There were only four games on Thursday but all of them were close, with the Hanshin Tigers proving to be the night’s comeback kings as they solidified their Central League lead by beating third-place Yakult as the second-place Giants were shut out by Yuki Yanagita and the Dragons.
In the Pacific League, the league-leading Orix Buffaloes did not allow a ninth-inning run after surrendering five runs in the ninth in each of their two previous games and salvaged a tie to avoid losing all three to the Rakuten Eagles.
Swallows’ pitcher Ogawa tests positive
Yakult Swallows right-hander Yasuhiro Ogawa has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Tigers 6, Swallows 5
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Hanshin came from a run down in a four-run eighth. With steady rain making defense difficult, Norichika Aoki failed to hold onto a fly despite using both hands, giving the visitors a leadoff runner. With one out, runners on the corners and right-hander Noboru Shimizu nursing a 3-2 lead, Ryutaro Umeno lashed a single to tie it and Yusuke Oyama followed with his 10th home run.
The Tigers took the lead on Jefry Marte’s 15th home run in the second off Albert Suarez, and added a run on third-inning doubles by Takumu Nakano and Kento Itohara.
Three straight no-out doubles off Joe Gunkel tied it before rookie Taisei Yoshida’s one-out single put Yakult ahead in the fourth. Swallows center fielder Yasutaka Shiomi made a good running catch to end the Tigers’ seventh and preserve the tie, only to see the lead literally slip away in the eighth.
Tetsuto Yamada who doubled in a run in the fourth, hit his 24th home run in the bottom of the eighth after Aoki fittingly reached on an error. Tigers closer Robert Suarez, however, won a nine-pitch battle with Shiomi, striking him out with the tying run on second to end it and earn his 25th save.
Dragons 1, Giants 0
At Tokyo Dome, Chunichi’s Yuya Yanagi (7-4) struck out eight over eight innings, Yota Kyoda singled in the game’s only run in the third and Raidel Martinez struck out the top of the Giants’ order in the ninth to earn his eighth save and his second of the series.
Yanagi, who should have been the CL’s pitcher of the month for March and April and had an extremely solid case for May, had been going through a rough patch since his one-hit shutout of the Lotte Marines on June 1.
Carp 5, BayStars 3
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima veteran Hisayoshi Chono’s two-out two-run pinch-hit home run, off Edwin Escobar (2-1) broke a 3-3 tie, and rookie Ryoji Kuribayashi locked it down in the ninth for his 17th save.
With two outs and a man on in the ninth, Kuribayashi, who’ll pitch for Japan in the Olympics, struck out Tyler Austin, who’ll play for the U.S., to end it.
Buffaloes 1, Eagles 1
At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Orix’s Kenya Wakatsuki hit his eighth career home run, off Rakuten starter Takayuki Kishi in the fifth inning. Rookie Soichiro Yamazaki left after five scoreless innings, but Hideto Asamura hit his ninth home run of the season and the 221st of his career in the sixth, and neither team mounted anything after that.
Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Hawks vs Buffaloes: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Swallows vs Carp: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT
Dragons vs BayStars: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Tigers vs Giants: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 7/8/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/18