Saturday’s games were preceded by the news that Yu Darvish joined Hideo Nomo as the second Japanese pitcher with 1,000 strikeouts in both MLB and Japan, Masahiro Tanaka, who needs nine more in the States to join them, started against last week’s no-hit wonder, Cody Ponce.
In Fukuoka, the Hawks sent inexperienced Yugo Bando against the Lions in their PL showdown, while Shintaro Fujinami started against the Giants to see if the former phenom could keep his groove going. In Chiba, like the Marines didn’t have enough trouble as it is after losing 1-0 behind Roki Sasaki on Friday, they got to face Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Hawks 5, Lions 2: At Fukuoka Dome, Bando (2-1), making his fourth career start, gave up a first-inning solo homer to Tomoya Mori, his seventh, but Kenta Imamiya homered for the second straight game to tie it in the second, Alfredo Despaigne made it 3-1 in the third with his eight, off Kaito Yoza (9-6), who allowed five runs, four earned, over 4-1/3.
The win moved SoftBank a full game ahead of Seibu with Kodai Senga going on Sunday against Dietrich Enns.
Buffaloes 4, Marines 3: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Yamamoto (12-5) struck out nine and walked none in a five hitter with four of the Marines’ hits coming in a three-run seventh before the right-hander retired the last eight hitters.
Ryoichi Adachi doubled in Yuma Mune in the fourth off Enny Romero (8-9). Adachi doubled in Masataka Yoshida and Yuma Tongu in the sixth and with runners on the corners, scored on a delayed double steal.
Giants 7, Tigers 1: At Koshien Stadium, C.C. Mercedes and five Yomiuri relievers combined to hold Hanshin to four hits.
Fujinami (2-3) gave up three runs on five hits and two walks over six innings. Hayato Sakamoto singled in a run in the third, and Koji Chikamoto tied it for the Tigers in the fourth with a home run before Naoki Yoshikawa tripled and scored the fifth-inning go-ahead run on a Takumi Oshiro single.
Fujinami had allowed one run in each of his previous starts, each lasting seven innings.
Ian Krol and Rubby De La Rossa each pitched a perfect inning of relief for the Giants.
Dragons 5, Swallows 1: At Jingu Stadium, Shinnosuke Ogaswara (7-8) struck out seven and scattered eight hits and a walk as he allowed a run over 7-1/3 innings, and Dayan Viciedo drove in two runs as Chunichi won to remain the only Central League team against which Yakult has a losing record this season.
Murakami doubled to open the second but was caught trying to steal third before Jose Osuna doubled with two outs, while Osuna lined into a double play after Yamada and Murakami reached ahead of him in the fourth.
The Dragons now lead their season series 11-9, and would probably be in playoff contention were it not for their 3-15-1 record against DeNA. Yakult’s next worse record is against the Giants (11-11-1).
I’m not big on who is leading a league in hits, but Murakami went 3-for-4 and is now tied for the league lead, while leading in batting average, slugging average, walks, on-base percentage and home runs and is now tied for the lead in times caught stealing with seven.
Eagles 5, Fighters 4, 10 innings: At Miyagi Stadium, Tanaka cruised through four innings, striking out five while allowing one hit and one walk. With a 3-0 lead in the fifth, he surrendered a two-run home run to Arismendy Alcántara and four straight two-out hits with Kensuke Kondo and Yuma Imagawa each singling in one run to put Nippon Ham up by a run.
Hideto Asamura hit his 22nd homer and his third in four games to lead off the fourth, and Tsuyoshi Yamasaki led off the two-run fifth with his first home run. Yuya Ogo doubled and scored on a Daichi Suzuki single to make it 3-0.
The Eagles walked off after former Fighter stalwart Haruki Nishikawa did his thing with a one-out walk off Mizuki Hori (1-3). A sacrifice, and a wild pitch put Nishikawa at third, and with two outs, the Fighters walked the Eagles two biggest boppers, Asamura and 2021 RBI champ Hiroaki Shimauchi, allowing Taisho Tamai to issue a five-pitch walk-off walk to Ginji Akaminai.
Carp 4, BayStars 0: At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Atsushi Endo (4-6) allowed four hits and no walks over seven innings, Daisuke Moriura pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and Makoto Kenma faced the minimum in Hiroshima’s five-hit shutout of the second-place BayStars, who remained seven games back of Yakult.
Kenta Ishida (4-4) allowed three runs, two earned, over 4-1/3 innings to take the loss.
Sunday’s starting pitchers
Eagles vs Fighters: Miyagi Stadium 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Marines vs Buffaloes: Chiba Marine Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT
Hawks vs Lions: Fukuoka Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Swallows vs Dragons: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Tigers vs Giants: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Carp vs BayStars: Hiroshima Citizen’s Stadium 1:30 pm, 0:30 am EDT
Active roster moves 9/3/2022
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/13