There were two great pitching duels on Saturday and another superb performance from who else but Yoshinobu Yamamoto, whom Steven Moya accurately referred to as “a beast.”
Fighters 1, Marines 0
At Sapporo Dome, Nippon Ham’s Drew VerHagen (4-7, 4.50) struck out 11 over six innings to win a duel between pitchers who started the day with ERAs on the wrong side of 4.50 against Daiki Iwashita (8-7, 4.33), who allowed four hits but no walks while striking out four.
Ryusei Sato doubled in the fifth and scored on a Haruki Nishikawa triple. The Fighters loaded the bases in the seventh but failed to score thanks to Leonys Martin’s arm. He kept the runner from going first to third on a one-out single to third, and that prevented a run on the Fighters’ third straight single in the inning.
Lefty Mizuki Hori worked a 1-2-3 seventh for Nippon Ham, Bryan Rodriguez escaped a bases-loaded predicament in the eighth and Toshiro Sugiura notched his 20th save.
Eagles vs Hawks
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, rained out. Masahiro Tanaka was scheduled to start but was pushed back so Takayuki Kishi could pitch on Sunday.
Buffaloes 4, Lions 0
At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto (14-5, 1.54) struck out 11, walked one and allowed five hits over eight innings to win his 11th straight decision and reach 500 career strikeouts faster than any pitcher in franchise history.
Tatsuya Imai (7-6, 3.44) struck out nine, walked two and gave up six hits over six innings.
Steven Moya hit a two-run double in the fourth, and Rookie Kotaro Kurebayashi made it 4-0 in the fifth with his fifth home run. Tyler Higgins retired the side in the ninth to close it out.
Giants 6, Swallows 6
At Tokyo Dome, Yakult’s Yasutaka Shiomi became the 71st player in elite Japanese pro baseball to hit for the cycle, scoring four runs and driving in three, only for Yomiuri to come from behind and secure a tie.
The Swallows had base runners in every inning and nearly drove C.C. Mercedes from the game in the first inning with a couple of smashes off his body, the second plating Shiomi from third for the opening run.
Yakult starter Keiji Takahashi loaded the bases with no outs in the first but only gave up one run on a double play. Shiomi tripled and scored in the third. A night after hitting a grand slam courtesy of Tokyo Dome’s shallow power alleys, Shiomi made it 5-1 with his 12th home run. Takahashi gave up solo homers in the fourth to Hayato Sakamoto, his 16th, and Hiroyuki Nakajima’s sixth.
Takumi Kitamura fourth home run made it a one-run game in the fifth against Takahashi. Shiomi doubled and scored in the sixth, but Ryuta Konno allowed the tying runs to score on a two-run seventh-inning Sakamoto double.
Tigers 1, Dragons 0
Both starting pitchers went seven innings without issuing a walk. Takahashi struck out 10 while allowing two hits, while Ono struck out seven while allowing six hits.
Robert Suarez allowed the first two runners to reach in the ninth, but Chunichi manager Tsuyoshi Yoda ordered his most reliable hitter, Yohei Oshima, to sacrifice, and he failed, helping the Tigers closer earn his 32nd save.
BayStars 4, Carp 2
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, DeNA broke a 1-1 eighth-inning tie with three runs against Hiroshima’s second pitcher, lefty Atsuya Horie (4-4) after strong outings by Carp ace Daichi Osera and DeNA’s Masaya Kyoyama.
Masayuki Kuwahara doubled to open the game and scored to put the BayStars in front. The visitors put two on with one out in the second but Osera was able to get out of the inning against Kyoyama.
The Carp tied it in the fourth on a Seiya Suzuki double and a pair of two-out singles. DeNA lefty Yoshiki Sunada (2-1) took over with two out and two on in the seventh and got out of the inning to earn the win.
Having bat for Osera in the seventh, Horie took over in the eighth and surrendered a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Yamato Maeda. A sacrifice and a single put runners on the corners. Keita Sano drove in a run with a grounder but reached on an error. Horie walked Tyler Austin to load the bases, Yasunori Kikuchi walked in a run, and surrendered a sac fly to rookie Keito Mori.
Suzuki hit made it 4-2 in the eighth with his 29th home run, off Edwin Escobar, and Yasuaki Yamasaki earned his first save since July 14, 2020.
Sunday’s starting pitchers
Fighters vs Marines: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Eagles vs Hawks: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Buffaloes vs Lions: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Swallows vs Carp: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT
BayStars vs Dragons: Yokohama Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT
Tigers vs Giants: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 9/18/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/28