Tag Archives: Yuki Matsui

NPB wrap 9-14-21

The Lotte Marines seem to be full of surprises and determined to take control of the Pacific League pennant race this month, and started their week on Tuesday in what looked like a clash between their irresistible force and an immovable object, SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga, wheeled out on five-days rest to see if he could arrest the Marines progress.

The Central League’s week also began with a clash of two contenders as the Hanshin Tigers came to Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium to take on the Swallows in which each of NPB’s two Suarez brothers had a role to play for his team.

Eagles 4, Buffaloes 1

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Rakuten’s Takahisa Hayakawa (8-5, 3.63) won a matchup between two left-handed rookies who in April appeared ready to set the PL on fire. Hayakawa had one of his best starts of the season, while Orix 20-year-old Hiroya Miyagi (11-2, 2.26) continued his struggles.

Miyagi surrendered a first-inning homer to Hideto Asamura, who hit his 12th. Asamura hit 30 or more in each of the last three seasons but might not reach 19 for the first time since 2015.

When the season started, Miyagi was striking out about one batter per inning and walking about two to three per nine with a WHIP less than one. First, he stopped striking people out as often, and the hit totals began to climb but he continued to attack the zone. But the walks, too, are now on the rise.

The Eagles took a 2-0 lead on three two-out fifth-inning singles, and Miyagi made it 3-0 by issuing back-to-back walks. Yuma Mune, who had three of Orix’s five singles, brought in a run with an infield single in the eighth. And Eigoro Mogi made it 4-1 in the home half with his 13th home run.

The Eagles, who may be without closer Yuki Matsui this year, got a three-run save from Tomohito Sakai, his second.

Marines 3, Hawks 1

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, red-hot SoftBank ace Kodai Senga (5-2, 3.12) struck out 14 but lost a pitchers’ duel with former Dragon Enny Romero. Taisei Makihara drilled Romero’s second pitch for a home run, but the lefty escaped a one-out bases-loaded jam to keep it 1-0.

Senga retired 10 straight after a one-out walk in the first before Shogo Nakamura doubled in the fourth and scored a Katsuya Kakunaka single. Lotte’s bullpen did not allow a base runner after Romero’s six impressive innings.

Senga, who had already thrown 103 pitches on five days rest, watched his command evaporate in the Marines’ two-run eighth. Yudai Fujioka led off with the second of his three singles. A sacrifice and four-pitch walk put two on and a Koki Yamaguchi’s single off a bad pitch loaded them.

After going to 3-2 by missing a pair of splitters below his knees, Brandon Laird finally made contact with a low pitch and grounded it into center for a two-run single. Chihaya Sasaki (5-2) pitched the eighth to earn the win, and Naoya Masuda recorded his 32nd save by striking out the side in the ninth.

The Marines deactivated Leonys Martin after he developed a fever, but his PCR test came back negative, so he could be activated for Wednesday’s game.

Lions 3, Fighters 1

At MetLife Dome, Seibu’s Kona Takahashi (10-5, 3.22) allowed an unearned run on three hits and two walks over six innings while striking out seven. Takumi Kuriyama singled three times and scored the Lions’ first run on a two-run second-inning Junichiro Kishi single.

The Fighters run came in the third on a dropped throw by Takahashi at first and a Haruki Nishikawa double.

Kuriyama singled home Tomoya Mori in the third to make it 3-1 against Fighters starter Takahide Ikeda (3-10, 3.98).

Lions closer Kaima Taira saved his 15th despite allowing two hits in the ninth, although the Fighters lost their leadoff runner when Yuki James Nomura was out trying to take second on a wild throw from Kaima, who fell on his butt to avoid getting hit by the barrel of Nomura’s broken bat.

Swallows 3, Tigers 3

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Yakult’s Albert Suarez opened the game and his younger brother, Robert – who has 31 saves, finished it with a 1-2-3 ninth to secure the tie after Jefry Marte’s three-run ninth-inning homer, his 18th, tied it off Swallows closer Scott McGough.

Marte also beat the Carp on Saturday when his three-run sixth-inning homer lifted the Tigers to a 4-1 win in Hiroshima.

Swallows cleanup hitter Munetaka Murakami had a hand in Yakult’s first three runs, with leadoff singles in the second and fourth off side-arm righty Koyo Aoyagi. He didn’t score, however, until he led off the sixth with his 34th home run to make it 3-0.

