the dome’s ceiling. The ball that was headed out was deflected downward and bounced in front of and over left fielder Kensuke Kondo.

Cuba’s Livan Moinelo worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn the save.

Imamiya reaches sacrificial milestone

Although Hawks shortstop Kenta Imamiya has developed medium-range power, he’s still a shortstop and still expected to sacrifice like he did when he needed to cement his role on the team by bunting all the time.

On Friday, his sixth-inning sacrifice put a runner in scoring position, from where Yanagita singled him home. The 300th career sacrifice hit ties him for sixth all-time with former Nankai Hawks and Kintetsu Buffaloes star Hiromasa Arai.

Norimoto survives scrape for 3rd win

Takahiro Norimoto (3-0) got his pitching hand in the way of a fourth-inning batted ball but returned to the field after treatment and gutted it out for 6-2/3 innings to earn the victory in the Rakuten Eagles’ 3-1 win over the Lotte Marines.

The Marines tied it in the fourth on a passed ball, but home runs from Ryosuke Tatsumi and Hiroaki Shimauchi off Marines right-hander Ayumu Ishikawa (0-1) made the difference at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

With two outs and the tying runs on in the seventh JT Chargois retired Lotte leadoff man Takashi Ogino to preserve the lead, and Alan Busenitz struck out two in a 1-2-3 eighth. Kohei Morihara worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his third save.

Lions salvage tie with Buffaloes

Takeya Nakamura homered and had a solid defensive game at third base as the Seibu Lions overcame a three-run, sixth-inning deficit at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo in their game against the Orix Buffaloes that was called a 4-4 tie after 10 innings.

Adam Jones tied the game 1-1 in the sixth with an RBI single and scored on Takahiro Okada’s monstrous home run off Lions starter Zach Neal. But Nakamura homered to open the sixth against former closer Hirotoshi Masui, and Sosuke Genda completed the comeback with a two-run single.

By taking Neal off the hook for the loss, the Lions preserved his chance to win 13 straight decisions.

Tyler Higgins and Brandon Dickson each worked scoreless innings in relief for the Buffaloes, with Dickson pitching out of a one-out bases-loaded jam by striking out Nakamura and getting Wu Nien-ting to fly to the warning track.

For the second-straight night new Lion Reed Garret pitched out of trouble after allowing two hits. He had some help from catcher Tomoya Mori, who cut down a would-be base stealer with a tremendous throw.

Dragons call up catcher Martinez

The Central League’s Chunichi Dragons activated Cuban catcher Ariel Martinez on Friday according to the Chunichi Sports. The team signed the 24-year-old on Wednesday after acquiring him in 2018 as a non-roster developmental player.

The move was made because 31-year-old left fielder Zolio Almonte was deactivated due to concerns about his fitness. In his two-plus seasons in Japan, Almonte has a .369 on-base percentage and a .484 slugging average despite playing at one of Japan’s toughest home run parks.

Martinez, who cracked his second Western League home run on Thursday, has four from 11 minor league and practice games this year. He becomes the first imported player registered as a catcher since Australian Dave Nillson, who caught in one game in 2000 for the Dragons.

In three WL games, Martinez is 5-for-9 with a double, two home runs and two walks. He has yet to strike out.

Martinez caught on June 24, when he accounted for the only run off Carter Stewart Jr, with a solo home run and again on Thursday, when he homered in an 8-3 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Nagoya Stadium.

Carp drop reliever Scott

The Hiroshima Carp deactivated right-handed first-year import Taylor Scott on Friday, the day after he surrendered four runs in a 9-5 walk-off loss to the Yakult Swallows.

Scott (0-2) has faced 22 hitters, while allowing 10 hits and three walks. He’s allowed one home run, Thursday’s game-winning grand slam off the bat of Munetaka Murakami.

Open and shut: March 6, 2020 – Edwards’ home debut in Japan

Right-hander Jon Edwards made his debut at Japan’s baseball mecca, Koshien Stadium outside Osaka on Friday. The normally loud park was subdued by the fact that Nippon Professional Baseball’s spring exhibition season is being held behind closed doors to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Pandora’s balks

Edwards issued a walk and followed with a balk, for failing to observe Japan’s dictum that pitchers pause for at least three seconds before delivering to the plate. Edwards halted for about 1.5 and nodded in agreement, so it seemed clear he’d been warned about that one.

