Sunday was a big day for 40-somethings. Tsuyoshi Wada, 41, took a perfect game into the sixth inning for SoftBank while, Masanori Ishikawa, 42, had his longest outing of the season with the help of a home run from 40-year-old Norichika Aoki.
At the other end of the scale, Akira Neo pitched at his home park for the first time, and made a little splash for Chunichi, who failed to climb out of the hole Matt Shoemaker dug for them.
Shall we get started?
Lions 3, Buffaloes 2: At Seibu Dome, bounced back from being no-hit by being three-hit and cashing in on their only run-scoring opportunity against Sachiya Yamasaki (2-6) in a three-run fourth.
Yamasaki allowed a first-inning leadoff single and retired the next 10 hitters before Brian O’Grady walked with two outs in the fourth and scored on Hotaka Yamakawa’s double. A hit batsman and a walk loaded them for Shuta Tonosaki brought the Lions from behind with a two-run single before the final 13 Lions’ hitters made out.
Masataka Yoshida singled in Shuhei Fukuda in the first inning against Kaito Yoza, and Yutaro Sugimoto’s seventh home run made it 2-0 in the fourth. Five relievers held the Buffaloes scoreless for one inning apiece with rookie Takeru Sasaki (1-0) getting his first career win and closer Tatsushi Masuda his 17th save.
Hawks 4, Eagles 1: At Fukukuoka Dome, Tsuyoshi Wada (2-1) struck out eight while allowing one hit over six innings for the second straight week. The win was Wada’s 150th in the majors including five from MLB. He also became the franchise leader in strikeouts with 1,762.
The lefty retired the first 16 batters he faced before Eigoro Mogi hit his second home run.
The Hawks scored four runs, three earned, off lefty Takahisa Hayakawa (4-4). Isami Nomura belted a two-run first-inning shot, his sixth, Yurisbel Gracial hit his third home run in three games in the third, and Masaki Mimori tripled in a sixth-inning insurance run.
Livan Moinelo bounced back from blowing a save opportunity in Saturday’s win with a 1-2-3 ninth as the last of five Hawks hurlers to earn his 10th save.
Marines 3, Fighters 1: At Sapporo Dome, Lotte jumped on Kenta Uehara (4-4) for three runs in the first on doubles by Takashi Ogino and Hisanori Yasuda, singles by Akito Takabe and Koki Yamaguchi and a Shogo Nakamura sac fly.
Ogino singled in Adeiny Hechavarria in the fourth, and Manabu Mima (4-4) allowed a run on six hits but no walks over five innings. Renato Nunez homered, his second, in the eighth for the Fighters, but Tayron Guerrero worked a scoreless ninth for his third save.
Swallows 8, Carp 3: At Jingu Stadium, Masanori Ishikawa (4-3) gave up three runs over a season-high seven innings on seven hits and no walks while striking out four, and Yakult hit a season-high five home runs.
Ryan McBroom’s seventh homer capped a two-run Carp first, but Allen Kuri (3-5) walked Munetaka Murakami to open the second and Norichika Aoki’s second homer tied it. Murakami, who reached base five times, broke the tie with his 20th home run, in the third. Yasutaka Shiomi’s 11th home run and Murakami’s 21st made it 5-2 in the fifth.
Giants 5, Dragons 3: At Nagoya Dome, Matt Shoemaker (3-4) allowed a run on six hits and a walk over seven innings, Kazuma Okamoto opened the scoring in the fourth with his 18th home run, off Yuya Yanagi (5-5) and Riku Masuda singled in Gregory Polanco and Hayato Sakamoto to cap the three-run inning.
Ariel Martinez hit his sixth home run in the bottom of the inning. Sakamoto walked in the sixth and scored after a Planco double and a ground out before Hiroyuki Nakajima’s pinch-hit RBI single made it 5-1 in the eighth.
Thyago Vieira pitched a scoreless eighth for the Giants, before Akira Neo brought the crowd to its feet by coming on with two outs to face Okamoto in his major league mound appearance at Nagoya Dome and struck him out.
After letting second-tier relievers blow up late ties on Friday and Saturday, Giants manager Tatsunori Hara brought in rookie closer Taisei Ota to end this one. Not having pitched in 10 days, Ota walked Martinez and served up Shuhei Takahashi’s second home run. A one-out single brought Neo to the plate, but his fairytale story ended there as he struck out and the Dragons’ rally died.
BayStars 7, Tigers 4: At Koshien Stadium, Tigers pitcher Junya Nishi continued to show his batting chops as he doubled in two runs but quickly returned his three-run lead in the BayStars’ third inning and was pulled after 3-1/3 innings.
Nishi batted eighth because he’s a good hitting pitcher, but the math on that is simple, unless you’re Shohei Ohtani, pitchers should bat eighth. I don’t get why this is so hard to figure out, but putting your weakest hitter making outs after the Nos. 6, 7 and 8 hitters does less damage than having him make outs in front of your Nos. 1, 2 and 3—unless you’re Kazuyoshi Tatsunami and you’ve determined that your worst hitting non catcher should bat second.
Digression aside, BayStars rookie Tatsuo Ebina doubled in Keito Mori and Nishi paid the price for walking Shugo Maki and Tatsuro Miyazaki when Masayuki Kuwahara tied it with a two-run single. Miyazaki opened the seventh with his fifth home run, off Ren Kajiya. The Tigers came back with a run off Edwin Escobar (3-0) in the seventh, and the lefty got the win when Miyazaki singled with one out in the eighth against Atsuki Yuasa (0-2). Kuwahara, too, singled, and both scored on substitute Kazuki Kamizato’s two-run triple.
Yasuaki Yamasaki, who appears to have regained the form that deserted him three years ago, needed 12 pitches in a 1-2-3 ninth against the heart of the Hanshin order to record his 12th save.
Active roster moves 6/19/2022
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 6/29