Tag Archives: Yasuhiro Ogawa

NPB 2020 Oct. 24

Saturday’s games

Other news

Haraguchi does it again for Tigers

Fumihito Haraguchi delivered off the bench for the fourth straight game, his two-out seventh-inning pinch-hit single breaking a 1-1 tie in the Hanshin Tigers’ 2-1 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome on Saturday.

The Giants started the day with a magic number of five to clinch their second straight Central League championship.

Jerry Sands scored the go-ahead run after reaching on a leadoff single to decide a pitchers’ duel between Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (13-2) and tough Tigers lefty Haruto Takahashi (5-4).

Takahashi allowed a run on four hits and two walks while striking out three over six innings. Jon Edwards, Suguru Iwazaki and Robert Suarez kept the Giants from scoring over the remaining three innings with Suarez getting his CL-leading 23rd save.

Koji Chikamoto became the Tiger’s first base runner by smacking a hanging breaking pitch and beating out a one-out infield single in the fourth despite a good play from Giants shortstop Hayato Sakamoto.

Chikamoto, the CL stolen base leader, took second on a wild pitch even though catcher Takumi Oshiro was able to keep the ball in front of him, and then scored easily when Kento Itohara’s little fly to shallow right fell in for a single.

Sugano tied it in the sixth by scoring on a sac fly after reaching on a leadoff double. With the Tigers outfield playing him shallow, he flied over Chikamoto’s head for his third double of the season. Naoki Yoshikawa fell behind trying to sacrifice him, before grounding a mistake from Takahashi just past Jefry Marte at first for a single. Takahashi missed down the pipe to Seiya Matsubara, whose liner to right was caught, but allowed Sugano to score.

Giants-Tigers highlights

Sands was tossed in the eighth complaining about a couple of calls by home plate umpire Tetsuya Shimada. Sands took 1-0 pitch away and below the knees for a strike, and was called out on a pitch that the overhead camera showed was well beyond the outside corner. That drew some f-bombs and the ejection.

Morishita goes the distance

Right-hander Masato Morishita (9-3) allowed four hits over the distance and drove in the eventual winning run for the Hiroshima Carp in their 2-1 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

Morishita struck out five in his 135-pitch outing, and went 2-for- at the plate. Ryosuke Kikuchi singled with two outs in the eighth, stole second and scored on the pitcher’s single to break a 1-1- tie. BayStars right-hander Shoichi Ino allowed a run over six innings but left with nothing to show for it.

The loss dropped the fourth-place BayStars three games below .500 although they have outscored opponents 461-422.

Ogawa denies Dragons

Yasuhiro Ogawa (10-6) allowed two runs over six innings as the Yakult Swallows battered Takahiro Matsuba (3-7) and overcame a big night from Nobumasa Fukuda to beat the Chunichi Dragons 9-5 at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Fukuda, who returned to duty on Friday after missing 1-1/2 months, took Ogawa deep in the fourth and doubled in two runs in the Dragons’ three-run seventh.

The highlight of the game, however, belonged to Dragons rookie Kaname Takino, who got perhaps the ultimate celebration of his first pro hit. As the ball was being returned from left field, fireworks erupted beyond the ballpark’s third-base stands and continued for about a minute due to an event going on at Tokyo’s National Stadium down the street that was built as the centerpiece of the 2020 Olympics to be held next year.

Later in the game, play was disrupted following a balloon release from the stadium.

Grand slam king Nakamura halts Hawks

Takeya Nakamura extended his record for career grand slams with his 21st, bringing the Seibu Lions from a run down in the eighth inning in a 4-1 win at Fukuoka’s PayPay dome that snapped the SoftBank Hawks’ 12-game winning streak.

Livan Moinelo (2-3) issued three walks for the first time since he came to Japan in 2017 and got his only out on a sacrifice before turning the ball over to right-hander Sho Iwasaki with the right-handed-hitting Nakamura coming up.

The six-time PL home run champ then launched a high straight 2-1 fastball out to center, spoiling a strong game from Hawks right-hander Nao Higashihama, who threw seven scoreless innings for his second consecutive start.

In the postgame hero interview, Nakamura was asked if the home run was a good present for Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji’s 62nd birthday.

“I wasn’t thinking about that when I batted, but I’m glad it worked out that way,” Nakamura said.

I love Nakamura’s straight-forward answers to some of those questions. Once, when asked what the mood on the bench was when he went to the plate, he answered, “I don’t know. I wasn’t on the bench. I was going to the plate.”

Albers deals Marines their 6th straight loss

Andrew Albers (4-7) allowed two singles and two walks over 6-2/3 innings, three relievers carried it the rest of the way and Takahiro Okada homered for the second straight game as the Orix Buffaloes beat the Lotte Marines 3-0 at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome. Brandon Dickson worked around a two-out single to record his 16th save.

Fighters pen out-scrapes Eagles’

The Nippon Ham Fighters’ bullpen outlasted the Rakuten Eagles’ in a 5-4 win at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, when Sho Nakata homered to tie the game in the eighth inning and hit a two-out fly ball that wasn’t caught and brought home the go-ahead run in the ninth.

Nakata moved into a tie for the Japan home run lead with the Eagles’ Hideto Asamura when he drove a hanging 1-0 breaking ball well back into the stands in left field. Fighters took the lead in the ninth against closer Alan Busenitz (1-3), who allowed a two-out Kensuke Kondo single.

Busenitz missed up high with a 1-2 breaking ball that Nakata got underneath and skied down the left-field line. A pair of rookies converged on it, and shortstop Hiroto Kobukata backed off to let left fielder Yuya Ogo get it. But Ogo took his time, had to sprint to get to the ball and overran it. The ball landed fair, and Kondo beat the throw home. Ogo was harshly charged with the error and Busenitz ended up taking the loss.

Both Kobukata and Ogo singled in the bottom of the ninth before veteran lefty Naoki Miyanishi escaped a two-out bases loaded jam when Steven Romero lined out to short. Kobukata, who appears to be running away with the PL’s rookie of the year award, went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer.

Active roster moves 10/24/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/3

Central League

Activated

TigersP29Haruto Takahashi

Dectivated

None

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesIF48Yoshiaki Watanabe
EaglesOF38Masaki Iwami
FightersP28Ryusei Kawano
BuffaloesP27Andrew Albers

Dectivated

EaglesP31Yuya Fukui
EaglesIF24Fumiya Kurokawa

Starting pitchers for Oct. 25, 2020

Pacific League

Eagles vs Fighters: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Ryota Takinaka (1-1, 3.76) vs Kohei Arihara (7-8, 3.40)

Buffaloes vs Marines: Kyocera Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Chang Yi (2-2, 3.20) vs Daiki Iwashita (5-7, 4.46)

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

Kotaro Otake (1-0, 2.53) vs Wataru Matsumoto (5-5, 4.16)

Central League

Giants vs Tigers: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Seishu Hatake (3-3, 3.14) vs Takumi Akiyama (8-3, 3.10)

Swallows vs Dragons: Jingu Stadium 6:30 pm, 5:30 am EDT

Albert Suarez (4-2, 2.36) vs Yuya Yanagi (4-6, 4.26)

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

Yuta Muto (0-1, 6.39) vs Yuta Nakamura (3-2, 2.20)

NPB 2020 Sept. 20

Lions come back to beat Buffaloes

Tomoya Mori snatched the victor’s laurels from Orix Buffaloes center fielder Hayato Nishiura with a three-run eighth-inning double that lifted the Seibu Lions to a 5-4 win at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Nishiura saved three runs with in the first, robbing Ernesto Mejia of a two-out double at the wall. He went up to get it before it hit the ball and caught it between his arms, cradling it for the out after he crashed to the turf.

Ryo Ota, a former top draft pick whose 2019 debut season was limited by injury, homered off Wataru Matsumoto in the first to put the Buffaloes up 1-0. Another rookie, 2018 fifth-rounder Sho Gibo, doubled in a run with two outs in the third. Steven Moya’s second homer of the year made it 3-0.

Nishiura preserved a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth. Playing shallow with two outs and a runner on second as Japanese teams do, Nishiura had to race back into the gap in right-center, making an over-the-shoulder basket catch for the final out.

He followed that by leading off the bottom of the fifth with home run into the second deck.

Orix starter Andrew Albers allowed two runs over six innings on seven hits, a walk and a hit batsman.

The Lions finally got to the lefty in the sixth when Sosuke Genda singled and scored on Hotaka Yamakawa’s 22nd home run.

Right-hander Ryo Yoshida, the Buffaloes’ third reliever, took over in the seventh with one on and one out but walked the bases loaded with two outs and gave up Mori’s double.

On the other side, four Lions relievers followed Matsumoto and combined to allow one walk and one hit. Tatsushi Masuda recorded his 20th save.

Eagles survive Hawks comeback

Eagles closer Alan Busenitz came within a hair of blowing a two-run ninth-inning lead, earning the save when a rocket off Ryoya Kurihara’s bat was caught by first baseman Daichi Suzuki for the final out as Rakuten beat the SoftBank Hawks 3-2 at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome on Sunday.

Suzuki tied the game 1-1 on the first pitch in the fourth. Shuta Ishikawa (6-3) left a fastball up and Suzuki lined it off the wall behind the right-field home run terrace. Hawks catcher Takuya Kai, who’d homered to open the scoring minutes earlier tried not to shake his head but failed.

Eagles veteran Takayuki Kishi got out of a sixth-inning jam when Akira Nakamura, who swings and misses as infrequently as any hitter in Japan, struck out swinging for the second out. After an intentional walk to Yuki Yanagita, Kishi got out of the inning with an easy groundout.  

