Tag Archives: Takayuki Kajitani

NPB 2020 Oct. 7

Wednesday’s games

Other news

Dragons 4, Swallows 1: Ono CG a no go

In an era when complete games are rare, the news on Wednesday was that Yudai Ono didn’t throw one. For the first time this season, the lefty won a game without going the distance, laboring through six shutout innings in the Chunichi Dragons’ 4-1 win over the Yakult Swallows at Nagoya Dome.

Ono (8-5), announced as the Central League’s pitcher of the month for September earlier in the day, lacked the pin-point command that his been his calling card for much of the season. The Swallows loaded the bases with one out in the first, and he needed 26 pitches in the inning to keep them off the board.

“When I got to 26 pitches I knew at that point that it was going to be tough to finish up tonight,” said Ono, who handed a lead over to the Dragons bullpen for the second time this season.

On July 24, he left with a 2-1 lead at home after throwing 103 pitches over five innings, and the bullpen surrendered four runs in a 5-2 loss to the Dragons that left him 0-3 on the season. He then took things out of his relievers’ hands with five straight complete game victories followed by a complete game defeat.

“His pitching was all you could expect of an ace,” Dragons manager Tsuyoshi Yoda said.

Forty-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa (1-6) also pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the first but surrendered two runs on three third-inning singles by the Dragons import trio of Zoilo Almonte, Dayan Viciedo and Moises Sierra.

Almonte, who had three hits, homered in the seventh, and Tetsuto Yamada hit his 12th homer of the season in the eighth for the Swallows.

Dragons closer Raidel Martinez struck out the side in the ninth to earn his 17th save.

BayStars 6, Giants 3: Lopez strikes back

Jose Lopez broke a 2-2 tie with his second two-run home run in two nights at Tokyo Dome in the DeNA BayStars’ 6-3 win over the Yomiuri Giants.

Neftali Soto followed with his 19th homer. Shingo Hirata (1-0), the team’s second draft pick in 2013, allowed two runs for the BayStars over five innings to earn his first career win.

Lefties Edwin Escobar and Kenta Ishida pitched the seventh and eighth for the visitors, and Kazuki Mishima worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 12th save.

Giants-BayStars highlights

Carp 9, Tigers 3

Tsubasa Aizawa’s two-run fifth-inning double brought the Hiroshima Carp from a run down in their 9-3 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Lions 4, Hawks 3

Takumi Kuriyama’s second RBI single tied it 3-3 in the seventh inning before the Seibu Lions took the lead against the SoftBank Hawks in a 4-3 win at MetLife Dome.

Eighth-inning doubles by Hotaka Yamakawa and Fumikazu Kimura off Livan Moinelo (1-2) completed the comeback.

The Hawks opened the scoring in the first inning on Yuki Yanagita’s 26th home run. Yanagita walked twice and singled and scored twice. Ernesto Mejia opened the Lions’ sixth with his 11th home run to make it a one-run game.

Marines 4, Buffaloes 1

Seiya Inoue hit a three-run first-inning homer off Andrew Albers (3-7) and Kazuya Ojima (7-6) allowed an unearned run over six innings as the Lotte Marines beat the Orix Buffaloes 4-1 at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

The win was the Marines’ first since they switched out 11 members of the active roster on Tuesday and another on Wednesday due to a spate infections within the club.

The win moved the Marines to within one win of the Pacific League-leading Hawks.

Eagles 2, Fighters 2

Nippon Ham Fighters starter Drew VerHagen and Rakuten Eagles right-hander Hideaki Wakui each went six innings as their teams finished in a 2-2, 10-inning tie at Sapporo Dome.

Both pitchers juggled runners on base, with VerHagen allowing a run on five hits and four walks, and Wakui two runs on six walks and six hits.

The visitors tied it in the seventh on Hideto Asamura’s second RBI single of the game.

mvp

Dragons’ Ono a surprise winner

September’s monthly award winners were named on Wednesday, with Chunichi Dragons lefty Yudai Ono the Central League’s pitcher of the month despite his having lost two games.

Ono, who went 3-2, was joined by CL player (read “hitter”) of the month Takayuki Kajitani of the DeNA BayStars, and the PL’s honorees, Rakuten Eagles second baseman Hideto Asamura and Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

Ono did everything except post a good win-loss record. His three wins were all two-hit shutouts, and that struck a chord with whoever it is who makes the selections, something unheard of in recent years.

