Tag Archives: Takeya Nakamura

NPB 2020 7-18 games and news

Lions hold off Eagles in home run derby

Sixth-inning home runs by Hotaka Yamakawa and Takeya Nakamura lifted the Seibu Lions to a 4-3 win over the Rakuten Eagles on Saturday afternoon.

In a matchup between two pitchers who depend on mixing their pitches and changing speeds, Eagles lefty Takahiro Shiomi (1-3) got away with his early location issues in a 1-2-3 first inning, but Lions starter Wataru Matsumoto (1-2) didn’t.

The Lions’ right-hander surrendered two first-inning home runs, and the Lions trailing 3-0 for the first five innings didn’t catch up until too many pitches in the middle of the strike zone caught up with Shiomi.

Eigoro Mogi got the Pacific League leaders off to a solid start at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

The leadoff man reached the seats on a 2-0 fastball in the heart of the zone. With one out, Jabari Blash singled off a 3-2 cutter that missed up. Matsumoto popped up the toughest hitter in the Eagles lineup, Hideto Asamura, but Hiroaki Shimauchi got a mistake and didn’t miss.

Matsumoto’s first-pitch, an 87 mph fastball in the heart of the zone, was running away from Shimauchi, but the left-handed hitter got all of it and drove it into the right field stands for a 3-0 lead.

Matsumoto got away with another bad miss in the middle of the zone to Stefen Romero, who grounded out to end the inning.

Shiomi who looked to have conquered his poor location at the end of the first, went back to making dangerous mistakes in the second but again got away with murder. With one out and Tomoya Mori on second from a double. The lefty hung a 2-0 curve in the heart of the zone that Takumi Kuriyama watched for a strike before having a word with himself for the missed opportunity. Kuriyama walked but Shiomi threw three good pitches to Cory Spangenberg to keep the Lions off the board.

The Eagles got a beachhead on the bases in the third with a gritty leadoff walk from Daichi Suzuki, but Matsumoto got out of the inning when Hideto Asamura grounded a tough pitch up the middle to second baseman Shuta Tonosaki, who started a nifty double play with a flip to shortstop Sosuke Genda.

The double play combo set the table for the Lions in the sixth with back-to-back groundball singles.

Genda opened by smacking a high first-pitch splitter between first and second for a single. Tonosaki, who’d made two outs seeing nothing but the lefty’s splitters, fouled off two good ones and took one in the dirt to run the count 2-2. Shiomi switched to inside fastballs and eventually throw one down the middle. Tonosaki didn’t put a good swing on it but a good bounce got it through the infield.

With no outs and runners on the corners, Yamakawa got all of a first-pitch fastball and just missed hitting the park’s left field merry-go-round on a hop with his eighth home run.

Nakamura, who missed a high splitter en route to a 3-2 count, didn’t miss the second one he saw up in the zone. A six-time PL home run champ, Nakamura broke the 3-3 tie with his third home run of the season.

With the lead in hand, Katsunori Hirai came out of the bullpen in the bottom of the sixth and worked around a two-out single. Rookie Tetsu Miyagawa surrendered a one-out double to Mogi, but retired the persistent Suzuki for the second out.

With Blash and Asamura waiting in the wings, Lions skipper Hatsuhiko Tsuji turned the ball over to new import Reed Garrett, who has been rock solid in late relief.

Garrett retired Blash to strand Mogi. His 1-2-3 eighth, and that of closer Tatsushi Masuda closed it out, with Masuda earning his seventh save.

Matsumoto, who ended the Eagles fifth with Suzuki on base by retiring Asamura for the third time, allowed three runs on two walks and six hits.

Shiomi left after 5-2/3 having allowed four runs on nine hits and a walk. He struck out two. J. T. Chargois stranded a runner in the sixth and worked around two seventh-inning walks.

Right-hander Tohomhito Sakai worked the eighth for the Eagles, while former Lion and San Diego Padre submariner Kazuhisa Makita worked a scoreless ninth.

