Archive for the 'Japan' Category

Taipei and Japan Clinch Superround playoff spot

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

Not much to play for in Taiwan on the third day as both Asian teams won their second games, shutting out both Puerto Rico and Venezuela to clinch a Super round playoff spot in Tokyo.

Rei Takahashi pitched six innings of one hit ball to stymie the Puerto Rican bats in their 4-0 victory. Japan scored all their runs in the third, three of them on a Seiya Suzuki three run homer. Giovanni Soto gave up all four runs in his five innings of pitching, Japan scoring all the runs after the first two hitters were retired. Considering they have a lineup of professional hitters, the Japan offense has been pretty disappointing.

Chang Yi blanked the Venezuelan bats for 7 innings, limiting them to just four hits. No team scored until the seventh inning. Taipei put two runs across on back to back doubles from pinch hitter Yu-Hsien Chu and leadoff hitter Wei-Chen Wang. That made a winner of Yi, who only pitched one more inning.

Asia defeats Americas in the Taiwan Premier 12 Pool

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

The Asian countries reigned supreme with Japan beating Venezuela 8-4 and Taiwan downing Puerto Rico 6-1 in the opening round of the Taiwan pool.

Venezuela was ahead for much of their game, but Japan exploded for six runs in the eighth to turn a 4-2 Venezuela lead into an 8-6 deficit. Venezuela pitchers walked 12 hitters, with seven of those walks occurring in the eighth. Four of the first five hitters in the inning walked. Ryosuke Kikuchi tied the game with an RBI single. A fifth walk in the inning gave Japan the lead.

Felix Doubront got the start for Venezuela and pitched well, limiting Japan to just one hit in four innings. Finding the strike zone was also a problem for him with three walks, but he did not allow a runner to cross the plate. Japan started Shun Yamaguchi and he gave up one run in his four innings of work.

Venezuela put a scare to the Japanese professionals with a three run sixth that gave them a 4-2 lead. They out hit Japan 10-8 but the pitchers had trouble finding the plate, walking 12 to the two walks Japanese pitchers issued. Jeff Gosney from the United States was behind the plate.

Shao-Ching Chiang threw six innings of one run ball to lead Taiwan. He gave up just three hits. A bullpen of three Chens each worked one inning of shutout ball to close out the victory, none of the Chens allowing a hit or run to score.

Taiwan got all the runs they needed in the first inning on a two run homer from Lin Lee. Puerto Rico gave Taiwan most of their runs with sloppy fielding. They opened the game by booting the first ball turning Lin’s homerun into a two run shot rather than a solo blast. They also made an error in the fifth that allowed two more unearned runs to score. Two errors in the sixth brought in a fourth unearned run.

Japan Gold Glove Winners

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

The NPB announced their gold glove winners for the 2019 season. Only one foreign player was voted on the team. The Swallows and Buffaloes were the only two teams who lacked a player on the team. Nobuhiro Matsuda won his seventh straight gold glove and his eighth for his career. No third baseman has won eight gold glove awards. Jose Lopez was the only foreign player named to the gold glove team. Lopez set the NPB record for consecutive chances without an error (1,632). Below is the list of players.

Pacific League

Pitcher - Kodai Senga (Hawks)
Catcher - Takuya Kai (Hawks)
First Base - Seiichi Uchikawa (Hawks)
Second Base - Hideto Asamora (Eagles)
Third Base - Nobuhiro Matsuda (Hawks)
Shortstop - Sosuke Genda (Lions)
Outfield - Shogo Akiyama (Lions), Haruki Nishikawa (Fighters), Takashi Ogino (Marines)

Central League

Pitcher - Yuki Nishi (Tigers)
Catcher - Ryutera Umeno (Tigers)
First Base - Jose Lppez (Bay Stars)
Second Base - Ryosuke Kikuchi (Carp)
Third Base - Shohei Takahashi (Dragons)
Shortstop - Hayato Sakamoto (Giants)
Outfield - Yoshihiro Maru (Giants), Seiya Suzuki (Carp), Yohei Oshina (Dragons)

Hawks Sweep Giants to Take Japan Series

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

The Yomiuri Giants did not give the Softbank Hawks much of a battle, losing all four games in the Japan Series. For the Hawks it is their third straight championship, two coming in as the wild card participant, a very difficult task considering they have to play all their conference playoff games as the visiting team and come into the series down 1-0. The Japan Series is different when both teams are treated equally.

