I’ve got the video of Friday’s Giants-Dragons game, so if I have a chance, I’ve got to go through it and find this image of Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano shaking off catcher Takumi Oshiro, because I’ve never seen anything like it.
Typically, the shake-off is very subtle, a slight head move, but Sugano, looked like he and Oshiro were playing catch in the park and playing a guessing game. Instead of shaking slightly, Sugano grins as if the sign was the punchline to a joke the catcher had started between innings.
Then the pitcher laughs and gives a, “Your kidding me” look before they settle on the pitch he wants.
Brandon Dixon and Japan’s culture
New Rakuten Eagles import Brandon Dixon has some fans on pro baseball news. The analysts on the program are all different, and see the game in different ways, but there is often a common thread about the special traits needed to play the game the right way in Japan.
Teams that sacrifice a lot are deemed to have a greater desire to score, players who slide head-first are praised, and so it was with Brandon Dixon, who was one of the Rakuten Eagles’ postgame hero interviewees.
This led to the discussion of his merits by Friday’s cast, Hiroki Nomura, Kenichi Yazawa and Yoshiaki Kanemura. Yazawa kept it pretty objective, but the other two flipped over the Japanese-baseball cultural identity cards.
Yazawa: “He can play the outfield and he fields well at first. He had a very slight takeback tonight, so it looks like he is conscious of what he needs to do against Japanese pitchers.“
Nomura: “Mr. Kanemura, what do you think? He was sliding head first yet again. You rarely see that from such a big player. He’s certainly full of fight isn’t he?”
Kanemura:“No mistake about it. I too think he’s a good fit for Japan. He’s got guts. And in the hero interview, he said he’s just so happy to be playing baseball. It seems he even likes sushi (laughs). He got 100,000 Rakuten points for being in the hero interview.“
Do you enjoy jballallen.com? Would you like to receive a weekly newsletter and unlimited access to posts, pages, and live chats? Subscribe by Sunday, May 2, and get 1 month free. Without support from the readers, this website doesn’t exist.
Dickson on the outside
Orix Buffaloes right-hander Brandon Dickson may be unable to come to Japan this season due to difficulties obtaining visas for his family during the current state of emergency, Nikkan Sports reported Friday.
The 36-year-old in his ninth season with Orix, spent the entire 2020 season away from his family due to the coronavirus pandemic but had expected them to come with him this year. Dickson, a starter for his first six seasons before spending time as the Buffaloes – and Team USA closer – from 2019, was expected to return to Orix’s starting rotation this season.
3 Fighters KO’d by virus
Three Nippon Ham Fighters, outfielder Haruki Nishikawa, shortstop Takuya Nakashima and catcher Yushi Shimizu were all sidelined Friday by positive coronavirus tests, and they were joined by outfielder Daiki Asama, who is quarantining as a potential close contact.
The Coronavirus Kid returns
The Lotte Marines on Friday lifted the indefinite suspension on Ikuhiro Kiyota, who was held responsible for the Lotte Marines’ 2020 coronavirus outbreak that sidelined 14 players. The outbreak was discovered after the club returned from a road trip to Sapporo, although no players were known to have violated protocols. Kioyota, however, was suspended after photos of him eating out with a female companion while in Sapporo were later published.
Yanagi outduels Sugano
Dragons 3, Giants 2
At Tokyo Dome, Chunichi’s Yuya Yanagi (2-1) threw an artistic seven innings, locating his fastball and mixing it with a dynamite curve and changeup to strike out nine while allowing two runs in his seventh and final inning of work.
The right-hander gave up four hits, two in the seventh, and walked three. The walks forced him to escape a two-out bases-loaded jam in the second by retiring Sugano. Yanagi dominated for the next four innings before hard-hit balls by Justin Smoak and Zelous Wheeler set the table for the Yomiuri fightback.
