Tag Archives: Yoshinobu Yamamoto

NPB 2020 Sept. 22

Asamura barrage routs Marines

Hideto Asamura homered three times, walked, hit an RBI single and drove in seven to power the Rakuten Eagles to 12-4 come-from behind win over the Lotte Marines at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Asamura homered to lead off the Eagles’ third against Ayumu Ishikawa (6-3) and trim Lotte’s lead to a run. Daichi Suzuki’s RBI single tied it in the fifth, and Asamura followed with a two-run shot.

His RBI single opened the scoring in the Eagles’ three-run seventh, and his three-run shot in the eighth capped the scoring.

Johnson gets Sendai hero’s welcome

One day after he was acquired by the Eagles K.J. “Bearded Thunder” Johnson walked off the mound after one inning of relief to the kind of reception teammates normally reserve for pitchers throwing complete-game victories.

Perhaps, the Eagles players knew something the rest of us didn’t. Johnson (1-0) worked a 1-2-3 fifth to keep the game tied and ended up the winning pitcher one day after he moved over from the Central League’s Hiroshima Carp on a cash deal.

The last three Eagles relievers kept the Marines off the board as the game turned into a rout. Kazuhisa Makita worked a scoreless seventh. Journeyman right-hander Hiroaki Fukuyama, signed from the developmental roster following his release last winter, worked a scoreless eighth to protect a four-run lead.

Yamamoto beats Senga in 4th matchup

In a pitchers’ duel worthy of the hype Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto (6-3) beat SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga (6-5) 1-0 at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

The only run came, fittingly on a home run by the Buffaloes’ best hitter, Masataka Yoshida in the second inning. Senga allowed five hits without a walk while striking out nine over eight innings.

Yoshida, who now has 12 homers, had three of the Buffaloes’ six hits in the game.

Yamamoto allowed three singles and two walks over seven innings and struck out seven. Tyler Higgins got out of a tight spot in the eighth after a leadoff double and a sacrifice put the tying run at third with one out. Pinch-hitter Keizo Kawashima lined out to first and pinch-runner Taisei Makihara was doubled off third to end the inning.

Closer Brandon Dickson retired the heart of the Hawks order–thanks to a nice catch by shortstop Ryoichi Adachi to rob Akira Nakamura of a hit — and earn his 10th save.

Uwasawa tames Lions

Two inning-ending double plays helped Naoyuki Uwasawa (7-3) hold the Seibu Lions to a run over seven innings in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 5-1 win at MetLife Dome.

Uwasawa scattered six hits and two walks while striking out seven. Sho Nakata hit a two-run first-inning homer off Kona Takahashi (5-7) and Fighters catcher Yushi Shimizu, who helped give away a Fighters victory on Sunday, hit a two-run home run in the second.

Ono throws 3rd shutout, 7th complete game

Yudai Ono (6-5) responded to the end of his complete-game streak last week by starting another, striking out 11 in a two-hitter as the Chunichi Dragons beat the Yakult Swallows 3-0 at Nagoya Dome.

In his previous start, the lefty got the hook after allowing four runs over four innings. He allowed a two-out singled and a walk in the first, and a two-out single in the second before retiring the last 22 batters he face in a 122-pitch effort.

Forty-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa (0-5) hung in for six innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk. Matt Koch, pitching for the first time since Aug. 29, allowed a run in the seventh, before Scott McGough finished up for the visitors.

For the second day in a row, Zoilo Almonte drove in Chunichi’s first run with a home run, making it 1-0 in the fourth.

Itoi wrecks BayStars

Yoshio Itoi swung a hot bat for the second straight day with three hits and three RBIs to lead the Hanshin Tigers to a 6-3 win over the DeNA BayStars at Koshien Stadium on Tuesday.

Although the 39-year-old’s power numbers dropped off precipitously last season, he continues to walk a lot and rarely strike out, so even when he’s batting an unusually low .256, he has an on-base percentage over .360. His two-run double broke a 3-3 eighth-inning tie when both teams were trying their best to play for one-run and failed.

After a leadoff single, Koji Chikamoto, who had homered and singled so far, sacrificed. Normally reliable lefty Kenta Ishida (1-2) failed to get the force at second. The ensuing sacrifice put runners on second and third. With the BayStars outfield pulled in, Itoi easily found the gap for a two-run double.

Tigers starter Haruto Takahashi allowed three runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out eight over six innings. He pitched out of a two-on, one-out jam in the fifth after Austin’s home run, and the BayStars managed just two infield singles over the final four innings.

Giants walk off against Carp

Geronimo Franzua (2-3) allowed the winning run to score in the ninth on two singles and an errant pickoff throw as the Yomiuri Giants took a 5-4 see-saw game against the Hiroshima Carp at Tokyo Dome.

Giants starter Tomoyuki Sugano’s streak for consecutive winning decisions from Opening Day remained at 11 after he allowed three runs over eight innings.

Hisayoshi Chono, taken by the Carp last year from Yomiuri as free agent compensation for the Giants signing two-time Central League MVP Yoshihiro Maru, belted a three-run homer in the fourth off his former teammate.

Giants cleanup hitter, Kazuma Okamoto, however, put the hosts ahead 4-3 in the fifth with his 22nd home run.

Giants closer Rubby De La Rosa (2-0) allowed the Carp to tie it. A leadoff single set the table and Ryuhei Matsuyama singled home pinch-runner Kaisei Sone, who had been running with the pitch.

A leadoff single and a wild two-out pickoff throw by Franzua in the bottom of the inning set the table for Naoki Yoshikawa to win it with a single.

