At the Hall of Fame on Tuesday, I bumped into two people I knew, Waseda University manager Satoru Komiyama, and Hideaki Okubo, who is returning to manage corporate league team Eneos after a spell as Keio University’s manager.
I am keen to interview them and learn how they find and evaluate players.
The challenge is to stop trying to do everything by myself, but rather learn to ask for help from people who are willing to give it, and there are an amazing number of those people.
So today’s target is reaching out to six people: My teacher, Dan (for advice), the baseball editor of one of Japan’s major sports dailies, Komiyama and Okubo, and my two best NPB front office contacts.
Assignment 2: Pitcher Scouting Report
This time a pitcher. Since I’m a Swallows fan who focuses on pro ball so much, I was happy to find every pitch Yasunobu Okugawa threw in a 14-inning complete game at Koshien last year.
Again pressed for a physical description, I struggled until I say Kyle Hendricks.
I love Okugawa. The Swallows are one of the teams that do strength training so there’s a chance he won’t flat-line like Shintaro Fujinami.
It was the Japan sweepstakes, and only wins by the Hanshin Tigers and Hiroshima Carp kept all five series wrapping up on Thursday from being sweeps.
Dragons 3, Giants 2
At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri wasted seven scoreless innings from starting pitcher Toshiki Sakurai, when the bullpen blew a two-run, eighth-inning lead in a loss to Chunichi, which completed a three-game sweep on the road against the league leaders.
It was the Dragons’ first three-game sweep of the Giants in three seasons.
Nobumasa Fukuda hit the first pitch he saw from Scott Mathieson for a game-reversing two-run double after Kota Nakagawa (4-3) surrendered a two-out, pinch-hit double to 20-year-old rookie Masami Ishigaki.
Nineteen-year-old Dragons right-hander Takumi Yamamoto pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning to hold the Giants scoreless through six. Former Dragon Alex Guerrero hit a pinch-hit homer to open the seventh, and a pinch-hit double by Shuta Tanaka set up the Giants’ second run.
Hiroto Fuku (2-0) surrendered Yoshihiro Maru’s sacrifice fly, but got three outs to put the brakes on the Giants rally. He earned the win in relief after Joely Rodriguez shut down the hosts in the eighth, and fellow lefty Toshiya Okad did the same in the ninth.
At Jingu Stadium, Hiroki Tokoda (7-6) allowed a first-inning run, but none after that through seven innings, and back-to-back homers by Ryoma Nishikawa and Ryosuke Kikuchi gave Hiroshma the lead for good in the fifth against Yakult.
Tigers 9, BayStars 2
At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA rookie Shinichi Onuki (5-5) wrecked this game in the third inning with the help of the bullpen. He left trailing 2-0 with two on and one out, and reliever Shingo Hirata didn’t get out of the inning until Hanshin led 6-0.
At Yafuoku Dome, Hiroaki Takaya hit his annual home run, breaking a 1-1, fifth-inning tie in SoftBank’s series-sweep-clinching win over Rakuten.
Veteran right-hander Kenichi Nakata started for the Hawks, and got a 1-0 first-inning lead when Taisei Makihara singled, stole second and scored on an Alfredo Despaigne single. Nakata pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the second but surrendered the tying run in the fifth.
Sixth-inning doubles by Seiichi Uchikawa and Nobuhiro Matsuda allowed the Hawks to overcome Jabari Blash’s 29th home run.
Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano was deactivated on Thursday due to lower back pain. On Wednesday, he was missing his locations badly and those misses got hammered in a four-run second inning against Chunichi.
Okugawa strikes down Canada
Yasunobu Okugawa, who pitched Ishikawa Prefecture’s Seiryo High School to the finals of this summer’s national high school championship at historic Koshien Stadium and who is likely to be drafted in the first round in NPB’s amateur draft this autumn, struck out 18 on Thursday against Canada in the WSBC Under-18 World Cup in Busan, South Korea.
He allowed a run on two hits over seven innings.
Chikamoto sets Tigers rookie hits record
Koji Chikamoto, Hanshin’s top pick in last year’s amateur draft, went 2-for-5 on Thursday against DeNA, raising his season hit total to 137 and surpassing the previous high of 136 for a Tigers rookie set by Shun Takayama in 2016.