Tag Archives: Tetsuya Utsumi

NPB 2020 Sept. 17

Tigers crush Giants

Yuki Nishi (7-3) threw his second-straight four-hit shutout as the Hanshin Tigers bedeviled Angel Sanchez (4-3) in an 11-0 Central League win at Tokyo Dome on Thursday.

Koji Chikamoto launched a high-straight fastball from Sanchez to open the game and the Tigers simply overran the Giants. Sanchez issued a two-out bases-loaded walk in the first and then caught a break with a doubtful interference call when second baseman Akihiro Wakabayashi cut in front of the runner from first to get a slow chopper and clipped him with his hand.

In a three-run second, Tigers captain Kento Itohara scored from first on a single to center, speeding home from third when center fielder Yoshihiro Maru made a lazy lob of his throw to the infield.

The Tigers win snapped an eight-game losing streak at Tokyo. Chikamoto homered again in the sixth for his second two-homer game of the series and Justin Bour homered in the seventh to make it 7-0.

“Yano wasn’t really at his best. He worked really carefully. When he doesn’t have a lot of room for error, that’s when you see his real skill,” said Tigers manager Akihiro Yano, who was also asked about Chikamoto’s success at Tokyo Dome.

“Does he do well in this park? Is that really a thing?”

Giants manager Tatsunori Hara, who stirred a national debate on Aug. 6 by using utility man Daiki Masuda as an emergency pitcher–something rarely seen in Japan–sent his top pinch-runner to the bullpen late in the game to warm him up but he didn’t take the mound.

Giants-Tigers highlights.

Enemies of the Peoples: Baby Swallows a hit

Rookie Taiki Hamada homered in a three-run fifth inning to chase Michael Peoples (2-2) as a pair of 2018 Yakult draftees took center stage in a 9-0 win for the Swallows over the DeNA BayStars at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

The hosts got on the board in the second when 36-year-old Tomotaka Sakaguchi singled and scored on a throwing error when shortstop Tatsuhiro Shibata airmailed his short throw to second on a force play.

The 20-year-old Hamada, a fourth-round pick, homered to open the fifth. Alcides Escobar followed with his second double and scored on a double by his former Kansas City Royals teammate Norichika Aoki.

Sakaguchi plated Aoki with a sac fly to close the book on Peoples, and 23-year-old Shota Nakayama, the Swallows’ second pick in 2018, homered off nominal closer Yasuaki Yamasaki with one out in the sixth. Nakayama tied a 44-year-old team record of three pinch-hit home runs in a month set by Hall of Famer Katsuo Osugi.

Yakulty yak

Osugi is best known for a home run that ignited the most famous protest in Japan Series history.

The 1978 series MVP hit one down the line in the sixth inning that saw Hall of Fame manager Toshiharu Ueda pull his team off the field at Tokyo’s Korakuen Stadium, delaying the game for 1 hour and 16 minutes. This led the Pacific League to punish teams pulling their players off the field with a forfeit–a rule that was not adopted in the Central League or in the  Japan Series–where Chunichi Dragons manager Hiromitsu Ochiai did it in Game 1 of the 2004 series.

Hawks get emotional

Akira Nakamura, who along with superstar Yuki Yanagita is now the second big wheel in the SoftBank Hawks’ offense, singled to help break up a scoreless tie in the ninth inning of a 2-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.

The Hawks are now mourning Wednesday’s death of longtime conditioning coach Takashi Kawamura at the age of 55. The 30-year-old Nakamura, who has spent much of the last two years with the team’s rehab group where he worked a lot with the trainer, was asked to take part in the postgame hero interview, where the interviewer did what “hero” interviewers tend to do when a team or a player is dealing with a death, ask the player over and over about the deceased.

Nakamura sounded both heartfelt and patient dealing with the incessant badgering.

“Kawamura-san helped me from the time I came out of high school. He invited me to train in the offseason with him and he taught me what it means to be a pro,” Nakamura said. “I owe him so much. Extending my career as long as I can take it will be my way of repaying my debt of gratitude.”

The game was tremendous pitchers’ duel between natives of Urama, Okinawa Prefecture (population 121,843), Nao Higashihama (4-1) the Hawks’ Opening Day starter, and Kenta Uehara (0-1) of the Fighters.

The Hawks defense turned the Fighters back in the third and the sixth. Higashihama made a great play on a safety squeeze in the third to cut down a runner at the plate. In the sixth, Christian Villanueva was out trying to advance from second on a foul fly by right fielder Ryota Nakamura.