Stefen Romero put the Eagles up by one in the seventh, hitting an 0-1 power curve. Ishikawa supplied the curve by hanging it up in the zone and Romero supplied the power, launching it 10 rows back into the permanent seats.

Former San Diego submariner Kazuhisa Makita surrendered a two-out two-strike single to Nakamura. Yanagita came up with a chance to put the hosts in front, but went down swinging. Hiroaki Shimauchi then took out some insurance by taking reliever Yuki Matsumoto’s first pitch out to left for a solo homer to open the ninth.

Takayuki Kishi allowed a run over a season-high six innings in his fifth start of the Eagles.

The Hawks loaded the bases against closer Alan Busenitz with one out in the ninth on two singles and a fielder’s choice. Go Kamamoto singled in one run, but Busenitz got a force out at the plate before Suzuki was impaled by Kurihara’s liner.

Fighters give one away

Shohei Kato scored the tying run from second on a passed ball-throwing error with his team down to their last strike and then tripled in two runs in the 10th to lead the Lotte Marines to a 5-3 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.

Rookie catcher Toshiya Sato’s two-run sixth-inning homer brought Lotte to within a run, after Marines starter Manabu Mima allowed three runs in the first but lasted eight innings.

Kato came on to run after Seiya Inoue singled with one out off Taisho Tamai. A two out walk put runners on first and second.

Tamai got ahead of Tsuyoshi Sugano 0-2, but catcher Yushi Shimizu failed to catch a 1-2 changeup. It popped up off the heel of his glove and by the time caught it Kato was on third, but the runner on first was well of the base. Sensing a chance to end the game, Shimizu gunned a throw to first that glanced off first baseman Kotaro Kiyomiya’s glove, allowing Kato to score.

Marines closer Naoya Masuda (2-2) got into trouble in the bottom of the ninth. Regular cleanup hitter, Sho Nakata, who started the game on the bench, came on to pinch hit flew out to short for the third out.

With two out and two on in the 10th, Kato drilled a pitch from Kenya Suzuki (0-1) to the gap to plate two. Recently acquired reliever Hirokazu Sawamura took over in the bottom of the 10th. He issued three two-out walks before getting a groundout to record his first save of the year.

Hatake plows under BayStars

Right-hander Shusei Hatake (1-3), making an emergency start in place of lefty Cristopher Mercedes, worked six innings and Yoshihiro Maru homered twice and drove in three as the Yomiuri Giants beat the DeNA BayStars 5-0 at Yokohama Stadium. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Giants.

DeNA right-hander Shinichi Onuki (6-4) allowed four runs, three earned, over six innings to take the loss. A single, a stolen base, a throwing error and a Hayato Sakamoto single put the Giants up in the first. Maru hit his 16th homer in the fourth with a man on and went deep again in the sixth.

Dragons light up Nakata in win over Tigers

The Chunichi Dragons scored three runs in two innings off veteran right-hander Kenichi Nakata (0-2) en route to a 4-2 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Nagoya Dome.

After a 1-2-3 first against the team for which he won the bulk of his 100 career games, Nakata allowed four straight hits in the second, bringing in two runs, while a third scored on a safety squeeze.

Takahiro Matsuba (3-4) allowed two runs over five innings. The only two runs came when pinch-hitter Kenya Nagasaka homered with a man on after his foul pop was dropped but not ruled an error. Four relievers combined to allow one hit and two walks over the final four innings with Raidel Martinez earning his 13th save.

Swallows survive ninth-inning horror show

The Yakult Swallows opened the home half of the first with three straight home runs before nearly blowing a seven-run ninth-inning lead with starter Yasuhiro Ogawa (9-3) on the mound in an 8-6 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Ogawa worked a 1-2-3 first, and in a sense, so did Carp starter Yuta Nakamura (0-1), who watched three of his first 14 pitches end up as souvenirs for the Carp fans in the left-field bleachers. It was the fifth time a team had homered in its first three plate appearances and the first time since the Dragons did it at Yokohama Stadium in 1995.

The Swallows entered the top of the ninth with an 8-1 lead and kept Ogawa on the mound after he had thrown just 101 pitches. After a double, a single and a double play, things were still looking good for manager Shingo Takatsu’s plan not to use his bullpen with the last three of nine straight games looming.

But five straight hits off straight fastballs and hanging breaking balls, the last off Ogawa’s 123rd pitch, finally forced a change. Closer Taishi Ishiyama allowed the tying run on with a single before getting a strikeout that ended the game and earned him his 11th save.

