NPB games of May 23, 2019

Central League

Giants 7, BayStars 4

At Tokyo Dome, DeNA rookie Shinichi Onuki (2-3) looked good getting out of a third-inning jam with a good inside fastball to two-time MVP Yoshihiro Maru, but the gave up six runs on seven hits in the fourth.

Four Giants pitchers allowed a run over the final 4-2/3 innings in relief of Nobutaka Imamura, who surrendered a three-run Neftali Soto homer in the fourth. With a two-run lead in the eighth former closer Hirokazu Sawamura had the tying runs in scoring position with one out but survived unscathed.

Soto, who led the CL in home runs last season, his first in NPB, moved out of a three-way tie for the league lead with his 14th. Seiya Suzuki of the Carp, and Hayato Sakamoto of the Giants each have 13.

Tigers 1, Swallows 0

At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin’s defense held off a sixth-inning threat to preserve a scoreless tie, before Kento Itohara ended the game with a one-out sayonara single in the bottom of the ninth.

With Yakult’s David Buchanan and Hanshin’s Haruto Takahashi locked up in a pitchers’ duel, the Tigers Jefry Marte gunned down a runner trying to score from third on a one-out grounder to first in the top of the sixth. Rookie center fielder Koji Chikamoto then ended the inning by going into Koshien’s spacious power alleys to haul in a fly off the bat of rookie Swallows slugger Munetaka Murakami.

The Swallows, who lost their eighth straight, wasted scoring opportunities in each of the last four innings. The Tigers, equally inept in getting the big hit, finally made a go of it against Scott McGough (2-1), who loaded the bases with one out on two walks and a single before Itohara ended it.

Tigers closer Rafael Dolis (2-1) earned the win after putting the Swallows leadoff hitter on in the ninth with his throwing error.

Pacific League

Fighters 11, Eagles 2

At Sapporo Dome, Sho Nakata broke a 1-1, third-inning tie with a two-run home run off Rakuten’s Wataru Karashima (3-2), while Nippon Ham’s Toshihiro Sugiura (2-0), making his third five-inning start of the season allowed his first run of the year.

Light-hitting utility infielder Kenshi Sugiya became 15th player in NPB history to hit home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game, and the first Fighter since former New York Yankee and current Miami Marlins scout Fernando Seguignol, who accomplished the feat a record nine times.

“From now on, you can call me Seguignol,” joked Sugiya, who now has 10 career home runs in 960 career at-bats.

Fernando Seguignol and Takaaki Ishibashi reliving their favorite scene from the movie “Major League” at QVC Marine Field.

In other news

  • On Wednesday, the DeNA BayStars’ Jose Lopez set an NPB record with 1,517 consecutive chances without making an error at first base, surpassing the mark of Hall of Famer Kihachi Enomoto, who had 1,516 from Aug. 13, 1967 to Sept. 3, 1968 for the PL’s Lotte Orions. “El Chamo” a 35-year-old from Venezuela is in his seventh NPB season, and has won the last three CL Golden Gloves at first base as well as another in 2013.
  • The SoftBank Hawks deactivated starting pitcher Nao Higashihama on Thursday due to stiffness in his hip after he allowed four runs in in his Tuesday start against the Seibu Lions in Okinawa. He will be assigned to the team’s rehab facility in Chikago, Fukuoka Prefecture.
  • Yakult Swallows infielder Keiji Obiki reached nine years of service time on Thursday, qualifying him to file for international free agency in November. Asked, as such players always are, his thoughts, Obiki pulled out pat answer No. 1: “The season has only started. I don’t have the luxury of such thoughts.”

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