NPB games, news of Sept. 20, 2019

Not all of Japan was focused on a different sport as the Rugby World Cup kicked off in Tokyo on Friday, when NPB played four games and both pennant-race leaders took a step toward clinching a championship.

Yamaguchi returns as winner

Pitching in just his second game at his old home park since he left as a free agent for the Central League rival Yomiuri Giants after the 2016 season, Shun Yamaguchi pitched into the seventh inning in a 9-4 win over the DeNA BayStars on Friday.

Squaring off against Kentaro Taira, whom the BayStars received in compensation for him, Yamaguchi left the game with a five-run lead after six innings. Taira (5-6) allowed four runs over 3-2/3 innings in the NPB’s first match-up between a pitcher who left as a free agent and the pitcher his former team took as compensation.

Yamaguchi (15-4), allowed two runs through the first six innings, but left two on with two outs, and Kan Otake surrendered a two-run double to Yamato Maeda before the third reliever of the inning, Hirokazu Sawamura struck out home run king Neftali Soto with the bases loaded.

Hayato Sakamoto hit two home runs to move to 39, four back of Soto in the home run race, while Kazuma Okamoto drove in two runs for the Giants with a double and a home run.

Game highlights are HERE.

Pacific League

Lions 5, Eagles 3

At MetLife Dome, Seibu cut its magic number to repeat as PL champs to four when Ernesto Mejia hit a pinch-hit sayonara home run in the ninth inning to down Rakuten.

Here’s the Lions’ hero interview featuring Katsunori Maeda, who set a franchise record by pitching in his 79th game of the season, and Mejia.

Game highlights are HERE.

Hawks 1, Fighters 0

At Yafuoku Dome, Rick van den Hurk returned to SoftBank’s first team for the first time since his June season debut and allowed three hits and a walk while striking out eight over six innings to beat Nippon Ham.

Here’s Rick van den Hurk’s hero interview.

Game highlights are HERE.

Buffaloes 11, Marines 8

At Kyocera Dome, Stefen Romero homered and drove in four runs while Brandon Dickson recorded his 17th save as Orix kept Lotte from moving back into third place.

Romero took part in the Buffaloes’ hero interview HERE.

Game highlights are HERE.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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