Tag Archives: Tyler Higgins

NPB 2020 Oct. 29

Thursday’s games

Other news

‘Stars relievers stuff Giants again

For the second straight night, a Yomiuri Giants hitter who had tied the game earlier with a home run came up with a chance to turn the game around with the bases loaded but were turned away by the BayStars bullpen. Two straight sixth-inning strikeouts stemmed the tide in DeNA’s 5-2 win at Yokohama Stadium.

The Giants loss completed a three-game sweep and prevented them from clinching the pennant in Yokohama. Their magic number, however, dropped to one after the Dragons lost to the Tigers.

Yoshiki Sunada struck out slugging on-base machine Yoshihiro Maru swinging on a 3-2 changeup and right-hander Shingo Hirata got Hiroyuki Nakajima looking at a 3-2 strike to enable starter Kentaro Taira (4-5) to earn the win after allowing a run in 5-1/3 innings.

Taira, who turned pro with the Giants, only pitched in one game for them before he was plucked from among the unprotected players on Yomiuri’s roster as compensation for the signing of free agent and current Toronto Blue Jay Shun Yamaguchi. This puts Taira in the same boat as his outgoing manager, Alex Ramirez, who finished his career in Yokohama after being discarded by the Giants, for whom he won two CL MVP awards.

And while Ramirez tends to be egregiously positive and would have congratulated his former skipper Tatsunori Hara had they clinched in Yokohama, you had to think that sweeping them and preventing them from celebrating in their home park had to be sweet.

Angel Sanchez (8-4) allowed two runs over six innings to take the tough loss and the BayStars piled three runs on after Sanchez was replaced with lefty Kazuto Taguchi. Tyler Austin and Neftali Soto each drove in a run in the inning.

Maru’s home run was his 26th of the season and the 200th of his career.

Jose Lopez had two hits, moving within two of 1,000 in Japan, a milestone that would make him one of three players with 1,000 in both MLB and NPB along with Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui.

Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto also had two hits, moving him within five of Japan’s iconic 2,000-hit milestone.

Nishi takes cue from Ono

Yuki Nishi (11-5) allowed six hits and a walk over the distance as the Hanshin Tigers took advantage of poor control from Yudai Ono (10-6) to beat the Chunichi Dragons lefty in a 3-1 win at Koshien Stadium.

The irony is that Nishi’s fourth complete game came against Ono, the guy they’e now calling “Mr. Complete Game” because he’s gone the distance in 10 of his 19 starts — a figure that seems incongruous in this age.

Nishi gave up the opening run, a leadoff shot in the first when Yota Kyoda barreled up a waist-high changeup and just cleared the fence at the right-field pole for his fifth home run. The right-hander overcame a two-out “triple” on a miss-played single to right and then shut down the Dragons the rest of the way.

Ono took the mound without his pin-point location but the Tigers only barreled up one of his mistakes in a two-run first. It went: bad pitch + bad swing = leadoff single; bad pitch + good swing = RBI double; tough pitch + good swing = infield single; and an RBI groundout when Yusuke Oyama chased Ball 4 but grounded to short.

The Tigers runs snapped Ono’s streak of 45 consecutive scoreless innings, and the loss dropped the Dragons into third place behind Hanshin.

Chono spoils Swallows’ rookie’s starting debut

Yakult Swallows 20-year-old rookie Yuto Kanakubo, their fifth pick in 2017, threw five scoreless innings in his first career start, but Hisashi Chono’s pinch-hit homer tied it in the Hiroshima Carp’s three-run seventh and both teams left the bases loaded late in the 3-3 10t-inning tie at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Hawks speed past Marines

The SoftBank Hawks’ Ukyo Shuto set an NPB record by stealing a base in his 12th consecutive game and pinch-runner Go Kamamoto scored the winning run from second on a two-run wild pitch from closer Naoya Masuda (3-5) in a 4-3 win over the Lotte Marines at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Matt Moore went eight innings for the Hawks, allowing three runs, two earned, on five hits while striking out nine and walking none. Marines reliever Hirokazu Sawamura allowed the Hawks to close within a run in the eighth on a home run by Takuya Kai.

Eagles keep Lions at bay

The Rakuten Eagles took extra BP after the first pitch, hammering Zach Neal (5-8) for five runs over two innings on six hits and three walks in a 13-5 win at MetLife Dome over the Seibu Lions, who remain one game back of the Marines in the battle for the PL’s second and final playoff spot.

Rookie Eagles catcher Takaya Tanaka, a 28-year-old purchased from the Giants on Sept. 28 after two games with them, went 3-for-3 with his first career home run, a squeeze and three RBIs.

Fighters squeak past Buffaloes

Christian Villanueva tied it with a sixth-inning sacrifice fly, and Haruki Nishikawa manufactured the winning run in the 10th in a 4-3 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Sapporo Dome.

The Buffaloes’ back-of-the-bullpen duo, setup man Tyler Higgins and closer Brandon Dickson, kept the game tied 3-3 through nine with one perfect inning apiece. Nishikawa singled with one out and stole second. He slid headfirst and took third after catcher Torai Fushimi’s throw hit off him and into right field for an error. Ryo Watanabe then did his duty with a drive to right to score Nishikawa.

Bryan Rodriguez worked a scoreless inning of relief for the Fighters.

Viciedo out with shoulder injury

Chunichi Dragons’ first baseman Dayan Viciedo injured his left shoulder making a diving catch in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s game against the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium and was deactivated on Thursday.