In the opener the Hawks tossed one of the best pitchers in baseball, Kodai Senga. He pitched seven innings, allowing just one run, a solo homerun by Shinnosuke Abe. The Hawks took the lead in the bottom half of the second on a two run homer by Yurisbel Gracial and never looked back. A four run seventh put the game out of reach and gave confidence to the Hawks that they could go to the bullpen. The Hawks win 7-2.

Game two was a pitcher’s duel between Cristopher Mercedes and Rei Takahashi. Mercedes had to depart the game after the sixth because of injury and the Hawk hitters mashed the Giant bullpen for three homeruns. Nobuhiro Matsuda had the big hit with a three run homer in the seventh to give the Hawks a 3-0 lead. In the eighth Yuki Yanagita hit a solo shot and Shuhei Fukuda hit a two run bomb to give the Hawks a 6-0 lead. The Giants rallied for three runs in the ninth but fell short 6-3.

In game three the Hawks survived two solo shots from Yoshyuki Kamei in the first and third but still pulled out the 6-2 victory. Gracial hit his second homerun of the Japan series, a solo blast in the second and Alfredo Despaigne drove in three runs to give the Cuban connection four of the six runs driven in for the Hawks.

Gracial hit his third homerun of the series in the fourth inning, a three run shot. That was enough to give the Hawks a 4-3 win and a sweep in the Japan Series.

All Asian Team

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

Taiwan recently won the Asian championship, defeating Japan 5-4. Below is the all tournament team.

Catcher - Leung Ho Nam (Hong Kong)
First Base - Juan Diego Lozano (Philippines)
Second Base - Jennald Pareja (Philippines)
Third Base - Chen Wei Chih (Taiwan)
Shortstop - Liao Chun Kai (Taiwan)
Outfielder - Hwang Seong Bin (Korea)
Outfielder - Du Nan (China)
Outfielder - Tsai Chih-Yu (Taiwan)
Designated Hitter - Tatsuhiko Satoh (Japan)
Pitcher - Yasuaki Ojima (Japan)
MVP - Liu Chih-Jung (Taiwan)

Taiwan Upsets Japan in Asia Baseball Championship

Monday, October 21st, 2019

Taiwan upset Japan 5-4 in the Asian Baseball Championship. The win qualifies them for the last Olympic qualifier that will be played in April 2020 in Taiwan. China won the third place game 8-6 against Korea to become the second team eligible for the qualifier. Netherlands will also be in that qualifier as well as the second and third place teams in the Americas qualifier that will be played in March 2020. Japan has already qualified because they are hosting the Olympics.

The big hits for Taiwan were a bases loaded triple by Chin-te Chang and a two run double by Chien-ming Chiang. It was the first win for Taiwan in the Asian championship since 2001. Japan had won six of the past seven Asian championships, Korea interrupting their run when they won it in 2014. Taiwan had a streak of finishing second the last four championships.

The loss by Korea means their only opportunity to qualify for the Olympics next year is to finish in the top two at the Premier 12 to be held in a couple weeks, with the finals held in Japan.

Yomiuri and Softbank to Face Each Other in Japan Series

Monday, October 14th, 2019

They are the equivalent of the Dodgers and Yankees. Historically, the best franchise in the Central Division will face the best franchise in the Pacific Division. The Giants took the easy route, winning their division and having to win just three home matches to clinch the Central. The Hawks took the road less travelled, surviving as a wild card and needing to win four against Seibu with all of their games on the road to win the Pacific.

The Giants were up 1-0 before the six game series started. Ties are still applicable and count as half a win. The Giants easily disposed of their arch rival Hanshin Tigers in the first two games, 5-2 and 6-0. Yoshihiro Maru and Kazuma Okamoto got the scoring started in the first inning of the first game with back to back homers. A three run second made it 5-0. Yun Hamaguchi went one out into the eighth inning limiting the Tigers to one run to earn the victory. The second game was all Christopher Mercedes, who shut out the Tigers for seven innings to get the win. Cuban Alex Guerrero went deep for the Giants with a two run homer in the fourth inning to give Mercedes all the runs he needed.

