It was Pacific League Thursday, and with each of the top-three teams playing a second-division club, there was, like in interleague, a chance for some real shift in the standings. Roki Sasaki, who was pulled after throwing 58 pitches in five innings on Wednesday, apparently did not recover sufficiently overnight to make Lotte think he would be able to make his next start, and was deactivated.
This is the 20-year-old’s first season in the rotation. In 2020, his first season, Sasaki didn’t pitch in a single official game at any level, with the team explaining that he was unable to recover quickly enough from his bullpens and simulated games.
Thursday also gave us the next Tiger – or former Tiger – to announce the end was near. This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering how old Hanshin’s roster was a few years back, when Takashi Toritani, Kosuke Fukudome, Yoshio Itoi and Atsushi Nomi were all together in pinstripes.
Fukudome, who turned 45 in April, entered the season as Japan’s oldest active player, followed by Nomi, who turned 43 in May. On Thursday, the lefty, currently with the Orix Buffaloes as a player coach, announced that he didn’t want to be next season’s oldest.
The former Tigers ace has a career record of 104-93 with four saves and a 3.35 ERA over 473 career games.
Hawks 7, Eagles 3: At Miyagi Stadium, Tsuyoshi Wada (6-4), the second oldest player who has yet to announce his retirement, allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four over five innings to win his third straight start.
Alfredo Despaigne hit the first of three one-out second-inning singles against Wataru Karashima (5-4), and scored on an Akira Nakamura sac fly. The Hawks hit for the cycle in a three-run third, a Masaki Mimori triple, a Kenta Imamiya RBI double, a Yuki Yanagita two-run homer, his 19th, and a Taisei Makihara single.
The Eagles wasted their best scoring chance against Wada in the first. Tsuyoshi Yamasaki’s leadoff fly to the gap in right was not caught by center fielder Makihara, who then kicked it along the warning track. Yamasaki was generously credited with a triple. Wada appeared to nail him on a comebacker, and eventually did. Third baseman Ukyo Shuto lost the ball when he made the tag, but Yamasaki lay there motionless stretched out on the base path, when Shukyo retrieved the ball and tagged him out.
Imamiya reached base four times. He singled and scored in a two-run fifth and singled in a run in the eighth.
Buffaloes 3, Fighters 2, 12 innings: At Osaka Dome, Orix remained two games back of SoftBank after Ryo Ota led off the 12th with a double off reliever Mizuki Hori (1-5) and scored on Kenya Wakatsuki’s one-out pinch-hit double off the wall.
Buffaloes starter Taisuke Yamaoka allowed a run over six innings and Fighters starter Haruka Nemoto a run over 5-2/3. Orix loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth. Masahiro Nishino’s pinch-hit single off Kazutomo Iguchi broke the deadlock, but Nippon Ham tied it in the ninth against closer Yoshihisa Hirano, when singles by Daigo Kawakamibata and Go Matsumoto set up a Kotaro Kiyomiya sac fly.
Marines, Lions 1: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Manabu Mima (8-6) struck out seven while allowing three hits over seven scoreless innings without a walk. Hisanori Yasuda hit a two-run second-inning home run, his seventh, off Katsunori Hirai (6-8), and a two-run single in the third.
Friday’s starting pitchers
Eagles vs Hawks: Miyagi Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Fighters: Osaka Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
BayStars vs Carp: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Dragons vs Swallows: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 9/15/2022
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/25