Hawks release, Moore, van den Hurk, Uchikawa, Colas on cut day
The Pacific League’s SoftBank Hawks parted company, at least technically with pitchers Matt Moore and Rick van den Hurk, while making longtime captain Seiichi Uchikawa free to complete a deal with the Central League’s Yakult Swallows on Wednesday.
Nippon Professsional Baseball’s teams are required to submit their reserve lists for the 2021 season on Dec. 2, the big day for releases across Japan. The moves don’t necessarily mean that neither Moore nor van den Hurk will be back with the four-time defending Japan Series champions, but it does mean they were unable to or unwilling to exercise an option to keep them.
Cuban two-way player Oscar Colas, who has been on the restricted list since Feb. 19, was released by not being placed on the Hawks’ 2021 reserve list, meaning he will be free to sign with an MLB club as an international amateur when the next international signing period opens in June.
Cuts throw import market wide open
The winter NPB market for import players heated up considerably with Tuesday’s cuts when a number of experienced players with established value were left off their clubs’ reserves list. Here’s a brief rundown:
Newcomers Tyler Austin of the DeNA BayStars and Masato Morishita of the Hiroshima Carp were honored on Wednesday when Nippon Professional Baseball announced its final monthly honors list.
The Pacific League’s honorees went to a pair of 30-somethings, center fielder Yuki Yanagita of the SoftBank Hawks and right-hander Takayuki Kishi of the Rakuten Eagles.
Austin led the Central League with 11 home runs and a .346 batting average in October. The NPB website lauds him for fighting hard to keep the BayStars in the “A-class” (top-three) teams, although the team finished fourth.
His selection marked the third straight monthly award to a BayStars hitter after Keita Sano‘s August award and Takayuki Kajitani‘s in September. The last team to win three straight was the 2015 CL champion Yakult Swallows.
Morishita, the Carp’s top pick in last autumn’s draft, went 4-0 with a 0.24 ERA over 37 innings. He became the first Carp rookie to win 10 games since current ace Daichi Osera in 2014. He’s the first rookie to win a CL monthly pitching honor since Hayato Takagi, then of the Yomiuri Giants won for March and April in 2015.
The 35-year-old Kishi, who won for the fourth time, made six starts, winning five, to tie for the league lead. He struck out 50 batters in a superb finish to a season slowed, like several of Kishi’s have been, by injury. The right-hander went at least six innings in each of his September and October starts.
It’s Kishi’sfirst award since May 2018.
The 32-year-old Yanagita, played in all 32 of his team’s games over the final two months, when the Hawks broke with recent form by not taking it easy after clinching. Instead, Yanagita led the team as they celebrated their first PL title in three years by throwing opponents into a wood chipper.
Yanagita led in batting average (.360) on-base percentage (.459) and tied for the PL lead with 22 RBIs as the Hawks set an NPB record for wins in a month with 22. It was his second monthly award of the year, having won the award for June and July.
Fighters to cut Villanueva
Christian Villanueva, who got a second chance in Japan this season with the Nippon Ham Fighters only to suffer through a series of small injuries and play just 54 games, will not be retained, the Pacific League club said Wednesday.
The 29-year-old Villanueva came to Japan last year with the Yomiuri Giants, but was a disappointment, hitting eight home runs in 73 games with a .325 OBP and a .386 slugging average. This year, his home run production dropped and he posted just a .351 slugging average.
Shuta Ishikawa (9-3) allowed a run over seven innings, and Takuya Kai plated Kenji Akashi to break a 1-1 tie with a sixth-inning squeeze before the SoftBank Hawks pulled away in a 8-1 win over the Seibu Lions on Friday at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
The Hawks lowered their magic number to clinch their first Pacific League pennant since 2017 to four.
Ishikawa hit one batter and struck out six, and did not walk a batter for only the second time this season.
Lions starter Tatsuya Imai (3-4) hung in until the sixth, when he surrendered a leadoff double to Akashi and a single to Nobuhiro Matsuda. The right-hander dropped Kai’s bunt to leave two on with no outs. He left after a sacrifice moved both runners into scoring position. Rookie Tetsu Miyagawa hit Akira Nakamura before surrendering a two-run single to Yuki Yanagita. Yurisbel Gracial capped the rally with an RBI single to make it 5-1.
