Tag Archives: Yuki Yanagita

NPB 2020 8-9 games and news

Former Tiger VerHagen wins 3rd straight

Drew VerHagen struck out 10 over seven innings to win his third-straight start after Sho Nakata broke a 1-1 tie with a third-inning RBI single in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 2-1 victory over the Seibu Lions at Sapporo Dome on Sunday.

With Ryo Watanabe on second after a leadoff double, Nakata singled on the second pitch he saw from Lions right-hander Keisuke Honda (0-4). It was the second run of the game for Watanabe, who singled with one out in the bottom of the first and scored the tying run after singles by Kensuke Kondo and Taishi Ota.

Shuta Tonosaki put the Lions in front in the first with a two-out solo homer in the first. The right-handed hitter barreled up a two-seamer on the inside edge and pulled it down the line for his second homer of the year.

After the Fighters tied it in the bottom of the first, center fielder Haruki Nishikawa helped ensure it stayed tied by robbing No. 9 hitter Shohei Suzuki of a leadoff double in the top of the third.

VerHagen (4-1) allowed five hits but did not issue a walk. Left-handed bullpen workhorse Naoki Miyanishi pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, and side-arm right-hander Ryo Akiyoshi did the same in the ninth to earn his 10th save.

Honda allowed two runs on six hits and a walk, while striking out one. Lions cleanup hitter Hotaka Yamakawa, hurt his right ankle when he stumbled out of an awkward swinging third strike to end the first inning. He was helped off the field and received treatment. He appeared to run without trouble in the field, but struck out in his next two at-bats and was pinch-hit for in the ninth.

Nakamura 3 relievers blank sluggish Buffaloes

Rookie lefty Toshiya Nakamura worked six scoreless innings to outduel Andrew Albers, who surrendered Leonys Martin’s third home run in three games in the Lotte Marines’ 4-0 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

With Adam Jones out of the lineup for the first time this season due to discomfort in his right heal, Torai Fushimi took over the DH duties and went 0-4, ending three innings with one or more runners on.

Nakamura (1-0), the Marines’ fifth draft pick in 2018 scattered four walks and a hit, and faced only one serious challenge, when he got Fushimi to ground out to end the sixth with two men on.

Albers (2-4) looked sharp from the outset, but in the fourth inning, Martin launched a lazy 2-2 slider that missed over the plate and hit it over the center field wall for his 11th home run.

Yuki Karakawa worked a 1-2-3 seventh for the Marines, but Frank Herrmann tempted disaster in the eighth.

Kenya Wakatsuki put a perfect swing on a low first-pitch knuckle curve, looped it over short toward the gap in left and legged out a leadoff double. After failing to get a bunt down, Shuhei Fukuda avoided being rung out on a fastball that missed the outside edge by quite a bit – a location that has been a called strike on lots of batters this year – and walked on eight pitches.

Manager Norifumi Nishimura’s predictable sacrifice followed, but Lotte manager Tadahito Iguchi opted to fill the bases with one out by walking slugger Masataka Yoshida. It should have backfired, but third baseman Hisanori Yasuda made a good play to retire Takahiro Okada on a foul fly after he overran the ball. Herrmann fell behind 3-1 to Fushimi, who swung at two fastballs at the letters that umpire Tetsuya Shimada had been calling balls all day.

The Buffaloes tried the same intentional walk trick in the top of the ninth, walking Martin to load the bases with one out, but Yasuda, the Marines cleanup hitter, delivered a two-run double, and Ikuhiro Kiyota “singled” in another run on a pop fly over second that put the “blooper” in blooper reel.

Hawks bullpen finally holds off Eagles

A bullpen day is nothing to cheer for against the SoftBank Hawks, as the Rakuten Eagles found out in a 5-0 loss at Sendai’s Raktuen Seimei Park Miyagi as four pitchers combined on a three-hit shutout that left the two teams tied for the Pacific League lead.

Lefty Shunsuke Kasaya started and went three innings, while Yugo Bando (2-1) worked four innings to earn the win. Setup man Livan Moinelo and closer Yuito Mori finished up.

Eagles starter Yuya Fukui (0-1), the No. 1 draft pick of the Hiroshima Carp in 2010, took the tough loss after allowing a run on two hits and a walk over 5-2/3 innings while striking out six.

Hawks catcher Takuya Kai doubled in the in the sixth and scored on a wild pitch. Yuki Yanagita hit a fat pitch nearly as far as one can in the eighth to drive in an insurance run, and Kai hit a three-run home run in the ninth.

Giants comeback to salvage tie

On the back foot against first-team debutant Yariel Rodriguez and some good defensive plays by the Chunichi Dragons, the Yomiuri Giants tied it in a two-run seventh in their 2-2 10-inning tie at Nagoya Dome.

Toshiki Abe homered with one out and one on in the first off right-hander Ryosuke MIyaguni, who was making the start on a bullpen day. The Giants relievers, however, shut down the hosts for the rest of the game, allowing the hitters to finally score off Rodriguez.

Making good use of a good fastball and slider, the 23-year-old Cuban allowed three runs to reach through the first six innings, all on walks. He didn’t allow a hit until back-to-back one-out doubles by Takumi Oshiro and Zelous Wheeler. Lefty Toshiya Okada walked the only batter he faced.

Setup man Daisuke Sobue allowed Wheeler to score after a single loaded the bases and veteran left-handed hitter Yoshiyuki Kamei delivered a sacrifice fly on a pitch headed for the dirt.

Rodriguez allowed two hits and three walks while striking out eight over 6-1/3 innings.

The tie ended a run of three-straight losses by the Giants.

Kuramoto slam powers DeNA shutout

Toshihiko Kuramoto hit a first-inning grand slam, his first home run in two years, and Kentaro Taira (3-2) worked seven innings as the DeNA BayStars beat the Yakult Swallows 4-0 at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Kuramoto capped a first-inning rally off submarine right-hander Hirofumi Yamanaka (0-1), who lasted four innings.

Taira allowed four hits and a walk while striking out six. Spencer Patton and Edwin Escobar each supplied one perfect inning of relief to close it out.

Oyama, Akiyama lead Tigers over Carp

Cleanup hitter Yusuke Oyama doubled, tripled, homered, scored two runs and drove in two, while Takumi Aoyama (4-1) allowed a run over six innings in the Hanshin Tigers’ 5-1 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Oyama broke the ice in the second, when he doubled to open the inning against 21-year-old right-hander Atsushi Endo (2-2) and scored on a bases-loaded groundout.

After the Carp tied it, the Tigers took the lead for good in the third. Seiya Kinami doubled and Oyama tripled him home. Oyama homered in the eighth to make it 3-1.

Endo allowed two runs over five innings on three hits and four walks, while Akiyama gave up one hit and walked three.

The Carp loaded the bases in the ninth with one out against closer Robert Suarez, but could not score.

Buffs’ Jones out of lineup for 1st time

Adam Jones sat out the Orix Buffaloes’ game against the Lotte Marines on Sunday, marking the first time this season was not in the lineup. According to the Nikkan Sports, Jones came out of Saturday’s game after the fifth inning due to discomfort in his right heel.

He was not examined at a hospital and is expected to play against the Hawks in Fukuoka from Tuesday.

Active roster moves 8/9/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/19

Central League

Activated

TigersP46Takumi Akiyama
DragonsP67Yariel Rodriguez
SwallowsP13Hikaru Nakao
SwallowsP69Ryuta Konno

Dectivated

SwallowsP61Takuma Kubo

Pacific League

Activated

BuffaloesP22Ryota Muranishi
BuffaloesP27Andrew Albers

Dectivated

FightersP27Nick Martinez
BuffaloesP30Kohei ”K” Suzuki

Starting pitchers for Monday, Aug. 10, 2020

Central League

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

Yuta Muto (0-0, 6.75) vs Yuta Iwasada (2-1, 3.41)

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

Allen Kuri (1-2, 4.91) vs Shinnosuke Ogasawara (-)

NPB 2020 8-6 games and news

Tigers’ late-comer Takahashi hamstrings Giants

Hanshin Tigers lefty Haruto Takahashi overpowered the Yomiuri Giants hitters en route to an 11-0 demolition of the Central League leaders at Koshien Stadium.

Takahashi, who was unable to start the season with the team due to shoulder issues, made his debut on Thursday. Relying mostly on his four-seamer, a two-seamer and a cutter, the 24-year-old was able to pinpoint the bottom of the zone and jam batters inside.

He struck out 11 over seven innings, gave up three hits on ground balls, a walk. Hayato Sakamoto’s fifth-inning fly out was the only ball the Giants managed to hit into the air.

Leading 1-0 against Cristopher Mercedes (2-4) Ryutaro Umeno walked with one out and Seiya Kinami singled. The pair executed a double steal and reserve utility man Kai Ueda doubled them both in.

Joe Gunkel worked a 1-2-3 eighth, and the Tigers broke the bank with seven runs in the home half, started by a Jerry Sands leadoff single. Justin Bour doubled in one run and Masahiro Nakatani delivered a pinch-hit grand slam to complete the celebrations.

Born to run or pitch

It’s no secret that Giants manager Tatsunori Hara loves his pinch-runners probably as much as any manager in Japanese baseball history. One year when he managed the CL all-star team, Hara famously rewarded his all-time favorite pinch-runner, Takanori Suzuki, with an undeserved spot on the CL squad.

On Thursday, with one out in the bottom of the eighth and his team now losing by 11 runs, Hara probably figured there was nowhere to make use of his favorite toy except to put him on the mound.

Masuda retired two of the three batters he faced in the heart of the Tigers order with a fastball that maxed out at 85.7 mph.

Since Japanese teams rarely have more than one or two starting pitchers taking up space on their active rosters and since games–in non-pandemic seasons–are limited to 10 innings, and teams typically–although not next week–have Mondays off, this is pretty rare. The last position player to appear in a sanctioned NPB game was Akihito Igarashi on June 3, 2000 for the Orix BlueWave and their iconoclastic skipper Akira Ogi–the same guy who had Ichiro Suzuki pitch in an all-star game.

Onuki, BayStars add to Dragons’ misery

Shinichi Onuki (4-2) worked seven innings and two relievers completed the four-hitter as the DeNA BayStars downed the Chunichi Dragons 3-0 at Yokohama Stadium.

The shutout loss was the sixth of the season for the last-place Dragons, who fell to 0-6 against DeNA this season.

Dragons lefty Takahiro Matsuba (2-2), who has been enjoying a career renaissance this year following his trade from the Orix Buffaloes, allowed three runs over four-plus innings.

BayStars reserve infielder Daisuke Nakai marked a rare start by homering in his first at-bat to lead off the second. Kazuki Kamizato homered to open the third and singled home Takayuki Kajitani in the fifth to complete the scoring.

Kenta Ishida worked a 1-2-3 eighth and Kazuki Mishima did the same in the ninth to record his fourth save since he began filling in for closer Yasuaki Yamasaki on July 29.

One of the bright spots for the Dragons was their top draft pick from 2018, infielder Akira Neo. Although he went 0-for-2 and remains hitless for his career, Neo put the ball in play twice, made a good catch in left and threw a runner out at the plate.

Another tough outing for Carp lefty Johnson

Hiroshima lefty Kris Johnson allowed five runs over three innings in the Carp’s 9-5 loss to the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Johnson, coming off one of his two quality starts this year, gave up seven hits and walked two while striking out four. His teammates took him off the hook on three home runs by Ryuhei Matsuyama, Ryosuke Kikuchi and Hisayoshi Chono and tied it in the seventh on a Seiya Suzuki RBI single.

