Tag Archives: Tyler Higgins

NPB Wrap 4-13-21

Starting pitchers

Flooding back

The DeNA BayStars and Chunichi Dragons each welcomed back two essential workers on Tuesday, as DeNA activated second-year slugger Tyler Austin and two-time Central League home run champ Neftali Soto while the Dragons called up catcher Ariel Martinez and closer Raidel Martinez.

The Yomiuri Giants introduced new sluggers Eric Thames and Justin Smoak, while the Hawks held a press conference for right-hander Nick Martinez, who joins this season from the Fighters.

Ishikawa wins debut

Marines 6, Eagles 2

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Lotte’s Ayumu Ishikawa (1-0) allowed a run over seven innings to outduel Takayuki Kishi (2-1) in his season debut. Ishikawa surrendered back-to-back two-out first-inning doubles to Hiroaki Shimauchi and Hideto Asamura. The right-hander allowed seven singles, and struck out five without issuing a walk, while his teammates scored four unearned runs against the Pacific League leaders.

Kishi surrendered Koki Yamaguchi’s game-tying solo homer in the second and allowed in a pair of unearned runs in the seventh on a walk, a two-out error, a passed ball and a Yamaguchi flare single. The Marines tacked on three more against former Padres and Lions submariner Kazuhisa Makita with the help of another two-out error. The Marines took a five-run lead into the ninth but had to call on closer Naoya Masuda with two outs and the bases loaded. The right-hander allowed an RBI single before closing out his second save.

Fighters 3, Lions 2

At MetLife Dome, Journeyman right-hander Takahisa Ikeda (1-2) earned his first win since the Nippon Ham fighters acquired him in a March trade from the Rakuten Eagles. The 26-year-old allowed a run on three hits and two walks over six innings.

Seibu Lions starter Wataru Matsumoto (1-2) resumed living on the wild side of life with five walks, only the last of which cost him in a three-run Fighters sixth. After a fluke single, he hit a batter and walked another.

Matsumoto handed lefty Yasuo Sano a no-out, bases-loaded predicament and Kensuke Kondo didn’t try to do too much with a hittable pitch, lining it up the middle to tie it. Tetsu Miyagawa walked Sho Nakata, and surrendered a sac fly.

The Fighters’ bullpen has been making games lively recently, and Tuesday was no exception, allowing a run on two hits before earning his third save.

Buffaloes 7, Hawks 4

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Orix Buffaloes lefty Daiki Tajima (1-1) allowed five walks but just one run on one hit, Ryoya Kurihara’s first-ining RBI single, over 6-1/3 innings. The Buffaloes tied it in the second on a walk by lefty Shunsuke Kasaya (1-1) and three scratch singles before Keita Nakagawa doubled to open the sixth and scored on Takahiro Okada’s pinch-hit single off reliever Yuki Tsumori.

The Buffaloes blew the game open in a five-run ninth. Nakagawa had a a two-run double, while Adam Jones, who walked twice and scored the tying run in the second, singled in two more. The Hawks scored three in the ninth, the last coming on veteran pinch-hitter Yuya Hasegawa’s single off new pitcher Tyler Higgins, who then ended the game with a strikeout for his first save.

Giants 2, Dragons 1

At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri Giants right-hander Angel Sanchez (1-1) allowed a run on four walks and a hit batsman over 7-1/3 innings, and Taishi Hirooka broke a 1-1 seventh-inning tie with his first home run since he was traded from the Yakult Swallows in March.

Giants manager Tatsunori Hara pulled Sanchez after Dragons catcher hit a broken-bat fly to deep left. Lefty Kota Nakagawa entered and allowed the Dragons’ only hit before striking out two. Rubby De La Rosa worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his fourth.

The Giants scored in the home half of the first on a walk and two singles off Chunichi Dragons lefty Yudai Ono (0-2), who allowed two runs and five total hits over seven innings.

Giants-Dragons highlights

Swallows 5, BayStars 1

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Yakult’s Albert Suarez (1-1) struck out nine while allowing two singles and a walk over six innings, while Kengo Ota broke a scoreless tie with a two-run fourth-inning double off Shinichi Onuki (1-1), who threw the world’s worst changeup to Munetaka Murakami. The slugger’s home run was his sixth, a three-run shot in the fifth. Tetsuto Yamada had three hits and scored twice for the Swallows.

The BayStars threatened to tie it in the top of the fifth after Suarez allowed a leadoff walk and a single but with one out and two runners in scoring position, the right-hander got a comebacker and a strikeout.

Pacific League

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

Takahiro Norimoto (2-0, 2.03) vs Kazuya Ojima (0-1, 5.25)

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

Tatsuya Imai (0-1, 2.70) vs Hiromi Ito (0-1, 2.08)

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

Tsuyoshi Wada (0-1, 4.26) vs Yoshinobu Yamamoto (2-1, 0.78)

Central League

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

Seishu Hatake (0-1, 7.36) vs Akiyoshi Katsuno (1-0, 3.24)

Swallows vs BayStars: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT

Yuto Kanakubo (0-0, 0.00) vs Taisei Irie (0-2, 5.40)

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

Masashi Ito (1-0, 2.25) vs Hiroki Tokoda (1-0, 3.09)

Active roster moves 4/13/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/23

Central League

Activated

GiantsP11Ryuta Heinai
GiantsIF00Dai Yuasa
DragonsP97Raidel Martinez
DragonsC57Ariel Martinez
BayStarsIF99Neftali Soto
BayStarsOF23Tyler Austin

Dectivated

None

Pacific League

Activated

MarinesP12Ayumu Ishikawa
LionsOF58Masato Kumashiro
FightersC68Ryo Ishikawa
FightersIF48Kyohei Ueno

Dectivated

LionsOF9Fumikazu Kimura

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NPB wrap 4-9-21

Angry Fighters snap skid

Fighters 2, Buffaloes 1

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, the Nippon Ham Fighters ended their nine-game winless streak with a two-run eighth-inning that shouldn’t have happened, except it came against the Orix Buffaloes, who have a knack for making the improbable inevitable.

The game started as a scoreless pitchers’ duel between former Buffaloes ace Chihiro Kaneko and Orix right-hander Taisuke Yamaoka until the seventh, when things went half-right for the Buffaloes. Masataka Yoshida, on first from a leadoff single, was put in motion, preventing a double play and allowing him to score when Takahiro Okada chased a high breaking ball out of the zone from Kaneko but pulled it into the gap in right for an RBI double.

The Buffaloes loaded the bases with one out, but Fighters lefty Mizuki Hori made the great escape, and things began to buffalo for Orix in the top of the eighth and Kensuke Kondo on first with a single.

Twenty-year-old second baseman Ryo Ota went for a double play and got no outs instead of one. Veteran shortstop Ryo Adachi got a double play grounder that could have ended the inning but couldn’t get the ball out of his glove and Daiki Asama doubled in both runners.

Tyler Higgins worked a solid ninth for the Buffaloes, but he couldn’t put runs on the board, and the Fighters’ streak was over.

The win was Kuriyama’s 631st with Nippon Ham, tying the franchise record of Keiji Osawa.

“That doesn’t have anything to with anything,” Kuriyama said after the game.

Kuriyama, Nakata simmer

Fighters skipper Hideki Kuriyama had a rare blowup over cleanup hitter Sho Nakata, who hurt his own right eye in an accident on the team’s bench, according to Hochi Shimbun.

Nakata snapped his bat after striking out in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to the SoftBank Hawks and suffered a swollen right-eye in the process — in a Japanese version of the injury that ended Cecil Fielder’s brief career in Japan. Fiedler slammed his bat down in frustration and it bounced up and caught him in the eye.

Kuriyama was angry about it after Wednesday’s game, and again the next day, when he pulled Nakata from the starting lineup.

Nakata started against the Buffaloes on Friday and when reporters asked Kuriyama about the injury before the game, he said, “Don’t ask me. Ask him!”

Lions 7, Marines 4

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Seibu’s Aito Takeda, a man of several names, opened the scoring with his first pro homer, and liked it so much he hit another, capping a five-run Lions eighth with a three-run shot.

Marines right-hander Fumiya Ono (0-1) came in after Opening Day starter Kota Futaki allowed a run over seven innings. Ono loaded the bases with one out for Wu Nien-ting, who singled in two runs. Takeda then took Lions starter, Kona Takahashi, off the hook for the loss with his second home run.

Takeda is registered under his given name, although he turned pro in 2016 as Aito Otaki, and more likely than not changed it to his wife’s family name when he got married, a common practice when marrying into a family with no sons. He entered the game with 83 first-team plate appearances in 61 games.

The Marines took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on rookie Koki Yamaguchi’s two-run homer, his first as a pro.

Eagles 1, Hawks 1

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Rakuten’s Hideaki Wakui allowed a run over eight innings but failed to get his third win because SoftBank’s Shuta Ishikawa allowed a run over seven solid innings, and neither bullpen allowed a run.

Tigers 9, BayStars 2

At Yokohama Stadium, Shintaro Fujinami (0-1) walked five batters but didn’t allow a run until the seventh, when he led 9-0 and gave up a two-run shot to Daiki Sekine.

If there were prop bets on who would walk in the first batter in this game, I’m guessing you’d have had to get good odds to bet on Haruhiro Hamaguchi (0-2), who walked the No. 8 hitter to cap a three-run first-inning rally. Fujinami, who threw his fourth pitch of the game to the backstop on the fly, didn’t even load the bases until the third inning and then retired both batters he faced without ever getting to three balls on either to keep it scoreless.

Jefry Marte doubled in Koji Chikamoto to open the scoring and came home on a Yusuki Oyama sac fly before Hamaguchi’s bases-loaded walk completed the rally.

Rookie Teruaki Sato launched his third homer, off reliever Yuki Kuniyoshi, out of the ballpark. Kuniyoshi allowed all six runs in Hanshin’s six-run sixth. Marte singled in another run, Oyama doubled in two and Jerry Sands capped the rally with an RBI single.

Carp 2, Giants 0

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Ryosuke Kikuchi and Seiya Suzuki continued to tear it up. Kikuchi, the first batter to face Tomoyuki Sugano (0-1) since the Giants’ ace was deactivated after Opening Day with leg issues, homered to open the bottom of the first, and Suzuki made it 2-0 before Sugano settled down and followed by bowling six scoreless frames.

Daichi Osera (2-1) went six innings, allowing six hits and a walk while striking out six. Lefty Daisuke Moriua walked the first two batters he faced in the seventh and walked Hayato Sakamoto intentionally to load them and got out of the inning against Takayuki Kajitani.

Rookie Carp closer Ryoji Kuribayashi recorded his fourth save, ending it by getting Sakamoto to hit into a double play.

Sasaki rocks on the farm

Rocket-armed 19-year-old Roki Sasaki, whom the Lotte Marines expect to bring up to the first team within a month, allowed a hit over three scoreless innings in Friday’s Eastern League game against the Seibu Lions, Hochi Shimbun reported.

The right-hander with the super smooth delivery touched 95 mph. He allowed a leadoff single and hit a batter while striking out two in his 39-pitch outing.

Punch-drunk Fighters swap 8 players

The Pacific League’s Nippon Ham Fighters, winless over their last nine games with seven losses and two ties, replaced eight players on their active roster on Friday.

Outfielder Chusei Mannami was among the eight activated players. The 21-year-old, the Fighters’ fourth pick in the 2018 draft, is tied for the Eastern League home run lead with five and slashing .340/.421/.745.

The Fighters’ minor league facility in Kamagaya is a hitter’s park in a hitter’s league, and Fighters’ minor leaguers often put up some gaudy numbers before getting reality checks at cavernous Sapporo Dome.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

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

Hayato Yuge (0-0, 2.45) vs Rei Takahashi (0-1, 5.11)

Marines vs Lions: Zozo Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Manabu Mima (0-0, 2.31) vs Shota Hamaya (1-1, 3.72)

Buffaloes vs Fighters: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Sachiya Yamasaki (0-1, 3.60) vs Naoyuki Uwasawa (0-2, 8.74)

Central League

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

Taiga Kamichatani (0-0, 22.50) vs Koyo Aoyagi (1-0, 2.08)

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

Yuya Yanagi (0-1, 2.25) vs Yasuhiro Ogawa (1-0, 2.03)

Carp vs Giants: Mazda Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Allen Kuri (2-0, 3.00) vs Shosei Togo (1-0, 1.80)

Active roster moves 4/9/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/19

Central League

Activated

GiantsP18Tomoyuki Sugano
CarpP58Reira Fujii
CarpIF69Ryutaro Hatsuki

Dectivated

CarpP67Yuta Nakamura
CarpOF55Ryuhei Matsuyama
SwallowsOF49Daiki Watanabe

Pacific League

Activated

MarinesP60Rikuto Yokoyama
LionsP21Ken Togame
LionsP48Shota Takekuma
FightersP19Chihiro Kaneko
FightersP35Takahiro Nishimura
FightersIF91Yuto Takahama
FightersOF66Chusei Mannami
BuffaloesIF36Tatsuya Yamaashi

Dectivated

MarinesP49Fumiya Motomae
LionsP43Mitsuo Yoshikawa
LionsP64Towa Uema
FightersP31Toru Murata
FightersP40Suguru Fukuda
FightersIF2Kenshi Sugiya
FightersOF4Yuya Taniguchi

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NPB wrap 3-30-21

Kishi throws season’s 1st shutout

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Takayuki Kishi scattered eight singles while striking out seven and walking none for the Rakuten Eagles, who spoiled the Lotte Marines’ home opener, 5-0 in the Pacific League on Tuesday.

