NPB news: June 15, 2023

On Thursday, we had three pitching duels, including one mind-blowing experience in Nagoya, and a pair of knock-down drag-outs.

Thursday’s games

Buffaloes 3, Tigers 2: At Koshien Stadium, Yuma Tongu hit a game-tying ninth-inning homer and 2021 PL home champ Yutaro Sugimoto completed the comeback with a mammoth shot, his 10th, off Atsuki Yuasa (0-2).

Tongu singled in the game’s first run off Tigers starter Masashi Ito in the fourth, only for Orix’s Taisuke Yamaoka to allow a run on no-out singles to Yusuke Oyama and Ukyo Maegawa and an error by center fielder Keita Nakagawa. Ito then singled in the go-ahead run and kept the Buffaloes off the scoreboard until he left after seven.

Tigers-Buffaloes highlights

Giants 3, Lions 2, 10 innings: At Tokyo Dome, Naoki Yoshikawa led off the 10th with a single off Katsunori Hirai (2-2), and scored on Takayuki Kajitani‘s RBI single. The win was the Giants’ fifth straight.

David MacKinnon singled in the second for Seibu, Kento Watanabe doubled and both scored on sac flies against Iori Yamasaki, before Yomiuri came back against submariner Kaito Yoza on Hayato Sakamoto‘s ninth home run, in the third, and Takumi Oshiro’s eighth-inning RBI single.

The Giants survived a tough eighth inning. Closer Taisei Ota fumbled a comebacker, allowing the leadoff runner, Watanabe, to reach on an error on the inning’s first pitch. Two pitches, later, he hit Shinya Hasegawa in the head, earning an automatic “dangerous pitch” ejection.

Kota Nakagawa came in, struck out the first batter he faced and got an inning-ending double play.

Eagles 11, Carp 7: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Hiroshima overcame an early six-run deficit only for Rakuten score five late runs off the Carp bullpen. Takashi Uemoto‘s pinch-hit RBI single capped a three-run Carp sixth and put them up 7-6. Nik Turley allowed two runners to reach in a scoreless seventh for Hiroshima before the roof caved in.

Hiroaki Shimauchi, the PL’s 2021 RBI leader reached on a one-out pinch-hit single in the eighth, and a pair of two-out singles loaded the bases for new Eagles, Toshiki Abe, the former Dragon doubled in two to put Rakuten in front and a bonus run scored on an error. Kazuki Tanaka, who pinch-ran for Shimauchi in the eighth hit a two-run homer in the ninth to ice it.

Kosei Shoji, one of the most sought-after players in last autumn’s draft pitched in and out of trouble for three innings before surrendering four runs, two earned, over five innings.

Hawks 9, Swallows 7, 10 innings: At rainy Jingu Stadium, SoftBank and Yakult bashed each other with the subtlety one expects from mud wrestling. Jose Osuna tied it in the eighth with a solo home run, his 10th, The Hawks loaded the bases in the 10th off Swallows setup man Noboru Shimizu on two singles and a walk before the right-hander hung a 1-2 splitter to Kenta Imamiya who drilled it for a two-run double, helping to make up for costly error.

Yakult starter Cy Sneed threw three scoreless innings before kicking off Yakult’s three-run third with a leadoff double. Domingo Santana singled in two runs, and a third scored on a wild pitch.

Shameless plug alert

Sneed will be the guest on next week’s Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast, which will be recorded Sunday and is set to drop on Monday. Get our podcast at Apple or just about anywhere.

Doubles by Imamiya and Ryoya Kurihara, when center fielder Taiki Hamada missed a two-out catch and answered the question how far someone could slide out of control on Jingu’s artificial grass outfield in the rain. SoftBank took the lead in a three-run fifth before giving up three unearned runs in the home half with new Hawk Joe Gunkel on the mound.

With no out and a runner on first, Gunkel fielded a chopper, and threw to Imamiya covering second, but the veteran shortstop lost the handle on the ball as he looked for a possible double play. A one-out walk and a Santana sac fly tied it for Osuna to single in two.

Sneed, however, allowed three straight runners to reach in the sixth before he was yanked, and all three came home to score. The Hawks’ win completed a three-game sweep.

Deniers vs Fighters: Rained out at Yokohama Stadium.

Marines 1, Dragons 1, 12 innings: At Nagoya Dome, Kyota Fujiwara doubled and scored in the first off Yuya Yanagi, who went nine innings without allowing another, while winless Manabu Mima had no more luck. He walked Yanagi to lead off the third, and the pitcher scored after a single, a sacrifice, an error and an RBI groundout. Mima, too, however, would lock things down for four more innings.

Both teams loaded the bases in the ninth. Lotte’s Daiki Iwashita pitched out of a one-out bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the inning, causing my podcast partner’s brain to explode. The Marines’ fans heads ignited in the top of the 10th when they put three runners on against Raidel Martinez.

Dragons-Marines highlights

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