Active roster moves 9/22/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/2

Central League

Activated

GiantsP49Thyago Vieira
BayStarsIF2Jose Lopez
TigersP61Atsushi Mochizuki
SwallowsP33Matt Koch
SwallowsIF46Kengo Ota

Dectivated

GiantsP54Daisuke Naoe
BayStarsIF4Yukiya Ito
TigersP21Minoru Iwata
SwallowsP20Kazuki Kondo
SwallowsP68Hirofumi Yamanaka

Pacific League

Activated

LionsOF9Fumikazu Kimura
EaglesP42DJ Johnson
EaglesP64Hiroyuki Fukuyama
MarinesC39Yuta Yoshida
FightersP39Ryo Akiyoshi

Dectivated

FightersP47Kenya Suzuki

Starting pitchers for Sept. 22, 2020

Pacific League

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

Hideaki Wakui (8-3, 3.07) vs Kazuya Ojima (5-6, 3.66)

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

Shota Hamaya (1-0, 6.14) vs Drew VerHagen (6-3, 3.69)

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

Shota Takeda (2-0, 2.95) vs Daiki Tajima (2-4, 3.57)

Central League

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

Kazuto Taguchi (4-3, 4.50) vs Yusuke Nomura (5-1, 3.72)

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

Yuichiro Okano (2-2, 5.17) vs Hiroaki Saiuchi (0-0, 3.60)

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

Koyo Aoyagi (6-5, 3.95) vs Taiga Kamichatani (1-1, 3.69)

NPB 2020 Sept. 15

Sugano runs streak to 11

Tomoyuki Sugano equaled a team record set by Hall of Famer Victor Starffin by winning 11-straight decisions from Opening Day in the Yomiuri Giants’ 6-3 come-from-behind win over the Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo Dome on Tuesday.

Sugano (11-0) allowed three runs, all scored by Tigers leadoff man Koji Chikamoto on seven hits and a walk while striking out five over six innings. The Giants ace’s command was not up to his usual high standards, and though his fastball was occasionally untouchable, he had to work extremely carefully to get out of a couple of tight spots.

Tigers lefty Haruto Takahashi (2-3) allowed single runs in the second and fourth before his command deserted him in the bottom of the sixth and the Giants began taking advantage of his mistakes to overcome a 3-2 deficit.

Kazuma Okamoto singled in the tying run with no outs. It seems clear that the Tigers bench was taken by surprise by the lefty’s 10-pitch meltdown since no one was ready to replace him until Yuta Iwasada took over with no outs and the bases loaded.

Iwasada surrendered a two-run single to Takumi Oshiro, who added another RBI single in the eighth, and the Giants cut it close in the ninth with Rubby De La Rosa on the mound.

With two on and one out, second baseman Naoki Yoshikawa robbed Chikamoto of his fourth hit of the game with a diving stop and a force at second.

The Tigers, who left the bases loaded in the fourth, wasted a two-on no-out opportunity in the seventh, running into an out at third base on a broken buster-and-run when they trailed 5-3.

Instead of two on, no outs and a 2-0 count to one of the Tigers’ best hitters, catcher Ryutaro Umeno, the Tigers had a 1-1 count, one out, and a runner on second after Umeno swung at a pitch nowhere near the strike zone and the lead runner was out at easily at third.

Sugano’s streak is the longest for a CL pitcher to start the season after throwing on Opening Day, matching the 1982 run by Hiroshima Carp Hall of Famer Manabu Kitabeppu. The Giants franchise record was set in 1938 by Russian Hall of Famer Victor Starffin.

Giants-Tigers highlights.

Japan’s stupidest magic trick

The Giants win gave them a magic number to clinch their second-straight CL pennant of 38 with 48 games to play. This is a Japanese magic number, mind you, a mind-numbing formula that requires knowing the number of games your closest rival has remaining with you. It’s fairly complicated math. Teams who meet the criteria have their magic number “lit up.” Fans celebrate it and the media never shuts up about it.

Should the other CL teams improve relative to the Giants, Yomiuri’s magic number, 38 after the win with 48 games left to play, can disappear. Teams can win pennants without ever having a magic number.

Asked about it after Tuesday’s game, Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said, “It’s something that has nothing to do with me.”

Seiya later

Seiya Suzuki capped a four-run first inning with a three-run homer off Yudai Ono (5-5) whose six-game complete-game streak came to an end in the Hiroshima Carp’s 6-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Ono settled down after allowing the first four batters to reach, retiring 12 of the last 14 he faced before being pulled for a pinch-hitter. Carp right-hander Allen Kuri (4-4) allowed a run over six innings to earn the win. Geronimo Franzua worked the ninth for his ninth save.

Soto sparks Stars

Two-time Central League home run champ Neftali Soto hit his 15th home run and drove in three runs off 40-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa (0-4) in the DeNA BayStars’ 8-3 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Tatsuhiro Shibata came off the bench for the BayStars and doubled in three runs in the eighth to complete the rout.

Must be the shirt

Seiichiro Oshita, whom Orix added to their 70-man roster on Monday after taking him in the sixth round of last year’s developmental draft, broke a 1-1 second-inning tie with a three-run homer in his first career at-bat as the Orix Buffaloes beat the Rakuten Eagles 5-1 at Hotto Motto Field Kobe.

The Buffaloes, formed out of the 2004 merger of the Orix BlueWave and the Kintetsu Buffaloes, wore BlueWave uniforms at that club’s old home park in Kobe. Unfortunately, the Buffaloes didn’t have a special uniform available with Oshita’s new No. 40, so he wore the No. 102 of batting practice pitcher Yukihiro Yamaoka.

His feat mimicked that of Lotte Marines right-hander Hirokazu Sawamura, who was activated the day of his trade and struck out the side in order that night wearing the shirt of longtime batting practice pitcher Akihiro Fukushima.

Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto (5-3), the hardest-throwing starting pitcher in Japan, allowed Hideto Asamura’s 23rd home run to lead off the second, but only two other hits and two walks while striking out nine over eight innings.