The Dragons, who are the least forthcoming of Japan’s 12 teams regarding player injuries, said he was deactivated due to “insufficient upper body fitness.” This makes me wonder whether would use that catch-all to describe a player losing an arm in a traffic accident.

Active roster moves 10/29/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/8

Central League

Activated

DragonsOF6Ryosuke Hirata

Dectivated

TigersP64Kentaro Kuwahara
DragonsC52Takuma Kato
DragonsIF66Dayan Viciedo

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP58Wataru Karashima
MarinesP15Manabu Mima
FightersP57Toshihiro Sugiura
FightersIF24Yuki Nomura

Dectivated

EaglesP12Hiroki Kondo
FightersP36Drew VerHagen
FightersP49Katsuhiko Kumon
BuffaloesP17Hirotoshi Masui

Starting pitchers for Oct. 30, 2020

Pacific League

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

Nick Martinez (2-6, 4.83) vs Taisuke Yamaoka (3-5, 2.69)

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

Katsunori Hirai (5-4, 4.24) vs Nao Higashihama (8-1, 2.18)

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

Kazuya Ojima (7-8, 3.84) vs Takayuki Kishi (5-0, 3.75)

Central League

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

Nobutaka Imamura (4-2, 3.48) vs Hiroaki Saiuchi (1-2, 4.18)

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

Masaya Kyoyama (2-1, 4.88) vs Joe Gunkel (1-4, 3.54)

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

Yariel Rodriguez (3-4, 4.38) vs Hiroki Tokoda (3-8, 5.37)

NPB 2020 Oct. 21

Wednesday’s games

Other news

Senga deals Hawks to victory

The SoftBank Hawks turned a pitchers’ duel into a rout with seven runs off the Nippon Ham Fighters’ bullpen in a 9-1 win at Sapporo Dome on Wednesday. The Hawks, looking to win their first Pacific League pennant in three years, lowered their magic number to eight.

The Japanese news on Thursday will be the Hawks HAVE a magic number. But don’t be confused. That’s just the way they do things here.

Hawks ace Kodai Senga (9-6) allowed a run in the second on three ground balls that weren’t particularly well hit. He left after 6-1/3 innings having allowed seven hits and a walk while striking out five.

Drew VerHagen (7-6) allowed three runs over 6-2/3 innings. He gave up eight hits and a walk while striking out six.

Until the bullpen got involved everything revolved around the Hawks’ Ukyo Shuto and the Fighters’ Taishi Ota.

Shuto dropped a ground ball at second, allowing second-inning leadoff hitter Sho Nakata to reach on an error. Ryo Watanabe reached on a grounder to third. Ota smacked a breaking ball up in the zone through the infield, and Nakata just beat the throw home.

The Hawks took the lead in the fifth. Takuya Kai singled and scored when Shuto burned around the bases on a triple to the gap in left center. The Hawks’ speedster then scored on Akira Nakamura’s fly to right, barely beating the tag after a strong throw from Ota arrived on the first-base side of the plate.

With one out and two on in the bottom of the sixth, Ota hit a fly to medium deep right field,  Nakata barreled home, but Ryoya Kurihara’s throw was on the third-base side of the plate, and lacking Shuto’s speed, Nakata was out. Shuto sparked a three-run seventh with a two-out walk that chased VerHagen. Reliever Mizuki Hori walked Nakamura and surrendered an RBI single to Yuki Yanagita. Takahiro Nishimura came in and gave up a two-run double to Yurisbel Gracial.

Déjà vu all over again

For the second straight night, Shuta Tonosaki led off the bottom of the ninth against Lotte Marines closer Naoya Masuda (3-4) and scored the winning run on a ball hit by Kakeru Yamanobe to lift the Seibu Lions to a 2-1 win at MetLife Dome.

For the second straight night, Lions closer Tatsushi Masuda (5-0) worked dangerously. A night after he blew a one-run save, he pitched out of trouble to keep the game tied. Tonosaki drew a leadoff walk and instead of scoring on a dropped fly ball as he did on Tuesday, scored on a Yamanobe single.

Ernesto Mejia’s fourth-inning RBI single opened the scoring, and the Marines tied it in the seventh on a double play after Ikuhiro Kiyota and Hisanori Yasuda singled to open the inning.

Oshiro HR lifts Buffaloes

Koji Oshiro homered in the ninth inning off Yuki Matsui (4-5) to lift the Orix Buffaloes to a 6-5 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Buffaloes setup man Tyler Higgins (3-3) earned the win after he surrendered the tying run in the bottom of the eighth. Brandon Dickson loaded the bases in the ninth but allowed no runs to notch his 15th save.

The Eagles’ Stefen Romero capped a four-run first inning with a three-run home run, his 21st.

Swallows win battle for the ages

Forty-year-old Masanori Ishikawa (2-7) allowed a run over six innings and Munetaka Murakami, who is 20 years, 11 days younger, brought the Yakult Swallows from a run down with his 24th home run to beat the Central League-leading Yomiuri Giants 2-1 at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto broke up the scoreless game with a fourth-inning home run, his 17th. The visitors blew a chance for a fifth-inning insurance run when Yoshihiro Maru was put out trying to score from third when Takumi Oshiro failed to bunt a breaking ball in the strike zone.

