It was a wild Friday night in Japanese pro baseball, in which two pitchers drove in the winning runs for their teams, Roki Sasaki looked more comfortable hitting than pitching, there was a huge comeback in which the three home runs hit by one player were nearly secondary.
Let’s get straight to the games, including a list of all the pitchers who have hit interleague home runs.
Tigers 9, Fighters 7: At Koshien Stadium, Yusuke Oyama hit three home runs for the second time in his career, and became the second CL player with a home run hat-trick in interleague this year after Yakult’s Yasutaka Shiomi did it on May 27 against Rakuten.
Oyama also walked and scored more runs than his three solo homers drove in as Hanshin overturned a six-run deficit.
Lefty Mizuki Hori (0-2) struck out the first batter he faced in the eighth, got ahead of Oyama 0-2 before he hit his third homer, allowed back-to-back singles, issued a walk, surrendered Yasuhiro Yamamoto’s RBI game-tying pinch-hit single and walking in the go-ahead run.
Aaron Wilkerson’s follow-up to his scintillating duel with Roki Sasaki a week early saw him give seven runs on eight hits and two walks over three innings. Fighters right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa was hardly much better, leaving after six, having allowed five runs on two walks and eight hits.
Daiki Asama singled off Wilkerson’s first pitch, and Chusei Mannami doubled him home on an 0-2 changeup. Kotaro Kiyomiya plated Mannami with a sac fly. Daigo Kamikawabata drew a second-inning leadoff walk, went to third on Arismendy Alcantara’s single and scored on a Shingo Usami sac fly.
Mannami opened the Fighters’ four-run third with his 10th home run. With no outs and the bases loaded, Kamikawabata’s sac fly made 5-1 and Usami singled in two more to cap the rally.
Giants 10, Marines 3: At Tokyo Dome, Roki Sasaki (5-1) found another mound that didn’t suit him, and Shoshei Togo (6-3) worked over one of Japan’s worst offenses. Togo threw seven scoreless innings, allowing four singles and two walks, and struck out six while allowing only one leadoff hitter to reach.
Sasaki couldn’t locate his fastball and missed with lots of forkballs. He fell behind in counts and had little going for him other than velocity and an occasional forkball that dipped enough to cause a swing and miss.
Oddly, the game’s big moment came not with Sasaki on the mound, but at bat. With two outs and the game scoreless, Sasaki, who at least one MLB scout believes could have been a quality pro hitter, showed why. He was on every one of Togo’s pitches near the zone before grounding out on the eighth pitch.
Sasaki then took the mound, Gregory Polanco led off with a triple, and rookie Riku Matsuda added the cream to the Coffee with an RBI double . Adam Walker doubled in the first, hit a third-inning leadoff single and scored when Kazuma Okamoto teed off on a hanging forkball for his 16th home run.
Sasaki had a solid fourth inning but still gave up a run. His error allowed Raito Nakayama to reach, and the rookie scored on Yoshihiro Maru’s poorly hit grounder that got through the infield. The Giants made it 5-0 when Naoki Yoshikawa singled and scored on a Polanco double.
Rubby De La Rosa erased Koki Yamaguchi’s pinch-hit leadoff single with a double play, but Leonys Martin restarted the inning with his second hit, a double, Shogo Nakamura walked, and Brandon Laird reached the seats with his second hit, his ninth home run.
The Giants then blew the game further open in a five-run eighth, when they stole their sixth base of the game, the most by the Giants since they stole six against the Swallows on May 12, 1973.
Swallows 1, Lions 0: At Jingu Stadium, Yasuhiro Ogawa (3-3) broke open a scoreless duel with Kona Takahashi (4-5) with a home run, and allowed three hits and a walk over eight innings before Scott McGough struck out the side in the ninth for his 15th save.
Ogawa’s third career home run was the eighth hit in interleague but only the first by a CL pitcher.
I’m sure no one’s curious but the other seven were hit by:
- Jeremy Powell May 11, 2005 vs Yomiuri (maybe why the Giants then signed him)
- Tsutomu Iwamoto May 21, 2005 vs Yomiuri
- Rick Guttormson May 28, 2008 vs Yokohama
- Kenji Otonari May 29, 2008 vs Yokohama (embarrassing series for the BayStars)
- Daisuke Matsuzaka June 9, 2006 vs Hanshin (At Koshien, of course)
- Alfredo Figaro June 15, 2011 vs Yokohama
- Kenta Uehara June 18, 2018 vs Hiroshima
“”They have one good batter after another, so I wanted to work aggressively, with each pitch to keep them from putting a rally together. I knew that they would be on me if I threw all my pitches at the same speed, so I wanted to change speeds and hit the corners and I was able to do that and disrupt their timing.”
“In batting practice, I’ve been working on not getting being late on the fastball, and maybe that paid off.”–Yasuhiro “Ryan” Ogawa, on why his evening worked–and why Roki Sasaki’s didnt.
BayStars 7, Eagles 0: At Yokohama Stadium, Shinichi Onuki (4-2) threw five scoreless innings, while Rakuten’s Ryota Takinaka (1-5) allowed five runs on a pair of home runs.
Tatsuhiro Shibata singled in the first and scored on Toshiro Miyazaki’s fourth homer, and those two walked, Miyazaki on four straight pitches, in the third and scored when Shugo Maki hit the first pitch he saw for his 14th home run.
Hawks 6, Dragons 0: At Nagoya Dome, Kodai Senga (4-2) plated Kenta Imamiya with the game’s first run on a fourth-inning sacrifice fly off Yudai Ono (3-5) as he returned to duty two weeks after leaving his last start with tightness in his right elbow on May 20. He allowed two hits and a walk while striking out two over 5-1/3 innings, leaving after summoning the trainer to the mound.
Ono stranded nine runners over seven innings before the Hawks opened the game up in the eighth. Akira Nakamura drew a leadoff walk from Takumi Yamamoto, and Kenta Imamiya’s third hit put runners on the corners. A groundout and a Takuya Kai single made it 3-0 before Alfredo Despaigne pinch-hit and stroked his first home run of the season to put the game on ice.
Buffaloes 4, Carp 1: At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Masataka Yoshida returned to active duty and went 0-for-4 but Torai Fushimi, who was hit in the head with a bat on Wednesday, hit a two-run second-inning homer, his first, off Daichi Osera (5-3) to make it a 2-1 game.
Ryo Ota singled in a run for the Buffaloes in the fourth, and Joe McCarthy did the same in the fifth.
Daiki Tajima (2-3) worked five innings for Orix, allowing nine hits while striking out four. Four relievers finished up with Daisuke Kondo earning his third career save.
Saturday’s starting pitchers
Giants vs Marines: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Swallows vs Lions: Jingu Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
BayStars vs Eagles: Yokohama Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Dragons vs Hawks: Nagoya Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Tigers vs Fighters: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Carp vs Buffaloes: Hiroshima Citizen’s Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Active roster moves 6/3/2022
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 6/13