Albert Suarez worked four-plus, receiving an automatic ejection for hitting Takumu Nakano in the head to open the fifth. A single and a Jefry Marte walk loaded the bases with no outs, but Hanshin failed to score. Nakano singled in a run in the seventh off deposed closer Taishi Ishiyama who left with no outs and two on for Ryuta Kono, who popped up Marte before striking out Yusuke Oyama and Yoshio Itoi.

A Norichika Aoki single and a Jose Osuna RBI double gave the Swallows some breathing room in the eighth, but the insurance couldn’t ensure a victory.

McGough walked two to bring Marte to the plate with one out, and the Tigers first baseman put a good swing on a slider that McGough left in the lower half of the zone and drilled it over the wall in left-center.

Giants 3, BayStars 2

At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri’s Shun Yamaguchi (2-5, 3.33) fell to 1-3 with a 4.09 ERA against his former team, DeNA, allowing two runs over 7-1/3 innings while striking out seven, walking one, hitting one and allowing three hits, including Masayuki Kuwahara’s 10th homer, tying the game to open the sixth. 

With one out in the seventh, Yamaguchi was gone after hitting Neftali Soto in the head. BayStars rookie Shugo Maki broke the tie by hitting new pitcher Toyoki Tanaka’s first pitch for his 17th home run.

The Giants chased DeNA starter Fernando Romero (2-2, 3.80) with one out in the eighth after a leadoff Takumi Oshiro double and an RBI pinch-hit single by new Giant Scott Heineman.

Venezuelan lefty Edwin Escobar struck out both batters he faced before closer Kazuki Mishima bounced from a three-run disaster five days earlier in his last game, also against Yomiuri, with a 1-2-3 ninth and his 21st save.

Giants-BayStars highlights

Dragons 10, Carp 1

At Vantelin Dome Nagoya, Chunichi resumed its September run surge after its 1-0 win on Monday. Catcher Takuya Kinoshita doubled in the ice-breaker in the second off Masato Morishita (6-7, 3.12), and an RBI single from 44-year-old Kosuke Fukudome made it 2-0 in the third.

Kaito Kaizono doubled to open Hiroshima’s fourth and scored on a single by Carp catcher Tsubasa Aizawa, but Dragons lefty Takahiro Matsuba (4-3, 3.21) allowed just one run on four hits and a walk over six innings. With Chunichi leading 3-1 after Yohei Oshima’s fifth-inning RBI single, Naomichi Donoue entered the game for defense and had a three-run sixth-inning double and a two-run eighth-inning single.

Starting pitchers

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

Ryota Takinaka (6-4, 4.48) vs Soichiro Yamazaki (0-1, 3.86)

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

Keisuke Honda (0-2, 3.57) vs Hiromi Ito (9-5, 2.54)

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

Carter Stewart, Jr. (0-1, 4.95) vs Manabu Mima (5-4, 5.32)

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

Shosei Togo (8-6, 3.96) vs Shinichi Onuki (6-5, 4.46)

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

Yasuhiro Ogawa (7-4, 4.29) vs Masashi Ito (7-6, 2.98)

Dragons vs Carp: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Shotaro Kasahara (-) vs Shogo Tamamura (2-6, 3.89)

Active roster moves 9/14/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/24

Central League


GiantsIF52Takumi Kitamura
SwallowsP43Albert Suarez


TigersP16Yuki Nishi
SwallowsIF46Kengo Ota

Pacific League


HawksOF60Go Kamamoto
MarinesOF31Tsuyoshi Sugano
EaglesP47Masaru Fujii
FightersP52Takahide Ikeda


MarinesOF79Leonys Martin

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NPB wrap 8-26-21

Injury to closer Matsui puts pressure on Eagles

Yuki Matsui is expected to be out for around a month after suffering pain in his right thigh in practice on Wednesday, Nikkan Sports reported Thursday. The Eagles started the day second in the Pacific League, three games back of the Orix Buffaloes.

“There’s no chance he’ll be back in 10 days (when he’ll first be eligible for reactivation),” Eagles skipper and general manager Kazuhisa Ishii said. “I think to return to full fitness, it’s going to be closer to a month.”