Swallows lefty Keiji Takahashi started and allowed four runs over five innings in his worst start of the season. Scott McGough (3-0) surrendered a run on two seventh-inning singles but earned the win after Yakult scored three times in the bottom of the inning.

Journeyman reserve catcher Suguru Ino tripled against Kazuki Yabuta (0-2) and scored on a sacrifice fly. Alcides Escobar singled and two more runs came in on back-to-back two-out doubles RBI by Tomotaka Sakaguchi and Yasutaka Shiomi.

Matsui goes 5 in loss to Hawks

One of the big moves this spring for the Rakuten Eagles was taking left-handed closer Yuki Matsui and putting him back in the starting rotation.

Making his first appearance in over a month after two poor outings, Matsui (0-1) allowed three runs on eight hits and a walk in a 3-1 loss to the SoftBank Hawks at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

The diminutive southpaw was victimized by some tough hops in the infield that contributed to two of the Hawks’ runs.

On a bullpen day, Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo shook up his lineup, batting a pair of struggling big hitters, Nobuhiro Matsuda and Wladimir Balentien one, two, respectively, in his order.

The only contribution either made at the plate was when Matsuda made poor contact for an infield single in the third, allowing Yuki Yanagita to drive in the tying run with a single.

Rookie Yugo Bando (1-1) the second of seven Hawks pitchers, worked three scoreless innings to earn his first career win.

Buffaloes’ Yamazaki halts Marines

Sachiya Yamasaki (2-1) worked six scoreless innings for the Orix Buffaloes in their 3-1 win over the Lotte Marines at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Yamasaki allowed three singles and a walk while striking out four. Marines starter Daiki Iwashita (3-3) walked five batters during his six innings on the mound and one of the three runs he allowed was unearned.

With a two-run lead in the eighth, Tyler Higgins worked a 1-2-3 eighth, and Brandon Dickson a 1-2-3 ninth for his sixth save.

Fighters rookie Kawano earns 2nd win

Lefty Ryusei Kawano got an early three-run lead and allowed two runs over five innings for the Nippon Ham Fighters in their 5-3 win over the Seibu Lions at Seibu Dome.

Kawano (2-3) walked three and allowed four hits, including a solo home run by Ernesto Mejia, his first of the season. The lefty struck out five.

Haruki Nishikawa singled to open the bottom of the first off rookie Lions submariner Kaito Yoza (2-3), who walked Kensuke Kondo with one out. Sho Nakata doubled off the wall in left. Taishi Ota, a huge thorn in the Lions’ paw this season, doubled Nakata home to make it 3-0.

Hawks resume farm team activities

The SoftBank Hawks said Thursday that with the exception of six individuals, baseball activities have resumed at their minor league facility in Chikugo, Fukuoka Prefecture.

Even so, the team’s Western League farm games at Tama Stadium Chikugo against the Chunichi Dragons on Aug. 7 and 8, have been postponed. Following the announcement of Hasegawa’s test result on Saturday, the Pacific League game set for the Seibu Lions and Hawks in Fukuoka was also postponed.

Four players who were determined by local health officials to have had close contact with either outfielder Yuya Hasegawa, whose positive test for coronavirus was revealed Saturday, and a rehab staff member, whose result was announced Wednesday, have been ex

The rehab group shares the organization’s minor league facility with the Western League farm team and the Hawks’ third team, and for that reason, minor league activities have been suspended.

Umetsu works out with rehab group

Chunichi Dragons right-hander Kodai Umetsu reported to the team’s rehab group at Nagoya Stadium on Wednesday apparently due to discomfort in his right elbow, the Chunichi Sports reported.

The 23-year-old threw a career-high 10 innings and 127 pitches in his shutout on Sunday at Nagoya Dome in a 0-0 tie with the Yakult Swallows. He has not thrown since.

Although his condition is said not to be serious, it comes at a time when the team is in last place, eight games below .500 and two games into a stretch of nine games in nine days.

Active roster moves 8/6/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/16

Central League

Activated

TigersP29Haruto Takahashi

Dectivated

DragonsP28Kodai Umetsu

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP1Yuki Matsui
EaglesP72Shun Ikeda
FightersP28Ryusei Kawano
BuffaloesP39Keisuke Kobayashi
BuffaloesP49Keisuke Sawada

Dectivated

HawksP29Shuta Ishikawa
EaglesP12Hiroki Kondo
EaglesP58Wataru Karashima
FightersP59Yuki Yoshida
BuffaloesP60Yu Hidarisawa
BuffaloesP68Yu Suzuki
BuffaloesIF9Koji Oshiro

Starting pitchers for Friday, Aug. 7, 2020

Pacific League

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

Toshihiro Sugiura (3-1, 2.28) vs Zach Neal (2-1, 4.46)

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

Takahiro Norimoto (3-3, 3.55) vs Nao Higashihama (2-0, 2.35)

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

Tsubasa Sakakibara (1-1, 3.20) vs Ayumu Ishikawa (1-2, 4.23)

Central League

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

Daiki Yoshida (0-1, 6.57) vs Taiga Kamichatani (0-0, 5.25)

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

Yudai Ono (1-3, 3.83) vs Kazuto Taguchi (2-0, 2.25)

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

Masato Morishita (2-2, 2.56) vs Koyo Aoyagi (4-1, 2.23)

NPB 2020 7-31 GAMES AND NEWS

Neal’s streak ends on Akashi homer

Kenji Akashi now has one home run for each of his 17 pro seasons. His sixth-inning solo shot broke a 4-4 tie and helped end Zach Neal’s string of winning decisions at 13 on Friday, when the SoftBank Hawks beat the Seibu Lions 5-4 at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Hawks right-hander Nao Higashihama survived two no-out walks to open the second inning but not a center-cut 3-1 two-seam fastball to Hotaka Yamakawa, who opened the scoring with his 12th homer of the year. Shuta Tonosaki followed with Seibu’s second hit, and Takeya Nakamura capped the inning with a two-run home run with a flat-straight fastball down the pipe that the six-time home run champ got off the end of the barrel but still drove 10 rows back in left field.

Neal (2-1), however, gave away the lead in the home half of the third.

After Takuya Kai’s one-out miss-hit infield single, Ukyo Shuto barreled up a low first-pitch two-seamer and nearly took off Neal’s head with his single. Neal then hung a 1-0 two-seamer up in the zone to Kenta Imamiya, who drove it off the center field wall for a two-run triple.

With Akira Nakamura at the plate, Yuki Yanagita walked and stole second and Nakamura singled in one run to tie it. Neal made a decent 1-2 pitch to the next hitter, but Ryoya Kurihara put a prototypical inside-out, left-handed swing on the low two-seamer and knocked it between third and short for an RBI single and a 4-3 Hawks lead. Yanagita’s run was his 32nd of the month, tying an NPB record.

Corey Spangenberg, who’d doubled, tripled and homered the night before, homered off reliever Shinya Kayama to tie it in the sixth. Higashihama struck out Nakamura with his 95th pitch to open the inning, and with two left-handed hitters due up, the Hawks turned to a south paw.

Kayama got veteran Takumi Kuriyama to fly out on his first slider, and then threw five-straight to Spangenberg. The last one missed down and in and Spangenberg bounced it off the top of the permanent wall in right for his fifth homer.

Again, the Hawks struck back. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Neal missed with a straight two-seam fastball up and over the plate, and Akashi drilled it into the “home run terrace,” the Casa de Pepe’s outfield field seats.

Kayama (1-0) earned the in relief for two-thirds of an inning of work, while Rei Takahashi, Livan Moinelo and Yuito Mori each supplied another scoreless inning, with Mori earning his ninth save.

Smells like team spirit in Sapporo

The Orix Buffaloes laid a big seventh inning on Nippon Ham Fighters ace Kohei Arihara to snap a tie game and earn a 7-2 win at Sapporo Dome.

Prior to the game, the Buffaloes activated infielder Shuhei Fukuda, who emerged as their regular second baseman in 2019, and outfielder Steven Moya. Both played key roles in what can only be described as a team win. Fukuda was the only Buffalo to score more than one run, while seven different players drove in one each, and five relievers combined for five scoreless innings in support of starter Tsubasa Sakakibara.

Moya who was 14-for-39 with eight walks in the pitcher-friendly Western League drove in Orix’s first run with a smash off the glove of first baseman Sho Nakata that he legged out for a fourth-inning RBI double. Buffaloes catcher Kenya Wakatsuki homered to tie it 2-2 in the fifth.

Singles by Masataka Yoshida and Moya put runners on the corners with two outs, but one of manager Norifumi Nishimura’s favorite plays, the delayed double steal of home backfired when catcher Shingo Usami faked a throw to second and caught Yoshida off third base.

Sakakibara’s trouble with the walk this season haunted him again. Two of the seven runners he handed free passes to in his four-plus innings scored to give the Fighters a 2-0 lead. A first-inning leadoff walk, a sacrifice and a Kensuke Kondo single opened the scoring. Taishi Ota cashed in a run with a single in the third following a pair of two-out walks.

After six serviceable innings from Arihara (1-5) things went sideways in the seventh.

Mune opened with a single and Wakatsuki doubled him to third. Ryoichi Adachi singled to break the tie, and No. 9 hitter Hayato Nishiura doubled in Wakatsuki from third. Arihara was yanked afte getting his first out on a liner to third, and Fukuda singled in a run. Yoshida delivered a sac fly, and Adam Jones doubled in Fukuda off Kazutomo Iguchi, the third Fighters pitcher of the inning. Moya walked before Mune made the final out.

Tyler Higgins and Brandon Dickson each worked around a single to pitch a scoreless inning and close it out.

Arihara, who had aspired to pitch in the majors next year, allowed six runs on 10 hits. He struck out six without issuing a walk.

Tamura, Marines get Ishikawa his 1st win

Tatsuhiro Tamura twice put Lotte in front, the second time for good with a two-out, two-run bases-loaded single that made a winner out of the Marines’ Opening Day starter, Ayumu Ishikawa (1-2), in a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the Rakuten Eagles at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Eagles right-hander Takahiro Norimoto (3-3), who also pitched on Opening Day for his club, had his splitter working better than it has all season when he struck out two in a 1-2-3 first, but after that he stopped missing bats and what started as a blitzkrieg became a war of attrition between the two starters.

Tamura’s second-inning double plated the game’s first run, but Ryosuke Tatsumi’s third-inning leadoff homer tied it, and back-to-back doubles by former Marines captain Daichi Suzuki and Eigoro Mori put the Eagles in front. It stayed that way until the roof caved in on Norimoto in the sixth.

Hiromi Oka drew a leadoff walk, and Leonys Martin was hit by a pitch. Some poor base running cost the Marines an out and a run when Oka was gunned down trying to score from second on a drive to the wall in right. A sac fly from Seiya Inoue, however, tied it. A single and a walk loaded the bases for Tamura. A 3-2 fastball down the pipe was shot back through the box and into center to put the Marines in front.

Yudai Fujioka followed with an RBI single off lefty Wataru Karashima. Former Eagle Frank Herrmann surrendered two runs in the eighth on a Yasuhito Uchida home run, but Naoya Masuda earned his 10th save with a scoreless ninth.

Norimoto allowed five runs on six hits, three walks and a hit batsman over six innings. He struck out six.

Rookie Marines cleanup hitter Hisanori Yasuda continued to do what he’s done all season, hit rockets. He went 3-for-3 with a double and a walk.

Enter the ‘Sands Man’ as Jerry saves Tigers

Tigers left fielder Jerry Sands made a game-saving catch in the 10th-inning to start an inning-ending double play, depriving the DeNA BayStars of their chance to win as Hanshin held on for a 3-3 tie at Koshien Stadium.

