A sell-out crowd of 29,426 turned out to see if 20-year-old Roki Sasaki could make history a week after his 19-strikeout perfect game. He didn’t disappoint, even if he left the fans wanting more as his game mimicked his baseball career so far, his performance whetting appetites his managers declined to satisfy.
Elsewhere in the rest of Japanese baseball, the Hanshin Tigers sent Joe Gunkel to the mound as they put their first win streak on the line and an American ended up as the game’s hero.
Fighters 1, Marines 0, 10 innings: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Roki Sasaki extended his perfect inning streak to 17 before leaving a 0-0 game after 14 strikeouts over eight innings, before his game became a microcosm of his career, in that he was sat down in the ninth to protect his arm rather than gamble on making history.
Of course, one only gets upset about it if one is focused on the label rather than the substance, but language has a bad habit of making us do that.
Fighters right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa threw seven shutout innings, causing TV analyst and former Marines ace Naoyuki Shimizu to say, “we failed to bunt runners over, but we shouldn’t overlook the fact that Uwasawa pitched well,” which is what analysts have to say: that failure to execute the prescribed tactics is a recipe for failure.
Chusei Mannami homered off the Marines third pitcher, former closer Yuji Nishino (1-2) in the 10th, while lefty Mizuki Hori, hard-throwing rookie Koki Kitayama (3-0) and veteran lefty side-armer Naoki Miyanishi, who got his first save, closed it out for the Fighters.
Afterward, Iguchi gave his reasons for taking out his star, saying he wanted to take the long view of Sasaki’s career, which I’ll be writing about this week.
Eagles 14, Hawks 4: At Kagoshima’s Kamoike Stadium, Haruki Nishikawa picked up where he left off Saturday, with a ninth-inning birthday home run, by homering to open Sunday’s game on Nao Higashima’s sixth pitch.
Acting as if baseball life begins at 30, Nishikawa went 4-for-5 with two singles and a double, three runs and four RBIs for the Fighters, who chased Higashihama (1-1) in a seven-run fourth.
Ryota Takinaka (1-0) allowed just three runs, two earned, despite allowing eight hits and five walks over seven innings to earn the win. Yurisbel Gracial drew two of those walks and singled and doubled for the Hawks, while José Marmolejos went 2-for-3 with a home run, two walks, two runs and two RBIs for the Eagles.
Buffaloes 4, Lions 3: At Osaka Dome, Brian O’Grady’s second homer gave Seibu’s Dietrich Enns (1-1) a one-run first-inning lead, while Japan’s career grand slam leader, Takeya Nakamura, had to settle for a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the top of the fourth, before Orix star Masataka Yoshida’s first home run tied it in the home half.
Yoshida’s two-out RBI infield single broke the tie in the fifth inning to chase Enns. Buffaloes catcher Torai Fushimi, had three of Orix’s seven hits. He scored in the fifth and helped set up the Buffaloes’ fourth run ahead of Kodai Sano’s sixth-inning RBI single.
Orix’s César Vargas worked two innings, allowing a run on a home run by Aito Takeda, while Jesse Biddle pitched the eighth and Yoshihisa Hirano worked the ninth for his fifth save.
Giants 3, Tigers 1: At Koshien Stadium, Adam Walker, the independent American Association’s two-time reigning MVP, hit his first home run in Japan, a three-run shot that brought Yomiuri back from a 1-0 deficit and helped snap the Hanshin Tigers first win streak of the season at two.
Rookie Yuji Akahoshi (2-1) allowed a run, on 40-year-old Yoshio Itoi’s third home run, over 6-2/3 innings. Three relievers finished up with rookie Taisei Ota stranding two in the ninth after Itoi’s leadoff single to record his ninth save.
Hanshin’s Joe Gunkel (0-3) allowed three runs over five innings to take the loss.
Swallows 5, BayStars 4: At Yokohama Stadium, Yakult overcame a four-run deficit with the help of three late runs against DeNA’s bullpen with Kotaro Yamasaki bringing home the decisive ninth-inning run with a sac fly.
Taishi Ota homered off Swallows lefty Keiji Takahashi in the third, and three runs scored in the fourth on a Neftali Soto single, a Toshiro Miyazaki walk and back-to-back doubles by Yamato Maeda and Hiroki Minei. The top of the Swallows’ order got to Shinichi Onuki for two runs in the sixth on three straight singles and a sac fly.
The visitors repeated that against Edwin Escobar, Brooks Kriske (0-1) and Kentaro Tanaka in the eighth and ninth. Kengo Ota singled and walks by Norichika Aoki and Tetsuto Yamada loaded the bases with no outs for Munetaka Murakami, who singled in two runs to tie it.
Kiriske pitched out of his inherited two-on one-out jam, but the BayStars failed to take the lead after loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the eight. Taichi Ishiyama (1-0) walked two, one intentionally, before getting a double play.
Reserve catcher Soma Uchiyama doubled to open the ninth and Takahiro Araki. Tanaka loaded the bases before Yamasaki’s sac fly, and Scott McGough struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth to end it with his fifth save.
Dragons 10, Carp 4: At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, everyone of Chunichi’s nine starters had at least one hit and five, including starting pitcher Koji Fukutani, had two as the Dragons took BP against 2020 rookie of the year Masato Morishita (2-1), who gave up eight runs over two innings.
Dayan Viciedo singled in the game’s first run, and Fukutani allowed three runs over five innings to earn the win.
Active roster moves 4/17/2022
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/27