It’s not just foreign pitchers who run afoul of the rule either. Former New York Mets pitcher Masato Yoshii said checked his delivery with the umps when he returned to play in NPB. But despite getting assurances in camp during interasquad games, he was flagged for a balk in his preseason debut.

Edwards’ game was otherwise uneventful. He located his fastball fairly well, his slider and curve not so well. After the game ended, however, he returned to the mound — almost as if he was going to take part in a post game hero interview, of which there aren’t because there are no fans.

Instead, he went out to talk to the grounds crew. At first I thought he had an issue with the mound, but it appeared he lost something on the mound and wanted help finding it.

Hit it hard and make it fly

There were no fans for the afternoon game between the hometown Tigers and Nippon Ham Fighters, but for some reason, the scoreboard operator displayed the lyrics to Jerry Sands‘ cheer song.

“Hit it hard, make it fly Jerry. Strike a powerful blow. Out to left, out to right, home run Jerry. Jerry Sands let’s go. Jerry Sands let’s go.”

Just thought you’d want to know that.

Sands popped up to second and struck out looking twice. Fellow newcomer Justin Bour walked in three plate appearances.

Nearby in Osaka

The Orix Buffaloes and Yomiuri Giants sent their Opening Day starters to the mound at Kyocera Dome in Osaka. Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano and his elaborate new take-back surrendered a solo homer to Orix’s fifth draft pick from last autumn, 22-year-old infielder Shoki Katsumata that accounted for all the scoring.

Orix starter Taisuke Yamaoka‘s pitches looked very crisp as he struck out eight over seven innings.

Adam Jones hit the ball hard a couple of times, once for a high fly to the warning track the other a single, while big swinging Giants outfielder Israel Mota struck out twice as the ump gave Sugano some good calls on the outside edge. Mota has chased a lot but at least he was trying to stay in the zone.

Hard-throwing former Mariners and White Sox reliever Thyago Vieiera threw some very straight fastballs and a slider that didn’t move a lot.

Elsewhere in games without fans

Because Rakuten plays outdoors in the northeast, the Eagles have a hard time getting clubs to play preseason games in their cold hometown, so they have to make do.

Hosting the Chunichi Dragons in Shizuoka, Takahiro Norimoto struck out four over five innings, while new Eagle Stefen Romero singled and doubled. Dayan Viciedo singled and doubled for the Dragons.

In Hiroshima, Seibu Lions Opening Day starter Zach Neal said he was trying out a few things and was satisfied after allowing two runs over 4-1/3 innings against the Carp.

New Lions import Reed Garrett faced the last five hitters in Hiroshima’s order and struck out three of them in a perfect outing.

NPB games, news of July 24, 2019

Diverging again from pro ball for a moment again tonight after 100-mph pitcher Roki Sasaki pitched Ofunato High School into the final of Iwate Prefecture’s summer tourney with two-hit shutout in Wednesday’s semifinal. Sasaki was working on the luxury of two days rest after a 194-pitch, extra-inning win on Sunday.

Sasaki was held out of Tuesday’s quarterfinal, but the high school senior now has one chance to pitch in the summer nationals at Koshien Stadium if Ofunato can beat Iwate powerhouse Hanamaki Higashi — the alma mater of Yusei Kikuchi and Shohei Ohtani.

The final is set for Thursday, and once again it will be interesting to see how much Sasaki pitches after throwing 129 pitches on Wednesday. His manager, Yohei Kokubo, is unusual by Japanese high school standards. Most managers would think nothing of using a pitcher of Sasaki’s caliber to start on no rest, but Kokubo is unusual.

And with that out of the way, back to NPB…

Pacific League

Eagles 4, Lions 3

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Hideto Asamura tied the game with his 18th home run, a two-run shot in the fourth inning, and Ginji Akaminai’s two-run homer in the sixth brought Rakuten back from 3-2 deficit in a win over Seibu.

Takahiro Norimoto (2-1) struck out nine while allowing three runs, one earned, over six innings to earn the win for the Eagles. He’s now allowed four runs in his three starts with his only loss coming his last time out when the Eagles fell 1-0.

Although he gave up three runs, it was Norimoto as advertised as he pounded the zone with his fastball and gave hitters no choice but to flail at his splitter.

“Nori pitched well again tonight,” Asamura said. “Last time we didn’t give him any support, so I’m glad we could get the job done today.”

Takeya Nakamura, who singled and scored a run for Seibu in the fourth, homered to break a 2-2 tie in the sixth, but Lions starter Tatsuya Imai (5-8) walked four batters but couldn’t hold the lead.

