NPB news: April 7, 2024

In Japan on Sunday, Roki Sasaki turned things around without his famous heat, Yakult’s bullpen didn’t blow up, Hiroshima completed a quiet weekend, the Giants are enjoying their newly acquired submarine and the Seibu Lions’ hitters took no prisoners in Hokkaido.

Sunday’s games

Swallows 3, Tigers 1: At Jingu “Tokyo’s Sacrifice to Corporate Greed and Governmental Malfeasance” Stadium, Yakult’s bullpen failed to lose its fifth straight game, providing scoreless relief after starter Miguel Yagure (2-0) went 5-2/3 innings

Yakult’s Jose Osuna scored Haruki Nishikawa with his first home run, in the first off Hiroto Saiki (0-1). Hanshin got a run back against new import Yagure on a Seiya Kinami leadoff single and a Koji Chikamoto one-out triple. Yagure issued five walks and left with two runners on base in the sixth, whom Taishi Ishiyama stranded before working another inning.

Setup man Noboru Shimizu, who took the loss in both of Yakult’s games in Hiroshima this week, allowed one hit to record his first save in three years.

Dragons 1, Carp 0: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Humberto Mejia (1-1) allowed a walk and two hits over seven scoreless innings, and lefty Koki Saito defused a late bomb scare for the second straight day and Raidel Martinez secured his third save as Chunichi shutout the Carp for the third straight day.

Lefty Takumi Kurihara, Hiroshima’s first-round draft signing from 2021, made his second start, this one lasting more than three pitches having been ejected for hitting the first batter he faced in his season debut. Kurihara allowed three hits but no walks over five innings, but surrendered the first run in the fifth on a Seiji Uebayashi single and a Shingo Usami one-out double.

Buffaloes 5, Marines 2: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Roki Sasaki (1-0) overcame an awkward start by retiring 17 of the last 18 batters he faced despite never touching 100 mph, to earn his first win of the season after Lotte’s lineup overturned a 2-1 deficit and chased Orix starter Ryuhei Sotani (0-1) in a four-run fourth.

The Marines went on the attack, tying it on back-to-back doubles from Toshiya sato and Atsuki Tomosugi, and took the lead on a Raito Ikeda single. A Shogo Nakamura double, a Hiromi Oka sacrifice fly and a Gregory Polanco single completed the damage.

Sasaki, threw a career-high 111 pitches, struck out nine, walked two and hit one while allowing three hits. Hirokazu Sawamura worked the eighth and Rikuto Yokoyama recorded his second save of the season.

Eagles 3, Hawks 2: At Miyagi Stadium, Daichi Suzuki delivered a walk-off single as Rakuten came from behind to clip SoftBank. The Hawks gave Carter Stewart Jr. a two-run lead. He gave up eight hits and issued three walks and was lucky to leave with the game intact.

The Hawks scored twice in the third, when they got three hits off lefty Masaru Fujii, and managed to stay out of a double play for the first time in the game, with Yuki Yanagita singling in both runs with one out. The Eagles hit the ball well off Stewart but right at defenders for much of the time, allowing him to avoid giving up a run until the fourth, when Ryosuke Tatsumi doubled with two outs and Hikaru Ota singled him home.

The Eagles tied it on a sixth-inning Tatsumi single, a stolen base and a Kazuki Murabayashi double that chased Stewart, and lefty Takahiro Hasegawa got out of the inning with two men on base.

Lions  11, Fighters 1: At Kitahiroshima Taxpayers Burden Field, Wataru Matsumoto took a shutout into the eighth inning and Seibu improved to 6-3.

Seibu smacked Kenta Uehara for five runs over four innings. Two walks and a Shuta Tonosaki double opened the scoring before Ryusei Sato singled in two with two outs. Junichiro Kishi doubled in Takumi Kurihara in the fourth and scored on a Sosuke Genda single.

The Lions then blew it open in a six-run eighth before Matsumoto allowed his lone unearned run.

Giants 3, BayStars  0: At Tokyo Ugly Dome, submarine right-hander Rei Takahashi (1-0), one of two players Yomiuri acquired from SoftBank for Adam Walker, continued to impress in the CL, throwing six scoreless innings for the second time.

A day after the Giants bounced and threw the ball around, they benefited from their opponents’ largesse. A two-out error and a Kazuma Okamoto double setting up Hayato Sakamoto‘s two-run single. Okamoto singled in Makoto Kadowaki to make it 3-0 against Shingo Onuki (0-2).

The BayStars put the tying runs on base against Taisei Ota with one out in the ninth, but he escaped for his second save.

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