Tomoyuki Sugano (2-2) lacked his customary razor-sharp command, and threw hittable strikes when he got behind in counts and allowed six hits but no walks. Sugano was burned in the second when Dayan Viciedo turned on an inside fastball and lined it into the left-field stands at the ballpark – emptied of fans due to the coronavirus state of emergency in effect that also forced the games at Koshien and Kyocera Dome to be held behind closed doors. The home run was Viciedo’s third.
With two on and one out in the inning, Akira Neo grounded to first but Smoak failed to stop it for a run-scoring error. After Yanagi hit the ball hard for the second out, Sugano hit a batter to load the bases. However, the ace passed his biggest test of the night by striking out Yota Kyoda on four pitches.
Akira Neo doubled and scored in the fourth on a single by rookie Wataru Takamatsu, who drove in the first run of his career.
Katsuki Matayoshi worked a scoreless eighth instead of regular setup man Daisuke Sobue, and Raidel Martinez carved up the heart of the Giants order in the ninth for his third save.
At Yokohama Stadium, Yakult rookie Yuto Kanakubo (1-1) struck out six over six innings, while DeNA lefty Yuya Sakamoto took a direct hit on his pitching shoulder from a Munekata Murakami line drive to open the second and left the game.
Tetsuto Yamada doubled in two runs in the third inning, and the visitors added two more in the sixth, when Jose Osuna doubled with two outs and scored on Domingo Santana’s second home run off fellow first-year import Kevin Shackelford.
Tigers 4, Carp 2
At Koshien Stadium, Hiroshima’s Allen Kuri (3-3) did well to only allow four runs over five innings after walking four over the first two. He walked six and allowed eight hits, while Hanshin’s Takumi Akiyama (3-2) gave up two runs over 7-1/3 innings.
Jerry Sands broke the ice in the first with a two-out RBI single, and walked and scored in the Tigers’ two-run fifth. Kevin Cron broke up the Tigers’ bid for a shutout in the eighth with a pinch-hit leadoff homer, his third. Hanshin closer Robert Suarez pitched a scoreless ninth for his seventh save.
Rookie Takumu Nakano reached base twice and scored the Tigers second run while putting on a fielding clinic at shortstop.
Eagles 8, Marines 1
At Rakuten Seimei Park, Rauten’s Hideaki Wakui (4-0) walked four, including three straight in the second inning to give Lotte the lead, only for the Marines to return the favor with back-to-back two-out errors and two unearned runs in the home half.
Marines starter Toshiya Nakamura (0-1) allowed five runs, three earned over five innings. Brandon Dixon tripled in two runs in the third as the Eagles cruised.
Lions 5, Fighters 1
At Sapporo Dome, Seibu’s Kona Takahashi (4-0) allowed a run over six innings, followed by scoreless innings from Reed Garrett and Kaima Taira before the Lions opened the game up in the ninth on Sosuke Genda’s two-run triple. Tomoya Mori doubled and tripled and scored two of Seibu’s first three runs.
Drew VerHagen (0-2) allowed three runs, two earned, over 5-1/3 innings to take the loss.
Buffaloes 5, Hawks 4
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Orix victimized SoftBank’s normally reliable bullpen to overturn the visitors’ late 4-2 lead, scoring a run off setup man Livan Moinelo and two off Sho Iwasaki (1-1), who worked the ninth in place of right-handed closer Yuito Mori, who was deactivated to have inflammation in his left elbow treated.
Shuta Ishikawa allowed two runs, one earned, over seven innings but came up empty.
Masataka Yoshida opened Orix’s eighth with his sixth home run on an off night for Moinelo, who walked two batters. The lefty got a double play and escaped the inning with the tying run at the plate when pinch-runner Yuya Ota was out trying to take second on a bounced pitch.
Yuma Tongu and Kotaro Kurebayashi singled to open the ninth. After a failed two-strike bunt, Yuma Mune doubled them both home over the drawn-in outfield to win it.