NPB news: Sept. 6, 2023

On Wednesday, for the second straight day, Rakuten and Nippon Ham were rained on and the Hiroshima Carp had the last word — this time off the bat of Matt Davidson. And as the Seibu Lions put their stamp on a series in Kobe against Orix, Takeya Nakamura, too, let his bat do the talking, since — as his hero interviews show — it probably speaks more than he does.

Wednesday’s games

Hawks 3, Marines 0: At Fukuoka Dome, Kohei Arihara (7-4) bounced back from getting his butt kicked by the Buffaloes in his last start to hold Lotte to four hits and no walks over eight innings.

One-out first-inning singles by Masaki Mimori and Yuki Yanagita set up a run to score on a ground ball to first against Yuji Nishino (8-4). Kenta Imamiya capped the rally with a sac fly. A fifth-inning Ukyo Shuto RBI single completed the scoring.

Tigers 1, Dragons 0: At Nagoya Dome, Shota Morishita, a night after filling in superbly in place of Koji Chikamoto as Hanshin’s leadoff hitter and center fielder, returned to right and the middle of the order, where instead of starting trouble, he finished it by singling in center fielder/leadoff man Dan Onodera in the first inning for the only run Shinnosuke Ogasawara (7-10) would allow over seven innings. Hiroto Saiki (7-5) scattered four singles and two walks over six innings, and three relievers allowed just two of the final 11 Dragons hitters to reach. Suguru Iwazaki recorded his 29th save.

Lions 4, Buffaloes 3: At Kobe Green Stadium, Tatsuya Imai (8-4) cruised through seven innings, and six-time home run champ Takeya Nakamura hit a pair of homers. Seibu opened the scoring on third-inning doubles by Yuto Koga and Shuta Tonosaki, Nakamura hit his 468th career home run to lead off the fourth, and Sosuke Genda singled and scored in the fifth to make it 3-0. Nakamura’s 15th homer of the season made it 4-0 in the eighth with Orix showing no signs of life.

Orix, which had been shut out in four of its last seven games, avoided that fate when Imai’s 131st pitch barely missed with one out and former Lion Tomoya Mori walked with the bases loaded. Reliever Yoshinobu Mizukami caught a break when Yuma Tongu hit a bullet straight to his second baseman for an out instead of an RBI single. The pitcher’s luck ran out when Yuma Mune hit a shot to third that scooted under the glove of Ryusei Sato for a two-run error.

The Lions were robbed of another run on a circus catch by center fielder Keita Nakagawa in the ninth, but Brooks Kriske stranded a runner in the ninth to earn his third saves in seven games for Seibu.

Nakamura did the Lions’ hero interview and delivered a typically laconic performance:

  • You hit two home runs? “I’m glad I put the bat on the ball.”
  • Can you tell us about the home runs? “I got fat pitches and hit them.”
  • How is your batting now? “I haven’t hit much lately, but I’ll do my best to keep fans from worrying so much.”
  • Can you say something to the fans? “Thank you for your support.”

Swallows 4, Giants 2: At Jingu Stadium, Tyler Beede was handed an emergency start after Foster Griffin developed a fever, and threw three scoreless innings, and Yakult came from behind against the Giants bullpen and Yakult side-armer Reiji Kozawa (6-4) earned the win.

Yomiuri took a 1-0 fifth-inning lead on a two-out Makoto Kadowaki single, a Yoshihiro Maru walk, and a single from Kazuma Okamoto. The Swallows had loaded the bases after two were out in the third, but Beede retired Munetaka Murakami to end the inning.

Murakami tied it, however, with his 26th home run, off Alberto Baldonado (), Domingo Santana singled and scored on a Hideaki Nagaoka double. Baldonado left with two on, and both scored. Okamoto made it 4-2 in the seventh with a sac fly.

Although Yakult’s bullpen has been shaky during the Swallows’ last 11 games during which they went 1-9-1, nine of the last 10 Giants hitters made out with former Giant Kazuto Taguchi earning his 30th save.

Carp 4, Deniers 3, 11 innings: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Hiroshima walked it off against DeNA for the second straight night, this time when Matt Davidson, who had grounded into a double play and struck out twice in an 0-for-5 night, hit the first pitch he saw from Koo Nakagawa (0-1) for his 19th home run to win it and earn rookie reliever Takehisa Masuda (1-0) his first pro victory.

DeNA’s Shota Imanaga had as up-and-down a night as one can imagine. In addition to striking out 10, Imanaga doubled and tripled, scoring one run and driving in one, while allowing 10 hits, two walks and three runs in 5-2/3 innings. Hiroshima tied it against him in the sixth, chasing him with Tsubasa Aizawa‘s two-run two-out pinch-hit double. Kaito Kozono then tied it with an RBI triple off Edwin Escobar.

Keita Sano put the visitors on the board in the first with a solo homer off Daichi Osera, who allowed three runs over five innings.

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