I don’t think we should ignore wins, but if you did, it would be hard to see that any CL pitcher had a month in Ono’s league. Ono led the league in strikeouts, led the league in innings. His strikeout total of 42 was twice his combined hits and walks allowed.

The trouble over the past 15 years or so that I’ve been paying attention to these things is that they used to start with wins and pretty much ended there.

For years, my pitcher of the month search started by finding pitchers with three-plus wins with no more than one loss and an ERA under 3.50. If nobody qualified, then go through the relievers and see who didn’t allow a run, while getting eight or nine saves or holds. One month, Shohei Ohtani didn’t win despite going 2-0 with a 0.27 ERA in four starts with over 30 strikeouts.

I was surprised to find, however, that such wasn’t always the case. In June 2000 for example, the CL pitching honor went to Nate Minchey, after going 3-3 with a 2.02 ERA, when other candidates went 3-0 and 3-1 with worse ERAs.

Minchey also had a kicker in that we threw four of his starts on four-days rest, something not unheard of like it is now, but uncommon. The other two were on five days.

To get back to Ono, the award blurb mentioned that he was the first pitcher to throw three shutouts while allowing two or fewer hits in each since Hall of Famer Jiro Noguchi in October 1943.

Lotte OF Oka added to watch list

The Lotte Marines on Wednesday deactivated outfielder Hiromi Oka after determining that he too had been in close contact with pitcher Daiki Iwashita, the first player to test positive in the Pacific League team’s novel coronavirus cluster.

The Marines deactivated 11 players on Tuesday, seven who had tested positive and another four who had been in close contact with Iwashita on Friday’s flight back from Hokkaido, where they had traveled for a three-game series with the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Iwashita is so far the only player to exhibit any symptoms. He was tested Saturday night after falling ill and developing a fever.

Active roster moves 10/7/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/17

Central League

Activated

BayStarsOF37Taishi Kusumoto

Dectivated

BayStarsIF38Koki Yamashita

Pacific League

Activated

MarinesOF61Kazuma Mike
BuffaloesP27Andrew Albers

Dectivated

MarinesOF25Hiromi Oka
FightersP31Toru Murata

Starting pitchers for Oct. 7, 2020

Pacific League

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

Nick Martinez (1-5, 4.23) vs Takayuki Kishi (2-0, 5.53)

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

Tatsuya Imai (3-3, 5.70) vs Shuta Ishikawa (7-3, 2.37)

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

Takuro Furuya (-) vs Daiki Tajima (3-4, 3.72)

Central League

Giants vs BayStars: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Angel Sanchez (6-3, 2.97) vs Shoichi Ino (6-5, 3.68)

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

Yusuke Nomura (6-2, 3.82) vs Yuki Nishi (8-4, 2.25)

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 7-29 GAMES AND NEWS

Mishima earns 1st save for BayStars

Veteran right-hander Kazuki Mishima worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn his first career save in place of battered closer Yasuaki Yamasaki on Wednesday as the DeNA BayStars held on to a 3-2 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome.

BayStars lefty Haruhiro Hamaguchi (2-1) was effectively wild at the start, walking four and hitting one threw four hitless and scoreless innings thanks to a pair of inning-ending 4-6-3 double plays. Hamaguchi allowed two runs on three hits over 5-2/3 innings while striking out seven.

Takayuki Kajitani homered with two outs in the third off Giants right-hander Shosei Togo to record the visitors’ first hit, while catcher Shuto Takajo added a two-run homer for the visitors in the fifth.

Togo (3-2) allowed three runs on four hits and a walk while striking out seven over five innings.

The Giants got their first hit in the fifth, Yang Dai-kang’s leadoff single, and their first run in the seventh, when Yoshihiro Maru opened the inning with his eighth home run. With two outs, mid-season acquisition Zelous Wheeler pulled the Giants within one with his fourth home run to drive Hamaguchi from the mound.

With the BayStars leading by a run in the seventh, manager Alex Ramirez called on Yamasaki to see if his struggling closer might regain his stuff in a middle relief role. The right-hander allowed a one-out infield single to speedy pinch-hitter Shinnosuke Shigenobu. A stolen base on a strikeout, and a wild pitch put the tying run on third with two outs, but Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto flied out to end the inning.