Kishi, who went 7-0 last year despite walking 20 batters over 67-1/3 innings, a fairly high rate for him, got back into his more normal groove. The 36-year-old elder statesman of the Eagles’ staff poured a little cold water on tradition in the postgame hero interview.

“I wasn’t thinking I was going to go all the way and finish the game. I wasn’t going to do anything counterproductive. I just focused on pitching as well as I could to get guys out,” he said.

Southpaw Kazuya Ojima (0-1) took on the mostly left-handed-hitting Eagles and took his lumps from their big right-handed bat, Hideto Asamura, who homered, and singled in a run. Eigoro Mogi followed Asamura’s sixth-inning single with a three-run homer.

The Marines activated slugging infielder Brandon Laird for the game. The 33-year-old managed just 39 games last season before injuries intervened. The one-time Mexico international went 1-for-3 against Kishi.

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, the SoftBank Hawks improved to 4-0 on the season with a 3-1 win over the Orix Buffaloes. Hawks lefty Shunsuke Kasaya (1-0) allowed a run over six innings on Adam Jones’ leadoff shot in the second. Kasaya struck out seven and walked two.

The Buffaloes got solid work from lefty Daiki Tajima, who gave up two runs over six innings. Hawks catcher Takuya Kai cannoned a pitch from Tyler Higgins over the wall in left to complete the scoring in the seventh, while Steven Moya went 1-for-3 for the Buffaloes.

At Sapporo Dome, rookie Brandon Taiga Tysinger, an Okinawa native who went to university in Hokkaido, returned there with a two-run homer, an RBI single and a sac fly as the Seibu Lions handed the Nippon Ham Fighters an 11-4, 3-1/2-hour beating in their home opener.

Hotaka Yamakawa, the PL’s 2018 MVP and another Okinawa native, homered in the first to open the scoring off lefty side-armer Ryo Kawano (0-1) but hurt himself stepping awkwardly on the first-base bag and came out of the game.

Yamasaki returns in bullpen blowup

At Yokohama Stadium, Yasutaka Shiomi doubled, homered and drove in three runs as the Yakult Swallows won for the first time this season in the Central League, coming from three runs down to beat the DeNA BayStars 5-4.

Lefty Kenta Ishida and former closer Yasuaki Yamasaki combined to allow four eighth-inning runs with Shingo Kawabata teeing off on a high first-pitch fastball from the former Japan closer Yamasaki to put the visitors in front.

Trailing 4-1 in the eighth, Norichika Aoki’s clone, Kotaro Yamasaki, worked a leadoff walk against the normally reliable Ishida. With two outs, Ishida appeared to lose the plot after left-handed-hitting slugger Munetaka Murakami checked his swing on a pair of two-strike high fastballs to draw a walk.

Seiichi Uchikawa, who began his career as a big-hitting second baseman for the BayStars 20 years earlier and is back in the CL for the first time in 11 years, ripped a fat 1-0 slider up the middle for an RBI single to score Yamasaki.

Having allowed a run in each of his relief appearances over the weekend against the Giants, Ishida was yanked in favor of Yasuaki Yamasaki. Shiomi hit a 1-1 splitter to the wall in left that Taiki Sekine failed to time properly, allowing it to go for a two-run double, and Kawabata drilled a first-pitch fastball to the gap in right for a Swallows lead.

Albert Suarez started for the Swallows and allowed three runs over four innings, while the BayStars wasted seven solid innings from Shinichi Onuki.

The BayStars remain winless after two wins and a tie over the weekend.

At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, 2020 Sawamura Award winner Yudai Ono lacked the sharp command that was his trademark from the middle of last season, but gutted out seven innings while allowing two runs in the Chunichi Dragons’ 3-3 nine-inning tie against the Yomiuri Giants.

