Tag Archives: Teruaki Sato

NPB wrap 5-4-21

Neo classic

Dragons 8, BayStars 4

At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, Chunichi rookie Akira Neo hit his first home run, a third-inning grand slam to help ace Yudai Ono (2-2) overcome a pair of home runs to DeNA’s Neftali Soto, his third—a second-inning three-run shot, and Keita Sano, his fourth – a sixth-inning solo homer.

The Dragons scored four in the first against Shinichi Onuki (1-3), who allowed eight runs on eight hits and three walks over three innings. Ono lasted seven innings, struck out five and walked one while allowing seven hits.

Chunichi cleanup hitter Dayan Viciedo singled twice, walked and scored twice.

Tigers 11, Swallows 5

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Jefry Marte singled in Koji Chikamoto to open the scoring for Hanshin in the third inning and snapped a 4-4 tie with a seventh-inning solo homer, the first of four for the Tigers against Yakult’s bullpen, which leads both leagues in holds.

Takumu Nakano hit his first and fellow rookie Teruaki Sato his ninth, while Jerry Sands hit his ninth to put the game away.

Neither starting pitcher had a game worth writing home about. Swallows lefty Kazuto Taguchi worked six innings, while Hanshin’s Yuki Nishi worked five. Each allowed four runs, two earned, in an error-plagued game.

Carp 1, Giants 1

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Yomiuri starter Yuki Takahashi remained unbeaten in six starts, as the lefty twice pitched out of big jams by retiring Hiroshima’s star hitter Seiya Suzuki. Both Takahashi and Carp lefty Hiroki Tokoda allowed just a run over seven innings.

Suzuki, however, saved the Carp in right field when he robbed Kazuma Okamoto of a two-run double with a leaping catch at the warning track before Tokoda ended his tenure on the bump by striking out Justin Smoak.

Kevin Cron singled and doubled to collect a third of Hiroshima’s hits and scored the hosts’ only run, while Zelous Wheeler singled and scored Yomiuri’s lone run.

Carp closer Ryoji Kuribayashi posted his 14th straight scoreless outing.

Asked on Pro Yakyu News what made Kuribayashi special, former catcher and BayStars skipper Akihiko Oya mentioned not his command, his velocity or that nasty splitter but “He pitches like no one can hit him.”

By that standard, Eddie the Eagle should have been the greatest ski jumper in history.

Hawks 6, Eagles 4

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Rakuten veteran Takayuki Kishi‘s struggles continued as the right-hander fell to 2-3 after allowing five runs, four earned, over three innings. Hawks reliever Jumpei Takahashi took over in the fifth inning with no outs and a runner on after the Eagles closed to within 6-3. Takahashi allowed the runner to score but stranded two runners and four of his bullpen colleagues slammed the door with lefty Livan Moinelo getting his second save.

Lions 6, Buffaloes 6

At MetLife Dome, Stefen Romero hit his first home run for Orix in two years after spending a productive 2020 with the Rakuten Eagles. His two-run, eighth-inning shot tied the game, and Seibu’s Ryosuke Moriwake got out of a one-out, bases-loaded ninth-inning pickle with a double play.

The Buffaloes’ Masataka Yoshida went 4-for-5 with a double and his seventh home run. His three RBIs helped stake the visitors to a 4-2 fifth-inning lead.

Yoshida also contributed to both teams combining to set a nine-inning record with 16 pitchers after he knocked Seibu’s Reed Garrett out of the game in the ninth with a shot off his left knee.

With closer Tatsushi Masuda deactivated following a string of poor results, Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji had hoped to use Garrett in that role.

“I think it may be hard for Garrett to come back tomorrow,” Tsuji said according to Sanspo.com.

Cory Spangenberg walked to leadoff the Lions’ second and scored on an Aito Takeda single. He walked to load the bases in the fourth ahead of Wu Nien-ting’s RBI single and Takeda’s two-run double.

The Lions put runners on the corners in the ninth against former Tiger ace Atsushi Nomi, but the 40-year-old hung on to end the game thanks to a super defensive stop by substitute Koji Oshiro at second that secured a tie with the third out.

