NPB games, news of Aug. 28, 2019

We can be heroes…

I know it’s not of any importance, but I love Takeya Nakamura’s matter-of-fact hero interviews, which never quite get to the level of the “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” segments I grew up with in Mad Magazine, but are often worthy considering the silly things the interviewers sometimes ask.

In one game a few years ago, Nakamura was asked: “What was the mood on the bench when you came up to the plate with a chance to win the game?” Answer? “I don’t know. I wasn’t on the bench at the time.”

On Wednesday, Nakamura was the star of the Lions’ win over the Nippon Ham Fighters and was summoned to the sidelines for the postgame interview.

Interviewer: “It was a called game, but the Lions won. Can you share your thoughts?

Nakamura: “I’m glad we won.”

I.: “You drove in the game’s first runs with a two-run home run. How did it feel when you hit it.”

N: “It felt good when I hit it. I’m glad it was a home run.”

I: “In the fifth inning, you hit a go-ahead, three-run home run. How did you approach that at-bat?”

N: “The same as always. My plan was to bat as I usually do.”

I: “You handled it (the pitch) well?”

N: “Yes I did.”

I: “You also had a hand in the winning run, didn’t you?”

N: “Yes. (Nakamura is struggling to keep a straight face) I wanted to make contact somehow. Get the bat on the ball. “

I: “With this win, the Lions are now 2-1/2 games back of the first-place Hawks. How is the mood on the team right now?”

N: “The atmosphere is extremely good. Now we’ve come to Hokkaido and won two straight, now we want to go to Obihiro and complete the sweep. We want to keep hitting like this.”

Pacific League

Lions 10, Fighters 8, 8 innings, darkness

At Kushiro Stadium, Seibu won a see-saw game over Nippon Ham that the umpires ended with no outs in the top of the eighth on account of darkness at the game in eastern Hokkaido.

Takeya Nakamura moved within four RBIs of the league lead with a two-homer, five-RBI game, and was involved in seven of the Lions’ runs, his two-out smash off the foot of Fighters pitcher Tsubasa Nabatame (0-1) deflected to third baseman Kensuke Kondo. He had no chance to nail the portly Nakamura at first and his throwing error allowed two runs to score.

“Our inability to hold onto a lead is an issue,” Fighters skipper Hideki Kuriyama said. “It (the decision to call the game) was the umpires, so I can’t do anything about that.”

Under dark skies with intermittent rain, it became hard for the umpires to see the outfielders, and the game was called at 4:21 pm, 1-1/2 hours before sunset.

It was the first game in Japan called on account of darkness since June 20, 1999, when the Orix BlueWave and Kintetsu Buffaloes were also playing in Hokkaido, at Sapporo’s Maruyama Stadium. Game 1 of the 2005 Japan Series was also cut short because the umpires could not see the players–due to fog at Chiba Marine Stadium.

Game highlights are HERE.

Marines 5, Eagles 4

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Takahiro Norimoto (2-4) surrendered four runs over two innings to take the loss against Lotte. With one out and two on in the second, the Rakuten starter hustled after a chopper in the infield, but his throw to first went down the right field line for a two-run error.

The Eagles narrowed the gap to 4-3 on a two-run Jabari blash homer in the fourth, but Taiga Hirasawa squeezed home an insurance run for the Marines in the sixth.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Giants 6, Carp 2

At Tokyo Dome, Tomoyuki Sugano (11-5) surrendered a pair of solo home runs over seven innings, and Hayato Sakamoto homered with a man on in the fifth to give Yomiuri the lead for good against Hiroshima.

Game highlights are HERE.

Dragons 1, Tigers 0

At Koshien Stadium, Toshiki Abe homered in the sixth inning, as four Chunichi pitchers combined to shutout Hanshin on six hits.The Tigers have now been shut out 13 times, once by SoftBank and three times by every other CL club except Yakult.

BayStars 7, Swallows 6

At Yokohama Stadium, rookie Yudai Yamamoto’s two-out, two-strike, pinch-hit RBI single lifted DeNA to a sayonara victory over Yakult, preventing their game from ending in a 12-inning tie that would have cost them a half-game in the pennant race.

Wladimir Balentien hit two home runs for the Swallows, giving him 29 for the season and 284 in Japan and moving him out of a tie with Leron Lee for sole possession of fourth-place among foreign hitters.

The BayStars twice came back to tie it. Takayuki Kajitani hit a sixth-inning solo homer and Neftali Soto, who homered in the third, drew his second walk of the game in the eighth inning, allowing pinch-runner Takehiro Ishikawa to score the tying run on Kazuki Kamizato’s single.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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