NPB games, news of June 5, 2019

It was time for some left-handed compliments on Wednesday as a pair of lefty starters, Hawks veteran Tsuyoshi Wada and Buffaloes youngster Daiki Tajima returned from prolonged injury absences, while 39-year-old southpaw Masanori Ishikawa went eight innings to record the 24th interleague win of his career, tied for second behind retired lefty Toshiya Sugiuchi.

And last out of the pen but not least, Yuki Matsui pitched in his fifth straight game for the Eagles after blowing a save on Tuesday. No word on whether the next thing that blows out will be his elbow or shoulder.

Interleague

Hawks 5, Dragons 2

At Yafuoku Dome, SoftBank rallied around 38-year-old returning former ace Tsuyoshi Wada, who allowed two runs over five innings in his first game since the 2017 Japan Series.

For the second straight night, home runs ruled the night in Fukuoka, the Hawks hitting four and the Dragons one, the same combination the teams put up in SoftBank’s 6-4 win on Tuesday.

Nobuhiro Matsuda homered for the second-straight night and Seiichi Uchikawa broke a 1-1 tie for the Hawks in the second. After that, the Cuban connections took over.

Cuban-born Dragon Dayan Viciedo tied it 2-2 in the fourth with his ninth homer. While Alfredo Despaigne broke the tie with his 16th in the sixth inning. After Livan Moinelo struck out the side in the top of the eighth, Cuban compatriot Yurisbel Gracial iced the contest with his 11th home run in the home half.

Marines 5, Tigers 4

At Zozo Marine Stadium, Lotte left fielder Ikuhiro Kiyota caught a low line drive and doubled off the runner at third base to end the game and leave Hanshin’s fans and players stunned when they thought they’d tied it up on a Shun Takayama RBI single.

Takayama’s drive held up enough for Kiyota to make a basket catch on his knees. He got up and fired home as Tigers pinch runner Kai Ueda stood at home and could only turn and look at third in disbelief.

Eagles 4, Giants 2

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Yuki Matsui, pitching in his fifth straight game, bounced back from a blown save the night before to record a 1-2-3 ninth and his 17th save in Rakuten’s win over Yomiuri.

Alan Busenitz (1-0) loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, and allowed the tying run to score, but earned his first win in Japan after the Giants bullpen issued three walks and hit a batter in a two-run Eagles’ eighth inning.

Jabari Blash doubled and walked and scored twice for the Eagles.

Swallows 5, Fighters 0

At Sapporo Dome, 39-year-old Yakult lefty Masanori Ishikawa (2-3) tied Tsuyoshi Wada and Hideaki Wakui for second place in interleague wins with his 24th after allowing three hits over eight innings. The loss snapped Nippon Ham’s seven-game winning streak.

Norichika Aoki homered, singled, scored twice and drove in two runs to pace the Swallows.

Buffaloes 5, BayStars 0

At Kyocera Dome, lefty Daiki Tajima (1-0), who won five of his first seven starts as a rookie last season after being Orix’s top draft pick in 2017, allowed four hits over five innings in his first game since last June. Tajima had been suffering from a left oblique muscle injury, but had a wicked slider in his return to duty.

Carp 9, Lions 1

At MetLife Dome, Kosuke Tanaka, a top-of-the-lineup hitter until his struggles dropped him to the bottom of the Carp order this spring, singled, doubled, homered, scored twice and drove in five runs in a win over Seibu.

Tanaka doubled and scored the tying run in the fourth, singled in the tie-breaking run in seventh to make it 2-1 and capped the scoring with a grand slam in the eighth.

Daichi Osera (6-2) allowed a run over six innings, and Xavier Batista hit his 17th home run to open the scoring in the eighth. It was his fifth home run in six games.

News

Yoshida to make June 12 debut

The Nippon Ham Fighters will send first-draft pick Kosei Yoshida to the mound on June 12, making his first team debut against the Hiroshima Carp at Sapporo Dome, despite giving up six runs in three innings against the Yomiuri Giants’ farm team on Tuesday. Yoshida electrified the nation last summer as the star of the national high school tournament, where he pitched unheralded Kanaashi Nogyo to the final, throwing 881 pitches over two weeks. Here’s the story on Sanspo.

Higashihama has surgery

Hawks right-hander Nao Higashihama is expected to miss three months after having endoscopic surgery on his right elbow, the club said Wednesday, according to Nikkan Sports. He was deactivated on May 23 with stiffness in the joint. According to the story, it is the first time he’s needed surgery on either his elbow or shoulder.

Nishikawa streak reaches 27

Hiroshima Carp utility man Ryoma Nishikawa extended his hitting streak to 27 on Wednesday when he beat out a ninth-inning infield single against Seibu. He was 0-for-3 with a seventh-inning sacrifice — when he bunted the go-ahead run into scoring position.

His streak is now the second longest in club history, six games short of the NPB record set by Yoshihiko Takahashi with the Carp in 1979.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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