With Norichika Aoki aboard in the sixth, Murakami hit an improbably low pitch from Giants lefty Yuki Takahashi and hit a nine-iron into the left-field stands for an opposite-field home run.

Dragons centurian Viciedo beats BayStars

Dayan Viciedo’s three-run home run, his 16th of the season and the 100th of his Japan career, overturned a 2-1 deficit and lifted the Chunichi Dragons to a 4-2 win over the DeNA BayStars at Nagoya Dome.

Tyler Austin singled in both of DeNA’s runs in the first and third, but Edwin Escobar surrendered one-out hits to Yohei Oshima and Yota Kyoda before Viciedo took him deep with two outs. The Dragons bullpen, weakened by the loss of closer Raidel Martinez, allowed six of the BayStars’ final 13 batters to reach but no runs.

Marte returns, homers in Tigers’ win

Jefry Marte returned after a 3-1/2 month absence to smash a two-run homer that lifted the Hanshin Tigers to a 2-0 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Koshien Stadium.

Koyo Aoyagi (7-8) worked 5-1/3 innings. He gave up a hit, two walks and hit a batter while striking out eight. Closer Robert Suarez, the Tigers’ fifth pitcher, worked a 1-2-3 ninth to take over the CL saves lead with his 22nd.

Carp starter Atsushi Endo (3-6) allowed two runs over six innings. He struck out nine.

Tigers may be done with Fukudome

Kosuke Fukudome, who at 43 is the oldest player in Nippon Professional Baseball, has been notified by the Central League’s Hanshin Tigers that he is not in their plans for next year, the Nikkan Sports reported Wednesday.

Such notices usually mean a player will be released or sold, but that is not always the case. It is noteworthy that when the Tigers became a novel coronavirus cluster in September, Fukudome had been one of those who had broken team protocols by dining out in a group of eight — twice the team’s limit.

As happens in Japan, at least one head had to role when a problem occurred in conjunction with rulebreaking and team president Kenji Ageshio announced on Oct. 9 that he would step down.

Another thing that happens in Japan is that the punishment and blame handed to athletes who break the rules is in inverse proportion to their competitiveness.

When a number of Japanese badminton players were found to have visited a casino–which are illegal in Japan–the most lenient treatment was reserved for world No. 2 Kento Momota, who missed the 2016 Olympics but has since returned to competition.

When a number of Yomiuri Giants pitchers were found to have bet on baseball, the lightest punishment was reserved for the only one who was any good. And after sitting out for one year and showing remorse, lefty Kyosuke Takagi resumed his career.

In 2019, Fukudome posted a .347 on-base-percentage, his worst as a regular in Japan. This year, his struggles have intensified, making him vulnerable to pay a price for his failure to follow the rules.

A former CL MVP, Fukudome spent five seasons in the United States, where he may have had the worst NPB-to-MLB translated value in history.

An on-base machine with good power (career .383 OBP .495 slug), who was killed by his first pro home park, Nagoya Dome, Fukudome’s offensive numbers in the majors (.359 .395) fell off considerably despite playing in excellent hitters’ parks.

Using Bill James Win Shares, most Japanese players lose some value going to the States, and after coming back past their prime, regain a little or stay about where they were in terms of value. Fukudome dropped sharply when he left and rebounded sharply when he returned.

I haven’t had a chance to speak with him about it, but MLB’s more challenging travel requirements and training routines may have been particularly hard on him. These differences can be very tough on Japanese players–regardless of Hideki Okajima‘s assertion that it was easy for him and “if it’s hard to adjust, you don’t belong in MLB.”

Marines: Laird has undergone surgery

Lotte Marines third baseman Brandon Laird underwent surgery for a lumbar disk hernia on Monday in Arizona, the Pacific League club announced Wednesday. The 33-year-old is in his sixth Japan season and his second with the Chiba-based Marines.

He was deactivated on Aug. 5 and traveled to the States 11 days later. He has played in 39 games this year with six home runs, giving him 169 in Japan. Laird was instrumental in the Nippon Ham Fighters winning the 2016 PL pennant and Japan Series, and is well known in Japan for his “sushi-making” home run celebration.

TIme for sushi.

Buffaloes drop ace Yamamoto

A day after yet another sharp outing in which he allowed two runs over seven innings, the Orix Buffaloes dropped ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto on Wednesday.

Yamamoto was taken off the hook for the loss when Orix came back to tie it 2-2 in the ninth inning. The 22-year-old leads both leagues with 149 strikeouts and tops the Pacific League with a 2.20 ERA and 126-2/3 innings. The move, according to the Daily Sports, was made out of consideration for his lower-body fitness and overall fatigue.

The Chunichi Dragons also made a move, dropping closer Raidel Martinez, who has struck out over 11 batters per nine innings and is tied for the league saves lead with Robert Suarez of the Hanshin Tigers.

As usual, the Dragons failed to specify any reason for Martinez’s move other than saying it was due to a lack of lower-body fitness.”