Active roster moves 9/20/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/30

Central League

Activated

GiantsP31Seishu Hatake
GiantsP58Ryosuke Miyaguni
TigersP20Kenichi Nakata
CarpP67Yuta Nakamura

Dectivated

GiantsP35Toshiki Sakurai
GiantsIF00Daiki Yoshikawa

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP63Hiroyuki Kawahara
HawksOF60Go Kamamoto
EaglesIF6Kazuya Fujita
BuffaloesIF31Ryo Ota
BuffaloesIF53Sho Gibo

Dectivated

HawksOF51Seiji Uebayashi
EaglesIF66Itsuki Murabayashi
MarinesP30Tsuyoshi Ishizaki
BuffaloesIF5Masahiro Nishino
BuffaloesOF56Yusuke Matsui

Starting pitchers for Sept. 21, 2020

Central League

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

Daisuke Naoe (0-0, 2.35) vs Allen Kuri (4-4, 4.06)

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

Akiyoshi Katsuno (1-3, 3.66) vs Hirofumi Yamanaka (1-1, 5.33)

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

Minoru Iwata (-) vs Masaya Kyoyama (1-0, 9.00)

NPB 2020 Sept. 13

Lions’ Matsumoto turns back Hawks

Shuta Tonosaki opened the game with a home run and Wataru Matsumoto (3-3) worked seven scoreless innings to outduel Shuta Ishikawa (6-2) in the Seibu Lions’ 1-0 win over the SoftBank Hawks at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Tonosaki appeared to geared up for a fastball and when Ishikawa threw a straight 1-0 pitch down the pipe, the Lions super utility man drove it well back into the permanent seats in left for his fifth home run.

The Hawks threatened to score in the home half when Taisei Makihara squared up a first-pitch center-cut fastball for a leadoff double. But Matsumoto’s fastball was too much for Akira Nakamura who continually hit under it, fouling it off twice before a popping up for the first out. After a cautiously walking Yuki Yanagita, Yurisbel Gracial grounded a low fastball into a double play.

Matsumoto got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, again with some extra mustard on his fastball, as the normally deadly Nakamura miss-hit a heater to second for an inning-ending groundout.

Ishikawa allowed four hits, two walks and hit a batter while striking out six in a typically solid performance, but after Lions middle reliever Kaima  Taira set the Hawks down in order, the hosts wasted a two-on no-out chance in the ninth against closer Tatsushi Masuda.

A sacrifice advanced two pinch-runners into scoring position, Masuda overpowered grinding right-handed hitter Keizo Kawashima for the second out, and then came within a hair of disaster. The right-hander missed up with a 1-0 fastball that Makihara hammered down the third base line where it was caught by Wu Nien-ting for the final out instead of going for a game-winning two-run single. The save was Masuda’s 17th.

Eagles outpunch Fighters

The Rakuten Eagles tattooed Kohei Arihara (4-7) for nine runs over 2-1/3 innings, who wasted a six-run second inning against Takayuki Kishi in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 14-6 loss at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Hideto Asamura opened the scoring for the hosts in the first inning with his 22nd home run, a two-run shot, but the Haruki Nishikawa’s three-run shot capped the visitors’ six-run second.

The Eagles tied in the third and took the lead in a three-run third on rookie Hiroto Kobukata’s RBI single. Kobukata, who singled and scored in the second, added a two-run double in the third.

The loss snapped a streak of four-straight solid outings for Arihara. Kishi stayed on the mound for 3-1/3 innings.

Fan-favorite Watanabe to hang it up

The game broadcast repeatedly cut to shots of Eagles player coach Naoto Watanabe, who announced he would retire at the end of the season.

A native of Miyagi Prefecture where Sendai is located, the 39-year-old Watanabe is a serviceable middle infielder. In his first few years was a good on-base percentage hitter and efficient base stealer for the Eagles before stints with the BayStars and Lions. A fan favorite in Sendai, he returned to Rakuten in 2018, but had played in 88 games since.

But if Japan likes melodrama more than almost anything, so when asked about Watanabe, manager Hajime Miki gushed during his postgame interview.

“We have a lot of emotions when it comes to Naoto and the players all agreed we should dedicate the rest of this season to him, so that his last year as a player is something special.”

–Eagles manager Hajime Miki on player-coach Naoto Watanabe’s announcing he would retire at the end of the season.

Marines breakthrough against Buffaloes pen

Manabu Mima (7-2) allowed two runs over seven innings and the Lotte Marines scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh off lefty reliever Nobuyoshi Yamada (2-3) to break up a tie game in a 9-2 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Hisanori Yasuda doubled in single runs in the first and third off Taiwan right-hander Chang Yi, who left after allowing two runs on two hits and four walks over five innings.

The Buffaloes tied it in the top of the seventh on a Masataka Yoshida RBI double, but Yoshida was gunned down at the plate trying to score against Leonys Martin’s arm to end the inning.

In a game twice interrupted by rain delays, Mima struck out seven without issuing a walk. He collected the win when the Marines began their seventh-inning rally after two were down. Yasuda capped the inning with a two-run single. The Marines’ 21-year-old rookie cleanup hitter has been struggling since a hot start to the season.