Yanagita hit a two-run homer in the Hawks’ three-run eighth, his 28th of the season.
Another crazy Yanagita homer
Yuki Yanagita’s 28th home run was another head-shaker, an off-balance flailing swing at a pitch he was fooled on that looked to the world like an easy fly. But the ball landed in the “home run terrace” field seats built inside the dome’s outfield wall.
“I don’t understand. I really don’t,” said Kudo, a Hall of Fame pitcher. “How did that get out? When he came back to the bench he (Yangita) said, ‘Got it on the sweet spot,’ but even so, for him to be off balance like that?”
“From an opponent’s view point, that is something you absolutely hate.”
Okada takes a hammer to Marines
Takahiro Okada drove in a run in each of his four plate appearances, and Taisuke Yamaoka (3-5) dodged bullets left and right to allow only a run over 5-1/3 innings for the Orix Buffaloes in a 7-2 win over the Lotte Marines.
Okada brought home Kodai Sano with a sacrifice fly in the first after the Buffaloes’ leadoff hitter doubled to open the game against Kota Futaki (7-3) and took third on a wild pitch. Okada led off the two-run third with his 14th home run. Sano doubled and scored on an Okada single in the fourth to make it 5-0, and Okada doubled in Yuya Oda in the sixth to make it 6-1.
Steven Moya singled in Ryoichi Adachi in the first and doubled in Masataka Yoshida in the third.
Yamaoka allowed eight hits and two walks, but the only run he allowed came in the sixth when Ikuhiro Kiyota hit the first of his two solo homers. He hit his other off Tyler Higgins in the eighth.
Sano rubbed salt in the Marines’ wounds with an RBI triple in the bottom of the eighth.
Tatsumi saves the day for Eagles
Ryosuke Tatsumi doubled in one run, scored another and saved the day with a 10th-inning catch in center field to start an inning-ending double play to help the Rakuten Eagles salvage a 4-4 tie with the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
The Fighters spotted starter Nick Martinez a three-run lead after Christian Villanueva’s RBI single made it a 3-0 game in the fourth. The Eagles came back for three runs in the home half, and Stefen Romero’s RBI single made it 4-3 with no outs in the fifth. Taishi Ota tied it for the visitors with a solo home run, his 13th, off Kazuhisa Makita in the eighth.
Rakuten closer Alan Busenitz worked a 1-2-3 ninth against the bottom of the Fighters order, but D.J. Johnson needed some defensive help to keep it tied in the 10th.
Romero came within a hair of retiring the leadoff hitter in the 10th with a sliding grab in left field only for the ball to spill from his glove. A juggling catch on a foul sacrifice attempt by reserve rookie catcher Tsuyoshi Ishihara got one out. With one out and speedy Haruki Nishikawa on first, Tatsumi went deep into the gap in left for the out. Nishikawa hustled back to first but needed two tries to retouch second base and was out easily to end the inning.
Imamura pitches Giants past Tigers
Lefty Nobutaka Imamura (4-2) allowed three runs in 7-1/3 innings and squeezed in a run as the Yomiuri Giants held off the Hanshin Tigers 5-4 at Tokyo Dome to lower their magic number to clinch the Central League pennant to five.
Imamura went to the mound in the eighth with a 5-1 lead after surrendering Jefry Marte’s fourth home run and his second in two days since he was reactivated on Thursday. With one out, the lefty allowed a walk and a Jerry Sands pinch-hit single and a two-run Fumihito Haraguchi pinch-hit double–his third hit off the bench in three games.
Giants closer Rubby De La Rosa also had trouble after one out, leaving after giving up a run on a walk and two hits. Lefty Kazuto Taguchi came in with the two runners in scoring position. He struck out veteran Yoshio Itoi swinging on seven pitches before a fly out ended it.
