NPB games, news of Sept. 19, 2019

Nobumasa Fukuda twice doubled home Yosuke Hirata, and Joely Rodriguez caught three batters looking in a 1-2-3 eighth inning as the Chunichi Dragons came from a run down to beat the Yomiuri Giants on Thursday in NPB.

The Giants entered the game with a magic number of four to win the Central League for the first time since 2014 and end the franchise’s longest pennant drought.

Hayato Sakamoto extended his career best in home runs with his 37th, but the hosts tied it in the home half at Nagoya Dome. Hirata singled with one out off Cristopher Mercedes, and was on second after Yota Kyoda tried to bunt for a base hit. Fukuda, who’d grounded out in the first on a low fastball, and popped up in the fourth chasing a low changeup, was ready for something low. He pounced on a 1-1 changeup at the bottom of the zone and lined it into the left-field corner.

Joely Rodriguez, the second Dragons pitcher to come on in relief of Shinnosuke Ogasawara, caught three-straight Giants hitters looking at called third strikes on his fastball on the edge of the zone.

“It looked to me like we were getting overpowered by fastballs,” batting coach Sadaaki Yoshimura said. “We were not batting decisively on either strikes or balls.”

Rodriguez (3-4) earned the win in relief, when Hirata doubled with one out in the eighth off Hirokazu Sawamura (2-2) and scored on Fukuda’s second two-out RBI double of the game.

Raidel Martinez worked the ninth to earn his eighth save as four Dragons pitchers combined to retire the last 11 Giants.

BayStars 11, Carp 8, 11 innings

At Yokohama Stadium, Neftali Soto started DeNA’s fightback from a 7-0 deficit with a three-run sixth-inning homer and ended it with a three-run sayonara shot in the 11th inning that eliminated Hiroshima from contention for a fourth-straight CL pennant.

Takayuki Kajitani tied the game in the sixth with a pinch-hit grand slam and re-tied it in the eighth with an RBI double. The home run was the 100th of his career. With his 41st and 42nd home runs, Soto pulled into a tie for the Japan lead with Seibu’s Hotaka Yamakawa.

Game highlights are HERE.

Swallows 8, Tigers 0

At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin’s Koji Chikamoto moved past Shigeo Nagashima to take sole possession of the CL’s record for hits by a rookie with his 154th, a first-inning single against Yakult’s Yasuhiro Ogawa (5-12).

Ogawa allowed nine hits, the most in a shutout since Orix’s Taisuke Yamaoka gave up nine on Aug. 26, 2017 against Seibu. The last shutout win with more than nine hits was Masahiro Tanaka’s 10-hitter against SoftBank on Aug. 22, 2010.

Ogawa’s 145 pitches were the most thrown by an NPB pitcher since Orix’s Brandon Dickson threw 146 on July 17, 2018.

Hanshin has now been shut out an NPB-high 15 times. One of those games ended in a 0-0 tie. It was only the second time this season an opponent has failed to score against Yakult.

Game highlights are HERE.

Pacific League

Lions 2, Fighters 0

At MetLife Dome, Ken Togame (5-6) threw seven-plus innings as Seibu beat Nippon Ham, shutting out an opponent in consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 16 and Aug. 17 against Rakuten. The win dropped the defending champs’ magic number to clinch the PL pennant to five.

The Fighters have now been shut out 12 times this season, equaling the Rakuten Eagles for the most in the PL.

Game highlights are HERE.

Hawks 4, Buffaloes 3

At Yafuoku Dome, SoftBank clinched its sixth-straight playoff berth after Akira Nakamura broke a 3-3 eighth-inning tie with a sacrifice fly, and Yuito Mori worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 33rd save. The loss eliminated Orix from playoff contention.

Game highlights are HERE.

Eagles 2, Marines 0

At Zozo Marine Stadium, Takahiro Norimoto (4-5) allowed three singles and now walks over eight innings, as Rakuten shut out Lotte and moved pass the Marines into third place.

Game highlights are HERE.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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