Spencer Patton worked the eighth and walked Wheeler with one out. Wheeler was replaced by Daiki Masuda, the flagship of manager Tatsunori Hara’s pinch-running fleet. Patton, however, struck out the next two batters to get the game to Mishima.

The 30-year-old right-hander, who had not allowed a hit or a walk since he was lit up for three runs on July 16, got tough left-handed hitter Takumi Oshiro swinging at a 1-2 splitter out of the zone. Veteran left-handed-hitting grinder Yasuyuki Kamei flied out before Shigenobu went down swinging to end it.

Nothing to do with the game story, but couldn’t resist.

Swallows kiddy corps beats Tigers

Twenty-year-old Munetaka Murakami brought the Yakult Swallows from behind with a two-run fourth-inning home run and 21-year-old lefty Hiroki Hasegawa saved the day out of the bullpen in a 3-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

After allowing the visitors on the scoreboard in the first, Yakult right-hander Juri Hara (2-0) got out of a one-out bases-loaded jam in the first inning with a pair of strikeouts. Hara worked five innings, allowing three hits and five walks while striking out six.

Tigers lefty Onelki Garcia cruised through the first three innings before surrendering a leadoff double to Norichika Aoki in the fourth. Murakami followed with his fifth home run.

Yugo Umeno, a 21-year-old right-hander, followed Hara in the sixth and walked the first batter he faced. He left with one out the bases loaded. Hasegawa, however, popped up leadoff hitter Koji and struck out veteran Yoshio Itoi.

Yakult’s Yasutaka Shiomi, who homered when he returned to action on Tuesday, a month after being injured by a pitch, homered off veteran lefty Atsushi Nomi to open the bottom of the sixth.

Scott McGough pitched a 1-2-3 seventh for the hosts, while impressive 23-year-old rookie Noboru Shimizu worked around a pair of walks in the eighth when he caught Chikamoto looking at Strike 3. Taishi Ishiyama worked the ninth for his sixth save.

The Tigers opened the scoring through Chikamoto. He doubled to open the game when his drive popped out of center fielder Kotaro Yamasaki’s glove, stole third and came home on a Yusuke Oyama infield single. Garcia gave up four hits and a walk, while striking out five.

Carp’s Suzuki decides pitchers’ duel

Seiya Suzuki broke open a scoreless game in the sixth inning, when he homered for the ninth time this year with a two-run shot off lefty Takahiro Matsuba in a 2-0 Hiroshima Carp win over the Chunichi Dragons at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Making his second start of the season, veteran Carp right-hander Yusuke Nomura (1-0) was perfect through five innings. He allowed four hits and no walks over eight innings while striking out two.

Geronimo Franzua struck out the side in the ninth to earn his first save.

Matsuba (2-1) allowed five hits and two walks while striking out five and hitting a batter. He surrendered Jose Pirela’s second hit of the game with one out in the sixth, and with two outs, Suzuki took him deep.

39-year-old Wada shuts down Lions

Veteran southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada (3-0) turned back the clock as he combined his usual guts and finesse with good movement on his fastball to strike out nine over six-plus innings for the SoftBank Hawks in a 4-2 win over the Seibu Lions at Fukuoka’s PayPayDome.

The 39-year-old Wada, who said afterward he wanted to come out with guns blazing after not getting out of the fifth inning in his last start, came out getting swings and misses with his fastball and struck out two batters in a 1-2-3.

Hawks speedster Ukyo Shuto opened the scoring for the Hawks in the bottom of the first, when he tripled and scored on Kenta Imamiya’s sacrifice fly. Three-straight one-out singles made it 2-0 as Ryoya Kurihara drove in Yuki Yanagita.

The Lions got their first runners of the game on in the top of the second, but Wada stranded two, and the Hawks added a third run in the bottom of the inning. Nobuhiro Matsuda singled, took second on a throwing error by the pitcher, went to third on a groundout and scored on a Shuto sac fly.

Seibu’s Fumikazu Kimura, who struck out to end the Lions’ second with two in scoring position, hit a solo home run in the fifth, but Yanagita answered that with his 10th home run, a one-out solo shot in the home half.

Wada gave up a run in the seventh on a leadoff double to Takeya Nakamura and a Takumi Kuriyama RBI single. Lefty Shinya Kayama, however, worked around a one-out single to strand two runners. Another lefty, Livan Moinelo, worked the eighth, while closer Yuito Mori pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his eighth save.

