Japan’s Central League leaders remained in stasis for the fifth straight day on Saturday, with all three playoff-bound teams winning, leaving the Swallows a full game ahead of the Tigers, although because of the ties, their lead is actually between two and 2-1/2 games, with the Giants another four games further back.
In the Pacific League, the Orix Buffaloes rolled to their sixth straight win, and head into their finale with the SoftBank Hawks on Sunday, when they face Kodai Senga, which should be a pretty good test of their postseason ambitions.
Giants’ Yamaguchi scratched
Giants right-hander Shun Yamaguchi was scratched from his start and deactivated due to discomfort in his right elbow. The right-hander, who rejoined the Giants a year and a half after being the franchise’s first posted player after the 2019 season, is 2-7 with a 3.34 ERA in 12 games. He’s struck out 64 in 62 innings while walking 32 and allowing six home runs.
Fighters 2, Lions 1
At Sapporo Dome, Nippon Ham’s Drew VerHagen allowed a run over six innings, but did not figure in the decision after Wang Po-jung singled to lead off the seventh and Yuto Takahama doubled in the go-ahead run off Tatsuya Imai (7-7, 3.63). Three scoreless innings from Mizuki Hori (3-2), Bryan Rodriguez and Toshihiro Sugiura, who got his 24th save, moved the Fighters to within two games of the fifth-place Lions.
Eagles 6, Marines 1
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Rakuten’s Tsuyoshi Yamasaki led off the first with his second home run, off Kota Futaki (5-6, 4.06). Eigoro Mogi doubled in a run in the second and scored on Ryosuke Tatsumi’s sacrifice fly, and Tatsumi’s 10th home run, in the fifth made it 4-1.
Adeiny Hechavarria doubled in Lotte’s only run off Takayuki Kishi (8-9, 3.56) in the fourth.
Buffaloes 6, Hawks 0
At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Yoshinobu Yamamoto (16-5, 1.42) struck out eight and walked one in a two-hitter, and Carter Stewart, Jr. (0-2, 6.08) walked the bases loaded with one out in the home half before things really went downhill. He retired two of the eight batters he faced while allowing two hits and four walks in two-thirds of an inning.
Steven Moya broke the ice with a two-run first-inning single and the rout was on.
Masataka Yoshida, who returned last Sunday after suffering a leg injury, was knocked out of the game when he was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning.
Giants 5, BayStars 4
At Tokyo Dome, Seiya Matsubara reached base three times and scored three times, while Hayato Sakamoto drove in three runs, three times putting Yomiuri in front, with a first-inning sac fly, a third-inning tie-breaking RBI double, and a fifth-inning tie-breaking sacrifice fly.
Sakamoto’s double made him the 14th player to hit 400 of them, and at 32 years, 9 months, the youngest to reach that milestone.
Without former BayStar Shun Yamaguchi, the Giants opted for a bullpen game. Kyosuke Takagi (1-0) their third pitcher, took the mound with Yomiuri trailing 4-2 in the third and two on with no outs. He allowed the inherited runs to score while getting out of the inning with the bases loaded before Matsubara walked to lead off the Giants’ fifth, went from first to third on a wild pitch by reliever Shuto Sakurai and scored on Sakamoto’s second sac fly.
Rubby De La Rossa worked around two hits in a scoreless eighth for the Giants, and Thyago Vieira worked the ninth for his 18th save.
Tigers 3, Dragons 0
At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin’s Haruto Takahashi (3-1, 2.25) threw his second straight shutout, and Jefry Marte opened the scoring in the first off Yariel Rodriguez (0-4, 3.86) with a three-run home run, his second in two days, and his 21st homer of the season. Takahashi threw a 97-pitch five-hit Maddux, while Rodriguez bounced back from his horror start to go 6-1/3 innings.
Swallows 9, Carp 5
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Yuhei Nakamura opened the scoring with a two-run fourth-inning single after Carp starter Koya Takahashi (4-7, 5.66) struck out Munetaka Murakami and Jose Osuna with the bases loaded.
Seiya Suzuki doubled and scored in the home half on a Ryosuke Kikuchi single off Hirotoshi Takanashi (4-1, 3.57), before Yakult broke the game open in the sixth on a two-run Tetsuto Yamada homer, his 33rd, and a three-run Domingo Santana jack, his 13th.
Ryoma Nishikawa brought the Carp back in the eighth with a three-run home run off Takanashi, and Kikuchi capped the four-run rally with an RBI single.
Sunday’s starting pitchers
Fighters vs Lions: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Eagles vs Marines: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Buffaloes vs Hawks: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Giants vs BayStars: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Tigers vs Dragons: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Carp vs Swallows: Mazda Stadium 1:30 pm, 0:30 am EDT
Active roster moves 10/2/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/12