Sunday saw Seibu and SoftBank, who between them have won five of the last six Pacific League pennants continue their Fukuoka brawl with Hawks ace Kodai Senga going against Dietrich Enns, while last year’s champs, the Orix Buffaloes looked for a sweep in Chiba after starting the day trailing second-place Seibu on winning percentage.
Each month this time, John E. Gibson and I go over players who we think are either deserving of winning one of their league’s two monthly awards, for top pitcher and top batter, or whom we guess will be picked.
To that end I don’t recall a batter dominating a month quite like Munetaka Murakami did. He led the CL in runs 30, hits 33, HRs 12, total bases 74, RBI 25, walks 25, batting average .440, OBP 588 and slug .987.
Lions 4, Hawks 1: At Fukuoka Dome, Enns (10-6) threw six scoreless innings thanks to a couple of big plays by third baseman Freddy Galvis, and Shuta Tonosaki hit a hanging 1-2 forkball into the stands for his11th homer and a two-run seventh-inning lead.
Senga (9-5), who returned from a COVID layoff on Aug. 28, and said his physical condition at the time was quite strange, appeared uncomfortable on the mound, often feeling the back of his neck and stretching his legs.
After the home run, Senga fell apart, as a walk, a hanging 1-2 cutter hit for a single and an error made it 3-0, two more singles made it 4-0. Alfredo Despaigne singled in a run in the home half off Burch Smith, but that was all for the Hawks as Tatsushi Masuda wrapped it up for his 29th save.
Buffaloes 5, Marines 2: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Hiroya Miyagi (10-6) allowed two runs in 6-2/3 innings, and Yuma Tongu continued to be a thorn in opponents’ sides. He singled to open a three-run second inning off Kazyua Ojima (3-10), scored on a Torai Fushimi single before Ryo Nishimura capped the rally with a two-out two-run double.
Tongu blasted his ninth homer of the season with a man on in the five to make it 5-1. With two Marines on and two out in the bottom of the sixth, Ryo Yoshida came in to end the inning, and three relievers, Ryota Muranishi, Jacob Waguespack and Shota Abe retired nine of the 10 batters they faced.
Orix remained third, but in a virtual tie for first, trailing the Lions and Hawks on winning percentage.
Giants 2, Tigers 0: At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin’s Junya Nishi (5-3) went seven innings and combined with two relievers on a three-hitter. Nishi walked three, including a leadoff free pass to Yoshihiro Maru, and Sho Nakata followed with his 17th home run to account for all the scoring.
Dragons 6, Swallows 3: At Jingu Stadium, Hiroto Takahashi (5-5) struck out 10 over 5-1/3 innings, while Chunichi lit up Juri Hara (7-5) early. The Dragons had five hits and a walk over the first two innings off the right-hander, but came away with just a two-run lead. Dayan Viciedo singled in a run in the first and rookie Ryuku Tsuchida doubled in the second and scored on a groundout by pitcher
Kotaro Yamasaki singled in the fourth and scored on a Tetsuto Yamada double, but Takahashi got Munetaka Murakami swinging on a high fastball for the first out. Having retired nine straight hitters, Hara stayed in to bat in the fifth, but was victimized by a series of good swings and tough bounces in a four-run sixth. Ariel Martinez singled in one, Tsuchida singled in another, Hayato Misowaki squeezed in a run and another scored, charged to reliever Kazuto Taguchi, on an error.
Murakami made it a three-run game in the bottom of the inning with a two-run homer, his 51st, but three relievers, Tatsuya Shimizu, Yariel Rodriguez, and Raidel Martinez struck out six of the last 10 Swallows hitters. Martinez earned his 31st save.
Murakami’s homer puts the 22-year-old in a tie for Japan’s eighth most prodigious season home run total. He’s nine shy of Wladimir Balentien’s record of 60 with 22 games to play. His .341 batting average leads Chunichi’s Yohei Oshima’s .322, and he could stop playing tomorrow and lead the league in homers and RBIs.
Fighters 8, Eagles, 2: At Miyagi Stadium, Takayuki Kato (6-6) threw eight shutout innings, Ryota Yachi singled in two runs in the third off Takahisa Hayakawa (5-8) and Shingo Usami doubled in two more in a three-run sixth off reliever Tomohito Sakai.
Carp 7, BayStars 0: At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Shogo Tamamura (2-2) singled twice, drove in a run and allowed four hits over six scoreless innings, while three relievers completed the seven-hitter as Hiroshima completed a three-game shutout sweep of second-place DeNA.
Active roster moves 9/4/2022
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/14