NPB March 29 as it happened

After 179 innings to start the season, the Pacific League had its first home runs on Tuesday, when Daichi Suzuki of the Lotte Marines muscled up to put two over the fence in Chiba in a 12-2 butt-kicking of Rakuten, that was uglier than the score looked. Once the Eagles were behind they played and pitched badly.

In Fukuoka, Seibu Lions ace Takayuki Kishi got his season started with seven scoreless innings against the SoftBank Hawks. Kishi, who was pushed back from the home opening series against Orix so he could pitch against the two-time defending Japan Series champs, improved his ERA at Fukuoka Dome to 2.16.

Last autumn, former teammate Dennis Sarfate said Seibu keeps its home mound soft and sandy for submarine right-hander Kazuhisa Makita, and Kishi’s ERA there is higher than at any main park in the PL. I’d show you a table of Kishi’s career, but my table-making plug in isn’t cooperating tonight. Anyway, he’s 35-22 with a 2.61 ERA at the other main PL parks, and only slightly better at home (44-27, 3.72 ERA).

The game saw former Chicago Cub lefty Tsuyoshi Wada pitching in Fukuoka Dome for the first time since 2011. Watching Lions batters swat his pitches this way and that, you could almost here him saying under his breath, “what’s wrong with these guys? How do you expect me to get anybody out when they don’t try to hit everything out of the park?”

In Sapporo, ace pitcher Shohei Otani was in the batting order as designated hitter for the first time in the young season. His sac fly made it 2-0 in the Fighters’ home opener. Leading 5-0, he cleared the fence in left center for a three-run homer and finished his night with an RBI single. Five RBIs were his career high. The game ended in a 13-3 blood letting of the Orix Buffaloes, who fell to 1-3.




In the Central League, the Yomiuri Giants rolled to their fourth straight win under new manager Yoshinobu Takahashi and putting a damper on former teammate Alex Ramirez’s home opener as new manager of the Yokohama DeNA BayStars.

There were highlights for the BayStars, however, as their top draft pick, lefty Shota Imanaga struck out nine batters in seven innings, but missed with some fat pitches and surrendered three home runs in the 6-2 loss. The BayStars showed some fight in the ninth, when closer Hirokazu Sawamura was forced to come in and get the final out.

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, the league champion Yakult Swallows also showed some fight in the ninth inning, when rookie Tigers manager Tomoaki Kanemoto left his young right-hander Shintaro Fujinami in the game to throw 149 pitches in 8-2/3 innings and also had to call on his closer, Marcos Mateo — who survived some iffy control to shut the door on a 6-2 win. The Swallows have now lost four straight games to start the season for the first time in nine years.

At Nagoya Dome, the Hiroshima Carp blew a two-run lead, when the Chunichi Dragons scored four times in the sixth against loser Yusuke Nomura (0-1), and Brazil international Oscar Nakaoshi. Cuban Dayan Viciedo helped spark the winning rally with a one-out double and scored the tying run.

21-year-old Dragons right-hander Shunta Wakamatsu (1-0) got some mileage out of his trademark changeup to strike out 10 batters in six innings.




Author: jballa5_wp

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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