NPB news: July 1, 2023

Tomoyuki Sugano had another solid outing, Tomoya Mori left a game hurt, Chusei Mannami showed off his arm, twice, struggling two-time Central League MVP Munetaka Murakami was dropped from Yakult’s starting lineup, and the Fighters and Buffaloes had a sendoff for a former player, while DeNA’s resident cretin, Trevor Bauer, delivered his second childish display in two starts and this one was a doozy.

A big day at the plate for Tomoya Mori proved to be a disaster on the bases.

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Saturday’s games

Buffaloes 3, Fighters 1: At Kitahiroshima Taxpayers Burden Field, an Orix bullpen day, kicked off by three scoreless innings from Jharel Cotton, held Nippon Ham to a run.

Reserve infielder Sho Gibo doubled to open the Buffaloes’ third against Naoyuki Uwasawa (6-5) and scored on a Kenya Wakatsuki double. With the score tied 1-1 in the fifth, Gibo singled and scored on Yuma Mune’s two-run double.

Yuma Mune’s two-run double.

A third run might have scored in the inning, but Mune was out at the plate trying to score on a single, the second scalp taken in the game by right fielder Chusei Mannami.

Chusei Mannami guns down Orix’s Yuma Mune.

Yoshihisa Hirano worked the ninth for the Buffaloes to earn his 12th save. Tomoya Mori went 3-for-3 with a double and a walk, but had really poor luck on the bases.

Gunned down by Mannami in the second after his leadoff double, Mori had to be carted off the field in the eighth inning after injuring his left calf when he tried to stop suddenly and reverse course after overrunning second base.

Hawks 7, Lions 5, 10 innings: At Seibu Dome, little-used Daiju Nomura got enough of a fly ball for speedster Ukyo Shuto to slide home with the tying run in the eighth on a close play at the plate, and another pinch-runner that inning, Hikaru Kawase, singled to open the 10th and scored the go-ahead run on Seiji Uebayashi’s two-run triple.

Speed kills in the form of Ukyo Shuto.

The Hawks jumped out to a four-run lead against Kona Takahashi starting on Kensuke Kondo’s two-run first-inning homer. Shuta Tonosaki and rookie cleanup hitter Kento Watanabe led the Lions’ comeback against Nao Higashihama.

Tonosaki’s fourth-inning leadoff walk off and a Watanabe double set up the first run, and Watanabe homered to make it 4-2 in the sixth. Having thrown 102 pitches through six, Higashihama left and the Lions took advantage.

Rookie Kento Watanabe’s solo homer.

Yuki Matsumoto walked the bases loaded in the seventh, and Watanabe tied it with a two-run single. Wu Nien-ting followed and put Seibu in front with an RBI double. But that was it for the Lions as 10 of the last 11 Seibu hitters made outs against the Hawks’ bullpen.

Wu Nien-ting’s RBI double gave Seibu its only lead.

Swallows 3, Carp 2: At Jingu Stadium, with Murakami out of Yakult’s starting lineup ostensibly due to pain in his left knee, Tetsuto Yamada batted cleanup for the first time since September 2019. He singled with two outs in the first off Daichi Osera (3-6) and with two on, Domingo Santana hit his eighth home run.

Dillon Peters, Domingo Santana hero interview

Lefty Dillon Peters (3-3) kept the Carp in check through five innings. Hiroshima made a game of it in the sixth with singles by Ryoma Nishikawa and Takeshi Uemoto and a Shota Dobayashi two-out flair landed just fair for a two-run double. Peters exited stage right and Naofumi Kizawa got out of the inning. Taichi Ishiyama did a similar job in the seventh, escaping a two-out bases-loaded pickle before Noboru Shimizu and Kazuto Taguchi bowled scoreless frames to close it out with Taguchi earning his 15th save and his first since June 11.

Murakami made an eighth-inning cameo with a pinch-hit double.

Swallows-Carp highlights

Dragons 2, Deniers 2, 12 innings: At Yokohama Stadium, Chunichi had plenty of early-inning base traffic with four base runners in each of the first two innings against Trevor Bauer, but managed just one run in each. Bauer pitched six innings and left the game shouting and steaming. Humberto Mejia got through seven scoreless innings, but left in the seventh after a Neftali Soto leadoff double and a walk and was charged with both runs that scored in the inning.

From the seventh inning, DeNA’s relievers allowed a lone double to their former teammate, Seiya Hosokawa, retiring 18 of 19 batters. DeNA loaded the bases in the ninth but failed to score, and stranded two in a scoreless 12th against Raidel Martinez.

DeNA-Dragons highlights

Tigers 3, Giants 0: At Tokyo Dome, Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (1-2) held Hanshin to a run over seven innings, on Yusuke Oyama’s fourth-inning solo homer, but came out on the short end as lefty Masashi Ito had even less trouble with the Giants hitters over his seven innings. Hanshin’s Yuta Iwasada and Suguru Iwazaki each threw a 1-2-3 inning and Sheldon Neuse doubled in a run in the Tigers’ two-run ninth. It was Ito’s fourth straight quality start, and the Tigers’ 11th shutout this season.

Marines 10, Eagles 2: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Rakuten spotted Wataru Karashima (0-2) a two-run first-inning lead and he gave up six runs over four innings, while Lotte’s Atsuki Taneichi (5-3) picked up the slack after his rough first inning and finished with seven strikeouts over seven innings.

Hideto Asamura singled in a first-inning run for Rakuten and former Marines captain Daichi Suzuki continued to torment his old club, making it 2-0 with a sac fly. The Marines wasted no time taking the lead.

Hiromi Oka, who went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer, doubled to open Lotte’s first. Yudai Fujioka singled, Shogo Nakamura hit a sacrifice fly, and Koki Yamaguchi’s double set up Hisanori Yasuda’s two-run single. Oka’s homer made it 6-2. Yamaguchi added a solo homer and an RBI single, while Yasuda doubled and scored and singled in another run.

Kaneko walks away

On the same day Nippon Ham opened the roof at its new ballpark, it put a cap on the career of former Buffaloes ace Chihiro Kaneko, by holding a retirement ceremony for him.

Kaneko joined Nippon Ham from 2018 when he opted free agency over a big pay cut with Orix after the expiration of the big four-year deal after he won the Sawamura Award in 2014.

Chihiro Kaneko’s retirement ceremony.

Former teammates Yoshihisa Hirano and Torai Fushimi were to take part in a ceremonial pitch, but they were replaced by the former pitcher’s two sons, while his daughter brought him the ball. I wasn’t a huge fan of Kaneko, but he looked really happy to be on the field with his kids. More power to him.

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