We have a whole lot of great baseball to catch you up on, but first we need to address the virus in the room that just won’t go away. It was reported on Wednesday that Yakult Swallows catcher Akihisa Nishida tested positive for Covid-19. Several of his teammates (including Tetsuto Yamada, Norichika Aoki, Albert Suarez and Seiichi Uchikawa) were potentially in close contact with him, and were also de-activated temporarily. Then on Sunday, it was reported that several Yomiuri Giants players (Yoshihiro Maru, Hiroyuki Nakajima, Zelous Wheeler, Akihiro Wakabayashi) also tested positive. None of these players displayed any symptoms, but will be required to isolate themselves for two weeks. Maru and Wheeler have been admitted to hospital.
Now… if you have not seen what Shohei Ohtani did today, check this video of his video-game-defying performance and then read on for the NPB report.
Tuesday, March 30
The Hiroshima Carp rode a fine pitching performance by last season’s Rookie of the Year, Masato Morishita, to a 1-0 shutout victory over the Hanshin Tigers.
Takayuki Kishi threw the first (and so far, only) complete-game shutout of the season as his Rakuten Eagles blanked the Chiba Lotte Marines, 5-0.
Wednesday, March 31
Both the Central League defending champion Yomiuri Giants and the four-time defending Japan Series champion SoftBank Hawks went undefeated until this day. The Chunichi Dragons hung the Giants with a 5-3 loss, while the Orix Buffaloes handed the Hawks an L, and those Hawks have kept that streak going all week.
Thursday, April 1
No foolin’, it took the Chiba Lotte Marines until today to get their first win of the season, and they did it in convincing fashion, drubbing the Eagles 16-5.
The Yokohama DeNA Baystars looked to be in a prime position to also pick up their first W on the year, but blew an 11-6 lead late against the Swallows and settled for a tie.
Friday, April 2
The Marines were not happy to get just one 16-run win, so they repeated the feat against the Fighters, beating them 16-4. It was the first time in franchise history that they scored that many runs in back-to-back games.
The Carp blanked the Baystars 4-0 to take over first place in the Central, and they were aided by the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, who threw a shutout against the Yomiuri Giants (2-0).
Saturday, April 3
Down to their final out and down a run against the Swallows, Giants’ pinch-hitter Akihiro Wakabayashi (see above) hit a game-tying double. That is how the game ended.
Also down to their final out and with the game knotted at 0-0, Hanshin Tigers’ pinch-hitter Yasuhiro Yamamoto hit a walk-off double against the Chunichi Dragons.
Sunday, April 4
Buffaloes’ rookie southpaw Hiroya Miyagi outdueled Eagles’ rookie southpaw Takahisa Hayakawa as Orix blanked Rakuten 4-0.
The Seibu Lions completed a three-game sweep of the Hawks in Fukuoka for the first time in 17 years. They did so in convincing fashion, winning 6-2, 7-4 and 4-2.
Lastly, the Baystars became the last team to earn a win in 2021, putting rookie manager Daisuke Miura in the win column with a 3-1 win over the Carp.
Good week: Lions (4-0-1), Swallows (3-1-2), Carp (4-2), Eagles (4-2)
Bad week: Baystars (1-4-1), Fighters (0-3-2), Hawks (1-5)