SoftBank’s Richard Sunagawa show began in earnest on Sunday, as the 22-year-old Sunagawa, whose full name is Richard Makoto Sunagawa O’Brien, led the Western League in home runs and RBIs last year, and was leading the WL in home runs this year before being called up.
On Sunday, he drove in his first Pacific League run, with a sac fly, compounded that with a grand slam for his first home run, and hit another home run.
Sunagawa, who is the brother Mariners minor league pitcher Joey O’Brien, was cheered on by his father and mother and maternal grandfather at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
When asked if he had a message for them, he said in Japanese, “Yes. Keep coming to games.”
The Buffaloes’ loss dropped them into second place behind the Lotte Marines, and just when it seemed like two Kanto teams would seize league leads from the Kansai teams that opened the day in first, the Giants suffered another late collapse in Hanshin land.
Hawks 12, Buffaloes 4
At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, it was a real battle of the ages. The Hawks started with a battery of 39-year-old Hiroaki Takaya catching 40-year-old lefty Tsuyoshi Wada (5-5, 4.32), which made me wonder whether the Hawks guys engaged in any trash talk with Orix starter, 27-year-old Hirotoshi Masui (3-6, 4.95), and what that might sound like. Would the gentlemanly Wada tell Masui, “Get off my mound you young punk!”?
Masui allowed seven runs over 3-1/3 innings, while Cesar Vargas, Orix’s fifth pitcher, gave up four in the eighth – including Sunagawa’s second homer and another by Taisei Makihara.
The Buffaloes took a 2-0 second-inning lead on an Adam Jones single and a home run, catcher Kenya Wakatsuki’s fourth. Wada left after throwing five innings. In a kind of prototypical Wada outing, he allowed three hits and a walk while striking out five.
He was replaced by 21-year-old Carter Stewart Jr., who dominated through 2-1/3 innings. But after striking out six straight, issued a walk and allowed three straight singles before his three innings were up.
Eagles 8, Lions 2
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Hiroaki Shimauchi scored twice and drove in two runs from the No. 3 spot in Rakuten’s lineup and Eigoro Mogi, batting cleanup, drove in three runs for the third-place Eagles.
Shimauchi’s two-run third-inning double off Yutaro Watanabe (2-3, 2.74) broke the ice and he scored on a Mogi single. Shimauchi walked and scored in the Eagles’ five-run fourth, when Mogi capped the rally with a two-run double.
Marines 2, Fighters 1
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, retreads Enny Romero (1-0, 1.56) – formerly of the Dragons — and Yuki Kuniyoshi – formerly of the BayStars, turned over a lead to Japan’s leading closer this year, and Naoya Masuda worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 30th save.
Romero allowed a run on seven hits and a walk while striking out nine over seven innings. Nippon Ham starter Kazuaki Tateno (1-1, 4.12) pitched out of a first-inning bases-loaded jam but his mojo was not there in the second, when the Marines scored twice after the tail end of the order loaded the bases with one out.
Leadoff man Takashi Ogino plated Katsuya Kakunaka with an infield single, and Kyota Fujiwara, a good candidate to be the PL’s batter of the month for July and August, delivered a sacrifice fly.
Carp 6, Swallows 1
At Tokyo Dome, Hiroshima’s Seiya Suzuki hit his third home run of the series and his ninth this season in 17 games at Tokyo Dome, to open the scoring in a two-run second. Ryosuke Kikuchi went 4-for-4, doubling in Shogo Sakakura in the second, and plating him with singles in the fourth and seventh before leading off the eighth with his 13th homer and his fourth at the dome, equaling his total from 46 games at Mazda Stadium.
Hiroki Tokoda (3-2, 3.19) allowed a run on four hits and a hit batsman while striking out seven over seven innings. Yakult lefty Kazuto Taguchi (4-8, 4.11) allowed four runs on five hits over three-plus innings. Juri Hara took over in the fourth with two on and no outs but surrendered back-to-back RBI singles to Kikuchi and Kota Hayashi.
Dragons 2, BayStars 0
At Vantelin Dome Nagoya, Kosuke Fukudome drove in the winning run for the second time Chunichi’s three-game series with DeNA, which slipped into sixth place behind Hiroshima.
Shota Imanaga shut the Dragons down on three hits and a walk over seven innings, before Fukudome delivered a two-out pinch-hit double off Edwin Escobar (3-3), who surrendered another RBI double to leadoff man Yota Kyoda.
Dragons starter Yariel Rodriguez struck out eight but walked five over five scoreless innings. Katsuki Matayoshi (1-2) survived a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth to earn the win, and Raidel Martinez picked up his 15th save with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Tigers vs Giants 6
At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin came from behind for the third straight game. C.C. Mercedes left with a 6-0 lead after five innings, but that lead and Mercedes’ eighth win of the season evaporated as more Giants bullpen drama unfolded.
Takumu Nakano tripled to open the Tigers’ sixth off Yohei Kagiya. Nakano scored as Jerry Sands reached on error by new shortstop Akihiro Wakabayashi. Jefry Marte walked. New pitcher Ryusei Ohe got one out before walking danger man Yusuke Oyama to load the bases.
Pinch-hitter Fumihito Haraguchi singled in one run, and another scored on a groundout before Mel Rojas Jr. singled off Seishu Hatake to make it a 6-4 game.
A Sands single and an error on Taishi Hirooka, the Giants’ third shortstop of the game set the table for Hanshin to tie it in the seventh. An RBI groundout made it 6-5, before Yoshio Itoi came up with his second big pinch-hit of the series, doubling in the tying run.
A night after Oyama beat him with a two-run home run, Giants closer Thyago Vieira retired one batter before Oyama came to the plate in the ninth. He didn’t homer but he did swat a hanging slider for a double. An infield single put runners on the corners before a two-out walk loaded the bases, but Yoshihiro Maru was able to go back and haul in a line drive off the bat of Koji Chikamoto to end the game.
Hanshin starter Takumi Akiyama gave up three runs in two innings, but got an assist when Hayato Sakamoto ran into an out in the Giants’ three-run first inning, capped by Hiroyuki Nakajima’s two-run home run, his fifth.
Shintaro Fujinami worked three innings of relief and served up Kazuma Okamoto’s Japan-best 35th home run, a three-run shot that appeared to ice the game.
Active roster moves 9/5/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/15