Tigers starter Yuki Nishi (10-5) allowed five runs, two earned in five innings. Yoshihiro Maru opened the scoring in the second when he led off with his 23rd home run.
The Tigers’ Jefry Marte was charged with a record four errors in Friday’s game, and he tied the league record for a team’s first basemen by making three errors in one inning.
Dragons come back for 4th straight win
The second-place Chunichi Dragons continued to scrape and scratch, earning a 4-3 win against the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium after catcher Takuya Kinoshita brought them from a run down in the sixth.
Dragons captain Shuhei Takahashi, who doubled in a run in the first, singled to open the sixth against the new Swallows pitcher Yugo Umeno (3-1. Moises Sierra followed with a single. With one out, Kinoshita hit a fly to the gap in right that bounced just past the glove of center fielder Yasutaka Shiomi.
Shiomi, activated earlier in the day for the first time Sept. 12, hit a two-run homer in the second off Dragons right-hander Yariel Rodriguez, who allowed three runs in 4-2/3 innings. The right-hander allowed four hits and five walks. Katsuki Matayoshi (4-0) struck out Shiomi on seven pitches to end the fifth with two men on and earned the win after a quartet of relievers worked one perfect inning apiece.
BayStars shut out Carp
Masaya Kyoyama (2-1) worked out of a two-on, no-out sixth-inning predicament and three relievers finished up as the DeNA BayStars held on for a 2-0 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Yokohama Stadium.
Kyoyama allowed two hits and walked three while striking out six over six innings.
The BayStars scored both their runs off Carp starter Hiroki Tokoda (3-8) in the fifth after back-to-back singles by Yasutaka Tobashira and Yamato Maeda. After an error, Takayuki Kajitani broke the scoreless deadlock with an RBI single and Kazuki Kamizato followed with a sac fly. Spencer Patton, lefty Kenta Ishida and closer Kazuki Mishima each worked a scoreless inning with Mishima earning his 16th save. Patton’s 51st appearance is second in Japan to teammate Edwin Escobar’s 54.
Torai Fushimi hit a game-tying home run in the ninth inning off Rakuten Eagles closer Alan Busenitz as the Orix Buffaloes salvaged a 2-2 10-inning tie at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi in which the teams’ two aces delivered.
Fushimi’s home run took Yoshinobu Yamamoto off the hook for the loss after he allowed two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out 10 over seven innings.
The Eagles took a 2-1 lead after sixth-inning singles by Ginji Akaminai and rookie Hiroto Kobukata. Akaminai smacked a mistake from Yamamoto through the infield, and Kobukata, one of the few Eagles to get quality swings off the Buffaloes’ ace, smoked a liner to left. Hideto Asamura’s miss-hit ball off the end of his bat just fell for a two-run double.
Right fielder Yuya Oda, who came within a hair of ending the inning on that fly, cut down Asamura for the final out at the plate.
Norimoto pitched out of a couple of early pickles, and was cruising until Steven Moya crushed a curveball for his ninth home run with two outs in the sixth, giving Yamamoto a 1-0 lead. The right-hander allowed five hits and a walk while striking out six over seven innings.
Eagles lefty Yuki Matsui walked two in the eighth but ended the inning by overpowering Moya with a fastball for a swinging strikeout after Orix wasted one out sacrificing in an attempt to tie it on the road.
Fushimi led off the top of the ninth by hammering a straight fastball down the pipe nearly to the Ferris wheel behind the left-field seating for his sixth home run.
Tyler Higgins worked a scoreless ninth for the Buffaloes. Eagles submariner Kazuhisa Makita pitched out of a two-on one-out situation in the 10th before Brandon Dickson sealed the tie in the bottom of the 10th with a 1-2-3 inning.
Hawks blow out Fighters
Shunsuke Kasaya (4-3) threw six scoreless innings, while Yuki Yanagita had four hits and scored three runs, and Yurisbel Gracial and Nobuhiro Matsuda each drove in three as the SoftBank Hawks whipped the Nippon Ham Fighters 11-2 at Sapporo Dome.
The win, combined with the Lotte Marines’ 2-1 loss to the Seibu Lions, increased the Hawks’ Pacific League lead to 6-1/2 games.
