Tag Archives: Wu Nien-ting

NPB wrap 7-14-21

Pump the breaks

Japan’s Central and Pacific Leagues finished the pre-Olympic portion of their season on Wednesday, and won’t emerge until after a 30-day hiatus on Aug. 13.

That’s when the Orix Buffaloes will start with a 1-1/2-game cushion over the Rakuten Eagles in pursuit of the franchise’s first pennant since Ichiro Suzuki led the BlueWave to the 1996 Japan Series pennant.

The Eagles ended their pre-Olympic funk with the kind of pitching performances we expected to see in May, back-to-back solid starts from Masahiro Tanaka on Tuesday and Takayuki Kishi on Wednesday. Third place belongs to the Lotte Marines, 2-1/2 back. The Hawks, who had the misfortune of running into Tanaka and Kishi, are another 1-1/2 further back.

The Eagles, with their miss-firing offense, look like the team that doesn’t belong in that group of four, but that’s why they play the games.

The Yakult Swallows were the big gainer this week, proving they could indeed not only beat the Yomiuri Giants but occasionally grind them into mush. This happened while the DeNA BayStars took two out of three from the front-running Tigers. After that it’s all about fourth place.

BayStars 4, Tigers 3

At Koshien Stadium, DeNA ace Shota Imanaga (3-2) allowed a run over seven innings while striking out 10, went 2-for-3. The BayStars took a 2-0 lead against Joe Gunkel (6-1). Three straight no-out singles loaded the bases, but the visitors had to wait for leadoff man Masayuki Kuwahara’s two-out two-run single to break the ice.

Koji Chikamoto hit his sixth homer for the Tigers to make it a 2-1 game in the third, before Imanaga drove in the BayStars’ third run in, in the fourth. Toshiro Miyazaki hit his eighth home run for DeNA in the eighth.

Former closer Yasuaki Yamasaki, however, nearly blew the lead. Kento Itohara singled in one run and Jerry Sands drew a bases-loaded walk before Yoshiki Sunada saved the day by striking out Teruaki Sato. Closer Kazuki Mishima ended it in the ninth with his 16th save.

Giants 11, Swallows 7

At Tokyo Dome, Yakult continued to bash Yomiuri a day after hitting seven home runs. Tetsuto Yamada, Jose Osuna and Yuhei Nakamura each reached base five times. Yamada scored four runs, while Osuna homered, scored twice and drove in five runs.

Osuna also took a tumble into the camera pit next to the first-base dugout to catch a foul ball.

Giants starter Shun Yamaguchi and former Giant lefty Kazuto Taguchi each allowed four runs. Giants cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto tied the game 4-4 with a two-run homer, his Japan-best 27th.

Albert Suarez, the Swallows’ second pitcher, worked two scoreless innings and earned the win after Osuna singled in the tie-breaking run. Through the first five innings, the game remained close as the Swallows stranded eight runners over the first four innings. Osuna changed that in the sixth, with a three-run homer, his ninth.

Giants-Swallows highlights

Carp 2, Dragons 0

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima’s Olympic pitching duo, 2020 rookie of the year Masato¬†Morishita¬†(6-4) and rookie closer Ryoji Kuribayashi, combined for a five-hit shutout to outduel¬†Yuya¬†Yanagi¬†(7-5), who struck out nine over seven innings while allowing one run.

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Fighters 6, Buffaloes 2

At Obihiro Stadium, Nippon Ham’s Yuki Nomura drove in three runs, doubling in Yuto Takahama to open the scoring in the fourth, and bringing the Fighters from a run down in the sixth, when he singled in Takahama and Ryo Watanabe.

Orix starter Daiki Tajima (5-5), had been on a good run, having allowed just one run over his previous five starts. He gave up three runs on three walks and five hits over six innings while striking out seven. Unfortunately, the Buffaloes’ bullpen gave up three runs as soon as he was gone and Nippon Ham’s didn’t.