Lions accuse Eagles fans of cheating

Seibu Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji on Saturday discovered another problem related to the coronavirus, an opportunity for fans to give the home team an unfair advantage.

Tsuji told umpires during the Lions’ game in Sendai that someone in the stands was giving away where Lions catcher Tomoya Mori was setting up before pitches during the at-bats of the hometown Rakuten Eagles, the Nikkan Sports reported.

In response, home plate umpire Tetsuo Yamaji issued a warning to fans and the Eagles posted extra security behind home plate. With fans forbidden to shout or cheer and only 5,000 fans allowed into games this month on account of the novel coronavirus pandemic, voices can easily be heard in what otherwise would be a constant wall of sound as each team’s cheering sections blast out chants accompanied by horns and drums.

“The batter can hear that, really,” Tsuji said after the game. “This is no different than sign stealing. I think this is going to be a problem no matter what ballpark you’re at.”

Yanagita’s monster blast boosts Hawks

The SoftBank Hawks earned a tight 2-1 win over the Orix Buffaloes on Saturday after Yuki Yanagita opened the scoring with the most impressive home run of Japan’s young season.

With Hawks right-handerShuta Ishikawa (3-0) and Buffaloes lefty Daiki Tajima locked up in a scoreless pitchers’ duel through five innings, Yanagita broke the tie with two outs in the sixth.

The lefty served up an 86 mph center-cut running fastball that the left-handed hitter leaned into and got all of. The blast hit the light ring where the stadium ceiling meets the roof over the upper deck in right field and dropped to the field.

The Hawks scored an insurance run against Tajima in the seventh before Buffaloes catcher Kenya Wakatsuki homered off submarine right-hander Rei Takahashi in the bottom of the inning.

Orix’s Tyler Higgins worked a scoreless ninth, but Hawks closer Yuito Mori retired the heart of the Buffaloes order 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning to record his fourth save.

Marines overcome lapses to crush Fighters

Right-hander Atsuki Taneichi surrendered two solo home runs, but those proved to be the only two points of light in an otherwise dark day for the Nippon Ham Fighters in a 5-2 loss to the Lotte Marines at Sapporo Dome.

The visitors took a one-run lead in the first. Takashi Ogino reached on a leadoff infield single, went to third on an errant pickoff throw from Fighters lefty Takayuki Kato and scored on a Ikuhiro Kiyota double.

Toshitake Yoko and Ryo Watanabe hit second-inning home runs for the Fighters, and Kato pitched out of a one-out jam in the third, but that proved to be the end of the Nippon Ham highlight reel.

A leadoff single in the third gave the Fighters an opportunity to pad their lead against Taneichi. Instead, their final hit of the game set up the first of three double plays they would ground into.

Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama went to his second pitcher, former Cleveland Indians farm hand Toru Murata (0-1), but the right-hander was ineffective.

A hit batsman, a Shogo Nakamura double and a sac fly from Hisanori Yasuda tied it. After a one-out walk, reserve catcher Tomoya Kakinuma doubled in two runs. Yasuda added a seventh-inning homer to complete the scoring.

Taneichi (2-1) allowed three hits and two walks while striking out three over seven innings. Frank Herrmann worked the eighth for the Marines, while Naoya Masuda earned his eighth save.

Giants’ Sanchez stops BayStars

Angel Sanchez (3-2) spun eight easy scoreless innings before allowing two runs in the ninth in the Yomiuri Giants’ 4-2 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

No-out singles in the second by a rejuvenated Hiroyuki Nakajima and Zelous Wheeler set the table for a three-run inning against BayStars lefty Shota Imanaga (2-2) .

Lefty Kota Nakagawa, who saved 16 games last season as the Giants’ closer before the acquisition of Rubby De La Rosa, worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth to record his first save.

