The Swallows gained a game in the Central League on both the Yomiuri Giants and Hanshin Tigers on Tuesday thanks to three home runs and a fine pitching performance from rookie Yasunobu Okugawa. Thirty-nine-year-old Norichika Aoki drove in all of Yakult’s runs with a grand slam, while 44-year-old Kosuke Fukudome’s homer sank the Giants, and Seiya Suzuki’s 30th home run beat the Tigers.
The Orix Buffaloes and SoftBank Hawks made hay in the Pacific League, Orix doing so at the expense of the league-leading Lotte Marines, while the PL’s Rakuten Eagles–like the Giants and Tigers, were taken down by a team out of the playoff picture.
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Swallows 4, BayStars 0
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Yakult rookie Yasunobu Okugawa (8-3, 3.14) allowed three hits over six innings without and three relievers combined on the Swallows’ fourth straight shutout and the second straight game in which they did not allow a walk. It was the rookie’s seventh straight start without a walk.
“I didn’t think he was particularly good tonight, but because he wasn’t going to let the count dictate his pitches, he was able to attack batters the way he did tonight. By doing that diligently he could string together zeroes regardless of the situation he was in. I think this was another step forward for him.”
Katsuki Azuma (0-1, 7.71), making a first-team mound appearance for the first time in two years after having Tommy John surgery in February 2020, only faced one tough spot and didn’t survive it. Okugawa’s one-out fifth-inning single over short–after he’d squared to bunt and swung away, what’s known in Japan as a “buster”–loaded the bases.
Norichika Aoki then cleared them with his sixth home run. At the age of 39 years, 8 months, Aoki surpassed his former manager, Hall of Fame catcher Atsuya Furuta, as the oldest player in franchise history to hit a grand slam. Furuta’s last came at the age of 38 years, 8 months.
The Swallows ran their unbeaten streak to 13 games by winning their ninth straight decision.
Dragons 5, Giants 2
At Vantelin Dome Nagoya, Kosuke Fukudome got the big hit moments after the Giants set themselves up for a tie in a 1-1 pitchers’ duel.
CL ERA leader Yuya Yanagi (10-5, 2.10) took a 1-0 lead into the eighth inning having given Chunichi the lead with a fourth-inning sacrifice fly, and the Giants wasted a solid seven-inning start from Shosei Togo, when Kota Nakagawa (3-3) surrendered a two-run tie-breaking home run by Fukudome, his fourth, and a single before Kyosuke Takagi took over and gave up a two-run homer to catcher Takuya Kinoshita, his 11th.
Yoshiyuki Kamei, who doubled and scored the Giants’ tying run in the eighth, singled in a run in the ninth against closer Raidel Martinez.
Carp 2, Tigers 0
At Koshien Stadium, Seiya Suzuki made it 1-0 in the fourth with his 30th home run, Tsubasa Aizawa doubled and scored in the fifth, and Hiroki Tokoda (5-3, 2.50) allowed two hits and three walks over six innings to outduel Hanshin’s Takumi Akiyama (10-6, 2.68), who struck out nine without issuing a walk, while allowing two runs over seven innings. Rookie Ryoji Kuribayashi earned his 27th save for the Carp.
Slugging Tigers rookie Teruaki Sato ran his hitless streak to 53 consecutive plate appearances, equaling the longest slump by a position player since Japanese pro baseball expanded to form two leagues in 1950.
Fighters 3, Eagles 1
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, side-arm lefty Ryusei Kawano (3-4, 2.31) allowed an unearned run on three walks and three hits over six innings, Haruki Nishikawa singled home Kazunari Ishii with the tying run off Takahisa Hayakawa (9-6, 3.65) in the third, Ishii broke the tie in the fifth with a two-run homer, his fourth, and Nippon Ham’s fourth pitcher, closer Toshiro Sugiura, recorded his 23rd save.
Buffaloes 5, Marines 2
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Takahiro Okada brought Orix from behind with a long fourth-inning three-run home run, his 14th off Ayumu Ishikawa (3-3, 4.42) after Koki Yamaguchi made it 1-0 in the third with his seventh homer, off Sachiya Yamasaki (7-9, 3.56).
Rookie Kotaro Kurebayashi made it 4-1 in the sixth with his ninth homer, and the Buffaloes answered back with a run in the home half on a Shogo Nakamura and a Brandon Laird sac fly that was caught at the fence on a good effort by Okada in left. The Buffaloes offense’s big wheel, Masataka Yoshida, returned to the starting lineup for the first time in 24 days. He singled and scored on Okada’s home run and singled in a run in the seventh.
Yamasaki allowed a run over five innings to get the win, and Yoshihisa Hirano, Orix’s sixth pitcher, bounced back from a blown save in Sunday’s 1-1 tie with the Eagles to record his 22nd save.
Hawks 5, Lions 2
At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, SoftBank jumped in front in the second on two-run homers, Alfredo Despaigne’s fifth and Takuya Kai’s 11th, off Kona Takahashi (11-6, 3.45). Yuki Yanagita led off the second with a single and scored on Despaigne’s home run, and tripled with two outs in the fifth and scored on a Despaigne single.
Kodai Senga (7-2, 2.81) pitched out of two-on one-out pickles in the third, fifth and sixth innings, but not in the seventh, when Seibu rookie Junichiro Kishi singled in two with two outs to cut the Hawks’ lead to three. It took two pitchers to get the final out in the seventh, but Livan Moinelo and Yuito Mori, who earned his 13th save, finished up with a scoreless inning each.
Wednesday’s starting pitchers
Eagles vs Fighters: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Ryota Takinaka (7-4, 4.02) vs Hiromi Ito (9-6, 2.76)
Marines vs Buffaloes: Zozo Marine Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Manabu Mima (5-5, 5.42) vs Soichiro Yamazaki (0-2, 4.94)
Hawks vs Lions: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Nick Martinez (8-3, 1.75) vs Shota Hamaya (1-4, 6.33)
Swallows vs BayStars: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT
Yasuhiro Ogawa (8-4, 3.79) vs Shinichi Onuki (6-5, 4.26)
Dragons vs Giants: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Takahiro Matsuba (5-3, 2.88) vs Yuki Takahashi (11-5, 2.98)
Tigers vs Carp: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Koyo Aoyagi (10-4, 2.57) vs Allen Kuri (9-7, 4.27)
Active roster moves 9/28/2021