Martinez makes his mark in Dragons’ win
Ariel Martinez became the first import to start a game at catcher in one of NPB’s top leagues since June 1991 on Sunday and had three singles for the Chunichi Dragons in their 6-4 Central league win over the Yomiuri Giants.
The game highlights are HERE.
The 24-year-old Martinez, who was signed to a regular contract on July 1, had been with the Dragons since 2018 on a non-roster developmental deal, which allow up to three years of team control.
He was activated on Saturday, ostensibly because of left fielder Zoilo Almonte’s fitness issues. Martinez came off the bench at Tokyo Dome on Saturday, when he drew a walk and cut down a would-be base stealer.
Dayan Viciedo, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Cuba, homered twice, walked twice, singled and drove in four runs to power Chunichi’s offense, while 23-year-old right-hander Kodai Umetsu (2-1) allowed three runs over six innings to earn the win.
Umetsu scattered five hits and four walks while striking out seven, and went 2-for-3 with an RBI to raise his average to .500 for the season.
Giants starter Angel Sanchez (2-1) allowed three runs over two innings to take the loss.
Tigers’ Bour batters Carp
Justin Bour broke a 1-1 third-inning tie for the Hanshin Tigers with a grand slam in an 8-3 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Mazda Stadium.
Yusuke Oyama, who was starting at third and batting cleanup in place of Jefry Marte, who hurt a calf muscle on Saturday, hit a two-run homer in the fifth. Jerry Sands also went deep for the Tigers in the three-run inning.
Yuki Nishi (1-1), the Tigers’ Opening Day starter, allowed three runs over eight innings to earn the win. The right-hander struck out seven and walked one.
Taira, Soto lead BayStars rout of Swallows
Kentaro Taira struck out eight over seven scoreless innings to earn the win as the DeNA BayStars whipped the Yakult Swallows 8-1 at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
Neftali Soto, who has won the CL home run title in each of his previous seasons in Japan, homered for the third time in two games with a fifth-inning grand slam.
Taira (2-0) allowed three hits but no walks.
Nomura lifts Fighters past Hawks
The Nippon Ham Fighters took a hammer to journeyman starting pitcher Akira Niho in a 5-3 win over the SoftBank Hawks at Sapporo Dome, with Yuki James Nomura breaking a 3-3 fourth-inning tie with his second career home run.
Niho (0-2) walked the first two batters he faced before surrendering RBI singles to Kensuke Kondo and Sho Nakata in a three-run first after his teammates opened the game with an unearned run off rookie Ryusei Kawano.
The rookie southpaw three primarily fastballs and sliders and missed barrels, but proved unwilling to challenge any of the Hawks big hitters and that proved costly.
He walked Yuki Yanagita with two outs in the first, and a good swing by Wladimir Balentien on a fastball well off the outside corner — he saw a lot of those this past week — was launched to the wall in center. Center fielder Haruki Nishikawa went to get it but failed to catch it for an error that scored Yanagita.
The Hawks tied it in the third when rookie Ryuhei Kuki turned on a straight inside fastball for his first career home run. A Kenta Imamiya double off the left field wall that Kensuke Kondo gloved after it struck the wall, and another walk to Yanagita brought up Balentien.
The former Dutch international slammed a 2-1 fastball, off the outside edge of course, to right. Right fielder Taishi Ota tried to make a leaping grab but missed. The ball hit the wall and Ota kicked it before recovering.
Yanagita tried to score from first but was nailed 9-4-2 thanks to an accurate throw from second baseman Ryo Watanabe and a super tag by catcher Yushi Shimizu.
The Fighters took the lead in the fourth on Yuki James Nomura’s second career home run. Watanabe singled in Kondo with Nippon Ham’s final run in the fifth.
Kawano struck out four and allowed four hits, but stayed away from his curve and change. His command was inconsistent but his fastball and slider were good enough to work with.
Yamamoto hits 4 in win over Lions
Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto worked seven innings and got plenty of run support in an 8-5 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.
Yamamoto (2-0) allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits. He hit four batters, including a record-tying three in one inning, and struck out four. A week after his secondary pitches deserted him, Yamamoto’s curve was back and he used it to effect.
He became the first pitcher to hit four or more batters and last more than six innings since the Hawks’ Kenichi Wakatabe on April 15, 1999. Daisuke Matsuzaka also did it in the 2006 playoffs — on Oct. 7, 2006 in his final game for the Seibu Lions before he signed with the Boston Red Sox.
Masataka Yoshida and Adam Jones each had three hits for the Buffaloes, while Takahiro Okada homered and drove in three runs. Aderlin Rodriguez singled, doubled, drove in two runs and walked twice.
Brandon Dickson earned his second save by getting the second batter he faced in the ninth to hit into a game-ending double play.
Asamura leaves Marine debris in his wake
Hideto Asamura hit his fourth home run of the series and his seventh of the season, a three-run, fifth-inning shot that broke a 1-1 tie and lifted the Rakuten Eagles to an 8-1 win over the Lotte Marines.
Trailing 1-0 in the third against former Eagle Manabu Mima (1-1), who joined Lotte as a free agent over the winter, former Lotte captain Daichi Suzuki, who moved to Sendai as a free agent, singled with two outs and scored on a Jabari Blash double.
Eagles starter Ryota Ishibashi (1-2) only struck out one batter over six innings, but only walked two and didn’t give up a hit after the first. Takashi Ogino doubled to open the game and scored on an Ikuhiro Kiyota double.