More Fighters felled by virus

The Pacific League’s Nippon Ham Fighters, currently on hiatus due to the coronavirus, announced three new infections on Tuesday, bringing the total of infected first-team players and staff to 13, Nikkan Sports reported.

In addition to the staff, coaches and players who have tested positive, five players have been determined to have had close contact with them. The Fighters have not played since Saturday. Their next scheduled game is scheduled for Friday at Sapporo Dome, but it will not take place unless Nippon Ham can field a virus-free team.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Lions vs Buffaloes: MetLife Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Tatsuya Imai (1-2, 2.40) vs Yoshinobu Yamamoto (3-2, 1.39)

Hawks vs Eagles: PayPay Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Tsuyoshi Wada (2-2, 3.34) vs Takahiro Norimoto (2-1, 2.14)

Central League

Swallows vs Tigers: Jingu Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Yasunobu Okugawa (1-1, 7.20) vs Koyo Aoyagi (2-2, 2.25)

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

Akiyoshi Katsuno (3-1, 3.12) vs Haruhiro Hamaguchi (1-3, 4.22)

Carp vs Giants: Mazda Stadium 1:30 pm, 0:30 am EDT

Koya Takahashi (1-0, 1.74) vs Angel Sanchez (1-2, 5.89)

Active roster moves 5/4/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/14

Central League

Activated

GiantsP21Shoichi Ino
GiantsP50Chiaki Tone
CarpOF49Yuya Shozui

Dectivated

GiantsP45Seishu Hatake
GiantsP49Thyago Vieira
CarpC27Tsubasa Aizawa

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP29Ryuya Ogawa
EaglesC55Takaya Tanaka
BuffaloesP22Ryota Muranishi

Dectivated

HawksP13Akira Niho
LionsP14Tatsushi Masuda
EaglesP57Ryota Takinaka
FightersC68Ryo Ishikawa
FightersIF23Ryo Watanabe
BuffaloesP68Yu Suzuki

NPB wrap 5-2-21

More Fighters games postponed

NPB announced Sunday that in addition to that day’s canceled game at Sapporo Dome against the Seibu Lions, the virus-hit Nippon Ham Fighters, with 10 first-team infections, have ceased baseball activities until cleared fit by local health authorities.

Their Pacific League series against the Lotte Marines in Chiba from Monday to Wednesday have been postponed with further postponements likely.

Sato cleans up

Tigers 7, Carp 3

At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin rookie Teruaki Sato batted fourth, which was salivation material to begin with before he hit a game-changing grand slam. His homer turned a mediocre start from Joe Gunkel (5-0) into a winning effort. Gunkel started the season with four wipe-out starts, but has been more ordinary since, allowing three runs over five innings on Saturday.

Hiroshima’s Yusuke Nomura (0-3) allowed five runs in four-plus innings, leaving after Sato took him deep in the fifth.

Hanshin leadoff man Koji Chikamoto and No. 3 hitter Jefry Marte each reached base five times. Chikamoto stole two bases and scored three runs, while Marte scored one and drove in one.

BayStars 10, Swallows 2

At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA’s Tyler Austin homered off the scoreboard, singled twice walked and scored three runs to help power the BayStars. The home run was his fourth and his third in four days. Neftali Soto doubled in a run in DeNA’s six-run seventh.

Southpaw Edwin Escobar (1-0) struck out two in a 1-2-3 sixth to earn the win and Kevin Shackelford worked a perfect eighth for the BayStars, while Hirotoshi Takanashi (2-1) allowed four runs, one earned, over five-plus innings and took the loss.

Eagles 6, Marines 5

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, the marquee pitching matchup between first-year left-handers was interrupted by rain and turned into a slug fest, that was decided when leadoff man Takashi Ogino slammed a fastball off closer Yuki Matsui (0-1) to break a ninth-inning tie.

Rakuten’s Ryosuke Tatsumi dealt the first big blow, capping a three-run fourth off Shota Suzuki with his sixth home run. Eagles starter Takahisa Hayakawa threw a high straight fastball to Brandon Laird, whose third homer of the year, a three-run shot in the sixth made it a 5-4 game. The Eagles tied it against Frank Herrmann in the seventh with the help of an error.

