Tag Archives: Tomoya Mori

NPB 2020 6-28 GAMES AND NEWS

Mima outpitches Yamamoto, Marines sweep

Manabu Mima got burned early and then was as careful as careful can be, allowing three runs over seven innings against Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who struggled to adjust to a lack of command and coughed up five runs in 5-2/3 innings in a 6-5 win for the Lotte Marines over Orix.

Brandon Laird homered to break a 5-5 tie in the eighth, and Jay Jackson finished it off with his first save in Japan in two years as the Marines managed their eighth-straight win and a six-game sweep of the Orix Buffaloes. See the live blog below for more in depth coverage.

Go to today’s LIVE BLOG.

Mori lifts Lions over Hawks

Seibu submariner Kaito Yoza did not allow a hit after the second inning, three relievers worked 1-2-3 innings, and 23-year-old SoftBank rookie Keisuke Izumi (0-1) was thrown into the Lions’ den in the ninth inning of a tie game. He loaded the bases with no outs for Tomoya Mori who singled in the winning run at MetLife Dome in a 4-3 victory.

Yuki Yanagita of the Hawks opened the scoring in the first with his third home run, and Hotaka Yamakawa tied it in the sixth with his fifth home run.

New Lions reliever Reed Garrett struck out the side in the eighth. He has retired all nine batters he’s faced since Friday, striking out six of them.

Sugiura outpitches Ishibashi in Fighters’ win

Nippon Ham Fighters starter Toshihiro Sugiura (1-0) struck out seven, while scattering five singles and a walk over six innings to allow two runs and earn the win in a 6-4 victory over the Rakuten Eagles.

Eagles starter Ryota Ishibashi (0-2) allowed five runs over four innings. Jabari Blash hit a two-run, eighth-inning home run for the Eagles.

Sanchez wins 2nd for Giants

Angel Sanchez (2-0) walked four, but pitched out of trouble three times to work six innings and earn the win as the Yomiuri Giants beat the Yakult Swallows 12-0. Kazuma Okamoto went 3-for-4 with a home run, an RBI single and a walk.

Morishita gives up 1st runs, earns 1st win

Elite Hiroshima Carp prospect Masato Morishita opened his pro career with 15 scoreless innings before the Chunichi Dragons scored three off him in the bottom of the ninth at Nagoya Dome. But after no decision in his debut, the rookie earned the win as Hiroshima came out on top 10-3.

Heading into the ninth, Morishita had a 10-run lead, having struck out seven, while allowing three hits, a walk and a hit batsman on 110 pitches. The rookie left after 136 pitches, the second time a Carp starter reached 130 over the weekend following ace Daichi Osera’s 132 on Friday.

The Carp already have two complete games this season, and first-year manager Shinji Sasaoka, who threw 66 in his career, seems to hold those in a higher regard than may be healthy for his pitching staff.

BayStars Tigers

Kentaro Taira, whom the DeNA BayStars acquired after the 2016 season as free agent compensation for the Yomiuri Giants’ signing of Shun Yamaguchi, delivered his second-straight quality start, allowing one run over six innings to earn the win in a 9-1 victory over the Hanshin Tigers.

The BayStars welcomed Tigers starter Kenichi Nakata (0-1) back to the Central League with a leadoff double from Takayuki Kajitani and two-out doubles by captain Keita Sano and Toshiro Miyazaki. On a day when manager Alex Ramirez rested several regulars, catcher Yasutaka Tobashira started and singled in the BayStars’ third run of the inning.

BayStars drop Peoples, activate Escobar

The Central League’s DeNA BayStars swapped out starting pitcher Micheal Peoples for hard-throwing left-handed reliever Edwin Escobar on Sunday.

On Saturday, the right-handed Peoples allowed five runs over five innings in an 8-6 loss to the Hanshin Tigers after closer Yasuaki Yamasaki’s struggles continued by allowing three runs in the ninth inning.

In Peoples’ first start, he allowed a run over six innings with seven strikeouts against the Hiroshima Carp on June 20.

