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RECAP: Notes on Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB)

 Conor Liguori  |    May 7th, 2024 5:06pm EDT

Yoshitomo Tsutsugo Homers in Return to BayStars  

Yokohama DeNA BayStars first baseman Yoshitomo Tsutsugo hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning of Monday’s 6-5 win against the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. Monday was Tsutsugo’s first game back with the BayStars in five years, the team he played with in NPB from 2010-19.  

Tsutsugo’s three-run home run was off Swallows relief pitcher Joe Espada, and the BayStars scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth to take a 6-5 lead.  

NPB on Reddit on X reports that Tsutsugo is the 15th position player to return to NPB from Major League Baseball and the first player in NPB history to hit a home run in his first game back in the league. Tsutsugo played in MLB from 2020-22 with the Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Pittsburgh Pirates.  


Lions Takeya Nakamura 10th All-Time in NPB Home Runs 

Saitama Seibu Lions third baseman and designated hitter Takeya Nakamura hit the 476th home run of his 22-year NPB career on Tuesday in a 6-1 loss against the Chiba Lotte Marines.  

With the solo shot in the sixth inning, Nakamura tied Tomoaki Kanemoto for 10th all-time in NPB home runs. Kanemoto played 21 seasons in NPB with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp and the Hanshin Tigers from 1992-2012 and hit a career-high 40 home runs with the Tigers in 2005.  

Nakamura has spent his entire NPB career with the Lions, debuting as a rookie in 2003. He hit a career-high 48 home runs in 2009 and 2011.  


Top Pitching Performance: Hiroto Takahashi  

Chunichi Dragons starting pitcher Hiroto Takahashi was outstanding in Sunday’s 6-3 win over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.  

In 8.2 innings, the 21-year-old allowed no earned runs on just three hits and struck out 11. Takahashi threw 123 pitches in the game and managed 18 swings and misses, according to Yakyu Cosmopolitan on X.  

In two starts, Takahashi has not allowed an earned run in 15.2 innings and has struck out 16.  


This Day in Japanese Baseball History  

On May 7, 1999, two Japanese-born starting pitchers faced off for the first time in MLB history. New York Yankees right-handed pitcher Hideki Irabu opposed Seattle Mariners right-handed pitcher Mac Suzuki.   

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter went 3-for-5 with five RBI in the game, and Irabu allowed one earned run on four hits in a 10-1 win for New York.  


NPB Standings as of Tuesday, May 7  


Central League  

  1. Hanshin Tigers (16-12-4) 
  2. Yomiuri Giants (16-15-3) 
  3. Yokohama DeNA BayStars (15-15-1) 
  4. Chunichi Dragons (14-15-4) 
  5. Hiroshima Toyo Carp (12-13-4) 
  6. Tokyo Yakult Swallows (13-16-2) 


Pacific League  

  1. Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks (21-9-2) 
  2. Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (16-13-1) 
  3. Chiba Lotte Marines (16-15-1) 
  4. Orix Buffaloes (15-17-1) 
  5. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (13-17-1) 
  6. Saitama Seibu Lions (11-21-0)