Tag Archives: Takahiro Norimoto

NPB 2020 Oct. 20

Tuesday’s games

Other news

Norimoto-Yamamoto duel as advertised

Torai Fushimi hit a game-tying home run in the ninth inning off Rakuten Eagles closer Alan Busenitz as the Orix Buffaloes salvaged a 2-2 10-inning tie at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi in which the teams’ two aces delivered.

Fushimi’s home run took Yoshinobu Yamamoto off the hook for the loss after he allowed two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out 10 over seven innings.

The Eagles took a 2-1 lead after sixth-inning singles by Ginji Akaminai and rookie Hiroto Kobukata. Akaminai smacked a mistake from Yamamoto through the infield, and Kobukata, one of the few Eagles to get quality swings off the Buffaloes’ ace, smoked a liner to left. Hideto Asamura’s miss-hit ball off the end of his bat just fell for a two-run double.

Right fielder Yuya Oda, who came within a hair of ending the inning on that fly, cut down Asamura for the final out at the plate.

Norimoto pitched out of a couple of early pickles, and was cruising until Steven Moya crushed a curveball for his ninth home run with two outs in the sixth, giving Yamamoto a 1-0 lead. The right-hander allowed five hits and a walk while striking out six over seven innings.

Eagles lefty Yuki Matsui walked two in the eighth but ended the inning by overpowering Moya with a fastball for a swinging strikeout after Orix wasted one out sacrificing in an attempt to tie it on the road.

Fushimi led off the top of the ninth by hammering a straight fastball down the pipe nearly to the Ferris wheel behind the left-field seating for his sixth home run.

Tyler Higgins worked a scoreless ninth for the Buffaloes. Eagles submariner Kazuhisa Makita pitched out of a two-on one-out situation in the 10th before Brandon Dickson sealed the tie in the bottom of the 10th with a 1-2-3 inning.

Hawks blow out Fighters

Shunsuke Kasaya (4-3) threw six scoreless innings, while Yuki Yanagita had four hits and scored three runs, and Yurisbel Gracial and Nobuhiro Matsuda each drove in three as the SoftBank Hawks whipped the Nippon Ham Fighters 11-2 at Sapporo Dome.

The win, combined with the Lotte Marines’ 2-1 loss to the Seibu Lions, increased the Hawks’ Pacific League lead to 6-1/2 games.

Kasaya, who threw five scoreless innings in his previous start, allowed two hits and two walks while striking out eight. The Hawks blasted Fighters right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa (8-6) for seven runs over five innings.

Fighters right-hander Bryan Rodriguez allowed two runs in one inning of relief, marking his season debut after the team said in June he’d had surgery to clean out his left knee.

“He brought something and threw some really good pitches,” manager Hideki Kuriyama said of Rodriguez.

Christian Villanueva also returned to the Fighters lineup for the first time in two weeks and drew a walk in three plate appearances.

Wednesday’s game is going to see Hawks’ ace Kodai Senga take on first-year Fighters import Drew VerHagen.

Lions survive blown Masuda save

The Seibu Lions scored an unearned ninth-inning run to walk off 2-1 winners over the Lotte Marines at MetLife Dome after closer Tatsushi Masuda (4-0) allowed the tying run in the ninth.

Both starting pitchers went seven with Lotte’s Ayumu Ishikawa allowing a run, while Kona Takahashi left with a 1-0 lead.

Lions left fielder Corey Spangenberg helped keep the Marines off the board in the third by robbing Yudai Fujioka of a leadoff single. Marines second baseman Shogo Nakamura did the same in the home half with a good play to defuse a Lions rally.

Shuta Tonosaki broke the scoreless deadlock in the seventh. He singled with one out, went to third on a Kakeru Yamanobe run-and-hit single and scored on Yuji Kaneko’s booming sacrifice fly.

Lions right-hander Kaima Taira worked a scoreless eighth, but Masuda walked a batter and hit one before surrendering a Tatsuhiro Tamura RBI single.

Tonosaki, however, rescued the Lions in the home half when he doubled with two outs against the Marines’ Naoya Masuda (3-3) and scored when Leonys Martin and Nakamura collided in shallow right as Yamanobe’s fly fell untouched.

Swallows walk away with tie

Yomiuri Giants rookie of the year candidate Shosei Togo threw a career-high 134 pitches over six scoreless innings in which he struck out nine and walked six, but had nothing to show for it after three relievers combined to blow the save in the ninth in a 1-1 10-inning with the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Rubby De La Rosa issued a five-pitch leadoff walk and left with two outs and two on after a sacrifice, a single and a strikeout. Lefty Ryusei Oe walked Norichika Aoki on five pitches to load them up and Toyoki Tanaka walked Tetsuto Yamada on four pitches to tie it.

The Giants lead the second-place Chunichi Dragons by 10-1/2 games and their magic number to clinch their second-straight Central League championship is seven.

Dragons 6, BayStars 1

Koji Fukutani (7-2) allowed one run over six innings, and the Chunichi Dragons cashed in three of their six sixth-inning base runners to come from behind in a 6-1 win over the DeNA BayStars at Nagoya Dome.

Fukutani allowed three hits, including Tyler Austin’s first-inning home run, and a walk, while striking out seven. Hiroto Fuku and Daisuke Sobue closed it out with one scoreless inning apiece for the Dragons. Dayan Viciedo went 3-for-5 with a double, a run, and two RBIs, while Toshiki Abe also had three hits, scored twice and drove in two.

Spencer Patton struck out three in the eighth for the BayStars, but allowed a run on an Abe double and a one-out Viciedo single.