Uehara threw 90 pitches through eight innings and came out in the ninth. He issued a leadoff walk, and Nakamura singled only after fouling off two attempts.

“I felt like I had to gain some redemption after being unable to get a bunt down,” Nakamura said of his 1,000th career hit on a ground smash fumbled at third.

Yurisbel Gracial singled in one run, and the second run–the one Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo had not been playing for–scored on an error. The two-run edge allowed closer Yuito Mori to overcame a tremendous opposite-field homer by Sho Nakata to record his 22nd save.

Graceless under pressure

The postgame interviews following a death can be awfully trying. Generally, the questioner isn’t satisfied until he gets some grand emotional response and hopefully tear. This happened famously when current Eagles pitcher Yuya Fukui was a rookie with the Hiroshima Carp and was asked to comment on the death of his brother.

These pitiless interviewers typically ask, “Don’t you think the deceased is looking down on you from heaven now and smiling?”

The nadir came after one player’s wife died after a long illness, that those around him said was exacerbated by his womanizing and shabby treatment of her. In his first hero interview that spring, he was asked the routine interview questions, the tears flowed, and the fans were pleased.

Marines maul Lions every which way

The Lotte Marines bunted the Seibu Lions senseless in a two-run second inning and Leonys Martin hit his 21st and 22nd home runs to back Daiki Iwashita (5-5) in an 8-1 win at MetLife Dome.

Ikuhiro Kiyota opened the second with a double off 38-year-old lefty Tetsuya Utsumi (1-2), who then nearly collided with catcher Tomoya Mori as they both chased a sacrifice bunt that Mori fumbled for an error.

Kiyota held at second on the play, and when the Marines tried again to bunt him over, Mori’s throw to third sailed and a run scored. The second run came home on a safety squeeze and the Marines never looked back.

Iwashita, who struck out Lions cleanup hitter Hotaka Yamakawa three times, allowed a run in the ninth, giving up four hits and a walk while striking out five over eight-plus innings.

Matsui wins duel of former closers

Rakuten Eagles lefty Yuki Matsui (2-3) allowed two runs over five innings to beat Hirotoshi Masui (0-2) in a battle of former closers in a 5-4 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Hotto Motto Field Kobe.

Eagles first baseman Daichi Suzuki made the play of the day diving to catch a foul pop and end the bottom of the first. He then singled with two outs in the third and scored on Kazuki Tanaka’s sixth home run.

Alan Busenitz allowed an unearned run in the ninth, and wrapped up his 11th save when Suzuki made a good play in foul territory to end it with two runners on.

Jones deactivated

Adam Jones was deactivated with a stiff lower back, and was replaced on the active roster by Aderlin Rodriguez, who singled in a run in the Buffaloes’ two-run fourth.

Carp ace Osera has surgery

Daichi Osera, the Opening Day starter for the Central League’s Hiroshima Carp the past two seasons, has undergone right shoulder surgery the team announced Wednesday.

No timeline was given for the 29-year-old right-hander’s return, but he will likely miss the rest of the season after having arthroscopic surgery to clean out the joint at a hospital in Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture.

Osera opened the season with back-to-back complete games for first-year manager and former Carp pitcher Shinji Sasaoka. He has twice been deactivated for “poor form.”

Marines’ Hermmann out of action

Lotte Marines reliever Frank Herrmann was deactivated Wednesday after he was diagnosed with tendon damage in his right index finger. He reportedly will refrain from throwing for two weeks.

Active roster moves 9/17/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/27

Central League

Activated

SwallowsP14Hirotoshi Takanashi
SwallowsOF65Shotaro Tashiro

Dectivated

DragonsP29Daisuke Yamai
SwallowsP64Ren Kazahari
SwallowsOF50Tsuyoshi Ueda

Pacific League

Activated

BuffaloesP17Hirotoshi Masui
BuffaloesIF42Aderlin Rodriguez
BuffaloesOF1Steven Moya

Dectivated

HawksP13Akira Niho
BuffaloesC62Katsuki Yamazaki
BuffaloesOF10Adam Jones

Starting pitchers for Sept. 18, 2020

Pacific League

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

Nick Martinez (1-4, 3.49) vs Toshiya Nakamura (2-2, 3.80)

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

Taisuke Yamaoka (0-3, 3.09) vs Zach Neal (3-5, 4.68)

