Sugano runs streak to 11
Tomoyuki Sugano equaled a team record set by Hall of Famer Victor Starffin by winning 11-straight decisions from Opening Day in the Yomiuri Giants’ 6-3 come-from-behind win over the Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo Dome on Tuesday.
Sugano (11-0) allowed three runs, all scored by Tigers leadoff man Koji Chikamoto on seven hits and a walk while striking out five over six innings. The Giants ace’s command was not up to his usual high standards, and though his fastball was occasionally untouchable, he had to work extremely carefully to get out of a couple of tight spots.
Tigers lefty Haruto Takahashi (2-3) allowed single runs in the second and fourth before his command deserted him in the bottom of the sixth and the Giants began taking advantage of his mistakes to overcome a 3-2 deficit.
Kazuma Okamoto singled in the tying run with no outs. It seems clear that the Tigers bench was taken by surprise by the lefty’s 10-pitch meltdown since no one was ready to replace him until Yuta Iwasada took over with no outs and the bases loaded.
Iwasada surrendered a two-run single to Takumi Oshiro, who added another RBI single in the eighth, and the Giants cut it close in the ninth with Rubby De La Rosa on the mound.
With two on and one out, second baseman Naoki Yoshikawa robbed Chikamoto of his fourth hit of the game with a diving stop and a force at second.
The Tigers, who left the bases loaded in the fourth, wasted a two-on no-out opportunity in the seventh, running into an out at third base on a broken buster-and-run when they trailed 5-3.
Instead of two on, no outs and a 2-0 count to one of the Tigers’ best hitters, catcher Ryutaro Umeno, the Tigers had a 1-1 count, one out, and a runner on second after Umeno swung at a pitch nowhere near the strike zone and the lead runner was out at easily at third.
Sugano’s streak is the longest for a CL pitcher to start the season after throwing on Opening Day, matching the 1982 run by Hiroshima Carp Hall of Famer Manabu Kitabeppu. The Giants franchise record was set in 1938 by Russian Hall of Famer Victor Starffin.
Japan’s stupidest magic trick
The Giants win gave them a magic number to clinch their second-straight CL pennant of 38 with 48 games to play. This is a Japanese magic number, mind you, a mind-numbing formula that requires knowing the number of games your closest rival has remaining with you. It’s fairly complicated math. Teams who meet the criteria have their magic number “lit up.” Fans celebrate it and the media never shuts up about it.
Should the other CL teams improve relative to the Giants, Yomiuri’s magic number, 38 after the win with 48 games left to play, can disappear. Teams can win pennants without ever having a magic number.
Asked about it after Tuesday’s game, Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said, “It’s something that has nothing to do with me.”
Seiya Suzuki capped a four-run first inning with a three-run homer off Yudai Ono (5-5) whose six-game complete-game streak came to an end in the Hiroshima Carp’s 6-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Ono settled down after allowing the first four batters to reach, retiring 12 of the last 14 he faced before being pulled for a pinch-hitter. Carp right-hander Allen Kuri (4-4) allowed a run over six innings to earn the win. Geronimo Franzua worked the ninth for his ninth save.
Soto sparks Stars
Two-time Central League home run champ Neftali Soto hit his 15th home run and drove in three runs off 40-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa (0-4) in the DeNA BayStars’ 8-3 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
Tatsuhiro Shibata came off the bench for the BayStars and doubled in three runs in the eighth to complete the rout.
Must be the shirt
Seiichiro Oshita, whom Orix added to their 70-man roster on Monday after taking him in the sixth round of last year’s developmental draft, broke a 1-1 second-inning tie with a three-run homer in his first career at-bat as the Orix Buffaloes beat the Rakuten Eagles 5-1 at Hotto Motto Field Kobe.
The Buffaloes, formed out of the 2004 merger of the Orix BlueWave and the Kintetsu Buffaloes, wore BlueWave uniforms at that club’s old home park in Kobe. Unfortunately, the Buffaloes didn’t have a special uniform available with Oshita’s new No. 40, so he wore the No. 102 of batting practice pitcher Yukihiro Yamaoka.
His feat mimicked that of Lotte Marines right-hander Hirokazu Sawamura, who was activated the day of his trade and struck out the side in order that night wearing the shirt of longtime batting practice pitcher Akihiro Fukushima.
Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto (5-3), the hardest-throwing starting pitcher in Japan, allowed Hideto Asamura’s 23rd home run to lead off the second, but only two other hits and two walks while striking out nine over eight innings.
Fighters get past Senga
Haruki Nishikawa drove in three runs against SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga (6-4) in the Fighters’ 3-2 win at Sapporo Dome as veteran lefty Naoki Miyanishi again cut it close before recording the save.
Fighters right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa (6-3) threw eight scoreless innings as the hosts took a 3-0 lead into the ninth. Miyanishi, filling in for regular closer Ryo Akiyoshi has now escaped with two-straight saves after opponents’ trimmed the Fighters’ lead to a run in the ninth.
He surrendered solo home runs to Yuki Yanagita, his 23rd, and former Fighter Keizo Kawashima, his fourth.
Senga struck out 12 but walked six and gave up nine hits in his 148 war of attrition with the strike zone.
Spangenberg rescues endangered Lions
Corey Spangenberg’s 11th home run, a two-run eighth-inning shot off veteran right-hander Frank Herrmann brought the Seibu Lions from a run down in their 4-3 win over the Lotte Marines at MetLife Dome.
Marines starter Ayumu Ishikawa left with one out and a man on in the eighth. Herrmann retired Sosuke Genda before he missed a pitch that Spangenberg didn’t.
Lions starter Kona Takahashi, who lost a no-hit bid in the eighth inning a week earlier, allowed three runs, two earned over seven innings. Tatsushi Masuda worked the ninth for Seibu to earn his 18th save.
Active roster moves 9/15/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/25
Starting pitchers for Sept. 16, 2020
Fighters vs Hawks: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Lions vs Marines: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Eagles: Hotto Motto Field 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Giants vs Tigers: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Swallows vs BayStars: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Carp vs Dragons: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT