Japan’s pro baseball week opened with the Pacific League lead changing hands as Orix got a shot in the arm from the irrepressible Seiichiro Oshita, on the roster due to a shot in the arm of Adam Jones.
In the Central League, the Yomiuri Giants and Hanshin Tigers appeared hungover from their intense series at Koshien, as both got whacked badly, while the Hiroshima Carp proved you can take it with you. After a weekend of hitting homers against the Swallows at Tokyo Dome, they returned to Hiroshima, where Seiya Suzuki and Shogo Sakakura brought their Tokyo Dome home run swings to bear on the Dragons.
Buffaloes 4, Marines 3
At Kobe’s Hotto Motto Field, Seiichiro Oshita, who a year ago as an exuberant minor league call-up became the poster boy for Orix’s enthusiasm under interim skipper Satoshi Nakajima, got the call on Tuesday to replace Adam Jones on the active roster after Jones suffered from vaccine side effects.
Oshita belted an eighth-inning pinch-hit home run to trim Lotte’s lead to 3-2. A Torai Fushimi double, and a bobbled grounder by Adeiny Hechavarria allowed the tying run to score.
Yoshihisa Hirano (1-3) retired the heart of the Marines order 1-2-3 in the ninth, and the Buffaloes scored, not off Japan’s saves leader Naoya Masuda, but journeyman Yasuhiro Tanaka (1-1). Two hits and a walk loaded the bases, and Oshita launched a drive to deep center that would have plated the winning run regardless where the outfield was playing him.
The win restored Orix to the one-game first-place lead they had over Lotte on Saturday before the Marines squeezed past them into first on Sunday.
Lotte leadoff man Takashi Ogino had four hits, three times dropping flies in front of outfielders. It was a night when shallow center became a defensive black hole for the Buffaloes, sucking in fly balls that time and again dropped in front of center fielder Shuhei Fukuda.
The late rally took rookie Hiroya Miyagi off the hook for the loss after he allowed three runs over five innings, two on Leonys Martin’s first-inning double.
The Buffaloes managed one run off two hits and a walk and a wild pitch but might have had another had the umpires done their duty, less because Lotte needed a break to get an out at the plate, but simply because the umps have ceased to call obstruction at home again.
Lions 6, Hawks 5
At MetLife Dome, Seibu provided more fodder for SoftBank’s late-inning bullpen nightmares as Hiroshi Kaino (0-1), who appeared to have the goods to take over the vacant closer’s job, surrendered three runs on four two-out eighth-inning hits.
Rookie Richard Sunagawa continued to be a Hawks hero, trimming SoftBank’s deficit to 3-2 on a two-run fourth-inning single off Kona Takahashi, who surrendered Takuya Kai’s three-run sixth-inning homer, his ninth but went seven innings.
Trailing by two in the eighth, Hotaka Yamakawa and Wu Nien-ting singled off Kaino ahead of a Seiji Kawagoe double, setting up Sosuke Genda’s decisive two-run single.
Ryosuke Moriwaki (3-0) worked the eighth for the win and Kaima Taira earned his 13th save.
On the save front, closer Yuito Mori, who hasn’t pitched since April 29 due to an inflamed non-pitching elbow, was back working out with the Hawks on Tuesday.
Fighters 4, Eagles 2
At Sapporo Dome, Nippon Ham right-hander Hiromi Ito (9-5, 2.54) went seven to win a rookie showdown with Takahisa Hayakawa (7-4, 3.82). Kensuke Kondo doubled in the game’s first run and scored the second in a two-run fourth, before the Eagles re-tied it on a two-out fifth-inning Hiroto Kobukata single.
With two outs in the fifth, Kondo came up with the bases loaded and singled in two. Ito pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh after Kobukata walked to reach for the third time. Fighters lefty Mizuki Hori worked a perfect eighth against the heart of the Eagles order and Bryan Rodriguez locked it down in the ninth for his second save.
BayStars 8, Giants 2
At Yokohama Stadium (finally!), for the first time since June 6, DeNA made mincemeat out of Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (3-6, 3.97), who allowed seven runs in 4-1/3 innings. Although he got tagged for six of the seven runs scored in the fifth, this game started to get away from Sugano in the second, when his command evaporated.
Normally an artist with his ability to hit the corner or work just off it and use every inch of the zone to his advantage. Sugano couldn’t hit corners, couldn’t get calls when he did and threw straight fastballs and hanging forkballs in the zone that got tattooed.
Swallows 12, Tigers 0
At Koshien Stadium, rookie Yakult right-hander Yasunobu Okugawa (6-3, 3.55) struck out eight over seven innings. He allowed two hits but no walks and didn’t allow a Tigers runner to reach second, while the Swallows scored early and often against Koyo Aoyagi (10-3, 2.51) and three relievers.
Tomotaka Sakaguchi doubled in the first and scored on a Norichika Aoki single, Domingo Santana made it 2-0 in the second, his 10th, and Munetaka Murakami added a three-run shot, his 32nd, in the third.
Carp 8, Dragons 7
At Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima returned home and the Carp treated their home ballpark as if it were Tokyo Dome. Seiya Suzuki homered for the fourth straight game, with his 23rd and 24th, and added an RBI single as the Carp came from a 7-3 ninth-inning deficit in a five-run outburst against Chunichi closer Raidel Martinez (0-2). Shogo Sakakura ended it with his 10th homer, a three-run shot.
Wednesday’s starting pitchers
Fighters vs Eagles: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Lions vs Hawks: MetLife Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Marines: Hotto Motto Field 6 pm, 5 am EDT
BayStars vs Giants: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Tigers vs Swallows: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Carp vs Dragons: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 9/7/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/17