Takahama and Kensuke Kondo drove the Fighters’ offense reaching base seven times in eight PAs. Starter Takayuki¬†Kato¬†allowed four hits and no walks, but two hits to open the fifth by Adam Jones and Ryoichi Adachi cost him the lead and the win as both came home to score on sac flies.

Lions 8, Marines 3

At MetLife Dome, Seibu’s Kona¬†Takahashi¬†(8-4) allowed three runs, two earned, on four fourth-inning hits, while retiring the side in his other six innings. Takeya Nakamura doubled in a run in the third, before Wu Nien-ting capped that rally with a three-run home run, his seventh off Kazuya¬†Ojima¬†(5-3). Nakamura hit his ninth with a man on in the seventh, and Hotaka Yamakawa also hit a two-run shot, his 13th.¬†

Eagles 4, Hawks 2

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Rakuten’s Takayuki Kishi (4-6) delivered the kind of performance we’re accustomed to seeing, allowing two runs over six innings on five hits and two walks while striking out seven.

SoftBank starter Nao Higashihama (2-2) gave up a walk and three singles in a three-run first inning, and Hiroaki Shimauchi, whose RBI single broke the ice, hit his 12th home run in the third. Nobuhiro Masuda hit his 10th in the fifth with a man on.

Both bullpens allowed enough base runners to give both managers fits of the sweats until Yuki Matsui closed it out by striking out the side in the ninth to earn his 23rd save.

Active roster moves 7/14/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/24

Central League


GiantsP45Seishu Hatake
TigersIF0Seiya Kinami


GiantsP15Angel Sanchez
TigersP44Raul Alcantara
BayStarsP20Yuya Sakamoto
CarpP11Allen Kuri
CarpP41Takuya Yasaki
SwallowsP11Yasunobu Okugawa

Pacific League


HawksP20Hiroshi Kaino
HawksP28Rei Takahashi


HawksP25Seigi Tanaka
HawksP29Shuta Ishikawa
HawksP39Shuto Ogata
HawksP42Tomohisa Ozeki

NPB Wrap 6-13-21

Interleague Day 18: CL on brink of success

The regularly scheduled interleague games ended on Sunday, with the leagues splitting the six games, leaving the Central League with a 42-40 lead with 11 ties, while trailing in runs 461-431. There are three games remaining, all in Hiroshima, so this could go either way, although the PL will most likely lead in runs for the 15th time in 16 seasons.

On the final day — not counting the three make-ups — the Hanshin Tigers completed a three-game sweep of the Rakuten Eagles, while the Yakult Swallows, long the CL’s doormats, finished a three-game sweep of the four-time defending Japan Series champion SoftBank Hawks IN Fukuoka. Surprise, surprise, surprise.

Tigers 6, Eagles 5

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Hanshin’s Joe Gunkel returned to the mound for the first time in over a month and was lights out. He retired nine straight with ease, gave up two infield singles and a double in the fourth, and then retired nine straight for two runs over six innings.

The Tigers battled against Rakuten rookie lefty Takahisa Hayakawa, who, like his teammates couldn’t buy an easy third out. Takumu Nakano opened the scoring in the third. He singled with two outs, stole his CL-best 13th base, and scored on a Jefry Marte single. Ryutaro Umeno then triggered three run-scoring innings with two-out walks. Trailing 2-1 in the fifth, Koji Chikamoto hit his fifth homer to plate Umeno and put Hanshin in front.

Umeno walked and Chikamoto singled in the seventh and scored on a Nakano single.

The Eagles came behind on two runs against Kosuke Baba in the seventh, and Daichi Suzuki led off the eighth with his fourth homer against Shintaro Fujinami (3-1), who earned the win after Chikamoto tripled home Umeno off Yuki Matsui (0-2) in the ninth. Robert Suarez notched his Japan-best 21st save.

Swallows 6, Hawks 4

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, as one of the announcers said, “There are times when Tsuyoshi Wada (4-4) has it and times when he doesn’t.” This was one of those latter times. Tetsuto Yamada singled in a run in the first for Yakult, singled and scored on Munetaka Murakami’s Japan-best 20th home run in the third and hit his 17th home run, with a man on, in the fifth to chase Wada.

