Saturday saw no lead changes in Japan, although the Pacific League’s last-place Nippon Ham Fighters did lay an epic beating on the SoftBank Hawks, leading the manager of the run-starved Fighters to say, “If we score runs like that, we absolutely have to win.”
We had a couple of complete-game wins in the PL, with Seibu’s Tatsuya Imai throwing 142 pitches to get out of a ninth-inning bases-loaded jam to secure his second career shutout, while Lotte lefty Kazuya Ojima needed just 109 pitches to finish his first complete-game win.
Tigers 4, Carp 1
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Hanshin’s Takumi Akiyama (10-5, 2.81) made the most of his 85 mph fastball to retire 19 of the first 20 batters he faced, Jerry Sands reached base three times, Jefry Marte hit a three-run home run, his 17th, Mel Rojas Jr. had a pinch-hit RBI single and Robert Suarez saved his CL-leading 31st game.
Akiyama struck out three and hit a batter while allowing one hit, Ryoma Nishikawa’s 10th home run, over seven innings. Hiroshima starter Koya Takahashi (3-5, 5.26) allowed three runs in five-plus innings seven hits and two walks.
Dragons 5, Giants 4
At Tokyo Dome, leadoff man Yota Kyoda primed Chunichi’s pump, again. A day after homering twice, he reached base three times and scored on Nobumasa Fukuda’s first-inning RBI double and minor league reserve Masaru Watanabe’s three-run second-inning homer off C.C. Mercedes (7-2, 3.02), who lasted three innings.
Yuya Yanagi (9-5, 2.12) worked 5-1/3 innings. He left one batter after Seiya Matsubara’s two-run homer, his ninth. The Giants got two runners on with no outs in the seventh, on a single and Hayato Sakamoto walk on a 3-2 pitch in the zone. With two outs, Hiroyuki Nakajima and Matsubara singled.
Raidel Martinez worked around Hayato Sakamoto’s leadoff double and a two-out hit batsman (Nakajima) in the ninth to earn his 17th save. Nakajima appeared to want a word with Martinez after getting hit, but when the pitcher approached the baseline and the ump got between them, they bumped fists and went their separate ways.
Swallows 9, BayStars 2
At Jingu Stadium, Yakult’s Domingo Santana and Jose Osuna each homered and drove in three runs, while Cy Sneed (3-2, 4.34) allowed two runs on five hits and no walks over 5-2/3 innings to collect the win.
DeNA’s Masaya Kyoyama (2-5, 5.08) surrendered four runs in the first. With two on and one out, Munetaka Murakami and Osuna each singled in a run, and Santana capped the rally with a two-run double. Santana made it 5-0 in the third with his 11th homer. With Yakult leading 7-2 in the eighth, Osuna polished off the BayStars with a two-run homer, his 10th.
Fighters 17, Hawks 5
At Sapporo Dome, Nippon Ham left a mark on SoftBank’s Shuta Ishikawa (5-9, 3.36), who threw 54 pitches but didn’t make it out of an 11-run first inning, allowing 10 runs, three earned. One of the two errors was pretty harsh, when a tougher-than-routine catch was dropped to put the leadoff man on. Ishikawa, however, should have gotten out of the inning trailing 4-0 but a double play ball was dropped, and the scoring continued until Wang Po-Jung’s second two-run double.
The Fighters batted around again in a five-run second, causing Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama to say, “With this many runs, it was a game we absolutely had to win.”
Fighters starter Takayuki Kato (4-6, 4.04) allowed five runs over seven innings to earn the win. The Hawks had two solo home runs. Wang and Haruki Nishikawa, who had a three-run first-inning triple, each drove in five runs for the Fighters.
Richard Sunagawa, who made the error that really blew up the first inning, hit his third, and Nobuhiro Matsuda his 12th.
Lions 7, Buffaloes 0
At MetLife Dome, Seibu’s Tatsuya Imai (7-5, 3.44) struck out 13 in a 142-pitch three-hit shutout in which he walked four.
Orix’s Cesar Vargas (1-0, 11.00), making his first start, surrendered six runs in 4-1/3 innings. The Mexico international worked out of a first-inning bases-loaded jam and didn’t allow a run until Shuta Tonosaki singled with one out in the fourth and scored on Hotaka Yamakawa’s two-out double. Cory Spangenberg made it 3-0 against his former Padres teammate with his sixth home run.
Vargas left with an injury in the fifth after Takeya Nakamura singled in Sosuke Genda with one out. Kohei “K” Suzuki took over and surrendered back-to-back doubles to Tonosaki and Takumi Kuriyama.
Marines 4, Eagles 1
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Lotte’s Kazuya Ojima (7-3, 4.57) allowed a run on four hits over the distance while striking out eight in his first career complete game as Lotte moved a full game ahead of second-place Lotte.
Rakuten veteran Takayuki Kishi (7-8, 3.62) surrendered a first-inning run on Takashi Ogino’s leadoff triple and a sacrifice fly. Kishi retired 10 straight before Shogo Nakamura and Leonys Martin doubled with one out in the fourth to make it 2-0. After eight straight outs, Kishi surrendered no-out seventh-inning doubles to Martin and Brandon Laird with Lotte’s fourth run scoring on a sacrifice fly.
Hiroaki Shimauchi’s 17th home run accounted for Rakuten’s eighth-inning run.
Sunday’s starting pitchers
Fighters vs Hawks: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Lions vs Buffaloes: MetLife Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Marines vs Eagles: Zozo Marine Stadium 4 pm, 3 am EDT
BayStars vs Tigers: Yokohama Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT
Dragons vs Swallows: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Carp vs Giants: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 9/11/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/21