Let’s be friends.
Giants 4, BayStars 2
At Yokohama Stadium, an entertaining game was made more so by a single out in a scoreless inning with no runners on base, when DeNA BayStars reliever Edwin Escobar finished the seventh inning by retiring a former teammate on the friendliest putout you’ll see today.
Yomiuri got a leg up in the starting-shortstop-out-injured-after-a-head-first-slide series, after both Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto and BayStars shortstop Toshihiko Kuramoto were sidelined over the weekend. Hiroaki Wakabayashi, who threw out a runner at the plate in the second inning, broke a 2-2 tie in the ninth of incumbent DeNA closer Kazuki Mishima, who surrendered another to Naoki Yoshikawa – who started for the Giants at short.
Takayuki Kajitani and Zelous Wheeler put the visitors up with no-out doubles in the first off Shinichi Onuki. Tyler Austin hit his sixth home run in 85 at-bats this season in the first, off Shosei Togo to tie it. Justin Smoak reached the seats in the fourth with his second home run, and Austin tied it in the fifth with an RBI single after a leadoff walk and a sacrifice, when Togo stranded two to prevent more runs.
Wheeler was praised as a No. 2 hitter by Dave Okubo and Hiroki Nomura because he was willing to go to the opposite field – as evidenced by his first-inning double off the right-field wall, and his intelligence: two of the attributes attached to ideal No. 2 hitters, smarts and a willingness to not just pull the ball (going for selfish home runs).
Togo walked five and allowed five hits, but just two runs over six innings, while Onuki struck out seven, walked two and gave up five hits.
The game appeared headed for a tie after Escobar’s zero in the seventh and former closer Yasuaki Yamasaki’s scoreless eighth before Mishima let it get away. Giants lefty Kota Nakagawa earned his first save.
Tigers 4, Dragons 4
At Koshien Stadium, Jefry Marte singled in a first-inning run off Shinnosuke Ogasawara, who allowed three runs over six. Marte drew a leadoff walk and scored in Hanshin’s two-run fourth, when Teruaki Sato doubled on a ball Mike Gerber misread at the right-field wall and scored and Mel Rojas Jr., KBO’s 2020 RBI leader, got his first in Japan with a groundout.
Dayan Viciedo singled to lead off Chunichi’s second and scored on Shuhei Takahashi’s first home run, a kind of awkward shot that somehow carried out at Koshien off Yuki Nishi. Takahashi walked and scored in the fourth on Takuya Kinoshita’s third home run off a Nishi mistake.
The Tigers came back to tie it in the seventh. Daisuke Sobue, who’d lost his setup job allowed a two-out infield single, and lefty Hiroto Fuku allowed the run to score on a walk and a Kento Itohara single. Robert Suarez stopped the Dragons in the ninth, and Raidel Martinez did it to the Tigers in the home half to seal the tie, with the help of a botched sacrifice, that cost Hanshin a runner in scoring position with no outs.
Buffaloes 9, Fighters 1
At Tokyo Dome, the Orix Buffaloes hammered their former ace, Chihiro Kaneko (0-2) for six runs over 3-1/3 innings, while 19-year-old rookie southpaw Hiroya Miyagi (4-0) struck out nine over eight innings while allowing a run on four hits and no walks.
Yutaro Sugimoto hit a massive two-run first-inning home run, his eighth, and enigmatic utility man Kenshi Sugiya hit a solo homer in the home half for Nippon Ham. A Masataka Yoshida double and a Sugimoto broken-bat sac fly pushed across two more runs and the Buffaloes never looked back.
Eagles 3, Lions 3
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, former Seibu ace Takayuki Kishi continued to struggle, the right-hander, without a win since April 6, allowed three runs over five innings, the same figures posted by new Lions import Matt Dermody in his second outing.
A Tomoya Mori two-run homer, his fifth, opened the scoring in the first, but Rakuten tied it on an assortment of bad pitches and good swings. Hiroaki Shimauchi doubled in two and added an RBI single in the third. Cory Spangenberg’s fourth-inning single tied it, but Alan Busenitz caught him looking to end the sixth with two on.
Seibu’s Ryosuke Moriwaki pitched out of a seventh-inning jam by retiring Hideto Asamura. An error and a walk opened the door for the Lions but Yuki Matsui struck out two batters to preserve the tie, and Reed Garrett ended the game with three straight swinging strikeouts. Lions setup man Kaima Taira, the PL’s 2020 rookie of the year, worked a 1-2-3 eighth on nine pitches for his 20th straight game without allowing a run.
Marines 4, Hawks 1
At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Lotte’s Brandon Laird hit his fourth and fifth home runs, Kota Futaki (2-2) allowed a run over six innings, Naoya Masuda saved his ninth game.
Shota Takeda (2-2) allowed four runs over seven innings on seven hits and a walk while striking out six. Hawks reliever Kazuki Sugimoto walked three in a scoreless eighth, and Carter Stewart Jr. improved on that in the ninth with two walks and two strikeouts in a scoreless ninth.
Wednesday will see a pair of import pitchers make their season debuts, as the Seibu Lions’ Zach Neal takes on Takahiro Norimoto and the Rakuten Eagles, while big Chunichi Dragons right-hander Yariel Rodriguez will try to improve on his impressive 2020 season.
Fighters vs Buffaloes: Tokyo Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Eagles vs Lions: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Hawks vs Marines: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Swallows vs Carp: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT
BayStars vs Giants: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Tigers vs Dragons: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 5/11/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/21