Tag Archives: Zach Neal

NPB wrap 7-4-21

Sunday’s news

Sugano out of Olympics

Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano has dropped out of Japan’s team for the Tokyo Olympics and will be replaced on the roster by Nippon Ham Fighters rookie HIromi Ito.

Giants sell catcher Sumitani to Eagles

The Giants on Sunday were forced to acknowledge they have sold veteran catcher Ginjiro Sumitani to the Rakuten Eagles, who may be looking for a veteran catcher to pair with Masahiro Tanaka.

The strangest thing about the sale was not that it was made but that the Eagles made the announcement during their game, which reports have called “highly irregular.”

The thing is that sports teams in Japan like to announce news when it suits their schedules, regardless of how much is public knowledge beyond their control. This often results in international player movements that are common knowledge days or weeks before Japanese teams “announce” the news.

Buffaloes 3, Lions 2

At MetLife Dome, there was a well-pitched duel between Zach Neal (1-3)and 19-year-old Hiroya Miyagi (9-1). For Neal, it was a case of no good deed going unpunished – or in this case good pitches. Neal’s most costly mistake was a high pitch that Masataka Yoshida knocked for a tie-breaking RBI single. Otherwise, it was a case of two bunt singles by Buffaloes leadoff man Shuhei Fukuda and Buffaloes hitters making enough good contact on tough pitches to hit them where Lions fielders weren’t.

Neal also got a big assist from his defense when second baseman Shuta Tonosaki and shortstop Sosuke Genda turned a slick first-inning double play that allowed the righty to avoid surrendering more than a run.

Miyagi made few mistakes, but two of them ended up in the seats: Takeya Nakamura’s seventh homer to tie it in the second and Tonosaki’s first, to tie it 2-2 in the third.

Yoshihisa Hirano took over in the ninth and recorded his 11th save.

Marines 8, Eagles 6

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, the top third of Lotte’s order, Takashi Ogino, Kyota Fujiwara and Shogo Nakamura, combined for nine hits, two walks, three doubles, a home run (Fujiwara’s first), six runs and five RBIs.

Rakuten starter Ryota Takinaka (5-4) got beaten up for six runs over 2-1/3 innings. Brandon Dixon tied it 2-2 in the second with his third home run for the Eagles, but the Marines’ Shuhei Fukuda broke a 4-4 tie in the third with a two-run double.

Hawks 5, Fighters 0

At Naha’s Okinawa Cellular Field, SoftBank’s Colin Rea (2-1) worked five innings and the Hawks pounded out 12 hits and drew five walks.

Subscribe to jballallen.com weekly newsletter

BayStars 3, Giants 2

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Toshiro Miyazaki’s two-run third-inning homer, his seventh, brought DeNA back from a 1-0 deficit against Yuki Takahashi (8-3), who had squeezed home the Giants’ first run. Shinichi Onuki (3-5) allowed one run over 5-2/3 innings despite giving up nine hits. He walked none and struck out five.

Takumi Oshiro hit his eighth home run in the ninth off closer Kazuki Mishima, who held on to record his 14th save.

The BayStars’ win was their first against the Giants this season.

Dragons 3, Swallows 3

At Nagoya‘s Vantelin Dome, Chunichi’s Dayan Viciedo’s 13th home run, a two-run shot off setup man Noboru Shimizu, tied it up for good.

Kozo Ota pointed out that when Yakult’s battery of41-year-old Masanori Ishikawa and 36-year-old Motohiro Shima pitched to 44-year-old Kosuke Fukudome, it probably represented the oldest possible battery vs batter trio in Japanese baseball this year. And since every oldest combination includes Fukudome, and interleague is now over, Kozo was right, since we can no longer hope to see 40-year-old Tsuyoshi Wada and 39-year-old Hiroaki Takaya take on Fukudome.

By virtue of their tie, the Swallows are now 3-1/2 games behind the first-place Tigers and two games back of the Giants.

Carp 4, Tigers 3

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Shogo Sakakura’s two-run two-out fifth-inning double capped a four-run Carp comeback against Hanshin. Jerry Sands’ two-run third-inning home run, his 14th, had made it 3-0 against Masato Morishita (5-4), who worked six innings to earn the win.

Active roster moves 7/4/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/14

Central League


GiantsP35Toshiki Sakurai
GiantsC38Yukinori Kishida


GiantsP90Natsuki Toda
GiantsC27Ginjiro Sumitani

Pacific League


MarinesP47Yasuhiro Tanaka
FightersP52Takahide Ikeda


LionsP34Yasuo Sano

NPB Wrap 6-13-21

Interleague Day 18: CL on brink of success

The regularly scheduled interleague games ended on Sunday, with the leagues splitting the six games, leaving the Central League with a 42-40 lead with 11 ties, while trailing in runs 461-431. There are three games remaining, all in Hiroshima, so this could go either way, although the PL will most likely lead in runs for the 15th time in 16 seasons.

On the final day — not counting the three make-ups — the Hanshin Tigers completed a three-game sweep of the Rakuten Eagles, while the Yakult Swallows, long the CL’s doormats, finished a three-game sweep of the four-time defending Japan Series champion SoftBank Hawks IN Fukuoka. Surprise, surprise, surprise.