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

Matt Moore (2-1, 2.60) vs Ryota Ishibashi (1-3, 6.88)

Central League

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

Albert Suarez (2-0, 0.78) vs Hiroki Tokoda (1-5, 5.34)

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

Shoichi Ino (5-4, 3.23) vs Shosei Togo (7-3, 2.37)

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

Yuya Yanagi (3-4, 3.10) vs Onelki Garcia (2-5, 3.93)

NPB 2020 SEPT. 9

Wednesday could have been old timers day with both Tsuyoshi Wada (39) and Tetsuya Utsumi (38) going in the Pacific League, but Utsumi, who was only able to go five innings in his first PL win last week, was yanked after four in the Seibu Lions’ one-sided win over the Orix Buffaloes.

Wada pitches Hawks past Eagles

Wada (5-1), whose fastball touched 138 kph (85.7 mph) had too much of everything but speed for the Rakuten Eagles, going 6-2/3 scoreless innings in the SoftBank Hawks’ 8-1 win at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

By working the corners with a lively fastball the Eagles were consistently swinging under, and staying low in the zone with his changeup and slider, Wada challenged hitters in the zone and gave up hits on good swings, but rarely looked challenged.

He allowed six hits and a walk while striking out six. He would have had seven had umpire Naoto Shikita noticed that catcher Hiroaki Takaya had caught a two-strike foul tip. Wada got Hiroaki Shimauchi to fly out on the next pitch, his 101st, before exiting stage right.

Wakui (8-2) got off to a solid start, retiring the first four batters, including Akira Nakamura. Perhaps the hardest player in Japan to strike out, Nakamura who rarely misses, Nakamura went down swinging at a changeup.

Alfredo Despaigne, who got a late start to the season due to his being in Cuba when travel restrictions were imposed, opened the scoring with a one-out solo homer off Wakui in the second. Nakamura went after Wakui’s first pitch in the third to single home Taisei Makihara, and Despaigne cracked a three-run homer in SoftBank’s six-run fifth.

Spangenberg lowers boom on Buffaloes

Corey Spangenberg homered, tripled, double and drove in six runs as the Seibu Lions crushed the Orix Buffaloes 13-5 at MetLife Dome despite starter Tetsuya Utsumi failed to go five innings.

Ernesto Mejia doubled in two runs in the bottom of the first off Daiki Tajima (1-4) and Spangenberg followed with his NPB-best sixth triple to make it 4-1. Shuta Tonosaki led off the Lions’ second with a homer and Spangenberg went deep with his ninth homer to finish the four-run frame.

Utsumi held it together until the fourth, when he surrendered three runs on four-straight one-out hits. A fifth, off his right thigh forced him off the field for treatment but he got out of the inning before calling it a night.

Ojima outduels Kaneko

Lotte Marines lefty Kazuya Ojima (5-5) out-pitched former Sawamura Award winner Chihiro Kaneko (1-3) to boost the Marines to 2-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Ojima got double plays in the third and fourth, one started by the slick-fielding southpaw, before escaping a bases-loaded jam in the fifth. Kaneko also worked out of trouble in the third and fourth, but left after hitting Marines catcher Tatsuhiro Tamura on the hand while he trie to sacrifice.

With two on and one out, Yudai Fujioka drove a low pitch to the wall for a two-run double.

Fighters catcher Yushi Shimizu doubled home Taishi Ota in the seventh before Ojima left. Frank Herrmann and Naoya Masuda each pitched in with a scoreless inning to close it out.

3-HR Sakamoto blasts Dragons

Hayato Sakamoto belted three home runs from the leadoff spot and drove in four runs for the Yomiuri Giants in their 5-4 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Nagoya Dome.

The Giants’ Takumi Oshiro homered to lead off the top of the seventh and Sakamoto completed his hat-trick with two outs.

Swallows erase 7-run gap to tie Carp

Yasutaka Shiomi capped a three-run eighth-inning rally as the Yakult Swallows erased a seven-run deficit in their 10-inning, 7-7 with the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Swallows starting pitcher Hirofumi Yamanaka doubled in the game’s first run in the second, when the visitors took a 3-0 lead, but the submarine right-hander allowed seven runs in 2-1/3 innings.

Carp starter Yusuke Nomura left with no outs in the seventh after back-to-back home runs from Tetsuto Yamada and Munetaka Murakami made it a 10-7 game.