Matsumoto (1-3) gave up all four runs on seven hits and two walks over five innings.

Martinez, Kondo get Fighters past Buffs

Nick Martinez allowed a run over six innings and Kensuke Kondo drove in four runs for the Nippon Ham Fighters in their 6-2 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Sapporo Dome.

Orix right-hander Yu Suzuki struggled but stranded six runners as he held the Fighters to a run over four innings. Taishi Ota drew a leadoff walk in the second and opened the scoring on Kotaro Kiyomiya’s bases-loaded sac fly.

The Buffaloes repeatedly threatened to blow the game open, but Martinez prevailed through tough pitching and some good luck.

Masato Matsui got the Buffaloes’ first hit off Martinez when first baseman Kiyomiya fielded a ball Martinez couldn’t reach, and then neglected to see the pitcher covering first and waiting for his throw that never came.

Orix skipper Norifumi Nishimura’s customary sacrifice when trailing on the road and a Ryo Nishimura single put runners on the corners with one out. A stolen base and a comebacker opened first base with two outs, and after Martinez fell behind Masataka Yoshida 3-0, Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama ordered the left-handed slugger walked. Martinez then won a 10-pitch duel with Adam Jones by getting a routine fly out to center.

The Buffaloes tied it in the fifth after a walk and two singles, one an infield dribbler, and a Yoshida sac fly.

Once more, Jones came up with a chance to some damage with two outs, but home plate umpire Atsushi Fukuya called him out on a 2-2 pitch that missed badly inside. Martinez tried to hide the disbelief at his good luck behind his glove as he walked off the mound. Jones could do little but express his own disbelief with Fukuya’s perception of the strike zone.

With Suzuki out of the game after 85 pitches, Buffaloes right-hander Kazumasa Yoshida allowed the Fighters to retake the lead. He promptly gave up a Kenshi Sugiya leadoff double. A sacrifice bunt and a Kondo sac fly put the Fighters back in front. That, too, was short-lived.

With Martinez gone, the Buffaloes tied it in the seventh when Aderlin Rodriguez was struck near the wrist with the bases loaded. But that was it for Orix. Sugiya drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the inning, was sacrificed to second on Takuya Nakashima’s second sac bunt of the game and the 230th of his career. Kondo singled to bring in the go-ahead run and scored on a two-out Ota double.

Fighters lefty Naoki Miyanishi worked the eighth inning and became the 16th pitcher in Japanese pro baseball history to appear in 700 games. The active leader is Ryota Igarashi of the Swallows (822).

Wakui continues remarkable turnaround

After going 3-0 in his first three starts and looking truly mediocre, Hideaki Wakui has been rock solid since and continued that on Tuesday when he allowed a run in seven innings as the Rakuten Eagles beat the Lotte Marines 5-1 at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Wakui (5-0) has allowed three runs, two earned, over his last 20-1/3 innings after giving up tons of hits in his early games. Against the team that sold him in December, the 34-year-old right-hander went to the mound with a two-run lead thanks to Hideto Asamura’s 12th homer of the season.

Leonys Martin touched Wakui for a first-inning home run, but that was about it for the Marines offense as the right-hander continued to spin the ball away from opposing bats and mix his pitches.

Stefen Romero, who hit a pinch-hit grand slam the night before, took lefty Kazuya Odajima (2-3) out to dead center to open the fifth, and then tripled and scored in the seventh.

“I’ve been able to keep leadoff hitters off base, and that was what I was trying to keep up tonight,” said Wakui, who joined the Marines as a free agent from the Seibu Lions in 2014. “It did feel kind of strange tonight since I hadn’t been a visiting player her for so long. I’m just glad I didn’t go back to the wrong dugout.”

