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We had a couple of comeback games on Wednesday in Japan. SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga returned to pitch for the first time in 19 days, and the Yakult Swallows returned with a patchwork lineup after two COVID-19 postponements and a rainout. Both comebacks started well, and one finished well.
Meanwhile, import pitcher Cody Ponce and the Fighters did something new.
Hawks 4, Buffaloes 2: At Fukuoka Dome, Kodai Senga (7-3) outdueled Hiroya Miyagi (6-5), who went the distance in a losing effort after both struck out 10. Senga allowed two runs on one hit and an error over seven innings.
The Hawks, who like the Swallows have been hit hard by infections, loaded the bases in the first on a single and two errors before rookie Daijyu Nomura singled in two. Richard Sunagawa hit a pair of solo homers, giving him three for the season and three over the last two games.
The Buffaloes broke up the shutout in the seventh on an error and a Yuma Mune double.
Lions 3, Marines 1: At Seibu Dome, Dietrich Enns (6-4) stranded eight runners over five innings. Brian O’Grady hit a second-inning solo home run, his 12th, off Ayumu Ishikawa (5-4) after he fouled off a sacrifice bunt attempt, and was intentionally walked in the seventh so the batter behind him, rookie Yuto Koga could single in an insurance run.
Fighters 3, Eagles 2: At Shizuoka, Cody Ponce (1-1) allowed a seventh-inning run and journeyman outfielder Fumikazu Kimura hit a three-run seventh-inning home run, his second in two seasons with the Fighters, off Takahiro Norimoto (6-4) and the Fighters held on to craft their longest win streak under Tsuyoshi Shinjo, five games.
Ponce’s first win in Japan was secured when reliever Bryan Rodriguez entered with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth. His first pitch in the zone got past catcher Shingo Usami, but Rodriguez tagged out Atsuki Muto for the final out when he tried to score from third on the play.
Dragons 6, Swallows 3: At Nagoya Dome, Yakult’s bullpen blew a 3-1 seventh-inning lead after six innings from Keiji Takahashi and two runs and two RBIs from Munetaka Murakami, who hit his 30th home run.
Rookie Naofumi Kizawa (4-2 ) allowed a hit and two walks with one out, and the normally reliable Ryuta Konno surrendered a three-run double to Yuki Okabayashi, a flair RBI single to Takuya Kinoshita as Chunichi took the lead.
Tigers 13, Giants 0: At Koshien Stadium, Yuki Nishi (6-6) allowed four hits and two walks over eight innings, and Hanshin opened with a pair of three-run innings against C.C. Mercedes (5-3), with Jefry Marte singling in one run in each.
New import Kyle Keller, whose start to the season as Hanshin’s new closer was a disaster, worked the ninth inning, allowing no runs for the ninth straight game.
The Giants committed four errors, giving them 57 on the season, the most in Japan. Yomiuri has twice before led the CL in errors, in 1975 under manager Hara’s mentor, Shigeo Nagashima, and under Hara in 2010, when their 100 errors were the most in both leagues.
Carp 4, BayStars 1: At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Hiroki Tokoda (8-5) allowed a run over eight innings. Shogo Akiyama remained hitless in Hiroshima although he was hit by a pitch in the fourth and broke a 1-1 tie when he scored on Shogo Sakakura sacrifice fly. With two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth, Shinichi Onuki (6-4) kept the game close by getting Akiyama to fly out and end the inning.
Thursday’s starting pitchers
Fighters vs Eagles: Kusanagi Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Lions vs Marines: Seibu Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Hawks vs Buffaloes: Fukuoka Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Dragons vs Swallows: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Tigers vs Giants: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Carp vs BayStars: Hiroshima Citizen’s Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 7/13/2022
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/23