The Pacific League added another four wins to its interleague
Giants 4, Buffaloes 2
At Tokyo Dome, Yoshihiro Maru proved to be the two-out kiss of death for the Orix Buffaloes on Thursday, belting a two-out, two-run, game-tying, opposite-field homer to tie it in the sixth inning, and a two-out, two-strike, two-run triple to break the tie in the bottom of the eighth.
Buffaloes shorstop Koji Oshiro opened the scoring with a two-out, two-run, fifth-inning triple off 25-year-old Giants right-hander Toshiki Sakurai, who had allowed just one run in winning his previous two starts.
Sakurai struck out 10 but lost the strike zone after getting ahead of light-hitting Shuhei Fukuda 0-2. After a seven-pitch walk, Oshiro made Sakurai pay for his lapse.
Orix right-hander Kohei “K” Suzuki (1-3) faced just one batter over the minimum through five innings, but surrendered a leadoff pinch-hit single to Yasuhiro Yamamoto, but couldn’t get out of trouble with two outs against Maru, whose 12th homer of the season landed just inside the left-field foul pole.
Suzuki retired the next six batters but walked Yoshiyuki Kamei and Hayato Sakamoto with two outs in the eighth and Maru put the Giants in front with a two-run triple.
Kota Nakagawa saved his ninth game despite allowing a pair of one-out singles.
Hawks 6, Swallows 5
At Jingu Stadium, Seiichi Uchikawa went 4-for-5 with two home runs, and Nobuhiro Matsuda singled in two runs as SoftBank overcame three home runs by Yakult.
Yakult twice came from behind on two-run homers. Trailing 1-0 in the second, 19-year-old rookie Munetaka Murakami hit his 19th homer of the season off lefty Kotaro Otake (4-2).
The Hawks scored twice off former teammate Hiroki Yamada, who gave up an Uchikawa solo homer in the first and a one-out Uchikawa single in the fifth before getting yanked. Right-handed reliever Yugo Umeno came in and threw gasoline on the flames, giving up hits to all four batters he faced.
Tetsuto Yamada, however, tied it in the bottom of the inning with his 17th homer only for Uchikawa to answer with a two-run shot in the top of the sixth.
Hawks rookie Hiroshi Kaino, who blew his first career save attempt on Tuesday in his role as stand in while the Hawks are without closers Dennis Sarfate and Yuito Mori, retired the Swallows in order in the ninth.
|1986||Kazuhiro Kiyohara||Seibu Lions||18||471||31|
|1987||Kazuhiro Kiyohara||Seibu Lions||19||536||29|
|1953||Yasumitsu Toyoda||Nishitetsu Lions||18||439||27|
|2019||Munetaka Murakami||Yakult Swallows||19||282||19|
|1954||Yasumitsu Toyoda||Nishitetsu Lions||19||583||18|
|2015||Tomoya Mori||Seibu Lions||19||531||17|
|1985||Takayuki Murakami||Kintetsu Buffaloes||19||453||16|
|1967||Taira Fujita||Hanshin Tigers||19||561||16|
|1955||Kihachi Enomoto||Mainichi Orions||18||592||16|
|1988||Yukio Tanaka||Nippon Ham Fighters||19||543||16|
The most interesting thing about this table is their positions. Only three of the players here Munetaka Murakami, Kiyohara and Enomoto) showed their early power as first basemen. Mori was a DH, who has since become Seibu’s regular catcher. All the others were shortstops.
Toyoda and Enomoto are in the hall of fame. Kiyohara deserves to be in on the basis of his playing career and may still make it — he’s off the ballot since no one thinks he’d get enough votes after his drug conviction to survive a single ballot. Fujita’s hall of fame credentials are impeccable but he is one of two guys who are out because they had toxic relationships with the media. Kiyohara nearly falls into this category, and if he is never elected that will be the reason.
Fighters 8, BayStars 4
At Yokohama Stadium, Kenshi Sugiya broke a 4-4, seventh-inning tie with a pinch-hit home run off former teammate Edwin Escobar (2-2) as Nippon Ham beat DeNA.
Yoshitomo Tsutsugo accounted for most of the BayStars’ offense with an RBI double in the first and a solo homer in the third, but the Fighters tied it in the sixth on a solo homer by Kotaro Kiyomiya.
Lions 2, Dragons 1
At Nagoya Dome, former Athletics right-hander Zach Neal (2-1), activated for the first time since April 23 following poor results in his first four starts, allowed a run on four hits and a hit batsman over five innings to earn the win as Seibu beat Chunichi.
Hotaka Yamakawa broke the ice in the second inning against the oldest pitcher in NPB, 41-year-old Daisuke Yamai (2-3), with his 27th home run. PL batting leader Tomoya Mori followed with an infield single, was doubled to third by Takeya Nakamura and scored on a ground out.
Kyle Martin continued his strong June by striking out three over two scoreless innings, while Katsunori Hirai worked the eighth and Tatsyshi Masuda the ninth for his 12th save.
Eagles 3, Tigers 2
At Koshien Stadium, Osaka native Ryota Ishibashi (4-3) pitched at the iconic Kansai ballpark for the first time as a pro, allowing two runs over seven-plus innings and scoring the winning run against Hanshin.
Ishibashi left the mound with two on and no outs in the seventh but a pair of relievers shut the door. Koji Aoyama retired Tigers cleanup hitter Yusuke Oyama to end the inning with the bases loaded.
Closer Yuki Matsui recorded his 23rd save, ending it when he retired Jefry Marte swinging when he tried to check his swing on a 3-2 pitch with the tying runner on base.
Rakuten leadoff man Eigoro Mogi singled in each of his first four at-bats. He drove in two runs in the fifth to tie it 2-2, and singled with two outs in the seventh so Hiroaki Shimauchi could break the tie with an RBI single off Tigers starter Haruto Takahashi (1-2). The stocky Ishibashi chugged around the bases from second to just beat the tag and give himself the lead.
The Eagles wasted a scoring chance in the eighth with a base-running mix-up that turned a grounder with runners on second and third into an inning-ending double play.
Carp 7, Marines 6
At Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima catcher Tsubasa Aizawa homered, doubled and singled in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Carp to a walk-off win over Lotte, which fought back from a 6-0 sixth-inning deficit.
Geronimo Franzua (5-2) allowed an unearned run in the ninth on two hits and a walk to blow the save opportunity, but collected the win after the Carp ended a string of outstanding results by Brandon Mann (0-2) in the home half. The lefty walked the bases loaded with two outs, and Aizawa hit a first-pitch slider to win it.
The Carp sat regular shortstop Kosuke Tanaka and started highly touted rookie Kaito Kozono in his place. Kozono, who was selected as the first-round draft pick by four teams last autumn, singled in his first at-bat to open the home half of the first. He went 1-for-5 with two strikeouts.
Kozono was batting .189 in 185 at-bats in the Western League.
Eagles’ Norimoto hits 150 kph in 1st rehab game
Rakuten Eagles right-hander Takahiro Norimoto threw over 150 kilometers (93.2 miles) per hour on consecutive pitches Thursday in his three-inning rehab stint in a minor league game at Rakuten Seimei Park in Sendai.
Norimoto, who had surgery to clean out his right elbow in March, struck out four over three innings against the Yomiuri Giants’ Eastern League farm club.
“That I was able to pitch properly is everything,” Norimoto said. “I was pumped up. I’m about 60 percent of what I’m capable of.”
The 28-year-old Norimoto, who set an NPB record by striking out 10-plus batters in eight consecutive starts in the first half of the 2017 season, is expected to remain with the Eagles’ EL farm club for a few more weeks before being activated around the time of the all-star break.