Three Eagles relievers, Frank Herrmann, Kohei Morihara and closer Yuki Matsui each survived a leadoff single, with Matsui recording his Japan-best 26th save.

Game highlights are HERE.

Fighters 5, Buffaloes 4

At Hotto Motto Field Kobe, Kohei Arihara (11-4) won his marquee matchup against Orix’s Taisuke Yamaoka (7-3), who fell to 0-2 against Nippon Ham this season. Yamaoka struck out eight over 4-2/3 innings but allowed five runs on eight hits and better defense might have won the game for him.

Kazutomo Iguchi inherited a potential tying run in the seventh when Arihara left the game but retired all three batters he faced. Ryo Akiyoshi recorded his 17th save for the Fighters, two shy of his 2016 career-high with the Swallows when he split his time between the closing and setup roles.

My moment of the game, 38-year-old and soon-to-be-retired Kensuke Tanaka, once fleet-of-foot, laughing after he chugged around third base to score from first on a double because of a wide throw in the top of the first.

Game highlights are HERE.

Hawks 5, Marines 4

At Yafuoku Dome, SoftBank paid the price for having an inner fence and a “home run terrace” when Brandon Laird’s high fly to center in the first inning went for a grand slam and his 28th home run, but Lotte couldn’t scrape another run across the plate.

Kenta Imamiya had two hits and three RBIs and rookie reserve catcher Ryoya Kurihara broke a 4-4 tie in the eighth with a pinch-hit RBI triple. Yuito Mori earned his 20th save and his first since June 15th with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Swallows 10, Giants 4

At Kyocera Dome, recently acquired pitcher Yuri Furukawa surrendered four runs in the first inning as Yomiuri fell to Yakult.

Game highlights are HERE.

BayStars 3, Tigers 1

At Koshien Stadium, Jose Lopez did the bulk of DeNA’s damage when Hanshin starter Koyo Aoyagi missed with a cookie down the pipe and the BayStars cleanup hitter got enough of the ball to bounce it off the top of the fence and into the stands for a two-run, fourth-inning homer.

Game highlights are HERE.

Carp 2, Dragons 0

At Mazda Stadium, Kris Johnson (7-6) threw a one-hitter and Ryoma Nishikawa homered to open the bottom of the first against 19-year-old rookie Takumi Yamamoto in Hiroshima’s win over Chunichi.

The super streaky Carp have now won five straight. They began the season by losing 12 of their first 16 before reeling off win streaks of eight and 11 games. On July 10, they ended a 12-game winless stretch (0-11-1).


Carp skipper Ogata warned over physical abuse

The Hiroshima Carp on Wednesday announced they had issued a stern warning to manager Koichi Ogata over repeatedly slapping outfielder Takayoshi Noma, who had been Hiroshima’s center fielder until June 13.

Ogata blew his cool after the game of June 30, when the 26-year-old had failed to hustle on an 11th-inning pop up to the mound that dropped and was forced at first. The Carp and BayStars played to a 12-inning tie.

NPB games, news of July 16, 2019

Pacific League

Fighters 3, Hawks 2

At Yafuoku Dome, reserve catcher Shingo Usami drew a two-out, bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning to lift Nippon Ham to its second straight win over league-leading SoftBank.

Sho Nakata drew a leadoff walk and was replaced by a pinch-runner. The Hawks understudy closer, right-hander Hiroshi Kaino, hit the next batter when he tried to sacrifice. The next batter did sacrifice.

Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama pinch hit for career .209 RHB Toshitaka Yoko with career .225 switch-hitter Toshiya Sugiya, basically gaining nothing by bringing someone off the bench — except it may have encouraged Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo to try and set up a double play by intentionally walking the bases loaded.

After a strikeout, Kuriyama went with another pinch-hitter, Usami, who forced in the go-ahead run.

Fighters starter Toshihiro Sugiura allowed two first-inning homers and came out before his third trip through the lineup.

Game highlights are HERE.

Lions 5, Marines 1

At MetLife Dome, Sosuke Genda drove in the game’s first run with a third-inning RBI single and tripled in a seventh-inning insurance run as Seibu beat Lotte.

Game highlights are HERE.

Buffaloes 1, Eagles 0

At Kyocera Dome, Orix’s Taisuke Yamaoka (7-2) won a dynamite pitching duel with Rakuten’s Takahiro Norimoto (1-1).

