NPB wrap 9-26-21

The Yakult Swallows left a mark on the Chunichi Dragons largely in part to yet another effective start from 41-year-old low-velocity lefty Masanori Ishikawa and seven RBIs from Tetsuto Yamada, but it didn’t help them gain ground in the CL pennant race after the Hanshin Tigers held off the third-place Giants thanks to a three-run double from 41-year-old Yoshio Itoi.

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Yakult’s streak of eight straight winning decisions was the Swallows’ longest winning streak in 10 years.

In the Pacific League, the Lotte Marines gained a half-game on the second-place Orix Buffaloes and the third-place Rakuten Eagles, who tied 1-1, while the SoftBank Hawks now trail the third-place Eagles by 2-1/2 in the hunt for the final playoff spot.

Sunday’s games

Marines 8, Lions 4

At MetLife Dome, Lotte’s Kazuya Ojima (9-3, 4.14) allowed four runs over six innings, two scoring on Hotaka Yamakawa’s two-run second-inning homer, his 18th, and two on third-inning bases-loaded walks. Coming off a complete game two weeks before and his first career shutout the week after that, Ojima retired the first five batters he faced and the last 10.

Marines leadoff man Takashi Ogino and No. 2 hitter Toshiya Sato combined to reach base six times, score five runs and drive in two. Sato’s two-run fifth-inning single off Yutaro Watanabe (3-4, 4.28) tied it, and he scored the go-ahead run on a single by Yudai Fujioka, who iced the game with a three-run seventh-inning triple. Lotte’s bullpen retired nine of the 10 batters they faced.

Buffaloes 1, Eagles 1

At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Masahiro Tanaka bounced back from a horrible start six days earlier to hold Orix to a run on a walk and four hits over seven innings, the run scoring after a runner reached on a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch, to third on a deep fly and scored on another wild pitch.

Six Orix pitchers, starting with 4-2/3 innings from Daichi Takeyasu, whom they acquired as free agent compensation for Hanshin’s signing free agent Yuki Nishi, held the Eagles scoreless over eight before Yoshihisa Hirano surrendered a run in the ninth to blow his shot at his 22nd save.

Eigoro Mogi walked and singled three times, his final one tying it in the ninth before Sung Chia-hao got his uncredited hold in the home half by preventing Orix from winning it.

Hawks 4, Fighters 1

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, SoftBank broke a 1-1 tie in the seventh, on solo homers by Richard Sunagawa, his fifth, and Kenta Imamiya, his fourth, off right-hander Kazutomo Iguchi (1-2). Hawks starter Shunsuke Kasaya allowed one run over five innings while stirking out eighth. He allowed four hits including an ice-breaking solo homer, Kensuke Kondo’s ninth. 

Nippon Ham starter Takayuki Kato allowed a run over 5-2/3, surrendering the lead on Ryoya Kurihara’s sixth-inning double and an Alfredo Despaigne single. The Hawks tacked on a run in the eighth on a Yuki Yanagita double and a Sunagawa sac fly.

Yuki Matsumoto (3-3) worked two scoreless innings to earn the win before Livan Moinelo and Yuito Mori locked it down, Mori getting his 12th save.

Giants 4, Tigers 3

At Tokyo Dome, Joe Gunkel (8-3, 3.28) worked six innings, allowing a run on a solo home run in his final frame, Yusuke Oyama hit a solo homer, his 17th, in the third, and Yoshio Itoi delivered a three-run double as Hanshin left Tokyo Dome with two wins and a tie and the Giants four games back in their rear-view mirror.

Shun Yamaguchi (2-7, 3.34) threw 70 pitches over 2-2/3 innings. He was yanked after issuing a walk following Oyama’s homer, probably because it took manager Hara that much time to get someone warmed up after losing his patience with Yamaguchi.

The Giants loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth against Suguru Iwazaki but only managed to score one run, and Robert Suarez made them pay by earning his 34th save in the ninth.

Giants-Tigers highlights

Swallows 16, Dragons 0

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, there was a really great game for 2-1/2 innings in which Shinnosuke Ogasawara (7-9, 4.05) allowed a two-run first-inning homer to Munetaka Murakami, his 38th–tying him for the CL lead, but doubled with one out in the third and flashed some solid base-running skills to get to third with two outs.

But that all evaporated in the home half, starting with a single by Swallows southpaw Masanori Ishikawa (4-3, 2.16), and capped by Tetsuto Yamada’s 30th homer, a grand slam. Yamada singled in a run in a four-run fourth, and hit a two-run shot in a six-run sixth.

Ishikawa has made 12 starts, and only once has he worked fewer than five innings or allowed more than two runs.  

Carp 10, BayStars 8

At Yokohama Stadium, Tyler Austin reached base four times, scored three runs, and brought DeNA from behind with his 27th home run, a grand slam, in the seventh, and the BayStars took an 8-6 lead into the ninth when the ghost of blown-saves past revisited them.

Yasuaki Yamasaki, who had transitioned back into the closer’s role he lost over a year ago after Kazuki Mishima blew a few saves, blew this one. After a one-out single, he bounced a throw allowing the tying run to reach on an error.

Ryoma Nishikawa, delivered his fourth hit of the day, singling off a hanging splitter to load the bases. Seiya Suzuki tied it with a two-run single. Yamasaki walked the bases loaded before giving up a two-run tie-breaking single to Ryosuke Kikuchi.

Ryoji Kuribayashi faced four batters in the ninth for his 26th save, breaking the team’s record for saves by a first-year pitcher he shared with pitching coach Katsuhiro Nagakawa.

Hiroshima’s Masato Morishita allowed three runs over six innings and was in line for the win after a three-run Carp seventh. But two singles off reliever Atsuya Horie and a rare error on Kikuchi at second loaded the bases so Austin could clear them.

Active roster moves 9/26/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/6

Central League




SwallowsP47Keiji Takahashi

Pacific League


HawksIF0Tomoki Takata
HawksOF32Tatsuru Yanagimachi
BuffaloesP21Daichi Takeyasu
BuffaloesOF34Masataka Yoshida


HawksIF00Hikaru Kawase
HawksOF51Seiji Uebayashi
LionsP25Katsunori Hirai
BuffaloesC44Yuma Tongu
BuffaloesOF25Ryo Nishimura

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