Fighters get past Senga

Haruki Nishikawa drove in three runs against SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga (6-4) in the Fighters’ 3-2 win at Sapporo Dome as veteran lefty Naoki Miyanishi again cut it close before recording the save.

Fighters right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa (6-3) threw eight scoreless innings as the hosts took a 3-0 lead into the ninth. Miyanishi, filling in for regular closer Ryo Akiyoshi has now escaped with two-straight saves after opponents’ trimmed the Fighters’ lead to a run in the ninth.

He surrendered solo home runs to Yuki Yanagita, his 23rd, and former Fighter Keizo Kawashima, his fourth.

Senga struck out 12 but walked six and gave up nine hits in his 148 war of attrition with the strike zone.

Spangenberg rescues endangered Lions

Corey Spangenberg’s 11th home run, a two-run eighth-inning shot off veteran right-hander Frank Herrmann brought the Seibu Lions from a run down in their 4-3 win over the Lotte Marines at MetLife Dome.

Marines starter Ayumu Ishikawa left with one out and a man on in the eighth. Herrmann retired Sosuke Genda before he missed a pitch that Spangenberg didn’t.

Lions starter Kona Takahashi, who lost a no-hit bid in the eighth inning a week earlier, allowed three runs, two earned over seven innings. Tatsushi Masuda worked the ninth for Seibu to earn his 18th save.

Active roster moves 9/15/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/25

Central League

Activated

TigersIF58Fumiya Araki
SwallowsIF0Ryota Fujii
SwallowsOF51Taiki Hamada

Dectivated

CarpP23Kazuki Yabuta

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP56Sora Suzuki
MarinesP12Ayumu Ishikawa
BuffaloesP15Yudai Aranishi
BuffaloesOF00Hayato Nishiura
BuffaloesOF40Seiichiro Oshita

Dectivated

LionsP48Shota Takekuma
EaglesP17Takahiro Shiomi
MarinesP18Kota Futaki
BuffaloesP39Yuya Iida
BuffaloesIF67Keita Nakagawa
BuffaloesOF6Yuma Mune

Starting pitchers for Sept. 16, 2020

Pacific League

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

Toshihiro Sugiura (5-3, 3.12) vs Akira Niho (4-4, 4.26)

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

Shota Hamaya (0-0, 9.35) vs Kazuya Ojima (5-5, 3.52)

Buffaloes vs Eagles: Hotto Motto Field 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Daiki Tajima (1-4, 4.02) vs Hideaki Wakui (8-2, 3.19)

Central League

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

Kazuto Taguchi (3-3, 4.44) vs Koyo Aoyagi (6-4, 3.52)

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

Hiroaki Saiuchi (-) vs Taiga Kamichatani (1-1, 4.09)

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

Yusuke Nomura (4-1, 3.78) vs Yuichiro Okano (2-1, 4.86)

NPB 2021 Sept. 1

Yamamoto finally beats Senga

Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto escaped a first-inning jam to work seven innings in a 5-0 win over SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga on Tuesday at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Masataka Yoshida singled in two runs in the sixth for the hosts and double in another in the seventh.

Yamamoto (4-2) walked five batters and struck out seven while allowing two hits. He threw 114 pitches, but 35 of those in the first inning, when he walked the bases loaded and got lucky when Yuki Yanagita just missed a hanging slider with one on and no outs, only managing to drive it to the warning track.

The right-hander brought his bread-and-butter four-seam fastball, but also had good command of his curve and slider, giving those pitches more extensive workouts than he usually does. The win was Yamamoto’s first since the middle of July.

“He (Yamamoto) didn’t pitch the same way he usually does. Whether it was because he went to his breaking pitches more or not, I don’t know, but he pitched really well.”

–SoftBank Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo

“I’ve been going through a long stretch where I’ve not been very good,” Yamamoto said. “I’d already lost twice to him, so I wanted to do what I could to not do that again.”

“Senga pitched really well, and even though I walked all those batters in the first I was able to regroup. Even though I hadn’t been pulling my weight, my teammates never got down on me. I have them to thank for having my back.”

Senga (5-3) allowed four runs on five hits and six walks over 6-2/3 innings while striking out six. The Buffaloes broke the deadlock against him in the sixth, when he issued two walks and Keita Nakagawa bunted for a single to load the bases.

Yoshida got a high-straight 2-1 fastball and didn’t try to do too much with. He rifled it into center for a two-run single. Back-to-back two-out walks pushed across another run, and manger Kimiyasu Kudo stuck with Senga until Yoshida made it 4-0 with a seventh-inning double.

“Nakagawa laid down such a great bunt,” Yoshida said. “Against one of the Pacific League’s marquee pitchers, I was just looking to put a good swing on whatever good pitch I could get.”

Tyler Higgins struck out three batters in the eighth to work around a one-out walk and a single, and closer Brandon Dickson struck out two in a scoreless ninth for the Buffaloes.

Takahashi pulverizes Marines

Kona Takahashi (4-6) worked seven scoreless innings and the Seibu Lions punished Yuta Omine (0-1) in his first game back since Tommy John surgery in a 9-1 win over the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Takahashi allowed one seventh-inning hit thanks to some sparkling team defense, while walking two and striking out three. The Lions tattooed Omine for seven runs over five innings.

Takumi Kuriyama, had three hits and broke the ice with a two-run third-inning single and Hotaka Yamakawa capped the rally with his 19th home run, a three-run shot.

Uwasawa goes distance to beat Eagles

Naoyuki Uwasawa (5-2) threw a five-hitter for the Nippon Ham Fighters in their 8-1 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Sapporo Dome.

The right-hander struck out seven and walked three in a 125-pitch effort. He pitched out of a two-on, no-out pickle in the second inning thanks to two-straight failed squeeze plays before surrendering the game’s first run when Kazuki Tanaka took him deep to lead off the fifth.