Nishi goes distance to slay Dragons

Yuki Nishi (2-1), who since 2017 has had the worst average run support among any Japanese starting pitcher, threw five scoreless innings before suddenly presented with an eight-run lead, promptly allowed three.

The right-hander struck out seven over the distance and drove in a run with a squeeze in the Tigers’ 8-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Koshien Stadium.

Nishi: ‘A player’s got to play’

Pitcher Yuki Nishi was as they say, “as motivated as ever” on Saturday, three days after one of Japan’s scandal-filled weekly magazines published an account of his extramarital indulgences with a Tigers fan in Mie Prefecture while Japan was in a state of emergency, Kyodo News reported in Japanese.

“At this critical time, I became a nuisance,” he said in his postgame hero interview at Koshien Stadium. “I think I need to make it up through my play.”

The Tigers have one of the largest followings in Japanese baseball.

What dreams are made of

One year, former captain Takashi Toritani was punished for inviting a female fan to his room during spring training. The team criticized him for not upholding his responsibility “to give hopes and dreams to the fans.”

Former Tigers coach Tom O’Malley said of the incident, “I was in the next room. He sounded like he was busy giving at least one fan a whole night’s worth of hopes and dreams.”

Ogawa improves to 4-0 with win over Carp

Yasuhiro “Ryan” Ogawa allowed two runs over six innings to earn his Central League-best fourth win as the Yakult Swallows beat the Hiroshima Carp 9-4 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Ogawa (4-0) scattered seven hits, two walks and a hit batsman while striking out four and singled in a run that briefly gave the Swallows a 2-1 lead in the second.

Yakult took the lead for good in the fifth. Tetsuto Yamada, back in the lineup for the first time in four days, doubled with one out in the fifth. Walks by Norichika Aoki and Munetaka Murakami, who scored twice and drove in three, loaded the bases.

Naoki Nishiura and Alcides Escobar followed with back-to-back RBI singles that put Yakult up 5-2.

Active roster moves 7/18/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/28

Central League

Activated

GiantsP53Yuhei Takanashi
BayStarsOF37Taishi Kusumoto

Dectivated

GiantsIF37Akihiro Wakabayashi
BayStarsP15Shoichi Ino

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP21Yoshinao Kamata
BuffaloesP39Keisuke Kobayashi

Dectivated

EaglesP72Shun Ikeda
BuffaloesP30Kohei “K” Suzuki

NPB games, news of Sept. 6, 2019

Kodai Senga, who lobbied the SoftBank Hawks last winter in vain to post him, became the first player who turned pro after signing a developmental contract to throw a no-hitter.

He did it touching 98.8 mph with his fastball and throwing bulls eyes with his breaking pitches, and as the game went on shifting to more splitters, the pitch he ended the game with.

“Before the game I wanted to use more big breaking pitches, and (catcher Takuya) Kai called those really effectively.”

Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi said he instructed his batters to be aggressive on the first pitch, but it was no good.

“He located his breaking pitches well,” the skipper said. “We talked about swinging at the first pitch, but we weren’t able to get good swings against him.”

No hits are not enough

Senga led 2-0 in the ninth, when he walked the first two batters. With one out, he had a runner on third, and couldn’t afford a wild pitch, since even if he won 2-1 and didn’t allow a hit, it wouldn’t enter the record books in Japan, which doesn’t count no-hitters, but only no-hit shutouts.

Excluding Japan’s newest team, the Rakuten Eagles formed in 2005, the Hawks have gone the longest without having a pitcher throw a no-hitter. In fact, Senga’s was the first they’ve had since the Pacific and Central leagues were formed in 1950’s expansion.

The last Hawks pitcher to achieve the feat did so on May 26, 1943 in Kobe, when future Hall of Famer Takehiko Bessho beat Yamato, also by a score of 2-0.

Outsiders

In addition to Senga, who was undrafted in 2010 until taken by the Hawks in the fourth round of the subsequent supplemental draft, catcher Takuya Kai was taken shortly after, in the sixth round.

