The Central League’s three playoff teams treaded water in the standings on Wednesday by losing, although the leading Yakult Swallows nearly pulled off a huge comeback.
In the Pacific League, second-place Orix surrendered the game’s first runs, which Japanese baseball dogma tells us is fatal, but came back to hand the first-place Marines an embarassing defeat.
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Balentien to part company with Hawks
It comes as no surprise that the SoftBank Hawsk have told Wladimir Balentien he is surplus to the team’s needs for 2022. Balentien said he expected that when John E. Gibson interviewed him for the Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast. And a couple of days ago, Coco tweeted that his SoftBank Hawks swansong would be Sept. 30, the day the Western League Hawks complete their season.
Eagles 5, Fighters 0
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Rakuten’s Ryota Takinaka (8-4, 3.72) worked 6-1/3 scoreless innings and Tomohiro Anraku bailed him out of a two-on one-out jam in the seventh.
Tsuyoshi Yamasaki doubled to open the first and scored on a Hideto Asamura sac fly off rookie Hiromi Ito (9-7, 2.95), who allowed the first five batters to reach in a three-run second. Luis Okoye cashed in one run with a single and two batters later, Yamasaki singled with the bases loaded to cap the rally.
Buffaloes 15, Marines 2
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, what began as a good start for the league leading Marines turned into an epic beatdown, as Masataka Yoshida really made his presence felt for the second straight day since he returned to Orix’s starting lineup.
Lotte’s Shoma Kato hit his first home run since being acquired from Chunichi in June to make it 2-0 in the second against rookie Soichiro Yamazaki (1-2, 4.60), who gave up three hits in the inning with Koki Yamaguchi getting cut down on the bases on a throw from right fieder Yutaro Sugimoto.
Yamamoto, who possesses some electric stuff, worked 5-2/3 innings, allowed four hits, walked three and hit a batter and left with two on and a 7-2 lead to earn his first career win.
Manabu Mima (5-6, 5.45) stranded two runners in a scoreless third, and squeaked out of the fourth thanks to a good play by first baseman Brandon Laird to turn a sacrifice into a double play. After allowing eight base runners through four scoreless innings, however, Mima was chased in the sixth.
Orix halved the deficit on a Yuma Mune leadoff single and a Yoshida double. Yutaro Sugimoto singled and Steven Moya blasted his 10th home run to make it 4-2. Shuhei Fukuda doubled in two after a two-out walk and an error. Yoshida, who’d walked, singled, and doubled, opened the Buffaloes fifth with his 21st home run.
With two outs and a runner on second in the Buffaloes’ seventh, Yoshida was walked intentionally, but Sugimoto singled in one run and Takahiro Okada doubled in two more to make it 10-2.
At the end, the Marines were giving away runs–five in the ninth–like they might be able to deduct them from their taxes.
And when the dust had cleared, the Buffaloes were one game out of first place.
Hawks 9, Lions 0
At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, SoftBank’s Nick Martinez (9-3, 1.66) threw six scoreless innings to win his second straight start after a slew of tough luck outings that couldn’t buy him a win despite a post-Olympic ERA only visible with a neutron microscope.
Ryoya Kurihara doubled in Keizo Kawashima in the first off Shota Hamaya (1-5, 7.57), Alfredo Despaigne doubled in both of those guys in the third, and Nobuhiro Matsuda capped that inning with a two-run homer, his 13th. Matsuda, who was out of the starting lineup on Tuesday, but has batted toward the bottom of the Hawks lineup most of the year, was in the No. 5 spot, fitting a guy who became the 44th player to hit 300 home runs in Japan.
Kawashima drew a leadoff walk in the Hawks’ three-run fifth, with a Matsuda sac fly and a Taisei Makihara double bringing in the runs.
BayStars 7, Swallows 5
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, DeNA slashed Yasuhiro Ogawa (8-5, 4.09) for six runs on eight hits over three innings but nearly blew a seven-run lead before the BayStars’s eighth pitcher, Shingo Hirata, retired sluggers Tetsuto Yamada and Munetaka Murakami with the tying runs on base for the final two outs in the ninth and record his first career save.
The BayStars snapped Yakult’s scoreless-innings-pitched streak at 36 innings in the first, on back-to-back no-out singles and a Shugo Maki sacrifice fly off Ogawa, who surrendered a leadoff homer to Toshiro Miyazaki, his 14th of the season and the 100th of his career.
Ogawa fell behind to Miyazaki, who hit a fat fastball, but he challenged hitters in the zone and was getting ahead in counts only for the BayStars to put good swings on his better pitches as well as his mistakes.
A single and an error opened DeNA’s third and a Keita Sano RBI single made it 3-0. Ogawa gave up a double to Maki, but kept attacking. With one out, he got ahead of Miyazaki, who hit a 1-2 pitch out to make it 6-0. Tyler Austin made it 7-0 against reliever Hiroki Oshita with his 28th home run before the Swallows chased starter Shinichi Onuki in their four-run fifth.
Kazuki Mishima (2-5), recently demoted from closer after taking the job from Yasuaki Yamasaki last summer, turned in two perfect innings of relief to stem the Yakult flood, and Edwin Escobar contributed a scoreless eighth. Yamasaki, back in the closer role at least until this game, surrendered a leadoff double, a one-out RBI double and a walk before Hirata saved the day.
Dragons 5, Giants 0
At Vantelin Dome Nagoya, Chunichi lefty Takahiro Matsuba (6-3, 2.66) allowed a walk and four hits over five innings.
Chunichi’s Yota Kyoda broke a scoreless fourth-inning tie against Yuki Takahashi (11-6, 2.94) on a leadoff double, a sacrifice and a passed ball by catcher Seiji Kobayashi. Three singles, starting with Kosuke Fukudome and ending with Takuya Kinoshita made it 2-0 in the fifth. Rookie Yuki Okabayashi’s sac fly brought home Shuhei Takahashi with the Dragons’ third run.
Daiki Mitsumata scored in the sixth against reliever Yohei Kagiya on a walk, a wild pitch and a Fukudome single to make it 4-0. Doubles by Okabayashi and pinch-hitter Masaru Watanabe made it 5-0 in the seventh.
Carp 8, Tigers 2
At Koshien Stadium, Hiroshima’s Shogo Sakakura doubled in a first-inning run off Koyo Aoyagi (10-5, 2.68), Kaito Kozono made it 2-0 in the third with his third homer, and Sakakura led off the fourth with his 11th. Hanshin came back against Allen Kuri (10-7, 4.21) when Takumu Nakano doubled and scored on a Yusuke Oyama single in the fourth, and Ryutaro Umeno tripled and scored on Koji Chikamoto’s fifth-inning single.
The Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the sixth before Kuri retired Umeno for the final out, and in the seventh before Kyle Bird struck out Yoshio Itoi to leave the bags jammed.
With two out in the eighth and Akiyama out of the game after the fifth, Sakakura singled, rookie Kotaro Kobayashi walked, and pinch-hitter Ryuhei Matsuyama singled in an insurance run. A wild pitch advanced both runners and Minoru Omori’s single made it 5-2.
Thursday’s starting pitchers
Eagles vs Fighters: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Marines vs Buffaloes: Zozo Marine Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Hawks vs Lions: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Swallows vs BayStars: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT
Dragons vs Giants: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Tigers vs Carp: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 9/29/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/9