“Mima did a great job of shaking off the rain delays and staying on his game,” Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi said. “Real veteran stuff from him. Yasuda, has been having a hard time of it, and sure this game is a big relief to him, so he can mover forward now with a refreshed outlook.”

Martin piled on in the eighth with a three-run double for the Marines.

Dragons ride lucky bounce past stars

The DeNA BayStars lost a big first-inning double play when a batted ball deflected off the second-base bag, costing them two runs in their 3-2 loss to the Chunichi Dragons at Yokohama Stadium.

With two on and no outs, and the BayStars left-handed hitter Zoilo Almonte’s grounder was headed straight up the middle to where shortstop Yota Kyoda was poised to pick it and start an easy double play until the ball struck the bag and rolled into shallow left for an RBI single. With no outs, Dayan Viciedo supplied a sac fly before starting pitcher Shinichi Onuki (6-3) got out of the inning with a double play.

Neftali Soto homered off former ace Kazuki Fushimi in the first, but both bullpens shut the door after the fourth inning. Onuki lasted six innings, allowing three runs. Dragons closer Raidel Martinez struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 12th save.

“Onuki pitched a really good game today. The first inning he gave up a couple of hits, but those balls were good pitches and they just put good swings on good pitches. Other than that, he did a tremendous job today,” BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said. “Sometimes the ball bounces like that. It’s baseball. After he (Soto) hit a home run, I thought we would be able to score more runs. But we’re hitting pretty good. We couldn’t just come up with the big hit at the right moment. That happens.”

Maru homer lifts Giants past Swallows

Yoshihiro Maru’s 15th home run overturned a 1-0 fourth-inning deficit as the Yomiuri Giants came back to beat the Yakult Swallows 3-1 at Tokyo Dome.

Cristopher Mercedes (4-4) allowed a run over 5-1/3 innings, leaving after a one-out sixth-inning walk put two on with one out. Yohei Kagiya struck out both batters he faced and with Monday a day off, Giants manager Tatsunori Hara made liberal use of his bullpen, finishing with Rubby De La Rosa, who earned his 12th save.

Swallows right-hander Yasuhiro Ogawa (8-3) allowed three runs over six innings on seven hits and two walks. He struck out eight.

Giants-Swallows highlights

Suarez, Yokawa boost Tigers

Closer Robert Suarez (2-0) who has recently been tasked with getting four-out saves, entered a tie game in the eighth inning and earned the win after Naomasa Yokawa homered in the bottom of the eighth in the Hanshin Tigers’ 7-6 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Koshien Stadium.

Seiya Suzuki’s three-run homer in the top of the first put the Carp in front against Shintaro Fujinami, but the Tigers came back to score five runs, four earned, off Hiroshima starter Kazuki Yabuta.

Kento Itohara and Justin Bour singled in one run apiece in the first and third innings to put the Tigers in front briefly before the game turned into a battle of the bullpens, which the Tigers eventually won.

Active roster moves 9/13/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/23

Central League

Activated

GiantsIF51Shunta Tanaka
DragonsP19Kazuki Yoshimi

Dectivated

GiantsP33Ryu Ota

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP11Takayuki Kishi
FightersP49Katsuhiko Kumon

Dectivated

HawksP18Shota Takeda

Starting pitchers for Sept. 14, 2020

Pacific League

Eagles vs Fighters: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Takahiro Shiomi (4-5, 4.60) vs Drew VerHagen (5-3, 4.16)

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

Kota Futaki (3-2, 4.73) vs Andrew Albers (3-5, 3.62)

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)

NPB 2020 Aug. 30

Albers, Jones lead Buffaloes over Marines

Andrew Albers allowed seven base runners over seven innings, and Adam Jones hit a game-breaking three-run homer as the Orix Buffaloes snapped a five-game losing streak with a 5-0 win over the Lotte Marines on Sunday at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Through the first three innings, both teams caught breaks on defense, but that ended in the bottom of the fourth, when an error contributed to two runs against Lotte lefty Toshiya Nakamura (1-2). With two on and no outs, shortstop Yudai Fujioka’s errant throw on a potential double play resulted scored one and left men on the corners, from where another could score on a hard-to-field come-backer.

Albers, whose last win came on July 21, escaped a jam in the top of the fifth when a liner to short that was turned into an inning-ending double play, and the Buffaloes put the game away in the home half on Jones’ 10th home run.

“That was a huge homer,” said Albers, who allowed six hits and a walk while striking out six. “It gives you a little cushion and allows you to be a little more aggressive on the mound and the way the defense was playing behind me tonight that was a huge turning point.”