Kasaya, who threw five scoreless innings in his previous start, allowed two hits and two walks while striking out eight. The Hawks blasted Fighters right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa (8-6) for seven runs over five innings.
Fighters right-hander Bryan Rodriguez allowed two runs in one inning of relief, marking his season debut after the team said in June he’d had surgery to clean out his left knee.
“He brought something and threw some really good pitches,” manager Hideki Kuriyama said of Rodriguez.
Christian Villanueva also returned to the Fighters lineup for the first time in two weeks and drew a walk in three plate appearances.
Wednesday’s game is going to see Hawks’ ace Kodai Senga take on first-year Fighters import Drew VerHagen.
Lions survive blown Masuda save
The Seibu Lions scored an unearned ninth-inning run to walk off 2-1 winners over the Lotte Marines at MetLife Dome after closer Tatsushi Masuda (4-0) allowed the tying run in the ninth.
Both starting pitchers went seven with Lotte’s Ayumu Ishikawa allowing a run, while Kona Takahashi left with a 1-0 lead.
Lions left fielder Corey Spangenberg helped keep the Marines off the board in the third by robbing Yudai Fujioka of a leadoff single. Marines second baseman Shogo Nakamura did the same in the home half with a good play to defuse a Lions rally.
Shuta Tonosaki broke the scoreless deadlock in the seventh. He singled with one out, went to third on a Kakeru Yamanobe run-and-hit single and scored on Yuji Kaneko’s booming sacrifice fly.
Lions right-hander Kaima Taira worked a scoreless eighth, but Masuda walked a batter and hit one before surrendering a Tatsuhiro Tamura RBI single.
Tonosaki, however, rescued the Lions in the home half when he doubled with two outs against the Marines’ Naoya Masuda (3-3) and scored when Leonys Martin and Nakamura collided in shallow right as Yamanobe’s fly fell untouched.
Swallows walk away with tie
Yomiuri Giants rookie of the year candidate Shosei Togo threw a career-high 134 pitches over six scoreless innings in which he struck out nine and walked six, but had nothing to show for it after three relievers combined to blow the save in the ninth in a 1-1 10-inning with the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
Rubby De La Rosa issued a five-pitch leadoff walk and left with two outs and two on after a sacrifice, a single and a strikeout. Lefty Ryusei Oe walked Norichika Aoki on five pitches to load them up and Toyoki Tanaka walked Tetsuto Yamada on four pitches to tie it.
The Giants lead the second-place Chunichi Dragons by 10-1/2 games and their magic number to clinch their second-straight Central League championship is seven.
Dragons 6, BayStars 1
Koji Fukutani (7-2) allowed one run over six innings, and the Chunichi Dragons cashed in three of their six sixth-inning base runners to come from behind in a 6-1 win over the DeNA BayStars at Nagoya Dome.
Fukutani allowed three hits, including Tyler Austin’s first-inning home run, and a walk, while striking out seven. Hiroto Fuku and Daisuke Sobue closed it out with one scoreless inning apiece for the Dragons. Dayan Viciedo went 3-for-5 with a double, a run, and two RBIs, while Toshiki Abe also had three hits, scored twice and drove in two.
Spencer Patton struck out three in the eighth for the BayStars, but allowed a run on an Abe double and a one-out Viciedo single.
Kuri holds off Tigers
Allen Kuri (7-5), who retired the first 14 batters he faced, allowed a run over 8-1/3 innings while the Carp scored four times in the third inning against Onelki Garcia (2-6), who was pitching for the first time in a month, in a 5-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium.
Kuri, who has allowed one run in each of his last three starts, gave up three of his four hits in the ninth inning, when Geronimo Franzua came in to record his 15th save.
Former Tigers closer Kyuji Fujikawa, who announced that this will be his last season, took the mound for the first time since Aug. 10 and worked a scoreless sixth inning.
Active roster moves 10/20/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/30
Yuki Nishi (8-4) failed to shut out the Yomiuri Giants for the second straight time, but did hold them to a run over eight innings to improve to 3-0 against the league leaders in the Hanshin Tigers’ 4-1 win at Koshien Stadium.
