Tag Archives: Yuki Matsui

NPB news: June 16, 2023

Japanese baseball was in RIP mode Friday, when news came that a pair of Hall of Fame pitchers, had died, Shigeru Sugishita, at the age of 97, and Manabu Kitabeppu, just a month shy of his 66th birthday. We had a closer milestone, a PL pitcher being a difference maker with his batting chops.

In other news, there was a neat story today in Kyodo News about a Canadian educator, the cofounder of the fan club Ohtani Canada, is using Shohei Ohtani to help teachers teach character building to elementary school kids, and make the world a better place.

RIP Shigeru Sugishita

I talked to Sugishita once at the Hall of Fame, when the late great Senichi Hoshino was inducted, and he struck me as a guy who cared about young pitchers, because he expressed his enthusiasm that high school baseball’s introduction of pitch limits might keep more youngsters from blowing out their arms early. I knew he was the “God of forkballs” and if it’s because of him that the pitch gradually became so popular in Japan, then maybe he was the Godfather of forkballs, too, which would be an even greater legacy.

Sadaharu Oh, whose 1959 rookie season with the Giants came after Sugimoto’s final CL season in 1958, said he’d heard Sugishita was a chess player on the mound.

“You can’t tell the story of Japanese baseball without Sugishita,” Oh said.

RIP Manabu Kitabeppu

When I came to Japan in 1984, Kitabeppu was the ace of the Hiroshima Carp at a time when they had a trio of big pitchers. He was a grumpy-looking guy who didn’t throw hard, and who by all accounts was a loner within his own team. Despite that, when he was a member of the annual Sawamura Award selection committee — generally a group of seven guys convinced no pitcher today could ever be as good as they were – I found Kitabeppu to be humblest member of the group, who always had positive things to say about the candidates.

Kitabeppu’s legend is that he joined the Carp in the spring of 1976 right after they’d won their first Central League pennant, took one look at the speed that ace pitcher Yoshiro Sotokoba and decided his future lie in pitching to contact, and that his command was based on lower body strength honed by bicycling every day from his home to his high school, a 40-kilometer round trip.

Friday’s games

Carp 2, Lions 0: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, lefty Hiroki Tokoda (6-1) threw a five-hit shutout, and with fans in the stands wearing or waving Carp shirts with Kitabeppu’s No. 20, Shota Suekane and Shota Dobayashi shot one of Chihiro Sumida’s best games as a pro to hell when they hit back-to-back home runs to open the fifth. Sumida (2-6), the Lions’ top draft signing from 2021, struck out eight, walked one and allowed six hits over six innings.

Continue reading NPB news: June 16, 2023

NPB news: May 27, 2023

We only had five games on Friday, with the Hawks and Marines taking the day off ahead of their two-game series in Fukuoka, where ostensibly Roki Sasaki will return to the mound on Sunday for the first time since he started a 12-inning 0-0 tie with SoftBank in Chiba on May 5 and developed a blister.

I had the day off from the day job, and went up to Seibu Dome for the first time since the summer of 2019, and would never have been able to get in if another reporter I knew hadn’t showed me how to navigate the hidden media entrance and the labyrinth that followed.

The good news is that the Lions allow reporters on the field unlike most NPB teams.

In the games we did have, Sosuke Genda returned for the Lions and Yutaro “Rao” Sugimoto returned for Orix to start their three-game series, we had one game decided by a botched play, a couple of pitching duels and a slugfest, so let’s get to it.

Friday’s games

Tigers 2, Giants 1: At Koshien Stadium, Yomiuri rookie lefty Kai Yokogawa threw six shutout innings in which he’d allowed three singles and no walks on 80 pitches. He left with a 1-0 lead thanks to Hayato Sakamoto’s third-inning RBI single, but the lead evaporated in the seventh, when Kohei Suzuki hit a batter with one out and surrendered three straight singles to tie it.

Yuhei Takanashi (0-1) surrendered a sac fly to Seiya Kinami that put Hanshin in front and made a winner out of the Tigers’ left-handed rookie starter, Takuma Kirishiki (1-0), who struck out 10 and walked one over seven innings, while allowing five singles.

Japan WBC reliever Atsuki Yuasa returned to the big league mound for the first time since April 13, and stranded two runners in the eighth, and Suguru Iwazaki struck out three of the four he faced in the ninth for his ninth save. The win was the Tigers’ sixth straight.

Tigers-Giants highlights
Continue reading NPB news: May 27, 2023