NPB news: May 27, 2023

We only had five games on Friday, with the Hawks and Marines taking the day off ahead of their two-game series in Fukuoka, where ostensibly Roki Sasaki will return to the mound on Sunday for the first time since he started a 12-inning 0-0 tie with SoftBank in Chiba on May 5 and developed a blister.

I had the day off from the day job, and went up to Seibu Dome for the first time since the summer of 2019, and would never have been able to get in if another reporter I knew hadn’t showed me how to navigate the hidden media entrance and the labyrinth that followed.

The good news is that the Lions allow reporters on the field unlike most NPB teams.

In the games we did have, Sosuke Genda returned for the Lions and Yutaro “Rao” Sugimoto returned for Orix to start their three-game series, we had one game decided by a botched play, a couple of pitching duels and a slugfest, so let’s get to it.

Friday’s games

Tigers 2, Giants 1: At Koshien Stadium, Yomiuri rookie lefty Kai Yokogawa threw six shutout innings in which he’d allowed three singles and no walks on 80 pitches. He left with a 1-0 lead thanks to Hayato Sakamoto’s third-inning RBI single, but the lead evaporated in the seventh, when Kohei Suzuki hit a batter with one out and surrendered three straight singles to tie it.

Yuhei Takanashi (0-1) surrendered a sac fly to Seiya Kinami that put Hanshin in front and made a winner out of the Tigers’ left-handed rookie starter, Takuma Kirishiki (1-0), who struck out 10 and walked one over seven innings, while allowing five singles.

Japan WBC reliever Atsuki Yuasa returned to the big league mound for the first time since April 13, and stranded two runners in the eighth, and Suguru Iwazaki struck out three of the four he faced in the ninth for his ninth save. The win was the Tigers’ sixth straight.

Tigers-Giants highlights

Eagles 4, Fighters 3: At Miyagi Stadium, the Rakuten Eagles overcame a 3-2 eighth-inning deficit, when three fielders declined to make a play on Maikel Franco‘s two-out popup to shallow left for a leadoff single off Fighters starter Hiromi Ito (2-4). The right-hander then surrendered a massive home run to Hideto Asamura. Yuki Matsui worked the ninth for his seventh save.

Fighters fielders and Hideto Asamura give the Eagles the lead.

Dragons 1, DenialStars 0: At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi’s Shinnosuke Ogasawara (4-2) and DeNA’s Robert Gsellman (3-2) each worked seven innings. Gsellman allowed four hits and two walks, and surrendered the game’s only run, on Takaya Ishikawa’s fourth-inning homer. Ogasawara struck out nine.

Chunichi-DeNA highlights

Carp 6, Swallows 4: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Yakult lost its eighth straight decision for the first time in four years and are winless in their last nine games, after Hirotoshi Takanashi (0-3) bled out six runs over three innings.

Shogo Sakamura singled in two first-inning runs, Shogo Akiyama singled in another in the second, and Kosuke Tanaka hit a three-run homer in the third.

Kosuke Tanaka’s three-run home run.

Kota Hayashi missed a solo homer in the fifth for the Carp. Since the Carp are the stingiest major league team known to man, the umps most likely would have been able to call it correctly if Hiroshima’s owner provided them with a monitor as good as the Stadium’s big screen, on which the ball could be seen glancing off the foul pole.

As they have been doing, the Swallows battled back to no avail.

Buffaloes 4, Lions 1: At Seibu Dome, Yutaro Sugimoto returned to the Buffaloes lineup for the first time in over three weeks and moved into a tie for the league lead in homers when he went deep off Wataru Matsumoto (2-4) in his first at-bat. Kotaro Kurebayashi followed with his second homer in two games to make it 3-0.

Sosuke Genda was charged with a run-scoring error in the fifth, but singled in Seibu’s only run in the sixth. Taisuke Yamaoka (1-0) went six for Orix, and Jacob Waguespack, Soichiro Yamazaki and Yoshihisa Hirano finished up over the last three innings, with Hirano getting his eighth save.

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