Kuri holds off Tigers

Allen Kuri (7-5), who retired the first 14 batters he faced, allowed a run over 8-1/3 innings while the Carp scored four times in the third inning against Onelki Garcia (2-6), who was pitching for the first time in a month, in a 5-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium.

Kuri, who has allowed one run in each of his last three starts, gave up three of his four hits in the ninth inning, when Geronimo Franzua came in to record his 15th save.

Former Tigers closer Kyuji Fujikawa, who announced that this will be his last season, took the mound for the first time since Aug. 10 and worked a scoreless sixth inning.

Active roster moves 10/20/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/30

Central League

Activated

BayStarsP94Takamasa Kasai
TigersP77Onelki Garcia
SwallowsP48Yuto Kanakubo

Dectivated

TigersP49Joe Gunkel
SwallowsP61Takuma Kubo

Pacific League

Activated

MarinesP62Shoji Nagano
MarinesIF4Yudai Fujioka
MarinesOF0Takashi Ogino
FightersP40Suguru Fukuda
FightersP41Bryan Rodriguez
FightersIF44Christian Villanueva
BuffaloesIF5Masahiro Nishino

Dectivated

None

Starting pitchers for Oct. 21, 2020

Pacific League

Fighters vs Hawks: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Drew VerHagen (7-5, 3.47) vs Kodai Senga (8-6, 2.65)

Eagles vs Buffaloes: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hideaki Wakui (11-3, 2.95) vs Tsubasa Sakakibara (1-2, 4.13)

Lions vs Marines: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shota Hamaya (2-2, 6.19) vs Wei-Yin Chen (0-1, 3.00)

Central League

Swallows vs Giants: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Masanori Ishikawa (1-7, 4.92) vs Yuki Takahashi (1-0, 2.35)

Dragons vs BayStars: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Akiyoshi Katsuno (4-4, 3.70) vs Yuya Sakamoto (4-1, 5.24)

Tigers vs Carp: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Koyo Aoyagi (6-8, 4.08) vs Atsushi Endo (3-5, 4.45)

NPB 2020 Sept. 29

Other news

Sugano improves to 12-0

Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano surrendered a first-inning run, and then bossed the Hiroshima Carp for five more innings in a 6-1 win at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium on Tuesday.

Speedy rookie Minoru Omori hustled a leadoff triple and scored on a sac fly but allowed four hits in total and a walk over six innings, hitting his spots in a virtuoso performance as he struck out nine.

“I gave up a run from the get-go, but then I think I was able to work diligently one inning at a time,” he said upon becoming the second Opening Day pitcher in NPB history to win his first 12 decisions.

Hisashi Iwakuma, now with the Giants’ farm team, started the 2004 final season of the Kintetsu Buffaloes 12-0.

No. 8 hitter Akihiro Wakabayashi took the reins of the Giants’ offense, starting Yomiuri’s two-run third with a leadoff walk against Atsushi Endo (2-4) was sacrificed to second by Sugano and scored the on a Seiya Matsubara single.

Wakabayashi tripled in a run in the fourth, and singled in a run and scored in the sixth.

Itoi, bullpen win it for Tigers

Yoshio Itoi broke a 3-3 tie with a two-run home run and the Hanshin Tigers bullpen threw three shutout innings to finish up a 7-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Koshien Stadium.

Itoi hit his fifth home run of the season with two outs in the fifth off Akiyoshi Katsuno (2-4). Tigers starter Haruto Takahashi allowed three runs, one earned, over six innings. Jon Edwards, Shintaro Fujinami and Robert Suarez each worked a scoreless inning with Fujinami earning his first career hold.

The Dragons tied it in the top of the fifth, when Zoilo Almonte reached on his second single and scored on a sacrifice fly. He made a good play in the outfield to end the sixth with a good catch in left to keep the game from getting control the damage.

BayStars club Ogawa

Yasuhiro Ogawa (9-4) returned to the site of his Aug. 15 no-hitter but blew a two-run lead as the Yakult Swallows lost 8-4 to the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

Cleanup hitter Keita Sano put the BayStars in front with this 14th home run after Takayuki Kajitani opened with a single and Neftali Soto drew a one-out walk.

Kajitani led off the BayStars’ two-run third with another single and hit his 16th home run in the fifth with two outs to make it a 7-4 game.

A quartet of BayStars relievers then slammed the door on the last-place Swallows as Yuki Kuniyoshi, Spencer Patton, Edwin Escobar and Kenta Ishida buried the visitors’ hopes.

Yamamoto strikes out career-high 14

Yoshinobu Yamamoto maintained his dominance in home games, striking out a career-high 14 batters over eight innings for the Orix Buffaloes in their 3-0 win over the Seibu Lions at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

The 22-year-old right-hander allowed two walks and four hits. With better than usual command of his splitter and curve, he just tortured the Lions hitters.

Lions starter Kona Takahashi (5-8) pitched a solid game but Buffaloes hitters were able to get enough barrels on his pitches to rack up six hits over six innings, while he walked two and hit one.

Masataka Yoshida singled in two runs and Torai Fushimi hit a solo homer for the Buffaloes, and closer Brandon Dickson worked a perfect inning against the heart of the Lions order to close out his 11th save.

Senga deals out Eagles

Kodai Senga (7-5) allowed a run over seven innings while striking out 10 and the SoftBank Hawks chased Takahiro Norimoto (5-4) in a five-run fifth and held on to beat the Rakuten Eagles 6-2 at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Pitching for the first time since he cut his hand in his Sept. 4 start, Norimoto pitched out of a bases-loaded fourth inning jam, but did allow the Hawks to tie it. Ryoya Kurihara’s three-run homer in the fifth put the Eagles away.

