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Japan’s Central and Pacific leagues resumed regular service after their Olympic break, and the Orix Buffaloes blasted into the final stage of the season with a one-sided win over the Lotte Marines, while the Rakuten Eagles stayed hot on their heels 1-1/2 games back.
In the CL, the Hanshin Tigers’ lead was trimmed to a game after they were bushwacked by the Hiroshima Carp and the second-place Giants came back to win.
The highlight for the Giants may have been Thyago Vieira. The former White Sox wild thing threw the fastest pitch ever recorded in Japan, 166 kph (103.1 mph) breaking the record of 165 set by Shohei Ohtani and equaled this year by Hiroshima’s Robert Corniel.
Olympic break special offer
3 Free Months: Japanese baseball is cranking back up after its nearly month-long Olympic break. To mark the occasion all new (or returning) paid subscribers by Sunday, Aug. 15, will get three months free. Paid subscribers get unlimited access to paid content and all posts older than 6 months. So now’s a great chance to keep up as the pennant race heats up.
Eagles 5, Lions 0
At MetLife Dome, former Lions ace Takayuki Kishi (5-6, 3.35) struck out 10 and walked three, but didn’t give up a hit until Aito Takeda singled with one out in the eighth on his 113th pitch.
Although it was a surprise he got as far as he did, considering some of the balls the Lions hit off him, it’s nice to see a player do well against a team that never seemed to appreciate what they had when was with them. Kishi was treated like a second-class ace during his time there and Seibu barely negotiated when he took off as a free agent for his hometown team.
He’s had an unusually bad season and it was good to see him get a nice boost going into the final stage with this game.
Another guy in need of a fresh start, Louis Okoye, made his season debut and singled in the opening run off Wataru Matsumoto (7-5, 3.48). Hideto Asamura also singled in two runs for the Eagles, while Eigoro Mogi went 2-for-4 with two doubles and two runs.
Buffaloes 6, Marines 3
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Hiroya Miyagi (10-1, 2.15) became a 10-game winner 12 days before he becomes old enough to drink in Japan when he turns 20. It was a solid performance in which he lacked a real good slider and only struck out two over six innings, allowing six hits and giving up a walk.
Kota Futaki (4-5, 4.39) gave up two-run home runs to Yutaro Sugimoto, his 19th, and Masataka Yoshida, his 18th. Yoshida doubled in the first and was on board when Sugimoto drove a pitch out to center. Yuma Mune also made solid contact with two hits, two RBIs and a run.
Yoshihisa Hirano worked a scoreless ninth for his 12th save.
The Marines remained in third, two games back of the Eagles, but just a half-game ahead of the Hawks.
Hawks 3, Fighters 0
At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Shuta Ishikawa (4-8, 3.06) struck out 11 and walked two over 7-1/3 innings, two relievers completed the one-hitter, and Yuki Yanagita hit his 23rd home run, with a man on in the first against Takayuki Kato (3-6, 3.77). Nobuhiro Matsuda also hit his 11th home run for the Hawks.
Giants 4, Dragons 2
At Tokyo Dome, Chunichi’s Dayan Viciedo turned around a 1-0 game with a two-run seventh-inning homer off Shun Yamaguchi, Viciedo’s 15th. Dragons starter Yuya Yanagi surrendered a run on three straight first-inning singles but worked six innings.
Daisuke Sobue worked a scoreless seventh for the visitors, but the Giants bullpen also got the job done and Yomiuri got to Katsuki Matayoshi (0-2) in the eighth.
Pinch-hitter Akihiro Wakabayashi opened with his fourth home run to tie it. With one out, Matayoshi walked Hayato Sakamoto, who had three hits, and Yoshihiro Maru, who singled in the Giants’ first-inning run, to put two on for Kazuma Okamoto.
The Giants’ cleanup hitter singled in one, Takumi Oshiro doubled in an insurance run and Thyago Vieira struck out two of the three batters he faced for his 10th save as he continues his metamorphosis from curiosity to closer.
Carp 9, Tigers 3
At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Daichi Osera (4-3, 3.51) struck out five over seven innings and allowed a run on five hits, including Yusuke Oyama’s 11th home run. The Carp pounded Yuki Nishi (4-7, 3.44) for four runs in the first, two on Ryuhei Matsuyama’s two-out double. The Tigers’ Teruaki Sato had three hits, including two doubles, and drove in two runs.
Lions vs Eagles: MetLife Dome 5 pm, 4 am EDT
Marines vs Buffaloes: Zozo Marine Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT
Hawks vs Fighters: PayPay Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Giants vs Dragons: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
BayStars vs Swallows: Hard Off Eco Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Tigers vs Carp: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 6 pm, 5 am EDT