Matsui is 0-2 this season with 0.63 ERA. His 24 saves are second in the PL.

Without Matsui, Sung Chia-hao took over in the ninth on Thursday to secure the Eagles’ win over Orix.

In the Central League, a pair of butt kickings left the Hanshin Tigers two games ahead of the Yomiuri Giants ahead of the weekend’s games.

Live chat with former NPB star Leon Lee

Monday, Aug. 30, 11 am Japan; Sunday, Aug. 29, 7 pm Pacific Daylight Time.

Lee, who played 1,255 games over 10 years in Japan from 1978 to 1987 for the Lotte Orions, the Taiyo Whales, and Yakult Swallows. In addition to his accomplishments, Lee is a keen observer with a knack for explaining complicated things simply. 

Bring your questions and enjoy.

Exclusive for jballallen.com and newsletter subscribers.

Eagles 7, Buffaloes 6

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Orix and Rakuten had the first decision of what was to be a three-game top-of-the-table Pacific League clash, and it turned out to be pretty entertaining after Tuesday’s game was rained out and Wednesday’s ended in a tie.

The Eagles built a 5-0 lead for Takahiro Norimoto (8-4, 3.63), who worked around a pair of one-out first-inning hits. Orix rookie Soichiro Yamazaki (0-1, 5.63) did the opposite. The right-hander fell behind everyone and got punished for it in a four-run first inning, capped by Ryosuke Tatsumi’s two-run single that left fielder Masataka Yoshida came within a hair of catching for the final out.

After sending nine batters to the plate in the first, the Eagles loaded the bases with one out in the second, as Daichi Suzuki scored his second run, on a Takero Okajima sac fly.

Masataka Yoshida got Orix a fourth-inning run with his 20th homer, but Hideto Asamura and Hiroaki Shimauchi, who’d each singled in a run in the first, teamed up to make it 7-1 in the home half. Asamura walked and Shimauchi established a career high with his team-best 15th home run.

The home runs kept coming in the sixth, when Yutaro Sugimoto hit his team-best 21st, with Yuma Mune aboard, and Adam Jones hit his fourth, trimming the Eagles’ lead to three.

That was all for Norimoto. He left after 5-2/3 inning with a runner on, having allowed four runs on nine hits but no walks while striking out five.

The Buffaloes, however, only picked up the pace against the bullpen, scoring twice against Tomohito Sakai in the seventh. Okajima prevented that runner from scoring when he leaped in right field to make the final out and rob substitute catcher Masato Matsui of an RBI double.

The Buffaloes got the leadoff man on in the seventh, but were denied a knockout punch of an inning after Shuhei Fukuda surprised the Eagles with a beautiful bunt only to stumble and fall coming out of the box for the first out. Mune and Yoshida singled to drive in one run and Sugimoto plated another with a sacrifice fly.

Orix threatened again in the eighth. Kotaro Kurebayashi, singled with one out to reach base for the fourth time, and put two on against Tomohiro Anraku. Fukuda’s poor luck continued as he smoked a ball down the line, where Brandon Dixon was playing to snare it for the second out. With two outs, Mune drilled a liner to center that Tatsumi got a good jump on and just caught up with.

Sung then worked a 1-2-3 ninth, retiring Yoshida, Sugimoto and Jones to end it in style, but other than a disappointing final inning, these Buffaloes are scary.

Lions 3, Hawks 0

At MetLife Dome, the Seibu Lions also had to make due on Thursday without their MVPs from 2018, Hotaka Yamakawa, and 2019, Tomoya Mori, who were deactivated as suspected close contacts of Yamakawa’s personal assistant, who tested positive for COVID-19.

Rookie Yutaro Watanabe (2-2, 2.74) worked five innings, walking three, striking out five and allowing two singles. Four relievers held the Hawks to two walks and a hit the rest of the way. Closer Kaima Taira earned his 12th save.

The Lions got on the board in the first via the home run as 38-year-old Takeya Nakamura, a six-time PL home run champion, hit his 11th with 37-year-old Takumi Kuriyama aboard after a two-out single.

Brandon Taiga Tysinger, filling in at first for Yamakawa was hit by a pitch to open the Lions’ fourth and scored on a single by Toshihiro Okada, who’s filling in for Mori.

Hawks starter Shunsuke Kasaya (2-3, 5.40) allowed all three runs. He walked three and struck out six, while surrendering five hits.