Senga allowed five hits and walked three, while Norimoto allowed six hits, walked four and hit a batter while striking out six over 4-1/3 innings.

1st inning costly to Fighters

Nippon Ham Fighters right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa (7-4) continued his impressive run this season, but only after he allowed three first-inning runs in a 4-3 loss to the Lotte Marines at Sapporo Dome.

Uwasawa regrouped after allowing four hits and a walk in the first to go seven. Marines finesse artist Ayumu Ishikawa worked into the eighth, when he surrendered Wang Po-jung’s first homer of the season, a two-run shot.

Leonys Martin blasted another long home run, his 24th, with two outs in the ninth off Ryo Akiyoshi to score an insurance run that came in handy after Marine closer Naoya Masuda surrendered a run in the home half on three singles.

Giants sell catcher Tanaka to Eagles

The Giants said Tuesday they have assigned 28-year-old minor league catcher Takaya Tanaka to the Rakuten Eagles for cash consideration on Tuesday. Tanaka was taken in the third round of the 2014 developmental draft.

Tanaka has appeared in two first-team games. In the Eastern League, he has slashed .264/.340/.352. It is the third deal this season between the two clubs, starting with a June 29 trade that brought Zelous Wheeler to the Giants in exchange for pitcher Shun Ikeda.

Wednesday, Sept. 30 is this year’s non-waiver roster deadline.

Active roster moves 9/29/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/9

Central League

Activated

GiantsP19Toyoki Tanaka
BayStarsC29Hikaru Ito
DragonsP13Yuki Hashimoto
DragonsOF45Moises Sierra

Dectivated

BayStarsP48Masaya Kyoyama
BayStarsC39Hiroki Minei
DragonsP53Luis Gonzalez

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP25Katsunori Hirai
HawksP40Kazuki Sugiyama
HawksIF8Kenji Akashi
HawksOF24Yuya Hasegawa
EaglesP14Takahiro Norimoto
EaglesIF24Fumiya Kurokawa
EaglesIF36Yasuhito Uchida
FightersP35Takahiro Nishimura
BuffaloesP58Kazuyuki Kaneda

Dectivated

None

Starting pitchers for Sept. 30, 2020

Pacific League

Fighters vs Marines: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Drew VerHagen (6-4, 4.08) vs Kazuya Ojima (5-6, 3.76)

Eagles vs Hawks: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hideaki Wakui (9-3, 3.13) vs Shota Takeda (2-1, 4.64)

Buffaloes vs Lions: Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hirotoshi Masui (0-2, 4.34) vs Shota Hamaya (2-0, 6.30)

Central League

BayStars vs Swallows: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Taiga Kamichatani (2-1, 3.00) vs Masanori Ishikawa (0-5, 4.84)

Tigers vs Dragons: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Koyo Aoyagi (6-6, 3.76) vs Yudai Ono (6-5, 2.37)

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

Yusuke Nomura (5-2, 4.14) vs Kazuto Taguchi (5-3, 4.35)

NPB 2020 Sept. 4

Mori, Yamakawa get Neal a win

Zach Neal (3-4) got the help he needed to secure his first win since July 17 as he allowed 10 base runners but just two runs over 5-1/3 innings in the Seibu Lions’ 6-2 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters.

The Lions were handed the early lead when Corey Spangenberg’s two-out bases-loaded grounder was misplayed. First baseman Kotaro Kiyomiya retreated to first instead of grabbing it and flipping to his pitcher. Instead of making the third out, Spangenberg was credited with an RBI infield single.

Tomoya Mori made it 3-0 in the second, hitting his sixth homer with Sosuke Genda on base. Sho Nakata hit his Japan-best 23rd homer in the fourth and Ryo Watanabe tripled and scored on a Christian Villanueva infield single in the sixth to make it a one-run game. With one on and one out, rookie Tetsu Miyagawa preserved the lead. Kaima Taira, Reed Garrett and Tatsushi Masuda finished up for Seibu.

Fighters starter Toshihiro Sugiura retired 12 straight after Mori’s home run, and stranded two runners in the sixth before making his exit.

Hotaka Yamakawa, trailing Nakata in the race for his third-straight PL home run crown, made it 6-2 in the seventh with his 20th, a three-run shot off right-hander Kazutomo Iguchi.

Asamura carries Eagles over Buffaloes

Hideto Asamura homered twice and the player the Rakuten Eagles see as his future heir at second base, Fumiya Kurokawa, drove in a game-tying run in his first career plate appearance in a 4-3 win over the Orix Buffaloes.

Taisuke Yamaoka (0-2), Orix’s Opening Day starter, allowed four runs over seven innings. The right-hander surrendered three solo home runs, but allowed just a run in the second, when loaded the bases with no outs. His inning was put in jeopardy when right fielder Yuya Oda misplayed a ball that put two men in scoring position. But after a walk, Yamaoka regrouped and allowed only a sacrifice fly on a good swing from Kurokawa, the Eagles’ second draft pick last year.

The Buffaloes broke the ice when Masataka Yoshida extended his hitting streak to 22 games with a two-out RBI single off Takahiro Norimoto.

Norimoto loaded the bases in the top of the third, allowing the go-ahead run on a one-out bases-loaded sacrifice fly. The Eagles ace was pulled after the third having thrown 48 pitches due, according to Pro Yakyu News analyst Hiroki Nomura, to “a cut on his pitching hand.”

Asamura tied it in the third with his 19th homer, and catcher Yuichi Adachi put the hosts up with a homer in the fifth. After the Buffs tied it in the top of the sixth, Asamura went deep again in the home half to make it 4-3.

