Shosei Togo wasn’t super sharp, but he was sharp enough as the Yomiuri Giants opened a three-game series with the Yakult Swallows by sticking a spear into their Achilles heel, while the Pacific League’s top two teams also squared off, with the Seibu Lions looking greedily at second place as they take on the Orix Buffaloes.
We also had a record that connected to an old friend as Takeya Nakamura made history for the Lions.
So let’s get started.
Giants 4, Swallows 1: At Tokyo Dome, Shosei Togo (8-3) had his back against the wall in the first inning after back-to-back singles had him facing the middle of the Swallows’ order with no outs, but he surrendered just a sacrifice fly, and his teammates opened the bottom of the first with five straight hits off Keiji Takahashi (6-2) and that was the game.
“He (Takahashi) is not that good at the start of games. That’s been an issue for him. Some of those hits were just bad luck, but it sure looked like they did their homework on him.”–Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu
Like most Swallows pitchers, Takahashi throws a lot of strikes. According to Delta Graphs, among pitchers with 50-plus innings, four Swallows are among the CL’s top 10 in percentage of pitches in the zone. It’s high percentage baseball but it leaves guys open to being ambushed.
Sho Nakata didn’t do anything offensively for the Giants, but this guy looks like he’s been gipped in the Golden Glove Award votes by winning just four.
The Giants bullpen did a good job of nursing a three-run lead and rookie Taisei Ota secured his 24th save with the tying run at the plate in the ninth to inch Yomiuri to within 12-1/2 games of the first-place Swallows.
Hawks 6, Eagles 2: At Hirosaki, rookie Tomohisa Ozeki (6-3) walked five batters and hit one over six innings, but allowed just one hit and two runs, as SoftBank stuck it to Takahiro Norimoto (6-3) for six runs over five innings.
Yuki Yanagita broke the ice in the third inning. His two-out bases-loaded single brought in two, and Tatsuru Yanagimach tripled in two more. Rookie catcher Riku Watanabe made it 6-0 in the fourth with his third home run.
After the game, manager Tsuyoshi Shinjo blamed the loss on Rodriguez’s inability to hold the base runner.
“When there’s a runner on, you have to speed up your delivery. He was a little too routine. As soon as he raised his glove, the runner was gone.”–Fighters manager Tsuyoshi Shinjo.
Nippon Ham starting pitcher Cody Ponce allowed four hits and a walk while striking out seven over seven innings, but allowed Toshiya Sato’s game-tying seventh-inning home run. Fumiya Motomae went six innings for the Marines, but surrendered Yuki James Nomura’s leadoff homer in the second.
Lions 5, Buffaloes 4: At Osaka Dome, Aito Takeda blasted a tie-breaking 12th-inning home run off Jesse Biddle (3-4), and could barely keep a straight face in the hero interview when he recited the script when asked about his big swing that propelled the ball off the facing of the third deck.
“I was just there trying to get on base and get a rally started,” he said.
The Buffaloes took a 1-0 second-inning lead on Yutaro Sugimoto’s ninth home run. Brian O’Grady broke a 1-1 seventh-inning tie with a two-run homer, his ninth, off last year’s PL rookie of the year, Hiroya Miyagi. Joe McCarthy, however, singled in Masataka Yoshida in the bottom of the seventh and scored the tying run on a Sugimoto single.
Nakamura comes back for more
Six-time PL home run champ Takeya Nakamura struck out on Tuesday for the 1,955th time breaking Japan’s career record set by former Lion, Giant and Orix Buffalo Kazuhiro Kiyohara.
Nakamura’s first strikeout came at Tokyo Dome in the third inning on Sept. 28, 2003 against Carlos Mirabal.
Wednesday’s starting pitchers
Marines vs Fighters: Chiba Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Lions: Osaka Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Giants vs Swallows: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
BayStars vs Dragons: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Tigers vs Carp: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 7/5/2022
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/15