NPB games, news of June 18, 2019

At long last the PL took the lead in runs scored during this season’s interleague action thanks to the Seibu Lions scoring like thy do on occasion in a 16-2 blowout of the Chunichi Dragons. Through Tuesday’s games, the PL leads 40-32, with a 325-320 run advantage.

On this week’s Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast, I said I was confident the CL, which has led interleague play in wins just once, has never led in runs. This is not true. In 2006, the CL went 107-108-1, but led in runs scored 904-841. Other than that, the PL has led in runs scored every season since interleague began in 2005


Marines 6, Carp 2, 11 innings

At Mazda Stadium, Daichi Suzuki, a Golden Glove-winning shortstop whose defense has pushed him into a utility role this year, started his second career game in the outfield, made an impressive play in left field and went 4-for-6 with an RBI double in the Marines’ four-run 11th inning.

Hiroshima closer Shota Nakazaki (2-3), who has been giving up hits and walks at an alarming rate, surrendered three doubles, a single and a walk without recording a strikeout.

Lotte starter Hideaki Wakui allowed two runs, one earned, over six innings, and lefty Brandon Mann worked the seventh to start a string of five straight solid innings from the Marines’ pen.

Mann, who allowed five runs in his two-inning season debut on April 3, has now struck out 14 over 11 scoreless innings innings since he returned to the first team on June 1. During that eight-game stretch, he’s allowed three hits, two walks and a hit batsman.

Giants 4, Buffaloes 3

At Tokyo Dome, Taiwan’s Yang Dai-kang broke a 3-3, eighth-inning tie with an RBI double after Orix blew a chance to take the lead in the top of the inning and 25-year-old Yomiuri closer Kota Nakagawa saved his eighth game since first getting a chance to close on May 23.

Giants starter Nobutaka Imamura allowed an unearned run over six innings, but the Buffaloes tied it against the Giants bullpen in the top of the eighth on a two-run double by Keita Nakagawa, who then ended the inning when he was caught in a rundown between second and third.

Orix’s Tyler Eppler continued to look strong since his return from the farm. In the seventh, he issued a on-out free pass to Japan’s walk machine, Yoshihiro Maru, but struck out the other three batters he faced. Since returning to the first-team mound on June 4, he’s 2-0 with five strikeouts, a hit and two walks over four scoreless innings.

Hawks 6, Swallows 4

At Jingu Stadium, Yuki Matsumoto (1-1) pitched better than his line of three runs on five hits over six innings as SoftBank beat Yakult while holding closer tryouts with Yuito Mori unlikely to return before the all-star break.

Matsumoto struck out five without a walk. His two straight throwing errors allowed Yakult to tie it 1-1 in the third. After Nobuhiro Matsuda’s second homer made it 3-1 in the fourth, the Swallows’ tied it 3-3 in the fifth thanks to three straight soft-contact hits.

With a two-run cushion thanks to homers from Yurisbel Gracial and Masayoshi Tsukada, the Hawks sent rookie Hiroshi Kaino to the mound to try and nail down his first save. The right-hander, with 30 strikeouts from his first 23-2/3 innings, allowed a run on three walks and a hit. Lefty middle reliever Shinya Kayama, retired the only batter he faced in the ninth for his first career save.

Lions 16, Dragons 2

At Nagoya Dome, Hotaka Yamakawa homered for the first time since June 6, hitting his Japan-best 26th home run as Seibu matched its season high in run production against Chunichi.

The Lions’ Tatsuya Imai (5-5) allowed both runs while striking out six over six innings.

BayStars 3, Fighters 0

At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA side-armer Kentaro Taira (1-1) allowed three hits and a walk over 6-2/3 innings, while striking out five to earn the win over Nippon Ham.

Neftali Soto opened the scoring with his 20th home run, a fourth-inning solo shot and sent Fighters starter Naoyuki Uwasawa (5-3) out of the game on a stretcher after he drilled him on the left knee.

Eagles 5, Tigers 3

At Kurashiki Muscat Stadium, Zelous Wheeler, playing in his fifth NPB season, became Rakuten’s first foreign player to hit 100 home runs with a two-run shot in the win over Hanshin. Wheeler went 2-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice fly that broke a 3-3, eighth-inning tie.

The Eagles’ Frank Herrmann (4-2) struck out two batters in an inning for the third straight game and earned the win in relief.


Hawks’ Yangita focusing on returning to batter’s box.

The Nikkan Sports reported Tuesday that Yuki Yanagita, who suffered a muscle tear behind his left knee on April 7, may see minor league rehab action before this month ends.

The Hawks’ star center fielder took batting practice on Saturday and Sunday, and was able to drive the ball but is unable to run at full speed or play in the outfield. On Sunday, he took about 50 swings but reported some discomfort.

The Hawks are also without outfielder Akira Nakamura due to lower-back issues. Nakamura had only just returned to the lineup after being diagnosed with an autonomic nerve disorder in March. Left fielder Yurisbel Gracial, who also missed the start of the season, will be gone for much of July to compete with Cuba’s national team.

Shortstop Kenta Imamiya is playing but is dealing with pain in his left hamstring.

Mathieson out

Giants reliever Scott Mathieson left Tuesday’s game against the Orix Buffaloes at Tokyo Dome with some concern over his hip. The 35-year-old right-hander only recently made his season debut after suffering from a bacterial infection in December — when he was recovering from left knee surgery he had performed in August.

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