Six Rakuten relievers finished up. Alan Busenitz pitched out of a two-out, two-on jam to earn his ninth save.

Ishikawa pitches Marines past Hawks

Ayumu Ishikawa (6-2) allowed two runs over seven innings and the Lotte Marines got to the SoftBank Hawks bullpen as they overcame two Yurisbel Gracial home runs in a 4-3 win at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Ishikawa allowed three hits and a walk while striking out four, and was on the losing end against Hawks southpaw Matt Moore, who battled his command for 5-2/3 innings. The first-year-import scattered five hits and three walks, and got a big play to end the Marines’ fifth from first baseman Akira Nakamura and preserve a 2-0 lead.

Yugo Bando (2-2) got the Hawks out of the sixth with a 2-1 lead but surrendered three runs in the seventh to take the loss. He was followed to the mound by Yuta Watanabe, who made his first team debut two weeks shy of his 29th birthday and worked a 1-2-3 eighth.

Frank Herrmann worked a scoreless eighth with a gift double play when the Hawks bunted into a twin killing with a runner on second. Closer Naoya Masuda surrendered Gracial’s second homer in the ninth en route to his 15th save.

Takahashi homer breaks tie in Dragons’ win

Shuhei Takahashi’s fourth homer proved to be the decisive blow, breaking a 2-2 tie in the Chunichi Dragons’ 4-2 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Zoilo Almonte tied it 2-2 with his third hit of the game, a two-out two-run fifth-inning double. Dayan Viciedo singled to open the Dragons’ sixth and scored on Takahashi’s fourth homer, off Hirotoshi Takanashi (2-4).

Katsuki Matayoshi (1-0) earned the win for two scoreless innings of relief, and three scoreless innings from Daisuke Sobue, Hiroto Fuku and Raidel Martinez, who earned his 10th save, wrapped it up.

The Swallows got on the board on Norichika Aoki’s 12th home run off starter Yuya Yanagi and made it 2-0 in the fourth when Yasutaka Shiomi doubled with two outs and scored on an Alcides Escobar single.

Tigers’ Nishi, Suarez hold off Giants

Starter Yuki Nishi (5-3) and closer Robert Suarez held off the Yomiuri Giants in a 5-4 win at Koshien Stadium after Jerry Sands homered for the third time in four games.

Yusuke Oyama homered and Justin Bour doubled and scored on a safety squeeze by pitcher Yuki Nishi in the second off rookie Shosei Togo (7-3). Jerry Sands hit his 15th home run, driving in two in Hanshin’s three-run sixth.

Nishi allowed four runs, three earned, over 7-2/3 innings. With two on and two out, closer Robert Suarez was brought on to face Yoshihiro Maru, who doubled in the Giants first run of the game in the seventh. Suarez struck him out swinging at a 159 kph (98.8 mph) fastball on his seventh pitch. He then worked a 1-2-3 ninth, wrapping up his 13th save when pinch-hitter Zelous Wheeler flied out to the warning track.

Nishi struck out nine and walked one while allowing seven hits in his 123-pitch outing. Togo allowed five runs in 5-2/3 innings.

Kikuchi powers Carp comeback

Ryosuke Kikuchi went 5-for-6 with two doubles, two runs and three RBIs to help power the Hiroshima Carp, who overcame two large deficits to salvage a 12-12 10-inning tie with the DeNA BayStars at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Kikuchi singled in two runs with two outs in the ninth as Kazuki Mishima blew a two-run save for the visitors, who led 5-0 after three 9-5 after the top of the sixth.

A battle between in-form right-handers Shoichi Ino and Carp rookie Masato Morishita devolved into a slug fest as each pitcher allowed five runs while neither made it through four innings.

Neftali Soto doubled and homered and drove in four runs for the BayStars, while Carp closer Geronimo Franzua and BayStars reliever Edwin Escobar each put up a zero in the 10th to ensure a tie.

Active roster moves 9/4/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/14

Central League

Activated

TigersIF33Kento Itohara

Dectivated

TigersC39Kenya Nagasaka
CarpP42Kris Johnson

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP29Ryuya Ogawa
HawksP48Yuta Watanabe
EaglesIF24Fumiya Kurokawa
BuffaloesP14Kazumasa Yoshida
BuffaloesC62Katsuki Yamazaki

Dectivated

LionsP19Hiromasa Saito
HawksP13Akira Niho
EaglesOF51Yuya Ogo
BuffaloesP17Hirotoshi Masui
BuffaloesC33Masato Matsui

Starting pitchers for Sept. 4, 2020

Pacific League

Fighters vs Lions: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Kohei Arihara (3-6, 3.56) vs Sean Nolin (1-0, 4.50)

Eagles vs Buffaloes: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Takahiro Shiomi (3-5, 4.53) vs Sachiya Yamasaki (2-3, 4.38)

Hawks vs Marines: PayPay Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Shota Takeda (1-0, 1.29) vs Manabu Mima (5-2, 4.95)

Central League

Swallows vs Dragons: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Daiki Yoshida (1-4, 5.50) vs Takahiro Matsuba (2-3, 3.08)

Tigers vs Giants: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shintaro Fujinami (1-4, 4.26) vs Nobutaka Imamura (2-0, 4.02)

Carp vs BayStars: Mazda Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Daichi Osera (5-3, 3.45) vs Shinichi Onuki (5-2, 2.22)

NPB 2020 8-28 GAMES AND NEWS

Norimoto outduels Neal

Takahiro Norimoto allowed a run over six innings to outduel Zach Neal in the Rakuten Eagles’ 2-1 win over the Seibu Lions on Friday at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Norimoto (5-3) struck out five, while walking two and allowing five hits. The 29-year-old right-hander’s stuff has continued to improve incrementally from start to start. His splitter, a problem pitch at the start of the start of the season, was dynamite in concert with a good fastball.