Sano, Kamichatani bag Tigers

DeNA BayStars cleanup hitter Keita Sano celebrated being named the CL’s player of the month for August earlier in the day by doubling twice and driving in three runs in a 6-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Yokohama Stadium.

The BayStars overturned an early 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the first. A Takayuki Kajitani single and back-to-back doubles by Neftali Soto and Sano made it 2-1.

Kamichatani (1-1) allowed five hits and a walk while striking out three over seven innings. Kenta Ishida and Spencer Patton finished up. Tigers starter Koyo Aoyagi (6-4) allowed four runs over five innings to take the loss.

Sugano monthly MVP for 8th time

Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano set a team record for monthly honors on Wednesday, with his eighth pitcher of the month award, surpassing the seven monthly awards earned by Hall of Fame slugger Hideki Matsui. Sugano’s August award comes on the heels of his honor for June and July.

Sugano went 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA, which was second to Chunichi Dragons lefty Yudai Ono (3-0, who struck out 27 batters, one per inning over three complete games.

The CL hitter of the month award went to 25-year-old DeNA BayStars left fielder Keita Sano. Promoted to captain and dropped into the cleanup spot after less than 400 first-team plate appearances, the ninth-round draft led the Central League with 22 RBIs.

Sano’s .405 on-base percentage was second in the league to the .457 posted by the Yakult Swallows’ Munetaka Murakami, who won for June and July. Sano was also second to Murakami in slugging average by a smaller margin .598 to .576. It was Sano’s first monthly award.

The Pacific League winners were right-hander Ayumu Ishikawa of the Lotte Marines (4-0, 3.38 ERA) and Orix Buffaloes corner outfielder Masataka Yoshida.

Ishikawa won his second award over the Rakuten Eagles’ Hideaki Wakui (3-1, 1.47), whose only loss came in a 2-0 shutout and who won for June and July.

Yoshida, who won for the third time, led the PL with a .510 on-base percentage and was second in OPS to Yuki Yanagita of the SoftBank Hawks.

Active roster moves 9/9/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/19

Central League

Activated

DragonsP36Yuichiro Okano
DragonsIF32Masami Ishigaki

Dectivated

DragonsIF55Nobumasa Fukuda

Pacific League

Activated

FightersP19Chihiro Kaneko

Dectivated

MarinesP64Yuta Omine

Starting pitchers for Sept. 4, 2020

Pacific League

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

Yuki Matsui (1-2, 3.93) vs Nao Higashihama (2-1, 2.96)

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

Katsunori Hirai (5-3, 4.37) vs Daichi Takeyasu (-)

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

Daiki Iwashita (4-4, 4.86) vs Kenta Uehara (0-0, 0.00)

Central League

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

Michael Peoples (2-1, 3.99) vs Yukiya Saito (-)

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

Koji Fukutani (3-2, 2.89) vs Angel Sanchez (4-2, 2.45)

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

Masato Morishita (5-2, 2.51) vs Keiji Takahashi (1-3, 4.15)

NPB 2020 Sept. 2

Former ace Utsumi earns 1st win for Lions

Tetsuya Utsumi (1-1) worked five scoreless innings to earn his first win since August 2018 as the Seibu Lions beat the Lotte Marines 4-2 at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium on Wednesday.

The 38-year-old lefty, acquired by Seibu as part of the compensation they received after the Yomiuri Giants signed free agent catcher Ginjiro Sumitani, allowed two hits and two walks while striking out six with a fastball that doesn’t touch 87 mph.

“Frankly, I’m happy with this,” Utsumi said. “I was only able to pitch five innings, and I am grateful to the batters for getting me some runs and to the relievers who picked up the slack for me.”

Marines lefty Kazuya Odajima (4-5) allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits and three walks over seven innings. He struck out six.

One inning after left fielder Tsuyoshi Sugano prevented the Lions from taking the lead in the top of the fifth inning with a one-hop strike to the plate, the visitors opened the scoring on a throwing error.

Shuta Tonosaki set up the run with a bunt single and a stolen base. With one out and two on, Tonosaki tagged up on a fly to right and Leonys Martin ended up in the camera pit beyond the third-base dugout.

The Marines got both of their hits off Utsumi with two outs in the fifth before the lefty made his exit. Ryosuke Moriwake struck out the side for the Lions in the sixth, and Fumikazu Kimura homered to lead off the seventh.

From that point, the game became a walkathon, with the Marines making the most charitable contributions. Seibu’s Kaima Taira allowed a run in the seventh on a single and three walks.

