Angry Fighters snap skid
Fighters 2, Buffaloes 1
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, the Nippon Ham Fighters ended their nine-game winless streak with a two-run eighth-inning that shouldn’t have happened, except it came against the Orix Buffaloes, who have a knack for making the improbable inevitable.
The game started as a scoreless pitchers’ duel between former Buffaloes ace Chihiro Kaneko and Orix right-hander Taisuke Yamaoka until the seventh, when things went half-right for the Buffaloes. Masataka Yoshida, on first from a leadoff single, was put in motion, preventing a double play and allowing him to score when Takahiro Okada chased a high breaking ball out of the zone from Kaneko but pulled it into the gap in right for an RBI double.
The Buffaloes loaded the bases with one out, but Fighters lefty Mizuki Hori made the great escape, and things began to buffalo for Orix in the top of the eighth and Kensuke Kondo on first with a single.
Twenty-year-old second baseman Ryo Ota went for a double play and got no outs instead of one. Veteran shortstop Ryo Adachi got a double play grounder that could have ended the inning but couldn’t get the ball out of his glove and Daiki Asama doubled in both runners.
Tyler Higgins worked a solid ninth for the Buffaloes, but he couldn’t put runs on the board, and the Fighters’ streak was over.
The win was Kuriyama’s 631st with Nippon Ham, tying the franchise record of Keiji Osawa.
“That doesn’t have anything to with anything,” Kuriyama said after the game.
Kuriyama, Nakata simmer
Fighters skipper Hideki Kuriyama had a rare blowup over cleanup hitter Sho Nakata, who hurt his own right eye in an accident on the team’s bench, according to Hochi Shimbun.
Nakata snapped his bat after striking out in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to the SoftBank Hawks and suffered a swollen right-eye in the process — in a Japanese version of the injury that ended Cecil Fielder’s brief career in Japan. Fiedler slammed his bat down in frustration and it bounced up and caught him in the eye.
Kuriyama was angry about it after Wednesday’s game, and again the next day, when he pulled Nakata from the starting lineup.
Nakata started against the Buffaloes on Friday and when reporters asked Kuriyama about the injury before the game, he said, “Don’t ask me. Ask him!”
Lions 7, Marines 4
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Seibu’s Aito Takeda, a man of several names, opened the scoring with his first pro homer, and liked it so much he hit another, capping a five-run Lions eighth with a three-run shot.
Marines right-hander Fumiya Ono (0-1) came in after Opening Day starter Kota Futaki allowed a run over seven innings. Ono loaded the bases with one out for Wu Nien-ting, who singled in two runs. Takeda then took Lions starter, Kona Takahashi, off the hook for the loss with his second home run.
Takeda is registered under his given name, although he turned pro in 2016 as Aito Otaki, and more likely than not changed it to his wife’s family name when he got married, a common practice when marrying into a family with no sons. He entered the game with 83 first-team plate appearances in 61 games.
The Marines took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on rookie Koki Yamaguchi’s two-run homer, his first as a pro.
Eagles 1, Hawks 1
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Rakuten’s Hideaki Wakui allowed a run over eight innings but failed to get his third win because SoftBank’s Shuta Ishikawa allowed a run over seven solid innings, and neither bullpen allowed a run.
Tigers 9, BayStars 2
At Yokohama Stadium, Shintaro Fujinami (0-1) walked five batters but didn’t allow a run until the seventh, when he led 9-0 and gave up a two-run shot to Daiki Sekine.
If there were prop bets on who would walk in the first batter in this game, I’m guessing you’d have had to get good odds to bet on Haruhiro Hamaguchi (0-2), who walked the No. 8 hitter to cap a three-run first-inning rally. Fujinami, who threw his fourth pitch of the game to the backstop on the fly, didn’t even load the bases until the third inning and then retired both batters he faced without ever getting to three balls on either to keep it scoreless.
Jefry Marte doubled in Koji Chikamoto to open the scoring and came home on a Yusuki Oyama sac fly before Hamaguchi’s bases-loaded walk completed the rally.
Rookie Teruaki Sato launched his third homer, off reliever Yuki Kuniyoshi, out of the ballpark. Kuniyoshi allowed all six runs in Hanshin’s six-run sixth. Marte singled in another run, Oyama doubled in two and Jerry Sands capped the rally with an RBI single.
Carp 2, Giants 0
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Ryosuke Kikuchi and Seiya Suzuki continued to tear it up. Kikuchi, the first batter to face Tomoyuki Sugano (0-1) since the Giants’ ace was deactivated after Opening Day with leg issues, homered to open the bottom of the first, and Suzuki made it 2-0 before Sugano settled down and followed by bowling six scoreless frames.
Daichi Osera (2-1) went six innings, allowing six hits and a walk while striking out six. Lefty Daisuke Moriua walked the first two batters he faced in the seventh and walked Hayato Sakamoto intentionally to load them and got out of the inning against Takayuki Kajitani.
Rookie Carp closer Ryoji Kuribayashi recorded his fourth save, ending it by getting Sakamoto to hit into a double play.
Sasaki rocks on the farm
Rocket-armed 19-year-old Roki Sasaki, whom the Lotte Marines expect to bring up to the first team within a month, allowed a hit over three scoreless innings in Friday’s Eastern League game against the Seibu Lions, Hochi Shimbun reported.
The right-hander with the super smooth delivery touched 95 mph. He allowed a leadoff single and hit a batter while striking out two in his 39-pitch outing.
Punch-drunk Fighters swap 8 players
The Pacific League’s Nippon Ham Fighters, winless over their last nine games with seven losses and two ties, replaced eight players on their active roster on Friday.
Outfielder Chusei Mannami was among the eight activated players. The 21-year-old, the Fighters’ fourth pick in the 2018 draft, is tied for the Eastern League home run lead with five and slashing .340/.421/.745.
The Fighters’ minor league facility in Kamagaya is a hitter’s park in a hitter’s league, and Fighters’ minor leaguers often put up some gaudy numbers before getting reality checks at cavernous Sapporo Dome.
Eagles vs Hawks: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Marines vs Lions: Zozo Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Fighters: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 2 pm, 1 am EDT
BayStars vs Tigers: Yokohama Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Dragons vs Swallows: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Carp vs Giants: Mazda Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Active roster moves 4/9/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/19