The Buffaloes manufactured a first-inning run on a single, a sacrifice, a fielders choice and a Masataka Yoshida sac fly. Norimoto retired the next 19 batters, nine by strikeout, but took the loss.

Six Eagles runners reached over the first four innings, but Yamaoka got two double plays and retired the last 12 he faced. Brandon Dickson faced four batters in the ninth to record his seventh save.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Dragons 3, Tigers 2

At Nagoya Dome, Zoilo Almonte drew a bases-loaded, ninth-inning “sayonara” walk, lifting Chunichi past Hanshin.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, sidelined since February after a fan gave him a particularly vigorous high five that left him with inflammation in his right shoulder, allowed two runs over five innings in his season debut for the Dragons.

Giants 6, Swallows 3

At Jingu Stadium, Yakult may want to put a bounty out on Yomiuri’s Yoshiyuki Kamei after he terrorized him for the second straight night.

Kamei iced Monday’s 11th-inning win with a two-run home run. On Tuesday, he broke a 3-3 with an RBI single in the fourth and added a solo homer in the seventh.

BayStars 8, Carp 5

At Yokohama Stadium, Kyle Regnault (4-2) walked the bases loaded with the game tied 4-4 in the seventh to set up a four-run DeNA inning as the BayStars came from behind to beat struggling Hiroshima.

NPB games, news of July 9, 2019

Takahiro Norimoto returned to duty for the first time this season with the Rakuten Eagles, and it was glorious. The right-hander struck out six while walking one and hitting one over six scoreless innings. He had good command of his fastball and splitter and mixed in some changeups and sliders to keep the Buffaloes honest in a 6-1 win that snapped the Eagles’ losing streak at 10.

“We got off to a great start this season, but honestly I think the guys were getting a little tired,” said Norimoto, who had elbow surgery on March 11. “Today I came intending to end this losing streak. “My teammates reassured me (with early run support). It really allowed me to relax and settle in.”

“This is where I belong. I had the operation so I could be 100 percent, so I’ve been pretty psyched up to get out here, and once I got here there was no holding me back.

Jabari Blash did most of the damage with his 21st home run, a two-out, three-run blast in the third inning, driving a fat 1-0 pitch nearly over the outfield seating in left at Rakuten Seimei Park with that loose easy swing of his.

The game highlights are HERE.

Marines 6, Fighters 1

Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama has allowed only two starting pitchers to pitch past the fifth inning more than twice this season, with the rest getting pulled after two innings, or shortly after their second trip through the batting order. Those two are his workhorse, Kohei Arihara, and Naoyuki Uwasawa, who is out with a fractured kneecap.

On Tuesday, he sent Masaru Nakamura out, ostensibly to get through five innings, but the second trip through the Lotte order was too much for him. The 27-year-old right-hander, who has walked more batters in his career than he’s struck out, took the mound for the first time in two years. He faced five batters in the third, and all of them reached and walked four batters in his two-plus innings.

Ikuhiro Kiyota euthanized Nakamura’s stint with a grand slam that made it 6-0.

The game highlights are HERE.

Hawks 3, Lions 2

Seibu starter Ken Togame (3-4) fell to 5-13 in his career against SoftBank despite having his second straight solid start against the Hawks, allowing three runs, one earned, over seven innings. After an error put the hosts’ leadoff man on in the first, Shuhei Fukuda belted a two-run homer, and that was essentially the ballgame.

The Hawks had five of their seven base runners in a three-run first, while Seibu left nine on base.

The game highlights are HERE.

Giants 1, Tigers 0

Christian Villanueva doubled in the eighth off Onelki Garcia (2-4) and pinch runner scored on a groundout after a sacrifice moved him to third as Yomiuri edged Hanshin.

Toshiki Sakurai (4-1) threw seven scoreless innings for the Giants, giving way to Kota Nakagawa in the bottom of the eighth. Scott Mathieson was pulled after retiring the first two batters in the ninth, and lefty Kazuto Taguchi faced two batters en route to recording his first career save.

The game highlights are HERE.

Dragons 6, Carp 3

Yohei Oshima drove in two runs and scored another at Nagoya Dome as Chunichi handed Hiroshima its 10th straight loss.

BayStars 9, Swallows 4

Jose Lopez’s 19th home run, a fifth-inning grand slam iced the game as DeNA came from behind to beat Yakult at Jingu Stadium.