There were a pair of dramatic ties on Thursday in games with both league leaders with lots of ninth-inning action, but no results. I loved the drama, but the ties are truly getting old.
In one of those games, between the Giants and the Swallows, Yakult manager Shingo Takatsu’s orthodox defensive positioning sabotaged his team’s chance to beat the Giants.
I wrote about this issue, what happens when Japanese teams bring the outfield in with runners on second, and based on that research, Takatsu’s ploy looked like a bad choice even before it backfired on him.
Fighters 6, Buffaloes 6
At Sapporo Dome, Orix avoided a three-game sweep with a four-run ninth-inning rally off Nippon Ham’s Bryan Rodriguez.
Masataka Yoshida’s two-run double after Shuhei Fukuda and Yuma Mune reached with one out, made it a 6-4 game, and Yutaro Sugimoto followed with his 22nd home run. New signing Cesar Vargas worked a scoreless ninth to preserve the tie.
A day after driving in four runs against, Orix, Daiki Asama led off Nippon Ham’s first with his fourth home run, off Orix right-hander Daichi Takeyasu. The Buffaloes, who lost 3-1 on Tuesday and 12-1 on Wednesday, equaled their run production from the first two game in the second inning but left the bases loaded.
Kotaro Kurebayashi doubled and Kenya Wakatsuki singled off Ryusei Kawano . Fukuda’s sacrifice fly tied it, and Ryoichi Adachi’s two-out bases-loaded single put the league leaders ahead.
The Fighters tied in the fourth against Takeyasu on Yuki James Nomura single and a Wang Po-jung double, before taking the lead against career minor leaguer Koki Saito. The lefty got the final out in the fourth, but surrendered Ronny Rodriguez’s second homer leading off the fifth. Saito left with one on and two outs, and rookie Taisei Urushihara allowed a single to Nomura and a two-run Kensuke Kondo double that made it 5-2.
Kazunari Ishii, who drove in four runs on Wednesday, made it 6-2 in the eighth against Tyler Higgins with his second hit of the game.
Hawks 5, Eagles 2
At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, SoftBank ace Kodai Senga (4-1, 3.81) struck out eight while allowing two runs over seven innings to win his third straight start.
Taisei Makihara opened the Hawks’ first with his first homer, off
Takahiro Norimoto (8-5, 3.81), who allowed another run in the first on a pair of walks, an infield single and a throwing error.
After he gave up a one-out second-inning single, Norimoto retired nine straight before the Hawks hurt him in the fifth. Makihara and Akira Nakamura singled with one out and Yuki Yanagita belted his PL-leading 24th home run.
Eigoro Mogi’s two-out two-run double got the Eagles on the board in the sixth before both bullpens locked it down. Hiroshi Kaino, SoftBank’s fourth pitcher worked the ninth for his first save as manager Kimiyasu Kudo continues to look for late-inning solutions that don’t involve his top-three late inning relievers, Yuito Mori, Livan Moinelo or Sho Iwasaki, who are all out hurt.
Giants 2, Swallows 2
At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Yakult beat dominating closer Thyago Vieira but couldn’t survive a managing goof by skipper Shingo Takatsu.
With one out and a 2-1 lead Takatsu ordered his outfield in to prevent the runner on second from scoring on a weak single, only for Akihiro Wakabayshi to drive the ball just over the head of center fielder Yasutaka Shiomi to bring in the tying run.
Closer Scott McGough, pitching for the first time in five days, left an 0-2 pitch in the heart of the zone that Naoki Yoshikawa lined into center for a single. A sacrifice moved the runner to second, and Wakabayashi exploited the Swallows’ defensive positioning. McGough got out of the inning to avoid the loss.
Yakult ended closer Vieira’s scoreless game streak at 32, breaking a 1-1 ninth-inning tie after Jose Osuna snapped a 25-at-bat hitless streak with a leadoff double. Pinch-runner Naomichi Nishiura was sacrificed to third and Shingo Kawabata, who had struck out against Vieira the night before, singled him home. Former closer Rubby De La Rosa replaced Vieira after a walk put two on with one out and got the Giants out of jail.
Shun Yamaguchi allowed a run on two hits and three walks while striking out seven, and lefty Kota Nakagawa stranded two in the eighth.
Forty-one-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa went six, allowing three hits while striking out five without a walk. Ryuta Konno stranded a pair of Giants in the seventh before Noboru Shimizu (2-4) worked a 1-2-3 eighth.
Yamaguchi lost his no-hit bid in the first inning without allowing a hit, which only makes sense in Japan. Yakult took the lead on two walks, an error and a groundout, before the Giants responded in more orthodox fashion in the second, when cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto led off with his Japan-best 33rd home run.
Carp 11, BayStars 3
At Yokohama Stadium, Ryosuke Kikuchi homered, singled, drew three walks, scored three runs and drove in three to drive the offense as Hiroshima pulled even with DeNA in fifth place.
Allen Kuri (9-6, 3.78) kept a two-out rally alive with a second-inning single to load the bases and Hisayoshi Chono followed by smashing a 1-1 pitch past short that found the gap for a two-run double. Kikuchi, who walked and scored in the second, made it 3-0 in the fourth with his 11th home run.
Rookie BayStars reserve catcher Yudai Yamamoto led off the fifth with his first homer, but the Carp widened the lead in the sixth. DeNA starter Yuya Sakamoto (4-4, 4.77) left with one out and one on in the sixth after issuing his third walk. Reliever Hiromu Ise issued a walk and surrendered a two-run double to rookie Kota Hayashi. Two-time CL home run champ Neftali Soto matched that in the home half with a two-run homer, his 20th before the BayStars’ bullpen poured oil on the fire.
Hiroshima’s Ryoma Nishikawa hit an eighth-inning solo homer, his eighth, and Kosuke Tanaka hit a two-run pinch-hit homer in the ninth, his second.
Tigers vs Dragons
At Koshien Stadium, rained out.
Eagles vs Lions: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT
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: Tokyo Dome 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 9/2/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/12