NPB games, news of Sept. 13, 2019

Randy Messenger, the anchor of the Hanshin Tigers pitching rotation for most of this past decade, has reportedly told the team he plans to make this season his last after he gave up four runs in his fifth inning of work against an independent minor league team on Thursday.

As the NPB season enters its stretch run, there are going to be more and more nights with less than a full slate of games, and Friday’s three-game schedule will be common.

Pacific League

Lions 6, Marines 1

At MetLife Dome, rookie Wataru Matsumoto (7-3), Seibu’s first draft pick a year ago, pitched his best game of the season as he struck out eight over seven scoreless innings to beat Lotte to stay within a couple of winning-percentage points of the PL-leading SoftBank Hawks.

Matsumoto’s fastball was crisp from the start and though he walked five batters, he surrendered just two singles.

“We didn’t get good swings,” Lotte batting coach Iwao Omura said. “His cutter and curve were both good and he changes speeds on us a lot.”

Lions leadoff hitter Shogo Akiyama was the big wheel for the defending champs with a single, double and his 20th home run. He drove in three runs and would have scored three runs but he was forced out on the bases once.

Manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji called on his closer, Tatsushi Masuda to get one out after the Marines loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth. It seemed like kind of a waste, but that’s what Japanese teams do. Masuda got his man and equaled a career high with his 28th save.

Akiyama became the fifth Seibu player with 20 home runs this season after Hotaka Yamakawa, Takeya Nakamura, Tomoya Mori and Shuta Tonosaki. It’s the first time the Lions have done this since their last Japan Series-winning season, 2008. It’s the first time a PL team has ever accomplished this feat with only Japanese players.

Here a coach, there a coach

Anybody out there remember when Omura was playing for the Marines 25 years ago? Anyone remember the fans’ chant when he came to bat? I so want to hear it again. It went:

“Old MacDonald had a farm, Iwa, Iwa, Ohhhh.”

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Giants 5, Carp 1

At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri’s Shun Yamaguchi (14-4) stuck it to three-time defending champ Hiroshima, striking out 10 over 7-2/3 innings.

Game highlights are HERE.

Tigers 7, Dragons 1

At Nagoya Dome, Yuki Nishi (8-8) allowed a run over seven innings, while Kosuke Fukudome belted a three-run home run as Hanshin clobbered Chunichi.

News

Yamasaki secures 2nd-straight CL save crown

DeNA BayStars right-hander Yasuaki Yamasaki will lead the CL in saves for the second-straight season after Hanshin’s Rafael Dolis failed to get a save on Friday, and no longer has enough games to reach the 30 that Yamasaki has under his belt.

It’s the first time a player has led the CL in saves for two-straight seasons since Oh Seung Hwan did it for Hanshin in 2014 and ’15.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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