Active roster moves 10/21/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/31

Central League

Activated

TigersP66Ippei Ogawa
TigersIF31Jefry Marte
TigersIF55Naomasa Yokawa
DragonsP53Luis Gonzalez

Dectivated

TigersP77Onelki Garcia
TigersP92Kazuo Ito
TigersOF32Kota Inoue
DragonsP97Raidel Martinez

Pacific League

Activated

BuffaloesP61Tsubasa Sakakibara
BuffaloesP68Yu Suzuki

Dectivated

HawksP67Shunsuke Kasaya
FightersP15Naoyuki Uwasawa
BuffaloesP18Yoshinobu Yamamoto
BuffaloesP28Ryoga Tomiyama

Starting pitchers for Oct. 22, 2020

Pacific League

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

Kosei Yoshida (0-0, 8.53) vs Matt Moore (5-3, 3.00)

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

Takayuki Kishi (4-0, 3.74) vs Daiki Tajima (4-5, 4.01)

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

Zach Neal (4-7, 5.13) vs Kazuya Ojima (7-7, 3.50)

Central League

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

Daiki Yoshida (2-6, 4.82) vs Angel Sanchez (7-3, 3.34)

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

Yudai Ono (9-5, 1.92) vs Kentaro Taira (3-4, 2.48)

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

Minoru Iwata (1-1, 4.58) vs Kazuki Yabuta (0-2, 4.99)

NPB 2020 OCT. 17

Saturday’s games

CL

  • BayStars vs Giants, postponed, rain
  • Tigers vs Swallows, postponed, rain
  • Dragons 5, Carp 2

PL

Other news

Higashihama wins 6th straight

Nao Higashihama struggled with his location but got enough on his pitches to keep the Rakuten Eagles from squaring him up over seven innings in the SoftBank Hawks’ 5-0 win at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Higashihama (8-1) started on Opening Day for the Hawks, but was up and down over the first two months. He allowed four hits, walked two and hit while striking out seven en route to winning his sixth straight start.

Yuki Yanagita took Ryota Ishibashi (1-5) deep in the first inning for his 27th home run, and the game was still 1-0 when Higashihama’s lack of command allowed the Eagles to juice the bags with one out on two walks and a Stefen Romero single. But even though he missed up in the heart of the zone, Higashihama got two easy outs to end it.

Yurisbel Gracial homered in the home half and Ryoya Kurhihara doubled with the bases loaded in the fifth to complete the scoreline.

We’re only here for the beer

Postgame hero interviews run the gamut from completely inane to hilarious, and somedays it seems like the purpose of the exercise for SoftBank Hawks players is to be as campy as possible.

With Asahi brewers the sponsors for Saturday’s hero interview, Yuki Yanagita, Ryoya Kurihara and winning pitcher Nao Higashihama all spoke about their motivation for the day being to earn a one-year’s supply of Asahi beer.

Chang delivers on Lions’ Taiwan Day

Chang Yi (2-2) struck out eight over six scoreless innings, and the Orix Buffaloes got home runs from rookie Seiichiro Oshita and Steven Moya to beat the Seibu Lions 4-1.

The Lions were having one of their regular Taiwan Day promotions at their MetLIfe Dome ballpark across the border from Tokyo in Saitama Prefecture. Chang, a cousin of Yang Dai-kang and Yang Yao-hsun, who attended high school and university in Japan, ended up celebrating the day at his hosts’ expense.

Tyler Higgins worked a 1-2-3 eighth to preserve a two-run lead and Brandon Dickson recorded his 14th save in the ninth for the last-place Buffaloes.

Oblgatory lip service

Rookie Seiichiro Oshita broke up a scoreless game on Saturday when he led off the Orix Buffaloes’ fifth inning with his second career home run and then, as Ray Liotta’s character said in “Goodfellas,” he did the right thing, by denying he wanted to hit a home run.

The Nikkan Sports published a story based on the flash quotes distributed during the game by the team from every player who drives in a run.

“My plan going up to the plate first and foremost was to get on base,” Oshita said through the team. “The contact felt really good, so I thought it was gone the instant I hit it.”

“I so wanted to get in that first run, so I’m glad I could do that with a home run.”

Had he reversed that, and started talking about the home run, and then added the afterthought that his first thought was getting on base, Oshita would have been guilty of violating Japanese baseball norms, by suggesting he was trying to hit a home run.

Carp bullpen blows up again

For the second straight day the Hiroshima Carp bullpen surrendered four late runs, this time allowing the Chunichi Dragons to turn a one-run deficit into a 5-2 win at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Rookie of the year candidate Masato Morishita was rock solid through seven, allowing a run on five hits and no walks while striking out eight. But setup man Atsuya Horie (3-4) left with two on and one out in the eighth.

Geronimo Franzua, who has often been called on to get four outs, came in to get five. He got ahead of Yohei Oshima 1-2 but couldn’t get a called strike and walked him to load the bases.

With two outs, Franzua made a decent first pitch to Toshiki Abe, but the Dragons second baseman got the end of the bat on it and bounced it through the infield for a two-run single. Dayan Viciedo then iced the game with another two-run single.

Dragons starter Yuya Yanagi (4-6) scattered eight hits and two walks over seven innings to earn the win. The damage would have been worse but Moises Sierra made a couple of tricky catches in left when he appeared to struggle with the sun.

Raidel Martinez struck out the side in the ninth to earn his 21st save.

Hanshin forms women’s club

The Hanshin Tigers announced Saturday it was forming a women’s hardball club that will begin play next year, according to the Nikkan Sports.

The club will be the second operated by a Nippon Professional Baseball team following the announcement in April that the Pacific League’s Seibu Lions had established a club.

The Tigers’ club is an offshoot of the organization’s outreach programs to make the game more accessible to women. The Tigers said its purpose was three-fold:

  1. To cultivate the desire among women to play baseball
  2. To create an environment where it is easier for women to start in baseball.
  3. To increase the number of women players, women fans and Tigers fans.

