NPB games, news of Aug. 24, 2019

Oh, happy day! The first magic number of the season has arrived and it’s a 20 for the Yomiuri Giants. If they lose a bunch of games, it could disappear, though as I wrote about this past week.

In the eighth inning of the Giants’ game against the second-place BayStars, the announcer filled some air time by announcing that this was a crucial game to win because the Giants’ magic number would not light up unless they won. After their “crucial” win, the Giants have 28 games left to play and a 6-1/2 game lead. Sounds make or break to me, Bill.

The good thing about them having a magic number is that now we no longer have to see daily stories about teams being fired up about preventing them from getting one.

Central League

Giants 8, BayStars 6, 11 innings

At Tokyo Dome, it was the worst of times for Yomiuri’s bullpen, it was the worst of times for DeNA’s bullpen. The BayStars overturned a three-run deficit in the eighth when Kota Nakagawa only threw his fastball in the strike zone and gave up four runs.

With the BayStars leading by a run in the ninth, closer Yasuaki Yamasaki struggled to throw strikes until he walked two and hung an 0-2 splitter to Hayato Sakamoto, who bounced it into left for a game-tying single.

Edwin Escobar (3-4) worked a scoreless 10th but surrendered a two-run pinch-hit sayonara homer to Shingo Ishikawa in the 11th.

Yoshihiro Maru homered twice for the Giants and made a big catch in center, while Alex Guerrero blasted a fat fastball from lefty Kenta Ishida for a two-run shot that put Yomiuri ahead in the fourth. When he homered, Guerrero pointed at the Giants bench as if he’d just won his bet that Ishida would too throw him a fastball and he’d put in the seats.

Game highlights are HERE.

Carp 5, Dragons 4, 10 innings

At Nagoya Dome, back as Hiroshima closer, Shota Nakazaki (3-3) surrendered three runs in the ninth by throwing too many fat pitches in the heart of the zone. The right-hander got the win, however, when Chunichi’s current closer, Toshiya Okada (2-2) snapped his string of scoreless saves at three when Seiya Suzuki doubled and scored in the 10th on a Tsubasa Aizawa single.

Carp rookie Atsushi Endo changed speeds with a good fastball to earn his first career save.

“I’d like to use him in games we’re winning,” Carp manager Koichi Ogata said. “The only question is now whether he can be effective on consecutive days.”

New Carp Academy graduate Juan Santana, starting at second in place of Ryosuke Kikuchi, made a costly error but smashed a two-run single.

Tigers 7, Swallows 4

At Jingu Stadium, Yakult rookie Kengo Tagawa (0-1) allowed six runs in 3-1/3 innings including two on a first-inning home run by Kosuke Fukudome, allowing Yuki Nishi (6-8) to pick up the win despite allowing four runs over five innings.

Thirty-nine-year-old Kyuji Fujikawa struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth to record his ninth save.

Pacific League

Marines 9, Hawks 5

At Zozo Marine Stadium, SoftBank starter Ariel Miranda (6-4) got burned on a good 3-2 fastball at the bottom of the zone that leadoff hitter Takashi Ogino hit for a first-inning home run to tie it. Daichi Suzuki doubled off his next pitch, and then the lefty’s control went out the window. He allowed seven runs over 1-1/3 innings in the loss to Lotte.

Game highlights are HERE.

Lions 6, Eagles 5, 10 innings

At MetLife Dome, Katsunori Hirai, pitching for the sixth time in five days and in his NPB-leading 65th game, surrendered three runs, allowing Rakuten to tie it in the eighth. Seibu won it in the 10th when Takeya Nakamura doubled in Shogo Akiyama with the winning run off Rakuten closer Yuki Matsui (2-6).

Kona Takahashi allowed two runs in 6-1/3 innings with the help of three double plays behind him, while Akiyama homered for the third-straight game.

Game highlights are HERE.

Fighters 7, Buffaloes 1

At Kyocera Dome, Nippon Ham’s Kohei Arihara (13-6) struck out nine in seven innings to leave with a 2-1 lead after Orix’s Andrew Albers (2-3) allowed two runs over five innings. Albers took the loss after the Fighters broke the game open in a five-run ninth.

Game highlights are HERE.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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