Sunday saw the second big-name veteran pitcher go off the rails in two days, while the Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants did their best to tell the world that the Central League pennant race is not as over as it looked a month ago. Hanshin in particular had the kind of contributions from its imports that it projected at the start of the season.
Swallows slugger Munetaka Murakami, who was deactivated on Saturday when it was feared he might have COVID, returned to duty Sunday after testing negative.
Eagles 7, Hawks 2: At Fukuoka Dome, it was Tsuyoshi Wada’s day to fall apart. A day after Masahiro Tanaka took the loss in an otherwise good start, the broadcast crew was talking about how they’d like to see the 41-year Wada go the distance after throwing 66 pitchers through five innings when he began missing and the Eagles began connecting.
Haruki Nishikawa doubled on a flat 3-2 low-and-away off the fence in right for a double, Wada misplayed his hand on the ensuing sacrifice, allowing the batter to reach, and walked Hideto Asamura. Hiroaki Shimauchi put a good swing on a belt-high fastball away and drove off the top of the little wall in front of the home run terrace for a two-run double.
That was it for Wada, and Takero Okajima followed by singling in the first of the five runs he would plate for the Eagles, whose comeback was predicated on a fourth-inning magic act from rookie Masaru Fujii. A single, an error and back-to-back walks made it 1-0 Hawks with no outs, but he allowed no more runs. That was it for him, and he got no decision, but was instrumental in the victory.
Lions 10, Marines 4: At Seibu Dome, Leonys Martin hit a two-run first-inning homer, his eighth, off Dietrich Enns (7-6), but Hotaka Yamakawa walked and scored in the second on a Seiji Kawagoe sac fly and then capped a six-run fourth inning with a three-run home run, his 33rd.
Lotte’s starter, rookie Ryotaro Mori (0-1) allowed seven runs on eight hits and three walks over four innings. Enns worked five innings but was never in trouble after the first.
Fighters 5, Buffaloes 3: At Osaka Dome, rookie Haruka Nemoto (2-2) allowed a run over 6-2/3 innings to earn his first win in over two months.
The Fighters’ Ryota Yachi doubled in two runs to open the scoring against Masaru Nakamura (0-1) who earned his first decision as a Buffalo after 10 years as a Fighter and a couple of seasons spent playing in Australia and Mexico. Kotaro Kiyomiya singled in another run in the fifth, and catcher Yuki Umebayashi singled in two more in the sixth.
Giants 7, Swallows 4: At Jingu Stadium, Yomiuri came from behind to complete a three-game sweep of struggling Yakult. Yoshihiro Maru and Kazuma Okamoto put sweet swings on flat Juri Hara first-inning fastballs. Maru’s homer was his 21st and Okamoto’s his 22nd.
Matt Shoemaker loaded the bases in the fourth on two walks and a hit batsman, and passed his toughest test, retiring Munetaka Murakami with no outs only for Domingo Santana to blast a low fastball for his 11th home run and his fourth in four games.
It took three relievers to get the Swallows out of the seventh inning. Yugo Amano (3-2) surrendered a one-out Takumi Oshiro homer, his 10th, and left two on and one out for Kazuto Taguchi.
With the Swallows outfield playing shallow to prevent the runner from scoring from second on a ground single and the infield at double play depth, Naoki Yoshikawa’s grounder past second rolled to the wall in right center for a two-run triple. Adam Walker’s RBI single completed the four-run rally.
Tigers 7, Carp 5: At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, a different kind of pitchers’ duel broke out. After Takayoshi Nomo threw out a runner at the plate to end the Tigers’ first, Hanshin broke the ice on second-inning RBI singles by pitcher Joe Gunkel and Kairi Shimada only for Carp starter Atsushi Endo to tie it in the home half with a two-run single.
Solo homers Shogo Akiyama and Ryoma Nishikawa put Hiroshima up 4-2 in the third, and a Ryosuke Kikuchi RBI single made it 5-2 in the fourth. With two outs in the fifth and a man on, Aderlin Rodriguez and Mel Rojas Jr. homered back-to-back to tie it.
With the score tied 5-5 in the seventh, Shogo Akiyama doubled and Shogo Itakura walked with one out off Yuta Iwasada (2-0), who retired Nishikawa and Kaito Kozono to end the inning. He earned the win when the Tigers scored twice off Daisuke Moriura (1-3) in the eighth.
Moriura hit the leadoff man with a pitch, and after Tigers manager Akihiro Yano fulfilled his statutory obligation by ordering a sacrifice, Kairi Shimada doubled in the tie-breaking run, and then scored on a sac fly.
Kyle Keller, brought to Japan to be the Tigers closer after Robert Suarez moved to the majors, struck out Akiyama and Ryan McBroom en route to his first save.
Dragons 5, BayStars 0: At Nagoya Dome, a day after just barely failing to make a game-saving catch in right, Yuki Okabayshi threw out two runners at the plate. These kept starting pitcher Hiroto Takahashi’s clean sheet over 6-1/3 innings and both were followed by single runs from the Dragons’ offense. Takahashi improved to 4-4.
Moments after Okabayashi threw Masayuki Kuwahara out to end the fourth, Toshiki Abe, Dayan Viciedo singled, and after the obligatory sacrifice by hard-hitting catcher and No. 5 hitter Takuya Kinoshita, Pedro Revilla broke the ice with an RBI single off Fernando Romero (4-6).
Masashi Ishigaki completed the scoreline with a three-run home run.
Active roster moves 8/7/2022
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/17