Active roster moves 7/29/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/8

Central League

Activated

BayStarsP35Tomoya Mikami
SwallowsP15Yuma Oshita

Dectivated

BayStarsOF1Masayuki Kuwahara
TigersP46Takumi Akiyama
SwallowsP25Gabriel Ynoa
SwallowsP26Koshiro Sakamoto

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP17Wataru Matsumoto
EaglesP91Yuya Kubo
MarinesP19Yuki Karakawa
MarinesP33Masaki Minami
MarinesP62Shoji Nagano

Dectivated

EaglesP13Kohei Morihara
MarinesP20Taiki Tojo
MarinesP27Daiki Yamamoto
MarinesP30Tsuyoshi Ishizaki
FightersP31Toru Murata
BuffaloesP27Andrew Albers

Pacific League

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

Toshihiro Sugiura (2-1, 2.66) vs Sachiya Yamasaki (1-0, 3.80)

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

Daiki Iwashita (3-1, 2.91) vs Hayato Yuge (2-1, 2.79)

Hawks vs Lions: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yugo Bando (0-0, 0.93) vs Kaito Yoza (1-2, 4.94)

Central League

Giants vs BayStars: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Cristopher Mercedes (2-2, 3.18) vs Shinichi Onuki (2-2, 2.70)

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

Keiji Takahashi (0-1, 3.45) vs Shintaro Fujinami (0-1, 6.00)

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

Kris Johnson (0-3, 5.73) vs Yuichiro Okano (2-1, 4.13)

NPB 2020 7-10 games and news

Hail, hail the gang’s all here

For the first time since Feb. 24, fans in Japan were able to see games between teams from Nippon Professional Baseball’s two top leagues as clubs from the Central and Pacific leagues were allowed to admit u to 5,000 fans to their games starting Friday.

One of the games, between the CL’s Yomiuri Giants and Yakult Swallows at Hotto Motto Field Kobe, was rained out, and the game at nearby Koshien Stadium was called after five innings.

The opening takes place as COVID-19 cases surge around Japan and in particularly in Tokyo. Tokyo set a record for new infections on Friday.

Japanese ball to an American-style beat

To prevent the spread of the virus, fans have been asked not to participate in organized cheering, chanting and singing, while musical instruments have been banned. But when you take the organized cheering away from Asian baseball you get a much more subdued atmosphere.

Instead of every at-bat being accompanied by its background music and rhythm section, the reduced crowds created a buzz that ebbed and flowed more in tune with action on the field.

Kuriyama brings Lions back

Veteran left-handed hitter Takumi Kuriyama belted a two-run, game-tying home run in the eighth and drew a bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning that pushed the Seibu Lions to 7-6 win over the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Kuriyama’s second home run of the season, off reliever Taiki Tojo, took Lions starter Zach Neal off the hook for the loss and preserving his streak of 12-straight winning decisions.

“One can’t be happier than this,” said the 36-year-old Kuriyama. “How the fans see us, their critical eye as well as their sympathy and understanding is essential.”

“I felt like all eyes were on me, and I felt the tension conveyed by everyone in the stands, it helped me buckle down.”

Tojo tried to go away with a first-pitch slider, but it drifted over the inner half of the plate and Kuriyama golfed it into the right field stands.

“I went up focused on hitting my pitch and not wasting the at-bat,” Kuriyama said.

Marines starter Ayumu Ishikawa seemed to struggle in the whipping wind in the first. A leadoff single by rookie Shohei Suzuki and a one-out walk set the table for Hotaka Yamakawa, who hammered a high fastball away and just got it over the fence in right for a three-run home run.

Neal got five groundballs in Lotte’s two-run first. The first two found holes, while the third resulted in a run scoring on a botched rundown. Brandon Laird became the first Marine to elevate the ball, with a sacrifice fly to the wall in left. Two more grounders ended the inning.

The Marines took the lead in the third when Martin walked and Laird reached on yet another groundball single. With one out, Neal tried to go inside to Seiya Inoue with a two-seam fastball but it hung up over the outside half of the plate and he reached the seats.

Yamakawa drew a leadoff walk in the fourth, and a nice stop by shortstop Yudai Fujioka allowed the Marines to get a force on Mori, who then stole second with one out. Kuriyama walked and a hit batsman loaded the bases. Rookie Seiji Kawagoe struck out on a borderline 3-2 pitch, but rookie Kakeru Kawanobe made amends for a bad throw that allowed the Marines’ first run to score by rifling a single to right.

With their lead cut to a run, Tatsuhiro Tamura opened the Marines fourth by working an eight-pitch walk. The Marines catcher advanced on a groundout and beat a good relay on Ogino’s single to left to make it a 6-4 game.