The Fighters tied it in the home half when Ryo Watanabe singled, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a Christian Villanueva single. Go Matsumoto’s seventh-inning RBI single off Sung Chih-hao (1-2), and the Fighters piled on in the eighth with four runs off J.T. Chargois.

Carp become Ono’s latest victims

After Yudai Ono threw his first complete game victory of the season on July 31, he was asked what he’d changed after going 0-3 in his first six starts.

He said, “Nothing really, I’ve pitched well enough to win most of the time but was only unable to hang in until we did. I’ve tried to be more economical and pitch tougher so I could stay in games longer.”

Since then, the self-deprecating Chunichi Dragons lefty has reeled off five-straight complete-game victories, tying a franchise record shared by three others, with a 5-0 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Nagoya Dome.

Ono allowed two hits and a walk in the 116-pitch outing to throw his second-straight shutout. Hiroshima’s Allen Kuri (2-4) allowed all five runs on nine hits and three walks over 7-2/3 innings.

Yota Kyoda broke up a scoreless tie in the fifth inning after reaching on a leadoff triple and scoring when Ono grounded out.

Giants walk it off against ‘Stars

Naoki Yoshikawa bounced a ground ball through the infield to bring home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as the Yomiuri Giants beat the DeNA BayStars 3-2 at Tokyo Dome.

Against Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano, the Dragons erased a two-run deficit. Sugano allowed one run in the fifth when the BayStars loaded the bases with no outs. He issued two walks, both in the ninth to set the table for Keita Sano’s game-tying RBI single off lefty Kota Nakagawa.

Sugano, who was gunning for his 10th victory to start the season, allowed four hits while striking out 10.

Rubby De La Rosa (1-0) worked a 1-2-3 ninth for the Giants to earn the win in relief after the Giants scored off of lefty Edwin Escobar (0-2) to win it.

The Giants opened the scoring against Taiga Kamichatani in the fourth on a walk by Yoshihiro Maru and a two-out Takumi Oshiro homer.

Spencer Patton worked a scoreless seventh and Kenta Ishida did the same in the eighth to keep the BayStars in it until the end.

Sands blast knocks off Swallows

Jerry Sands drove in both runs for the Hanshin Tigers in their 2-1 win over the Yakult Swallows at Koshien Stadium.

The former Dodger and KBO RBI champ doubled in a run in the fourth to break up a scoreless pitchers’ duel between lefties Masanori Ishikawa of the Swallows and Haruto Takahashi of the Tigers. Ishikawa lasted 5-1/3 innings, while Takahashi went seven.

The Swallows tied it on a two-out Munetaka Murakami double and an Alcides Escobar RBI single. But Yuta Iwasad worked a 1-2-3 eighth for the Tigers, and Robert Suarez (1-0) worked around Tetsuto Yamada’s leadoff double in the ninth to keep the game tied.

Instead of closer Taishi Ishiyama, Gabriel Ynoa (0-3) took over in the ninth and Sands hit his sixth pitch for his 13th home run of the season.

Active roster moves 9/1/2020

Central League

Activated

BayStarsIF64Hiroki Momose
TigersOF68Shunsuke Fujikawa
CarpIF96Alejandro Mejia
DragonsP16Katsuki Matayoshi
SwallowsP25Gabriel Ynoa
SwallowsOF8Shota Nakayama
SwallowsOF9Yasutaka Shiomi

Dectivated

None

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP21Ken Togame
EaglesP58Wataru Karashima
MarinesP64Yuta Omine
FightersP27Nick Martinez
BuffaloesP39Yuya Iida

Dectivated

None

Starting pitchers for Sept. 2, 2020

Pacific League

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

Kenta Uehara (-) vs Hideaki Wakui (8-1, 2.25)

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

Kazuya Ojima (4-4, 4.06) vs Tetsuya Utsumi (0-1, 4.50)

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

Daiki Tajima (1-3, 3.02) vs Tsuyoshi Wada (4-1, 3.33)

Central League

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

Angel Sanchez (3-2, 2.67) vs Haruhiro Hamaguchi (3-3, 3.86)

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

Shinnosuke Ogasawara (1-2, 5.06) vs Yusuke Nomura (3-1, 2.09)

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

Onelki Garcia (2-5, 3.75) vs Hirofumi Yamanaka (1-1, 3.18)

NPB 2020 8-25 games and news

Senga wins marquee matchup vs Yamamoto

Kodai Senga got a late start to the season, and has struggled to consistently command his splitter and four-seamer, but things came together for him on Tuesday in the SoftBank Hawks’ 4-0 win against the Orix Buffaloes at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

“Today is the first day I’ve pitched the way one would expect from a starting pitcher,” said Senga, who had been relying more on his slider this year due to his inability to locate his fastball or get his splitter to tumble.

Senga (5-2) struck out nine over seven scoreless innings in a matchup of aces against Yoshinobu Yamamoto (3-2), who continued to struggle on the road. The Buffaloes’ loss was their first since Norifumi Nishimura stepped down on Thursday night and was replaced by farm skipper Satoshi Nakajima.

On this week’s Japan Weekly Baseball Podcast, Fighters pitcher Drew VerHagen talked about how well some hitters in Japan can wear pitchers down, spoiling good pitches by fouling them off and running up pitch counts. That’s what the Hawks did to Yamamoto, who allowed two runs over six innings.

The bottom of the Hawks order forced the right-hander to throw 27 pitches in a three-walk fourth inning despite his ability to end it by getting catcher Takuya Kai to ground into an inning-ending double play on two pitches.

Taisei Makihara opened the Hawks’ fifth by hitting a first-pitch fastball off the end of the bat and finding a hole for a leadoff single. He took second on a wild pitch that catcher Kenya Wakatsuki kept in front of him, and went to third on a groundout. Makihara and scored when Yuki Yanagita lined a low 0-2 splitter to center for a sacrifice fly, proving once more that Yanagita can do pretty much anything.