The 28-year-old Escobar is entering his fourth season in NPB. He pitched in 74 games last year with 88 strikeouts in 75-1/3 innings. He was 5-4 with 33 holds, the third highest figure in the CL behind Joely Rodriguez of the Dragons and Pierce Johnson of the Tigers, both of whom left Japan this year for jobs in the majors.

Go to NEWEST.

For those of you who are curious, you can read a little about these teams in my Japanese pro baseball guide.

Live blog: Marines vs Buffaloes

Manabu Mima vs Yoshinobu Yamamoto at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium east of Tokyo. The Marines have won seven straight, while the Buffaloes haven’t won since Yamamoto beat the Eagles the previous Sunday in Osaka.

Top 1st

Keita Nakagawa barrels up a running fastball up in the zone and pulls it down the left field line for a leadoff double. Ryoichi Adachi, a prototypical Japanese No. 2 hitter, a fast, light-hitting middle infielder, is up their sacrificing until the second strike.

Announcer “He wants to move that runner up of course, because you want the early lead and Yamamoto is on the mound.”

Adachi chops it behind the runner to first, bringing up tough lefty Masataka Yoshida, who looks at a backdoor slider for Strike 1 before getting jammed inside by a running fastball inside that he grounds to first as Adachi scores. Buffaloes 1, Marines 0.

Adam Jones lines a hanging first-pitch slider off the top of the wall in left but with the outfield playing him deep, he can only get a single. Takahiro Okada lines a 1-2 fastball down the pipe over the fence in right for a two-run shot and his second homer of the season. Buffaloes 3, Marines 0.

Mima gets out of the inning when Aderlin Rodriguez miss-hits a hanging slider and flies out to second.

Bottom 1st

After a week of hype about his stuff especially his curve, Yamamoto treats the Marines to first-inning heat. He falls behind with two high fastballs before getting leadoff man Takashi Ogino to pop up to second on a cutter up and in. Koki Fukuda takes a high curve for Ball 1 before missing three high fastballs. Ikuhiro Kiyota goes down chasing a 1-2 cutter on the outside edge.

Top 2nd

Mima opens with some good pitches and gets an easy fly and a grounder to third. Shunta Goto keeps the inning alive by knocking a fat 1-0 running fastball between first and second. Goto steals second, but Nakagawa strikes out.

Bottom 2nd

after a pair of hard cutters away, Yamamoto hangs a curve to Brandon Laird and he knocks it between third and short for a leadoff single. Leonys Martinez hits a skipping stone down the first base line and Okada is unable to handle it. He’s given an error and the Marines have runners on second and third.

Shogo Nakamura pops up an 0-1 splitter Yamamoto left up in the zone, and here comes Seiya “Asia” Inoue. The 114-kilogram right-handed hitter falls behind 0-2 but Yamamoto can’t find the outside corner and Inoue won’t chase and ends up walking him to load the bases.

Lotte catcher Tatsuhiro Tamura looks at beautiful cutter low and away and waves at fastball down the middle. Yamamoto’s splitter isn’t working and he bounces it for Ball 1. Another fastball in the heart of the zone and Tamura hits it off the end of the bat to center for a two-run single. Buffaloes 3, Marines 2.

Yamamoto getso out of trouble when Yudai Fujioka chops a high pitch to the mound and the pitcher starts a double play.

Top 3rd

Mima leaves a fat 1-1 pitch up and Adachi slams it on the ground into left for a leadoff single. But Adachi 30-for-37 as a base stealer the past two years is cut down on a perfect throw by Tamura. Yoshida singles on a hanging forkball and along comes Jones.

Jones lines one off the end of the bat to second. Mima is staying away from the strike zone as much as he can, although he did sneak a curve down the middle past Okada, who walks. But Rodriguez pops up a low fastball for the third out.

Bottom 3rd

Takashi Ogino leads off with a double past Nakagawa at third and Fukuda advances him to third by hitting behind the runner. With the infield in, Kiyota hits a bullet to short but Ogino, running on contact, easily scores the tying run. Laird grounds out on the next pitch and we’re tied. Marines 3, Buffaloes 3.