The Tigers were able to pull out game three 7-6 to run the series to three games to one in favor of the Giants. A solo homerun from Yusuke Oyama in the top of the ninth broke a 6-6 tie. Kyuji Fujikawa shutout the Giants in his second inning of work to pick up the win, retiring all six Giants he faced.

A typhoon postponed the game on Saturday and they played it on Sunday. Yuki Takahashi worked five innings and limited the Tigers to just one run. He was supported on offense by Okamato, who hit his third homeruns of the series, a solo shot in the fifth to tie the game at 1-1 and a two run homerun from Guerrero in the seventh to give the Giants the Division win. Four different bullpen pitchers retired all 12 hitters they faced with Kan Otake getting the win with his inning of work and Rubby de la Rosa notching up the save with his perfect inning.

In Seibu the home team did not fare as well. Despite being up 1-0 before the series even started, the Hawks swept them. The Lions pitching staff could not tame the Hawks offense. The Hawks won the opener 8-4 to even the series, scoring six runs in the last three innings to overcome a 4-2 deficit. Yurisbel Gracial hit a solo shot in the seventh to pull the Hawks to within one and Nobuhiro Matsuda drove in four runs to fuel the Hawk offense.

The Hawks got a two run homer from Akira Nakamura and a solo shot from Gracial to win game two 8-6. Nakamura hit 48 homeruns during the year for the Hawks, leading all players in homeruns. The Hawks relied on Mori to get the final four outs to earn the save.

The top pitcher in Japan, and perhaps one of the top five pitchers in baseball Kodai Senga shutdown the Lions on two hits during his eight innings of work, leading the Hawks to the 7-0 win. Leadoff hitter Taisei Makihara collected three hits and four RBIs, including a two run homer in the fourth to provide most of the offense.

The typhoon postponed the Saturday game to Sunday. The bat of Kenta Imamiya was more destructive on the Lions than the typhoon as his five hits, three of them homeruns, drove in six runs to lead the Hawks to a 9-3 slaughter. Gracial also hit his third solo shot of the series to contribute to the offense.

Now, it’s the Hawks versus the Giants for the Japan Series.

Hanshin and Softbank Advance in NBP Playoffs

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

The Hanshin Tigers defeated the Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars 2-1 to win the Central League climax series two games to one. The veteran Kyuji Fujikawa pitched the final two innings to seal the victory for the Tigers to bring on their rivals the Yomiuri Giants for the Central Division championship. The series between these two franchises is equivalent to the Yankees/Red Sox rivalries. The Giants will start the six game series with a 1-0 advantage, with all six games played at their park, a daunting task for the Tigers to advance to the Japan Series.

The Tigers scored their first run on a wild pitch and the Bay Stars bounced back scoring a run courtesy of a Tiger error. A hit batsman and another wild pitch in the eighth inning allowed a runner to move to third where Ryutaro Umeno drove him in with a sacrifice fly to score the go ahead run. Fujikawa came in to successfully protect the one run lead for two innings. Many may remember this name. Fujikawa pitched three rather unsuccessful seasons in the major leagues where he left after 29 appearances and a 5.74 ERA with the Cubs and Rangers.

The losing Bay Stars have already announced the posting of their star player Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. He will be a popular target among major league teams looking for a power hitting left fielder. Tsutsugo hit two homeruns in the first two games of this playoff series but went 0 for 4 in the deciding third game.

The Softbank Hawks also advanced after beating the Rakuten Golden Eagles 2-1 to win their three game series two games to one. Seiichi Uchikawa drove in both runs for the Hawks, his last hit being the most critical with a solo homerun in the seventh giving the Hawks a 2-1 lead. Cuban Livan Moinelo shutdown the Eagles in the eighth and Yuito Mori closed out the ninth inning to earn the save.

Two more Cubans assisted in the Hawks victory. Alfredo Despaigne and Yurisbel Gracial ended the no hitter from Takayuki Kishi with back to back singles in the fourth inning. Uchikawa ended the shutout by making it back to back to back singles, scoring Despaigne with the first run and tying the game 1-1.

The Eagles scored their lone run in the fourth inning on a Hideto Asamura solo shot. It was his fourth homerun in the three game playoff series. He hit 33 homeruns during the regular season. He also accounted for seven of the ten Eagles RBIs.

The Hawks will have to face the Seibu Lions in the final of the Pacific League. They will start the six game series down 1-0 with all six games held at the Seibu Lions park.

Yoshitomo Tsutsugo to be Posted by Bay Stars

Monday, October 7th, 2019

The Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars have announced they will post outfielder Yoshitomo Tsutsugo to give him an opportunity to play major league baseball. For his ten year career Yoshitomo has hit .285 with 205 homeruns. His best season was in 2016 when he hit .322 with 44 homeruns and 110 RBIs. All of those numbers have been career highs.

Defense is not a big part of his game, nor are stolen bases. For his career he has stolen just 5 bases and been caught 4 times. That is an average of one stolen base attempt per season. The last two years he has not attempted to steal a base. Last year he seemed prone to the strike out, whiffing a career high 141 times, which resulted in a .272 batting average. Myworld would compare him as a lessor version of Juan Soto, but he needs to work on getting back to making more solid contact.

He will be a solid leftfielder/designated hitter for any team that puts in a bid.

Japanese Roster - Premier 12

Friday, October 4th, 2019

One of the biggest international tournaments is happening in November. The 12 best countries will be competing for two qualifying spots in the Olympics to be played in Tokyo next year. Two countries have already qualified. Japan, which is hosting the Olympics and Israel, which won the European/Africa qualifier, upsetting Netherlands and Italy, which usually represent Europe in international competition are the only two countries with Olympic spots.

The 12 teams will be playing pool play in three countries, Mexico, Korea and Taiwan. The top two teams from each pool will then travel to Tokyo to play in a Super Round pool play in Tokyo. The top two countries from that tournament will qualify for the Olympics.

The Japanese roster is filled with NPB players. If these players were put together to compete against major league teams they would be a playoff contender. One of the best pitchers in baseball, Kodai Senga is on the roster. His fastball hits triple digits. They have a shortstop in Hayato Sakamoto, who hit 40 homeruns in the NPB last year. One of the reasons these players have not been posted to the major leagues is the teams they play for, the Softbank Hawks and Yomiuri Giants do not post players. They have to wait for free agency, which means they have to wait until after they have been playing for eight years.

Missing from the roster are major league players, and at least three NPB All Stars. Tsutsugo Yoshitomo a power hitting second baseman/outfielder who has expressed his interest in playing major league baseball is absent from the roster, as are his 29 homeruns and the 44 dingers he hit in 2016. Also not on the roster is 30/30 (homers/stolen bases) player Yuki Yanagita, who has been struggling with injuries these past two years. In 2019 he was limited to 38 games. On the pitching front Takahiro Norimoto is not on the roster. He was out most of this year because of injuries, limited to just 12 starts. From 2014 to 2017 Takahiro had 200 plus strikeouts.

Interesting that no player from the Hanshin Tigers or the Lotte Marines made the roster. The Yomiuri Giants and the Softbank Hawks had the most players on the team with five each.

Pitchers

Takayuki Kishi (Rakuten Eagles), Taisuke Yamaoka (Orix Buffaloes), Yuki Matsui (Rakuten Eagles), Shun Yamaguchi (Yomiuri Tokyo Giants), Yasuaki Yamazaki (Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars), Shota Imanga (Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars), Yudai Ono (Chunichi Dragons), Kodai Senga (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks), Rei Takahashi (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks), Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix Buffaloes), Kohei Morihara (Rakuten Eagles), Yuta Nakagawa (Yomiuri Tokyo Giants), Kazuto Taguchi (Yomiuri Tokyo Giants)

Catchers

Seiji Kobayashi (Yomiuri Tokyo Giants), Tsubasa Aizawa (Hiroshima Toyo Carp), Takuya Kai (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks)

Infielders

Tetsuto Yamada (Tokyo Yakult Swallows), Sosuke Genda (Seibu Lions), Eitoto Asamura (Rakuten Golden Eagles), Ryosuke Kikuchi (Hiroshima Toyo Carp), Shuta Tonosaki (Seibu Lions), Hayato Sakamoto (Yomiuri Tokyo Giants), Nobuhiro Matsuda (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks)

Outfielders

Kensuke Kondo (Nippon Ham Fighters), Ukyo Shuto (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks), Masataka Yoshida (Orix Buffaloes), Seiya Suzuki (Hiroshima Toyo Carp), Shogo Akiyama (Seibu Lions)