The Tigers will begin accepting applications this month, with practices to be held once a week in the area around the club’s home base in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture. Some practices may take place at the Tigers’ home park, historic Koshien Stadium, or its minor league facility in Naruohama.

Active roster moves 10/17/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/27

Central League

Activated

CarpIF69Ryutaro Hatsuki
DragonsP17Yuya Yanagi

Dectivated

DragonsP13Yuki Hashimoto

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP21Ken Togame
HawksP34Arata Shiino
EaglesP12Hiroki Kondo

Dectivated

LionsP47Koki Matsuoka
HawksP11Yuki Tsumori
EaglesP17Takahiro Shiomi

Starting pitchers for Oct. 18, 2020

Pacific League

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

Wataru Matsumoto (4-5, 4.34) vs Hiroya Miyagi (0-0, 3.60)

Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Manabu Mima (9-3, 4.28) vs Kohei Arihara (6-8, 3.53)

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

Tsuyoshi Wada (7-1, 2.99) vs Ryota Takinaka (1-1, 3.63)

Central League

BayStars vs Giants: Yokohama Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Taiga Kamichatani (2-3, 4.02) vs Seishu Hatake (3-3, 3.16)

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

Takumi Akiyama (7-3, 2.96) vs Yasuhiro Ogawa (9-5, 4.09)

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

Yuta Nakamura (2-2, 2.91) vs Tatsuya Shimizu (1-0, 1.84)

NPB 2020 Oct. 9

Friday’s games

Other news

2 trees, 1 run, 0 games behind

Lotte Marines right-hander Kota Futaki (6-2) improved to 3-0 this season against the SoftBank Hawks in a 3-1 win at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

The Marines, who improved to 11-4-1 this season against the Hawks, pulled into a virtual tie with the league leaders, trailing only by winning-percentage points.

Futaki struck out nine, walked one and allowed three hits. The Hawks’ only run came when Akira Nakamura connected with a high straight fastball in the first inning and launched his sixth home run into the home run terrace in right field.

The right-hander located his fastball and had a particularly nasty slider that he used to change speeds and stay ahead of the game.

Hawks lefty Matt Moore (4-3) fought a gutsy rearguard action after fate conspired against him in the Marines’ two-run first. He allowed three runs, two earned, on seven hits, three walks and a hit batsman.

He notched three of his eight strikeouts in the third after Leonys Martin was on third with no outs in a bad night for Hawks catcher Takuya Kai, who gave up three steals and bobbled a throw to the plate that allowed a run to score in the first.

Marines rookie Kyota Fujiwara, their first pick out in the 2018 draft, singled in an insurance run in the sixth after catcher Tatsuhiro Tamura singled and stole his first base of the year.

Hirokazu Sawamura dialed his fastball up to 157 kph in a 1-2-3 eighth and Naoya Masuda worked an easy ninth to record his league-best 29th save. Yuki Yanagita, who struck out three times against Futaki, completed a nightmare evening by grounding into a double play.

Neal hangs in to earn win

Zach Neal and the Seibu Lions did some expert damage control, keeping the first inning from blowing up on them in a 5-2 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Neal (4-6) allowed two runs over six innings on five hits, two walks and a hit batsman, while Eagles starter Takahiro Shiomi (4-7) gave up three runs in the third, when he allowed three hits and a walk.

The Eagles’ D.J. Johnson struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth, but Lions closer Tatsushi Masuda ended the game with the tying run at the plate to record his 26th save.

Tajima holds off Fighters

Lefty Daiki Tajima (4-4) allowed two runs over six innings as the Orix Buffaloes beat the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.

Tajima gave up three hits and two walks while striking out two. Kensuke Kondo accounted for both of the hosts’ runs off him with a two-run sixth-inning homer.

Adam Jones drove in two runs for the Buffaloes with a walk and a single, while Takahiro Okada homered and drove in three. Tyler Higgins worked a 1-2-3 eighth before the Fighters scored twice off Brandon Dickson in the ninth.

Swallows outlast Carp

Twenty-year-old rookie Taiki Masuda broke a sixth-inning tie by leading off a six-run sixth with a home run in the the Yakult Swallows’ 12-7 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Each team used seven pitchers in the 4-hour, 16-minute game that saw the teams combine for 31 hits.

Active roster moves 10/9/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/19

Central League

Activated

SwallowsC52Yuhei Nakamura

Dectivated

GiantsP41Kota Nakagawa
BayStarsP35Tomoya Mikami

Pacific League

Activated

MarinesP65Takuro Furuya
BuffaloesOF6Yuma Mune
BuffaloesOF56Yusuke Matsui

Dectivated

None

Starting pitchers for Oct. 10, 2020

Pacific League

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

Kohei Arihara (5-8, 3.83) vs Taisuke Yamaoka (2-3, 2.51)

Eagles vs Lions: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Ryota Ishibashi (1-4, 5.94) vs Daiki Enokida (0-1, 7.13)

Hawks vs Marines: PayPay Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Nao Higashihama (6-1, 2.66) vs Toshiya Nakamura (2-4, 4.79)

Central League

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

Yariel Rodriguez (2-3, 3.38) vs Seishu Hatake (2-3, 3.79)

Tigers vs BayStars: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Joe Gunkel (1-3, 3.62) vs Haruhiro Hamaguchi (6-5, 4.56)

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

Masato Morishita (7-3, 2.43) vs Albert Suarez (4-1, 2.34)

NPB 2020 Oct. 1

Other news

Eagles blow chance to knock off Hawks

The Rakuten Eagles wasted a great start by Takayuki Kishi in a 4-1 loss to the SoftBank Hawks, whose win at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi guaranteed they would remain top of the Pacific League on Thursday.

