NPB news: June 25, 2023

DeNA entered Sunday’s game a half-game behind Hanshin, whom they’d beaten 12 straight times at home. SoftBank was also going for a sweep over Orix at home in Fukuoka, and Seibu was doing the same against Rakuten in Sendai.

Sunday’s games

Deniers 5, Tigers 3: At Yokohama Stadium, Hiroto Saiki’s trouble with his command continued, but his pitches in the zone were hittable, and DeNA took advantage of him, scoring four runs off him, the first he’d allowed since giving up a run in 7-2/3 innings against Yomiuri on May 28.

Hanshin threatened a few times, and DeNA was lucky not to blow the lead in the seventh, when a well-struck ball off the bat of Yusuke Oyama off J.B. Wendelken was snagged at short for the second out with two on. Yasuaki Yamasaki earned his 17th save while Saiki’s record fell to 5-4.

DeNA-Tigers highlights

Buffaloes 4, Hawks 2: At Fukuoka Dome, Orix’s Sachiya Yamasaki (6-2) lost his shutout bid to a two-out, two-run Yuki Yanagita homer, his 10th. Yoshihisa Hirano put the tying runs on base before retiring the third batter he faced to record his 11th save.

Hawks starter Yugo Bando (2-1) retired 10 straight batters before hanging a 2-2 splitter that Yuma Mune lined up the middle for a single. Two walks loaded the bases with two outs, and Yutaro Sugimoto cashed in two with a single. Kotaro Kurebayashi singled in the third, and Yamasaki was off to the races. The lefty allowed just three base runners through eight innings.

Akira Nakamura, who has been smoking hot of late, reached on a Texas leaguer to open the Hawks’ ninth. Yamasaki retired Kenta Imamiya and Kensuke Kondo. A 1-0 changeup down the pipe nearly fooled Yanagita, but Japan’s master of off-balance power strokes drove it well into the right-field seats.

Yuki Yanagita does his thing.

The Buffaloes’ win left them third, trailing the first-place Hawks and second-place Marines by winning-percentage points.

Marines 5, Fighters 4: At Chiba Marine Stadium, 36-year-old Katsuya Kakunaka hit a three-run second-inning homer, his second, off submariner Kenya Suzuki. The Fighters loaded the bases with no outs against Yuji Nishino in the top of the third, but had to settle for one run on a scratch single.

Katsuya Kakunaka puts Lotte in front.

Daigo Kawakamibata, who went 3-for-3 with a walk, doubled in Yuki James Nomura in the fourth to make it 3-2, and singled in Chusei Mannami in the sixth to tie it. Former Red Sox pitcher Hirokazu Sawamura (4-2) walked two in the seventh but got out of the jam when second baseman Shogo Nakamura denied Yuki James Nomura his fourth hit of the game.

Lotte took the lead against reliever Tsubasa Nabatame (0-1) when the Fighters defense collapsed in the seventh. A lead off walk a sacrifice, a wild pitch and a wild throw made it 4-3. Homers by Nakamura and former Fighter Hiromi Oka made it 6-3 before Kiyomiya’s two-run ninth-inning homer off PL saves leader Naoya Masuda, who still got his 19th.

Carp 3, Giants 1: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Matt Davidson hit a hanging breaking ball from Iori Yamasaki (4-2) to the last row of seats in the ball park’s left-field stands for his seventh home run and a two-run Carp lead. Doubles by Naoki Yoshikawa and Kazuma Okamoto halved the deficit against Hiroshima rookie Shohei Mori (1-0) in the fourth.

Veteran Carp shortstop Kosuke Tanaka kept an Adam Walker single in the infield, preventing Okamoto from scoring the tying run, and doubled in Ryoma Nishikawa in the home half to make it 3-1, although he was picked off second to end the inning.

Yamasaki got a run back in the fifth, when he singled and scored, but four Carp relievers kept the visitors in check with Takuya Yasaki getting his 11th save as Hiroshima moved past Yomiuri into third place.

Carp-Giants highlights

Lions 5, Eagles 2: At Miyagi Stadium, it was a day for Seibu’s top draft signings to shine.

Chihiro Sumida (3-6) appears to be figuring things out. The 23-year-old lefty, a first-round signing from the 2021 draft, struck out five over five scoreless innings for his third straight productive start.

Takuya Hiruma, the Lions top take from last year’s draft, hit his first big league homer, a three-run shot in the second off Takahisa Hayakawa (4-5) — who was two years ahead of him at Waseda University,.

Hiruma’s first big league home run.

After that, large 24-year-old Kento Watanabe, a first-rounder in 2020, hit a two-run homer in the third.

Sosuke Genda helps snuff out a Rakuten comeback.

Dragons 5, Swallows 1: At Nagoya Dome, Hideaki Wakui (3-7) struck out Jose Osuna and Domingo Santana to end the first with the bases loaded, only for Keiji Takahashi (2-5) to strike out two with a runner in scoring position in the home half. The Dragons broke the ice in a three-run fifth after Takahashi struck out the last two hitters in the Dragons order.

Yohei Oshima lashed a single, Yuki Okabayashi walked to reach base for the third time against Takahashi. A Dayan Viciedo grounder found a hole to make it 1-0. A hanging first-pitch curve to Seiya Hosokawa made it 2-0 and a hanging first-pitch change to Takaya Ishikawa tacked on a third run.

Since the middle of April Swallows fans, upon seeing another loss have reflexively looked to see if Munetaka Murakami at least gave them some sign of his season turning around. In between his mountain of strikeouts and walks, he occasionally runs into a pitch and launches it to the moon. This was one of those, a fastball down the pipe that carried well back into the outfield stands for his 12th home run.

Ryuku Tsuchida tripled and scored for Chunichi in the sixth, and singled in another insurance run in the eighth. The win was Wakui’s first as a Dragon in Nagoya.

Dragons-Swallows highlights

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