Top 4th

Mima is working ever so carefully now, showing his hard stuff and executing offspeed stuff in the zone, resulting in three miss-hit easy grounders and a 1-2-3 inning against the Buffaloes tail.

Bottom 4th

It’s back to the no-nonsense hard stuff for Yamamoto and two easy outs as Martin swings at a 1-2 fastball away and Nakamura grounds out.

But Yamamoto’s location is not great and every instance of attempted cuteness is costing him. He tries to get Inoue to chase and misses, and it’s another walk. Tamura is up there battling, intentionally fouling off the hard stuff and he walks on the 10th pitch.

Yudai Fujioka is not trying to walk. He’s taking some real swings. when Yamamoto misses with a straight high 1-2 fastball, he lines it to the gap in right for a single. Marines 4, Buffaloes 3.

The inning ends when Tamura is caught in a rundown between third and home. And if you’ve ever seen a more poorly executed rundown, I’d like to see it. Fujioka follows and they get two runners trapped at third and it still takes extra throws to get the out.

Don’t try this at home, children.

Top 5th

Nakagawa grounds out to second on two pitches. With two outs, Yoshida forces Mima over the plate and singles to center off the end of the bat. Tying run on first with Jones up.

First-pitch splitter, the best one Mima’s thrown so far, for a swinging strike out of the zone. Jones went after two pitches out of the zone last time, and Mima goes outside for 1-1. The splitter stays up, and Jones is on it, but smacks it straight to third for an easy out.

Bottom 5th

Ono up to lead off the fifth. Two hard strikes inside but nothing to change speeds with in the zone, and Ogino gets a good swing on a low fastball and finds a hole through the infield for a single. Fukuda launches a straight fastball on a line to the warning track in center but Goto overtakes it and makes a terrific catch.

Yamamoto is missing all over the place but catches one of his few breaks today. With Ogino running on a 2-2 pitch, Yamamoto hangs another curve and Kiyota doesn’t hit it well. Nakagawa gloves the soft liner at third and throws to first for an easy double play.

Top 6th

Okada falls behind 0-2 looking at a get-me-over slider, missing a running fastball away and grounding a slider to second. Rodriguez offers at two sliders outside, misses one and flies out easily on the second. The Buffaloes are really guessing badly. Wakatsuki is jammed by a fastball in the heart of the zone and grounds out to short.

Bottom 6th

Yamamoto gets Laird out easily but loses Martin with his fourth walk of the afternoon. Nakamura flies out on a beautiful cutter away after fouling off a slider for Strike 2. I may be wrong, but that could be the first strike Yamamoto has gotten from his slider all day.

After falling behind 2-0 to Inoue, Okada comes over to talk to Yamamoto, and it appears he is just killing time so someone can get warm in the bullpen. When Inoue lines the next pitch to right, Yamamoto’s looking around to see if he’s coming out of the game and he is.

26-year-old right-hander Keisuke Sawada on to try and get an out before Lotte gets another run. But Goto can’t catch a sinking liner to center. Marines 5, Buffaloes 3.

Top 7th

Three up, three down for Mima in the seventh. He’s retired seven straight and 13 of the last 14 and is at 96 pitches. It looks like he’s headed for the clubhouse in good shape for his second win.

Bottom 7th

Lefty Tomoyuki Kaida on in the seventh. After struggling with his command against Ogino, who flies out, Kaida needs just four pitches to retire Fukuda and Kiyota. It’s a nice bounce back for Kaida after he faced seven batters in his previous outing on Friday and allowed four runs.

Top 8th

Right-hander Fumiya Ono on in the eighth to preserve the two-run lead. Mima allowed three runs, all in the first inning, on seven hits. He walked one and struck out two over seven innings.

Adachi opens the inning by stinging a straight1-0 fastball for a single. Yoshida walks on four pitches. Jones hits a slider off the label, lining it straight to left for the first out.

Okada flairs a high 2-0 slider to center. Adachi scores, and Tamura fumbles the throw home, allowing Yoshida to reach third.

Ono is gone in favor of right-hander Taiki Tojo. Both Masuda and Okada are out for pinch runners. Yuya Oda is at third running for Yoshida. Kodai Sano, running at first, steals second.

