NPB news: June 10, 2023

Saturday saw a duel between a goldilocks impersonator and a golden oldie in a park where staying on base this weekend has been hazardous. Kazuma Okamoto keeps hitting home runs like a boss, as did Tomoya Mori, while Gosuke Kato had the last word in Hokkaido, and Katsuya Kakunaka’s revival helped snapped Hiroshima’s four-game win streak.

Saturday’s games

Swallows 2, Lions 0: At Seibu Dome, 43-year-old Masanori Ishikawa (2-3) shared Japan’s record for career interleague wins for less than 24 hours with 42-year-old Tsuyoshi Wada before reclaiming it with his 28th in an efficient 5-2/3 innings against Seibu, whose ace Kona Takahashi (4-4) allowed a run on four walks and five hits over seven innings.

“I did watch his game last night. It was great seeing another pitcher of the same generation perform like that,” Ishikawa said of Wada. “He was throwing some amazing pitches, so the two of us aren’t even comparable. But still, It was motivational.”

“There aren’t many of our generation still playing. Wada’s pitching inspired me.”

A day after three Lions runners were unceremoniously caught off base, portly Seib rookie Kento Watanabe must have been fooled into thinking he was fast after a stand-up double and was out easily trying to steal third, while Swallows catcher Yuhei Nakamura was picked off first.

Nakamura singled in the Swallows’ first run after a pair of fourth-inning walks set the table, and Tetsuto Yamada doubled in another in the ninth as Yakult snapped a three-game losing skid.

Giants 10, Hawks 6: At Fukuoka Dome, Takuya Kai and Kensuke Kondo each homered for the second straight day for SoftBank, but the Hawks were still overpowered. Hayato Sakamoto hit a leadoff homer in the first, and trailing 3-1 in the fourth, Takumi Oshiro belted a three-run homer off Shuta Ishikawa (3-3) before Sakamoto and Takayuki Kajitani each drove in one more in the five-run inning.

Okamoto’s 15th home run, with a man on in the seventh, made it 8-4, Kondo’s homer got two back, but Kajitani singled in two in the eighth to complete the butt-kicking.

Fighters 4, Tigers 3: At Kitahiroshima Taxpayers Burden Field, new Fighters Ariel Martinez and Torai Fushimi once more gave their club the early lead. Martinez doubled in a first-inning run off the CL’s pitcher of the month, Kotaro Otake (6-1), and they each hit solo homers to make it 3-1 after three. Hanshin rookie Ukyo Maegawa singled in Sheldon Neuse and Yusuke Oyama to tie it in the fourth, but Chusei Mannami threw out a Tigers runner at the plate to end the fifth.

Former Tiger Taiga Egoshi, who walked and scored in the first, doubled and scored on Gosuke Kato’s eighth-inning RBI single that clinched it for the Fighters. Seigi Tanaka retired the heart of the Tigers order in the ninth for his ninth save.

Eagles 1, Dragons 0: At Miyagi Stadium, Takahisa Hayakawa (3-4) allowed four hits over seven innings, and Hideto Asamura singled in the game’s only run in the third, driving in former Seibu Lions teammate Ginjiro Sumitani.

Marines 5, Carp 4: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Lotte and Hiroshima let the older kids play. Home runs by 36-year-old Lotte outfielder Katsuya Kakunaka and 35-year-old Carp catcher Tsubasa Aikawa made it 1-1 in the top of the third, and Lotte captain Shogo Nakamura singled in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the inning.

With the game tied 2-2 in the sixth, Kakunaka delivered a sac fly off Hiroshima’s Masato Morishita, only for Shogo Akiyama to double in the go-ahead run in a two-run seventh. Kakunaka, whose revival was as good Saturday as the original we enjoyed 10 years ago, would not go away. His eighth-inning RBI single tied it off Nik Turley.

Ryoji Kuribayashi (1-6)            , whose closer’s role has been adequately handled by Takuya Yasaki, was handed the ball and13 pitches later it was game over on a walk, a single, a sacrifice and a Yudai Fujioka sayonara single.

Buffaloes 7, Deniers 3: At Kyocera Dome, Tomoya Mori hit a solo home run and a three-run homer to give Orix a 4-0 fifth-inning lead, that Sachiya Yamasaki (4-2) nearly gave away in the sixth. A one-out single and back-to-back Shugo Maki and Neftali Soto doubles made it 4-2, and chased Yamazaki. Soto scored on a Yamato Maeda single off evergreen Tomoki Higa, who hit his former batterymate, DeNA catcher Hikaru Ito – don’t you love interleague? – before getting out of the inning.

The game really got away in the eighth when Mori was intentionally walked with two on and scored the third run of the inning.

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