Both he and Neal (2-4) located well and generated routine outs, but with Neal lacking Norimoto’s good swing-and-miss pitches, it was a surprise to see the Lions score first.

Corey Spangenberg, who’d been unable to touch Norimoto’s fastball and splitter his first time up, stayed on a high 0-2 fastball and lined it for a one-out sixth-inning double. With two outs, Fumikazu Kimura brought Spangenberg home from third with a double into the left-field corner.

The Eagles took the lead, however, in the bottom of the inning against Neal. Hiroaki Shimauchi barreled a 1-2 two-seam fastball up in the zone for a leadoff single. Stefen Romero walked, and Takero Okajima miss-hit a hanging slider but got enough of it to ground it past first for an RBI single. Neal jammed the next hitter but

“I am hitting well right now,” Okajima said. “Nori is pitching well so it feels like we can win. Now it’s on to the weekend games.”

In contrast to his first several starts, when Norimoto was having trouble both locating the splitter and getting the release he needed to make it tumble, it was working to perfection against the Lions and was unhittable by anyone gearing up for his heat.

“I was able to put guys away with the forkball, so I used it a lot,” Norimoto said. “I believe in the work I’ve been putting in, I’m confident that I come in to games well prepared.

When he came out after six, the Lions went from the frying pan into the fire, as Sung Chia-hao treated them to an even better fastball, a diving slider and a good change in a 1-2-3 seventh. Former Lion and Padre Kazuhisa Makita worked around a single in the eighth before Alan Busenitz overpowered the Lions in the ninth to earn his seventh save.

Takeda returns as Hawks crush Kaneko

Shota Takeda (1-0) worked seven innings in his first game of the season for the SoftBank Hawks, who crushed former Sawamura Award winner Chihiro Kaneko (1-2) for five runs in the first inning in a 9-1 win at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Sho Nakata singled in Taishi Ota in the first inning, but that was the Fighters’ high-water mark as Ryoya Kurihara highlighted the Hawks’ first with a three-run homer. He also walked twice and hit a solo homer, his 11th. Hawks superstart Yuki Yanagita, despite a stiff neck and legs belted his 19th homer in the second, yet another lunar launch to the remote reaches of the Casa de PePe’s right-field stands.

Takeda struck out six while walking one and allowing five hits.

Martin bombs Buffaloes

Leonys Martin drove in four runs on a pair of homers, both well back into the upper deck at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome in the Lotte Marines’ 5-3 win over the Orix Buffaloes.

Ayumu Ishikawa (5-2) gave up three runs over six innings, while Buffaloes starter Sachiya Yamasaki (2-3) served up both of Martin’s bombs and all five Marines runs over six innings.

Frank Herrmann struck out two in a 1-2-3 eighth for the Marines before Naoya Masuda picked up his 18th save in a perfect ninth.

Abe doubles down as Dragons beat Giants

Toshiki Abe had two big doubles, one in Chunichi’s three-run sixth and another that drove in two and broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh as the Dragons came from behind to beat the Yomiuri Giants 5-3 at Tokyo Dome.

Raidel Martinez, the sixth Dragons pitcher, worked a scoreless ninth to earn his ninth save.

Uemoto lifts Carp over Tigers

Takashi Uemoto drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Hiroshima Carp overcame a blown save to beat the Hanshin Tigers 4-3 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Uemoto, whose older brother Hiroki was manning second base for the Tigers, came up with two on and one out after singles by Ryuhei Matsuyama and Shogo Sakakura. As Japanese teams do, the Tigers pulled the outfield in to keep the runner on second from scoring on a single, and drove one over the left fielder for a “single.”

Sakakura’s two-run homer in the second gave Hiroshima rookie Masato Morishita a 3-0 lead against Yuki Nishi, the Tigers’ Opening Day starter. But Nishi shut the door after that and Yusuke Oyama powered Hanshin’s comeback, singling and scoring in the fifth and homering in the seventh. He then singled in the ninth off closer Geronimo Franzua (1-1) following Jerry Sands’ leadoff single to help set up the tying run.

Peoples wins 2nd straight

First-year import Michael Peoples (2-1) threw six scoreless innings to win his second-straight start and the DeNA BayStars held off the Yakult Swallows 6-2 at Yokohama Stadium.

The BayStars’ Neftali Soto had two hits, scored a run and drove in one, while Keita Sano’s three-run seventh-inning homer put the game away after the Swallows score in the seventh to make it a 2-1 game.

Swallows rookie Daiki Yoshida (1-4) allowed two runs over six innings to take the loss.

Active roster moves 8/28/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/7

Central League

Activated

CarpC32Yuta Shirahama

Dectivated

CarpC31Yoshiyuki Ishihara

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP18Shota Takeda
MarinesP27Daiki Yamamoto
FightersP47Kenya Suzuki
BuffaloesIF5Masahiro Nishino

Dectivated

LionsP45Keisuke Honda
FightersP28Ryusei Kawano
BuffaloesP22Ryota Muranishi

Starting pitchers for Aug. 29, 2020

Pacific League

Eagles vs Lions: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Takahiro Shiomi (3-4, 4.10) vs Sean Nolin (-)

Buffaloes vs Marines: Kyocera Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Chang Yi (1-1, 2.70) vs Kota Futaki (1-2, 6.00)

Hawks vs Fighters: PayPay Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Matt Moore (0-1, 4.50) vs Kohei Arihara (3-5, 3.93)