Kishi delivered a master class with his fastball, curve and change to hold the Hawks to a walk and two hits while striking out four. But the switch to former closer Yuki Matsui (3-4) in the seventh inning, for his first relief appearance of a season so far spent as a starter, cost the Eagles a 1-0 lead.

A pair of sharp fielding plays from Hawks second baseman Ukyo Shuto and first baseman Akira Nakamura helped starter Shuta Ishikawa (7-3) and three relievers hold Rakuten to five hits. The typically wild Ishikawa walked three and hit two while striking out six over 6-1/3 innings.

Yurisbel Gracial walked and scored from first on Ryoya Kurihara’s double. After taking third on the throw home, Kurihara scored on a squeeze by Takuya Kai, who homered in the ninth to complete the scoring.

The Eagles had an opening with two walks and a single in the home half of the seventh but hurt their cause by striking out trying to sacrifice and a base running error. Hawks closer Yuito Mori earned his 23rd save. “We owe Kishi an apology,” Eagles skipper Hajime Miki said.

Iguchi: ‘We need to do better’

Hisanori Yasuda took a borderline 3-2 pitch for Strike 3 to end the game with the bases loaded in the Lotte Marines’ 3-2 loss to the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome that left Lotte a full game behind the Hawks.

Fighters starter Toshihiro Sugiura (6-3) struck out a career-high nine as he allowed one run over six innings. Kotaro Kiyomiya and Shingo Usami each homered for the Fighters, whose current closer, veteran lefty Naoki Miyanishi loaded the bases after retiring the first two batters.

Yasuda worked the count full and was headed for first after taking a pitch low and away before being rung up to end it. Miyanishi earned his fourth save.

“We failed to play to our full capabilities,” Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi said. “We knew early on that we were working with a wide strike zone, and we just kept going along. We need to learn to do better.”

Leonys Martin doubled, walked twice, scored both of Lotte’s runs and was on base when the game ended.

Daiki Iwashita (5-7) took the loss after allowing two runs over six innings.

Yamakawa homer slays feisty Buffaloes

Hotaka Yamakawa broke a 5-5 tie with a two-run eighth-inning home run, his 23rd, off Tyler Higgins (2-3) as the Seibu Lions avoided a three-game sweep at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome with a 7-6 win over the Orix Buffaloes.

Trailing by a run with the Buffaloes’ first-year setup man on the mound, Ernesto Mejia doubled and Takeya Nakamura singled in the tying run.

The turnaround earned rookie Tetsu Miyagawa (1-1) his first career win after he pitched out of a two-on, one-out jam in the seventh. Sosuke Genda and Corey Spangenberg opened the scoring with back-to-back homers in the third.

The Buffaloes, however, ran the Lions ragged in a four-run fifth. Trailing by two in the ninth, Takahiro Okada homered off closer Tatsushi Masuda, who earned his 23rd save after getting pinch-hitter Adam Jones to fly out to deep center for the final out.

Saiuchi ends 5-year winless drought

Hiroaki Saiuchi (1-1) plucked this summer from the independent Olive Guyners threw seven scoreless innings to earn his first win in 5 years, 2 days, in the Yakult Swallows’ 2-0 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

Saiuchi, the second pick of the Hanshin Tigers in 2011, was released last season. The right-hander challenged hitters in the zone with his breaking pitches, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out four.

“I am really happy to produce for the team after they found me lying around and gave me a chance,” Saiuchi said.

Swallows closer Taichi Ishiyama provided more chills and suspense in the ninth, when he allowed the tying runs on with two outs.

Yasuaki Yamasaki, who lost his closer’s job this summer, was hit on the right leg with a batted ball.

Fujinami shines in setup role

Shintaro Fujinami, whose career has been fraught with disappointment these past four years, and who has struggled in his return to the starting rotation this season, hit close to 100 mph in helping secured the Hanshin Tigers’ 2-0 win over the Chunichi Dragons with a perfect eighth inning.

Lefty Minoru Iwata (1-0) allowed five hits and no walks while striking out five over 6-2/3 innings. Jon Edwards struck out the only batter he faced in the seventh and Fujinami took care of business in the eighth. Closer Robert Suarez got a big play from shortstop Ryuhei Kobata to complete a 1-2-3 ninth and earn his 18th save.

Dragons rookie Yariel Rodriguez (2-3) allowed a run over six innings. The 23-year-old Cuban right-hander allowed two hits and two walks while striking out 10. The Tigers’ first run scored on a wild pitch.

Giants knock Scott

The Yomiuri Giants scored four runs in four innings off Tayler Scott (0-3) in a 5-3 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Yoshihiro Maru singled in a run in the first, and Hayato Sakamoto doubled in another in the third before Naoki Yoshikawa’s two-run single made it 4-0 in the fourth.

Despite their poor start, the Carp defense put on a fielding clinic, starting with some solid play from seven-time Golden Glove-winning second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi and four gems in left from Jose Pirela in the final innings.