With two on and one out in the 10th, the final inning allowed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Tigers outfield was playing in as is customarily done in Japan to cut off the run at the plate, when Yamato Maeda drove a ball that looked like it would get over Sands’ head for at least a one-run double.

But the former Dodger, who came within a foot of denying the BayStars the tying run with a diving catch in the seventh, hauled it in. The relay throw was on the money to double the runner off second.

Tigers catcher Ryutaro Umeno opened the scoring with a three-run home run in a fourth inning in which BayStars pitcher Taiga Kamichatani gave his outfielders a workout.

Sands’ drive was caught off the wall by center fielder Takayuki Kajitani for the second out, while right fielder Tyler Austin leaped for a long drive but failed to haul in a double off the bat of Yusuke Oyama. After Justin Bour walked, Kamichatani missed up with a cutter away and Umeno hit it off the end of the bat to right center. Kajitani gave chase but he would have needed a ticket to catch this one.

Austin became the second BayStar with a hit off side-armer Koyo Aoyagi when he smoked a grounder past first to open the sixth with a double. He went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout to put the visitors on the board.

Austin ran full speed into the right field wall in the bottom of the inning trying to catch a Justin Bour drive that went for a double but stayed in the game as Kamichatani stranded two to keep it close and allow the BayStars to tie it in the seventh.

Toshihiro Miyazaki opened with a double, and with one out and two on, Koki Yamashita batted for Kamichatani and singled in a run when Sands dove but fell just short of making the catch in left. Aoyagi was pulled after 90 pitches and exciteable right-hander Kosuke Baba took over. Baba retired Kajitani for the first time all night by fanning him on six pitches.

With two outs, Austin lined a good 3-2 fastball past third to tie it.

Tigers pitcher Joe Gunkel nearly gave the game away in the eighth, when he surrendered three singles, but he made a terrific catch on a line drive and was able to shot put the ball to first to complete a double play that allowed him to strand two runners.

Giants get past Carp rookie

After a wild but hitless three innings against the Yomiuri Giants, Hiroshima Carp rookie Masato Morishita decided to focus on throwing strikes and it proved to be his downfall in a 2-1 loss at Tokyo Dome.

Morishita (2-2) survived five walks and a hit batsman over three scoreless innings. With a one-run lead in the fourth after Ryoma Nishikawa’s second home run in two nights, the rookie threw strikes, and the Giants hit them.

Naoki Yoshikawa’s compact swing on a 1-2 fastball opened the door with one out. After a sacrifice by starting pitcher Seishu Hatake, Yoshiyuki Kamei also stayed compact and smashed an 0-1 fastball away up the middle for an RBI single.

Hayato Sakamoto mashed an 0-2 inside fastball for another single. Yoshihiro Maru turned on a 2-1 cutter and lashed it for a single and a 2-1 lead.

Hatake was ejected in the fifth for a dangerous pitch, when Carp catcher Tsubasa Aizawa failed to duck a fastball and it glanced off the top of his helmet.

These ejections are automatic, but he nearly got out of the way, leading one to wonder that if the hitter had better reflexes, Hatake’s pitch would not have struck the batter in the head, and thus wouldn’t have been classified as a “kikenkyu” and he wouldn’t have been ejected.

Viciedo rescues Dragons, Ono

Dayan Viciedo made it a one-run game with a two-run fourth-inning double, and singled in the tying run in a two-run sixth as the Chunichi Dragons came from behind to beat the Yakult Swallows 5-3 at Nagoya Dome.

Dragons lefty Yudai Ono (1-3) allowed one base runner through three innings, a one-out solo home run to Yasutaka Shiomi. But a one-out walk in the fourth was followed by a straight high fastball to 20-year-old slugger Munetaka Murakami, who belted his sixth home run.

With one out and two on in the bottom of the inning, Viciedo drove a ball to the wall in center that Kotaro Yamasaki leaped for but missed to make it a 3-2 game.

Swallows rookie Daiki Yoshida allowed two runs on two walks and three hits over five innings but did not figure in the decision. Thirty-five-year-old lefty Masato Nakazawa entered in the sixth and allowed both batters he faced to reach. After Viciedo tied it, Toshiki Abe drove in the go-ahead run.

Ono completed the game, striking out 10, walking two and allowing five hits.

Free-agent eligible Ono claims not to think

Chunichi Dragons lefty Yudai Ono on Friday amassed the necessary service time to file for domestic free agency this autumn and played his part in the accompanying media ritual to perfection.

When NPB informs news outlets that a player earns the right to file durning the next filing period, reporters due their duty and ask the individual about his plans for the future.

Ono then read his lines to perfection: “I haven’t given any thought to things happening down the road. My priority is to concentrate on the season.”

The famous exception to this ritual, Koji Uehara, who three days after securing his rights to international free agency told the media he would leave for the major leagues at the end of the season, lost his next three starts to start the 2008 season 0-4.

To be fair, Uehara’s body was not up to being a starter anymore. He had saved 32 games the year before but disliked being a reliever. It was only out of consideration for his service to the team that he was allowed another shot at the rotation. But after three more poor starts, he was not given another opportunity to start for four months.

Buffaloes call up Moya, Dragons drop Ishikawa

The Orix Buffaloes activated outfielder Steven Moya on Friday, a day after first baseman Aderlin Rodriguez was deactivated after being hit by a pitch.

Moya is in his third season. He played in 64 games for the Buffaloes last season after a trade brought him over from the Chunichi Dragons. The Buffaloes also activated Shuhei Fukuda, who became their regular second baseman last season. Fukuda has yet to play on the first team this year but was dynamite at the plate in his four Western League games.

Meanwhile, the Dragons have deactivated third baseman Takaya Ishikawa. He was with the first team while captain Shuhei Takahashi was deactivated due to pain in his left hamstring.

Although the 19-year-old Ishikawa has begun to look confident and assertive at the plate, Takahashi’s return means he is being sent down to amass playing time

Active roster moves 7/31/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/10

Central League

Activated

GiantsP31Seishu Hatake
DragonsIF63Naomichi Donoue

Dectivated

DragonsP36Yuichiro Okano
DragonsIF2Takaya Ishikawa

Pacific League

Activated

BuffaloesIF4Shuhei Fukuda
BuffaloesOF1Steven Moya

Dectivated

BuffaloesIF67Keita Nakagawa

Starting pitchers for Aug. 1

Pacific League

Fighters vs Buffaloes: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Drew VerHagen (2-1, 4.23) vs Daiki Tajima (1-1, 2.56)

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

Atsuki Taneichi (3-1, 2.20) vs Takahiro Shiomi (1-3, 5.46)

Hawks vs Lions: PayPay Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Shuta Ishikawa (3-0, 3.14) vs Keisuke Honda (0-2, 2.87)

Central League

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

Kazuto Taguchi (1-0, 2.08) vs Hiroki Tokoda (1-3, 6.04)

Dragons vs Swallows: Nagoya Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Akiyoshi Katsuno (0-2, 6.00) vs Yasuhiro Ogawa (4-0, 4.21)

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

Yuki Nishi (2-2, 1.87) vs Shota Imanaga (3-2, 2.92)

NPB 2020 7-29 GAMES AND NEWS

Mishima earns 1st save for BayStars

Veteran right-hander Kazuki Mishima worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn his first career save in place of battered closer Yasuaki Yamasaki on Wednesday as the DeNA BayStars held on to a 3-2 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome.

BayStars lefty Haruhiro Hamaguchi (2-1) was effectively wild at the start, walking four and hitting one threw four hitless and scoreless innings thanks to a pair of inning-ending 4-6-3 double plays. Hamaguchi allowed two runs on three hits over 5-2/3 innings while striking out seven.

Takayuki Kajitani homered with two outs in the third off Giants right-hander Shosei Togo to record the visitors’ first hit, while catcher Shuto Takajo added a two-run homer for the visitors in the fifth.

Togo (3-2) allowed three runs on four hits and a walk while striking out seven over five innings.

The Giants got their first hit in the fifth, Yang Dai-kang’s leadoff single, and their first run in the seventh, when Yoshihiro Maru opened the inning with his eighth home run. With two outs, mid-season acquisition Zelous Wheeler pulled the Giants within one with his fourth home run to drive Hamaguchi from the mound.

With the BayStars leading by a run in the seventh, manager Alex Ramirez called on Yamasaki to see if his struggling closer might regain his stuff in a middle relief role. The right-hander allowed a one-out infield single to speedy pinch-hitter Shinnosuke Shigenobu. A stolen base on a strikeout, and a wild pitch put the tying run on third with two outs, but Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto flied out to end the inning.

Spencer Patton worked the eighth and walked Wheeler with one out. Wheeler was replaced by Daiki Masuda, the flagship of manager Tatsunori Hara’s pinch-running fleet. Patton, however, struck out the next two batters to get the game to Mishima.

The 30-year-old right-hander, who had not allowed a hit or a walk since he was lit up for three runs on July 16, got tough left-handed hitter Takumi Oshiro swinging at a 1-2 splitter out of the zone. Veteran left-handed-hitting grinder Yasuyuki Kamei flied out before Shigenobu went down swinging to end it.

Nothing to do with the game story, but couldn’t resist.

Swallows kiddy corps beats Tigers

Twenty-year-old Munetaka Murakami brought the Yakult Swallows from behind with a two-run fourth-inning home run and 21-year-old lefty Hiroki Hasegawa saved the day out of the bullpen in a 3-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

After allowing the visitors on the scoreboard in the first, Yakult right-hander Juri Hara (2-0) got out of a one-out bases-loaded jam in the first inning with a pair of strikeouts. Hara worked five innings, allowing three hits and five walks while striking out six.

Tigers lefty Onelki Garcia cruised through the first three innings before surrendering a leadoff double to Norichika Aoki in the fourth. Murakami followed with his fifth home run.

Yugo Umeno, a 21-year-old right-hander, followed Hara in the sixth and walked the first batter he faced. He left with one out the bases loaded. Hasegawa, however, popped up leadoff hitter Koji and struck out veteran Yoshio Itoi.

Yakult’s Yasutaka Shiomi, who homered when he returned to action on Tuesday, a month after being injured by a pitch, homered off veteran lefty Atsushi Nomi to open the bottom of the sixth.

Scott McGough pitched a 1-2-3 seventh for the hosts, while impressive 23-year-old rookie Noboru Shimizu worked around a pair of walks in the eighth when he caught Chikamoto looking at Strike 3. Taishi Ishiyama worked the ninth for his sixth save.

The Tigers opened the scoring through Chikamoto. He doubled to open the game when his drive popped out of center fielder Kotaro Yamasaki’s glove, stole third and came home on a Yusuke Oyama infield single. Garcia gave up four hits and a walk, while striking out five.

Carp’s Suzuki decides pitchers’ duel

Seiya Suzuki broke open a scoreless game in the sixth inning, when he homered for the ninth time this year with a two-run shot off lefty Takahiro Matsuba in a 2-0 Hiroshima Carp win over the Chunichi Dragons at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Making his second start of the season, veteran Carp right-hander Yusuke Nomura (1-0) was perfect through five innings. He allowed four hits and no walks over eight innings while striking out two.

Geronimo Franzua struck out the side in the ninth to earn his first save.

Matsuba (2-1) allowed five hits and two walks while striking out five and hitting a batter. He surrendered Jose Pirela’s second hit of the game with one out in the sixth, and with two outs, Suzuki took him deep.

