The man by whose name an entire generation of Japanese players is known has announced his retirement. Daisuke Matsuzaka, former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox among other MLB teams, will not play beyond this year. He has not, in fact, played on the top squad of any team since 2019, when he was with the Chunichi Dragons. Now once again a member of the Saitama Seibu Lions, Dice-K has spent the entire season on the farm. He announced on Tuesday his intention to end his career at season’s end. Across NPB and MLB, Matsuzaka has thrown over 2200 innings and won 170 games while accruing 2130 strikeouts and a career ERA of 3.04 (NPB) and 4.45 (MLB).
Tuesday: SoftBank Hawks pitcher Kodai Senga made his return to the mound after a lengthy stint on the IL but gave up a career-worst 10 runs to the Chiba Lotte Marines in just 2 2/3 innings. His place on the Olympic Team looks less cozy than it did a week ago when he was named to the team as a replacement. The Hawks ultimately lost to the Marines, 11-3.
Also, Kaima Taira’s scoreless streak came to an end as the Fighters walked off their game in Asahikawa, 4-3, with a two-out double off the center-field wall.
Wednesday: The Rakuten Golden Eagles had their backs right up against the wall. Two outs, top of the ninth, down four runs. A couple of singles gave them some life, and then a couple of home runs (Hiroaki Shimauchi and Takero Okajima) gave them the unlikeliest of wins against the first-place Orix Buffaloes, 6-5. This was actually the second straight night they put up a five-spot in the top of the ninth.
Thursday: Speaking of first-place teams and 6-5 wins, the Hanshin Tigers pulled one off against the Yakult Swallows as captain Yusuke Ohyama hit the decisive three-run home run in the top of the eighth inning at a rainy Meiji Jingu Stadium.
Friday: Not to be outdone, the Swallows found themselves down a run heading into the home half of the ninth against the Hiroshima Carp. Having used their closer the two previous days, the Carp went with a different reliever, but the move did not pan out as the fish got fried. Walk, single, single, bunt, intentional walk, walk-off! Swallows win, 4-3.
Saturday: The Carp must have really not enjoyed that loss because they came out ablaze, scattering 11 hits and scoring five runs, while limiting the Swallows bats to just two singles and four base runners overall. The Carp comfortably took this one, 5-0.
Sunday: The Yomiuri Giants’ pitchers, Yuki Takahashi, Ryusei Ohe and Thyago Vieira combined to limit the Tigers to just one single, and they pushed the only run they needed across home in the top of the eighth inning to pull within 1.5 games of the Tigers in a thrilling 1-0 game at Koshien Stadium.
Good week: Fighters (3-0-1), Dragons (4-1-1), Marines (3-1-1)
Bad week: Lions (1-3), Buffaloes (1-4-1), Baystars (1-3-2)