Angel Sanchez (6-3) allowed three runs, two earned, over seven innings, while Rubby De La Rosa earned his 14th save.

Active roster moves 10/1/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/11

Central League

Activated

BayStarsP47Yoshiki Sunada
BayStarsP58Yuta Muto
TigersP21Minoru Iwata
CarpP70Tayler Scott
DragonsP67Yariel Rodriguez

Dectivated

BayStarsP27Taiga Kamichatani
TigersP27Yuya Onaka
CarpC32Yuta Shirahama

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP11Tatsuya Imai
HawksP29Shuta Ishikawa
EaglesP11Takayuki Kishi
FightersP57Toshihiro Sugiura
BuffaloesP35Motoki Higa

Dectivated

HawksP18Shota Takeda
HawksOF54Alfredo Despaigne
EaglesP41Kouji Aoyama
BuffaloesP17Hirotoshi Masui
BuffaloesP66Ryo Yoshida

Starting pitchers for Oct. 2, 2020

Pacific League

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

Kota Futaki (5-2, 4.07) vs Zach Neal (3-6, 5.29)

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

Taisuke Yamaoka (2-3, 3.00) vs Takahiro Shiomi (4-6, 4.66)

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

Matt Moore (3-2, 2.61) vs Kenta Uehara (1-1, 1.11)

Central League

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

Hirotoshi Takanashi (3-4, 4.61) vs Hiroki Tokoda (2-6, 5.83)

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

Shoichi Ino (6-5, 3.38) vs Tatsuya Shimizu (0-0, 0.00)

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

Yuki Nishi (7-4, 2.33) vs Nobutaka Imamura (3-1, 3.71)

NPB 2020 Sept. 6

There will be no talk of getting high today, although there is some discussion of changing scoring conventions, and an anecdote about how Japan’s official scorers can be extremely flexible in their decision making.

Futaki flummoxes Hawks

The Lotte Marines completed a three-game sweep of the SoftBank Hawks on Sunday, beating them 4-2 behind a solid six-inning effort from Kota Futaki (3-2). The win moved the Marines to within a half-game of the Pacific League-leaders and improved Lotte’s record this season against SoftBank to

Futaki kept the hosts’ hitters off balance for five innings and scraped by for one more, allowing two runs on four hits over six innings. He hit one batter and struck out six.

The right-hander had a mediocre splitter and occasionally filthy slider and by using them a lot, he kept the Hawks from zeroing in on a fastball with good life. The number of fastballs the Hawks took down the pipe suggested a lot of them were waiting on the splitter, which because it didn’t tumble was more of a change of pace that Futaki didn’t command well.

“As usual, we tried to establish a rhythm and get ahead in counts. I think I pitched really well through the fifth inning, but when they got to me in the sixth, it reminded me how much more I have to be able to do,” Futaki said.

Hawks starter Shuta Ishikawa is, at times, a picture-dictionary description of “effectively wild,” a right-hander with good stuff whose pitches are randomized by his annoying inability to locate consistently. Through four innings, he’d allowed no hits while striking out four, walking three and hitting one.

But in the fifth, the Marines took him down in textbook fashion.

 After a leadoff walk and a sacrifice on the next pitch, Ishikawa left a fastball up, and Shohei Kato stayed on it, chopping it up the middle for a single. Kato took second when center fielder Yuki Yanagita missed the cutoff man and scored when Tsuyoshi Sugano lofted a hanging curve over third base for an opposite-field single.

Hisanori Yasuda upper-cut another hanging curve and pulled it into the right-field stands for 4-0 Lotte lead.

Akira Nakamura and Yanagita, the engines that power the Hawks offense, had come close to getting to Futaki in the fourth inning when they saw him for the second time. Nakamura finally timed a fastball and smashed it – straight at a defender, while Yanagita who had been fooled badly by some superior sliders in the first inning, drove a high hanger to the warning track in center.

Futaki hit the leadoff hitter in the sixth, and Ukyo Shuto drilled a low splitter for a one-out single. Nakamura lined a hanging slider for an RBI single and Yanagita again barely missed a home run, but this time hit a hanging splitter off the wall in center for an RBI double. With one out and runners on second and third, Futaki put all he had into some great fastballs and got out of the inning.

Two relievers, Taiki Tojo and Fumiya Ono combined to work a scoreless seventh, Yuki Karakawa got past the heart of the order in the eighth, and Frank Herrmann pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save with the Marines. He’d saved 19 over three seasons with the Rakuten Eagles but none since 2018.

Lions KO VerHagen, punchless Fighters

The Seibu Lions seized both of their scoring opportunities and starting pitcher Wataru Matsumoto seven runners over six innings a 4-2 win against the Nippon Ham Fighters, who left the bases loaded twice at Sapporo Dome.

Matsumoto (2-3) allowed five singles, three in the Fighters’ two-run second, and five walks while striking out five. Ryosuke Moriwaki, Kaima Taira and Tatsushi Masuda each put up one more zero on the board with Masuda earning his 16th save.

Drew VerHagen (5-3) issued a leadoff walk in the first, retired the next eight batters, and finished his seven innings by setting down the last 11 he faced. In between, however, was trouble.

The Lions tied it in the third on a two-out walk followed by back-to-back doubles by Shuta Tonosaki and Sosuke Genda, whose slicing drive landed just fair to make it 2-2.

Things took another wrong turn for the Fighters in the fourth.

