With Tigers rookie Shoki Murakami’s start in Hiroshima wiped out by rain in Hiroshima Saturday’s big event became the mouthwatering matchup between a pair of pitchers aspiring to pitch in MLB, Orix’s Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Seibu’s Kona Takahashi.
The only downside to that matchup was having to either turn down the volume or bear the brunt of umpire Kazuyuki Shirai’s screeching strike calls. On the bright side, if one dislikes posing, Yuki Yanagita prevented Hirokazu Sawamura from scaring the children with his Randy Arozarena look in Chiba.
Dragons 2, Giants 1: At Nagoya Stadium, first-year Yomiuri import Foster Griffin allowed a run over seven innings to outlast Chunichi lefty Takahiro Matsuba, who allowed a run in six innings, but the Dragons scratched out a tie-breaking run in the eighth inning off Tomoya Mikami (0-1).
Rookie Hiroki Fukunaga, whose two-out sixth-inning single contributed to the Dragons tying it 1-1, singled in pinch-runner Wataru Takamatsu after Takaya Ishikawa reached on a one-out walk. Raidel Martinez worked a 1-2-3 ninth against the heart of the Giants’ order to record his ninth save.
Eagles 5, Fighters 0: At Kitahiroshima Taxpayers Burden Field, Rakuten’s Ryota Takinaka (1-1) was the benefactor of three Eagles home runs off Naoyuki Uwasawa (3-2), solo shots by Hiroto Kobukata in the first inning and Hideto Asamura in the third, and Takero Okajima’s two-run sixth-inning jack.
Marines 6, Hawks 3: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Yuki Yanagita’s fifth homer, and second of the game, brought SoftBank back from a 3-2 eighth-inning deficit against Hirokazu Sawamura (3-1), who was charged with four runs after retiring just one of the six batters he faced.
Buffaloes 4, Lions 3: At Osaka Dome, Tomoya Mori haunted his former team, with three hits, including a game-tying two-out ninth-inning two-run single, and some good base running that led to Orix’s first run.
Seibu’s Kona Takahashi allowed a run in six innings, and David MacKinnon broke up a scoreless game with a two-run home run off Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
“I never got into a real good rhythm, and though I was able to hang in there, giving up the first runs was everything,” said Yamamoto, who gave up seven hits, walked two and struck out six in seven innings.
Takahashi scattered five hits, three walks and a hit batsman. With a 2-0 lead in the sixth, Mori singled, went to third on a Marwin Gonzalez single and scored. Takahashi, however, caught a break when Frank Schwindel’s two-out liner was caught with two men on to preserve the lead.
MacKinnon singled to open the Lions’ eighth and scored an insurance run on Hotaka Yamakawa’s bases-loaded single. Reliever Yuta Kuroki got two outs with the bases loaded to keep the game from getting out of hand, 40-year-old Motoki Higa (2-0) worked a 1-2-3 ninth, and the Buffaloes scored three runs against closer Tatsushi Masuda (0-1).
Keita Nakagawa hit a hard comebacker with two outs and two on that Masuda couldn’t field to load the bases. Mori tied it with a single off his former batterymate, and with Orix down to its last strike, Yuma Tongu slashed a 1-2 pitch to the opposite field to win it.
DenialStars 17, Swallows 7: At Jingu Stadium, DeNA hit five home runs for the second straight day, but this time kept Yakult out of the seats. Keita Sano, who homered twice on Friday, hit the first pitch from Yasuhiro Ogawa (1-4) out. Toshiro Miyazaki hit the first of his two homers on Ogawa’s fourth pitch. Yasutaka Tobashira belted a two-run shot in the second to make it 4-1.
With the bases loaded, and two outs, Shugo Maki blasted a 3-2 pitch out to make it 8-1. Yakult battled back, but could not stop the bleeding.