Central League

Giants vs Dragons: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Nobutaka Imamura (1-0, 6.23) vs Yariel Rodriguez (2-0, 1.40)

BayStars vs Swallows: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shinichi Onuki (5-2, 1.81) vs Matt Koch (0-1, 13.50)

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

Daichi Osera (5-2, 3.00) vs Shintaro Fujinami (1-4, 3.78)

NPB 2020 8-21 Games and news

Jones drives in 3 to give new skipper 1st win

Adam Jones results have mirrored those of his Orix Buffaloes this season. But on Friday, their first day after manager Norifumi Nishimura stepped down and was replaced by farm skipper Satoshi Nakajima, things clicked for Jones and his teammates in a 3-1 win over the Seibu Lions at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Jones tied it 1-1 in the seventh inning off Zach Neal (2-3) with his sixth home run of the season. Neal left with two on and one out in the eighth. Rookie Tetsu Miyagawa walked the bases loaded on four pitches to bring up Jones.

“I have not been swinging the bat too well, but that’s the game of baseball. You have to continue to play the game hard, and be prepared,” he told the fans in the on-field postgame interview. “Underneath the stands in the tunnels, I’ve been getting my work in and trying to be as professional as possible. I’m glad the hard work paid off tonight.”

Buffaloes lefty Sachiya Yamasaki allowed a run on two hits, including Hotaka Yamakawa’s 16th home run in the fourth, and one walk while striking out seven over seven innings.

Neal allowed 10 hits and a walk while striking out one. With the lead in the bag, Orix’s back-of-the bullpen one-two punch of first-year import Tyler Higgins and eight-year Japan veteran Brandon Dickson each worked a 1-2-3 inning. Higgins struck out the tail-end of the Lions order. Dickson got help on a good catch from left fielder Yuya Oda for the second out before recording his seventh save.

Marines march past Hawks into 1st place

Ayumu Ishikawa (4-2) allowed three runs over seven innings, and the SoftBank Hawks pitchers served up a seven-walk, three hit-batsmen, 14-hit parade in the Lotte Marines’ 7-3 win at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium that moved them past the Hawks into first place.

The Marines won 10 of the 12 games the teams played there last year, and now are 3-0 with one tie in this year’s four games on the shores of Tokyo Bay.

Alfredo Despaigne, playing in his first game since returning from Cuba in July, went 0-for-3 with one walk. He was activated Friday, taking the place of Wladimir Balentien, who was deactivated.

Norimoto finds stuff as Eagles’ beat Fighters

Rakuten Eagles ace Takahiro Norimoto (4-3) had better consistent pitches than he has for much of the year as he carried a shutout bid into the ninth inning in a 4-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.

The right-hander’s fastball and splitter were both effective as he struck out nine in eight-plus innings, while allowing no walks and six hits, including three no-out singles in the ninth as he ended a six-start winless streak.

Alan Busenitz came on and nailed down his sixth save on seven pitches.

Hiroaki Shimauchi, whose three-run homer tied Thursday’s game in the ninth inning when the Eagles were down to their last strike, doubled in Hideto Asamura to break a scoreless tie in the sixth. Asamura iced the game in the ninth with a two-run home run.

Carp rookie Morishita slays Giants

Rookie right-hander Masato Morishita (5-2) allowed a run over eight innings for the Hiroshima Carp in their 7-5 win at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium that snapped the Yomiuri Giants’ three-game all-shutout win streak.

Morishita allowed five hits and a walk while striking out five after the Carp broke the game open in the bottom of the first with a five-run inning against lefty Kazuto Taguchi (2-3).

Bour thunders as Fujinami, Tigers end droughts

Justin Bour hit two home runs, scored three runs and drove in three, while Shintaro Fujinami (1-4) won for the first time since September 2018 as the Hanshin Tigers beat the Yakult Swallows 7-4 at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Fujinami’s one-out RBI infield single in the first opened the flood gates on a four-run inning that snapped a streak of 37-consecutive scoreless innings for the Tigers. To be nit-picky it was a single because third baseman Munetaka Murakami couldn’t get it out of his glove but wasn’t charged with an error.

At that point it was like the fates that had been spurning the Tigers for days suddenly decided their practical joke had run its course. Koji Chikamoto, who’d doubled in the first when he missed a home run by a few feet, got another double on a hard chopper to first that took a fluke bounce and drove in two.

Fujinami pitched out of a two-out bases-loaded jam in the second inning after the Swallows scored two unearned runs and threatened to turn the game around. But Bour made it a 6-2 game in the third with his eighth home run in Japan.

Joe Gunkel and Robert Suarez threw scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth to close it down with Suarez recording his eighth save.

Swallows rookie Daiki Yoshida (1-3) allowed six runs on seven hits and two walks over four innings. He struck out five.

Dragons burn BayStars bullpen

Takahiro Matsuba allowed a run over seven innings, and the Chunichi Dragons broke up a gie game in the eighth to beat the DeNA BayStars 3-1 at Nagoya Dome.

BayStars starter Shinichi Onuki allowed a run over six innings, and closer Yasuaki Yamasaki, currently the seventh-inning guy, extricated himself from a no-out bases-loaded pickle to keep it tied. The Dragons again loaded the bases with one out in the eighth against lefty Kenta Ishida (1-1). Ishida hadn’t allowed an earned run since his first game of the season on June 20, but Issei Endo’s sac fly scored Toshiki Abe, and Yohei Oshima plated Yota Kyoda with his second RBI single of the game.

Onuki made a spectacular escape in the third. After Oshima’s one-out single opened the scoring, the Dragons loaded the bases with two outs. Shuhei Takahashi hit a bullet back through the box that Onuki somehow knocked down and picked up, and still managed to nail the runner at first.