39-year-old Wada shuts down Lions

Veteran southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada (3-0) turned back the clock as he combined his usual guts and finesse with good movement on his fastball to strike out nine over six-plus innings for the SoftBank Hawks in a 4-2 win over the Seibu Lions at Fukuoka’s PayPayDome.

The 39-year-old Wada, who said afterward he wanted to come out with guns blazing after not getting out of the fifth inning in his last start, came out getting swings and misses with his fastball and struck out two batters in a 1-2-3.

Hawks speedster Ukyo Shuto opened the scoring for the Hawks in the bottom of the first, when he tripled and scored on Kenta Imamiya’s sacrifice fly. Three-straight one-out singles made it 2-0 as Ryoya Kurihara drove in Yuki Yanagita.

The Lions got their first runners of the game on in the top of the second, but Wada stranded two, and the Hawks added a third run in the bottom of the inning. Nobuhiro Matsuda singled, took second on a throwing error by the pitcher, went to third on a groundout and scored on a Shuto sac fly.

Seibu’s Fumikazu Kimura, who struck out to end the Lions’ second with two in scoring position, hit a solo home run in the fifth, but Yanagita answered that with his 10th home run, a one-out solo shot in the home half.

Wada gave up a run in the seventh on a leadoff double to Takeya Nakamura and a Takumi Kuriyama RBI single. Lefty Shinya Kayama, however, worked around a one-out single to strand two runners. Another lefty, Livan Moinelo, worked the eighth, while closer Yuito Mori pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his eighth save.

Matsumoto (1-3) gave up all four runs on seven hits and two walks over five innings.

Martinez, Kondo get Fighters past Buffs

Nick Martinez allowed a run over six innings and Kensuke Kondo drove in four runs for the Nippon Ham Fighters in their 6-2 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Sapporo Dome.

Orix right-hander Yu Suzuki struggled but stranded six runners as he held the Fighters to a run over four innings. Taishi Ota drew a leadoff walk in the second and opened the scoring on Kotaro Kiyomiya’s bases-loaded sac fly.

The Buffaloes repeatedly threatened to blow the game open, but Martinez prevailed through tough pitching and some good luck.

Masato Matsui got the Buffaloes’ first hit off Martinez when first baseman Kiyomiya fielded a ball Martinez couldn’t reach, and then neglected to see the pitcher covering first and waiting for his throw that never came.

Orix skipper Norifumi Nishimura’s customary sacrifice when trailing on the road and a Ryo Nishimura single put runners on the corners with one out. A stolen base and a comebacker opened first base with two outs, and after Martinez fell behind Masataka Yoshida 3-0, Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama ordered the left-handed slugger walked. Martinez then won a 10-pitch duel with Adam Jones by getting a routine fly out to center.

The Buffaloes tied it in the fifth after a walk and two singles, one an infield dribbler, and a Yoshida sac fly.

Once more, Jones came up with a chance to some damage with two outs, but home plate umpire Atsushi Fukuya called him out on a 2-2 pitch that missed badly inside. Martinez tried to hide the disbelief at his good luck behind his glove as he walked off the mound. Jones could do little but express his own disbelief with Fukuya’s perception of the strike zone.

With Suzuki out of the game after 85 pitches, Buffaloes right-hander Kazumasa Yoshida allowed the Fighters to retake the lead. He promptly gave up a Kenshi Sugiya leadoff double. A sacrifice bunt and a Kondo sac fly put the Fighters back in front. That, too, was short-lived.

With Martinez gone, the Buffaloes tied it in the seventh when Aderlin Rodriguez was struck near the wrist with the bases loaded. But that was it for Orix. Sugiya drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the inning, was sacrificed to second on Takuya Nakashima’s second sac bunt of the game and the 230th of his career. Kondo singled to bring in the go-ahead run and scored on a two-out Ota double.

Fighters lefty Naoki Miyanishi worked the eighth inning and became the 16th pitcher in Japanese pro baseball history to appear in 700 games. The active leader is Ryota Igarashi of the Swallows (822).

Wakui continues remarkable turnaround

After going 3-0 in his first three starts and looking truly mediocre, Hideaki Wakui has been rock solid since and continued that on Tuesday when he allowed a run in seven innings as the Rakuten Eagles beat the Lotte Marines 5-1 at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Wakui (5-0) has allowed three runs, two earned, over his last 20-1/3 innings after giving up tons of hits in his early games. Against the team that sold him in December, the 34-year-old right-hander went to the mound with a two-run lead thanks to Hideto Asamura’s 12th homer of the season.

Leonys Martin touched Wakui for a first-inning home run, but that was about it for the Marines offense as the right-hander continued to spin the ball away from opposing bats and mix his pitches.

Stefen Romero, who hit a pinch-hit grand slam the night before, took lefty Kazuya Odajima (2-3) out to dead center to open the fifth, and then tripled and scored in the seventh.

“I’ve been able to keep leadoff hitters off base, and that was what I was trying to keep up tonight,” said Wakui, who joined the Marines as a free agent from the Seibu Lions in 2014. “It did feel kind of strange tonight since I hadn’t been a visiting player her for so long. I’m just glad I didn’t go back to the wrong dugout.”

Active roster moves 7/29/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/8

Central League

Activated

BayStarsP35Tomoya Mikami
SwallowsP15Yuma Oshita

Dectivated

BayStarsOF1Masayuki Kuwahara
TigersP46Takumi Akiyama
SwallowsP25Gabriel Ynoa
SwallowsP26Koshiro Sakamoto

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP17Wataru Matsumoto
EaglesP91Yuya Kubo
MarinesP19Yuki Karakawa
MarinesP33Masaki Minami
MarinesP62Shoji Nagano

Dectivated

EaglesP13Kohei Morihara
MarinesP20Taiki Tojo
MarinesP27Daiki Yamamoto
MarinesP30Tsuyoshi Ishizaki
FightersP31Toru Murata
BuffaloesP27Andrew Albers

Pacific League

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

Toshihiro Sugiura (2-1, 2.66) vs Sachiya Yamasaki (1-0, 3.80)

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

Daiki Iwashita (3-1, 2.91) vs Hayato Yuge (2-1, 2.79)

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

Yugo Bando (0-0, 0.93) vs Kaito Yoza (1-2, 4.94)

Central League

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

Cristopher Mercedes (2-2, 3.18) vs Shinichi Onuki (2-2, 2.70)

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

Keiji Takahashi (0-1, 3.45) vs Shintaro Fujinami (0-1, 6.00)

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

Kris Johnson (0-3, 5.73) vs Yuichiro Okano (2-1, 4.13)

NPB 2020 7-23 games and news

Giants ride Mercedes in win over Dragons

Cristopher Mercedes (2-2) allowed a run over seven innings and Kazuma Okamoto’s two-run eighth-inning double broke up a tie game in for the Yomiuri Giants’ 6-1 win over the Chunichi Dragons on Thursday at Nagoya Dome.

Lefty Hiroto Fuku (1-1), who has been solid for the Dragons all season, surrendered a leadoff single thanks to some good hitting by Yoshiyuki Kamei.

Although home plate ump Fumihiro Yoshimoto had been giving away wide outside strikes like Halloween candy all game, Fuku couldn’t buy one against Hayato Sakamoto, who smacked a 3-2 cutter in the heart of the zone for a double. Yoshihiro Maru walked to load the bases for Okamoto.

The Giants cleanup hitter pulled an inside pitch past the third-base bag for a two-run double. Maru scored on a groundout before Zelous Wheeler crushed a fat first-pitch fastball for his second home run.

Mercedes struck out eight while allowing six hits, a walk and a hit batsman. He got a 1-0 lead in the fourth on catcher Takumi Oshiro’s fourth home run only for the Dragons to tie it in the sixth.

Dragonst starter Yuichiro Okano allowed a run over five innings on three hits and a walk. The right-hander struck out seven.

Dayan Viciedo, who missed Wednesday’s game after being hit by a pitch on Tuesday, had the third of three-straight singles to bring in Yohei Oshima. The right-handed hitter adjusted to Yoshimoto calling strikes well off the outside corner by diving into those and collecting two hits.

Onuki pitches BayStars past Swallows

Shinichi Onuki (2-2) allowed a hit and two walks over seven innings, and the DeNA BayStars hammered lefty Keiji Takahashi (0-1) for three runs in the first inning in a 6-0 win over the Yakult Swallows at Yokohama Stadium.

Keita Sano, a 25-year-old with fewer than 400 career plate appearances was promoted to team captain and dropped into the cleanup spot following the departure of Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. Manager Alex Ramirez has come under fire for batting him fourth. The youngster has been raking, except with runners in scoring position and had no home runs through July 21.

On Wednesday, Sano homered in the first inning to open the scoring, and on Thursday, he singled in the game’s first run and added a late two-run homer.

Takahashi (0-1) lacked some of the explosive movement he’s had on his pitches in his good outings and was missing the strike zone more than he missed bats.

Morishita wins Fujinami comeback game

Masato Morishita, the Hiroshima Carp’s first draft pick last autumn, allowed two runs on a first-inning homer but struck out 10 over six innings and earned his first win in a 4-2 victory over the Hanshin Tigers.

The rookie right-hander matched up at historic Koshien Stadium with Shintaro Fujinami, the Tigers’ top pick in the 2012 draft, whose career has been on a steady downward slide for four years. This spring, he contracted COVID-19 and was also banished to the farm team for coming late to one practice too many.

With hopes always high in Tigers land that at any moment he might regain the quality of his first few seasons and become a plus in the rotation, his return to Koshien turned Thursday’s game into a highly anticipated matchup.

Fujinami pitched out of a first-inning jam before Yusuke Oyama’s two-run homer in the first gave him the lead. The game remained 2-0 until a single and a pair of one-out walks in the sixth, which Jose Pirela converted with a two-out grand slam. The opposite-field fly just landed fair inside the right field foul pole. It was the Venezuelan’s fourth home run of the year.

“I don’t know if it was going to be a home run, but I hit it hard. At least if it fell it was going to be a double. I was always looking for fastballs. He threw me a lot of fastballs and that’s what I hit for the homer,” Pirela said.

Yoza earns 1st win as Lions clip Marines

The Seibu Lions hitters made the most of their limited opportunities and the fielders preserved a slim lead in a 3-2 win over the Lotte Marines at MetLife Dome.

Rookie submariner Kaito Yoza (1-2) allowed two runs on six hits, two walks and a hit batsman over five innings, and clutch pitching and defense kept the Marines from catching up.

Yoza surrendered a booming two-out RBI double in the first to rookie Hisanori Yasuda, who scored on a Shogo Nakamura single. Although the Marines had numerous chances, they would be unable to add on.

Rookie Shohei Suzuki led off the first with a hustling double off Daiki Iwashita (3-1) and scored when Sosuke Genda stroked a fat first-pitch fastball up the middle.

The Lions were unable to bring Genda home from second, but a Corey Spangenberg triple and a long home run, the first of rookie Seiji Kawagoe’s career, made it 3-2.

The Marines should have tied it or taken the lead in the fourth. WIth two outs and runners on second and third, Yoza somehow snared Shuhei Fukuda’s line drive for the third out. Perfect innings from Katsunori Hirai and Kaima Taira got the game to the eighth, where Reed Garrett took over for the Lions.

With two outs and pinch-runner Hiromi Oka on first, Seiay Inoue launched a drive that Suzuki tracked down and caught with a leaping grab before it struck the fence in dead center. Tatsushi Masuda then worked a scoreless ninth for his eighth save.

Fighters’ VerHagen stops Hawks

Drew VerHagen (2-1) allowed two runs over six innings, and catcher Shingo Usami belted a three-run second-inning homer in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 3-2 win over the SoftBank Hawks at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

VerHagen surrendered a run in the bottom of the first on a leadoff walk and a Yuki Yanagita triple. But after a walk, VerHagen recorded two of his eight strikeouts to hold the Hawks to a run.