Yusuke Oyama hit a high straight forkball deep into the left-field stands for his 23rd home run to lead off the second against Nobutaka Imura (3-2). Giants cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto leads the league with 24.
Nishi became the 179th pitcher in Japanese pro baseball history to pitch 1,500 innings. He allowed five hits and struck out eight without allowing a walk. Robert Suarez pitched an easy ninth inning against the heart of the Giants order to earn his 19th save.
Twelve days after his 20th birthday, Tigers shortstop Ryuhei Kobata had his first three-hit “modasho” game.
Viciedo HR beats BayStars
Dayan Viciedo broke a 5-5 tie with a three-run eighth-inning home run off lefty Kenta Ishida (1-3) in the Chunichi Dragons’ 8-5 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.
First-year DeNA import Tyler Austin, playing in just his 35th game, hit his 10th home run, a two-run shot in the third that broke a 1-1 tie.
Carp outlast Swallows
Matt Koch (0-3) allowed three runs over three innings in long relief of Hirotoshi Takanashi to take the loss as the Yakult Swallows fell 7-5 to the Hiroshima Carp at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
Reserve Swallows catcher Akihisa Nishida tied the game 3-3 with a one-out solo homer in the fourth inning. Nishida hit the seventh pitch he saw from lefty Hiroki Tokoda (3-6), and then did his best impression of Kirk Gibson impersonating Walter Brennan running the bases, having been helped off the field after fouling the second pitch off his thigh.
Matsuda, Kawashima lead Hawks
Nobuhiro Matsuda homered, doubled, walked, scored twice and drove in two in the SoftBank Hawks 7-5 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Light-hitting utility infielder Keizo Kawashima batted fourth for the first time in his 15th pro season. Perhaps manager Kimiyasu Kudo held a lottery to decide. Whatever the reason, Kawashima singled in a first-inning run off right-hander Kenta Uehara (1-2).
“I thought, ‘Please don’t put me there.’ No. I’m just kidding. I went up there to hit. I wonder how I’ll do tomorrow,” he told fans in the postgame hero interview.
No sooner was the Fighters’ Christian Villanueva declared concussion-free than he began concussing baseballs, hammering one to the wall in center where Yuki Yanagita made a good catch, and one into the left-field stands in the fourth. The home run, his fourth, put the Fighters in front. It was his first since Aug. 26.
On Sept. 25, Villanueva was in the field when he collided with injury-plagued Orix Buffaloes teenager Ryo Ota, causing both to be deactivated. Players deactivated due to concussion concerns do not have to sit out 10 days once they complete the concussion protocol program.
Matt Moore (4-2) allowed four runs over six innings to earn the win. Livan Moinelo worked the eighth inning and made it 21 games without allowing a run as he recorded his league-leading 33rd hold. Yuito Mori earned his 24th save.
Matsui gets win in 6-pitcher shutout
A day after blowing the lead and taking the loss in his first relief outing of the season, Yuki Matsui (4-4) earned the win for the Rakuten Eagles by retiring both batters he faced in the seventh inning of a 4-0 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
Takahiro Shiomi started and worked 5-1/3 innings and five relievers completed a nine-hit shutout without issuing a walk. Buffaloes lefty Taisuke Yamaoka worked seven scoreless innings, thanks to the dome’s ground rules and a failure to communicate by the umpires.
Hiroaki Shimauchi singled in a run in the eighth, and Ryosuke Tatsumi added a three-run homer.
The Eagles opened each of the first two innings with extra-base hits but failed to score. Rookie Hiroto Kobukata tripled to open the first, and former Buffalo Stefen Romero doubled in the second in his old park.
What we have here is a failure to communicate
Romero hit a drive above one of the rings suspended from the dome’s ceiling. The ball fell in play, and the umpires stood there like dummies instead of signaling “fair ball.” Romero cruised around the bases, while the ball was retrieved and thrown back to the infield. Orix third baseman Shuhei Fukuda took a chance and tagged Romero as he approached the third base bag, when the umps finally acted–and called him out.