Dragons lefty Hiroto Fuku (4-2) earned the win in relief after pitching the eighth, while Cuban right-hander Raidel Martinez notched his eighth save.

Active roster moves 8/21/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/31

Central League

Activated

GiantsOF44Israel Mota
BayStarsP13Hiromu Ise
TigersIF38Ryuhei Obata

Dectivated

TigersIF4Takahiro Kumagai

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP14Ren Kajiya
HawksOF54Alfredo Despaigne
BuffaloesIF9Koji Oshiro
BuffaloesOF99Yutaro Sugimoto

Dectivated

HawksP34Arata Shiino
HawksOF4Wladimir Balentien
BuffaloesP14Kazumasa Yoshida
BuffaloesIF64Shinya Hirosawa

Starting pitchers for Aug. 22, 2020

Pacific League

Fighters vs Eagles: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Kohei Arihara (2-5, 4.25) vs Takahiro Shiomi (3-3, 3.78)

Marines vs Hawks: Zozo Marine Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Kota Futaki (1-2, 6.86) vs Akira Niho (3-4, 5.17)

Buffaloes vs Lions: Kyocera Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Chang Yi (0-1, 5.40) vs Tetsuya Utsumi (-)

Central League

Swallows vs Tigers: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Matt Koch (-) vs Yuki Nishi (3-3, 2.42)

Dragons vs BayStars: Nagoya Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Yariel Rodriguez (1-0, 2.03) vs Kousuke Sakaguchi (-)

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

Daichi Osera (4-2, 3.12) vs Seishu Hatake (0-2, 4.15)

NPB 2020 7-17 games and news

Inside story

Is it just me, or are NPB umps beginning to adopt the old major league standard of shifting the strike zone one ball width away from the batter? This was done in the States, I understand, to decrease hit batsmen. As long as I can remember, Japanese umps have called the vertical edges of the zone by the rules as well as their talents allowed.

But Friday’s games got me to wondering. Looking at the pitches that were called strikes and balls in Sendai’s game between the Lions and Eagles, and in Osaka between the Hawks and Buffaloes and at Koshien between the Dragons and Tigers, it sure seemed like inside strikes meant getting the ball entirely over the plate, while pitchers tended to get more leeway outside.

It may just be me, but a narrow strike zone definitely impacted at least one game.

Neal outpitches Norimoto in Sendai

Rakuten Eagles ace Takahiro Norimoto has been very tough this season and he was pretty darn good on Friday, but sometimes things just have a way of going south. And while things didn’t go his way, Seibu Lions right-hander Zach Neal had his best outing in three weeks and picked up the win in a 10-2 victory in Sendai.

After both pitchers were rock solid in the first, Norimoto ran into trouble in the second. He hit the leadoff man, and pitched carefully to 2019 Pacific League MVP Tomoya Mori and ended up walking him. After that, he pretty much made his pitches but didn’t get the results he might have.

OK, he threw a straight fastball down and in to Takeya Nakamura that the slugger lined to left. The opening run scored on the play when left fielder Hiroaki Shimauchi failed to gather in the ball on a hop.

After that it was back-to-back singles off good pitches. An inside fastball jammed Takumi Kuriyama but resulted in a flair to left that fell in for an RBI single. Cory Spangenberg did a super job to go down and get a splitter and single to load the bases.

Norimoto had thrown 22 pitches in the inning at that point the wheels kind of fell off. But oddly enough, the Lions had pretty much done all the damage they were going to do in the inning.

He threw three straight pitches down the pipe, a first-pitch fastball resulted in an RBI single. A hanging first-pitch slider would have brought in another run had Shimauchi not made a good sliding catch in left. Sosuke Genda then watched a fat first-pitch fastball go by before offering at a splitter out of the zone that let the Eagles get a force at the plate.

The Lions added two more runs in the third when he REALLY missed to dangerous hitters, resulting in a Hotaka Yamakawa home run and a hanging curve that missed being a two-run homer by a few feet.

Neal — remember Zach Neal? — gave up a couple of hard-hit balls to his fielders in the second, and had trouble with the strike zone, see above, in the third, when he issued two, two-out walks — credit to Daichi Suzuki for the second — before Eigoro Mogi lined a pitch to center that went for a two-run double when center fielder Shohei Suzuki failed to make a shoe-string catch.

That brought league RBI leader Hideto Asamura to the plate. Neal got a 1-0 strike on the outside corner, and Asamura missed a fastball up and in before flailing at a changeup low and well out of the zone. You could see that changeup coming a mile away, and it was poetry.

Neal walked just those two batters, while striking out five and allowing five hits. With the win, he was able to extend his streak of consecutive winning decisions to 13.

Hawks take advantage of Buffaloes youngster

As happens a lot, walks opened the door for the SoftBank Hawks offense and they never looked back in their 9-1 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Hard-throwing 21-year-old Tsubasa Sakakibara (0-1) went into the fourth inning with the game tied 1-1, but four walks in the inning proved his undoing.

Sometimes pitchers walk hitters because they can’t locate their pitches and sometimes because they have a poor approach, and in Sakakibara’s case it seemed more of an inability to adjust to umpire Fumihiro Yoshimoto’s narrow strike zone.

A leadoff walk on four borderline pitches to Yuki Yanagita was a case of his trying to hit the edge of the zone and locating, but not getting the calls. Another walk followed before a three-pitch strikeout of Wladimir Balentien. But at that point, Sakakibara’s ability to execute began to slip. He missed all over the place to Nobuhiro Matsuda to load the bases before Takuya Kai ground out a walk that broke the tie.