The game was notable for balls getting stuck in odd places. The Marines opened the scoring after a drive from Hisanori Yasuda got stuck between the padding atop the left field wall and the screen atop it. Another stuck ball, in Rakuten catcher Hikaru Ota’s mask in the ninth, allowed a runner on base to advance.

Buffaloes 5, Hawks 4

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Orix outslugged SoftBank thanks to two-run homers by Steven Moya, his third, and Yuma Mune, his second, and a solo shot by Torai Fushimi, his first. Sachiya Yamasaki (1-3) allowed two runs in six-plus innings.

Yurisbel Gracial hit his fifth homer of the year for the Hawks, a two-run shot in the eighth, that made it a one-run game.

Pacific League

Starting pitchers

Lions vs Buffaloes: MetLife Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Matt Dermody (-) vs Hiroya Miyagi (2-0, 1.26)

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

Akira Niho (-) vs Ryota Takinaka (1-2, 7.90)

Central League

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

Kodai Umetsu (-) vs Michael Peoples (-)

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

Masato Morishita (3-2, 1.80) vs Seishu Hatake (2-1, 4.95)

Active roster moves 5/2/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/12. Players marked with an asterisk are coronavirus activations and deactivations, meaning they can be recalled as soon as they are cleared even before 10 days pass.

Central League

Activated

None

Dectivated

SwallowsP14Hirotoshi Takanashi

Pacific League

Activated

BuffaloesP58Kazuyuki Kaneda
BuffaloesOF69Stefen Romero

Dectivated

LionsP40Ichiro Tamura
LionsP45Keisuke Honda
FightersC60Takuya Kori
FightersIF53Ronny Rodriguez*
FightersIF91Yuto Takahama*
BuffaloesP63Soichiro Yamazaki
BuffaloesIF36Tatsuya Yamaashi

NPB wrap 4-15-21

6 of one half dozen of the other

I don’t know what’s more surprising, the Yomiuri Giants starting pitchers allowing any runs this past week against the Chunichi Dragons and Hiroshima Carp, or those two teams managing to score at all.

Through their first 17 games, the Dragons are last in runs in Japan with 39, while the Carp, who have not scored for 31 consecutive innings, are 10th. The Nippon Ham Fighters have scored 45 to the Carp’s 47 but have played one less game.

Giants 5, Dragons 1

At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri lefty Yuki Takahashi (3-0) allowed his only earned run of the season in eight innings. Seiya Matsubara opened the Giants’ first with a homer off Koji Fukutani (0-1), who allowed five runs four innings. Hayato Sakamoto doubled and scored on a Takyuki Kajitani double. Matsubara singled in two runs in the second and Kajitani doubled and scored in the third and that was the ballgame.

With Rubby Da La Rosa having returned to the United States to complete his citizenship process, Brazilian flame thrower Thyago Vieira surrendered Ariel Martinez’s second hit of the game but struck out two and stranded two in the ninth.

Giants-Dragons highlights

Tigers 4, Carp 0

At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin Tigers right-hander Takumi Akiyama (2-1) delivered his second straight solid start with seven innings against the Carp, who as mentioned above haven’t scored since April 10.

Yusuke Oyama cracked a two-run first-inning homer and rookie Teruaki Sato blasted his second two-run homer in two days in the fourth to account for the scoring.

Jefry Marte and Jerry Sands each singled twice and scored on the two home runs off Hiroki Tokoda (1-1), who was yanked after the fourth. Sato doubled and struck out twice in four trips to the plate.

Swallows 2, BayStars 1

At Jingu Stadium, DeNA lefty Haruhiro Hamaguchi (0-3) struck out 10 over six innings, but surrendered first-inning homers to Yuhei “He’s too good to be batting second in Japan” Nakamura and cleanup hitter Munekata Murakami.

Hirotoshi Takanashi (2-0) put together a good start for Yakult, escaping one jam when he loaded the bases after two were out and surrendered just one run in the fourth. Takanashi left in the sixth with one out. Hiroki Kondo, however, survived a two-one, one-out jam to get out of the inning. Noboru Shimizu, Scott McGough and Taichi Ishiyama each delivered a scoreless inning with Ishiyama getting his fifth save.