Hawks lefty Shunsuke Kasaya (0-1) retired the first five batters he faced before a walk and a Christian Villanueva single brought the light-hitting Fighters catcher to the plate. Kasaya missed with a 1-1 slider and Usami drilled it well back in the seats for his first home run since he hit for for the Yomiuri Giants in 2017.

VerHagen didn’t need much help from his defense but he did get a gem from second baseman Kenshi Sugiya to catch a flare for the third out of the third inning and rob Yanagita of a single.

The Hawks narrowed the gap in the fifth on a walk, a double and a Ryoya Kurihara sac fly, but neither team would record a hit after that as three Fighters relievers closed it out and Ryo Akiyoshi earned his sixth save.

Kasaya was pulled after three innings, but the Hawks got four stellar innings of long relief from Yugo Bando, who struck out five while allowing a walk and a single.

Mission accomplished as Buffs play for tie

For the second straight night, Orix Buffaloes skipper Norifumi turned to the sacrifice bunt when trailing in the late innings on the road. Although the Buffaloes scored six runs in the ninth on Wednesday and did better than tie, Nishimura got what he paid for this time.

Adam Jones singled in two runs as Orix came from behind to finish in a 2-2 tie with the Rakuten Eagles at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Lefties Hayato Yuge of the Eagles and Sachiya Yamasaki of the Buffaloes each threw five scoreless innings. Yuge worked around a leadoff single in the sixth before the Eagles scored in the home half.

Hiroto Kobukata, Rakuten’s top draft pick last autumn, and Eigoro Mogi singled to open the inning. After a Daichi Suzuki sacrifice, Kobukata did well to score around the tag at the plate after Stefen Romero’s fly to medium deep right field.

Hideto Asamura singled in a second run, but the Buffaloes got to Yuge in the eighth.

After a walk and a hit batsman, No. 2 hitter Koji Oshiro sacrificed and slugger Masataka Yoshida walked. Jones then ripped a game-tying single off Alan Busenitz and was replaced by a pinch-runner. Both teams wasted scoring opportunities before the game was called at the conclusion of the 10th inning.

NPB finally backs down on bigger crowds

Nearly a week after Japan’s government asked event promotors not to expand the sizes of their audiences from Aug. 1, Nippon Professional Baseball on Thursday said it would follow suit.

Prior to Thursday’s announcement, only two teams had said they would back from their plans to admit crowds up to half of their venues’ capacity. Since July 10, NPB and pro soccer’s J-League have limited their audiences to a maximum of 5,000 fans.

See the Kyodo News story here.

jballallen.com’s NPB coronavirus timeline.

Tigers lose Itohara with broken hand

Kento Itohara, the Hanshin Tigers’ 27-year-old second baseman broke the hamate bone in his right hand during Wednesday’s game against the Hiroshima Carp. He was deactivated on Thursday, snapping his string of playing in 312 consecutive games since Opening Day 2018.

Active roster moves 7/23/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/2

Central League

Activated

BayStarsIF23Tyler Austin
TigersP19Shintaro Fujinami
TigersP22Kyuji Fujikawa
CarpP18Masato Morishita
CarpIF4Tetsuya Kokubo

Dectivated

TigersIF33Kento Itohara
CarpP46Mikiya Takahashi
CarpOF50Hiroki Takahashi

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP44Kaito Yoza
MarinesOF7Shuhei Fukuda

Dectivated

LionsP13Kona Takahashi
MarinesOF0Takashi Ogino

NPB 2020 7-22 games and news

Buffaloes stampede through Eagles bullpen

The Rakuten Eagles bullpen wasted a stellar start from veteran right-hander Hideaki Wakui, allowing the Orix Buffaloes to score nine late runs in an 11-7 loss at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi on Tuesday.

For the second-straight week Hideaki Wakui, who was sold by the Lotte Marines over the winter, looked like one of Japan’s best pitchers. He attacked the zone with a fastball that batters continually swung under, while mixing it with some variations, cutters and running fastballs, a slider he generally kept out of the zone and even a few screwballs.

But trailing 7-2 in the eighth, the visitors scored three runs in the eighth, all charged to J. T. Chargois after Alan Busenitz allowed two inherited runners to cross the plate.

Eagles closer Kohei Morihara (1-1) allowed a leadoff double on an innocuous fly by Yuma Mune that left fielder Hiroaki Shimauchi failed to catch after he cut in front of center fielder Ryosuke Tatsumi. Buffaloes catcher Kenya Wakatsuki, who drove in five runs on Tuesday, and who singled in a run in the Buffaloes’ two-run sixth, singled to make it a one-run game.

With no outs and the tying run on first in the ninth, Buffaloes manager Norifumi Nishimura played for a tie with a sacrifice bunt, but got more than he asked for when Morihara failed to get the force at second. No. 3 hitter Koji Oshiro followed a successful sacrifice with a two-run single. An intentional walk, a two-run Adam Jones double and a run-scoring Takahiro Okada single completed the scoring.

Wakui, who entered the game 4-0 despite being mediocre in his first three starts was untouchable through six innings. He struck out 10, while allowing two runs over 6-1/3 innings.

On-again off-again Buffaloes right-hander Yu Suzuki was off again. The right-hander has quality stuff but his location was not there. Eigoro Mogi tripled off his first pitch, a center-cut two-seamer, and scored on a groundout. In the second inning, Hikaru Ota followed a one-out walk and a Jabari Blash single by launching a first-pitch slider for his first home run of the year. Stefen Romero hit a 3-2 slider in the third inning for his sixth home run.

Wakui struck out 10, while allowing two runs over 6-1/3 innings.

Hawks survive strong start from Martinez

Nick Martinez came close to being the second straight Nippon Ham Fighters starter to score an upset win in Fukuoka but surrendered three runs in the seventh inning in a 3-2 loss to the Softbank Hawks at PayPay Dome.

A day after Toshihiro Sugiura outpitched Hawks ace Kodai Senga, Martinez easily outclassed veteran lefty Tsuyoshi Wada, who just barely managed to keep the game scoreless through four.

Right fielder Seiji Uebayashi and catcher Hiroaki Takaya combined to save a run in the top of the first when Kensuke Kondo was out trying to score from second on a two-out single. Wada got out of a one-out bases-loaded situation in the second on a double play and escaped a two-on, no-out pickle in the fourth.

After three close shaves, Wada ran out of get-out-of-jail-free cards in the fifth. Right-hander Keisuke Izumi inherited two runners with one out. A wild pitch let in the game’s first run. A second scored on a Taishi Ota single.

The Hawks got on the board against Martinez in a three-run seventh. A Yuki Yanagita leadoff single and an Akira Nakamura double trimmed the lead to one. Martinez left with two outs and two on after a walk to Wladimir Balentien. Nobuhiro Matsuda singled in the tying and go-ahead runs off reliever Taisho Tamai after the Hawks added speed on the bases and a stolen base put both men in scoring position.

Martinez (1-3) was absolutely solid with good command of all his pitches. He allowed three hits, walked two and struck out six.

Odajima pitches Marines past Lions

Kazuya Odajima (2-1) worked out of a first-inning predicament by retiring Hotaka Yamakawa and Tomoya Mori and then allowed one run over 6-2/3 innings for the Lotte Marines in a 2-1 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome.

Lions starter Kona Takahashi (2-3) allowed two runs on eight hits, a walk and two hit batsmen over seven innings. He gave up the first run in the fifth on a Yudai Fujioka double, a sacrifice and a wild pitch. Seiya Inoue made it a 2-0 game in the sixth with his fifth home run.

Naoya Masuda worked the ninth to earn his ninth save.

BayStars’ Yamasaki provides thrills in 5-5 tie

BayStars closer Yasuaki Yamasaki continued to make things interesting by loading the bases in the ninth inning of a tie game before closing out the inning as DeNA and the Yakult Swallows finished in a 5-5, 10-inning tie.

After a leadoff single and two one-out walks, Yamasaki struck out Munetaka Murakami, who had earlier hit his fourth homer of the season, before getting out of the inning on a flyball.

Swallows starter Gabriel Ynoa allowed five runs over four innings. The right-hander surrendered back-to-back two-out first-inning home runs to Jose Lopez and Keita Sano and another to reserve catcher Shuto Takajo in the second.

BayStars starter Haruhiro Hamaguchi allowed five runs over 5-2/3 innings on four walks eight hits.

Martinez shines as Dragons stop Giants

With slugging first baseman Dayan Viciedo unavailable, the Chunichi Dragons put put 24-year-old Cuban catcher Ariel Martinez into the cleanup spot. He responded with a home run in a 5-0 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Nagoya Dome.

Lefty Takahiro Matsuba, who failed to earn a win last season when he was traded from Orix, allowed a walk, a hit batsman and four hits over six innings to improve to 2-0 in two games this season. With two on and two outs in the first he got out of trouble with a cutter on the hands of right-handed-hitting Zelous Wheeler that produced a little tapper back to the mound.

The Dragons’ top draft pick last autumn 19-year-old third baseman Takaya Ishikawa drew a one-out walk in the third from impressive 20-year-old Giants right-hander Shosei Togo (3-1) and scored on a Yohei Oshima double. Ishikawa went 2-for-2 with an RBI and two runs.

The Dragons snapped a four-game losing streak with the win, while Giants manager Tatsunori Hara’s club saw its seven-game win streak end on his 62nd birthday.

Sands continues to rock in tie with Carp

Jerry Sands homered, doubled and drove in two runs for the Hanshin Tigers in their 3-3, 10-inning tie with the Hiroshima Carp at Koshien Stadium.

Both teams came from a run down in the ninth to force a 10th inning in a game that was dominate by the starting pitchers, Yusuke Nomura of the Carp and Onelki Garcia of the Tigers.

Nomura allowed a run on five hits and a walk over six innings, while Garcia allowed a run over seven.

Active roster moves 7/22/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/1

Central League

Activated

CarpP19Yusuke Nomura

Dectivated

BayStarsP45Michael Peoples

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP68Kanji Teraoka
BuffaloesIF2Hiroyuki Shirasaki

Dectivated

EaglesP21Yoshinao Kamata
MarinesP47Yasuhiro Tanaka
BuffaloesP39Keisuke Kobayashi

NPB 2020 7-19 games and news

Niho outduels Buffs ace Yamamoto

There were quips made when Hawks manager named Akira Niho to be the last man in his six-man starting pitching rotation. When the 30-year-old right-hander did as well as expected out of the gate, Kudo stuck with him, and on Sunday, Niho did what he was capable of walked away with a win after matching up with one of Japan’s best, Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

Niho (2-2) threw six scoreless innings, and the SoftBank Hawks took advantage of their one chance against Yamamoto to leave Osaka’s Kyocera Dome with 3-2 win.

Niho escaped a two-out bases-loaded jam in the third when Adam Jones grounded into the final out.

After starting the Buffaloes cleanup hitter on the outside edge with his two-seam fastball, he left a slider up in the heart of the zone and then missed with a fastball inside. Jones fouled off the fat slider and was jammed by the 89-mph fastball on the hands.

Niho then retired eight of the last nine batters he faced before three good swings changed the game in the seventh.

Left-handed-hitting Seiji Uebayashi hit a high fastball away and sliced it into the left field corner for a leadoff double and the Hawks’ second hit of the game. Yuki Yanagita, who struggled against Yamamoto’s splitter in his second at-bat made some headway against it his third time up.