Sakakibara, whose fastball was sitting at 150 kph but was pretty straight, got the grounder he needed to keep it a 2-1 game but the ball went for an infield single and he was yanked after four.

Orix rookie Ryo Ota, whose first pro hit was a home run on Thursday, had a home run for his second hit as well, when he tied it in the second off Nao Higashihama. The Hawks starter, who was in the leg by a batted ball early in the game, left after three innings.

Arihara earns 1st win for Fighters

Nippon Ham Fighters ace Kohei Arihara (1-3) allowed two runs over six innings, scattering eight hits and three walks in a 7-4 win over the Lotte Marines at Sapporo Dome.

Arihara allowed just a run in the first despite a leadoff single and a Leonys Martin double and didn’t have a stress-free inning until his 1-2-3 sixth. Marines starter Ayumu Ishikawa (0-2) had three 1-2-3 innings through six but surrendered six runs on 10 hits and a walk to take the loss.

Fighters cleanup hitter doubled in a run in the hosts’ two-run first, and put the game out of reach with a seventh-inning grand slam.

Aoyagi, Sands pace Tigers past Dragons

Right-handed side-armer Koyo Aoyagi had the Chunichi Dragons pounding the ball into the dirt, grounding out 16 times over seven innings in a 4-1 Hanshin Tigers victory at Koshien Stadium.

The Dragons managed four hits and a walk off Aoyagi (3-1), who struck out two. The Tigers broke out for three runs in a fortunate third inning against Dragons lefty Yudai Ono (0-3).

Ono sawed off Seiya Kinami’s bat at the handle with a 1-1 slider on the hands but the ball looped over the mound for a leadoff infield single. After the pitcher sacrificed, failed to get a called first strike and sort of gave up on trying to get Yoshio Itoi and walked him on four pitches. Kento Itohara lucked into an infield single hitting an 0-2 pitch well out of the zone off the end of the bat for a perfect swinging bunt down the third base line. A throwing error by third baseman Hayato Mizowaki advanced all three runners and let in a run.

The infield came in, and Jerry Sands, whose eighth-inning home run tied Thursday’s game against Yakult and set the stage for a Tigers comeback, hit Ono’s pitch. The lefty spotted a 3-0 two-seamer low and away only for Sands to reach for it and launch it the other way into the right field gap for a two-run double.

Dayan Viciedo got a run back for the Drgons with his eighth home run of the year in the fourth.

Maru makes difference in rainy Yokohama

Yoshihiro Maru launched a third-inning tie-breaking home run at rainy Yokohama Stadium and the Yomiuri Giants earned a 2-1 win over the DeNA BayStars when their game was called after six innings.

The Giants opened the scoring in the second thanks to some quality swings from Takumi Oshiro, Gerardo Parra and Zelous Wheeler as three singles loaded the bases with no outs against Shoichi Ino (2-1). Oshiro scored on a double play.

Ino struck out six and walked one, while allowing six hits. Giants lefty Nobutaka Imamura (1-0) won his season debut. He allowed six hits and a walk while striking out two, and served up a pair of groundball double plays as the base cutouts at Yokohama Stadium began to resemble mud wrestling venues.

Maru broke the tie with two outs in the third, when Ino hung a curve ball that he launched off the end of his bat and just into the outfield seats atop their high wall in left.

Carp spoil Swallows rookie’s debut

Shota Dobayashi, long a favorite of the Hiroshima media, made his debut in the Carp No. 3 spot and went 4-for-5 with three runs, while Seiya Suzuki and Ryuhei Matsuyama combined to drive in eight in a 9-2 win over the Yakult Swallows.

Right-hander Daiki Yoshida, Yakult’s second draft pick last autumn, allowed five runs on nine hits over 2-1/3 innings to take the loss in his first-team debut.

Carp ace Daichi Osera (3-1) allowed two runs over six innings, while striking out five and walking two. New import D. J. Johnson had his best outing yet for Hiroshima as he struck out the side in the eighth inning.

Alcides Escobar drove in both Yakult runs with a sixth-inning double that missed the top of the wall at Mazda Stadium by a few feet.

Hawks drop van den Hurk, Carp call on Scott

A day after the briefest start of his career in Japan, right-hander Rick van den Hurk was deactivated by the SoftBank Hawks on Friday. The 35-year-old who opened his season with a dominating win over the Seibu Lions on June 25, is now 1-2 with 7.29 ERA in his sixth Japanese season.

Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo said van den Hurk was feeling tightness in his back according to the Nikkan Sports.

“We’re going to give it a little time,” Kudo said at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome prior to Friday’s game against the Orix Buffaloes. “We want to know a little bit more about his condition, so he’ll be staying with the team for a bit.”

Meanwhile, a day after a Hiroshima Carp bullpen game imploded, the Central League club called up reliever Tayler Scott. The first-year right-hander has allowed seven runs over three innings and is 0-2 in five games. He has since pitched in two farm games and retired all six batters he faced for the Carp’s Western League team.

Active roster moves 7/17/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/27

Central League

Activated

GiantsP45Nobutaka Imamura
TigersC12Seishiro Sakamoto
TigersOF60Masahiro Nakatani
CarpP70Tayler Scott
SwallowsP28Daiki Yoshida
SwallowsP64Ren Kazahari

Dectivated

GiantsP46Takuya Kuwahara
BayStarsP93Ko Nakagawa
TigersP20Kenichi Nakata
TigersIF00Hiroki Uemoto
TigersOF9Shun Takayama
SwallowsP20Kazuki Kondo

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP34Arata Shiino

Dectivated

HawksP44Rick van den Hurk