Saturday in NPB was Yoshinobu Yamamoto day, and he delivered, but the BIG pitching performances came from Hanshin Tigers lefty Haruto Takahashi, who threw his first career shutout in a big game against the Giants at Tokyo Dome and between Chunichi’s Yariel Rodriguez and Yakult’s Haruto Takahashi down the road at Jingu Stadium.
The Tigers’ win left them trailing the Swallows on winning percentage, .580 to .571.
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Marines 3, Lions 1
At MetLife Dome, Lotte rookie right-hander Tokito Kawamura (3-0, 3.82) scattered three walks and six hits to allow one run over 5-2/3 innings and the Marines bullpen retired the final 10 batters.
Lotte leadoff man walked, stole second and scored on a single by Shogo Nakamura, who came home when Brandon Laird capped the rally with his 25th home run. Katsunori Hirai (4-3, 4.22), starting for the first time since June 30, bounced back from that to keep the Marines in check through 5-1/3 innings. Katsuhiko Kumon inherited a one-out runner on second but finished the sixth without incident, and Hotaka Yamakawa’s sac fly scored Tomoya Mori in the home half.
Lotte’s Yuki Karakawa retired the only batter he faced in the sixth, and Yuki Kuniyoshi, Chihaya Sasaki and closer Naoya Masuda did the rest with Masuda earning his 34th save.
Buffaloes 3, Eagles 2
At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto (15-5, 1.46) allowed two runs over eight innings on seven hits and three walks while striking out nine.
Yuma Mune’s sixth home run put Orix up 1-0 in the first, and Steven Moya made it 3-0 with RBI singles in the fourth and sixth off rookie Shoten Suzuki, who relieved Takayuki Kishi (7-8, 3.66) with one out and runners on second and third.
The Eagles got back in the game in the seventh against Yamamoto on a four-pitch leadoff walk, a one-out double off a first-pitch fastball, and a two-out two-run Tsuyoshi Yamasaki single.
Yamamoto came back out for the eighth and surrendered a one-out infield single and a two-out Eigoro Mogi double but Takero Okajima was out at the plate on a good tag by catcher Kenya Wakatsuki after a relay from right fielder Yutaro Sugimoto and second baseman Ryoichi Adachi.
Yoshihisa Hirano worked the ninth for his 21st save.
Hawks 4, Fighters 2
At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, SoftBank solved Drew VerHagen (4-8, 4.68), tagging him for four runs over five innings, as Shuta Ishikawa (6-9, 3.36) worked into the sixth and was charged with two runs.
Ryo Kurihara opened the scoring in the bottom of the first with his 17th home run, but Kensuke Kondo doubled and scored the tying run in the second on a Ryusei Sato single. VerHagen, who’d been rock solid since the summer break, walked the leadoff man in the Hawks’ second and two singles loaded the bases before back-to-back two-out RBI singles by Masaki Mimori and Akira Nakamura made it 4-1.
Ishikawa was yanked in the after 91 pitches in the sixth with two out and one on rather than face Kondo, who had two hits off him. Kondo instead doubled in a run off lefty Shinya Kayama.
Middle reliever Hiroshi Kaino survived runners on the corners with no outs in the seventh by striking out two batters and having one thrown out trying to steal. Livan Moinelo and Yuito Mori each retired the side with Mori getting his 11th save.
Tigers 3, Giants 0
At Tokyo Dome, Hanshin lefty Haruto Takahashi (2-1, 2.25) survived three ninth-inning singles to get two outs with the bases loaded and record his first career shutout.
Kento Itohara broke the ice in the seventh against Yomiuri ace Tomoyuki Sugano (5-7, 3.53) with his seventh home run, and Takahashi helped his cause with a one-out single in Hanshin’s two-run eighth. Back-to-back one-out doubles by Koji Chikamoto and rookie Takumu Nakano, who drove in two, chased Sugano.
Swallows 0, Dragons 0
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Chunichi’s Yariel Rodriguez survived six walks over 7-2/3 scoreless innings, although he lost his no-hit with one out in the eighth in a scoreless pitchers’ duel with Yakult lefty Keiji Takahashi, who went struck out eight, walked one and allowed three singles over seven innings.
The Swallows are now 7-0 with four ties in their past 11 games.
Carp 3, BayStars 2
At Yokohama Stadium, Hiroshima starting pitcher Koya Takahashi (4-6, 5.29) allowed two runs over six innings. DeNA’s Masaya Kyoyama surrendered the early lead on a walk, a single and a double play before the BayStars scored twice in the home half on a Tyler Austin RBI double and a Toshiro Miyazaki RBI single.
Kyoyama allowed the tying run to score on back-to-back fifth-inning doubles by Ryoma Nishikawa and Seiya Suzuki. Michael Peoples (2-4), DeNA’s third pitcher, entered with one out and none on in the sixth and surrendered Tsubasa Aizawa’s third home run.
Takahashi worked a 1-2-3 sixth before scoreless innings from Sotaro Shimauchi, Makoto Kemna set the stage for rookie Ryoji Kuribayashi’s 25th save.
Sunday’s starting pitchers
Lions vs Marines: MetLife Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Yutaro Watanabe (3-3, 3.82) vs Kazuya Ojima (8-3, 4.20)
Buffaloes vs Eagles: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Daichi Takeyasu (2-0, 4.99) vs Masahiro Tanaka (4-6, 3.08)
Hawks vs Fighters: PayPay Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Shunsuke Kasaya (2-3, 5.35) vs Takayuki Kato (4-7, 4.07)
Giants vs Tigers: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Shun Yamaguchi (2-6, 3.34) vs Joe Gunkel (7-3, 3.40)
Swallows vs Dragons: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT
Masanori Ishikawa (3-3, 2.37) vs Shinnosuke Ogasawara (7-8, 3.42)
BayStars vs Carp: Yokohama Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Shota Imanaga (5-4, 2.77) vs Masato Morishita (6-7, 3.07)
Active roster moves 9/25/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/5