Yurisbel Gracial, who rejoined the Hawks’ first team last week after he and Alfredo Despaigne arrived in Japan from Cuba in July, followed with his first home run to make it 2-0. Yamamoto tried to go outside with an 0-1 fastball, his 91st pitch of the game, and Gracial nearly hit one of the Boston Dynamics Spot dogs that decorate the center field stands at the Casa de PayPay.

Yamamoto started the day having struck out one batter in 22 consecutive innings, one shy of the Japan record set by Yutaka Enatsu in 1968 with the Central League’s Hanshin Tigers. The Buffaloes 22-year-old ran the record to 25 innings before the Hawks fouled him silly in the fourth.

At home, Yamamoto has struck out 54 batters and walked four over 37 innings. On the road, he’s now struck out 24 and walked 15 in 29-2/3 innings.

Buffaloes officially need help

One stat that goes hand in hand with Japanese baseball’s perverse magic number calculating system is the “jiriki-V” the ability of a team to clinch a “V” for victory under its own power “jiriki” by winning enough of its remaining games regardless of its opponents’ results in other games.

Tuesday’s loss eliminated the Buffaloes’ chances of clinching by running the table. Like asking players what they intend to do in May when they compile the service time necessary to file for free agency, one of the duties of reporters in NPB is to ask the manager about such things as magic numbers and the jiriki-V.

“I don’t think we’re finished yet,” Nakajima said. “It’s something that happens in the final stages, too, when it comes and goes day by day. We’ll keep playing.”

Jones pulled

Adam Jones, who hit four home runs in Orix’s previous three games, was removed for a pinch-hitter prior to his second at-bat. He’s been dealing with discomfort in his right heel and on Aug. 16 he skipped the Buffaloes’ last game in Fukuoka on Aug. 16.

NOTE: This story originally incorrectly identified Jones as not being on the game-day roster.

Marines blow up against Eagles’ Chargois

J.T. Chargois (0-3) hit the first batter he faced in a five-run seventh inning, allowing the Lotte Marines to overturn a one-run deficit en route to an 8-4 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Leonys Martin was plunked for the second time to open the seventh when a 1-2 back-foot slider became a front-knee breaking ball. Although pitchers are expected to tip their cap to batters they hit, Chargois didn’t although did have a word as Martin walked to first.

A hanging slider was hit for a single and Seiya Inoue hit a high fastball to tie it with a single for his second RBI of the game. Shuhei Fukuda, who also had an RBI in Lotte’s three-run first inning, doubled in the go-ahead run.

Mariners starter Manabu Mima, who left the Eagles as a free agent over the winter, allowed four runs over six innings to improve to 5-2.

“That was a bit of a hard game, a little frustrating,” Eagles manager Hajime Miki said afterward. “It became a game where there’s really nothing to say about it. We owe the fans an apology.”

Taking 11 for the team

By getting hit twice, Martin moved into a tie with Seibu’s Hotaka Yamakawa for the unenviable Japan lead in being hit by pitches with 11 this season. Martin’s sleeve was brushed by a pitch from Tomohito Sakai to open the fifth. Like Chargois, Sakai did not appear to tip his cap.

Fighters’ Uwasawa beats Lions’ Takahashi

Go Matsumoto walked twice, scored twice and had an RBI triple for the Nippon Ham Fighters, allowing Naoyuki Uwasawa (4-2) to overcome a solid start from Seibu Lions right-hander Kona Takahashi (3-6) in a 4-3 win at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.

Matsumoto drew a one-out walk in the first and scored after two-out singles by Sho Nakata and Ryo Watanabe. Christian Villanueva, who missed nearly a month after fouling a ball off his foot, doubled in his first at-bat back and scored on Takuya Nakashima’s perfectly executed suicide squeeze. With two outs, Taishi Ota doubled and scored on Matsumoto’s triple to make it 3-0.

Uwasawa spent his last four innings on the mound getting himself out of trouble.

“My form wasn’t all that good today,” he said after walking four and hitting a batter. “I’m glad I could keep them off the board as well as I did.”

The Lions, who most often wear variations of blue or occasionally red or green, came dressed a little early for Halloween, wearing white uniforms with orange trim that made it look they were being sponsored by Starbucks’ pumpkin spice drinks,

Sugano’s season-opening streak rolls on

Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano remained unbeaten on the season, improving to 9-0 after allowing two runs over eight innings in an 8-4 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

The franchise record is 13 winning decisions to open the season, set by Tsuneo Horiuchi in 1966. It’s the longest by an Opening Day pitcher since Hall of Famer Victor Starffin’s nine straight in 1938. The Japan record for consecutive victories is the 28-0 stretch by former Rakuten Eagles ace Masahiro Tanaka spanning the 2012 and 2013 regular seasons.

Sugano struck out six without issuing a walk, while allowing five hits. He allowed two runs on four first-inning singles but only one hit the rest of the way.

“To be honest, I was wondering just how many runs they might score off of me (in the first),” said Sugano, who got a huge boost from a one-out double play before veteran Yuhei Takai singled in the second run.

The Giants tied it against 40-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa on a Hayato Sakamoto homer and a Zelous Wheeler RBI single but broke the game open against Swallows rookie surprise Hiroki Hasegawa (1-1) in a five-run seventh.

BayStars overcome Yamasaki blowup

Yamato Maeda’s two-out sayonara single won it for the DeNA BayStars 5-4 over the Hiroshima Carp at Yokohama Stadium after closer Yasuaki Yamasaki blew a two-run lead in his current role as the BayStars’ seventh-inning man.

Jose Pirela fueled Hiroshima’s comeback with two hits and two runs, while Ryuhei Matsuyama drove in two runs off the bench for the Carp.

Edwin Escobar took over in the seventh with one out and two in scoring position but couldn’t strand either one.

