Leaders stumble again
Both leagues’ races tightened some more on Saturday, as Orix Buffaloes Pacific League lead dropped to two games over the Rakuten Eagles, while the fourth-place SoftBank Hawks, who beat the Buffaloes for the second straight day, pulled to within 3-1/2 games of the lead.
In the Central League, the second-place Yomiuri Giants squeaked past the leading Hanshin Tigers, trimming their lead to 1-1/2 games. The Tigers, who two weeks ago appeared to be running away with the pennant, are now headed toward a prolonged summer break with the pennant race completely up in the air.
Hawks 7, Buffaloes 4
At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Yuki Yanagita hit two homers. His 20th trimmed Orix’s lead to 4-3 in the sixth, and his league-leading 21st, off Tyler Higgins (1-2) broke an eighth-inning tie.
The Hawks caught a break in the third when Buffaloes rookie lefty Hiroya Miyagi (9-1, 1.96) caught Naoki Sato in a rundown with two outs, only for him to run into first baseman Takahiro Okada and be awarded second base on obstruction. Daiju Nomura singled him home to start the scoring in a wild one.
SoftBank southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced before issuing two one-out walks in the fourth. Adam Jones and Takahiro Okada singled to make it 2-1 and drive Wada from the game.
Kenta Imamiya doubled home Akira Nakamura to tie it in the home half, but Jones broke that tie with a two-run home run, his second, in the sixth. Imamiya singled and scored in the seventh to tie it on a Masaki Mimori double off Miyagi, who left after seven.
The Buffaloes loaded the bases against Livan Moinelo in the eighth but he retired Jones and Okada to preserve the tie that Yanagita broke in the home half. A squeeze play and a throwing error completed the scoring.
Eagles 9, Lions 3
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Rakuten’s Daichi Suzuki broke a 3-3 seventh-inning tie with a three-run home run, his fifth, and new Eagle Ginjiro Sumitani hit another three-run homer in the eighth, his second of the season after the one he hit for the Giants before his trade.
Lions right-hander Zach Neal allowed three runs over six innings but didn’t figure in the decision.
Trailing 1-0 in the third, Hotaka Yamakawa doubled and scored on a sac fly. His two-run fifth-inning home run, his 12th put the Lions up 3-1. In the Eagles’ sixth, Suzuki singled and Hideto Asai, who’d singled in a run in the first, drew his second walk to set up Takero Okajima’s game-tying two-run double.
Brandon Dixon’s eighth-inning leadoff double and a hit batsman set the table for Suzuki’s tie-breaking homer that just barely snuck over at the foul pole.
Marines vs Fighters
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, rained out.
Giants 1, Tigers 0
At Koshien Stadium, Yomiuri’s Yuki Takahashi (9-3) allowed one single and one walk over seven innings, while Yuki Nishi (4-6) allowed four hits over the distance to suffer a complete-game loss. Yoshiyuki Kamei had two hits, including an eighth-inning leadoff double that set up Takumi Oshiro’s RBI single.
Ryusei Ohe struck out two in a 1-2-3 eighth, and Thyago Vieira, who couldn’t find the strike zone with a map when he arrived in Japan last year, has turned into a monster. He struck out two, finishing his ninth save with a swing strike on a 162-kph (100.7-mph) heater and responded by thundering on the mound.
Dragons 5, BayStars 5
At Vantelin Dome Nagoya, DeNA overcame a late deficit with three runs off Chunichi middle reliever Hiroto Fuku in the eighth, and another off closer Raidel Martinez in the ninth to tie it.
Rookie Shugo Maki’s two-run homer, his 12th, capped the eighth. Martinez, pitching for the fourth straight day and the fifth time in six days, retired two before allowing a run on two singles and a stolen base.
Chunichi starter Akiyoshi Katsuno pitched out of a no-out sixth-inning bases-loaded jam and the Dragons overturned a 1-0 deficit in the home half with a five-run inning fueled by two walks and an unfortunate throw to start an attempted double play by DeNA first baseman Neftali Soto.
His throw hit the runner, rolled into the outfield, allowed a run to score. and resulted in Soto being charged with an error. A single and a sac fly put the Dragons in front, and Dayan Viciedo blasted a three-run homer, his 14th.
In the ninth, the Dragons loaded the bases with one out against closer Kazuki Mishima, who got a tie-sealing inning-ending double play.
DeNA starter Fernando Romero was charged with four unearned runs over 5-1/3 innings.
Swallows vs Carp
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, rained out.
Monday’s starting pitchers
Hawks vs Eagles: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Tigers vs BayStars: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Carp vs Dragons: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 7/11/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/21
|Giants||P||42||Cristopher Crisostomo Mercedes|