Can’t touch this

“His fastball and breaking pitches were amazing,” said Lotte slugger Seiya Inoue, who struck out to end the game with the tying runs on base. “It’s always fun facing him.”

“At the end, he was really throwing at his best. He didn’t throw me anything good to hit, so it would have been hard to just wait for him to throw something I could handle.”

Pacific League

Hawks 2, Marines 0

At Yafuoku Dome, SoftBank’s Kodai Senga (12-7) threw the 91st regular season no-hitter in Japan’s elite level pro ranks in a pitchers’ duel with Mike Bolisnger (4-5) thanks to two routine fly balls dropped in center field by Lotte’s Leonys Martin.

Martin let two nearly identical flies hit off the heel of his glove, one in the fifth, that led to the Hawks’ first run, and one in the sixth that scored an insurance run from first with one out.

Game highlights are HERE.

Lions 5, Eagles 4

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Takeya Nakamura was at it again with the bases loaded, hitting his 20th career grand slam as Seibu held on to beat Rakuten 5-4.

In his past three games, Nakamura has had two grand slams and a three-run double. Of his PL-leading 115 RBIs, 49 have come with the bases loaded.

“I was half laughing (when I came up with the bases loaded again), thinking this can’t be happening,” Nakamura said of his fly that just barely cleared the fence in left. “I got jammed a bit, but I did put a good swing on it.”

Game highlights are HERE.

Fighters 6, Buffaloes 2

At Sapporo Dome, Toshihiro Sugiura (3-4) won for the first time since May 23, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out six over six scoreless innings as Nippon Ham beat Orix to snap an eight-game losing streak and drop the Buffaloes into last place.

Taisuke Yamaoka (10-4) allowed five runs on five walks and nine hits over five innings to take the loss.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Swallows 5, Giants 2

At Jingu Stadium, Wladimir Balentien reached 30 home runs for the eighth time in his NPB career with a two-run shot in the first inning, and Masanori Ishikawa (7-5) allowed one run over six innings.

The Giants’ only run off the lefty came in the fourth, when the first four batters singled. The win was the 170th of his career.

Carp 6, Tigers 3

At Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima blew the game open in a five-run third against Hanshin’s Haruto Takahashi (3-7) to move within 4-1/2 games of the league-leading Giants.

Dragons 8, BayStars 4

At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi hammered DeNA right-hander Kentaro Taira (5-4) for seven runs over 3-2/3 innings to collect their fourth-straight win. Dayan Viciedo walked and scored in the first, broke a 3-3 tie with a two-run homer in the third and singled in a run in the fourth to lead the Dragons offense.

News

Chikamoto moving up in rookie ranks

Hanshin rookie Koji Chikamoto’s double and single on Friday against Hiroshima lifted his season hit total to 139, tying him with Shinichi Eto, who went on to win three batting titles, for fourth on the CL rookie hit list. The record is held by Hall of Famer Shigeo Nagashima with 153.

Blister disappoints scouts as Sasaki makes early exit

A flock of scouts who descended on Japan’s WSBC Under-18 World Cup game against South Korea on Friday were disappointed when flame throwing high schooler Roki Sasaki left the game in the first inning after breaking a blister on his pitching hand.

NPB games, news of Aug. 28, 2019

We can be heroes…

I know it’s not of any importance, but I love Takeya Nakamura’s matter-of-fact hero interviews, which never quite get to the level of the “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” segments I grew up with in Mad Magazine, but are often worthy considering the silly things the interviewers sometimes ask.

In one game a few years ago, Nakamura was asked: “What was the mood on the bench when you came up to the plate with a chance to win the game?” Answer? “I don’t know. I wasn’t on the bench at the time.”

On Wednesday, Nakamura was the star of the Lions’ win over the Nippon Ham Fighters and was summoned to the sidelines for the postgame interview.

Interviewer: “It was a called game, but the Lions won. Can you share your thoughts?

