Thursday was Japan’s coronavirus seasons in microcosm. A day that was supposed to be about 19-year-old rookie pitchers going against the big boys, about baseball, became about infections.
Zach Neal was supposed to start for the Seibu Lions against the Hiroshima Carp, but after Sosuke Genda tested positive, the Lions dressed only 19 players, with only a reserve outfielder and catcher on the bench and eight relievers, six of whom got into the game.
Eagles 2, Giants 0
At Tokyo Dome, Ryota Takinaka (3-2) may be Rakuten’s sixth starter, but between his Yu Darvish pitching arsenal starter set (fastball, slider, changeup, splitter, two-seamer, sinker) and perhaps the best curveball Japan’s seen this season, the 26-year-old right-hander just tortured the Yomiuri Giants through six innings.
Eigoro Mogi opened the scoring against Kai Yokogawa (0-1) with his eighth home run in the fourth. Yokogawa’s two-out error in the fifth opened the door for another Eagles run to score on a Hideto Asamura single.
Takinaka, took big bites of the strike zone with that curve, and the lasting image is of Yoshihiro Maru looking for one and coming out of socks as he swung and missed. Takinaka allowed three singles and a walk, while striking out eight. He left after a flare single gave the Giants a leadoff runner in the seventh. Three relievers retired nine of the 10 batters they faced with Yuki Matsui earning his 14th save.
Swallows 5, Fighters 2
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Yakult’s Yasunobu Okugawa (2-1) leads this week’s 2019 first-round rookie strikeout challenge with nine after allowing two runs over six innings against Nippon Ham. For the second straight day, Tetsuto Yamada put the Swallows in front, this time with a two-out two-run fifth inning single off Takahide Ikeda (2-5), who allowed three runs, one earned, over six innings.
Swallows leadoff man Yasutaka Shiomi went 4-for-4 with a solo homer, his sixth, and two runs, while Scott McGough closed it out with his fourth save.
BayStars 11, Buffaloes 8
At Yokohama Stadium, we had Chapter 3 of BayStars and Buffaloes beating the hell of each other, closing a series that saw 51 runs scored. Neftali Soto, who homered twice on Tuesday, hit two more, and between an RBI single and a sac fly scored three runs and drove in six. Tyler Austin doubled twice, walked and scored twice for the BayStars.
Fernando Romero, who pretended he was a PL pitcher and surrendered two hits, including a two-run home run, to Masataka Yoshida, let Orix back in the game in a four-run fourth, when the first five batters reached.
Buffaloes right-hander Yang Chi (0-1) allowed seven runs over 2-1/3 innings in his season debut.
Dragons 3, Hawks 3
At Nagoya‘s Vantelin Dome, Chunichi’s Akiyoshi Katsuno allowed three two-out first-inning RBI singles but then cruised until he was pulled in the sixth with two outs. SoftBank’s Shunsuke Kasaya pitched out of trouble for three innings, but walked two batters to open the fourth before surrendering Takuya Kinoshita’s fifth home run.
Keisuke Tanimoto got the Dragons out of the sixth on three pitches and three other relievers each retired all three batters they faced to end it.
Marines 6, Tigers 4
At Koshien Stadium, Katsuya Kakunaka’s second double, when Lotte put two on after two were out in the sixth, tied the game 4-4. Kakunaka then scored the go-ahead run on an infield single and a Jefry Marte throwing error. Leonys Martin hit his Japan-best 16th home run in the eighth.
Hanshin’s Raul Alcantara (1-0, 7.50) surrendered a home run to Takashi Ogino on the game’s first pitch before Jerry Sands pounded out three hits, scoring once and driving in two as the Tigers took a 4-2 lead into the sixth.
Alcantara allowed five runs, four earned, on five hits and a walk over 5-2/3 innings, while striking out eight, and singled in Hanshin’s second run with two outs in the second. Lotte rookie Roki Sasaki (0-0, 3.60) allowed four runs, three earned over five innings in his second first-team start. He allowed seven hits and three walks while striking out five. Chihaya Sasaki, Frank Herrmann, Yuki Karakawa and Naoya Masuda allowed one hit between them to close it out with Masuda earning his 13th save.
Carp 4, Lions 4
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Ryoma Nishikawa and Shogo Sakakura combined to score three runs and drive in two for the Hiroshima Carp, who playing their first game in over a week due to coronavirus within the club, overturned a 4-0 deficit to tie Seibu in the first game between two teams dealing with the virus.
Fighters vs Dragons: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Eagles vs BayStars: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Lions vs Tigers: MetLife Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Marines vs Carp: Zozo Marine Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Swallows: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Hawks vs Giants: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Orix Buffaloes: P Brandon Dickson
Active roster moves 5/27/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 6/6