Singles in the bottom of the fifth by Shuhei Fukuda and Masataka Yoshida off pitches up in the zone brought Jones up with two outs. Nakamura had jammed him his first time up and he’d rolled over a pitch that sank on him in the fourth. But when Nakamura hung a 1-0 two-seamer, Jones hit it out to left.

“I was just trying to drive the ball,” Jones said. “I was pulling off on his forkball early and rolled over on it. I wanted to get something in the air and stayed back on it and was able to hit it out of the ballpark.”

“I’m just trying to get adapted to the Japanese style of pitching. I’m making the adjustments. Early on I was just stubborn and thinking one way was going to do it, but sometimes you just have to make the adjustment and make the adjustment day by day to the new style of pitching I’m facing.”

Albers needed two final gifts from his outfielders to keep the Marines from scoring in the seventh. With one and one out, center fielder Keita Nakagawa robbed Ikuhiro Kiyota of extra bases in a kind of tit for tat after Kiyota had robbed him of an RBI double off the left-field wall in the first inning. Yoshida then made a good running catch in left to send Albers out with a clean sheet.

A pair of rookie relievers, righty Taisei Urushihara in the eighth, and lefty Ryoga Tomiyama in the ninth closed it out.

Yanagita, Nakamura power Hawks comeback

Yuki Yanagita hit his 20th home run and Akira Nakamura hit his fourth, a two-run tie-breaking shot in the fourth inning as the SoftBank Hawks overcame a four-run first-inning deficit to beat the Nippon Ham Fighters 8-5 at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

With Shuta Ishikawa going for the Hawks against the Fighters’ Drew VerHagen, this game should have been a pitchers’ duel but Ishikawa’s inability to locate cost him and VerHagen (5-2) ran into a buzz saw.

Nakamura is arguably the best player in Japan at making contact. He virtually never chases until he has two strikes on him, fouled off four-straight two-strike pitches around the zone before he got one fair between third and short for a one-out single.

He is followed in the Hawks lineup by Yanagita, who swings harder than anyone in Japan. VerHagen missed up a bit with a two-seamer and Yanagita met it perfectly, propelling it off the top of the left-field fence to halve the Fighters’ lead. Ryoya Kurihara tripled with two outs and scored on a wild pitch to cut the Fighters’ lead to one.

Kensuke Kondo doubled in a run in the second for the Fighters after Sho Nakata failed to bring the runner home from third. Nakata, who stood and stared at his bat in the first inning after he was late on a high-straight fastball, returned to the dugout after the third out and took out his frustration on the offending piece of wood.

VerHagen hit Nakamura in the toe to open the third, Yanagita doubled and the Hawks tied it after a Yurisbel Gracial single and a well-executed Kurihara sac fly. On another two-seamer away, Yanagita again went the other way on a liner to the gap in left.

With two outs in the fourth, VerHagen was yanked after he hit speedster Ukyo Shuto with Nakamura on deck. Rookie left-hander Suguru Fukuda came in and Nakamura drilled a low liner off the dome’s permanent wall that rattled around in the right-field home run terrace for a two-run shot.

Submarine right-hander Rei Takahashi (3-1) earned the win in relief after Ishikawa was charged with five runs, four earned, over four innings. Closer Yuito Mori, in stark relief to his previous two outings, worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 17th save as the Hawks bullpen retired the last 11 Fighters hitters they faced.

Gracial completed the scoring by leading off the fifth with his second homer.

9th-inning Mejia blast stuns Eagles

Ernesto Mejia hit a three-run ninth-inning home run off Alan Busenitz (1-1), boosting the Seibu Lions to a 3-2 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Hotaka Yamakawa walked with one out to get things started against Busenitz, who got too much of the plate with a 1-2 fastball to Tomoya Mori, who kept the Lions alive with a two-out single.

Mejia, who had struck out in each of his first three at-bats, looked at a breaking ball down the pipe for a strike, swung and missed at a low one, but got enough of Busenitz’s third to reach the short porch in left for his seventh home run and his sixth against the Eagles. The home run was the first Busenitz has allowed this year and his second in two seasons.

“We’ve still got games left to play (against Seibu), I’d like to think we can come up with some kind of countermeasure,” Eagles skipper Hajime Miki said.

De La Rosa gets out of jail in Giants win

Rubby De La Rosa bailed himself and the Yomiuri Giants out of ninth-inning trouble on one pitch, escaping a bases-loaded jam to seal a 3-2 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Tokyo Dome.

De La Rossa earned his seventh save after striking out the first batter he faced and then loading the bases on two walks and a hit batsman he struck with a 3-2 pitch. But on the next pitch, Yohei Oshima ended it by hitting a tailor-made double play ball to short.

Dragons starter Akiyoshi Katsuno (1-3) allowed five hits and a walk in the Giants’ three-run first inning, but gave them little else before leaving the mound trailing 3-2 after six. Lefty Ryusei Oe (2-0) faced one batter, striking out Yota Kyoda to end the Dragons’ fourth with the bases loaded and earned the win in relief.

