The Yomiuri Giants are showing signs that the second half of the Central League season will not be as dull as it looked a few days earlier, while Koji Chikamoto put his 29-game hit streak on the line Thursday against the Hiroshima Carp.
The results from the fans all-star votes were announced.
Let’s get started.
Giants 4, Swallows 3, 10 innings: At Tokyo Dome, the Giants became the first team since the Chunichi Dragons from May 10-12 to take a series from the Swallows, and had to overcome an eighth-inning hiccup to do it.
With both teams’ pitchers being squeezed all night by home plate ump Hideto Fuke, former Giant lefty Kazuto Taguchi (0-1), who has been the prize of the two teams’ March 2020 trade, walked two batters in the 10th before surrendering a well-hit game-winning two-out RBI double to Naoki Yoshikawa.
C.C. Mercedes left with a 3-1 lead thanks to three solo homers from Sho Nakata, Takumi Oshiro, this third in three nights, and Kazuma Okamoto off Yasuhiro Ogawa, but Yakult tied it against relievers Ryuta Heinai and Nobutaka Imamura in a two-run eighth. Rookie closer Taisei Ota and Takuya Kuwahara (2-1) were lights out from the ninth to secure the victory.
Nakata’s home run was the kind of fly ball just barely over the wall in straight-away left, so it wasn’t the prototypical Tokyo Dome special, which is typically an opposite-field shot off a high lazy pitch. Before the shorter home run distances in Fukuoka, Chiba and Sendai, Tokyo Dome is the only park in Japan where that would have been a home run. It might still be, but I’m not certain.
Tigers 3, Carp 2: At Koshien Stadium, Koji Chikamoto had one hit, but his two-out knock triggered a three-run fourth-inning outburst against Hiroki Tokoda (7-5) and tied Matt Murton’s club-record 30-game hit streak. He’s now three shy of the Japan record set in 1979 by Hiroshima’s Yoshihiko Takahashi.
Tokoda took a 2-0 lead into the fourth. Shogo Sakakura homered in the second off Yuki Nishi (5-6) after Ryan McBroom reached on an error. This was one of those games where both teams were starved of chances.
Teruaki Sato followed Chikamoto’s single with one of his own, Yusuke Oyama walked to load the bases. Fumiya Hojo singled in two to tie it and Yasuhiro Yamamoto singled to break the tie, and that was it. Yuta Watanabe got the final two outs in the seventh for the Tigers before Atsuki Yuasa and Suguru Iwazaki were each perfect for an inning.
The Tigers are now one back of the Carp, who are three back of Yomiuri, but DeNA is only a half-game back of Hanshin after they beat the last-place Dragons.
BayStars 3, Dragons 1: At Yokohama Stadium, Masayuki Kuwahara beat out a leadoff single in the first, stole second, went to third on a throwing error by catcher Takumi Kinoshita and scored on a Taishi Ota single off Shinosuke Ogasawara (3-6). Keita Sano doubled, Shugo Maki hit a sac fly and a Toshiro Miyazaki double made it 3-0.
BayStars starter Shinichi Onuki (6-3) was good enough to get out of plenty of trouble, only allowing a run over five innings, and only two Dragons hitters reached over the final four innings.
Marines 5, Fighters 4: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Kotaro Kiymiya tied it 1-1 for Nippon Ham in the third with his ninth home run, and Kazunari Ishii broke the tie in the fourth when he singled in Kensuke Kondo off Enny Romero (7-4).
Shogo Nakamura, whose first-inning sac fly plated Takashi Ogino, drew a fourth-inning leadoff walk off Kenta Uehara (2-3) and tied it after a Hisanori Yasuda double and a sac fly from the long-lost Seiya Inoue in his season debut. Uehara left after surrendering a Toshiya Sato sac fly and reliever Takahiro Nishimura made it worse, issuing a walk and surrendering Koki Yamaguchi’s sixth home run.
Lions 5, Buffaloes 4, 11 innings: At Osaka Dome, Seibu wrapped this game up an inning earlier than they managed Tuesday’s 5-4 win.
Yutaro Sugimoto opened the score with his 10th homer for Orix, in the second, Hotaka Yamakawa put Seibu up by one with his 25th, a solo sixth-inning solo shot, and with Seibu leading 4-2 in the eighth, Masataka Yoshida tied it with his eighth homer.
Rookie reliever Takeru Sasaki (2-0) ended a 10th-inning threat by getting Yoshida to hit into a double play, Sosuke Genda tripled to open the Lions’ 11th and scored on a Tomoya Mori single, and Sasaki worked a 1-2-3 11th to secure his own win.
It was a remarkably weird All-Star ballot because with the exception of Sho Nakata getting the vote at first base in the CL over Ryan McBroom, pretty much everybody voted in is deserving. OK. One could argue that Hanshin’s Atsuki Yuasa is not in the same class with Yakult’s Noboru Shimizu or Chunichi’s Yariel Rodriguez, but what are you going to do.