Rodriguez singles in the tying run, but Sano is caught in a rundown for the second out with Rodriguez taking third during the confusion. Marines 5, Buffaloes 5.

Tojo strikes out Wakatsuki and the Marines avoid falling a run down.

Bottom 8th

Former closer Hirotoshi Masui on for Orix in the eighth to face former Nippon Ham Fighters teammate Brandon Laird.

Laird flies to center and the ball just gets over the glove of Goto, who leaps at the wall. Laird’s fifth home run makes it Marines 6, Buffaloes 5.

Martin strikes out swinging at a 1-2 splitter out of the zone, but Shogo Nakamura singles and Orix manager Norifumi Nishimura goes to the pen for another righty, Tomoki Higa to face Inoue.

Inoue flies out to bring up the Marines’ biggest troublemaker of the day, Tamura. He’s driven in three runs and his walk helped set up the go-ahead run in the fourth. The Marines catcher draws his second walk, causing Nishimura to come out of the dugout again.

The Buffaloes’ third pitcher of the inning is lefty Nobuyoshi Yamada, who strikes out Fujioka for the final out.

Top 9th

The reason we didn’t see Jay Jackson in the eighth is because manager Tadahito Iguchi was saving him for the ninth. He’s on now with a chance for his first save in Japan since 2018, his last season with the Hiroshima Carp.

Pinch-hitter Torai Fushimi waves at a slider and goes down swinging. The left-handed-hitting Goto is up and gets ahead 2-0 before taking a fastball for a strike. It’s 2-2 and Goto is up there spoiling now. Jackson misses with a slider and its 3-2, but got him to miss another at the bottom of the strike zone.

Nakagawa looks as Jackson misses with two sliders low and away, but watches a third down the pipe. A fastball away finds the zone and it’s 2-2.
Another slider low out of the zone, Nakagawa offers, misses, and it’s all over as Jackson strikes out the side to end it.

Final score: Marines 6, Buffaloes 5

Shogo Akiyama spray charts

A recent comment about Akiyama suggested MLB’s extreme shifts could be trouble for him.


“Akiyama will have to adjust to more shifts in MLB. He’ll have to prove he can beat them.”

Burly

It’s true that shifts in NPB are pretty tame, there’s a reason for that: Japanese kids learn from an early age to go to hit the ball back up the middle or — especially fast left-handed hitters — hit it to the opposite field. It’s a huge difference between NPB and MLB.

And like most speedy left-handed hitters, Akiyama is adept at shooting the ball between third and short. You could shift on him a little and it might help, but too much and he’ll kill you.

Shogo Akiyama, career NPB hits
Shogo Akiyama, career NPB outs

The only team that tries extreme shifts here now is the Pacific League’s Nippon Ham Fighters. In one game they over-shifted to the right against left-handed hitting Tomoya Mori. In response, the slugging Lions catcher poked the ball on the ground into left, and expressed his thanks to the Fighters for giving him a freebie.

NPB games, news of Aug. 30, 2019

Pacific League

Lions 4, Hawks 2

At MetLife Dome, Tomoya Mori homered for the third-straight day, blasting a tie-breaking, two-run opposite-field shot off Kodai Senga (11-7) to hand Seibu the first round of the top-of-the-table PL clash with SoftBank. The win moved the Lions one game back of the Hawks.

His 20th home run is a career high for the Lions catcher, who then uttered what Japanese hitters are supposed to say about home runs — that they are not important to them.

“I am not particularly focused on hitting home runs,” said the league’s leading hitter. “Until now, I’ve been prioritizing hitting for average, to set the table for the hitter behind me.”

Shuta Tonosaki tied it in the fifth when Senga threw a center-cut 153-kph fastball with one out and Takeya Nakamura on third. Nakamura, who had a huge series during the week when the Lions swept the Fighters in three day games while the Hawks were rained out, then made the defensive play of the game in the top of the seventh.

With one out and runners on the corners and the infield in tight, the portly third baseman dove to knock down a grounder headed for left field to save a run. He retrieved the ball and threw a strike to first for the second out, allowing the Lions to escape the pickle with a routine grounder to second.