Giants-Dragons highlights

Ogawa eclipses ‘Stars again

Two weeks after his first career no-hitter, Yasuhiro “Ryan” Ogawa (7-2) returned to Yokohama Stadium, where he allowed two runs over seven innings in the Yakult Swallows’ 6-4 win over the DeNA BayStars.

Ogawa gave up eight hits and a walk while striking out four, and Tetsuto Yamada had four hits, including an RBI single, a double, and a second-inning grand slam.

The BayStars came back to score two runs in the ninth and bring the tying run to the plate before Swallows closer Taishi Ishiyama put an end to the proceedings by striking out pinch-hitter Toshiro Miyazaki.

Oyama ruins Carp comeback story

Yusuke Oyama tripled just beyond the grasp of right fielder Seiya Suzuki with two outs in the 10th inning to lift the Hanshin Tigers over the HIroshima Carp 5-3 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

The Carp started out in a hole after Jerry Sands teed off on a high pitch from Atsushi Endo in the first for his 10th home run and a three-run Tigers lead.

The hosts tied it in the fifth when Ryosuke Kikuchi hit his sixth, also with two men on.

Carp closer Geronimo Franzua (1-2) opened the 10th by walking Koji Chikamoto. With two outs and first base open after a sacrifice and a strikeout, the Carp walked Sands intentionally to pitch to Oyama, whose ball to the gap in right missed being caught by inches.

Robert Suarez finished the fish off in the home half, striking out two in a 1-2-3 inning for his 12th save.

Active roster moves 8/30/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/9

Central League

Activated

CarpIF6Tomohiro Abe
DragonsP41Akiyoshi Katsuno

Dectivated

CarpIF69Ryutaro Hatsuki
DragonsP69Tatsuro Hamada
SwallowsP33Matt Koch

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesC67Takahiro Shimotsuma

Dectivated

None

NPB 2020 8-15 games and news

Ogawa becomes Japan’s 82nd to throw no-no

Yakult Swallows right-hander Yasuhiro “Ryan” Ogawa became the 82nd top-flight pitcher to throw a no-hitter in Japanese pro baseball on Saturday, when he struck out 10 and walked three in a 9-0 Central League win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

Ogawa, whose nickname comes from the Nolan Ryan leg kick he adopted as a youngster, became the first Swallows pitcher to throw a no-hitter since Rick Guttormson achieved the feat in May 2006. It was the 93rd no-hitter, called a “no-hit, no-run” game in the history of Japanese pro ball. No-hitter’s aren’t awarded without a shutout.

Ogawa, who leaned heavily on his fastball and splitter, issued a first-inning walk, while the BayStars managed a runner in the second, when rookie right fielder Taiki Hamada went down to a knee to catch a line drive, only for the ball to spill out of the webbing of his glove for an error.

The Swallows hit BayStars ace Shota Imanaga like a truck, scoring six runs, three earned, off the lefty on six hits and three walks over 3-1/3 innings.

Seven of Ogawa’s 10 strikeouts came after he had a 6-0 lead, and after Hamada’s misplay, the right-hander retired the next 12 batters before he walked Tatsuhiro Shibata with tow outs in the sixth.

Ogawa needed 102 pitches to get through the seventh and his no-hit bid was looking bleak when he walked the leadoff hitter in the eighth after a 10-pitch battle. Daisuke Nakai smacked his next pitch to short, but what looked like two quick outs soon looked like a long tough inning when second baseman Taishi Hirooka dropped the throw from his shortstop.

The first BayStars runner to reach second, would also be the last as Ogawa needed just 22 pitches to finish off the last six hitters, recording his final strike out with pitch No. 135 to end it.

Dragons’ Rodriguez stops Giants

Yariel Rodriguez went seven impressive innings for the Chunichi Dragons in their 7-4 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome.

The 23-year-old, who joined the Dragons on a non-roster developmental contract on Feb. 5 and was added to the 70-man roster on July 1, allowed a run on six hits, a walk and a hit batsman while striking out nine.

Dayan Viciedo hit his 10th home run of the season in the fourth, a no-out, two-run shot off Giants lefty Kazuto Taguchi (2-2) to make it 3-0. Nobumasa Fukuda, who had an RBI single in the first, walked ahead of Viciedo’s homer and also walked and scored in Chunichi’s four-run eighth.

Zelous Wheeler had three hits, including his sixth home run, a ninth-inning solo shot off closer Raidel Martinez.

Giants-Dragons highlights.

Para to be deactivated with bum knee

The Yomiuri Giants indicated Saturday that they will deactivate outfielder Gerardo Parra, who is suffering from pain in his right knee, the Nikkan Sports reported.