With Tatsuhiro Shibata on base in the ninth with two outs and first base open in a 4-4- game, the Carp opted to walk Takayuki Kajitani who was 4-for-4 with a double. Maeda followed with a booming single to the wall to end it.

The BayStars snapped a 23-inning scoreless streak in the second on a Keita Sano single and a Toshiro Miyazaki homer off Allen Kuri. Afterward Miyazaki had to say his only intent was contributing to the rally.

“I was only trying to set the table for the hitters behind me, ” he said, dutifully reading the orthodox script for describing most home runs hit in Japan.

Tiger Takahashi slays Dragons

Lefty Haruto Takahashi reeled off his third-straight solid start, allowing a run over eight innings as the Hanshin Tigers beat the Chunichi Dragons 5-1 at Koshien Stadium.

Takahashi (2-1) allowed six hits and struck out five while walking one, and Jerry Sands drove in the go-ahead run in a two-run third inning against lefty Shinnosuke Ogasawara.

Ogasawara (1-2) allowed five runs, four earned, over six innings, snapping a solid run by the Dragons’ pitchers, who allowed one run in their weekend series against DeNA.

Justin Bour hit his 10th home run, a two-run shot in the sixth.

Active roster moves 8/25/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/4

Central League

Activated

BayStarsP27Taiga Kamichatani
TigersC39Kenya Nagasaka
SwallowsP19Masanori Ishikawa
SwallowsOF41Yuhei Takai

Dectivated

GiantsP58Ryosuke Miyaguni
BayStarsP43Takuya Shindo

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP48Shota Takekuma
EaglesP12Hiroki Kondo
FightersIF44Christian Villanueva

Dectivated

None

Starting pitchers for Aug. 25, 2020

Pacific League

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

Hideaki Wakui (8-0, 2.21) vs Kazuya Ojima (3-4, 4.62)

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

Daiki Enokida (0-0, 4.20) vs Toshihiro Sugiura (4-2, 2.63)

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

Tsuyoshi Wada (4-1, 3.05) vs Daiki Tajima (1-3, 2.89)

Central League

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

Keiji Takahashi (1-2, 3.82) vs Nattino Diplan (-)

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

Haruhiro Hamaguchi (3-2, 3.78) vs Yusuke Nomura (2-1, 2.05)

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

Onelki Garcia (1-5, 3.83) vs Koji Fukutani (2-1, 2.28)

NPB 2020 8-18 games and news

Giants’ ace Sugano shuts out Tigers

Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano overpowered the Hanshin Tigers on Tuesday in a three-hit 1-0 shutout win at Tokyo Dome while improving to 8-0 in nine starts.

The right-hander was precise with good movement as he struck out seven and walked one and generated a lot of soft contact.

Tigers lefty Haruto Takahashi was not quite as sharp, and one of his mistakes ended up well back in the left-field stands on Kazuma Okamoto’s 17th home run in the fourth inning. Takahashi allowed two hits but needed more help from his fielders than Sugano did. The side-armer struck out six and walked three.

“I had to make a lot of pitches at the start, but (catcher Takumi) Oshiro called a good game and got me through it,” Sugano said after his third complete game victory. “At the start we used mostly fastball and sliders, but from the fifth inning we mixed it up more.”

He became the first Giants pitcher since Hall of Famer Masaki Saito to win his first eight decisions of the season.

Dragons clobber Swallows’ Takahashi

The Chunichi Dragons knocked out Yakult Swallows lefty Keiji Takahashi (1-2), scoring four runs off him in two innings en route to an 8-3 13-hit win at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Dragons lefty Shinnosuke Ogasawara (1-1) allowed three runs on five hits and two walks. He struck out six.

Ino, BayStars hold off Carp

Shoichi Ino (4-3) scattered four hits and two walks over six scoreless innings for the DeNA BayStars en route to a 4-3 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Ino, who struck out four, needed two of those to get out of his only jam of the game in the sixth inning, when Hisayoshi Chono opened with a leadoff double and Seiya Suzuki reached on a no-out error.

Carp starter Allen Kuri (2-3) allowed a run in the second on three one-out singles, but pitched out of trouble before surrendering three in the fifth after Ino opened with a leadoff single.

BayStars lefty Edwin Escobar allowed three of the four batters he faced in the seventh to reach, but after three runs scored, the BayStars pen locked the door with Kazuki Mishima recording his seventh save.

Mejia lifts Lions past Buffaloes

Ernesto Mejia broke open a 1-1 pitchers’ duel in the eighth inning off reliable setup man Tyler Higgins (1-2) in the Seibu Lions’ 3-1 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Higgins took the mound in the eighth after Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto allowed an unearned run over seven innings.

Higgins caught a break to open the inning when right fielder Hayato Nishiura made a jumping catch against the right-field wall for the first out. Shuta Tonosaki, whose two doubles accounted for half of Seibu’s hits against Yamamoto, singled and Hotaka Yamakawa, A force put runners on the corners with two outs, but the trailing runner advanced to second.

Mejia then lined a pitch to deep left that plated both runners.

Lions setup man Reed Garrett, whose two runs allowed on Saturday, contributed to Seibu blowing a three-run lead, worked around two singles. He did it thanks to a big play by third baseman Corey Spangenberg for the second out and by striking out Takahiro Okada to end the inning. Tatsushi Masuda closed for his 10th save.

Seibu starter Kona Takahashi (2-5) allowed four hits and a walk. He hit one batter and struck out seven. Yamamoto struck out 12 and walked two in one of his more impressive performances this season. The Lions scored in the fifth on a Tomoya Mori double and an error on first baseman Aderlin Rodriguez.

Marines lord it over Hawks again

Hisanori Yasuda singled in a run in the first and two more in a three-run seventh as the Lotte Marines beat the SoftBank Hawks and their ace Kodai Senga (4-2) 6-4 at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Shogo Nakamura reached base three times and scored three times for the Marines. Lotte starter Manabu Mima (4-2) allowed four runs, two earned, over eight innings, and saved himself at least a run in the first inning with a pair of sharp fielding plays.

Senga surrendered six runs and was chased in the seventh inning.

The Marines, who had a winning record against the Hawks last season, improved to 3-1 against them this year.

Cuban outfielder Yurisbel Gracial made his season debut for the Hawks after arriving in Japan last month. He started in left field but failed to judge Yasuda’s pop fly in the first that fell for a single, and his high fly to the wall that he gave up on, allowing it to go for a double.

Nakata, Fighters crush Eagles

Sho Nakata’s two-run homer highlighted a four-run first inning, when the Nippon Ham Fighters batted around against Hayato Yuge (3-2) in a 9-4 win at Sapporo Dome.

The Eagles opened the scoring against Naoyuki Uwasawa (3-2) threw a leadoff bunt single, an error and a Daichi Suzuki single. But that was the only run the right-hander would allow over seven innings as he struck out 10 and walked one.

Yuge lasted 5-13 innings, but that was long enough to cough up nine runs, eight of them earned.

Active roster moves 8/18/2020

Central League

Activated

TigersP29Haruto Takahashi
TigersIF00Hiroki Uemoto
CarpP13Takuya Yasaki
SwallowsP47Keiji Takahashi

Dectivated

None

Pacific League

Activated

HawksIF27Yurisbel Gracial
FightersOF3Wang Po-jung 
BuffaloesIF67Keita Nakagawa

Dectivated

None

Starting pitchers for Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020

Pacific League

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

Naoyuki Uwasawa (2-2, 3.77) vs Hayato Yuge (3-1, 3.71)

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

Manabu Mima (3-2, 5.28) vs Kodai Senga (4-1, 3.53)

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

Yoshinobu Yamamoto (3-1, 3.86) vs Kona Takahashi (2-5, 6.47)

Central League

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

Tomoyuki Sugano (7-0, 1.75) vs Haruto Takahashi (1-0, 0.00)

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

Keiji Takahashi (1-1, 3.14) vs Shinnosuke Ogasawara (0-1, 4.50)

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

Allen Kuri (2-2, 4.05) vs Shoichi Ino (3-3, 2.60)

NPB 2020 8-11 live blog

Live blog: Hawks vs Buffaloes

Go to NEWEST.

For those of you who are curious, you can read a little about these teams in my Japanese pro baseball guide.

Tonight we have two of Japan’s premier pitchers, Kodai Senga of the SoftBank Hawks against Yoshinobu Yamamoto of the Orix Buffaloes.

Top 1st

Buffs leading off with Tatsuya Yamaashi, whose liner to right holds up long enough to be caught. Shuhei Fukuda the shorter strikes out looking at a pitch away. Masataka Yoshida takes a pitch low for Ball 4, bringing up Adam Jones, who sat out his first game of the year on Sunday.

Jones goes down swinging at a splitter. A pitch that is usually a nightmare for hitters has been mediocre this season for Senga. But that 0-2 pitch was a beauty.

Bottom 1st

Two good fastballs followed by a good curve and Ukyo Shuto is Yamamoto’s first strikeout victim of the evening.

Yuki Yanagita is batting second. He’s jammed but loops it into shallow right for a single. We were talking on the Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast about manager Kudo’s lineup selection.

Akira Nakamura, batting third, hits one high and far down the line for a two-run home run. We’re going to get a video review of the ball. It was hit high over the foul pole, so I don’t know how they were going to dispute it.

Nakamura, of course, famously hit a home run on a foul ball against the Buffaloes thanks to a video review that overturned the correct call. Hawks 2 Buffaloes 0

The curse of the live blog continues as Ryoya Kurihara walks and Kenji Akashi doubles him home from first. Hawks 3 Buffaloes 0 Yamamoto settles down and gets a pair of groundouts to leave Kurihara at second.

Top 2nd

The broadcasters are saying that the difference between good Senga and bad Senga is that when he’s having trouble, he’ll give up runs right after his team scored. I don’t think it’s that simple. He’s missing bats with his fastball and splitter. I think that’s probably a better indicator.

Takahiro Okada and Aderlin Rodriguez back after missing 10 days with a contusion on his arm where he was hit by a pitch make easy outs. Senga issues his second two-out walk of the game.

Senga caught a huge break when he missed with a splitter up in the zone with too much spin and Ryoichi Adachi takes it for Strike 3, and he’ s out of the inning. Hawks 3, Buffaloes 0

Bottom 2nd

Two easy outs for Yamamoto in the second. Then a straight fastball that misses up in the zone and Shuto singles. Yanagita hits another straight fastball and drives it into the home run terrace in right center. Hawks 5, Buffaloes 0

Top 3rd

The Buffaloes go down in order in the third.

Bottom 3rd

A one-out single by Kenji Akashi puts a man on, but Aderlin Rodriguez catches a low liner at first and gets an easy double play.

Top 4th

Masataka Yoshida singles to center for Orix’s first hit. Jones chases a cutter away and misses for Senga’s sixth strikeout. Takahiro Okada tees off on a high fastball and doubles to the gap in right to put runners on second and third for Rodriguez.

Good split for the second strike and Rodriguez swings under a good fastball. That’s seven K’s for Senga. Ryo Nishimura can’t hold up on a 2-2 pitch Senga buries on outside and that promise of an inning is gone.

Bottom 4th

Takuya Kai miss-hits a cutter and grounds into an easy out. Nice cutter, fastball combination gets the No. 8 hitter Hikaru Kawase going down swinging. Matsuda swings under a high fastball and fouls out. Triumph of a sort for Yamamoto in his first 1-2-3 inning.

