Buffaloes win thriller
Buffaloes 7, Lions 6
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Orix’s Takahiro Okada tied the game with two outs in the top of the ninth with a two-out, three-run triple, and Yutaro Sugimoto plated the game winner with a single off Seibu closer Tatsushi Masuda (1-0).
The Buffaloes, trailing 6-3 after Aito Takeda’s three-run eighth-inning double put the Lions up, opened with singles by Yuma Mune and Masataka Yoshida. Adam Jones, nearly missed extra-bases before grounding sharply to third. Ryusei Sato tried to get the easy force at second, but all were safe on a fielder’s choice after a video review kept the game alive.
Okada, who had already double and singled, followed with a good at-bat in which he fouled off a pair of two-strike pitches before pulling a fly into the right-field corner. Sugimoto grounded a good 3-2 pitch into the hole at short but Golden Glover-winner Sosuke Genda couldn’t stop it.
Reed Garrett struck out two in a 1-2-3 seventh and was the pitcher of record for the Lions before the blown save. The Buffaloes’ three-run hole was partly due to a decision to prevent the runner on second from scoring with two outs in the eighth. With the outfield pulled way in, the Buffaloes had no chance to catch Takeda’s high fly to the warning track in center.
Fighters 3, Marines 1
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Takahide Ikeda (2-2) a journeyman right-hander acquired in a low-voltage March trade with Rakuten turned in his second straight solid effort for Nippon Ham, allowing a run on six hits and a walk while striking out seven over seven innings. Lotte starter Daiki Iwashita (2-2) allowed two runs over five innings.
The Fighters broke a 1-1 tie in the second on a Ryo Watanabe single and a Ryo Ishikawa double. The pair contributed to a sixth-inning insurance run as Watanabe doubled and went to third on an Ishikawa single before scoring on a sac fly.
Thursday’s games marked the Japan debut for new Fighter Ronny Rodriguez, who batted sixth and started at third. He struck out swinging twice in three at-bats. Bryan Rodriguez began his fourth season in Japan with a scoreless eighth before closer Toshihiro Sugiura earned his fifth save.
Giants 8, Tigers 3
At Tokyo Dome, Hanshin starter Takumi Akiyama (2-2) more than doubled his ERA in a three-inning crash and burn, walking none but giving up six runs on 10 hits. Giants starter Yuki Takahashi (4-0) gave up a weird double to open the game, but managed to give up two doubles and a walk but no runs in the first.
Takahashi entered with a 0.41 ERA. He walked four and allowed three runs over six innings, but the game was never out of hand. Kazuma Okamoto, who homered twice on Wednesday, opened the scoring with a two-run first-inning double and scored on a Shinnosuke Shigenobu single.
Hayato Sakamoto made up for being caught looking in the first by capping the Giants’ second with a two-run home run. Prior to the game’s start, NTV’s video feed showed two Tigers fans walking into Tokyo Dome, one wearing a Fumiya Hojo shirt, which made me wonder if Hojo was currently even on the first team. He proved he was with a two-run pinch-hit homer in the sixth.
Dragons 1, BayStars 0
At Yokohama Stadium, Koji Fukutani (1-1), Chunichi’s surprising Opening Day starter, allowed four hits and a walk over eight innings while striking out seven, and the Dragons scored the game’s only run on a ninth-inning throwing error after stranding six runners over the first four innings.
Pinch-runner Wataru Takamatsu scored from first on a two-out ninth-inning infield single. Shortstop Tatsuhiro Shibata made a diving stop to keep a grounder in the infield, but his needless throw to first short-hopped Neftali Soto for an error. With the win – and the BayStars’ 10th straight losing decision, the Dragons now have their first win streak of the season.
BayStars starter Haruhiro Hamaguchi worked six scoreless innings despite walking six. He allowed back-to-back singles to open the game and another single in the fourth.
Shibata foreshadowed his ninth-inning error with a wide throw to first. His attempted throw to complete a 3-6-1 double play missed but was saved when first base coach Masahiro Araki couldn’t get out of the way. The Dragons lead runner tried to score but was out first-to-short-to-first base coach-to-pitcher-to-third-to-catcher. Does this go as “3-6-C-1-5-2?”
Tyler Austin had two of the BayStars’ four hits.
Swallows 7, Carp 4
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, the fourth time taking the lead was the charm as Yakult finally overcame Hiroshima, breaking a 4-4 eighth-inning tie on a Kotaro Yamasaki’s two-run triple off 24-year-old lefty Atsuya Horie (0-1).
Scott McGough (2-0) who allowed the Carp to tie it for the third time on two hits and an error in the seventh, got the win after one-out pinch-hit singles by Yudai Koga and former batting champ Shingo Kawabata set the table for Yamasaki. The Swallows leadoff man had walked twice and scored on rookie Hiyu Motoyama’s third-inning homer and came home in the eighth on a Motoyama squeeze.
Hiroki Kondo and Taichi Ishiyama each worked a scoreless inning to close it out with Ishiyama getting his Japan-best seventh save.
DeNA skipper Miura throws extra BP
First-year DeNA BayStars manager Daisuke Miura dusted off his pitching form on Thursday and threw over 100 pitches in early batting practice in an effort to wake up his offense, Hochi Shimbun reported.
“Out batting practice pitchers are all pretty tired,” said Miura, the BayStars former ace. “It didn’t mean anything. I was glad I was able to throw strikes.”
Former Lotte coach, Hawks player Robson dies
Tom Robson, who finished his playing career in 1976 with the Nankai Hawks and returned to coach the Lotte Marines starting in 1995, died of natural causes in Chandler, Arizona, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Bobby Valentine, who had Robson on his coaching staffs with Texas, Lotte and the Mets, tweeted the sad news. Robson stayed on with the Marines in 1996 after Valentine was fired. He rejoined Valentine with the Mets and returned to Japan with him as a Marines coach from 2004 to 2006.
Fighters vs Buffaloes: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Eagles vs Lions: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Marines vs Hawks: Zozo Marine Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Giants vs Carp: Tokyo Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Swallows vs Dragons: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT
Tigers vs BayStars: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 4/22/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/2