“It’s been troubling him since well before this,” head coach Daisuke Motoki said. “It looked like he was in pain both when he ran and when he batted, so we’ve decided not to push him. Instead we want him to go to the farm team, get it healed and come back.”

Bour, Sands maul Carp in Tigers win

First-year imports Justin Bour and Jerry Sands each drove in three runs, and Yuki Nishi (3-3) allowed two runs over seven innings as the Hanshin Tigers whipped the Hiroshima Carp 10-2 at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Carp ace Daichi Osera (4-2) was hammered for five runs on eight hits over five innings.

Sands drove in the game’s first run with an infield single, but went to the other end of the spectrum with his ninth home run, a two-run shot, in the sixth that made it 8-2.

Bullpen to the rescue as Buffaloes snap skid

Takahiro Okada’s two-run “excuse-me-swing” single opened the floodgates for the Orix Buffaloes, and their bullpen kept the SoftBank Hawks in check in an 8-2 win on Saturday afternoon to snap their seven-game losing streak.

Coming off a tough loss in which their starting pitcher did everything well except keep Yuki Yanagita from crushing a well-executed inside fastbal, the Buffaloes caught some breaks in a two-run first before hammering Hawks starter Akira Niho (3-4) for three more in the second.

The Buffaloes opened the scoring on Shuhei Fukuda’s one-out walk, a Yuma Mune single up the middle and a two-out, two-run double when Okada was fooled by 1-2 splitter out of the zone. The left-handed slugger managed to hit it off the end of the bat for a flare that dropped in shallow left that gave the visitors the lead.

Orix starter Kazumasa Yoshida worked three scoreless innings. He gave up two singles and two walks, and twice disposed of Yanagita on two pitches, including just one fastball well out of the zone.

The Buffaloes took the air out of the game in the second. Masato Matsui looked like he was sitting on a curveball when he drove an 0-1 breaking ball to the track for a one-out double. Niho failed to glove a comebacker for an error and hit a batter to load the bases for Fukuda, who drilled a hanging two-seamer for a two-run single. Masaki Mimori robbed Mune of a single with a diving catch of a liner to second only for Masataka Yoshida to bang an RBI double and make it 5-0.

Right-hander Yudai Aranishi made some good pitches to Wladimir Balentien, but Japan’s single-season home run record holder homered off the bat to center. Rookie right-hander Ryo Yoshida (1-1), the third of Orix’s seven-pitcher parade, was awarded his first career win for pitching a scoreless fifth.

Arihara gets it done in Fighters’ rout

Kohei Arihara (2-5) put his struggles behind him for one night as he struck out nine over seven scoreless innings, and Sho Nakata drove in three early runs in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 9-0 win over the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Nakata belted his 16th homer, a two-run shot off Kota Futaki (1-2) in the fourth. The right-hander allowed four runs over seven innings to take the loss.

Eagles tie it off Lions top relievers

The two rocks in the Seibu Lions bullpen this season, setup man Reed Garrett and closer Tatsushi Masuda, combined to blow a late 3-0 lead against the Rakuten Eagles at MetLife Dome. Their game was called a 3-3 tie after 10 innings.

The Lions took a three-run first-inning lead on a Hotaka Yamakawa RBI double and Ernest Mejia’s two run home run, his fifth in five games. Rookie Wtaru Matsumoto left the game after seven shutout innings, having allowed one hit and three walks.

With the Lions’ game in their best hands, the Eagles struck. Ryosuke Tatsumi homered with one out in the eighth, and rookie Hiroto Kobukata doubled and scored on an Eigoro Mogi single.

Hiroaki Shimauchi singled to open the Eagles’ ninth and scored the tying run on a Tatsumi single.

Active roster moves 8/15/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/25

Central League

Activated

SwallowsOF65Shotaro Tashiro

Dectivated

None

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP13Kohei Morihara
EaglesP21Yoshinao Kamata
MarinesP20Taiki Tojo
FightersC10Yushi Shimizu

Dectivated

EaglesP72Shun Ikeda
EaglesP91Yuya Kubo
MarinesP33Masaki Minami
FightersP28Ryusei Kawano
FightersP63Ryuji Kitaura

Starting pitchers for Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020

Pacific League

p>Lions vs Eagles: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Keisuke Honda (0-4, 3.76) vs Yuya Fukui (0-1, 1.69)

Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Toshiya Nakamura (1-0, 3.42) vs Drew VerHagen (4-1, 3.02)

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

Shuta Ishikawa (4-0, 2.39) vs Andrew Albers (2-4, 3.35)

Central League

Giants vs Dragons: Tokyo Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Seishu Hatake (0-1, 3.18) vs Yudai Ono (2-3, 3.35)

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

Kentaro Taira (3-2, 1.72) vs Hirofumi Yamanaka (0-1, 3.00)

Tigers vs Carp: Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Takumi Akiyama (4-1, 4.30) vs Atsushi Endo (2-2, 4.38)