Right-hander Tetsu Miyagawa, Seibu’s top draft pick last autumn, worked around two walks in a scoreless seventh. New import Reed Garrett (2-0) struck out two in a 1-2-3 eighth to earn the win, and Tatsushi Masuda worked a perfect ninth to collect his sixth save.

Ishikawa allowed four runs on three hits, three walks and two hit batsmen, while Neal surrendered six runs on four walks and six hits over six innings. Marines closer Naoya Masuda (0-1) walked two, hit a batter and gave up a single in the ninth and was tagged with the loss.

Rodriguez’s farewell bomb KO’s Fighters

Aderlin Rodriguez capped a two-out, ninth-inning rally with his fourth home run, a three-run shot that lifted the Orix Buffaloes to a 4-3 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

The walk-off “sayonara” home run was one of three on Friday. Fighters closer Ryo Akiyoshi retired the first two batters in the ninth before walking Adam Jones on seven pitches and rejuvenated left-handed slugger Takahiro Okada on eight.

After taking a slider for Ball 1, Rodriguez fouled off two low changeups from the side-armer but drilled the third on a line over the left field wall.

Christian Villanueva’s first home run as a Fighter, a two-run shot off right-hander Tsubasa Sakakibara, made it a 3-0 in the sixth.

Rodriguez, who saved a first-inning running with a leaping catch at first base, singled and scored in the eighth on a smash Villanueva was unable to handle at third. Lefty Naoki Miyanishi might have given the game away then, but for a diving catch in left by Kensuke Kondo, who started an inning-ending double play.

The bullpen wasted the best start of the season from Fighters ace Kohei Arihara, who surrendered two singles while striking out seven and walking one over seven scoreless innings.

‘Gita blast lifts Hawks past Eagles

Yuki Yanagita’s fourth home run in four games settled a tight pitchers’ duel when he led off the 10th inning by homering off new import J. T. Chargois (0-1) in the SoftBank Hawks’ 2-1 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Eagles starter Takahiro Norimoto had his splitter working to perfection and struck out nine. He and Hawks starter Nao Higashihama, who was able to pin-point his fastball, each allowed a run over seven innings. Other than an eighth-inning scrape that Rakuten’s Alan Busenitz barely escaped, neither bullpen looked in danger of giving up a run. That was until Yanagita crushed Chargois’ fourth pitch for his seventh home run of the season.

Submarine right-hander Rei Takahashi (2-0), who has started the season out of the bullpen after winning 12 games in the rotation as the 2019 PL rookie of the year, earned the win in relief.

Viciedo sayonara blast sinks Carp

Dayan Viciedo won it in the 10th inning with a walk-off home run to lift the Chunichi Dragons to a 3-2 home victory at Nagoya Dome over the Hiroshima Carp.

The two team’s Opening Day starters, Daichi Osera for the Carp and Yudai Ono for the Dragons, kept this game close through seven. The Carp opened the scoring on third-inning singles by Alejandro Mejia and Jose Pirela.

Journeyman Dragons outfielder Masataka Iryo drew a leadoff walk and scored the tying run in the fifth only for Carp infielder Ryosuke Kikuchi to take Ono deep in the sixth. Iryo, however, singled to open the eighth off journeyman reliever Yasunori Kikuchi and scored an unearned run to tie it on a Yohei Oshima sac fly.

The Dragons bullpen produced three-straight 1-2-3 innings, with Raidel Martinez working the 10th and earning the win when Viciedo homered off Geronimo Franzua to end it.

Tigers outlast BayStars in rain

Koji Chikamoto homered to open the Hanshin Tigers’ first and tie the game 1-1 and start a three-run inning in a 3-2 win over the DeNA BayStars in a game that was called after the top of the fourth due to rain.

Takayuki Kajitani homered to open the game, had three of DeNA’s four hits and scored both runs, but the Tigers offense in the first was enough to decide it at Koshien Stadium.

Kento Itohara followed with a triple and scored on a groundout before cleanup hitter Yusuke Oyama homered. Justin Bour walked and Jerry Sands singled off DeNA starter Shinichi Onuki (1-0). Onuki got out of the inning after one of manager Alex Ramirez’s beloved intentional walks brought Koyo Aoyagi (2-1) up to bat and the Tigers pitcher struck out.

As usual, the cast on Pro Yakyu News found fault with Ramirez’s managing because of his employing a shift against Bour, who singled through the open left side of the infield to lead off the third.