NPB games, news of Aug. 31, 2019

Takashi Toritani has been one of the Tigers best players for 16 years. I’m sure the Hanshin Tigers were trying to be classy when they asked him whether everyone would be better off if he were a former Tigers star in 2020, but it certainly didn’t come out that way.

Pacific League

Lions 10, Hawks 5

At MetLife Dome, Tsuyoshi Wada (4-3) threw a lot of fat pitches in a five-run first inning and surrendered six runs in what matched his shortest start in Japan as Seibu battered SoftBank to move into a virtual tie for first place.

Tomoya Mori opened the scoring with a two-run home run as he homered for the fourth-straight game. Hotaka Yamakawa also belted a two-run shot, while Takeya Nakamura doubled and scored on a Shuta Tonosaki single. Shogo Akiyama homered in the second to close the book on the Hawks lefty.

“He (Yamakawa) is hitting well again, and that’s encouraging,” Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji said.

Robert Suarez struck out five but dodged bullets over three scoreless innings to allow the Hawks to come within three runs, but the Lions pulled away on Yamakawa’s Japan-best 40th home run and Tonosaki’s two-run, eighth-inning double.

Takumi Kuriyama had two singles, giving him 1,808 and moving him two clear of Hiromichi’s former franchise hit record.

Game highlights are HERE.

Buffaloes 2, Marines 1

At Zozo Marine Stadium, light-hitting Orix infielder Ryoichi Adachi blasted a ninth-inning, tie-breaking home run off Lotte closer Naoya Masuda (3-5) after Buffaloes starter Andrew Albers held the Marines in check for the second-straight game. Brandon Dickson worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 15th save.

Game highlights are HERE.

Eagles 1, Fighters 0

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Kohei Arihara (13-7) allowed a run over seven innings and got stuck with the loss to Rakuten as Nippon Ham lost its fifth straight. Eagles starter Wataru Karashima (8-5) worked 5-2/3 innings, and four relievers completed the six-hitter. The Fighters were shut out for the 10th time this season.

“I kind of did my job,” Arihara said. “But when the team is in bad shape, you have to win.”

It was the first win by a Rakuten starting pitcher since July 25, while the Fighters, who started play in August a half-game back of SoftBank, slipped into last place.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Swallows 5, Dragons 2, 10 innings

At Nagoya Dome, Tetsuto Yamada needed 10 innings to do something offensively, hitting his 32nd home run with two on to lift Yakult over Chunichi in a battle between the CL’s bottom two clubs.

Dayan Viciedo tied it 2-2 in the sixth with a good swing that produced a two-run double off the right field wall against Swallows starter David Buchanan, who went seven innings. Dragons starter Yuya Yanagi also allowed two runs over seven. He gave up a tough hit on a good pitch to open the Swallows’ second, but missed badly with a pair of lifeless pitches that were drilled for RBI doubles.

Tigers 4, Giants 2

At Koshien Stadium, Masahiro Nakatani’s seventh-inning pinch-hit home run broke a 2-2 tie and lifted Hanshin over Yomiuri. Thirty-nine-year-old Kyuji Fujikawa converted his 10th-straight save opportunity since being asked to close on July 26.

Game highlights are HERE.

Carp 4, BayStars 2

At Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima catcher Tsubasa Aizawa capped a three-run third inning with a two-run homer, while Allen Kuri (7-7) allowed two runs in 6-1/3 innings to earn the win over DeNA.

News

Toritani: “Tigers asked me to retire”

Takashi Toritani said Saturday that the Hanshin Tigers asked him to retire, but he said he would prefer to continue playing with another team starting next season.

“What they asked me was whether I would retire or not,” Toritani said. “By that what they meant was they no longer had any use for me.”

“It’s my choice, whether I retire or let them make me available to other teams as surplus to team needs.”

The Tigers director of baseball operations, Osamu Tanimoto, said, “We asked if he wanted to retire as a Tigers star, but since he is determined to keep playing, you can say we have failed to reach an agreement.”

Toritani (38) turned pro out of Waseda University. His streak of 1,939 consecutive games is second behind Hall of Famer Sachio Kinugasa’s.

EDITORS NOTE: This story has been corrected to show Takashi Toritani is in his 16th season, not his 18th as originally written.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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