The win moved the fourth-place Lions to within 4-1/2 games of the idle Hawks.

Carp 11, Giants 2

At Tokyo Dome, Hiroshima gave Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (2-5, 3.72) a hot reception in his first game since the Carp shelled him for four runs in 2-1/3 innings on July 1. Seiya Suzuki hit a two-run first-inning homer on a hanging 3-2 breaking ball, his 16th, and Shogo Sakakura followed with a solo shot, his sixth.

Suzuki stuck a fork in this game after reliever Chiaki Tone took the mound for the Giants in the seventh with a three-run home run, and Sakakura, not to be outdone by his teammate, blasted his seventh home run in the ninth, also with two on.

Allen Kuri (8-6, 3.74) allowed a run over six innings in which he gave up two hits but walked five. Kuri battled with umpire Kazuhiro Kobayashi over the definition of the strike zone, leading to a pair of walks that loaded the bases in the Giants’ fifth before the right-hander lost it and missed badly to Yoshihiro Maru forcing in a run.

The Giants’ other run came on Akihiro Wakabayashi’s fifth home run, in the seventh.

The Carp made it 5-1 in the sixth on a Sakakura single and a homer by Ryosuke Kikuchi, his ninth. Sugano threw a high slider away on an 0-2 pitch and Kikuchi swatted it out.

Giants left fielder Yoshiyuki Kamei saved Sugano a run with an inning-ending catch in the second, and Carp left fielder Ryoma Nishikawa prevented two from scoring when he ended the seventh by leaping for a drive at the wall with two runners on.

Giants-Carp highlights

Tigers 9, BayStars 3

At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Hanshin’s Joe Gunkel (7-1, 2.38), pitching for the first time since the BayStars tagged him for three runs over five innings in his July 14 loss, allowed two runs, one earned, over 6-1/3 innings and scored the eventual winning run in the third inning.

DeNA lefty Yuya Sakamoto (4-3, 4.58) allowed five runs over four innings to take the loss after going six innings and beating the Tigers in his previous start.

Koji Chikamoto hit Sakamoto’s first pitch of the game for his ninth home run, and Tyler Austin returned the favor. After Gunkel pitched a 1-2-3 first, Austin led off the second with his 21st home run.

Gunkel, however, opened the Tigers’ third with a single and scored the tie-breaking run on a groundout after Chikamoto doubled. Jerry Sands blasted a two-run home run, his 20th, and Yusuke Oyama tripled and scored on a Teruaki Sato sac fly.

Austin walked and scored from first in the sixth when left fielder Mel Rojas Jr. failed to stop a Toshiro Miyazaki single. That proved to be little more than a delaying action as rookie Takumu Nakano singled in one run in a three-run seventh and another in the eighth for good measure.

Friday’s starting pitchers

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

Masahiro Tanaka (4-5, 2.84) vs Kota Futaki (4-5, 4.31)

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

Wataru Matsumoto (7-5, 3.32) vs Takahide Ikeda (3-9, 3.52)

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

Yoshinobu Yamamoto (10-5, 1.76) vs Nick Martinez (7-2, 2.05)

Swallows vs BayStars: Tokyo Dome 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT

Yasunobu Okugawa (5-2, 3.88) vs Masaya Kyoyama (1-3, 6.35)

Dragons vs Giants: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Yudai Ono (3-8, 3.46) vs Shun Yamaguchi (2-2, 2.94)

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

Daichi Osera (5-3, 3.21) vs Yuki Nishi (4-8, 3.45)

Active roster moves 8/26/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/5

Central League


GiantsP18Tomoyuki Sugano
GiantsP50Chiaki Tone
TigersP28Taiki Ono
TigersP36Masumi Hamachi
TigersP49Joe Gunkel


GiantsP54Daisuke Naoe
TigersP48Yukiya Saito
TigersP69Daichi Ishii

Pacific League


LionsP12Yutaro Watanabe
LionsC37Sena Tsuge
LionsIF49Brandon Taiga Tysinger
EaglesP13Kohei Morihara
EaglesP14Takahiro Norimoto
BuffaloesP63Soichiro Yamazaki


LionsC10Tomoya Mori
LionsIF3Hotaka Yamakawa
EaglesP1Yuki Matsui

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