Tag Archive > Koji Akiyama

Game Notes: Nippon Series Games 1 & 2

» 14 November 2011 » In npb » 9 Comments

Lots of text today, so no intro here, just a few observations I’ve made about the Nippon Series so far. The ordering might be a little out of whack but so be it.

Game 1 — Chunichi wins 2-1 in ten innings:

  • Tsuyoshi Wada took a no-hitter into 7th, when he surrendered a home run to Kazuhiro Wada. Wada nibbled a bit and Chunichi had better at-bats the third time through the lineup, but he had his command and only gave up one hard hit ball aside from Kazuhiro’s home run.
  • Wei Yin Chen looked different than every other time I’ve seen him, including the two games I watched this year. The Chen that I’m used to throws a fastball in the 145-150 kmph range, a slider, a two-seam/shuuto with some late horizontal movement, and a forkball with inconsistent command, and works up and down the inside and outside parts of the zone. The Chen I saw on Saturday gave up a lot of fastball velocity, maxing out at 145 kmph but frequently working below 140 kmph, but with better command than usual. Yahoo’s data called Chen’s primary breaking pitch a slider, but it moved more like a changeup and worked extremely well.
  • Wada’s line: 8 IP, 29 BF, 119 pitches, 2 hits, 1 HR, 8 K, 2 BB, 1 R, 1 ER.
  • Chen’s line: 8 IP, 29 BF, 124 pitches, 4 hits, 0 HR, 11 K, 2 BB, 1 R, 1 ER.
  • Softbank’s lineup was disappointing. I thought they would start to recognize Chen’s good breaking stuff and wait for his average fastballs as the game progressed, but they actually got worse after their first time through the lineup. Hitoshi Tamura and Munenori Kawasaki were particularly bad in the later innings.
  • Yahoo Dome’s artificial turf looked like a pretty bad playing surface. Kawasaki took an error on a hard line drive that seemed to take an odd bounce, and then made a nice play on a softer hit up the middle that took an unpredictable bounce.
  • Chunichi won this game with home runs: the aforementioned Wada’s no-hitter breaker-upper, and Masaaki Koike’s winning shot in the 10th off an errant Takahiro Mahara forkball. Koike’s home run immediately followed some stats on the television broadcast about the lack of homers in NPB this season.
  • Mini-rant: Kawasaki led off the bottom of the first with a single, and what’s manager Koji Akiyama do? Immediately bunt him over, with a good on-base guy. I get that these are tight games, but why take the bat of your guy’s hands in the first?
Game 2 — Chunichi again wins 2-1 in ten innings:

  • Started by two of my favorite pitchers to watch: Toshiya Sugiuchi and Kazuki Yoshimi.
  • Sugiuchi didn’t quite have his best swing-and-miss stuff, like the last couple of times I’ve seen him. He had his pop-out stuff.
  • Sugiuchi’s one big mistake pitch was a positively fat 136 kmph fastball up in the zone in the 7th inning, which Ryosuke Hirata smacked off the left field fence for a double. Another meter or so and that ball would have been gone and the Dragons wouldn’t have needed Mahara to choke again.
  • Yoshimi wasn’t really at his best, but he generated a ton of groundballs and quieted each of Softbank’s threats until leaving with the bases loaded in the 7th. Takuya Asao mostly bailed him out, allowing only one run on a Kawasaki single, but the damage might have been worse if Softbank’s third base coach had sent Tamura instead of holding him at third. It looked like he had a chance to score.
  • Softbank again played a conservative game — lots of sacrifice bunting, holding Tamura.
  • Chunichi Motonobu Tanishige still has a good arm at age 40.
  • Hiromitsu Ochiai had the umpires check the tape on Seiichi Uchikawa’s bat in the third inning. Uchi changed bats, then lined to center on Yoshimi’s first pitch.
  • Softbank’s lineup isn’t executing. In game two they had runners in on base in each of the first five innings, including runners in scoring position in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, and failed to score each time.
  • Mahara wasn’t that bad in game 2. He lost, but his only really poor at-bat was when he walked Kazuhiro Ibata without really challenging him.
  • Highlights from 1999 Daiei-Chunichi Nippon Series — Akiyama was awesome as a player. Rodney Pedraza showed up in the highlights too.
  • For some reason I kept expecting to see Norihiro Nakamura emerge from Chunichi’s bench during game 2.
  • Another mini-rant: After Hiroki Kokubo lead off the 2nd with a double, Akiyama had Yuya Hasegawa, another good contact hitter, bunt him to third. Kokubo was stranded there after another listless strikeout by Tamura and ground out from Shuhei Fukuda. Akiyama bunted Kokubo over after his leadoff single in the 4th as well, with equivalent futility. Ironically the bunt attempt I agreed with was with Tamura in the 7th, but he couldn’t get it down and wound up singling with two strikes.
Overall, I’d say that Ochiai is out-managing Akiyama so far. The Dragons are clearly making better adjustments at the plate throughout the game, and though Akiyama can’t really be faulted for Mahara choking, Ochiai has created better matchups with his bullpen.

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Randy Johnson Wins 300

» 06 June 2009 » In nichibei » 2 Comments

Randy Johnson won his 300th game on Thursday, proving everyone who said we wouldn’t see another 300 winner after Tom Glavine wrong.

Lets look back at Johnson’s phenomenal career through his appearances in the old US-Japan Nichibei Series, which used to take place in November of even-numbered years.

1990

Johnson vs. Hiromitsu Ochiai

Johnson vs. Koji Akiyama

Johnson vs. Akinobu Okada

Interestingly, Ochiai and Akiyama are now managing NPB teams, and Okada ran Hanshin for five years. Note that Johnson is pretty wild here, and is inconsistent with his follow through. Still, none of the hitters look good against him.

Now let’s fast forward ten years, to 2000.

2000

Johnson vs Hideki Matsui

Johnson vs Tsuyoshi Shinjo

Johnson vs Norihiro Nakamura

Interestingly, all of these guys played in the majors in the years following this series. Johnson looks a lot more mature as a pitcher and a lot more fluid with his mechanics. He made Shinjo look like a fool in that at bat, though Shinjo was actually pretty good overall in the series.

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Offseason Changes: SoftBank Hawks

» 11 February 2009 » In npb » Comments Off

Coming: Justin Germano, Kameron Loe, Chris Aguila, Arihito Muramatsu, Brian Falkenborg, manager Koji Akiyama

Going: Jeremy Powell, Rick Guttormson, CJ Nitkowski, Jason Standridge,  Michael Restovich, Naoyuki Ohmura, manager Sadaharu Oh

Staying: DJ Houlton

Trending: neutral

Synopsis: SoftBank didn’t get much out of it’s foreign roster in 2008, hence the high turnover. The Hawks had reportedly been after Eric Hinske and Nelson Cruz, but so far haven’t landed either. Germano and Loe should be useful pieces, and a bit more MLB-caliber than the guys they replace. The Hawks did get the worse of the Muramatsu-Ohmura trade with Orix.

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Highlights & Web Gems

» 08 September 2008 » In npb » Comments Off

Well, it was an off-day in Japan today and I don’t have any essay type material ready, so here’s my version of NPB Web Gems.

  • An 18 year-old Daisuke Matsuzaka blows away Atsushi Kataoka with a 97 mph heater in his debut game.
  • The 2001 Kintetsu Buffaloes clinched the 2001 Pacific League title in dramatic fashion. Highly recommended viewing.
  • Tsuyoshi Shinyjo homers to send the game into extra innings, moves from the outfield to 2nd base , and then… watch the clip.
  • Masafumi Yamamori scales the outfield fence to save a home run… twice. The first play is in the Major League Hall of Fame.
  • Koji Akiyama used to back flip on to home plate after going deep for Seibu. Here’s one he did in the 1986 Japan Series. Impressive, yes, but definite beanball fodder if it happened in MLB.
  • Sherman Obando once took out a Seibu Dome camera with a home run.
  • The 7th inning stretch is a little different in Japan — rather than sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame, fans release balloons. The Hanshin Tigers fans put on the best show.

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