We have three big pennant-race and playoff battles going on involving seven of Japan’s 12 teams. Sure the Swallows and BayStars haven’t etched the Central League’s top-two slots in stone yet, but DeNA started Tuesday six games out of first place, so while it’s interesting, it’s only a must-win situation for one of those two teams.
The Pacific League-leading Hawks played the last-place Fighters on Tuesday while leading the second-place Buffaloes on winning percentage, with Orix at Lotte where on a rainy night, it wasn’t the rain that forced a 20-minute delay.
I missed a four-game series, which we have every few years at this time, and because I missed it, the rumor of the Lions being swept by the Eagles was greatly exaggerated ahead of Tuesday’s finale as those two clubs slug it out for the the PL’s final playoff spot.
The Hanshin Tigers went into Tuesday’s game with DeNA in third place but leading the Hiroshima Carp and Yomiuri Giants on just winning percentage.
Hawks 3, Fighters 1: At Sapporo Dome, Yuki Yangita hit a solo homer, his 21st, en route to a 3-0 Hawks lead. Shuta Ishikawa (7-9) gave up his first hits in the sixth, when Takuya Nakashima doubled in a run with one out. Ishikawa issued a walk, and manager Hiroshi Fujimoto began playing pitcher roulette.
The next reliever issued a walk and was gone, but Yuki Tsumori got an inning-ending double play. Former closer Yuito Mori loaded the bases and was gone, and Nippon Ham left the bases jammed again. After four relievers in two innings, Yuki Matsumoto and Koya Fujii closed it out with Fujii getting his third save.
Fighters right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa (8-8) went the distance, allowing seven hits and four walks while striking out seven.
Buffaloes 6, Marines 3: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Ryo Ota homered to break a 1-1 tie in the fifth like his father, a long-time Buffaloes BP pitcher was throwing. With Orix leading 2-0 in the sixth with one out and two on, a flock of birds flying around the bayside ballpark, interrupting play for 20 minutes.
Marines outfielder Katsuya Kakunaka tried to scare them away by taking a bat out to the outfield where they were squatting, while the stadium operators tried to make the birds leave on their own volition by turning off all the stadium lights.
You can view the Lotte’s 20-minute remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” on Youtube.
When play resumed, Ota smacked an RBI single. Orix starter Sachiya Yamasaki allowed a leadoff single in the seventh, and Seiya “Aja” Inoue belted a game-tying two-run homer off the new guy. After a perfect inning in the top of the seventh by Lotte reliever Taiki Tojo, former closer Yuji Nishino (3-3) surrendered Masataka Yoshida’s second homer in two days, his 20th to open the eighth.
Torai Fushimi, who singled in a run in the second for the Buffaloes, homered to lead off Orix’s two-run ninth. Soichiro Yamazaki became the 32nd PL pitcher to earn a save this year and the eighth on the Buffaloes.
Lions 4, Eagles 1: At Seibu Dome, Kona Takahashi (11-8) allowed eight hits but walked none while allowing a run and striking out nine over eight innings. Yuji Kaneko singled and scored in the first and broke a fifth-inning tie with an RBI single. Shuta Tonosaki singled in a pair of runs in the eighth as Seibu pulled to within a game of the third-place Eagles.
Hotaka Yamakawa’s first-inning RBI single snapped a streak of 41 innings in which the Lions did not have a single RBI on a hit that was not a home run.
Giants 5, Swallows 4: At Tokyo Dome, there were more home runs a day after Yomiuri hit four, but none from Munetaka Murakami, who everyone came to see hit one as the Swallows cleanup hitter went 0-for-3 and was hit by a pitch in his fourth straight game without a home run.
Even the Giants broadcast crew was going on about how unlucky Yakult was, getting just three runs on 11 hits and two walks while hitting some bullets at Giants fielders and being robbed on a pair of defensive gems by center fielder Yoshihiro Maru and second baseman Naoki Yoshikawa.
BayStars 5, Tigers 4: At Koshien Stadium, DeNA won a see-saw game when the Tigers’ ballpark was in full fielding Bermuda Triangle mode. Shugo Maki singled in a run in the sixth to make it 2-1 DeNA to chase Tigers side-armer Koyo Aoyagi.
The Tigers scored three runs off lefty Edwin Escobar in the eighth, starting with pinch-hitter Fumiya Hojo’s game-tying home run. RBI singles by Fumihito Haraguchi and Teruaki Sato gave Hanshin a 4-2 lead.
Fernando Romero 6-8) made his second bullpen appearance of the season, got out of the inning, and earned the win after the BayStars came from behind against Suguru Iwazaki in the top of the ninth. Keita Sano, who homered in the first, singled in two runs with his fourth hit of the game to tie it, and a Taichi Kusumoto RBI single put DeNA in front again.
The Tigers got the leadoff man on second with no outs after Maki failed to catch a pop behind second. With the DeNA outfield shallow to cut off the tying run, the Tigers wasted an out on a bunt, making it easier for Yasuaki Yamasaki to save his 35th game, two shy of the career high he last matched in 2018.
Dragons 5, Carp 3, 11 innings: At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Ryan McBroom hit his second homer in two games in the first inning to make it 3-1 against Chunichi’s Yuya Yanagi. Carp starter Allen Kuri issued a bases-loaded walk in the fourth. Toshiki Abe singled and scored in the fourth and doubled in Yohei Oshima to tie it in the seventh.
The Dragons won it in the 11th against Carp closer Ryoji Kuribayashi (0-2). Shuhei Takahashi who drew the fourth-inning RBI walk, walked to open the 11th. Kuribayashi got two outs, but Chunichi scored twice after Oshima was walked intentionally. Raidel Martinez succeeded where Kuribayashi failed and recorded his 35th save.
Wednesday’s starting pitchers
BayStars vs Giants: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Dragons vs Swallows: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Tigers vs Carp: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 9/20/2022
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/30