Takumi Kuriyama was credited with an infield single when Christian Villanueva dove to stop his smash down the line and his good one-hop throw to first was in time but not caught by first baseman Sho Nakata. Ernesto Mejia followed with an opposite-field double to the gap in right.

With the infield in, reserve Lions catcher slashed a grounder past Nakata. He was playing even with the bag and nearly came up with it. VerHagen gave Yuji Kaneko a high fastball and he did his duty, bringing Mejia home with a sacrifice fly.

To score is human

The scoring on the single that opened the Lions’ fourth seems to be really common this season. Has anyone else noticed this?

Balls that require good stops, where the throw was in time but is uncaught because it either bounces or is off target, would – it seems – have generally been called errors in the past, punishing fielders for making good stops.

From time to time, it seems, NPB has quietly adjusted its scoring and it seems to me like this is one of those times.

When I first arrived in Japan, very few errors were given. Outfielders who misplayed bouncing balls were rarely charged, with balls going between their legs being scored doubles and triples.

This practice stopped sometime over the past 20 years, and I’ll be damned if I know when or why. It could largely be the influence of watching MLB games and becoming accustomed to how they are scored. The outfield single-and-error scoring used to be very, very rare. Now it happens a few times a week.

We still don’t have the scoring convention of crediting a pitcher with an assist when a batted ball deflects off his body to an infielder, but who knows.

Willing to make exceptions

There was a time when former Carp first baseman Gail Hopkins said he couldn’t make an error to save his life. Locked in a battle for the 1976 Central League batting title with the Chunichi Dragons’ Kenichi Yazawa and the Yakult Swallows’ Tsutomu Wakamatsu, Hopkins said his team encouraged him to hit less. The CL had not had an import win the batting title since Wally Yonamine did it with the Giants in 1957, and no non-Asian had ever done it.

Hopkins said he botched two plays in a late summer series against the Swallows on grounders hit by Wakamatsu only to have his rival for the batting title get hits for his mistakes.

The next day, Hopkins tracked down the official scorer, who unlike in MLB, is an employee of the league, said his peace and backed off. Hopkins had a lot to do before games as he was studying to finish his PhD in biology, and often hit the books as much as possible in the spare time afforded him. He said he was willing to let it go, but that his interpreter ended up duking it out in the dugout with the unfortunate scorer.

Streaking Yoshida overpowers Eagles

Masataka Yoshida ran his hitting streak to 24 games with three hits, including two home runs and five RBIs to power the Orix Buffaloes’ 9-6 come-from-behind win over the Rakuten Eagles at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

The franchise and PL record is Atsushi Nagaike’s 32 games for the Hankyu Braves in 1971. The bigger news in Japan was that he has surpassed the mark of 23 that Ichiro Suzuki managed twice in 1994, his breakout season with the Orix BlueWave.

Yoshida’s 10th homer capped a six-run third inning as the Buffaloes overcame a 3-0 deficit against Eagles starter Yuya Fukui (0-4). His 11th, off Taiwan’s Sung Chia-hao, drove in three and provided the final margin for victory.

The Eagles scored twice in the bottom of the eighth off setup man Tyler Higgins, but Brandon Dickson worked a scoreless ninth to earn his ninth save.

Miyazaki blasts Carp

Toshiro Miyazaki went 3-for-5 with a home run, a sacrifice fly and four RBIs in the DeNA BayStars’ 8-5 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, where Monday’s scheduled game has been postponed in advance due to an advancing typhoon.

Carp starter Atsushi Endo, a nice surprise in their rotation this season, allowed four runs over three innings. The Carp took a 5-4 lead in the fifth on Hisayoshi Chono’s 11th home run, a two-run shot off BayStars starter Masaya Kyoyama (1-0), but the Carp bullpen could not keep up.

Neftali Soto’s sacrifice fly tied it in the sixth and Miyazaki’s one-out single plated his fourth run of the game and put the visitors ahead for good.

Ogawa rains on Dragons’ parade

Yasuhiro Ogawa (8-2) shook off a 30-minute rain delay at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, allowing one run over eight innings while the Yakult Swallows pounded Yariel Rodriguez (2-2) after the break in a 10-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons.

Rodriguez was dominant through five innings, but when play resumed and Ogawa needed just 11 pitches to work the top of the sixth, Rodriguez was unable to command his breaking pitches. The Swallows started shooting them around the ballpark.

Six pitches into the inning the game was tied on three-straight singles.

“When play resumed, perhaps it was a little thing about my rhythm,” Rodriguez said. “Things started going wrong and stayed wrong.”

Active roster moves 9/6/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/16

Central League

Activated

GiantsP42Cristopher Mercedes
BayStarsP48Masaya Kyoyama
CarpOF49Yuya Shozui
SwallowsP54Masato Nakazawa

Dectivated

GiantsP92Shohei Numata
BayStarsIF64Hiroki Momose
CarpP14Daichi Osera
CarpC40Yoshitaka Isomura
SwallowsP14Hirotoshi Takanashi

Pacific League

Activated

LionsIF0Daichi Mizuguchi
LionsOF72Seiji Kawagoe

Dectivated

LionsOF9Fumikazu Kimura
LionsOF46Shohei Suzuki
BuffaloesP11Sachiya Yamasaki

Starting pitchers for Sept. 4, 2020

Central League

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

Haruto Takahashi (2-1, 0.93) vs Cristopher Mercedes (2-4, 3.66)