No cigar, but Takahashi smokes Buffaloes
Kona Takahashi (5-6) got three quick outs after losing his no-hit bid in the top of the ninth to throw a one-hit shutout Tuesday in the Seibu Lions’ 2-0 win over the Orix Buffaloes and their ace, Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
On a night when he rarely missed catcher Masatoshi Okada’s glove, the 23-year-old right-hander painted with his fastball and got swinging strikes with his splitter en route to seven strikeouts. Takahashi walked one and allowed one hit, although he needed a couple of good plays from first baseman Ernesto Mejia and shortstop Sosuke Genda to hold the Buffaloes hitless through eight.
Yamamoto (4-3) struck out nine and walked two while allowing two runs on five hits over seven innings. Corey Spangenberg singled and scored the first run in the fifth after a Mejia walk, a sacrifice and a ground ball off the bat of reserve Lions catcher Masatoshi Okada.
“Against one of the best pitchers in Japan, I thought I’d need to keep them from scoring first. I’m grateful to Okada for his quality hitting,” Takahashi said of his catcher, who moments earlier had said he was just happy to get the bat on the ball since his batting average was “on the verge of disappearing.”
Genda, who back-handed a ball in the hole at shortstop to rob Orix catcher Torai Fushimi of a two-out single and end the sixth, singled with one out in the home half, stole second and scored on a Hotaka Yamakawa single.
In his previous start, Takahashi threw seven scoreless innings against the Lotte Marines.
“At that time, I knew I had to make my next outing a good one,” he said. “I was able to establish a good rhythm today.”
Acting Buffaloes manager Satoshi Nakajima said Takahashi proved too hard for his hitters to solve.
“We came into the game with plans in mind, but his quality tonight did not allow us to execute them,” Nakajima said. “I think it shows that we still have a way to go in making adjustments.”
When Buffaloes pinch-hitter Masahiro Nishino lashed a high fastball up the middle for a ninth-inning leadoff single, Lions pitching coach Fumiya Nishiguchi rushed to the mound to check on the right-hander.
Nishiguchi, who knows as much about losing no-hitters as anyone, having lost one perfect game with two outs in the ninth and another with two outs in the 10th, and whose No. 13 Takahashi inherited, must have said the right thing, because Takahashi went back to work and took out the next three hitters with little fanfare, ending the game on an easy comebacker.
Before Takahashi took the mound in the ninth, Nishiguchi had some encouragement.
“I said, ‘Pitch the same way I did until I had two outs,'” Nishiguchi said.
Yamamoto’s loss was the 22-year-old’s first against the Lions.
“Because my opponent pitched so well, I was the one who gave up the first run,” said Yamamoto, Japan’s hardest-throwing starting pitcher. “I have to take hard look in the mirror.”
Senga goes 8 as Hawks shut out Eagles
Softbank Hawks ace Kodai Senga (6-3) struck out 13 over eight innings and Yurisbel Gracial hit his seventh home run and his fifth in six games in a 2-0 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
Veteran Eagles lefty Wataru Karashima (2-1) made his second-straight start after beginning the season in the bullpen. He allowed both runs on five hits and two walks while striking out three.
Senga allowed three hits and three walks in a 108-pitch outing, and closer Yuito Mori allowed one hit in the ninth before recording his 19th save.
Martin,Sawamura star against Fighters
Leonys Martin hit another massive bomb, off the façade high above the right-field stands at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium and singled in two runs in the fifth inning to lift the Lotte Marines to a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Nippon Ham Fighters.
Martin opened the scoring in the first with his 20th home run, off right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa (5-3), although he had to share the spotlight with reliever Hirokazu Sawamura. Acquired in a trade from the Yomiuri Giants the same day, Sawamura went to the mound in the sixth and struck out all three batters he faced in his Pacific League debut.
Fumiya Ono (2-2) earned the win for a scoreless fifth in relief of Yuta Omine. Yuki Karakawa, Frank Herrmann and Naoya Masuda each worked one scoreless inning to preserve the slim lead with Masuda earning his 21st save.
Giants ace Sugano runs win streak to 10
In the Central League’s marquee matchup, Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (10-0) failed to match his previous results against the Chunichi Dragons, but still managed to best lefty Yudai Ono (5-4) in a 2-0 win at Nagoya Dome.
Ironically, this was Sugano’s worst result of the season against the Dragons, his first two starts having produced complete-game shutouts. Sugano allowed five hits and a walk, and hit a batter while striking out six.
Ono, who entered having won five-straight complete games, including two against the Giants, went the distance again, allowing six hits and a walk while striking out five. His six complete games matches his career high.
The Giants opened the scoring in the third. With one out, Naoki Yoshikawa lined a high 2-0 fastball to center, was sacrificed to second and scored on a Hayato Sakamoto double. Ono hung a 2-0 splitter up and over the outside corner and Sakamoto put a great swing on it, missing a home run by a few feet, but easily bringing Yoshikawa home from second.
Yoshikawa doubled to lead off the eighth with his third hit. A pinch-hitter sacrificed in place of Sugano, and Yoshikawa scored on a Yoshiyuki Kamei’s sacrifice fly.
Giants lefty Kota Nakagawa worked a 1-2-3 eighth, while Rubby De La Rosa pitched the ninth to earn his 10th save.
BayStars ambush Tigers in 7-7 tie
Yusuke Oyama hit a grand slam and a two-run home run, and Jerry Sands added a solo shot to give the Hanshin Tigers a seven-run lead before the DeNA BayStars came back to earn a 10-inning 7-7 tie at Yokohama Stadium.
Tigers starter Onelki Garcia took a 7-0 lead into the sixth inning, but couldn’t limit the damage after Keita Sano’s three-run homer made it 7-4. The southpaw left with no outs and two runners on. Veteran lefty Atsushi Nomi allowed both to score and allowed one run of his own.
Kuri stops Swallows
Allen Kuri (3-4) walked five over six innings but allowed no runs in the Hiroshima Carp’s 5-1 victory over the Yakult Swallows at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Veteran Swallows lefty Masanori Ishikawa (0-3) allowed four runs, two earned, to take the loss.
Active roster moves 9/8/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/18
Starting pitchers for Sept. 4, 2020
Eagles vs Hawks: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Lions vs Buffaloes: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
BayStars vs Tigers: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Dragons vs Giants: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Carp vs Swallows: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT