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PL News and Notes: Akinobu Okada (ORI) unhappy with balk call on Motoki Higa

by on Aug.14, 2011 @ 1:19 pm, under NPB

Softbank Hawks

Toshiya Sugiuchi recorded his 17th career shutout last night and moved into a third place tie with Yu Darvish (HAM) on the All-time list for active players.  The first two spots are currently held by Masahiro Yamamoto (CHU) with 30 and Daisuke Miura (YOK) with 20.

Nippon Ham Fighters

Yuki Saito threw about 30 pitches in the bullpen yesterday at Sapporo Dome in preparation for his start against the Softbank Hawks today.

Orix Buffaloes

Akinobu Okada wasn't happy with a balk call during last night's game against the Seibu Lions.

With a runner on first and 1 out, Motoki Higa threw over to first and at first appeared to get Shogo Akiyama out at first (the first base ump made the out call), only the plate umpire called a balk, erasing the pick-off and moving Akiyama over to second.

Daily Sports quote of Okada: "That's skill.  [Higa] has the best pick-off [amongst all pitchers in the NPB].  He was never called for a balk at Ni-gun.  And to call that a balk now...  You can't [hurt pitchers by] taking away the thing that helps them earn their money."

Nikkan Sports quote of Okada: "That's a bad umpire.  So he saw Higa's pick-off for the first time...  We drafted him because he had the best pick-off out of all pitchers.  He's never been called for a balk at Ni-gun.  Pick-offs are skills.  He's earning a lot of money.  You can take away a players ability like that."

The home plate umps comment, via Sports Hochi: "It's a balk if you don't step toward the bases before throwing.  You can see it from first base, that's why I made the call.  [Okada] says he was never called for a balk up to now, but this is the first time I've seen him pitch.  I hears he's also been called for a balk at [Ni-gun] as well.  There's nothing questionable [about the call].  It isn't a skill if you aren't following the rules."

And Higa's comment (via the same Sports Hochi article): "I think I'm treading a very fine line.  I've never been called for a balk at Ni-gun, but I need to work on this some more."

And a replay offered at Youtube.

Rakuten Eagles

Daisuke Kusano recorded his 500th (and 501st) career hit last night.

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Masahiro Tanaka became just the 4th pitcher in NPB history (drafted out of high school) to record the league minimum for innings pitched 5 years in a row, beginning with his rookie season.  The other three: Keishi Suzuki (15 years = 1966-80), Tsuneo Horiuchi (13 years = 1966-1978), and Yutaka Enatsu (10 years = 1967-1976)