Hawks manager Hiroshi Fujimoto challenged his ace Kodai Senga to be as good on Sunday as Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto had been against them on Saturday, and a second-straight pitchers’ duel ensued between SoftBank and Orix, whose starter had also been challenged the day before, by Yamamoto.
Atsushi Kittaka, who before Kazuyuki Shirai was the Japanese umpire most famously associated with in-game trouble, got a round of applause at a ballpark where he made one of his most infamous marks, although a rumor of him finally getting hit by a ball thrown by a pitcher were exaggerated.
Kittaka has an impressive resume of issues, but at Koshien on July 31, 1998, Giants pitcher Balvino Galvez took issue with the ump squeezing his strike zone, and when he was being lifted from the game after surrendering a home run, he heaved a ball across the diamond at Kittaka. Galvez missed him but was suspended for the rest of the season.
Sunday’s game was Kittaka’s 3,000th, and he received a warm round of applause from the fans and a bouquet of flowers was handed to him rather than thrown at him.
Let’s get to the games, shall we?
Buffaloes 2, Hawks 0: At Osaka Dome, Hiroya Miyagi (11-7) allowed an infield single, a walk, and a hit batsman, all in the same fourth inning, and left the bases loaded while bowling four perfect frames to earn the win.
Masahiro Nishino had three of Orix’s six hits off Senga (10-6). His single opened the third and he scored on a two-out single when Shuhei Fukuda looked like he was sitting on a 2-2 forkball and got what he wanted. Keita Nakagawa drew a one-out walk in the fourth, took third on a Masataka Yoshida single and scored on a Yuma Tongu sac fly.
Miyagi walked Alfredo Despaigne to load the bases with two outs in the fourth, but escaped real trouble when he hung a forkball that Despaigne mistook for a fastball and let it drop for a called strike instead of slamming for a three-run homer.
The Hawks’ best chance came in the sixth against Yuki Udagawa, after back-to-back one-out singles, but the rookie earned his spurs by striking out Yuki Yanagita and Despaigne. Soichiro Yamazaki, Shota Abe and Jacob Waguespack finished up with three sharp innings with Waguespack earning his fifth save.
Eagles 3, Lions 0: At Seibu Dome, Eigoro Mogi sparked Rakuten’s offense with a first-inning solo homer off Kaito Yoza (10-7), and leadoff double that ignited the Eagles’ three-run fourth after Takahiro Norimoto (9-8) pitched out of a bases-loaded jam.
The Lions made it close in the home half on Aito Takeda’s three-run home run, but wasted a pair of walks in a scoreless sixth inning.
The Eagles moved one full game ahead of Seibu and stayed 2-1/2 back of the second-place Buffaloes.
Marines 7, Fighters 4: At Sapporo Dome, Hisanori Yasuda, another high school star who was more highly rated in the 2017 draft than Munetaka Murakami, went 2-for-3 with an RBI single, a sac fly, a walk and a three-run ninth-inning homer that brought Lotte from behind.
Nippon Ham’s Cody Ponce and Lotte’s Kazuya Ojima each allowed three runs over seven innings. The Fighters scored an unearned run in the eighth on three walks and an error. Katsuya Kakunaka doubled with one out in the ninth against Naoya Ishikawa (2-2) and Kyota Fujiwara singled in the tying run. A single and Yasuda’s eighth home run put Lotte in front for good.
Swallows 1, Tigers 0: At Koshien Stadium, Yasuhiro “Ryan” Ogawa (8-8) allowed five hits and walked two over 7-1/3 scoreless innings after reliever Takuma Kubo bailed him out by getting an inning-ending double play with two on in the eighth.
Hanshin’s Shintaro Fujinami (2-5) allowed an unearned run on two hits and three walks while striking out nine over six innings. The lone run scored in the sixth on throwing errors by shortstop Takumu Nakano and Fujinami.
Swallows closer Scott McGough allowed the leadoff hitter in the ninth to reach on an uncaught third strike, and issued a two-out walk before striking out Teruaki Sato to end it and earn his 37th save.
BayStars 3, Giants 1: At Tokyo Dome, Shinichi Onuki (11-7) allowed a run on six hits and two walks over six innings. Two of his six strikeouts came against Giants pitcher Iori Yamasaki (5-5) to end innings with a total of five runners left on.
The BayStars opened the scoring on three no-out sixth-inning singles by Keita Sano, Shugo Maki and Toshiro Miyazaki. Neftali Soto walked, and Yamasaki fumbled a ball, allowing a second run to score. Kazuma Okamoto open the bottom of the sixth with his 28th home run.
Three good innings from the bullpen trio of Edwin Escobar, Hiromu Ise and Yasuaki Yamasaki, who got his 34th save, clinched it after DeNA scored a ninth-inning insurance run on a two-out Masayuki Kuwahara single and a Tashi Kusumoto double.
The BayStars remained 6-1/2 back of Yakult with 14 games to play, and moved 5-1/2 clear of the Tigers, who are now tied for third with Hiroshima, while Yomiuri is a half-game further back.
Monday’s games in Hiroshima between the Carp and Dragons, and the second game of the Tigers-Swallows series at Koshien were canceled due to an approaching typhoon.
Sunday’s starting pitchers
Fighters vs Marines: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Lions vs Eagles: Seibu Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Hawks: Osaka Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Giants vs BayStars: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Active roster moves 9/18/2022
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/28