Nakamura: “I’m glad we won.”

I.: “You drove in the game’s first runs with a two-run home run. How did it feel when you hit it.”

N: “It felt good when I hit it. I’m glad it was a home run.”

I: “In the fifth inning, you hit a go-ahead, three-run home run. How did you approach that at-bat?”

N: “The same as always. My plan was to bat as I usually do.”

I: “You handled it (the pitch) well?”

N: “Yes I did.”

I: “You also had a hand in the winning run, didn’t you?”

N: “Yes. (Nakamura is struggling to keep a straight face) I wanted to make contact somehow. Get the bat on the ball. “

I: “With this win, the Lions are now 2-1/2 games back of the first-place Hawks. How is the mood on the team right now?”

N: “The atmosphere is extremely good. Now we’ve come to Hokkaido and won two straight, now we want to go to Obihiro and complete the sweep. We want to keep hitting like this.”

Pacific League

Lions 10, Fighters 8, 8 innings, darkness

At Kushiro Stadium, Seibu won a see-saw game over Nippon Ham that the umpires ended with no outs in the top of the eighth on account of darkness at the game in eastern Hokkaido.

Takeya Nakamura moved within four RBIs of the league lead with a two-homer, five-RBI game, and was involved in seven of the Lions’ runs, his two-out smash off the foot of Fighters pitcher Tsubasa Nabatame (0-1) deflected to third baseman Kensuke Kondo. He had no chance to nail the portly Nakamura at first and his throwing error allowed two runs to score.

“Our inability to hold onto a lead is an issue,” Fighters skipper Hideki Kuriyama said. “It (the decision to call the game) was the umpires, so I can’t do anything about that.”

Under dark skies with intermittent rain, it became hard for the umpires to see the outfielders, and the game was called at 4:21 pm, 1-1/2 hours before sunset.

It was the first game in Japan called on account of darkness since June 20, 1999, when the Orix BlueWave and Kintetsu Buffaloes were also playing in Hokkaido, at Sapporo’s Maruyama Stadium. Game 1 of the 2005 Japan Series was also cut short because the umpires could not see the players–due to fog at Chiba Marine Stadium.

Game highlights are HERE.

Marines 5, Eagles 4

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Takahiro Norimoto (2-4) surrendered four runs over two innings to take the loss against Lotte. With one out and two on in the second, the Rakuten starter hustled after a chopper in the infield, but his throw to first went down the right field line for a two-run error.

The Eagles narrowed the gap to 4-3 on a two-run Jabari blash homer in the fourth, but Taiga Hirasawa squeezed home an insurance run for the Marines in the sixth.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Giants 6, Carp 2

At Tokyo Dome, Tomoyuki Sugano (11-5) surrendered a pair of solo home runs over seven innings, and Hayato Sakamoto homered with a man on in the fifth to give Yomiuri the lead for good against Hiroshima.

Game highlights are HERE.

Dragons 1, Tigers 0

At Koshien Stadium, Toshiki Abe homered in the sixth inning, as four Chunichi pitchers combined to shutout Hanshin on six hits.The Tigers have now been shut out 13 times, once by SoftBank and three times by every other CL club except Yakult.

BayStars 7, Swallows 6

At Yokohama Stadium, rookie Yudai Yamamoto’s two-out, two-strike, pinch-hit RBI single lifted DeNA to a sayonara victory over Yakult, preventing their game from ending in a 12-inning tie that would have cost them a half-game in the pennant race.

Wladimir Balentien hit two home runs for the Swallows, giving him 29 for the season and 284 in Japan and moving him out of a tie with Leron Lee for sole possession of fourth-place among foreign hitters.

The BayStars twice came back to tie it. Takayuki Kajitani hit a sixth-inning solo homer and Neftali Soto, who homered in the third, drew his second walk of the game in the eighth inning, allowing pinch-runner Takehiro Ishikawa to score the tying run on Kazuki Kamizato’s single.