He was no match, however, for Marines right-hander Yusuke Azuma in the eighth. After Takumi Kuriyama’s leadoff walk and a sacrifice, the Marines ordered first base filled with an intentional walk. Three walks later it was 4-1. The Marines tacked on one run against closer Tatsushi Masuda in the ninth before he nailed down his 15th save.

Buffaloes come back to tie Hawks

SoftBank Hawks closer Yuito Mori blew a two-run ninth-inning lead as the Orix Buffaloes tied it on Ryoichi Adachi’s two-out two-run single and closer Brandon Dickson worked a scoreless 10th before the teams finished in a 10-inning 2-2 tie at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Trailing 3-1 in the ninth, Mori surrendered back-to-back no-out singles by Shuhei Fukuda and Yutaro Sugimoto. A stolen bases by Fukuda and pinch-runner Kodai Sano, and an intentional walk to Masataka Yoshida, gave Adam Jones a chance to win it with one out. He popped out to short before Adachi’s sharp ground single to left tied it.

The Hawks got the leadoff hitter on in the 10th but he was doubled off first by Buffaloes closer Brandon Dickson after he caught Nobuhiro Matsuda’s bunt attempt on the fly.

Tsuyoshi Wada allowed a run on four hits over six-plus innings for the Hawks, Yurisbel Gracial cracked a tie-breaking two-run home run, and reliever Yuki Matsumoto bailed Wada out of a seventh inning jam after entering with two on and no outs. Livan Moinelo worked a 1-2-3 eighth before the Buffaloes came back.

The Hawks opened the scoring on the second pitch of the game as Keizo Kawashima homered off lefty Daiki Tajima. The Buffaloes, however, tied it after Fukuda’s flare dropped for a leadoff single. A groundout put him on second and when Wada left a 3-2 pitch up in the zone, Yoshida smashed it for a two-out RBI single. The hit extended Yoshida’s batting streak to 20 games.

Yuya Iida acquired over the weekend in a trade from the Hanshin Tigers, worked a scoreless eighth for the Buffaloes against the Hawks, his first pro team.

Eagles claw back against Akiyoshi

The Rakuten Eagles left it till late, scoring five runs in the ninth off Nippon Ham Fighters closer Ryo Akiyoshi (1-2) in their 5-3 win at Sapporo Dome.

The victory took starter Hideaki Wakui off the hook for the loss. The 34-year-old right-hander had allowed three runs, all on Sho Nakata’s Japan-best 22nd home run in the fifth. Fighters starter Kenta Uehara worked five innings, while right-hander Nick Martinez relieved him in the sixth in a one-inning relief cameo.

Alan Busenitz worked a scoreless ninth for the Eagles to earn his eighth save.

Sanchez, Giants hold off BayStars

Angel Sanchez (4-2), pitching for the first time since being sidelined on July 25 for shoulder discomfort, allowed a run over six innings in the Yomiuri Giants’ 3-1 win over the DeNA BayStars at Tokyo Dome.

The 30-year-old right-hander allowed one hit and three walks while striking out six in a 91-pitch outing.

The Giants scored all their runs off lefty Haruhiro Hamaguchi (3-4) in the second inning. Yoshihiro Maru, who went 2-for-2 with two walks, hit his 14th home run with one out and none on. Hiroyuki Nakajima walked, Naoki Yoshikawa tripled him home and scored on a groundout.

Giants manager Tatsunori Hara used four relievers to cover two innings before Rubby De La Rosa pitched a perfect ninth to earn his eighth save.

Giants-BayStars highlights

Swallows overcome another Sands homer

Tetsuto Yamada drove in two runs, including one on a 10th-inning sacrifice fly as the Yakult Swallows eked out a 3-2 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium.

Hanshin’s Jerry Sands homered for the second-straight night. His two-run homer tied it in the seventh against submarine righty Fumihiro Yamanaka, who struck out six and allowed four hits over six-plus innings.

Aizawa slams Carp past Dragons

Hiroshima Carp catcher Tsubasa Aizawa hit a fourth-inning grand slam in a 9-5 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Nagoya Dome.

The Carp opened the scoring in the first on back-to-back home runs by Jose Pirela and Ryosuke Kikuchi. Aizawa’s homer made it 6-0, before the hosts chased Carp starter Yusuke Nomura (4-1) in a five-run sixth. Dragons lefty Shinnosuke Ogasawara (1-3) took the loss.

