The Yakult Swallows ground their way to a toe-hold on the top of the Central League standings on Wednesday, while the Lotte Marines saw their Pacific League lead trimmed to 2-1/2 games after they failed to beat Kodai Senga for a second straight week and Orix came from behind.
That was the less bad of this week’s bad news for the Marines, whose top home run hitter Leonys Martin, is likely out for the season after fouling a pitch off his right foot and suffering a fracture. Martin, who leads the PL in outfield assists helped make the Marines’ outfield defense easily the best in either league, although shifting 2019 Golden Glove center fielder Takashi Ogino to left to make room for Kyota Fujiwara in center is another reason.
The Swallows will be without pitcher Rick van den Hurk, whom they put on waivers Wednesday after he went 0-1 with a 15.43 ERA in two games this season. He will now be eligible to get his release or sign with any club that claims him.
In meaningless free agent news
Masahiro Tanaka achieved the service time necessary to file for domestic free agency after the Japan Series ends. Tanaka is currently on a two-year deal with the Eagles that ostensibly will allow him to opt-out after this season should he want to return to the majors.
“I’m prepared to talk with the team after the season,” Tanaka told a press conference because no player in Japan is permitted to acquire free agency filing rights without being asked to comment on his future.
Swallows 2, BayStars 1
At Yokohama Stadium, Yuhei Nakamura, getting a day off from his job as starting catcher, came off the bench in the ninth with a two-out RBI tie-breaking single off Yasuaki Yamasaki before Scott McGough locked it down in the ninth with his 22nd save.
Yakult came from behind in the fourth against Shinichi Onuki on a two-out Naomichi Nishiura single and a Domingo Santana double. Munetaka Murakami singled to lead off the ninth against the BayStars’ third pitcher, Edwin Escobar (3-4). With one out, Nishiura bunted for a base hit. Yamasaki was brought in to face right-handed slugger Tetsuto Yamada, who also got much of the day off, and retired him before Nakamura did the damage.
Yakult’s Yasuhiro Ogawa allowed one run despite issuing six walks. Hikaru Ito doubled in DeNA’s run in the second, the second of two hits the right-hander allowed. Setup man Noboru Shimizu (3-5) worked the eighth to earn the win.
Dragons 2, Tigers 1
At Vantelin Dome Nagoya, Dayan Viciedo equaled Chunichi’s record for hits by an import, matching batting coach Alonzo Powell’s 756 with a first-inning RBI double off Koyo Aoyagi (10-4, 2.57), who allowed two runs over six innings. Sixth-inning doubles by Shuhei Takahashi and Takuya Kinoshita made it 2-0.
Takahiro Matsuba (5-3, 2.88), who allowed six hits and a walk over six scoreless innings by retiring Jefry Marte twice to end innings with runners in scoring position. Daisuke Sobue worked the seventh, while Katsuki Matayoshi allowed a run in the eighth on a Marte RBI single before Raidel Martinez bounced back from allowing a run on seven-days rest on Tuesday to earn his 19th save.
Giants 13, Carp 0
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Carp right-hander Allen Kuri (9-7, 4.27) gave up seven runs, five earned, on 18 hits and four walks over 2-2/3 innings, while the Giants did the rest of the damage in a six-run sixth, with all those runs being charged to Kyle Bird.
Yomiuri’s Shosei Togo (9-6, 3.81) worked seven scoreless innings to pick up the win.
Eagles 4, Lions 2
At MetLife Dome, Rakuten captain and former Lion Hideto Asamura brought the Eagles back from a run down with a two-run third-inning home run, his 14th, off Shota Hamaya (1-4, 6.33). The Eagles made it 3-1 when Luis Okoye walked in the sixth and scored on a Tsuyoshi Yamasaki single.
Takahisa Hayakawa (9-5, 3.61) gave up two runs over 5-2/3 innings. Takeya Nakamura led off the second with his 13th homer, and rookie Junichiro Kishi’s eighth made it 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth. Sung Chia-hao nailed down his third save.
Hawks 4, Marines 1
At Zozo Marine Stadium, SoftBank’s Kodai Senga (6-2, 2.82) struck out nine, allowed three hits and two walks over 7-2/3 innings to earn the win. The Hawks took a second-inning lead off Manabu Mima (5-5, 5.42) when Yuki Yanagita doubled, went to third when right fielder Koki Yamaguchi fumbled the ball, and scored on Taisei Makihara’s sacrifice fly.
Kenta Imamiya singled and Ryoya Kurihara doubled to open the Hawks’ fourth with one run scoring on a groundout and another on an Alfredo Despaigne single. Richard Sunagawa made it 4-0 in the seventh with a long home run, his fourth, into a stiff wind.
Lotte’s run came on a leadoff triple and a groundout in the eighth, although the triple was a sinking liner to shallow center that kicked off Taisei Makihara’s glove and rolled into right field.
Livan Moinelo got the final out in the eighth and Yuito Mori stranded a runner in the ninth to get his 10th save.
Buffaloes 5, Fighters 3
At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Orix rookie Kotaro Kurebayashi’s three-run triple capped a five-run seventh inning. Takahiro Okada, Steven Moya and Ryoichi Adachi singled to open the inning. Torai Fushimi singled in one run and another scored on a groundout. Yuma Mune walked and Kurebayashi did the rest.
Four of the runs were charged to Fighters rookie Hiromi Ito (9-6, 2.76) as the Orix outburst took rookie right-hander Soichiro Yamazaki off the hook after he allowed two runs in five-plus innings. He left with one on and no outs in the sixth, and the Fighters loaded the bases on two hits against Tomoyuki Kaida before a sac fly and a squeeze made it 3-0.
Nobuyoshi Yamada (1-0), Orix’s fourth pitcher, worked the seventh to earn the win, while Tyler Higgins pitched the eighth and Yoshihisa Hirano earned his 20th save in the ninth.
Thursday’s starting pitchers
Rookie rocket Roki Sasaki is back for the first time since his epic duel with Masahiro Tanaka on Sept. 10, this time he draws another tough customer, SoftBank and Team USA star Nick Martinez.
Lions vs Eagles: MetLife Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Marines vs Hawks: Zozo Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Fighters: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 2 pm, 1 am EDT
BayStars vs Swallows: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Dragons vs Tigers: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Carp vs Giants: Mazda Stadium 1:30 pm, 0:30 am EDT
Active roster moves 9/22/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/2