- Romero stretchered off after beaning
- Despaigne out with bone bruise
- Active roster moves
- Tomorrow’s pitchers
Marines’ counterattack levels Lions
Three-run homers by Shuhei Fukuda and Hisanori Yasuda lifted the Lotte Marines to a 6-3 win over the Seibu Lions on Saturday at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
Fukuda’s homer canceled out two by the Lions, a Takumi Kuriyama solo shot and two-run homer by Fumikazu Kimura. After Friday’s game was decided 1-0 by Ernesto Mejia’s solo homer, all10 runs scored in two game have crossed the plate on home runs.
Reed Garrett made his first start for the Lions after beginning the season with some success as their setup man. The right-hander was pulled after issuing his first walk, leaving two on with two outs in the third inning. The next pitcher issued a walk to load the bases, but retired Yasuda to end the inning.
Marines closer Naoya Masuda allowed the tying run to come to the plate in the ninth but held on to record his Japan-best 27th save.
Snappy answers to stupid questions
The loss meant the Lions, the two-time defending Pacific League champions, can no longer win the league under their own power. Asked the obligatory questions about the significance of this event that nobody seems to care about except Japanese sports editors, Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji said, “We don’t care about things like that.”
Yanagita homers in Hawks’ cleanup battle
A day after the SoftBank Hawks employed light-hitting utility infielder Keizo Kawashima in the No. 4 spot, Yuki Yanagita, the Pacific League’s premier hitter, took over the cleanup duties and homered in a 2-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Instead of Kawashima, with a career .254/.335/.363 slash line, Yanagita took over. Easily Japanese ball’s most productive hitter over the last seven seasons, opened the scoring in the second with his 25th home run, this one to the opposite field off Fighters ace Kohei Arihara (5-8) who took the complete-game loss.
Yanagita is one of only two players in Japanese pro baseball history to lead his league in on-base percentage and slugging average in four straight years (2015-2018).
This led to another memorable Hawks hero interview as Yanagita deadpanned about his competition with Kawashima for the No. 4 spot, although it probably doesn’t match the time Seiichi Uchikawa and Tsuyoshi Wada suggested a powerful God lived in the restroom behind the Hawks’ bench.
- Q: How did you feel going up to bat in the second inning?
- Yanagita: “Keizo batted fourth yesterday, and even though he got results, I usurped his spot. Because of that, I felt I had to do more to make up for his production we lost.”
- Q: Kawashima was the hero yesterday, and now you’re the cleanup hitter and your a hero, too. Is there something special about being the Hawks’ cleanup hitter?
- Yanagita: “To be honest, my only feeling was one of anxiety about whether I could compare favorably with Keizo.”
Kudo: “Cut that shit out”
Veteran Hawks outfielder Akira Nakamura was hurt sliding head-first into second legging out a double and was taken out of the game. He’s one of the hardest players in Japan to get a swinging strike against, and skipper Kimiyasu Kudo spoke about the incident afterward.
“He wanted the extra-base and thought he could get it, but from my point of view, I want him to be more careful, so I told him to forget about doing that stuff,” Kudo said.
Asamura hits 29th HR in Eagles’ win
The Rakuten Eagles shook off the loss of slugger Stefen Romero in the first inning as Hideto Asamura hit his Japan-best 29th home run to tie it en route to a 5-3 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
Romero was hit in the head by a pitch in the first inning to load the bases with two outs, but reliever Koki Saito (1-1) retired veteran Ginji Akaminai to end the inning.
Steven Moya hit a two-run homer for the Buffaloes in the bottom of the first, but Asamura tied it in the third, when Akaminai singled in the go-ahead run.
Alan Busenitz allowed a run in the ninth but held on to earn his 16th save for the third-place Eagles.
Hatake, Oshiro lead Giants pastTigers
Seishu Hatake (2-3) worked 5-1/3 scoreless innings in the Yomiuri Giants’ 7-4 win over the Hanshin Tigers, who were held scoreless for eight innings at Koshien Stadium.
Takumi Oshiro’s three-run sixth-inning homer was the big hit for the Giants, who needed three pitchers to close ut the bottom of the ninth.
First-year Tigers right-hander Joe Gunkel (1-3) made his second start in Japan and trailed 2-0 through five innings. The Giants denied a Tigers run in the bottom of the fifth when Koji Chikamoto tried to score from first on a double to the gap. The relay from center fielder Yoshihiro Maru to shortstop Hayato Sakamoto got the ball to Oshiro, who applied a good tag.
Chikamoto capped the Tigers’ ninth with a three-run homer before Rubby De La Rosa came on to get the final out.
Dragons hold off feisty BayStars
The Chunichi Dragons came close to blowing an eight-run lead but held on for a 9-7 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.
Closer Raidel Martinez allowed a run in the ninth but stranded the potential tying run to earn his 16th save, lifting Chunichi into third place ahead of the BayStars.
Dragons catcher Takumi Kinoshita drove in five runs with a homer and a two-run first-inning single, but the BayStars scored six runs over the final four innings to make a game out of it.
DeNA starter Haruhiro Hamaguchi (6-5) allowed eight runs over 1-1/3 innings.
Carp slaughter Swallows
Rookie Masato Morishita (7-3) allowed six hits and a walk while striking out five in the Hiroshima Carp’s 13-2 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
With the Carp leading 13-0 in the bottom of the eighth, reliever Yasunori Kikuchi lost control of a ball that went behind Norichika Aoki, knocking him to the ground and out of the game.
As Tetsuto Yamada took his spot in the batter’s box, first base coach Ryosuke Morioka approached home plate, benches emptied and pushing and shoving ensued. Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu then informed the umpires he was playing the game under protest. It was NPB’s first protest of the season.
Swallows starter Albert Suarez (4-1) allowed four runs on 10 hits and a walk over 6-1/3 innings to take the loss.
Romero stretchered off field
Rakuten Eagles outfielder Stefen Romero was carried off the field in the top of the first inning on Saturday at Kyocera Dome after being struck on the helmet by a 145-kph pitch from Taiwan right-hander Chang Yi, who earned the automatic ejection for a “dangerous pitch.”
Chang, known here by the Japanese reading of his name’s Chinese characters, “Cho Yaku,” was the fifth pitcher ejected this season for hitting a batter in the head and the third in the Pacific League.
Despaigne to miss 2-3 weeks
The SoftBank Hawks announced Saturday that Best Nine-winning designated hitter Alfredo Despaigne will miss two to three weeks due to a bone bruise on his right tibia.
The 34-year-old Cuban complained of pain in his right knee on Thursday.
“Once the inflammation goes down, he should quickly be able to move again,” Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo said.
Active roster moves 10/3/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/13
Starting pitchers for Oct. 4, 2020
Marines vs Lions: Zozo Marine Stadium 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Buffaloes vs Eagles: Kyocera Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT
Hawks vs Fighters: PayPay Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Swallows vs Carp: Jingu Stadium 6:30 pm, 5:30 am EDT
BayStars vs Dragons: Yokohama Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Tigers vs Giants: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT