The Yomiuri Giants kept pace in the Central League with the Hanshin Tigers on Saturday, 1-1/2 games back in second place as they improved to 8-0 with three ties against the DeNA BayStars, while the Yakult Swallows remained hot on their heals another 2-1/2 games back.
In the Pacific League, the Orix Buffaloes continued to rock and roll, playing with confidence. Their record is about what you’d expect for a team that has scored 330 runs and allowed 283. It isn’t like they lucked into a good record by winning close games.
In other news, the U.S. named its Olympic team with three members coming from NPB teams, DeNA’s Tyler Austin, SoftBank’s Nick Martinez, and Yakult’s Scott McGough. This marks a HUGE departure from how Team USA usually rolls.
Meanwhile, the DeNA BayStars have put outfielder Tomo Otosaka under house arrest, sort of.
Buffaloes 8, Lions 0
At MetLife Dome, Orix lefty Sachiya Yamasaki (4-5) worked seven innings, and diminutive leadoff hitter Shuhei Fukuda hit a three-run homer, his first, off Seibu’s Tatsuya Imai (5-3) in the second. Fukuda also had a sac fly, while Imai allowed six runs, four earned.
Yamasaki allowed four hits but no walks while striking out one, but was helped immensely by a number of hard-hit balls that ended up in his fielder’s gloves.
The Lions, who were hampered by injuries to three key players at the start of the season, got the last of those three back as star second baseman Shuta Tonosaki played for the first time since breaking his left fibula on April 3.
Marines 5, Eagles 3
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Shogo Nakamura’s two-run eighth-inning home run, his sixth, off Sung Chia-hao (1-1) brought Lotte back from a 3-2 deficit before Hiromi Oka hit his third of the season to complete the scoring.
Nakamura singled in a run and scored in the first on a Brandon Laird single off Hideaki Wakui before the Eagles came back with three runs over 4-1/3 innings off Fumiya Motomae. Jose Flores (1-0) struck out two of the six batters he faced over two perfect innings to earn the win. Naoya Masuda recorded his 19th save.
Hawks 7, Fighters 1
At Naha’s Okinawa Cellular Field, SoftBank’s Nick Martinez (6-2), one of three NPB players named to the U.S. Olympic baseball team, struck out seven while allowing a run over eight-plus innings, while the Hawks beat up on Nippon Ham’s best starter this season, Naoyuki Uwasawa (6-4), scoring six runs on six walks and three hits over four innings.
Pro Yakyu News analyst made a point of telling the audience that the reason the Hawks, who had been starved for runs, scored so many was their three sacrifice bunts, to which I would answer, well, yes, that and the six walks…
Tigers 5, Carp 0
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Hanshin rookie Masashi Ito (5-4) pitched out of two jams, once with the help of a nifty double play started by rookie shortstop Takumu Nakano. Jefry Marte drove in three runs, with a third-inning ground out, a solo homer in the seventh, his 14th, and an RBI single in Hanshin’s three-run eighth.
Hiroshima rookie Haruki Omichi (3-2) allowed a run over five innings.
Swallows 5, Dragons 1
At Nagoya‘s Vantelin Dome, Yakult’s Yasuhiro Ogawa (7-3) allowed five hits but no walks while striking out six over the distance, went 1-for-2 with a single, and two sacrifices, including one that plated a run on a safety squeeze.
Reserve catcher Yudai Koga went 4-for-5 and drove in the Swallows’ first three runs off Chunichi’s Shinnosuke Ogasawara (5-4), who worked five-plus innings. Yakult’s Tetsuto Yamada hit his 22nd home run.
Giants 3, BayStars 1
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, a trio of Yomiuri Giants, Yoshihiro Maru, Kazuma Okamoto, and Takumi Kitamura, hit solo home runs off DeNA starter Kousuke Sakaguchi (2-1, 3.67). C.C. Mercedes (3-1, 3.32) worked 5-2/3 scoreless innings, after Toyoki Tanaka retired Hikaru Ito for the final out in the sixth with two runners on.
Three two-out singles, the third by Ito off Rubby De La Rosa, made it 3-1 in the eighth. DeNA came close in the ninth with a walk, a line out, and a fly to the warning track but Thyago Vieira kept them off the board for his seventh save.
Fighters vs Hawks: Okinawa Cellular Field 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Lions vs Buffaloes: MetLife Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Marines vs Eagles: Zozo Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
BayStars vs Giants: Jingu Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Dragons vs Swallows: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Carp vs Tigers: Mazda Stadium 1:30 pm, 0:30 am EDT
Active roster moves 7/3/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/13