NPB games of Aug. 15, 2019

The Seibu Lions take a walloping for the decade and the analysts on Pro Yakyu News suggest the Lions — with an ERA in August over 6.00 should try something like an opener or short starters, because they lack starting pitching.

That assumes the Fighters went to that tactic because of a lack of starting pitching, and not for another reason.

Should the Lions go short?

It’s hard to judge how effective the Fighters’ use of short starters and opener Mizuki Hori has been this season because we can’t compare them to themselves. The Fighters have allowed 4.48 runs per nine innings over the first five innings of their games this season, a figure second-worst to the Lions in the PL. Still, it is hard to know if manager Kuriyama’s plan to limit his pitchers’ overexposure is helping or hurting.

Through Wednesday, Fighters opponents had only 374 plate appearances against a pitcher past his 18th batter faced in a game, the fewest number in NPB by a huge margin — the BayStars at 560 are next fewest. Less than 31 percent of those batters reached safely by any means, the lowest in NPB while slugging .418 — NPB’s fourth-best figure.

Lions opponents, on the other hand, have sent 772 batters to the plate against a pitcher who had already faced 18 batters, the second-highest NPB total next to the Hanshin Tigers’. And the Lions’ results in those plate appearances, an NPB-worst.367 raw on-base percentage, and a second-to-worst .480 slugging average are probably a good indication that leaving their starters out there because it’s old school ain’t working.

So give credit to Chikafusa Ikeda and Yasushi Tao for bringing up the idea.

Pacific League

Buffaloes 20, Lions 8

At MetLife Dome, Stefen Romero homered twice, scored three runs and drove in six, while Steven Moya homered and drove in five as Orix knocked Seibu silly. Romero also singled twice and walked in his other three plate appearances.

Chang Yi (2-0) allowed four runs in five innings while striking out five to improve to 2-0 in two career starts. Lions starter Keisuke Honda (5-4) allowed seven runs and didn’t survive the second inning.

The 20 runs allowed by Seibu matched a franchise record, set twice in 2004 when the Lions won the PL pennant after finishing second in the regular season. After his team also hit four home runs, Lions manager Tsuji said his guys could put it behind them.

“I think we can move on, considering how well the hitters are doing,” he said.

Game highlights are HERE.

Eagles 4, Hawks 3, 11 innings

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Eigoro Mogi doubled to open the 11th against Jumpei Takahashi (2-1) and scored on Ginji Akaminai’s one-out, bases-loaded single as Rakuten snapped SoftBank’s winning streak at six. Alan Busenitz (3-2) struck out two in a scoreless 11th to earn the win for the Eagles.

Hawks catcher Takuya Kai went 3-for-4 with a two-run home run and two runs scored, while Hiroaki Shimauchi tied the game 2-2 in the fifth with a two-run home run.

With Mogi on second to open the 11th, the Eagles bunted him to third, and the Hawks ordered the bases loaded. Unfortunately, Takahashi fell behind 3-0 to Akaminai and missed down the pipe with a 3-2 fastball that ended the game.

Game highlights are HERE.

Marines 6, Fighters 0

At Tokyo Dome, Takashi Ogino lashed a three-run, second-inning triple as Lotte bashed Toshihiro Sugiura (2-3) for four runs in four innings and handed Nippon Ham its ninth-straight defeat.

Marines starter Chihaya Sasaki (2-1) worked five shutout innings while lefty Toshiya Nakamura struck out three in three innings of relief.

Two weeks after the Fighters were on the verge of taking over the PL lead, they have fallen into fourth place after their longest losing streak in two seasons. Afterward, Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama apologized.

“There are reasons why have not been able to win,” he told reporters after the game. “One can look at various factors, but simply put, I’m not putting us in position to win. I accept all the responsibility for this.”

Game highlights are HERE.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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