Buffaloes, Marines gain ground
The Orix Buffaloes, in the hunt for the franchise’s first pennant since Ichiro Suzuki led the Orix BlueWave to the Japan Series championship in 1996, moved three games clear at the top of the Pacific League standings, thanks to big games from Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Masataka Yoshida.
Masahiro Tanaka and the Rakuten Eagles were unable to get past his bugbear team, the last-place Nippon Ham Fighters, although the Eagles did manage to tie their game in a bizarre ninth inning, while Adeiny Hechavarria lifted the Marines past the Hawks and into third place.
In the Central League, it was comeuppance time for the three teams on top, who all lost to second-division clubs, allowing the fourth-place Dragons to move to within 10-1/2 games of third place and the final playoff spot, so big wow.
Buffaloes 2, Lions 1
At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Yoshinobu Yamamoto (10-5, 1.76) struck out 10 over the distance, issuing one walk and allowing three hits, including Junichiro Kishi’s ice-breaking solo homer in the third. Yamamoto then issued a two-out walk and gave up a double to Tomoya Mori, but that was it for the Lions. Yamamoto retired the last 19 Seibu batters.
The Buffaloes tied it in the bottom of the third against Wataru Matsumoto on a walk, a Yuma Mune infield single and an RBI single by Masataka Yoshida, whose sacrifice fly in the ninth won it against fellow Japan Olympian Kaima Taira (1-2).
Fighters 3, Eagles 3
At Sapporo Dome, Masahiro Tanaka battled his control and umpire Kinji Nishimoto’s definition of the strike zone to allow two runs over seven innings on Yuki James Nomura’s second home run. Nomura hit his third homer off Tomohiro Anraku in the eighth. Tanaka’s fourth start against the Fighters became the first in which he was not the losing pitcher.
Fighters starter Takayuki Kato surrendered two runs in the fifth but pitched out of a sixth-inning jam. Mizuki Hori did the same in the seventh, and Bryan Rodriguez worked a scoreless eighth before closer Toshihiro Sugiura blew the lead in the ninth on three walks and a hit batsman.
Eagles closer Yuki Matsui worked the bottom of the ninth and worked around Ronny Rodriuguez’s one-out single, with the help of a base-running error. Pinch-runner Kenshi Sugiya took one baby step past second on a deep fly to left but neglected to touch the bag on the way back to first and was out on appeal.
Hawks 5, Marines 3
At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Nick Martinez struck out 11 batters while allowing two runs in a tough fourth inning but his effort and the SoftBank Hawks’ tying runs in the sixth against Lotte starter Kota Futaki were wasted in the ninth.
Sho Iwasaki (2-2), the Hawks’ closer while Yuito Mori and Livan Moinelo are unavailable, allowed a hit and issued an intentional walk before throwing a fat 3-1 slider to Adeiny Hechavarria, who blasted his fourth home run.
The Hawks tied it when Yuki Yanagita doubled in a run with two outs in the sixth and scored on a single by Ryoya Kurihara, who homered in the ninth against Naoya Masuda, who recorded his 25th save.
BayStars 6, Giants 1
At Tokyo Dome, Masaya Kyoyama (1-3, 6.35) allowed an unearned run over five innings, while Tyler Austin saved a run with a a catch in right field, had an RBI single and a solo home run, his 21st. Former BayStar and Blue Jay Shun Yamaguchi (2-2, 2.94) gave up three runs over five innings to take the loss for Yomiuri.
The win was DeNA’s second straight at Tokyo Dome, where they were the home team the night before against the Tigers.
Dragons 6, Tigers 0
At Vantelin Dome Nagoya, Yuya Yanagi (8-5, 2.20) struck out seven in a four-hitter for his second shutout of the year on 148 pitches. Yuki Nishi (4-8, 3.45) worked five innings. He allowed five runs, all in the second, when two were earned because of a tough error charged to Kento Ishihara when a grounder skidded on the turf and handcuffed him that helped ignite the nine-batter inning.
Carp 5, Swallows 4
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Yakult hit three solo home runs, Munetaka Murakami’s 29th and 30th – giving him the most in either league – and rookie Hiyu Yamamoto’s third, and added another run in the fifth off Hiroshima starter Allen Kuri.
Carp center fielder Takayoshi Noma threw out a runner at the plate in the fifth and had three hits, including a no-out single in Hiroshima’s five-run sixth. All five runs were charged to starter Kazuto Taguchi (4-7, 3.83) although only one was earned, on Ryosuke Kikuchi’s leadoff homer, his eighth.
Seiya Suzuki singled to tie it off reliever Yuma Oshita, who allowed Ryuhei Matsuyama’s pinch-hit sacrifice fly that brought home the Carp’s fifth run. Hiroshima’s Makoto Kemna retired Tetsuto Yamada to escape a two-on, two-out jam in the seventh and a trio of relievers retired the final six Swallows with Ryoji Kurihara earning his 20th save in the ninth.
Fighters vs Eagles: Sapporo Dome 3 pm, 2 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Lions: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Hawks vs Marines: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Giants vs BayStars: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Dragons vs Tigers: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Carp vs Swallows: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 8/20/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/30