NPB wrap 6-12-21

Interleague Day 17: Cutting it close

With nine games remaining in 2021 interleague play, the Orix Buffaloes clinched their second interleague title and their first since 2010. The leagues split Saturday’s games, leaving the CL leading 42-40 with 11 ties, and the PL still leading in runs scored 433-404.

I incorrectly said the CL had never led interleague in runs scored. That was incorrect. The CL led in 2006, although they lost more than they won that year.

The CL-leading Hanshin Tigers continued to look untouchable, smashing the Eagles bullpen in a six-run ninth after rookie Masashi Ito outpitched Masahiro Tanaka through seven innings.

Tigers 9, Eagles 1

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Rakuten’s Masahiro Tanaka (2-4) was tooling along in high gear retiring the first 11 batters with little trouble until drama struck in a good plate appearance by Jefry Marte, a bad call by umpire Hidetomo Ashihara, and an ugly fastball to Yusuke Oyama, who made it 2-0 Hanshin.

Oyama’s home run was his eighth, and rookie Tigers lefty Masashi Ito (4-3) allowed a run on four hits and a walk to make that lead stand up. Rookie Teruaki Sato hit his 16th homer in the seventh off Tanaka, while Seiya Kinami hit his first, a two-run shot in a six-run Tigers ninth.

Tanaka worked seven innings. He gave up three runs on four hits and a walk while striking out five. Eagles cleanup hitter Hiroaki Shimauchi hit his 10th homer in the bottom of the fifth. Ito pitched out of a two-on, two-out jam in the inning but retired the last 10 batters he faced.

Buffaloes 3, Carp 2

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Orix clinched the interleague championship as Shuhei Fukuda’s second-inning bases-loaded triple provided all the Buffaloes offense against Hiroshima’s Masato Morishita (3-4), Daiki Tajima (3-4) threw five scoreless innings and four relievers protected a one-run lead after the Carp twice on three walks and a single in the sixth.

Tyler Higgins worked a 1-2-3 eighth for Orix, while Yoshihisa Hirano, who recorded 32 holds the last year the Buffaloes won the interleague title, saved his fifth game.

Fighters 4, BayStars 3

At Sapporo Dome, Nippon Ham’s March acquisition Takahide Ikeda (3-6) allowed a run over 5-2/3 innings. Wang Po-jung had the first of three one-out fourth-inning singles off Masaya Kyoyama (0-3) and scored on a wild pitch, and Ryo Ishikawa’s two-out single made it 2-0.

Haruki Nishikawa walked and scored on Yuto Takahama’s fifth-inning double, and singled in Ishikawa in the sixth. Bryan Rodriguez got five outs to get the Fighters to closer Toshihiro Sugiura, who recorded his 12th save.

Giants 11, Marines 4

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Yomiuri hit a hat-trick of three-run homers, with Kazuma Okamoto hitting two, his 18th and 19th, and Hiroyuki Nakajima hitting his fourth, all off Lotte starter Manabu Mima (3-4), who gave up 10 runs in two-plus innings. Giants starter Shosei Togo (6-3) cruised through seven after allowing two runs in the first.

Lions 7, Dragons 3

At MetLife Dome, Cory Spangenberg’s three-run triple highlighted Seibu’s six-run first-inning against Chunichi’s Yuichiro Okano (0-1), while Lions starter Tatsuya Imai (4-2) allowed two runs over seven innings despite walking five and allowing seven hits. He gave up two runs in the second, but got out of a one-out bases-loaded pickle with a double play but had little trouble after that.

Swallows 4, Hawks 2

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Tetsuto Yamada went 4-or-4, hit his 15th and 16th home runs of the season and drove in three to power the Yakult Swallows to a come-from-behind victory after starter Yasuhiro Ogawa (6-1) allowed two runs over seven innings.

Yuki Yanagita’s 14th homer, leading off the Hawks’ fourth, made it 2-0 SoftBank. Nick Martinez, who got out of two-out jams in the first and third, surrendered a Yamada solo shot in the sixth and a run in the seventh after a Domingo Santana leadoff double and a Yuhei Nakamura single. Martinez was pulled after 113 pitches to give the Pro Yakyu News crowd something to complain about and Yamada hit a two-run homer in the eighth off Yugo Bando (0-1).

Right-hander Yugo Umeno faced one batter in the eighth, retiring the dangerous Akira Nakamura with two out and two on, and Scott McGough worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 10th save.

Starting pitchers


Fighters vs BayStars: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Drew VerHagen (1-4, 6.30) vs Shota Imanaga (0-1, 4.41)

Eagles vs Tigers: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Takahisa Hayakawa (7-2, 3.15) vs Joe Gunkel (5-0, 2.35)

Lions vs Dragons: MetLife Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Zach Neal (1-1, 3.75) vs Koji Fukutani (3-5, 3.90)

Marines vs Giants: Zozo Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Kazuya Ojima (2-2, 4.41) vs Tomoyuki Sugano (2-3, 2.11)

Buffaloes vs Carp: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Hirotoshi Masui (2-4, 4.07) vs Koya Takahashi (2-2, 2.73)

Hawks vs Swallows: PayPay Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Tsuyoshi Wada (4-3, 4.06) vs Keiji Takahashi (-)

Active roster moves 6/12/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 6/22

Central League


DragonsP36Yuichiro Okano


DragonsP22Yudai Ono

Pacific League


BuffaloesOF69Stefen Romero


MarinesP49Fumiya Motomae
FightersP19Chihiro Kaneko

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