Neftali Soto and Tyler Austin were in the starting lineup for the first time, allowing us to answer the question: Who makes room for them? Speedy left-handed hitter Taiki Sekine was bumped into center, where he’ll likely platoon with Masayuki Kuwahara, so Austin could start in right. Rookie Shugo Maki, who’s been tearing up the league, surrendered first base to Soto and moved to second, where he played a lot in the spring.

Hawks 4, Buffaloes 3

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Kenta Imamiya made a terrific play to end a fortunate Orix Buffaloes’ three-run fifth-inning rally of Shota Takeda (1-1) who has done well this season pitching against the Pacific League’s two worst clubs.

The Hawks came back in the bottom of the fifth against Hirotoshi Masui (1-2), who had pitched well twice this season and beat SoftBank on March 31. In contrast to the Buffaloes’ string of scratch hits, the Hawks stung the ball in their four-run rally, culminating in a two-run Ryoya Kurihara double when he put a good swing on a 1-2 pitch.

After the game, Kurihara said Hawks head coach Hiroki Kokubo told him to not sweat batting cleanup, which may or may not have been a thing with Kurihara, but definitely is with the media, who treat batting fourth with the same idiotic solemnity they do batting practice home runs in spring training.

Takeda left after five and without right-handed closer Yuito Mori–expected to miss a handful of games while they figure out what’s what what with his swollen left elbow—lefty Livan Moinelo gave the Buffaloes hope with two one-out singles before crushing those dreams and notching his first save.

Marines 7, Eagles 3

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Lotte Marines right-hander Daiki Iwashita (2-1) delivered his third solid start despite the four walks. He left the bases loaded in the first and finished with five scoreless innings but now has has 11 walks in 17 innings.

Rakuten starter Ryota Takinaka (1-2), who was overrun and taken prisoner by Marines on April 1, fell somewhere between that outing and his sterling April 8 start against Seibu, allowing two runs over five innings. Shogo Nakamura walked and scored the first of his two runs when Brandon Laird broke the ice with a fourth-inning sac fly. Yudai Fujioka then doubled in Hisanori Yasuda and it was 2-0 Marines until the ninth.

Frank Herrmann and Yuki Karakawa worked scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth for Lotte before the visitors crushed out five runs in the top of the ninth on a three-run Leonys Martin double and a two-run Laird single. That made it 7-0 to all but ensure the Eagles wouldn’t play their fourth tie in six games.

Starting pitchers

Friday will see Drew VerHagen make his season debut for the Fighters against the Eagles’ Hideaki Wakui at Tokyo Dome, while a pair of Opening Day starters will go at it at MetLife Dome as the Seibu Lions send Kona Takahashi against the SoftBank Hawks’ Shuta Ishikawa.

In the Central League, Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano will see if he can keep their streak of superb starts going against the BayStars in Yokohama. At Koshien Stadium, Shintaro Fujinami will go for his second straight win against Masanori Ishikawa, who will make his season debut for the Yakult Swallows against the Hanshin Tigers, with both clubs having swept their weekday series.

Pacific League

Fighters vs Eagles: Tokyo Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Drew VerHagen (-) vs Hideaki Wakui (2-0, 1.23)

Lions vs Hawks: MetLife Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Kona Takahashi (2-0, 3.80) vs Shuta Ishikawa (1-1, 3.60)

Buffaloes vs Marines: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Taisuke Yamaoka (0-2, 3.94) vs Kota Futaki (1-1, 2.84)

Central League

BayStars vs Giants: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Yuya Sakamoto (-) vs Tomoyuki Sugano (0-1, 3.46)

Dragons vs Carp: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Takahiro Matsuba (0-1, 3.27) vs Atsushi Endo (-)

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

Shintaro Fujinami (1-0, 2.50) vs Masanori Ishikawa (-)

Active roster moves 4/15/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/25

Central League

Activated

GiantsP50Chiaki Tone

Dectivated

GiantsP12Rubby De La Rosa

Pacific League

Activated

None

Dectivated

FightersP43Ryota Hasegawa
FightersOF12Go Matsumoto

NPB wrap 4-1-21

Instead of an April Fool’s story, we have an example of the common Japanese media genre of baseball and celebrity reporting, called “someone got married and here’s what we know about their partner.”