Lions starter Tatsuya Imai was victimized by Akira Nakamura in the second inning. Nakamura went deep on a high-straight fastball to make it 1-0. Kenta Imamiya doubled in the third and scored when Kenji Akashi singled him home off a changeup Imai that Imai left up high.

Katsunori Hirai worked the eighth, pitching in his Japan-tops 67th game, while Tatsushi Masuda picked up his 23rd save.

Imai allowed two runs over 6-1/3 innings. He walked two, and allowed six hits, while striking out four.

“I wanted to finish the seventh, but at least I can say I satisfied the minimum requirements for a starter tonight,” Imai said.

Senga struck out eight, but walked three and allowed nine hits. He has allowed a PL-high 17 home runs. Yakult Swallows right-hander Yasuhiro Ogawa leads the CL with 21 homers allowed.

“I am responsible for this, since I was the one entrusted with pitching this important game,” said Senga, who has lost his last three starts.

Takumi Kuriyama doubled to open the Lions’ second, and though he was stranded, he tied Hiromichi Ishige’s franchise hit record of 1,806.

Saturday’s game, a 6 pm start, will see Tsuyoshi Wada go for the Hawks and Kona Takahashi for the Lions.

Game highlights are HERE.

Eagles 7, Fighters 2

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Brazilian Luciano Fernando went 2-for-3 with a single and a double and drove in four runs as Rakuten handed Nippon Ham its fifth-straight loss.

Game highlights are HERE.

Buffaloes 10, Marines 4

At Zozo Marine Stadium, Shuhei Kojima and Kenya Wakatsuki each drove in three runs as Orix came from behind to beat Lotte behind five scoreless innings from the Buffaloes’ bullpen.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Giants 4, Tigers 1

At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin left 11 runners on base, and was held scoreless the last eight innings, while Yoshihiro Maru drove in three late runs for Yomiuri.

Game highlights are HERE.

BayStars 6, Carp 4

At Mazda Stadium, pinch-hitter Keita Sano forced across the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, Kazuki Kamizato singled in two more runs and a fourth run scored on a throwing error as DeNA came from behind to beat Hiroshima and win its fifth straight.

For the second-straight day Kenta Ishida came out of the bullpen to provide some clutch relief, and Yasuaki Yamasaki worked the ninth for his 29th save.

Dragons 7, Swallows 1

At Nagoya Dome, Enny Romero (8-9) allowed a run over six innings and Nobumasa Fukuda hit a two-run, first-inning home run, his eighth homer of August, as Chunichi overpowered Yakult.

The Swallows’ Tetsuto Yamada stole his 32nd base of the season and extended his record streak of successful attempts to 37 straight.

Lions’ Mori top of the pops

Tomoya Mori continued to be Mr. All-Star home run on Friday, when he hit his third all-star home run in his third game, his two-run, second-inning homer sparking the Pacific League’s three-homer assault in a 6-3 win over the Central League in Game 1 of Japan’s All-Star Game series.

It’s called the All-Star Game despite the fact that there are always more than one. Mori was named MVP, while Seibu Lions teammate and NPB home run leader Hotaka Yamakawa also went deep in the sixth inning, following their former teammate, Rakuten Eagles second baseman Hideto Asamura into the seats.

Fumihito Haraguchi of the Hanshin Tigers, who is recovering from cancer surgery in January, hit a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the ninth.

The home run came off Orix Buffaloes right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto who pitched the last three innings to earn the save. It was the 10th three-inning save in all-star history but the first since Hiroshi Takamura (Kintetsu Buffaloes) did it in 1996.

The PL now leads the series — which started in 1950 after the CL and PL were formed out of an expansion, 85-78. There have been 11 ties without any help from Bud Selig.

The PL has now won five straight games.

Saturday’s Game 2 will be held at Koshien Stadium outside Osaka.

Yoshida reaches HR derby final

NPB’s ubiquitous and annoying home run derbies have been modified again this year into a single contest, albeit one that is played over two days.

Years ago, the rules for the obligatory batting practice power hitting contest differed from game to game, so nobody really knew what was going on. A few years ago, fans were allowed to vote on the participants for each game, so the most popular players generally appeared in both.