Tigers 6, Eagles 5

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Hanshin’s Joe Gunkel returned to the mound for the first time in over a month and was lights out. He retired nine straight with ease, gave up two infield singles and a double in the fourth, and then retired nine straight for two runs over six innings.

The Tigers battled against Rakuten rookie lefty Takahisa Hayakawa, who, like his teammates couldn’t buy an easy third out. Takumu Nakano opened the scoring in the third. He singled with two outs, stole his CL-best 13th base, and scored on a Jefry Marte single. Ryutaro Umeno then triggered three run-scoring innings with two-out walks. Trailing 2-1 in the fifth, Koji Chikamoto hit his fifth homer to plate Umeno and put Hanshin in front.

Umeno walked and Chikamoto singled in the seventh and scored on a Nakano single.

The Eagles came behind on two runs against Kosuke Baba in the seventh, and Daichi Suzuki led off the eighth with his fourth homer against Shintaro Fujinami (3-1), who earned the win after Chikamoto tripled home Umeno off Yuki Matsui (0-2) in the ninth. Robert Suarez notched his Japan-best 21st save.

Swallows 6, Hawks 4

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, as one of the announcers said, “There are times when Tsuyoshi Wada (4-4) has it and times when he doesn’t.” This was one of those latter times. Tetsuto Yamada singled in a run in the first for Yakult, singled and scored on Munetaka Murakami’s Japan-best 20th home run in the third and hit his 17th home run, with a man on, in the fifth to chase Wada.

Yakult lefty Keiji Takahashi (1-0), who has gone from a windup worthy of the ministry of silly walks, to something approaching non-descript, gave up two runs in 6-1/3 innings. The Hawks’ first hit came on Wladimir Balentien’s 1,000th career hit and 300th home run against his former teammate. Balentien homered off new pitcher Taichi Ishiyama in the seventh to make it a 6-3 game.

And since it was officially “former Swallows hitting home runs off Yakult Day” in Fukuoka, Keizo Kawashima went deep for the second time this season in the eighth. Yuki Yanagita came up with a man on and one out in the eighth with a chance to tie it up, but hit into a double play.

Scott McGough worked the ninth for his 11th save.

Buffaloes 9, Carp 8

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Takahiro Okada singled in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as Orix blew a late four-run lead. With the game tied 8-8 after Kaito Kozono singled in his third run of the game in the ninth, Hiroshima rookie Ryoji Kuribayashi (0-1) walked the bases loaded before giving up Okada’s two-out single, allowing his first run in his 23rd career game.

Marines 5, Giants 4

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Lotte’s Brandon Laird went 2-for-2 with two sac flies and a solo homer, his 15th, while Leonys Martin bunted against the shift for a base hit, walked twice, scored twice and made an excellent catch on a sinking line drive in the ninth to secure the win and closer Naoya Masuda’s 17th save.

Katsuya Kakunaka doubled in the first of four runs against Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (2-4), who was yanked after 2-2/3 innings. The Giants scored four runs in the seventh, all charged to Kazuya Ojima (3-2). After allowing two hits and three walks through six scoreless innings, the lefty allowed two no-out singles, and with two outs, walked a batter, hit a batter to put the Giants on the board. Reliever Fumiya Ono allowed two of the three on base to score.

BayStars 4, Fighters 1

At Sapporo Dome, DeNA ace Shota Imanaga (1-1) earned his first win since having his left shoulder cleaned out last season, allowing a run on minor league home run leader Chusei Mannami’s first career homer at the top level.

Manami’s homer tied it 1-1 in the second, but RBI singles in the top of the third by Hikaru Ito and Neftali Soto put the visitors up for good against Drew VerHagen (1-5) who gave up four runs, three earned, in five innings.

Imanga allowed four hits, a walk and hit a batter while striking out six. Leadoff man Masayuki Kuwahara singled and scored three times. Edwin Escobar worked the eighth, setting a speed record for a lefty in Japan with a 163 kph fastball against his old team, while Kazuki Mishima saved his 11th game.

Lions 4, Dragons 3

At MetLife Dome, Seibu rookie Junichiro Kishi hit a first-inning home run and singled and scored a tie-breaking run in the eighth on a Wu Nien-ting single after the Chunichi Dragons overcame a three-run deficit to tie it in the seventh on Naomichi Donoue’s two-run double.

Zach Neal allowed a run over six innings for Seibu, while Chunichi’s Koji Fukutani (3-6) allowed three through seven but went out for the eighth and took the loss, allowing four runs over 7-2/3 innings, leaving two on for lefty Hiroto Fuku to face Wu.

Reed Garrett (1-2) worked the eighth to get the win, and Kaima Taira earned his sixth save, while setting a record by opening a season with 32 straight scoreless pitching appearances.

Starting pitchers


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

Kazuki Yabuta (-) vs Kaito Yoza (0-1, 4.26)

Active roster moves 6/13/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 6/23

Central League


TigersP49Joe Gunkel
SwallowsP47Keiji Takahashi


TigersOF97Dan Onodera
DragonsP70Ren Kondo

Pacific League


LionsP54Zach Neal
FightersP36Drew VerHagen


MarinesP15Manabu Mima
FightersP52Takahide Ikeda
BuffaloesP29Daiki Tajima