Austin returns with bang
Tyler Austin, missing from the DeNA BayStars lineup since his unfortunate encounter with an outfield wall on July 31, hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat on Saturday to spark a 7-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Yokohama Stadium.
Austin saw two fastballs and hit a low 1-0 pitch from Takahiro Matsuba (2-4) out for his fifth home run in Japan.
“I have been out of games for a while so I was extremely excited I was able to contribute tonight,” said Austin, who proved to still lack the essentials of Japanese postgame hero interviews.
Most Japanese players asked to comment on their home run would deny that driving the ball was their goal: “I was just trying to keep the rally alive, not try to do too much.”
Manager Alex Ramirez said he batted Austin sixth on a last-minute decision.
“The original plan was not to use Austin, but to rest him, maybe give him one at-bat as a ‘dai-da’ (pinch-hitter), but we needed him so bad, and I realized we needed him in the lineup, which was already done, so I put him there batting sixth, and I said from tomorrow I’ll be using him maybe second, but that’s why he was ‘roku-ban’ (sixth) today.”
“It means a lot. He brings hope to the team. When he’s in the lineup, the whole lineup looks way different. I’m very happy that he’s in the lineup.”
Haruhiro Hamaguchi (4-4) allowed three runs, one earned, on four hits and four walks while striking out four. A quartet of relievers, Spencer Patton, Edwin Escobar, Kenta Ishida and Kazuki Mishima held the Dragons to one hit and walk the rest of the way.
Oyama, Akiyama lead Tigers past Carp
Young Hanshin Tigers cleanup hitter Yusuke Oyama hit a three-run first-inning home run, and right-hander Takumi Akiyama (5-1) made it stand up in a 3-1 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Koshien Stadium.
The 25-year-old Oyama blasted his 18th home run out to center off 23-year-old Carp right-hander Atsushi Endo (2-3). Endo hung on for 4-2/3 innings but the Carp couldn’t make a dent in Akiyama until the right-hander issued his only two walks to open the eighth. One run scored after reliever Joe Gunkel got a double play. Robert Suarez worked the ninth for his 15th save.
Akiyama was asked afterward how it felt when Oyama gave him the lead. Instead of saying how the home run changed everything and gushing about his teammate, he said he still had to do his job.
“Frankly, I’m happy to get the lead, but it doesn’t change what I have to do. I still have to concentrate on every hitter and execute every pitch,” he said, while admitting that prepare as he might he still found the on-field interview format daunting.
“What (reliever Suguru) Iwazaki said the other day was so cool, so I thought I should have something ready in case I was called to the podium. I’m afraid I’ve flubbed it though. So now my goal is to pitch really well so I get another chance and can do it right.”
Two-homer Okamoto sinks Swallows
The Yomiuri Giants’ Kazuma Okamoto joined Saturday’s three-run first-inning home run party with his 20th of the season and then finished off the Yakult Swallows with a seventh-inning solo shot in a 5-4 win at Tokyo Dome.
The Swallows tied it in the fifth on a pair of home runs, including a two-run shot from Norichika Aoki. His 13th homer tied it. After the Swallows took the lead in the sixth, Giants catcher Takumi Oshiro went deep to make it a 4-4 game and set the stage for Okamoto’s seventh-inning blast.
Takaya punches out Lions
Reserve catcher Hiroaki Takaya hit a three-run homer, what else, and drove in the SoftBank Hawks’ first four runs in an 8-4 win over the Seibu Lions.
In the game at Fukuoka’s Casa de Pepe — Does anybody else remember the Steve Martin routine about speaking French or am I just too freaking old? – Shota Takeda (2-0) came back from taking a line drive to the gut in his last start to deliver a gut punch to the Seibu Lions, holding them scoreless for four innings.
Meanwhile, the Hawks offense did what the Hawks offense does, which is put good swings on good pitches and then blow games up when pitchers – in this case – Sean Nolin (1-1) make mistakes. Two hits off good pitches, a Nobuhiro Matsuda double and a Takaya single, made it 1-0 in the second, before the Hawks just wore the lefty out in the third.
A leadoff walk and a missed two-strike fastball to Akira Nakamura put runners on the corners. A grounder to first didn’t produce an out. Ernesto Mejia, who has been putting on clinics in hitting and playing first base, opted for the out at the plate on a grounder to first but failed to get it.
A one-out walk loaded the bases, and some quality hitting from Yurisbel Gracial produced a shot that second baseman Shuta Tonosaki dived for but couldn’t gather in and two more runs scored.
With two on and two outs, Nolin got ahead of Takaya 0-2 with two slow pitches before missing a 1-2 slider in the heart of the zone that Takaya lined over the right-field fence for his second home run – the highlight is that he was able to turn the tables on Gracial, whom he assists in his home run celebration.
Any runners on base will wait at home plate for the home run hitter, and then follow him to the dugout to receive high fives and fist bumps from their team. But Takaya, who normally awaits Gracial at the end of the dugout and where he is “punched out” by Gracial after an exchange of play punches. But to return the favor, Gracial had to break the rules, run ahead of Takaya so that he could wait for the catcher to return and punch him out for a change.
Active roster moves 9/12/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/22
Starting pitchers for Sept. 13, 2020
Eagles vs Fighters: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Marines vs Buffaloes: Zozo Marine Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT
Hawks vs Lions: PayPay Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Giants vs Swallows: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
BayStars vs Dragons: Yokohama Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT
Tigers vs Carp: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT