NPB news: Aug. 6, 2023

Sunday was a special day in NPB, when Hiroshima hosted a game 78 years after the city was flattened by the world’s first atomic bombing. To mark the occasion the team from the City of Peace held its annual “Peace Nighter”with fans being given green towels except those at the uppermost infield seats who received red ones, to create a “peace line” at the same height as the Atomic Bomb Dome – that stands just a hundred meters or so from the location of the Carp’s former ballpark. After the fifth inning, John Lennon’s “Imagine” was played.

There were also baseball games. Kazuma Okamoto hit three home runs in a game for the first time, Keita Nakagawa drew a pair of jacks, Carter Stewart Jr. was luckier than good, and Toshiki Abe finally got to be a local hero.

DeNA lost its eighth straight game at Yokohama Stadium, and with the loss, they can no longer win the pennant just by winning every game on their schedule, which nobody but the editors care about. In Korea, former Tiger Aaron Wilkerson threw six innings in a three-pitcher combined no-hitter for KBO’s Lotte Giants.

Sunday’s games

Giants 13, Carp 0: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Hiroshima declined to be offensive, getting just six runners on base, while Okamoto reached 30 homers for the sixth straight season, former Carp Hisayoshi Chono hit one out, and Sho Nakata hit the 300th of his career. Yohander Méndez (3-3) worked six innings. Tyler Beede worked a scoreless inning for Yomiuri.

Tigers 3, Deniers 2: At Yokohama Stadium, Masashi Ito (6-4) allowed two runs over six innings, Ryutaro Umeno doubled in Teruaki Sato in the second, and Sato doubled in two more runs in the sixth before DeNA scored twice in the home half.

With one out and two on in the seventh, Tigers skipper Akinobu Okada brought in a lefty to face slugging DeNA captain Keita Sano, who was ordered to take a seat after going 3-for-20 this week, so that right-handed-hitting Taishi Kusamoto and his .233 career average could hit off the bench. DeNA had plenty of chances late but was unable to cash one in and tie it.

When asked to comment on DeNA losing its ability to a “jiriki V” – winning a championship without needing its rivals to lose to other teams, DeNA manager Daisuke Miura said only, “Is that so?”

DeNA-Tigers highlights

Hawks 6, Fighters 1: At Kitahiroshima Taxpayers Burden Field, Carter Stewart Jr. (2-2) walked six batters in five innings, and repeatedly got out of jams, allowing his only run after Nippon Ham loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth. Stewart Jr., who threw one splitter in his first win, tried more of them this time with some success, but he seriously had trouble throwing strikes.

The Hawks benefitted from a couple of poor defensive plays by the Fighters as Cody Ponce (0-4) allowed two unearned runs over five innings, largely because he threw a lot of tremendous pitches on the corners and couldn’t get strike calls.

Buffaloes 9, Lions 0: At Seibu Half Dome, Keita Nakagawa hit two homers, giving him a career-high nine this season, Leonardo Cedeno hit his eighth and drove and also drove in three runs for the Buffaloes behind rookie Kohei Azuma (2-0), who pitched out of one no-out bases-loaded jam to go five innings.

Eagles 2, Marines 1: At Miyagi Stadium, Yuya Ogo and new Eagle Toshiki Abe each singled in a run to help Takahiro Norimoto (6-4) win a pitchers’ duel with Kazuya Ojima (5-4). Ojima went seven innings, Norimoto eight, and Yuki Matsui got his 25th save. Abe, who is from neighboring Iwate Prefecture, got on the postgame hero interview podium for the first time since being traded from Chunichi during the winter.

Swallows 3, Dragons 1: At Nagoya Dome, with Jose Osuna deactivated due to “insufficient lower-body fitness,” ace pinch-hitter Shingo Kawabata started at first base and plated Takeshi Miyamoto with a first-inning RBI single off Yuya Yanagi (3-8). Miyamoto doubled in Yakult’s second run, and Tetsuto Yamada singled in the third in support of side-armer Reiji Kozawa (5-2), who worked six scoreless innings. Kazuto Taguchi earned his CL-best 26th save.

Dragons-Swallows highlights

Darvish reaches strikeout milestone

On Thursday, Yu Darvish struck out four batters Friday, giving him 3,159 in major league competition, tying him for third most by a Japanese pitcher with Hall of Famer Masaaki Koyama. Japan’s career leader is Masaichi Kaneda with 4,490 with Tetsuya Yoneda second on 3,388.

“I’m not certain I’m worthy of being in his (Koyama’s) company, but I’m happy to be there,” Darvish said.

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