NPB news: June 27,

Tuesday was Roki Sasaki day, when he pitched against his WBC BFF, Orix’s Hiroya Miyagi, the Giants and Swallows were rained out in Okinawa, the Fighters and Lions opened a series in Okinawa, while the Hanshin Tigers took on Chunichi at home and the DeNA Deniers went on to see if they could do some damage in Hiroshima after tormenting the Tigers all weekend.

There was also some news about a young pitcher of promise from the same draft class as Sasaki and Miyagi making a comeback after career was hit by elbow ligament damage.

Buffaloes 2, Marines 1: At Kyocera Dome, Yoshihisa Hirano (1-1) blew a ninth-inning one-run save, but got the win when Tomoya Mori took Pacific League saves leader Naoya Masuda (2-1) surrendered a leadoff homer in the ninth to Tomoya Mori, his 12th.

Miyagi outpitched Sasaki, who struck out 10 but allowed a run, while Miyagi struck out eight over eight scoreless innings, only one of which presented any challenge, when two sixth-inning Texas Leaguers and a walk loaded the bases.

Orix struck first, scoring on a pair of second-inning singles a wild pitch and an error. Yuma Tongu’s one-out grounder found a hole. He went to second on a wild pitch. Yutaro Sugimoto’s smash up the middle was mishandled in center by Kyota Fujiwara, allowing Tongu to advance from third and make it 1-0. The run was unearned because of the error, but would have been earned when the following batter singled.

Carp 3, Deniers 2: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, there were only three extra-base hits, all doubles, and the batters that hit them all scored. In the eighth inning, Ryosuke Kikuchi’s second double set up the go-ahead run with the game tied 2-2. A sacrifice moved him to third, from where he scored on Shogo Akiyama’s second run-scoring out, a sacrifice fly.

Taiki Sekine robs Kosuke Tanaka of extra bases in the fourth inning.

Tigers 11, Dragons 3: At Koshien Stadium, after scoring four runs in their last four games and being shut out twice, Hanshin pounded Yuya Yanagi (2-5) for five runs in 2-2/3 innings with Yusuke Oyama capping a five-run third with his ninth home run. Dragons second-chancer Seiya Hosokawa’s 10th homer made it 5-3 in the fourth.

The Tigers, however, simply ran roughshod over the Chunichi bullpen. Rookie Ukyo Maegawa who singled in a run in the third, tripled to open Hanshin’s three-run fifth. Seiya Kinami, who reached his first four times up, singled in two runs in the inning.

The win moved Hanshin into first place ahead of DeNA.

Tigers-Dragons highlights

Fighters 2, Lions 1: At Naha Okunoyama Stadium, PL home run leader Chusei Mannami decided this pitchers’ duel between Nippon Ham’s Hiromi Ito (4-4), who claimed to be the first pitcher born in Hokkaido to win a game in Okinawa, and Seibu’s Kaima Taira (5-3).

Sosuke Genda singled in the sixth-inning and after a sacrifice, scored the game’s first run Shuta Tonosaki single. Ito, however, limited the damage by striking out Seibu’s heaviest hitters, Kento Watanabe and Takeya Nakamura.

Kotaro Kiyomiya, however, singled to open the Fighters’ seventh and scored on Mannami’s 14th home run. Nippon Ham threatened to blow the game open but Taira pitched left the bases loaded. Both starters went seven innings. Seigi Tanaka earned his 13th save.

Although Ito hasn’t been much of a strikeout pitcher, he fanned nine, while Taira did what Taira does and struck out 11.

Okugawa on way back

Pitcher Yasunobu Okugawa, whom three teams named as their top pick in the 2019 draft, tied for second with Chunichi infielder Takaya Ishikawa behind Sasaki, who was named by four. A year ago, Okugawa rejected Yakult’s advice that he have Tommy John surgery, pitched for the seventh time since his injury Tuesday. He worked into the fourth inning, throwing 95 pitches while allowing six runs on eight hits while touching 153 kph.

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