NPB news: Sept. 2, 2023

Hiromi Ito pitched a tremendous game for Nippon Ham against his WBC teammate Yoshinobu Yamamoto in a game he did not deserve to lose.

Saturday’s games

Buffaloes 1, Fighters 0: At Kitahiroshima Taxpayers Burden Field: Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto (13-5) squared off with Japan World Baseball Classic teammate Hiromi Ito and just barely escaped with the win.

Ito (7-8) was in top form, allowing a run on two first-inning hits while striking out 11 without a walk over the distance against the Pacific League leaders. Orix’s run was as close as can be, with Ryoma Ikeda doubling and barely beating the tag on a good throw to the plate on a one-out Keita Nakagawa single. Ito then retired 24 of the last 25 batters he faced, with the lone batter to reach on an error being caught in a rundown on the play.

Yamamoto (13-5), meanwhile, was often under the gun with runners on base.

“In terms of how well we pitched, Ito was better than me today, but I was able to hang in there when I had to,” Yamamoto said. “Ito is a good pitcher, so I knew today was going to be a battle.”

Yamamoto twice faced two-on no-out jams but both times got three straight outs, and protected his lead for seven innings. He struck out nine and walked three while surrendering four hits.

Soichiro Yamazaki worked a scoreless eighth before veteran closer Yoshihisa Hirano earned his 24th save by following Yamamoto’s lead and stranding two runners, the ninth and 10th left on by the Fighters.

Tigers 6, Swallows 5: At Jingu Stadium, Dan Onodera brought Hanshin from behind with a two-run third-inning triple off Dillon Peters (6-5), and Teruaki Sato capped the six-run rally with a three-run homer, his 16th. Peters was yanked after walking the next batter, and Yakult crept back into the game on solid work from the bullpen and Munetaka Murakami getting on base every time he came to the plate.

Murakami gave the Swallows a two-run first-inning lead with his 25th home run off Koyo Aoyagi (7-4), doubled and scored in the fourth, and walked and scored in Yakult’s two-run eighth. Suguru Iwazaki ended the game by becoming the first Tigers pitcher to retire Murakami, who was shedding his batting gloves and heading to first for his third straight walk when he was informed the inside pitch was Strike 3. The save was the lefty’s 28th of the season.

Carp 3, Dragons 1: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Hiroshima’s Masato Morishita (8-3) scattered seven hits and two walks over the distance, and Matt Davidson singled and scored in the second and doubled in a run in the Carp’s two-run third off Hiroto Takahashi (5-9). Seiya Hosokawa, who escaped seven years of minor league limbo with DeNA’s Eastern League club via December’s active-player draft, became the first Dragon with 20 home runs in five years, and the first Japanese-born Dragon to hit 20 since 2010, when Masahiko Morino and CL MVP Kazuhiro Wada both did it.

Carp-Dragons highlights

Marines 5, Eagles: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Masahiro Tanaka surrendered three runs, two on long solo homers by Gregory Polanco, who hit eight in August and has two in September, and another by Hiromi Oka, that put Lotte up 3-1 behind Atsuki Taneichi, who burned through his pitch count early and was pulled after 5-1/3 innings. New Eagle Toshiki Abe homered for Rakuten’s only run off the PL strikeout leader, but Yuya Ogo homered in the eighth to tie it 3-3. Abe tripled in a run in the ninth and scored on an Ogo single off closer Naoya Masuda (2-4. Rakuten’s Yuki Matsui recorded his 30th save.

Deniers 13, Giants 4: At Yokohama Stadium, Yomiuri opted for a bullpen day, and DeNA turned it into live BP as the balls flew. Toshiro Miyazaki doubled, singled, walked, homered, and drove in four runs, while leadoff man Taiki Sekine homered and scored four runs. NPB home run leader Kazuma Okamoto doubled twice and hit his 36th home run for the Giants with Hayato Sakamoto hitting his 16th.

Hawks 6, Lions 2: At Seibu Half Dome, SoftBank broke a 1-1 tie with a four-run fourth that started with Kensuke Kondo reaching on an error and ended with a Takuya Kai two-run homer off Kona Takahashi (9-8).

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