Angel Sanchez allowed two unearned runs over seven innings for the Giants, while Zelous Wheeler, hitting in the two hole for Yomiuri, went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Dragons cleanup hitter Dayan Viciedo put the hosts ahead in the second with a two-run single after a mental mistake by Giants third baseman Kazuma Okamoto prolonged the inning.

Defending No. 2

The pro yakyu news cast spent five minutes discussing the merits of Wheeler in the No. 2 hole, which is no surprise, since Japanese dogma since about 1980 demands that spot be taken by a guy who sacrifices and hits behind the runner and is typically a small, fast glove man.

“I used Wheeler when I was manager of the Eagles. He’s smart, always thinking of the base running situation as a hitter,” Hiromoto “Dave” Okubo said.

This is just another example of the language we get to justify the use of guys in the No. 2 spot whose only offensive skills are bunting and grounding out behind the runner. Because Wheeler isn’t one of those guys, a lot of the old boys need an excuse to justify his batting there.

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, 2020 rookie of the year Masato Morishita (1-0) struck out seven over six innings in the Hiroshima Carp’s 1-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers, who suffered their first loss.

Once Morishita left the game, the Tigers managed three hits off the Hiroshima bullpen, but two of those batters, Jerry Sands and rookie Teruaki Sato, were erased trying to leg out doubles against right fielder Teruaki Sato. Sato ended the game striking out against rookie Carp closer Ryoji Kuribayashi, who recorded his second save.

Sugano deactivated

Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano was deactivated on Tuesday after feeling discomfort and slight pain in his leg Kyodo News (Japanese) reported.

The report said he is only expected to miss one start.

Last season’s Central League MVP, Sugano turned down offers from MLB clubs after the Giants posted him and signed a one-year deal to remain in Japan for the 2021 season. He made his seventh career Opening Day start on Friday, allowing three runs on eight hits and three walks over six innings.

Welcome back

Two SoftBank Hawks’ players, outfielder Wladimir Balentien and pitcher Nick Martinez, both entered Japan on Tuesday, Nishinihon Sports reported.

Balentien may count as a domestically-registered player but unfortunately, that doesn’t cut any weight with the immigration office that had been keeping non-residents from entering Japan, until pro baseball and soccer players were added to an entry waiver used for emergency workers, because, well, baseball and soccer are urgent.

No word on Senga after farm outing

SoftBank Hawks skipper Kimiyasu Kudo said he hadn’t made a decision on whether to activate ace Kodai Senga after the right-hander allowed three runs on nine hits over seven innings in the minors on Tuesday, Nishinihon sports reported.

“I’ve been informed of how he did, but I haven’t seen the video yet, so I can’t say what’s next for him,” Kudo said.

Fighters’ top pick to start Wednesday

Right-hander Hiromi Ito, a Hokkaido native and the Nippon Ham Fighters’ first pick in last autumn’s draft, will make his pro debut on Wednesday against the Seibu Lions at Sapporo Dome.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

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

Hiromi Ito (-) vs Tatsuya Imai (3-4, 6.13)

Marines vs Eagles: Zozo Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Daiki Iwashita (7-7, 4.20) vs Takahiro Norimoto (5-7, 3.96)

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

Hirotoshi Masui (2-2, 3.03) vs Kotaro Otake (2-0, 2.30)

Central League

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

Taisei Irie (-) vs Hirotoshi Takanashi (3-6, 4.12)

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

Akiyoshi Katsuno (4-5, 3.88) vs Shoichi Ino (6-7, 3.94)

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

Hiroki Tokoda (5-8, 4.93) vs Masashi Ito (-)

Roster moves

Active roster moves 3/30/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/9

Central League

Activated

GiantsP15Angel Sanchez
TigersP16Yuki Nishi
DragonsP22Yudai Ono
BayStarsP16Shinichi Onuki
CarpP18Masato Morishita
SwallowsP43Albert Suarez
SwallowsOF8Shota Nakayama

Dectivated

GiantsP18Tomoyuki Sugano

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP67Shunsuke Kasaya
MarinesP43Kazuya Ojima
MarinesIF54Brandon Laird
LionsP17Wataru Matsumoto
EaglesP11Takayuki Kishi
FightersP28Ryusei Kawano
FightersOF4Yuya Taniguchi
BuffaloesP29Daiki Tajima
BuffaloesP52Tyler Higgins
BuffaloesIF3Ryoichi Adachi

Dectivated

BuffaloesP37Hayate Nakagawa
BuffaloesIF4Shuhei Fukuda

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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)