This was reminiscent of Game 1 of the 2004 Japan Series. infamous umpire Atsushi Kittaka called the batter out on a ball hit in front of the plate but didn’t tell anyone, leading to a missed double play opportunity for the fielding team and a 50-minute disruption. Kittaka was removed from the series umpiring crew the following day.
Mejia answers call
Ernesto Mejia did as he was asked in the 10th inning at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, lifting the Seibu Lions to a 1-0 win over the Lotte Marines by leading off the 10th inning with his 10th home run of the year.
In the postgame interview, Mejia said second baseman Shuta Tonosaki asked him to hit one out.
Active roster moves 10/2/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/12
Hideaki Wakui overcame a rough start to work seven innings, but Marines lefty Kazuya Ojima, 10 years his junior, struck out a career-high 11 to deny the 34-year-old his ninth win to open the season as the Lotte Marines beat the Rakuten Eagles and their former teammate 2-0 on Wednesday at Sendai’s Rakuten Semei Park Miyagi.
Wakui pitched out of a two-out bases-loaded jam in the first inning with a good inside fastball to Katsuya Kakunaka that the former PL batting champion popped up. After Ojima worked out of a first-inning pickle, Wakui fell behind light-hitting Yudai Fujioka to start the second. The right-hander threw the Marines shortstop a 3-1 fastball down the pipe that he skied to right only for it to reach the seats at the foul pole for his first home run of the season. With two outs, Wakui hung an 0-1 breaking ball and Shuhei Fukuda pulled it down the right-field line for his third home run.
Ojima worked around a defensive mixup in the second that helped Stefen Romero to a leadoff double, and that second zero proved to be the ballgame as he allowed only two more batters to reach through seven innings. Former Eagle Frank Herrmann worked the eighth, while Naoya Masuda notched his 17th save in the ninth.
Wakui also went seven, and though he battled his command more than he has for most of the season, he figured things out as the game went on. He finished with five walks, nine strikeouts and three walks.
Matsuda spearheads Hawks comeback
Nobuhiro Matsuda hit a game-tying seventh-inning home run and singled to give the Hawks a out, ninth-inning beachhead they exploited in their 5-4 come-from-behind win over the Orix Buffaloes at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Masataka Yoshida doubled off 39-year-old Hawks lefty Tsuyoshi Wada to drive in a first-inning run and broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth against Wada with his xth home run.
Buffaloes lefty Daiki Tajima loaded the bases in the first but allowed no runs, but allowed a single and a home run in the fourth, reserve catcher Hiroaki Takaya’s first of the season. Tyler Higgins kept the Hawks off the board in the bottom of the eighth with the help of backup catcher Torai Fushimi, who cut down lightning-fast pinch-runner Ukyo Shuto trying to steal second.
After a scoreless ninth by Hawks closer Yuito Mori (1-1), Matsuda singled off Buffaloes closer Brandon Dickson (0-3) and Nakamura tripled home pinch-runner Taisei Makihara to end it.
Villanueva lands 1st punch in slugfest
The Nippon Ham Fighters’ Christian Villanueva blasted a three-run, second-inning homer to open the scoring off lefty Daiki Enokida (0-1) who surrendered seven early runs in an 8-5 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.
Fighters starter Toshihiro Sugiura allowed three runs over 5-1/3 innings. He didn’t allow a run until the sixth, when two walks and a single opened the floodgates to a five-run Lions innings, highlighted by a three-run Corey Spangenberg home run.
Wheeler boosts well-coached Giants
Zelous Wheeler hit a two-run first-inning home run and put his team in front with a sixth-inning RBI single for the Yomiuri Giants, who took advantage of an umpire’s inattention in a 12-5 see-saw win against the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
With the game tied 5-5 in the sixth, Wheeler put the Giants in front and cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto, hitless in his first three at-bats, singled in one more. A seven-hit five-run ninth turned the game into a rout.