Yanagita survived a narrow escape when he grounded a splitter to first (again) only for it to bounce foul by inches. The next pitch, Yamamoto’s seventh to him, hung up and the left-handed-hitting slugger slammed it to the warning track in right for a tie-breaking double.

Akira Nakamura followed, and somehow pulled a fastball up and over the outside part of the plate and his drive just cleared the wall in right for his first home run of the year.

“I was waiting for something fast. It’s a confidence boost to be able to hit one of the best pitchers in baseball,” Nakamura said.

Submarine right-hander Rei Takahashi, the PL’s 2019 rookie of the year, whose been in relief this season, worked a scoreless seventh against the bottom of the Buffaloes order, but dependable lefty Livan Moinelo couldn’t locate in the eighth and ran into trouble.

The Cuban reliever surrendered a leadoff single before issuing three walks, forcing in a run, and bringing Jones to the plate with a chance to turn the game around.

Jones, who has seen precious few fastballs in the strike zone this season, fouled off an 0-1 heater and then chased and fouled off a curve out of the zone. Moinelo missed up high with a change up and Jones got under it, flying out to center to bring home a run.

The play resulted in the second out when Ryoichi Adachi took off for third and was tagged out on the throw from Yanagita in center when he over-slid the bag.

Hawks closer Yuito Mori worked a 1-2-3 ninth to record his fifth save.

Orix manager Norifumi Nishimura blamed the loss on failure to execute, pointing to a failed sacrifice in the third inning after Ryo Ota opened with a leadoff single.

“We had the failed bunt,” he said. “There are times when things will take a wrong turn if you don’t execute properly.”

Rookie Kawano earns 1st win

Rookie lefty Ryusei Kawano allowed two runs over eight innings to win his first game as a pro in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 9-2 win over the Lotte Marines at Sapporo Dome.

Sho Nakata’s three-run, third-inning home run capped a four-run outburst against right-hander Yuki Ariyoshi (1-1).

Kawano, who has shown good stuff since Day 1, has become more and more assertive in the strike zone with each passing day, and Sunday’s start was another step in that direction.

Through the early innings, Kawano, the Fighters’ top pick last autumn in NPB’s draft, tried to hit corners but was less hesitant about challenging hitters in the zone with his fastball and then making them look bad against his changeup.

With a 4-0 lead in the fourth, catcher Shingo Usami began setting his target squarely in the zone and Kawano responded to the encouragement.

Through seven innings, he allowed three base runners. He finished with seven strikeouts, two walks and four hits after allowing two eighth-inning runs on a Leonys Martin double. Brandon Laird went 2-for-4 in his old home park.

Former Lion Asamura flies with Eagles

HIdeto Asamura bounced back from two hitless games with two days worth of hits and four RBIs to lead the Rakuten Eagles’ comeback in a 9-5 win over his old team, the Seibu Lions, at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Stefen Romero opened the scoring with a solo homer off lefty Daiki Enokida, making his first start of the season, but Hotaka Yamakawa’s third home run in three days, a three-run third-inning shot off former Lions ace Takayuki Kishi made it 5-1 Seibu.

Former Lion (one can say that A LOT in Sendai) Asamura made it a 5-2 game in the third with his second hit, an RBI single that plated Daichi Suzuki.

Kishi was pulled after 2-13 innings, but the bullpen picked up the slack and Asamura hit his Japan-best 11th home run to lead off the sixth against Enokida. The Lions lefty was yanked after allowing three runs over five-plus innings.

Seibu’s bullpen workhorse Katsunori Hirai took over and worked around a hit batsman to keep it 5-3 through six. Eagles right-hander Alan Busenitz (1-0) worked a scoreless seventh, and Asamura tied it with a two-run single in the bottom of the inning.

Hirai (2-1), who led both leagues in games pitched last season with 81, allowed three runs on two walks, a hit batsman and six hits over one-plus inning of work. He was replaced by stocky Kaima Taira.

The right-hander, who struck out Romero on a 99.4 mph fastball after entering with no outs and the bases loaded, went into Asamura’s kitchen with a 1-2, 98 mph heater that brushed him back. Asamura, however, brushed that off and stroked a cutter away into right for a two-run single that tied it.

With two outs and the bases reloaded, Yasuhito Uchida homered off Taira to complete the Eagles’ comeback.

Okamoto, Giants burn BayStars closer in 9th

Pinch-runner Daiki Masuda stole second with one out in the ninth inning and scored the tying run from second on an infield singe before Kazuma Okamoto blasted a two-run home run in the Yomiuri Giants’ 5-3 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

With a one-run lead in the ninth, Yasuaki Yamasaki (0-2) took the mound for the BayStars and surrendered a one-out single to Hayato Sakamoto. Pinch-runner Daiki Masuda stole second and with two outs, he gambled and was safe at home on Yoshihiro Maru’s grounder deep into the hold behind first.

BayStars manager Alex Ramirez yanked his closer, and Yuki Kuniyoshi served up an 0-1 fastball to Okamoto who drove it out well beyond the wall in right center for his ninth home run.

The BayStars’ Neftali Soto scored three runs and homered to tie it 2-2 in the third inning. Soto was hit by a pitch in the fifth and scored on a Jose Lopez double.

Swallows Carp

The Hiroshima Carp bullpen proved able to solve the Yakult Swallows once the game was tied and the bases loaded, which they did in both the ninth and 10th innings to finish in a 3-3 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

The visitors took a 2-0 lead into the seventh, but the heart of the Hiroshima attack found their third look at right-hander Hirotoshi Takanashi to their liking. After allowing just two hits and a walk through six innings, Takanashi gave up a single to Shota Dobayashi and back-to-back doubles by Seiya Suzuki and Ryuhei Matsuyama that tied it up.

Yugo Umeno got out of the inning but not before Tsubasa Aizawa singled in the go-ahead run. In the eighth, 23-year-old Noboru Shimizu loaded the bases on two one-out walks and a single but struck out Matsuyama and Hisayoshi Chono to prevent the game from getting away.

Norichika Aoki singled in the tying run in the ninth and the Swallows loaded the bases with one out for Munetaka Murakami. But journeyman right-hander Yasunori Kikuchi got the easiest double play imaginable, when the 20-year-old slugger tipped a low forkball into the dirt in front of home plate. Aizawa collected it, stepped on the plate and threw to first to end the inning.

New Carp D.J. Johnson loaded the bases in the 10th — the last inning allowed in NPB this season — but ended the inning with a strikeout. Swallows closer Taishi Ishiyama then pitched out of a two-on, one-out pickle in the bottom of the 10th to ensure the tie.

Tigers blow out Dragons

On a night when hard-hitting first baseman Justin Bour was out of the Hanshin lineup, the Tigers still erupted for 11 runs on 14 hits and eight walks in an 11-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons and a sweep of their three-game series at Koshien Stadium outside Osaka.

Jerry Sands, batting third in manager Akihiro Yano’s lineup singled in the game’s first run and scored on Kosuke Fukudome’s sacrifice fly in the Tigers’ three-run first.

The 43-year-old Fukudome, who came off the bench to wreak havoc on the Swallows on Thursday, was in the starting lineup and responded with two singles, a double, two sacrifice flies and four RBIs.

Sands also doubled and drew one of the Tigers’ two bases-loaded walks in their three-run fourth inning.

The Dragons’ Dayan Viciedo continued to rip it up at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a walk and a home run.

Active roster moves 7/19/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/29

Central League

Activated

BayStarsC36Shuto Takajo
DragonsOF60Yuki Okabayashi

Dectivated

BayStarsC29Hikaru Ito
DragonsOF31Masaru Watanabe

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP30Daiki Enokida
MarinesP36Yuki Ariyoshi

Dectivated

LionsP17Wataru Matsumoto
FightersP14Takayuki Kato

NPB 2020 7-18 games and news

Lions hold off Eagles in home run derby

Sixth-inning home runs by Hotaka Yamakawa and Takeya Nakamura lifted the Seibu Lions to a 4-3 win over the Rakuten Eagles on Saturday afternoon.

In a matchup between two pitchers who depend on mixing their pitches and changing speeds, Eagles lefty Takahiro Shiomi (1-3) got away with his early location issues in a 1-2-3 first inning, but Lions starter Wataru Matsumoto (1-2) didn’t.

The Lions’ right-hander surrendered two first-inning home runs, and the Lions trailing 3-0 for the first five innings didn’t catch up until too many pitches in the middle of the strike zone caught up with Shiomi.

Eigoro Mogi got the Pacific League leaders off to a solid start at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

The leadoff man reached the seats on a 2-0 fastball in the heart of the zone. With one out, Jabari Blash singled off a 3-2 cutter that missed up. Matsumoto popped up the toughest hitter in the Eagles lineup, Hideto Asamura, but Hiroaki Shimauchi got a mistake and didn’t miss.

Matsumoto’s first-pitch, an 87 mph fastball in the heart of the zone, was running away from Shimauchi, but the left-handed hitter got all of it and drove it into the right field stands for a 3-0 lead.

Matsumoto got away with another bad miss in the middle of the zone to Stefen Romero, who grounded out to end the inning.

Shiomi who looked to have conquered his poor location at the end of the first, went back to making dangerous mistakes in the second but again got away with murder. With one out and Tomoya Mori on second from a double. The lefty hung a 2-0 curve in the heart of the zone that Takumi Kuriyama watched for a strike before having a word with himself for the missed opportunity. Kuriyama walked but Shiomi threw three good pitches to Cory Spangenberg to keep the Lions off the board.

The Eagles got a beachhead on the bases in the third with a gritty leadoff walk from Daichi Suzuki, but Matsumoto got out of the inning when Hideto Asamura grounded a tough pitch up the middle to second baseman Shuta Tonosaki, who started a nifty double play with a flip to shortstop Sosuke Genda.

The double play combo set the table for the Lions in the sixth with back-to-back groundball singles.

Genda opened by smacking a high first-pitch splitter between first and second for a single. Tonosaki, who’d made two outs seeing nothing but the lefty’s splitters, fouled off two good ones and took one in the dirt to run the count 2-2. Shiomi switched to inside fastballs and eventually throw one down the middle. Tonosaki didn’t put a good swing on it but a good bounce got it through the infield.

With no outs and runners on the corners, Yamakawa got all of a first-pitch fastball and just missed hitting the park’s left field merry-go-round on a hop with his eighth home run.

Nakamura, who missed a high splitter en route to a 3-2 count, didn’t miss the second one he saw up in the zone. A six-time PL home run champ, Nakamura broke the 3-3 tie with his third home run of the season.

With the lead in hand, Katsunori Hirai came out of the bullpen in the bottom of the sixth and worked around a two-out single. Rookie Tetsu Miyagawa surrendered a one-out double to Mogi, but retired the persistent Suzuki for the second out.

With Blash and Asamura waiting in the wings, Lions skipper Hatsuhiko Tsuji turned the ball over to new import Reed Garrett, who has been rock solid in late relief.

Garrett retired Blash to strand Mogi. His 1-2-3 eighth, and that of closer Tatsushi Masuda closed it out, with Masuda earning his seventh save.

Matsumoto, who ended the Eagles fifth with Suzuki on base by retiring Asamura for the third time, allowed three runs on two walks and six hits.

Shiomi left after 5-2/3 having allowed four runs on nine hits and a walk. He struck out two. J. T. Chargois stranded a runner in the sixth and worked around two seventh-inning walks.

Right-hander Tohomhito Sakai worked the eighth for the Eagles, while former Lion and San Diego Padre submariner Kazuhisa Makita worked a scoreless ninth.