Top 5th

Tough spot for Senga after his second baseman Kawase fumbles a grounder, and Kenya Wakatsuki gets enough of an 0-2 fastball up and in to get it through the infield for a single. Kawase drops the throw from short on a double play ball for his second error of the inning and the bags are juiced.

A groundout brings in one run, and Yoshida puts an easy swing on a cutter at the letters and hits it into left for an RBI single. Hawks 5, Buffaloes 2

A good at-bat by Jones taking two borderline low pitches, and a badly missed 3-2 fastball results in a walk and the bases loaded with one out.

Senga misses another fastball up in the zone and straight to Okada who lines it into the home run terrace for his sixth homer of the season. Buffaloes 6, Hawks 5

Bottom 5th

A good at-bat by Ukyo Shuto gives the Hawks a leadoff walk. Yamamoto gets ahead of Yanagita and goes inside with a fastball. Shuto takes off on the 2-2 pitch and steals second as Yanagita chases a splitter for Strike 3.

I am mystified why catcher Wakatsuki and Yamamoto think a disciplined hitter like Nakamura is going to become a hacker after all these years and chase pitches when he’s ahead in the count. Now they HAVE to work the edge and hope for a strike and walk him. Two on and one out and their feet are in the fire.

Another disciplined hitter in Ryoya Kurihara, and they start him off with a splitter out of the zone. Madness. Surprised him with a curveball away that hung up a bit and Kurihara flies out.

Visit from the pitching coach as Yamamoto misses badly with a couple of pitches and the bases are loaded with two outs. Seiji Uebayashi puts a good swing on an inside pitch but hits a soft liner to second, and Yamamoto escapes.

Top 6th

Senga is missing still but gets three easy outs. Yamamoto is done after 106 pitches.

Bottom 6th

Rookie right-hander Ryo Yoshida on the mound for the Buffaloes. The announcer said “He did well on the farm but didn’t get results on the first team.” That’s true, but I’d wager it’s hard to get any kind of good results in just 4-1/3 innings. Yoshida strikes out Kai on three pitches, but walks the next batter, Kawase, so if anything, he’s being efficient.

The Buffaloes’ center fielder, Nishimura, is pulled well over toward right center against Nobuhiro Matsuda, as if to rub it in that he’s batting ninth.

Matsuda walks and Senga really wants to pitch the seventh, since out in front of the dugout warming up with one out.

Pitching change: Ryo Yoshida leaves for lefty Koki Saito to face Yanagita.

The Hawks star nearly comes out of his shoes trying to hold up on a slider but gets the bat on it and hits a one-handed home run as his helmet flies off. That’s home run No. 14 for him and it’s Hawks 8, Buffaloes 6.

Top 7th

With a two-run lead, Senga is done after six innings and 114 pitches.

Rei Takahashi on for the Hawks. Masataka Yoshida doubles with one out for his third hit. He also walked. Adam Jones singles Yoshida home. Hawks 8, Buffaloes 7.

Hawks skipper Kudo pulls the plug on his submarine righty with Okada coming up from the left side.

Pitching change: LHP Shinya Kayama on for Rei Takahashi with one out and one on.

Given manager Nishimura’s propensity to play for one run when behind and sort of wish for the best, I’m surprised he’s not gone to a pinch-runner for Jones on first.

Pitching change: LHP Shinya Kayama on for Rei Takahashi with one out and one on. Okada pops up for the second out, and with Aderlin Rodriguez up, the Hawks go with a right-hander, so lovers of the one-point relievers nonsense that passes for strategy can be happy.

Pitching change: Rookie RHP Keisuke Izumi on for LHP Shinya Kayama and gets Rodriguez to ground out.

Bottom 7th

It’s the Hawks’ “Lucky Seventh,” and lefty Nobuyoshi Yamada is on for Orix to face Ryoya Kurihara. Yamada misses the target slightly on a 3-2 pitch. A leadoff walk and a sacrifice and the insurance run is at second. I’m sure there’ s reason for asking your pitcher to locate perfectly against a leadoff hitter instead of focusing on throwing a 3-2 strike, but I don’t see it.

Another walk and my favorite right-handed-hitting grinder is up. Keizo Kawashima pinch-hits and smokes the first pitch to center but lines out. Yamada unpickles himself by getting pinch-hitter Kenta Imamiya to ground out to third.

Top 8th

Changes: LHP Livan Moinelo on the mound, while Hiroaki Takaya is catching and Shuto moves over from short to second and Tetsuro Nishida comes off the bench to play short.

Moinelo strikes out Nishimura. Five outs to go.

A walk on another pitch at the knees that ump Yuta Suyama is not buying. Moinelo, like Senga and Yamamoto before him, mouths his displeasure in Japanese, causing the announcers to comment on his language skills.

A double-play ball to first, but the Hawks infield are not on the same page and only get one out. Nishida tags the runner thinking first baseman Kenji Akashi stepped on the bag when he didn’t. There’s a little meeting to figure out what went wrong. But all’s well that ends well for the Hawks as pinch-runner Yuya Oda is thrown out stealing.

Bottom 8th

Buffaloes right-hander Tyler Higgins on and strikes out Matsuda on a called third strike away. It looks like one of those egregious outside strikes that have been very common this year. Higgins has been very tough this year, his first in Japan. He records three easy outs, so it’s going to come down to whether Orix can score off closer Yuito Mori in the ninth.

Top 9th

Here’s Mori and he misses the first two pitches to pinch-hitter Torai Fushimi, who miss-hits a ball to second for the first out. The right-hander missing the target with about half his pitches but is executing with two strikes.

Masataka Yoshida has yet to make an out tonight. Mori can’t hit the low target but gets the diminutive slugger out on high fastballs. It’s Mori’s 11th save.

Final score: Hawks 8, Buffaloes 7

Wasn’t the pitchers’ duel we were hoping for, but it was fun.

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