NPB games, news of Aug. 7, 2019

More than a week after winning his 1,000th game, Giants manager Tatsunori Hara won his 1,001st, allowing Yomiuri to hang on to its half-game CL lead.

Pacific League

Marines 5, Hawks 3

At Zozo Marine Stadium, Leonys Martin hit his fourth home run since coming to Japan at the end of last month, while Brandon Laird had an extra helping of sushi with a pair of two-run shots. With 31 home runs, he now trails league-leader Hotaka Yamakawa of the Lions by one.

Lotte starter Seiya Dohi pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning and finished with seven scoreless innings but did not figure in the decision after reliever Takahiro Matsunaga (2-2) blew a three-run lead in the eighth.

Game highlights are HERE.

Buffaloes 6, Fighters 4

At Sapporo Dome, lefty Takayuki Kato (5-5) was left in the game a little longer than his usual two trips through the batting order, and allowed two more runs in the fourth in Nippon Ham’s loss to Orix.

The Buffaloes bullpen delivered four scoreless innings to help July pitcher of the month Taisuke Yamaoka (9-3) to a fortunate win.

Stefen Romero and Steven Moya each had three hits and drove in a run for the Buffaloes, while Brandon Dickson recorded his 11th save.

Johnny Barbato returned to the mound for the Fighters, working two scoreless innings in his first outing since July 4.

Game highlights are HERE.

Lions 4, Eagles 3

At MetLife Dome, Takeya Nakamura returned from a minor injury to go 3-for-4 with a double a run scored and a tie-breaking, seventh-inning RBI infield single to lift Seibu past Rakuten.

Facing an early 2-0 deficit on a first-inning homer by former Lion Hideto Asamura, Tomoya Mori homered in the first and Takumi Kuriyama put the Lions ahead in the fourth with a two-run shot.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Giants 9, Dragons 3

At Nagoya Dome, Cristopher Mercedes (7-6) held Chunichi hitless for five innings, while Yoshihiro Maru and Shinnosuke Abe hit two-run home runs in the fifth inning, helping Yomiuri snap its season-longest six-game losing streak.

Stocky slugger Kazuma Okamoto flashed some credible base running skills to go from second to third on a fourth-inning fly and then score on a sacrifice fly with a nifty slide to open the scoring for the Giants.

Dayan Viciedo capped the Dragons’ three-run fifth, but Yomiuri iced it in the seventh when left fielder Zoilo Almonte failed to make a two-out, bases-loaded shoe-string catch. The ball rolled past him and three runs scored.

BayStars 4, Carp 0

At Mazda Stadium, Haruhiro Hamaguchi (6-3) struck out 11 over six innings, and Neftali Soto hit his 29th home run as second-place DeNA remained a half-game back of the CL-leading Giants.

Soto, who led the CL in home runs last year in his debut season, pulled into a tie with the Giants’ Hayato Sakamoto for the league lead. The Two RBIs gave him 77 and kept him one ahead of Swallows’ teenager Munetaka Murakami.

Swallows 11, Tigers 2

At Jingu Stadium, 39-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa (5-5) allowed a run on two hits and a walk over six innings, and 19-year-old rookie Munetaka Murakami broke a 1-1, fourth-inning tie with his 24th home run, a three-run shot.

News

NPB names July players of the month

There was one surprise in July’s monthly honor roll. Having discussed the matter on this week’s podcast with @JBWPodcast, we expected DeNA closer Yasuaki Yamasaki and Orix’s Taisuke Yamaoka and Masataka Yoshida to bag monthly honors, but I never expected DeNA’s Jose Lopez to win.

For years, batting average has been the most consistent qualifier for the Monthly MVP award — where walks, on-base percentage and defense are essentially ignored.

But this time, the selectors went for the payoff numbers as Lopez led the CL in home runs and RBIs despite batting .271, playing first base and posting a .314 batting average.

I’m not saying the award should be tied to batting average, because every year in the past selectors have picked one guy who did nothing but hit singles and post a .370 average. But pay attention guys. Yoshiyuki Kamei, Seiya Suzuki and Hayato Sakamoto all had much better months than the wonderful Mr. Lopez.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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