At Koshien Stadium, Jefry Marte homered for his third straight game before Hotaka Yamakawa hit a sixth-inning grand slam for the Seibu Lions against Hanshin Tigers starter Koyo Aoyagi in a 6-2 win on Saturday.
The right-handed side-armer struck out seven, while walking two and giving up six hits over six innings. Right-hander Ren Kajiya, who was let go by the Hawks in December, contributed his third scoreless inning of the spring. Jon Edwards allowed a run in the ninth for the Tigers.
Jerry Sands had a hit and a walk for Hanshin as he continued to reach base in every game so far this spring.
Key Lions relievers Kaima Taira, Tatsushi Masuda and Tetsu Miyagawa each worked one scoreless inning.
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, the Orix Buffaloes tagged 20-year-old Yomiuri Giants starter Shosei Togo for three runs over six innings in a 3-1 win.
Togo struck out eight without issuing a walk but surrendered seven hits and a home run. One of the runs was unearned. Key relievers Thyago Vieira and Kota Nakagawa each worked a scoreless inning. Giants slugger Kazuma Okamoto hit his first homer of the spring.
Orix’s top pick in the 2019 draft, 19-year-old Hiroya Miyagi, allowed his first run of the season in a five-inning outing. He struck out four but issued three walks. Taisuke Yamaoka, who started Opening Day for Orix in 2020, worked three scoreless innings.
At Mazda Stadium, Daichi Osera continued to work toward his third straight Opening Day start for the Hiroshima Carp in a 3-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters, striking out nine over five scoreless innings. Robert Corniel, a 25-year-old developmental-contract guy from the Dominican, worked a scoreless inning for the Carp.
The newest Fighter, right-hander Takahide Ikeda made his spring debut after arriving in a trade from the Rakuten Eagles last week, striking out two over three scoreless innings. Twenty-year-old Yuki James Nomura drove in the visitors’ only run with a ninth-inning single after striking out twice in three hitless at-bats.
Lefty Shota Hamaya (1-0) allowed a run over six innings without issuing a walk in his first career start, while veteran Takumi Kuriyama had four hits and two RBIs in the Seibu Lions’ 3-1 win over the Lotte Marines at MetLife Dome.
“I really tried to make good first pitches,” said the 21-year-old Hamaya, the Lions’ second-round pick last autumn. “When I got behind in the count, I just made sure I had good arm action on my pitches, and if they hit them, they hit them.”
Hamaya allowed a run on four this and three strikeouts.
The 37-year-old Kuriyama, playing in his 19th pro season, homered in the first off lefty Kazuya Ojima (5-6) to open the scoring and singled in the second run in the Lions’ fifth to chase the Marines starter.
“I think there is an image that left handers can bust us inside,” Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi said. “We have some work to do on that.”
Ojima allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk over 4-2/3 innings.
“This game turned on my giving up three hits to the same hitter,” Ojima said. “Obviously I need to take a hard look at that so I can do better next time.”
Tajima outduels Wakui
Daiki Tajima (2-4) threw his first career shutout, a two-hitter, to outduel Hideaki Wakui (8-3) in the Orix Buffaloes’ 2-0 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Hotto Motto Field Kobe.
Wearing the uniform of their predecessors, the Orix BlueWave, and playing in their former home park in the hills above the port city of Kobe, Yutaro Sugimoto broke open a scoreless game with fifth-inning home run, and Torai Fushimi homered against the Eagles’ bullpen in the seventh.
“From the first inning, I pounded them with my fastball,” said Tajima, who walked one while striking out eight. “I was able to really pitch my kind of game.”
The lefty, the top draft pick of the Buffaloes in 2017, didn’t allow a base runner after surrendering a one-out infield single in the fifth.
“I didn’t think about what was coming. I just took each batter head on,” Tajima said.
The complete-game shutout was Orix’s first of the season and came in its 76th game.
Despaigne lifts Hawks past Fighters
Alfredo Despaigne broke up a tie game with a two-run seventh-inning single after Fighters reliever Katsuhiko Kumon (0-2) loaded the bases with one out in the SoftBank Hawks’ 5-4 come-from-behind win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.
Kumon left after getting only one out, on a sacrifice as the Hawks played to tie while a run down in the seventh. But they got much more as a single and a walk loaded the bases and slugger Yuki Yanagita forced in a run by walking against new pitcher Taisho Tamai, who then surrendered Despaigne’s single.
The blowup wasted a solid start from Toshihiro Nakamura, who allowed two runs on three hits and three walks while striking out six. Hawks starter Akira Niho gave up three runs, one earned, over 4-1/3 innings, but five relievers held the Fighters to a run on two walks and one hit over 4-2/3 innings. Closer Yuito Mori allowed a run after a leadoff infield single but recorded his 21st save.
Saiuchi returns from wilderness in win
Hiroaki Saiuchi, signed nine days earlier from the independent Kagawa Olive Guyners — I’m not making this up — made his first NPB start in six years, and allowed two runs over five innings for the Yakult Swallows in a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the DeNA BayStars at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
Saiuchi, a 27-year-old who was the second draft pick of the Hanshin Tigers in 2011, is still 0-2 in his career as a starter, although he allowed one run over five innings in his pro starting debut on Sept. 2, 2012. He was released for the second time by the Tigers last winter, and signed this season with Kagawa.
In nine games in the Shikoku Island League-plus, Saiuchi was 5-0 with three shutouts a 0.42 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 64 innings.
BayStars starting pitcher Taiga Kamichatani allowed one run over six innings when Munetaka Murakami victimized him by hitting a good slider at the bottom of the zone and driving it deep into the stands for an opposite-field homer in the fourth.
Kamichatani, however, singled with one out to start a two-run fifth-inning rally for a one-run lead that was overtaken by the Swallows bench on back-to-back RBI singles in the seventh.
Giants reserves beat Tigers
A day after lighting up their magic number the Yomiuri Giants rested a couple of stars, shortstop Hayato Sakamoto and cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto as a pair of reserves delivered the firepower in a 7-6 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo Dome.
Shunta Tanaka and Soichiro Tateoka each homered and the pair combined to score four runs and drive in six, giving the Giants enough leeway to overcome a late Tigers fightback.
Jose Pirela opened the scoring with a first-inning RBI single and added a late home run, his ninth, for the Hiroshima Carp in a 9-2 skewering of the Chunichi Dragons at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Ryuhei Matsuyama also homered and drove in two for the hosts, while Carp right-hander Yusuke Nomura (5-1) allowed two runs over 5-1/3 innings to earn the win.
Carp ace Osera has surgery
Daichi Osera, the Opening Day starter for the Central League’s Hiroshima Carp the past two seasons, has undergone right shoulder surgery the team announced Wednesday.
No timeline was given for the 29-year-old right-hander’s return, but he will likely miss the rest of the season after having arthroscopic surgery to clean out the joint at a hospital in Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture.
Osera opened the season with back-to-back complete games for first-year manager and former Carp pitcher Shinji Sasaoka. He has twice been deactivated for “poor form.”
Marines’ Hermmann out of action
Lotte Marines reliever Frank Herrmann was deactivated Wednesday after he was diagnosed with tendon damage in his right index finger. He reportedly will refrain from throwing for two weeks.