No fooling

The top news at noon on Thursday was Nippon Ham Fighters infielder Takuya Nakashima’s announcement of his marriage, with Sponichi Annex reporting the news was not an April Fools joke. Sometimes these stories make one wish they were attempts at humor.

The headline reads: “Nippon Ham’s Nakashima’s said ‘It’s not a lie’ in response to his wedding announcement to an ordinary woman from Kyushu being dubbed an April Fool’s joke.

Try putting that in a newspaper.

The Japanese media will refer to athlete’s spouses by their job description if it is known. When Hideki Matsui got married, his wife was identified as the daughter of a salaried worker from Toyama Prefecture. When the job is unknown, they refer to players’ brides as “ordinary” — in the sense that they are not celebrities.

Nakashima revealed that the pair had been living together for a year, and that his spouse is a cheerful person with an expansive cooking repertoire.

“I’m on the road a lot, and she takes care of our home, including the cooking,” said Nakashima said, who was famously featured in Episode 1,015 of the Fangraphs podcast “Effectively Wild,” which failed to comment on his marital status.

Buffaloes ace Yamamoto gets do-over

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto (1-1) asked for a chance to make up for his poor Opening Day start by going on short rest against the SoftBank Hawks on Thursday and responded with 13 strikeouts in a 2-0 complete-game win.

The right-hander walked one and allowed two singles. After throwing 109 pitches over eight innings, skipper Satoshi Nakajima said he toyed with the idea of pulling his ace but kept him, and Yamamoto answered with a 1-2-3 ninth.

The Buffaloes managed just one run off Shota Takeda (0-1) in 6-1/3 innings, opening the scoring on three straight first-inning singles.

Marines secure win-column beachhead

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, the Lotte Marines won for the first time this season, blasting the Rakuten Eagles 16-5 behind four useful innings from rookie Fumiya Motomae (1-0) in his pro debut.

Leonys Martin and Brandon Laird each homered off Yuta Takinaka (0-1), who gave up 10 runs in 1-2/3 innings, while Hisanori Yasuda doubled twice and drove in five runs.

The Eagles came in with a highly-touted top five of Hideaki Wakui, Masahiro Tanaka, rookie Takahisa Hayakawa, Takayuki Kishi and Takahiro Norimoto. But a calf injury to Tanaka forced the Eagles to go to a bullpen day on March 27, a 9-4 beating at the hands of the Nippon Ham Fighters.

At Yokohama Stadium, the DeNA BayStars put Yakult Swallows rookie Taichi Yamano on the rack for seven runs over 1-1/3 innings in his pro debut, and got a refreshingly good performance from their former closer Yasuaki Yamasaki, but remained winless after an 11-11, 4-hour, 20-minute tie.

Scott McGough struck out the heart of the BayStars order in the seventh as one of five Swallows relievers to deliver a scoreless inning as the visitors erased a five-run deficit to leave the series with two wins and a tie.

Yamasaki, who lost his closer job last year and spent the spring with the minor league club, got hit hard the night before despite a good fastball, that was even better on Thursday.

At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, Yuki Takahashi (1-0) allowed an unearned run on three walks and four hits over seven innings for the Yomiuri Giants in a 3-1 win over the Chunichi Dragons.

Zelous Wheeler continued to produce for the Giants in the No. 2 slot, singling and doubling to open Yomiuri’s three-run sixth with a double off Dragons lefty Takahiro Matsuba (0-1).

Rubby De La Rosa worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn the save in his season debut.

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Hanshin Tigers captain Kento Itohara tripled and scored in the first inning and cracked a three-run home run to power a 6-3 win over the Hiroshima Carp.

Jefry Marte scored Itohara in the first with a sacrifice fly and doubled and scored on a Jerry Sands sac fly in the seventh. Marquee rookie Teruaki Sato followed with a solo homer for the visitors. Tigers starter Takumi Akiyama (1-0) allowed two runs over seven innings.

Hiroshima reliever Robert Corniel struck out two in the ninth in his NPB debut. New Carp Kevin Cron went 1-for-4 with a single.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

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

Kosei Yoshida (-) vs Kota Futaki (0-1, 9.00)

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

Hideaki Wakui (1-0, 0.00) vs Sachiya Yamasaki (-)

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

Shuta Ishikawa (1-0, 1.29) vs Kona Takahashi (1-0, 3.68)

Central League

Giants vs Swallows: Tokyo Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Ryoma Nogami (-) vs Yasuhiro Ogawa (0-0, 4.76)

BayStars vs Carp: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Haruhiro Hamaguchi (0-0, 15.00) vs Daichi Osera (0-0, 2.45)

Tigers vs Dragons: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shintaro Fujinami (0-0, 3.60) vs Koji Fukutani (0-0, 7.20)

Active roster moves 4/1/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/11, except for those marked with an asterisk as coronavirus protocol deactivations. These players can be reactivated as soon as they are declared safe to play.

Central League

Activated

GiantsP47Yuki Takahashi
GiantsIF32Taishi Hirooka
TigersP46Takumi Akiyama
DragonsP38Takahiro Matsuba
BayStarsP27Taiga Kamichatani
CarpP67Yuta Nakamura
SwallowsP21Taichi Yamano
SwallowsIF1Tetsuto Yamada *
SwallowsIF3Naomichi Nishiura *

Dectivated

GiantsP21Shoichi Ino
SwallowsIF5Shingo Kawabata *

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP18Shota Takeda
MarinesP49Fumiya Motomae
EaglesP57Ryota Takinaka
EaglesP64Hiroyuki Fukuyama *

Dectivated

FightersC68Ryo Ishikawa

spring wrap 3-14-21

Tanaka goes 5 for Eagles

Masahiro Tanaka allowed an unearned run on four hits over five innings on Sunday in the Rakuten Eagles’ 3-1 preseason win over the DeNA BayStars in Shizuoka, Tospo Web reported.

Tanaka struck out three without issuing a walk in his fourth spring outing since rejoining the Eagles as a free agent for the first time since 2013.

“It’s the preseason, so I want my priority to be on sequences, so I can throw pitches that get outs, rather than these games (and their results),” Tanaka said.

“Within the context of the theme I set for myself, I think I did well. I’m not perfect yet but compared to last time I threw some good pitches after reflecting on issues from that previous game. So in that respect, it was satisfactory.”

The Eagles’ prize draft pick, lefty Takahisa Hayakawa struck out five without issuing a walk while allowing one hit over four innings. Rakuten scored all of its runs in the second inning off DeNA starter Kentaro Taira.

At Koshien Stadium, rookie Teruaki Sato, the other big deal in last autumn’s draft, hit his fourth home run of the spring for the Hanshin Tigers in a 1-0 win over the Yomiuri Giants.

The home run was the left-hand-hitting Sato’s third at Koshien and all to left, a big thing for the Tigers since the wind off Osaka bay has a reputation for knocking down would-be home run balls to right.

Because it’s the Giants and Tigers, no trivia stone is left unturned, even in the spring, as Nikkan Sports informs that this is the Tigers’ first 1-0 preseason victory over the Giants since 1995.

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Ryosuke Hirata belted a three-run homer off rookie Yakult Swallows right-hander Yasunobu Okugawa, who was a prime pick out of high school a year ago. The hosts hammered Chunichi Dragons starter Yuya Yanagi, however, for five runs in six innings.

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Lotte’s top draft pick Shota Suzuki threw five scoreless innings against the SoftBank Hawks, who got 6-1/3 strong innings from submariner Rei Takahashi in a 2-0 win. Ryoya Kurihara drove in both Hawks runs with his first home run of the spring.

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Sho Nakata homered in his hometown with a shot off Carp starter Allen Kuri. The Nippon Ham Fighters’ top pick in last year’s draft, right-hander Hiromi Ito, struck out seven in seven innings in the 2-0 win. Former Cleveland Indian Toru Murata, who was re-signed after being non-tendered in December, worked two scoreless innings of relief for the Fighters.

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, 10 Orix Buffaloes pitchers combined on a one-hitter in a 5-0 win over the Seibu Lions. Seibu right-hander Katsunori Hirai, who is converting from middle-relief workhorse to stater, struck out three in three innings.