NPB news: June 28, 2023

A bunch of pitchers, including Carter Stewart Jr., did really well only to not figure in their team’s decisions, while two others were benefactors of unlikely home runs. Rain hit the Giants and Swallows Tohoku series for the second straight day, but not quickly enough for one of those clubs.

In Hiroshima, the once ubiquitous “jet balloons” made their first appearance at a Japanese park since they were banned during spring training as COVID was becoming a thing.

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Wednesday’s games

Hawks 3, Eagles 2: At Fukuoka Dome, two pitchers looking for their first pro win each did muxh of the heavy lifting needed to bring that about but neither reaped ny reward.

Rakuten right-hander Kosei Soji, one of two players in last year’s draft to be named as two teams’ first pick, allowed two runs over five innings, while Carter Stewart Jr. surrendered one unearned run but allowed only one hit, a sixth-inning Yuya Ogo infield single.

The Eagles took a third-run lead set up by Stewart’s wild throw to first that put leadoff man Tsuyoshi Yamasaki on second, and completed with two sacrifices, only for Yuki Yanagita to tie the game with his 250th career home run.

Stewart walked the bases loaded in the top of the fourth but two strikeouts got him off the hook.

Textbook small ball gave the Hawks the lead in the bottom of the inning with Tatsuro Yanagimachi singling and scoring via a sacrifice and a Takuya Kai single.

Livan Moinelo (3-0) blew the Hawks’ lead in the eighth, but a walk, a sacrifice and a Kenta Imamiya single set up the go-ahead run to score on a wild pitch.

In Stewart’s two starts this year, he’s allowed one run on seven hits and six walks while striking out 14 in 11-1/3 innings.

Buffaloes 10, Marines 0: At Kyocera Dome, rookie Shumpeita Yamashita (7-1) pitched out of a bases-loaded predicament in the first, found his rhythm and then got outs, while the meat of the Buffaloes’ batting order beat Kazuya Ojima (5-3) like nobody’s business after he cruised through the first four innings.

PL batting leader Yuma Tongu went 3-for-4 with his eighth homer and scored three runs, while 104-kilogram Yutaro Sugimoto had the maximum fun with two doubles and an inside-the-park home run. His seventh-inning drive off the wall in left got a good bounce that led center fielder Kyota Fujiwara on a merry chase as Sugimoto circled the bases.

“He’s very slow so I never expected it, but it bounced about 100 meters,” Marwin Gonzalez said, to which Sugimoto replied. “Rounding the bases about killed me, so I’ll do my best to get it over the wall after that. I personally think I’m fast, so I ran from the start with the belief I could score.”

Marwin Gonzalez’s two-run single.

Carp 6, Deniers 2: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Masato Morishita (4-1) was Shohei Ohtani for the day, allowing two runs over seven innings and breaking a 2-2 fifth-inning tie with a three-run home run, the first of his career.

Matt Davidson’s eighth home run, a two-run shot to the upper deck in left-center, brought the Carp from behind in the second, only for Shugo Maki to tie it with his 12th homer in the fourth. Another Davidson drive, off the wall in left for a fifth-inning leadoff double, got the Carp started. After a hit batsman by DeNA starter and Hiroshima native Kenta Ishida (2-4), Morishita reached the upper deck in left.

“It really carried,” he said.

Dragons 4, Tigers 2, 10 innings: At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin’s Kotaro Otake and Chunichi’s Hiroto Takahashi pitched to a seven-inning 2-2 stalemate, with Takahashi striking out 10. That left it to the bullpens, with Chunichi getting a one-out runner via a hit batsman, with two runs coming in via a Yuki Okabayashi two-out triple and a Dayan Viciedo single.

Chunichi took a second-inning lead. Seiya Hosokawa doubled, Takaya Ishikawa walked, and both scored after a sacrifice and a single by reserve catcher Kota Ishibashi. Takahashi escaped a one-out bases-loaded jam in the sixth when Yusuke Oyama grounded a splitter into a double play.

Seiya Kinami’s two-out fluke single made it 2-1 in the seventh. Takahashi hit Sheldon Neuse and Koji Chikamoto’s smash past third tied it. But that was it for Hanshin as three relievers held them to one walk over the final three innings with Raidel Martinez getting his 17th save.

Tigers-Dragons highlights

Lions 2, Fighters 0: At Naha Okunoyama Stadium, another pitchers’ duel broke out, with Seibu submariner Kaito Yoza and Nippon Ham’s Kenta Uehara, each from Okinawa, throwing seven scoreless innings. Uehara, who previously dabbled with being a two-way player, struck out nine. Two-out RBI singles by Shuta Tonosaki and Takeya Nakamura plated the Lions’ eighth-inning runs.

Tonosaki’s RBI single

Tatsushi Masuda recorded his 12th save thanks to some excellent defense from his middle infielders, shortstop Sosuke Genda and Tonosaki at second.

Swallows 6, Giants 0, 6 innings: At Morioka’s spanking new ballpark, in a pouring rain, Tetsuto Yamada and Hideki Nagaoka hit three-run home runs off Foster Griffin (4-4). Reiji Kozawa (3-1) went the (middle) distance for the Swallows.

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