Lions accuse Eagles fans of cheating

Seibu Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji on Saturday discovered another problem related to the coronavirus, an opportunity for fans to give the home team an unfair advantage.

Tsuji told umpires during the Lions’ game in Sendai that someone in the stands was giving away where Lions catcher Tomoya Mori was setting up before pitches during the at-bats of the hometown Rakuten Eagles, the Nikkan Sports reported.

In response, home plate umpire Tetsuo Yamaji issued a warning to fans and the Eagles posted extra security behind home plate. With fans forbidden to shout or cheer and only 5,000 fans allowed into games this month on account of the novel coronavirus pandemic, voices can easily be heard in what otherwise would be a constant wall of sound as each team’s cheering sections blast out chants accompanied by horns and drums.

“The batter can hear that, really,” Tsuji said after the game. “This is no different than sign stealing. I think this is going to be a problem no matter what ballpark you’re at.”

Yanagita’s monster blast boosts Hawks

The SoftBank Hawks earned a tight 2-1 win over the Orix Buffaloes on Saturday after Yuki Yanagita opened the scoring with the most impressive home run of Japan’s young season.

With Hawks right-handerShuta Ishikawa (3-0) and Buffaloes lefty Daiki Tajima locked up in a scoreless pitchers’ duel through five innings, Yanagita broke the tie with two outs in the sixth.

The lefty served up an 86 mph center-cut running fastball that the left-handed hitter leaned into and got all of. The blast hit the light ring where the stadium ceiling meets the roof over the upper deck in right field and dropped to the field.

The Hawks scored an insurance run against Tajima in the seventh before Buffaloes catcher Kenya Wakatsuki homered off submarine right-hander Rei Takahashi in the bottom of the inning.

Orix’s Tyler Higgins worked a scoreless ninth, but Hawks closer Yuito Mori retired the heart of the Buffaloes order 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning to record his fourth save.

Marines overcome lapses to crush Fighters

Right-hander Atsuki Taneichi surrendered two solo home runs, but those proved to be the only two points of light in an otherwise dark day for the Nippon Ham Fighters in a 5-2 loss to the Lotte Marines at Sapporo Dome.

The visitors took a one-run lead in the first. Takashi Ogino reached on a leadoff infield single, went to third on an errant pickoff throw from Fighters lefty Takayuki Kato and scored on a Ikuhiro Kiyota double.

Toshitake Yoko and Ryo Watanabe hit second-inning home runs for the Fighters, and Kato pitched out of a one-out jam in the third, but that proved to be the end of the Nippon Ham highlight reel.

A leadoff single in the third gave the Fighters an opportunity to pad their lead against Taneichi. Instead, their final hit of the game set up the first of three double plays they would ground into.

Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama went to his second pitcher, former Cleveland Indians farm hand Toru Murata (0-1), but the right-hander was ineffective.

A hit batsman, a Shogo Nakamura double and a sac fly from Hisanori Yasuda tied it. After a one-out walk, reserve catcher Tomoya Kakinuma doubled in two runs. Yasuda added a seventh-inning homer to complete the scoring.

Taneichi (2-1) allowed three hits and two walks while striking out three over seven innings. Frank Herrmann worked the eighth for the Marines, while Naoya Masuda earned his eighth save.

Giants’ Sanchez stops BayStars

Angel Sanchez (3-2) spun eight easy scoreless innings before allowing two runs in the ninth in the Yomiuri Giants’ 4-2 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

No-out singles in the second by a rejuvenated Hiroyuki Nakajima and Zelous Wheeler set the table for a three-run inning against BayStars lefty Shota Imanaga (2-2) .

Lefty Kota Nakagawa, who saved 16 games last season as the Giants’ closer before the acquisition of Rubby De La Rosa, worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth to record his first save.

Nishi goes distance to slay Dragons

Yuki Nishi (2-1), who since 2017 has had the worst average run support among any Japanese starting pitcher, threw five scoreless innings before suddenly presented with an eight-run lead, promptly allowed three.

The right-hander struck out seven over the distance and drove in a run with a squeeze in the Tigers’ 8-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Koshien Stadium.

Nishi: ‘A player’s got to play’

Pitcher Yuki Nishi was as they say, “as motivated as ever” on Saturday, three days after one of Japan’s scandal-filled weekly magazines published an account of his extramarital indulgences with a Tigers fan in Mie Prefecture while Japan was in a state of emergency, Kyodo News reported in Japanese.

“At this critical time, I became a nuisance,” he said in his postgame hero interview at Koshien Stadium. “I think I need to make it up through my play.”

The Tigers have one of the largest followings in Japanese baseball.

What dreams are made of

One year, former captain Takashi Toritani was punished for inviting a female fan to his room during spring training. The team criticized him for not upholding his responsibility “to give hopes and dreams to the fans.”

Former Tigers coach Tom O’Malley said of the incident, “I was in the next room. He sounded like he was busy giving at least one fan a whole night’s worth of hopes and dreams.”

Ogawa improves to 4-0 with win over Carp

Yasuhiro “Ryan” Ogawa allowed two runs over six innings to earn his Central League-best fourth win as the Yakult Swallows beat the Hiroshima Carp 9-4 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Ogawa (4-0) scattered seven hits, two walks and a hit batsman while striking out four and singled in a run that briefly gave the Swallows a 2-1 lead in the second.

Yakult took the lead for good in the fifth. Tetsuto Yamada, back in the lineup for the first time in four days, doubled with one out in the fifth. Walks by Norichika Aoki and Munetaka Murakami, who scored twice and drove in three, loaded the bases.

Naoki Nishiura and Alcides Escobar followed with back-to-back RBI singles that put Yakult up 5-2.

Active roster moves 7/18/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/28

Central League

Activated

GiantsP53Yuhei Takanashi
BayStarsOF37Taishi Kusumoto

Dectivated

GiantsIF37Akihiro Wakabayashi
BayStarsP15Shoichi Ino

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP21Yoshinao Kamata
BuffaloesP39Keisuke Kobayashi

Dectivated

EaglesP72Shun Ikeda
BuffaloesP30Kohei “K” Suzuki

NPB 2020 7-17 games and news

Inside story

Is it just me, or are NPB umps beginning to adopt the old major league standard of shifting the strike zone one ball width away from the batter? This was done in the States, I understand, to decrease hit batsmen. As long as I can remember, Japanese umps have called the vertical edges of the zone by the rules as well as their talents allowed.

But Friday’s games got me to wondering. Looking at the pitches that were called strikes and balls in Sendai’s game between the Lions and Eagles, and in Osaka between the Hawks and Buffaloes and at Koshien between the Dragons and Tigers, it sure seemed like inside strikes meant getting the ball entirely over the plate, while pitchers tended to get more leeway outside.

It may just be me, but a narrow strike zone definitely impacted at least one game.

Neal outpitches Norimoto in Sendai

Rakuten Eagles ace Takahiro Norimoto has been very tough this season and he was pretty darn good on Friday, but sometimes things just have a way of going south. And while things didn’t go his way, Seibu Lions right-hander Zach Neal had his best outing in three weeks and picked up the win in a 10-2 victory in Sendai.

After both pitchers were rock solid in the first, Norimoto ran into trouble in the second. He hit the leadoff man, and pitched carefully to 2019 Pacific League MVP Tomoya Mori and ended up walking him. After that, he pretty much made his pitches but didn’t get the results he might have.

OK, he threw a straight fastball down and in to Takeya Nakamura that the slugger lined to left. The opening run scored on the play when left fielder Hiroaki Shimauchi failed to gather in the ball on a hop.

After that it was back-to-back singles off good pitches. An inside fastball jammed Takumi Kuriyama but resulted in a flair to left that fell in for an RBI single. Cory Spangenberg did a super job to go down and get a splitter and single to load the bases.

Norimoto had thrown 22 pitches in the inning at that point the wheels kind of fell off. But oddly enough, the Lions had pretty much done all the damage they were going to do in the inning.

He threw three straight pitches down the pipe, a first-pitch fastball resulted in an RBI single. A hanging first-pitch slider would have brought in another run had Shimauchi not made a good sliding catch in left. Sosuke Genda then watched a fat first-pitch fastball go by before offering at a splitter out of the zone that let the Eagles get a force at the plate.

The Lions added two more runs in the third when he REALLY missed to dangerous hitters, resulting in a Hotaka Yamakawa home run and a hanging curve that missed being a two-run homer by a few feet.

Neal — remember Zach Neal? — gave up a couple of hard-hit balls to his fielders in the second, and had trouble with the strike zone, see above, in the third, when he issued two, two-out walks — credit to Daichi Suzuki for the second — before Eigoro Mogi lined a pitch to center that went for a two-run double when center fielder Shohei Suzuki failed to make a shoe-string catch.

That brought league RBI leader Hideto Asamura to the plate. Neal got a 1-0 strike on the outside corner, and Asamura missed a fastball up and in before flailing at a changeup low and well out of the zone. You could see that changeup coming a mile away, and it was poetry.

Neal walked just those two batters, while striking out five and allowing five hits. With the win, he was able to extend his streak of consecutive winning decisions to 13.

Hawks take advantage of Buffaloes youngster

As happens a lot, walks opened the door for the SoftBank Hawks offense and they never looked back in their 9-1 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Hard-throwing 21-year-old Tsubasa Sakakibara (0-1) went into the fourth inning with the game tied 1-1, but four walks in the inning proved his undoing.

Sometimes pitchers walk hitters because they can’t locate their pitches and sometimes because they have a poor approach, and in Sakakibara’s case it seemed more of an inability to adjust to umpire Fumihiro Yoshimoto’s narrow strike zone.

A leadoff walk on four borderline pitches to Yuki Yanagita was a case of his trying to hit the edge of the zone and locating, but not getting the calls. Another walk followed before a three-pitch strikeout of Wladimir Balentien. But at that point, Sakakibara’s ability to execute began to slip. He missed all over the place to Nobuhiro Matsuda to load the bases before Takuya Kai ground out a walk that broke the tie.

Sakakibara, whose fastball was sitting at 150 kph but was pretty straight, got the grounder he needed to keep it a 2-1 game but the ball went for an infield single and he was yanked after four.

Orix rookie Ryo Ota, whose first pro hit was a home run on Thursday, had a home run for his second hit as well, when he tied it in the second off Nao Higashihama. The Hawks starter, who was in the leg by a batted ball early in the game, left after three innings.

Arihara earns 1st win for Fighters

Nippon Ham Fighters ace Kohei Arihara (1-3) allowed two runs over six innings, scattering eight hits and three walks in a 7-4 win over the Lotte Marines at Sapporo Dome.

Arihara allowed just a run in the first despite a leadoff single and a Leonys Martin double and didn’t have a stress-free inning until his 1-2-3 sixth. Marines starter Ayumu Ishikawa (0-2) had three 1-2-3 innings through six but surrendered six runs on 10 hits and a walk to take the loss.

Fighters cleanup hitter doubled in a run in the hosts’ two-run first, and put the game out of reach with a seventh-inning grand slam.

Aoyagi, Sands pace Tigers past Dragons

Right-handed side-armer Koyo Aoyagi had the Chunichi Dragons pounding the ball into the dirt, grounding out 16 times over seven innings in a 4-1 Hanshin Tigers victory at Koshien Stadium.

The Dragons managed four hits and a walk off Aoyagi (3-1), who struck out two. The Tigers broke out for three runs in a fortunate third inning against Dragons lefty Yudai Ono (0-3).

