Interleague arrived on Tuesday. Since its introduction in 2005 as part of the labor settlement following Japan’s first players strike, the PL then perceived as the less popular league, has a 1,040-929 record, a .531 winning percentage. Over the first seven seasons, from 2005 to 2011, the PL’s winning percentage was .523, since then, the PL’s winning percentage has been .540.
The CL opened with three wins on the road, an auspicious start, for no one as much as the Hanshin Tigers, who got an RBI double off the bench from a teammate coming back from cancer surgery.
Hawks 6, Dragons 4
At Yafuoku Dome, Rick van den Hurk (1-0) didn’t allow a base runner through 5-1/3 innings and Go Kamamoto hit two solo homers before bunting for a base hit and scoring on an Alfredo Despaigne seventh-inning double as Japan’s best interleague team opened with a win over Chunichi.
Van den Hurk looked imperial through the first four innings, overpowering the Dragons with his fastball at the start and then mixing in his slider and curve for good effect. After a 1-2-3 fifth in which he gave up some loud fouls, the Dragons got to van den Hurk in the sixth on an error, two singles, and a Naomichi Donoue grand slam.
Kamamoto, Yurisbel Gracial and Nobuhiro Matsuda each hit solo homers off Takuma Achira (1-2) in the first inning. Hawks catcher Takuya Kai set up the hosts’ fourth run on a two-out, fourth-inning single and a stolen base.
Four Hawks relievers held the Dragons to a walk over the final four innings, with Yuito Mori earning his 14th save.
BayStars 3, Buffaloes 1
At Kyocera Dome, Hikaru Ito, traded from Orix last summer, homered in his first at-bat against his former team, went 3-for-3 with a walk and scored on Yamato Maeda‘s two-run, fourth-inning single off Orix starter Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
DeNA rookie Shinichi Onuki (3-3) allowed five hits and a walk over five scoreless innings. Haruhiro Hamaguchi, who made early exits in his last two starts, struck out two in the sixth, and lefty Edwin Escobar struck out the side in the seventh. Spencer Patton allowed a run in the eighth, but closer Yasuaki Yamasaki saved his fourth straight.
Orix starter Yoshinobu Yamamoto (3-3) allowed three runs on eight hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out five.
Lions 5, Carp 4, 12 innings
At MetLIfe Dome, three-straight Seibu hits off right-hander Yasunori Kikuchi (1-1) in the 12th inning lifted the Lions over the Carp. Shota Nakazaki singled to open the inning, went to third on Hotaka Yamakawa‘s long single and scored on Takeya Nakamura‘s sayonara single.
Xavier Batista hit his fourth home run in five games and his 16th of the season to lead off Hiroshima’s four-run fifth when the visitors tied it up. The Lions had scored four in the second, with the help of a throwing error by Batista at first.
Lions right-hander Kyle Martin (1-3) retired the Carp in order in the 12th to ensure Seibu could not lose before the game was called after 12 and earned the win.
Fighters 7, Swallows 6, 10 innings
At Sapporo Dome, Nippon Ham cleanup hitter Sho Nakata went 3-for-4 with a walk, two home runs and 3 RBIs, including two on his seventh-inning shot that tied the game 6-6 , and Nippon Ham won it on Taishi Ota‘s sacrifice fly in the 10th.
Former Yakult reliever Ryo Akiyoshi worked a 1-2-3 ninth to keep the game tied by retiring the Swallows’ big three of Norichika Aoki, Tetsuto Yamada and Wladimir Balentien. Hirotoshi Takanashi, acquired by Yakult in the trade for Akiyoshi, started and allowed three runs over four innings against his former club.
Giants 3, Eagles 2
At Rakuten Seimei Park, Rakuten closer Yuki Matsui (1-2) pitching for the fourth time in five days, gave up a two-run, ninth-inning home run to Christian Villaneuva, snapping a string of seven consecutive saves and taking the loss against Yomiuri.
Hideto Asamura‘s 14th home run put the Eagles in front 2-1 in the eighth inning off lefty Kyosuke Takagi. Taiwan’s Yang Dai-kang homered to open the scoring in the fifth for the Giants, while Jabari Blash tied it with his 17th.
Matsui saved all three games last weekend, when the Eagles swept the SoftBank Hawks in Fukuoka. It was the first time this year he’d pitched on three straight days.
Tigers 11, Marines 3
At Zozo Marine Stadium, Randy Messenger (3-5) allowed three runs over six innings to win for the first time in a month, while Yoshio Itoi singled in a first-inning run and hit a two-run homer in the eighth.
Lotte starter Hideaki Wakui (3-3) allowed four runs, three earned, over five innings. He gave up nine hits and three walks, while striking out five.
Hanshin’s Fumihito Haraguchi, activated for the first time having colorectal cancer surgery on Jan. 24, had a pinch-hit RBI double in a five-run inning.
In other news
- Pitchers Scott Mathieson (Yomiuri Giants), Rick van den Hurk (SoftBank Hawks), Brandon Dickson and Tyler Eppler (Orix Buffaloes) were all activated on Tuesday.
- Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano threw his second bullpen since being deactivated for lower back discomfort on May 21 and said he felt nearly ready to rejoin the first team depending on how he felt Wednesday. On May 15, he allowed a career-worst 10 runs, over 5-2/3 innings against the Hanshin Tigers.
- Hiroshima’s Ryoma Nishikawa extended his hitting streak to 26 games, the third-longest streak in team history with Ryuzo Yamasaki’s 1984 record. The NPB record of 33 was set by Yoshihiko Takahashi in 1979.
- Former Chicago Cubs lefty Tsuyoshi Wada is slated to start on Wednesday, making his first mound appearance since the 2017 Japan Series due to shoulder issues. He has 24 career interleague wins, two shy of the record held by retired former teammate Toshiya Sugiuchi. “I have a better than zero chance of catching up to him,” Wada said.