Active roster moves 9/2/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/12

Central League

Activated

GiantsP20Angel Sanchez
SwallowsP68Hirofumi Yamanaka

Dectivated

GiantsOF44Israel Mota

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP27Tetsuya Utsumi
EaglesP41Kouji Aoyama
EaglesC70Tsuyoshi Ishihara
FightersP20Kenta Uehara
BuffaloesP57Nobuyoshi Yamada

Dectivated

LionsOF51Manaya Nishikawa
EaglesP15J.T. Chargois
EaglesC2Hikaru Ota
FightersC22Shinya Tsuruoka
BuffaloesP15Yudai Aranishi
BuffaloesP48Koki Saito

Starting pitchers for Sept. 3, 2020

Pacific League

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

Takayuki Kato (0-1, 3.42) vs Yuki Matsui (1-1, 3.94)

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

Daiki Iwashita (3-4, 4.99) vs Katsunori Hirai (5-2, 3.52)

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

Hirotoshi Masui (0-1, 3.72) vs Akira Niho (3-4, 4.84)

Central League

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

Kazuto Taguchi (2-3, 4.83) vs Spencer Patton (2-1, 4.55)

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

Koji Fukutani (2-2, 3.64) vs Kris Johnson (0-6, 5.66)

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

Koyo Aoyagi (6-3, 3.30) vs Ren Kazahari (0-0, 5.63)

NPB 2020 8-22 games and news

Jones ruins Utsumi’s Cinderella comeback

Adam Jones homered twice, taking a bat to Tetsuya Utsumi’s hopes of winning his first game in two years, by driving in four runs in the Orix Buffaloes’ 5-2 Pacific League victory on Saturday afternoon.

Jones, who homered and drove in all of Orix’s runs on Friday, when they won their first game under acting skipper Satoshi Nakajima, broke open a scoreless pitching duel between the 38-year-old Utsumi (0-1) and unheralded 26-year-old Taiwan right-hander Chang Yi (1-1).

Chang, who went to school in Japan following in the footsteps of his cousin, Yang Dai-kang, joined Orix in 2017 on a non-roster developmental contract. Since he went to school here, he is still known by how the Chinese characters in his Mandarin name are read in Japanese “Cho Yaku.” After a tough start in his season debut nine days before, Chang’s fastball was crisp and hard for the Lions to handle.

The right-hander pitched out of jams in the third and fourth innings, and he left after allowing five hits, a walk and a hit batsman.

“Honestly, I was resigned to giving up runs (in the fourth inning), but even so I was going to fight them,” Chang said.

Nakajima, who has seen a lot of Chang during his time as the Buffaloes’ farm manager said Saturday’s performance is in line with his skill level.

“You saw what he does well,” Nakajima said. “He had late life on his fastball and attacked hitters. He had an elbow issue that delayed him getting to this point, but he’s going to contribute.”

Never a flame-thrower, Utsumi long thrived on precision and movement, getting foul strikes and soft contact. He retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced. With one out in the fourth, Buffaloes slugger Masataka Yoshida miss-hit a fastball and chopped it through the infield for a one-out single, Orix’s first hit.

Utsumi nearly got himself out of trouble, but instead set himself up for a fall. He fielded a one-hop comebacker but his uncatchable throw to second spoiled any chance for an out, let alone a double play. Utsumi’s next throw also missed by the smallest of margins, a first-pitch changeup to Jones just above the knees, that he lofted over the left-field wall.

“I just wanted in that situation to get a ball up and drive the runner in and I was fortunate enough to drive the ball out of the ballpark,” Jones said.

Seibu’s Takeya Nakamura, a six-time PL home run champ, hit his sixth of the year in the top of the sixth off reliever Keisuke Sawada.

Jones struck again in the sixth. With two outs and none on, Utsumi missed up just a little with a slider and Jones lined it into the second deck.

“The second one, that was a little more fun. I tried to be aggressive and not let the pitcher get ahead with a strike and just try to be aggressive in the zone. And I didn’t miss it at all,” Jones said.

After three home runs and seven RBIs in two games following a slow start to the season, Jones was asked the obligatory question about whether he was seeing the ball better or not.

‘I’ve been seeing the ball the same,” Jones said. “I am just trying to play the game the way I know how to play.”

“Our pitchers were terrific. Cho battled his butt off and gave us a great opportunity to win the game. And when the opportunity arose to drive some runners in, we did a good job.”

