Japan’s final interleague series got started Friday with the Central League-leading Yakult Swallows trying to lock up their first interleague championship in a three-game set against the Pacific League-leading SoftBank Hawks, starting with a heat vs finesse duel in the opener.
Friday was also Roki Eve, with young Mr. Sasaki’s start pushed back a day, ostensibly to give him more rest, although he’s been getting shoved off the front page for a while.
Swallows 3, Hawks 1: At Fukukuoka Dome, Yasuhiro Ogawa (4-3) attacked the strike zone relentlessly, and got hit hard early, but stuck with it to limit the Hawks to one run on nine hits and no walks over seven innings, while Munetaka Murakami and Tetsuto Yamada each homered for the CL leaders,
Kodai Senga (4-3) hit Tetsuto Yamada with two outs in the first before Murakami and Tomotaka Sakaguchi singles made it 1-0. Murakami broke the tie, leading off the fourth with his 17th home run. Senga struck out nine and walked two, while allowing six hits over seven innings. He left after throwing 115 pitches, when for the second time in three starts, batterymate Takuya Kai was also pulled.
Koya Fujii relieved Senga in the eighth and struck out three, after Yamada led off with his 13th homer. Noboru Shimizu worked around a pair of one-out walks in the eighth against the middle of the Hawks’ potent order. Scott McGough earned his 19th save with a 1-2-3 inning against the bottom of the order, keeping Yakult’s CL lead over the Giants at five games and their interleague lead over the Tigers at two.
Tigers 6, Buffaloes 1: At Osaka Dome, Yusuke Oyama dismantled another team in interleague, this time the Kansai rival Buffaloes, while Koyo Aoyagi (7-1) worked seven scoreless innings on two hits, a walk and a hit batsman while striking out seven.
Oyama doubled in Koji Chikamoto in the first inning off Sachiya Yamasaki (2-5). With the Tigers leading 2-0 in the fifth after a Takumu Nakano double and back-to-back errors by Yuma Mune, Oyama hit his 14th home run, with two on.
Giants 4, Eagles 1: At Miyagi Stadium, Shosei Togo (7-3) bounced back from a first-inning Hideto Asamura home run, his 10th, to go the distance. The right-hander struck out nine and walked three while allowing four hits.
Yoshihiro Maru capped a three-run second-inning rally with a run-scoring single and made it 4-1 in the fourth with his 13th home run. Zelous Wheeler followed a pair of walks with a single against his former team that loaded the bases and set up Gregory Polanco’s game-tying sac fly. Rookie Riku Matsuda doubled in one run before Maru did his duty.
Carp 6, Lions 3: At Seibu Dome, Kona Takahashi (4-6) retired the first three batters he faced, and then squandered a two-run lead that arrived via Hotaka Yamakawa’s 19th home run by allowing a run in each of the next five innings before his night ended.
Shogo Sakakura doubled and scored the go-ahead run on a Shota Dobayashi single in the fourth, only for Yusuke Nomura (1-0) allow an unearned run in his season debut in the home half. Ryosuke Kikuchi’s second homer of the season made it 4-3 in the fifth, and Sakakura’s fourth homer made it 5-3 in the sixth before Kikuchi doubled in a run in the seventh to complete the scoring.
Ryoji Kuribayashi, the fifth Carp pitcher, recorded his 13th save.
Marines 2, BayStars 1: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Brandon Laird’s two-out single broke a 1-1 tie by bringing in one of the two batters Shinichi Onuma (4-3) walked in the sixth. Marines starter Kazuya Ojima (1-5) worked six innings to get the win. He allowed one run on rookie Tatsuo Ebina’s game-tying second homer, in the fourth.
Tayron Guerrero earned his second save for the Marines.
Fighters 2, Dragons 1, 11 innings: At Sapporo Dome, one of Japan’s worst late-inning teams, the Fighters beat one of the best at preventing late runs in close games, as Chunichi setup man Yariel Rodriguez (2-2) allowed a one-out runner on an error before surrendering Ryota Yachi’s two-out game-winning sayonara double.
Saturday’s starting pitchers
Fighters vs Dragons: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Eagles vs Giants: Miyagi Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Lions vs Carp: Seibu Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Marines vs BayStars: Chiba Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Tigers: Osaka Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Hawks vs Swallows: Fukuoka Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Active roster moves 6/10/2022
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 6/20