The Swallows overturned their early deficit via a one-out Tetsuto Yamada home run, a Norichika Aoki walk and Munetaka Murakami’s 11th home run off Nattino Diplan. But the Giants retook the lead in the second with two runs against lefty Keiji Takahashi after a Hiroyuki Nakajima leadoff single and a double by rookie reserve catcher Yukinori Kishida.
The Swallows were denied an inning-ending double play because third base umpire Yoshiharu Yamaguchi wasn’t paying attention. Nakajima was caught between third and home on a grounder to third and beat a hasty retreat only to find Mota occupying the bag. Swallows catcher Yuhei Nakamura did the smart thing and tagged both men. Nakajima, mistakenly thinking he was out, walked off the bag until third base coach Koji Goto yanked him back.
Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu came out to argue but in the ump’s judgement, Goto preventing Nakajima from getting tagged out did not constitute help or he wasn’t looking. Either way, Hayato Sakamoto followed with a two-out two-run double.
Tomotaka Sakaguchi’s two-run homer in the fifth put Yakult back on top, only for Wheeler and the Giants to turn the game around once more.
Kishida walked to open the sixth, pinch-runner Daiki Masuda stole second and scored on Shinnosuke Shigenobu’s single. A walk put two on for Wheeler who singled between third and short.
Giants reliever Yuhei Takanashi (1-0) earned the win, extending his scoreless game streak to 15 with two scoreless innings.
Nomura pitches Carp past BayStars
Yusuke Nomura (3-1) allowed two runs over eight innings, while Shota Dobayashi and Seiya Suzuki each scored twice in the Hiroshima Carp’s 4-2 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohoma Stadium.
The Carp opened the scoring in the fourth on a one-out Dobayashi single, a Suzuki double and Ryuhei Matsuyama’s two-run single. In the home half, Carp center fielder Takayoshi Noma threw out Neftali Soto at the plate to end the inning. The BayStars tied it 2-2 in the fifth on Takayuki Kajitani’s 10th home run, but Dobayashi put the visitors ahead in the sixth. He walked, stole second and scored on Matsuyama’s second RBI single off Haruhiro Hamaguchi (3-3).
Suzuki’s 14th home run, off Spencer Patton in the ninth, completed the scoring, and Geronimo Franzua struck out the side in the bottom of the inning to record his seventh save.
Bour, Tigers maul Dragons
Justin Bour homered twice and drove in three runs, while Onelki Garcia (2-5) allowed two runs over six innings in the Hanshin Tigers’ 11-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Koshien Stadium.
Bour dropped his bombs against Dragons right-hander Koji Fukutani (2-2), who hit his first bump in the road in his transition to starting pitcher, allowing six runs in six innings to take the loss after four decent outings. The Tigers took the lead in the second when Bour hit his 11th of the season with two outs and none on. His two-run home run capped Hanshin’s five-run sixth
Hawks drop Despaigne, Higashihama
The SoftBank Hawks deactivated two-time Best Nine Award-winning designated hitter Alfredo Despaigne and Opening Day starter Nao Higashima on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old Despaigne has been suffering from pain in his left knee. The right-handed-hitting slugger returned to Japan in July with Cuban teammate Yurisbel Gracial and rejoined the first team on Friday and has appeared in three games.
Higashihama, named to start on Opening Day for the first time in June, was sent down due to a stiff neck. He threw 132 pitches in a five-inning start on Friday against the Lotte Marines in which he allowed three runs. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA. He was replaced on the active roster by Wednesday’s starting pitcher, 39-year-old lefty Tsuyoshi Wada.
Moore back with 1st team
First-year import Matt Moore rejoined the Hawks first team on Wednesday for practice prior their game against Orix in Fukuoka. The 31-year-old lefty suffered a left calf injury on July 7.
“His leg is no issue,” manager Kimiyasu Kudo said. “Once he’s in games, we’ll control his pitch counts to some extent. I’ve watched video. The only thing that concerns me is the number of pitches.”
Elsewhere, the Orix Buffaloes deactivated first-baseman Aderlin Rodriguez, while the Central League’s DeNA BayStars dropped first baseman Jose Lopez.