“Home runs are always fun to hit. The bench was going crazy. There’s been a lot of energy the last couple of days. We want to continue to play the game hard and have fun.”

The Lions added a run in the seventh against lefty Nobuyoshi Yamada, forcing setup man Tyler Higgins into the game with two outs and two on to preserve Orix’s lead. Nakamura lined a shot over short, but Koji Oshiro leaped to make a catch, end the inning and save at least a run.

After Higgins worked a scoreless eighth, defensive substitute Yuya Oda doubled in the Buffaloes’ fifth run. Oda, who made a big catch in the ninth on Friday, made another big play on Saturday.

After a Tomoya Mori single to lead off against closer Brandon Dickson, Hotaka Yamakawa drilled a liner to left that Oda short. Mori assumed the ball would be caught and was retreating to first when Oda forced him at second for 7-4 force. A double play followed and it was over.

It was a decent start for Utsumi, if not a winning one for the former ace of the Central League’s Yomiuri Giants. Utsumi joined Seibu after the 2018 season as part of the compensation package for the Giants signing free agent catcher Ginjiro Sumitani. The loss saw Utsumi’s career record against Orix to 2-3 with the previous four games coming in interleague play.

Ironically, Utsumi’s PL debut came against Orix, who drafted him first in 2000 out of high school. Utsumi turned them down out of desire to play for his grandfather’s old team, the Giants. After three seasons in corporate league ball, he turned pro with the Giants.

Yanagita puts on show against Marines

Yuki Yanagita hit a mammoth two-run homer to open the scoring and doubled in the tie-breaking run as the SoftBank Hawks moved back into a tie for first place in the Pacific League with the Lotte Marines, who they beat 3-2.

The camera’s at Zozo Marine Stadium were not prepared for the lunar launch trajectory of Yanagita’s 17th home run, and viewers on TV could only see it drop down and strike the top of the center-field fence, ostensibly after hitting high up on the scoreboard.

Akira Nakamura slashed a leadoff single in the eighth against Frank Herrmann (3-1) for his third hit of the game. Yanagita followed by finding the gap in left center for an RBI double.

Imamiya could be out for up to 2 months

SoftBank Hawks shortstop Kenta Imamiya is expected to miss between six to eight weeks due to a left calf injury. The club announced Saturday that an MRI revealed damage to the soleus muscle in his left leg.

Imamiya, a two-time Best Nine shortstop with five Golden Gloves, complained of pain in the leg on Aug. 19.

Arihara sharp again for Fighters

Nippon Ham Fighters ace Kohei Arihara (3-5) produced his second-straight solid start, allowing a run over six innings, while Sho Nakata homered and drove in three runs in a 5-1 over the Rakuten Eagles at Sapporo Dome.

Arihara gave up six singles and a walk while striking out six, and he quickly had three runs to work with after his teammates opened the scoring in the bottom of the first off Takahiro Shiomi (3-4).

Haruki Nishikawa’s single, the third straight to open the inning, made it 1-0, and Nakata followed with a two-run double. Shiomi allowed four runs over five innings, and Nakata hit his Japan-best 20th home run in the fifth.

Dragons rookie Rodriguez blots out ‘Stars

Cuban rookie Yariel Rodriguez improved to 2-0 in three impressive starts for the Chunichi Dragons, who beat the DeNA BayStars 5-0 at Nagoya Dome.

Rodriguez allowed two singles and two walks over six innings, while striking out just three batters over six innings. The 23-year-old, who is eligible for the Rookie of the Year Award, has now allowed three runs over 19-1/3 innings.

Dragons captain Shuhei Takahashi opened the scoring in the first against DeNA rookie Kosuke Sakaguchi (0-1) with a one-out bases-loaded single. Takahashi added a two-run home run in the fifth.

Osera goes 8 as Carp walk past Giants

Hiroshima Carp ace Daichi Osera (5-2) allowed two runs over eight innings in a 10-4 win over the Yomiuri Giants, who issued nine walks in the game at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Osera allowed former Carp teammate Yoshihiro Maru to tie it 1-1 in the second with his 12th home run.

But Giants starter Seishu Hatake (0-3) didn’t survive the third inning. He opened it by walking Osera, and by the time the dust had settled, six runs were in and 12 batters had come to the plate.

Israel Mota, who the Giants signed this year from their developmental roster, had his first hit in Japan, a two-run ninth-inning home run.