Yakult lefty Keiji Takahashi (1-0), who has gone from a windup worthy of the ministry of silly walks, to something approaching non-descript, gave up two runs in 6-1/3 innings. The Hawks’ first hit came on Wladimir Balentien’s 1,000th career hit and 300th home run against his former teammate. Balentien homered off new pitcher Taichi Ishiyama in the seventh to make it a 6-3 game.

And since it was officially “former Swallows hitting home runs off Yakult Day” in Fukuoka, Keizo Kawashima went deep for the second time this season in the eighth. Yuki Yanagita came up with a man on and one out in the eighth with a chance to tie it up, but hit into a double play.

Scott McGough worked the ninth for his 11th save.

Buffaloes 9, Carp 8

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Takahiro Okada singled in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as Orix blew a late four-run lead. With the game tied 8-8 after Kaito Kozono singled in his third run of the game in the ninth, Hiroshima rookie Ryoji Kuribayashi (0-1) walked the bases loaded before giving up Okada’s two-out single, allowing his first run in his 23rd career game.

Marines 5, Giants 4

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Lotte’s Brandon Laird went 2-for-2 with two sac flies and a solo homer, his 15th, while Leonys Martin bunted against the shift for a base hit, walked twice, scored twice and made an excellent catch on a sinking line drive in the ninth to secure the win and closer Naoya Masuda’s 17th save.

Katsuya Kakunaka doubled in the first of four runs against Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (2-4), who was yanked after 2-2/3 innings. The Giants scored four runs in the seventh, all charged to Kazuya Ojima (3-2). After allowing two hits and three walks through six scoreless innings, the lefty allowed two no-out singles, and with two outs, walked a batter, hit a batter to put the Giants on the board. Reliever Fumiya Ono allowed two of the three on base to score.

BayStars 4, Fighters 1

At Sapporo Dome, DeNA ace Shota Imanaga (1-1) earned his first win since having his left shoulder cleaned out last season, allowing a run on minor league home run leader Chusei Mannami’s first career homer at the top level.

Manami’s homer tied it 1-1 in the second, but RBI singles in the top of the third by Hikaru Ito and Neftali Soto put the visitors up for good against Drew VerHagen (1-5) who gave up four runs, three earned, in five innings.

Imanga allowed four hits, a walk and hit a batter while striking out six. Leadoff man Masayuki Kuwahara singled and scored three times. Edwin Escobar worked the eighth, setting a speed record for a lefty in Japan with a 163 kph fastball against his old team, while Kazuki Mishima saved his 11th game.

Lions 4, Dragons 3

At MetLife Dome, Seibu rookie Junichiro Kishi hit a first-inning home run and singled and scored a tie-breaking run in the eighth on a Wu Nien-ting single after the Chunichi Dragons overcame a three-run deficit to tie it in the seventh on Naomichi Donoue’s two-run double.

Zach Neal allowed a run over six innings for Seibu, while Chunichi’s Koji Fukutani (3-6) allowed three through seven but went out for the eighth and took the loss, allowing four runs over 7-2/3 innings, leaving two on for lefty Hiroto Fuku to face Wu.

Reed Garrett (1-2) worked the eighth to get the win, and Kaima Taira earned his sixth save, while setting a record by opening a season with 32 straight scoreless pitching appearances.

Starting pitchers


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

Kazuki Yabuta (-) vs Kaito Yoza (0-1, 4.26)

Active roster moves 6/13/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 6/23

Central League


TigersP49Joe Gunkel
SwallowsP47Keiji Takahashi


TigersOF97Dan Onodera
DragonsP70Ren Kondo

Pacific League


LionsP54Zach Neal
FightersP36Drew VerHagen


MarinesP15Manabu Mima
FightersP52Takahide Ikeda
BuffaloesP29Daiki Tajima