Ono sawed off Seiya Kinami’s bat at the handle with a 1-1 slider on the hands but the ball looped over the mound for a leadoff infield single. After the pitcher sacrificed, failed to get a called first strike and sort of gave up on trying to get Yoshio Itoi and walked him on four pitches. Kento Itohara lucked into an infield single hitting an 0-2 pitch well out of the zone off the end of the bat for a perfect swinging bunt down the third base line. A throwing error by third baseman Hayato Mizowaki advanced all three runners and let in a run.

The infield came in, and Jerry Sands, whose eighth-inning home run tied Thursday’s game against Yakult and set the stage for a Tigers comeback, hit Ono’s pitch. The lefty spotted a 3-0 two-seamer low and away only for Sands to reach for it and launch it the other way into the right field gap for a two-run double.

Dayan Viciedo got a run back for the Drgons with his eighth home run of the year in the fourth.

Maru makes difference in rainy Yokohama

Yoshihiro Maru launched a third-inning tie-breaking home run at rainy Yokohama Stadium and the Yomiuri Giants earned a 2-1 win over the DeNA BayStars when their game was called after six innings.

The Giants opened the scoring in the second thanks to some quality swings from Takumi Oshiro, Gerardo Parra and Zelous Wheeler as three singles loaded the bases with no outs against Shoichi Ino (2-1). Oshiro scored on a double play.

Ino struck out six and walked one, while allowing six hits. Giants lefty Nobutaka Imamura (1-0) won his season debut. He allowed six hits and a walk while striking out two, and served up a pair of groundball double plays as the base cutouts at Yokohama Stadium began to resemble mud wrestling venues.

Maru broke the tie with two outs in the third, when Ino hung a curve ball that he launched off the end of his bat and just into the outfield seats atop their high wall in left.

Carp spoil Swallows rookie’s debut

Shota Dobayashi, long a favorite of the Hiroshima media, made his debut in the Carp No. 3 spot and went 4-for-5 with three runs, while Seiya Suzuki and Ryuhei Matsuyama combined to drive in eight in a 9-2 win over the Yakult Swallows.

Right-hander Daiki Yoshida, Yakult’s second draft pick last autumn, allowed five runs on nine hits over 2-1/3 innings to take the loss in his first-team debut.

Carp ace Daichi Osera (3-1) allowed two runs over six innings, while striking out five and walking two. New import D. J. Johnson had his best outing yet for Hiroshima as he struck out the side in the eighth inning.

Alcides Escobar drove in both Yakult runs with a sixth-inning double that missed the top of the wall at Mazda Stadium by a few feet.

Hawks drop van den Hurk, Carp call on Scott

A day after the briefest start of his career in Japan, right-hander Rick van den Hurk was deactivated by the SoftBank Hawks on Friday. The 35-year-old who opened his season with a dominating win over the Seibu Lions on June 25, is now 1-2 with 7.29 ERA in his sixth Japanese season.

Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo said van den Hurk was feeling tightness in his back according to the Nikkan Sports.

“We’re going to give it a little time,” Kudo said at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome prior to Friday’s game against the Orix Buffaloes. “We want to know a little bit more about his condition, so he’ll be staying with the team for a bit.”

Meanwhile, a day after a Hiroshima Carp bullpen game imploded, the Central League club called up reliever Tayler Scott. The first-year right-hander has allowed seven runs over three innings and is 0-2 in five games. He has since pitched in two farm games and retired all six batters he faced for the Carp’s Western League team.

Active roster moves 7/17/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/27

Central League

Activated

GiantsP45Nobutaka Imamura
TigersC12Seishiro Sakamoto
TigersOF60Masahiro Nakatani
CarpP70Tayler Scott
SwallowsP28Daiki Yoshida
SwallowsP64Ren Kazahari

Dectivated

GiantsP46Takuya Kuwahara
BayStarsP93Ko Nakagawa
TigersP20Kenichi Nakata
TigersIF00Hiroki Uemoto
TigersOF9Shun Takayama
SwallowsP20Kazuki Kondo

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP34Arata Shiino

Dectivated

HawksP44Rick van den Hurk

NPB 2020 7-15 games and news

Buffaloes pen turns pitchers’ duel into rout

Tsuyoshi Wada picked up his second win after he and unheralded Orix Buffaloes right-hander Yu Suzuki duked it out for six innings in a 1-0 pitchers’ duel in what became a 7-0 win for the SoftBank Hawks at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Wada (2-0) allowed a single and three walks, while striking out three and never allowed a leadoff runner to reach.

The 23-year-old Suzuki (1-2), who earned the victory his first career start, against the Seibu Lions on July 1, tried to be too careful in his second start last week in his loss to the Nippon Ham Fighters. This time, however, he went back to challenging hitters and making them hit his pitches.

“Obviously, he took a lot away from his last game and built on those lessons,” Buffaloes manager Norifumi Nishimura said.

The Hawks broke the scoreless deadlock in the fourth, when Kenta Imamiya doubled and scored on a Yuki Yanagita single, but it stayed a one-run game through six.

Lefty Nobuyoshi Yamada took the mound in the seventh, worked carefully to Yanagita and walked him. Wladimir Balentien followed with a smash up the middle that had “big inning” written all over it.

But the Buffaloes brought their “A” fielding game on Wednesday after being badly outplayed on defense the night before. Second baseman Koji Oshiro, got to Balentien’s grounder and flipped to shortstop Ryoichi Adachi to start a double play. Adachi, who had let a pop fly fall behind him in center in a mix-up with center fielder Yuma Mune on Tuesday, was on EVERYTHING in shallow left and center.

But Yamada then surrendered another smash up the middle, but Oshiro, shading the Akira Nakamura toward right, was in position to snag that one. Seiji Uebayashi followed by blasting his second home run in two nights.

Wakui earns 4th win with gem against Lions

Hideaki Wakui showed why he still has some value on Wednesday as he located his pitches to dominate his former club in the Rakuten Eagle’s 11-0 win over the Seibu Lions at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Wakui (4-0) walked four, but executed with precision whenever he found himself in a jam. With one out and one on in the first Wakui froze Shuta Tonosaki with a perfectly located changeup. He got out of the jam by attacking Tomoya Mori inside and getting him to foul out – with some help from third baseman Daichi Suzuki making a good catch at the edge of the seats.

The top three in the Eagles order, rookie Hiroto Kobukata, Suzuki and shortstop Eigoro Mogi combined to score five runs and drive in 10.

Lions starter Tatsuya Imai (1-2) stranded five batters through the first three innings, surviving three two-out walks in the third before the roof collapsed in the fourth. For the fourth straight inning, the right-hander retired the first two batters before six straight reached in the five-run rally. Suzuki broke the ice with a bases-loaded single and Mogi followed with a three-run homer.

Nakata lifts Fighters past Marines

Cleanup hitter Sho Nakata drove in three runs and cracked a 4-4, eighth-inning tie with a sacrifice fly for the Nippon Ham Fighters in a 6-4 win over the Lotte Marines at Sapporo Dome.

Nakata’s two-run RBI single opened the scoring after Haruki Nishikawa singled and Kensuke Kondo doubled with one out to set the table in the first against Marines starter Kazuya Ojima.

The Marines took the lead in the fifth when Leonys Martin homered for the second-straight game with perhaps the longest home run I’ve ever seen at this ballpark. His one-out three-run shot made it 4-2 Marines.

Former Padre Christian Villanueva led off the sixth with a home run and Nishikawa singled in the tying run after Takuya Nakashima singled and stole second.

Nakashima scored the go-ahead run in the eighth when Nakata flied to the wall in right. Nakashima reached to open the inning on a throwing error by third baseman Brandon Laird.

Fighters starter Nick Martinez allowed four runs on five hits and five walks over six innings.

Togo earns 3rd win as Giants pound Carp

 Twenty-year-old right-hander Shosei Togo (3-0) worked six scoreless innings and Zelous Wheeler hit his first home run for his new team as the Yomiuri Giants clobbered the Carp 12-1 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.

Togo allowed two hits and three walks while striking out four, while the Giants got to Carp lefty Kris Johnson (0-3) for five runs over five innings. Kazuma Okamoto broke the ice in the first by singling home rookie Takumi Kitamura, who opened the game with a single. Wheeler, who joined the Giants in a June trade from the Pacific League’s Rakuten Eagles, completed the damage against Johnson with a two-run homer in the fifth.

Wheeler singled in two more runs in the Giants’ five-run sixth, when Okamoto added a two-run shot.

Matsuba earns 1st win as Dragon

Takahiro Matsuba (1-0) allowed a run over 5-1/3 innings and Dayan Viciedo doubled in two to pace the Chunichi Dragons to a 2-1 win over the DeNA BayStars at Nagoya Dome.

The loss extends the BayStars’ record streak of winning and losing alternating games to 16 straight. The visitors’ only run came on Neftali Soto’s sixth home run of the year in the sixth.

Matsuba, who was making his season debut, earned his first win in a Chunichi uniform since being traded last summer from the Orix Buffaloes.

Haruhiro Hamaguchi (1-1) took the loss for the BayStars. He struck out nine but walked three and surrendered seven hits over 5-1/3 innings.

Swallows wear down Tigers

Alcides Escobar had four hits including a two-run home run as the Yakult Swallows beat the Hanshin Tigers 9-5 at Koshien Stadium.

Swallows starter Gabriel Ynoa allowed a run over five innings, but lefty 21-year-old Hiroki Hasegawa allowed all three runners he faced in the sixth to reach, and Scott McGough allowed the two runners he inherited to score.

Munetaka Murakami, who singled to open the scoring in the first off Onelki Garcia, broke a 4-4 tie in the seventh with another RBI single.

Garcia, who beat out a bunt single to open the Tigers’ fifth and appeared to cramp up in the process, returned in the sixth after a 30-minute rain delay, when he issued a two-out walk and surrendered Escobar’s home run. The lefty allowed four runs on two walks six hits over six innings.

Justin Bour went 3-for-5 with his fourth home run for the Tigers.

Mariners’ Hirano tests positive

Yoshihisa Hirano has tested positive for COVID-19, according to Kyodo News.

Seattle placed the right-hander on the injured list earlier in the day. Hirano signed a one-year deal with Seattle in January after going 9-8 with a 3.47 ERA over two seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Yoshihisa Hirano

The 36-year-old had been the Orix Buffaloes’ closer until he filed for free agency after the 2017 season and signed with the Diamondbacks, whose manager Torey Lovullo, played in Japan for the Yakult Swallows.

According to Kyodo, Hirano is the first Japanese major leaguer to test positive. In March three Hanshin Tigers players tested positive, while two Yomiuri Giants players tested positive in May.

Transactions

Rakuten Eagles traded LHP Yuhei Takanashi to Yomiuri Giants for RHP Hosei Takata*

NOTE: To facilitate management of 70-man rosters, until recently it was customary to assign a player acquired in a trade the same number as a player he was traded for. I don’t know when it last happened, but the Takanashi-Takata trade simplified that matter since both were No. 53 with their former clubs.

Active roster moves 7/15/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/25

Central League

Activated

CarpP30Ryuji Ichioka
CarpC40Yoshitaka Isomura
DragonsP38Takahiro Matsuba

Dectivated

CarpC31Yoshiyuki Ishihara
SwallowsP19Masanori Ishikawa

Pacific League

Activated

LionsIF52Haruka Yamada
HawksP21Tsuyoshi Wada
HawksIF00Hikaru Kawase
FightersP59Yuki Yoshida
FightersC22Shinya Tsuruoka
BuffaloesP66Ryo Yoshida

Dectivated

HawksP40Kazuki Sugiyama
HawksIF36Taisei Makihara
FightersP15Naoyuki Uwasawa
FightersC10Yushi Shimizu
BuffaloesP49Keisuke Sawada