Tigers survive Swallows ambush

Robert Suarez got Norichika Aoki to fly out with two on and two outs in the ninth to nail down his ninth save as the Hanshin Tigers held on to beat the Yakult Swallows 7-5 at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Aoki, whose eighth-inning grand slam brought the Swallows within two runs. Facing Suarez, he did his best to elevate a low 1-0 pitch but his high fly to center was held up by a stiff wind and died at the warning track along with the Swallows’ chances of a come-from-behind win.

Yusuke Oyama belted a three-run first-inning homer off Matt Koch (0-1), who allowed six runs over four innings in his Japan debut for the Swallows.

Tigers starter Yuki Nishi (4-3) allowed a run over seven innings and doubled in a run in Hanshin’s three-run fourth inning only for relievers Yuya Nakao and Yuta Iwasada to let the hosts get back in the game.

Setup man Joe Gunkel allowed a hit and a walk before getting the final out in the inning and turning it over to Suarez in the ninth.

Active roster moves 8/22/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/1

Central League

Activated

BayStarsP12Kousuke Sakaguchi
SwallowsP33Matt Koch

Dectivated

BayStarsOF37Taishi Kusumoto

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP27Tetsuya Utsumi
FightersP59Yuki Yoshida

Dectivated

LionsP23Shogo Noda
FightersP27Nick Martinez

Starting pitchers for Aug. 23, 2020

Pacific League

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

Drew VerHagen (4-1, 3.72) vs Yuya Fukui (0-2, 5.54)

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

Toshiya Nakamura (1-0, 3.86) vs Shuta Ishikawa (5-0, 2.08)

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

Andrew Albers (2-5, 4.04) vs Wataru Matsumoto (1-3, 5.10)

Central League

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

Yasuhiro Ogawa (5-2, 3.43) vs Takumi Akiyama (4-1, 3.80)

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

Yudai Ono (3-3, 3.02) vs Hiromu Ise (0-0, 1.80)

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

Atsushi Endo (2-2, 3.77) vs Daisuke Naoe (-)

NPB 2020 8-17 games and news

Iguchi: Laird had been playing hurt

Lotte Marines third baseman Brandon Laird has been taking injections in order to be able to play, his manager, Tadahito Iguchi revealed Sunday, according to Sports Nippon Annex.

Laird was deactivated on Aug. 5 due to lower back stiffness. In 147 plate appearances over 39 games, he has six home runs with a .299 on-base percentage and a .391 slugging average.

“He had been getting shots while he played,” Iguchi said. “But recently he was getting numbness in his leg. He went back and now we’re waiting to see what the doctors over there say.”

The team announced no timetable for his return.

Utsumi slated for 1st start as Lion

Former Yomiuri Giants ace Tetsuya Utsumi is slated to make his first start for the Seibu Lions since the team acquired him as Kyodo News (Japanese side) reported Monday.

The lefty, acquired as free agent compensation after the 2018 season, has yet to appear with the first team. He has been named to start on Saturday against the Orix Buffaloes at Kyocera Dome.

“Some of the young guys have times when they are a little uneasy, so we want a veteran to go out and give it his best shot,” pitching coach Fumiya Nishiguchi said of Utsumi, who is expected to join the team in Osaka on Thursday.

“If he can draw on all his skill on the mounds, that will be enough.”

The 38-year-old was originally drafted by the Orix BlueWave, but turned them down since he desired to play for the Giants, for whom his grandfather also played.

Active roster moves 8/17/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/27

Central League

Activated

None

Dectivated

TigersP66Ippei Ogawa
TigersC94Fumihito Haraguchi
CarpP98Emailin Montilla
SwallowsP68Hirofumi Yamanaka

Pacific League

Activated

None

Dectivated

LionsP45Keisuke Honda
HawksIF68Masaki Mimori
BuffaloesOF25Ryo Nishimura

Starting pitchers for Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020

Pacific League

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

Naoyuki Uwasawa (2-2, 3.77) vs Hayato Yuge (3-1, 3.71)

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

Manabu Mima (3-2, 5.28) vs Kodai Senga (4-1, 3.53)

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

Yoshinobu Yamamoto (3-1, 3.86) vs Kona Takahashi (2-5, 6.47)

Central League

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

Tomoyuki Sugano (7-0, 1.75) vs Haruto Takahashi (1-0, 0.00)

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

Keiji Takahashi (1-1, 3.14) vs Shinnosuke Ogasawara (0-1, 4.50)

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

Allen Kuri (2-2, 4.05) vs Shoichi Ino (3-3, 2.60)