This year, eight players are taking part divided into four groups, each with one player from each league.

Masataka Yoshida of the Orix Buffaloes won Round 1 after defeating Yakult Swallows teenager Munetaka Murakami 5-4. Yoshida then dispatched Yomiuri Giants shortstop Hayato Sakamoto, who had beaten Brandon Laird of the Lotte Marines 4-2.

Saturday’s second round will see Hotaka Yamakawa and DeNA BayStars left fielder Yoshitomo Tsutsugo in one group, and Tomoya Mori and Hiroshima Carp right fielder Seiya Suzuki in the other.

The winner will take on Yoshida in the final, so now in the future when someone in America says, “so and so won the home run derby in Japan” they’ll actually sound like they know what they’re talking about — because there’ll be only one.

Catching up with Tomoya Mori

Tomoya Mori

Four years after his bat kept him in the Seibu Lions lineup when his defense behind the plate would not, 23-year-old Tomoya Mori has gone from pleading for an opportunity to catch to becoming the club’s everyday backstop.

The Lions No. 1 draft pick in 2013 out of high school powerhouse Osaka Toin, Mori had trouble with passed balls in his 2014 rookie year in the minors. But having destroyed minor league pitching with his bat, the Lions made Mori their designated hitter in 2015, but didn’t play a single game behind the plate.

But Mori worked hard that offseason and in camp and caught 33 games from 2015 to 2016 as a backup to two-time Golden Glove winner Ginjiro Sumitani. A year ago, Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji made Mori his No. 1 catcher.

Mori hit like an MVP when he was in the lineup as a catcher as the Lions won the Pacific League, overcoming the PL’s worst ERA with a 792-run battering ram of an offense.

“That (being an everyday catcher) has always been my goal. Last year, manager Tsuji stuck with me, and I’m grateful to him for that,” Mori said in an April interview. “Because of that, I feel I have to produce good results this season.”

“I believe catching is pretty hard, and so it’s worth doing –if only for that reason alone. So I want to not only catch but play that position for all I’m worth.”

Tomoya Mori throw
Seibu’s Tomoya Mori practices his craft before a game. In 2018, he threw out 37.3 percent of the runners who tried to steal off him, the second best figure in NPB.

“Last season, the batters really helped us out. That’s something I thought about all season. My theme for this entire season is to be part of a battery that gives us a chance to win games. Even if it only happens once, I want to be a part of a game where people say the battery won it for us. For their part, the pitchers share in that desire.”

Opposing batters’ 2018 offense with different Seibu Lions pitchers and catchers.

“First and foremost is getting results. Getting those demands we shut down our opponents. The biggest issue from last year was the quality of our battery work when everything fell apart after we gave up the first run.”

Although Mori did not call all the pitches last year, he said he had to share responsibility for the outcomes.

“No (I don’t call every pitch). But if I put down a sign, I have to take some responsibility for that,” he said. “But rather than trying to assign blame to the catcher or to the pitcher that we think of those as mistakes by the battery.”

So how do you minimize those mistakes?

“Communication is important, whether or not you get a batter out or not, if you’re always talking about pitch selection, then you don’t have to say it because you are in sync,” he said. “Having a battery that is thinking along the same lines is a big factor in getting batters out.”

He said there are times when he gets a bad feeling from the pitcher’s body language about a pitch.

“Those times, I think, ‘Oh, no. This is going to get hit,'” he said. “So sometimes, I’ll think I’ll want a pitch that might lead to a walk but will avoid giving up an extra-base hit. Of course, you plan to change the pitch selection based depending on the situation.”

One situation where Mori’s performance definitely looked like he was uncomfortable last year was at designated hitter, where he hit like a catcher — a .318 OBP with a .330 slugging average. When he caught, his OBP was .396 and he slugged .420.

“I wasn’t aware of that until some people in the media pointed it out,” he said. “After that I started thinking that maybe I did feel a little different as a DH, but it wasn’t like I wanted to change things or tried to do anything differently.”

Also see my thoughts on Mori as a candidate for the PL’s top catcher last year.