Kodai Senga (11-6) got a late start to the season but qualified for the Pacific League’s ERA title with eight innings in the SoftBank Hawks’ 2-0 win on Wednesday at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, over the Lotte Marines, who fell into third place, a game behind the Seibu Lions for the final playoff spot.
The Hawks’ win left them tied in their season series against Lotte after the three-time defending Japan Series champs starting the season 4-11-1 against the Marines.
With nine strikeouts over eight innings, Senga now leads the league with a 2.16 ERA and is tied with Orix’s Yoshinobu Yamamoto for the strikeout lead with 149 and tied with Hideaki Wakui for the lead in wins.
The Hawks scored on solo homers by Alfredo Despaigne, his sixth, and Ryoya Kurihara, his 17th, off former major leaguer Chen Wei-yin (0-3), and have now beaten the Marines in seven straight games. Yuito Mori notched his 32nd save.
Spangenberg, Lions feast on rookie Yoshida
Corey Spangenberg homered for the second straight night and drove in four runs as the Seibu Lions tattooed rookie Kosei Yoshida (0-2) for eight runs over two innings in a 10-3 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at MetLife Dome.
Zach Neal (6-8) allowed three runs over five innings to pick up the win. Shuta Tonosaki homered, drove in two runs and scored three, and Reed Garrett worked a scorless inning of relief for the Lions.
Buffaloes bounce Eagles
The Orix Buffaloes broke an eighth-inning tie with two runs off Alan Busenitz (1-4) in an 8-7 win at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome over the Rakuten Eagles, who fell 3-1/2 games out of the final playoff spot with four games left to play.
Orix lit up Hideaki Wakui for six runs over five innings before the visitors came back to tie it.
Endo goes distance for Carp
Atsushi Endo (5-6) threw a four-hitter for the Hiroshima Carp in a 5-1 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Hisayoshi Chono went 2-for-3 with two walks a homer three RBIs and his first stolen base since he was with the Giants two years ago, while Jose Pirela had three hits for the Carp.
Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto went 0-for-4 to remain three hits shy of 2,000 in his career.
Fujinami goes 6 scoreless innings in Tigers’ win
Shintaro Fujinami overcame three two-out walks to go six scoreless innings in the Hanshin Tigers’ 3-2 walkoff win over the Yakult Swallows at Koshien Stadium.
Yusuke Oyama homered in the ninth off Yugo Umeno (4-2) to end it and make a winner out of closer Robert Suarez (3-1) after the Swallows tied it with single runs in the seventh, off Suguru Iwazaki, and in the eighth, off Jon Edwards.
Takahashi lifts Dragons over ‘Stars
Dragons captain Shuhei Takahashi scored twice and hit a tie-breaking eighth-inning home run in a 5-4 win at Nagoya Dome after the DeNA BayStars tied it on home runs by Neftali Soto and Jose Lopez.
Soto’s 25th made it a 4-1 game in the fifth and Lopez’s 12th, with two on, tied it in the sixth.
Kodai Senga fastest NPB starter to 1,000 Ks
SoftBank Hawks right-hander Kodai Senga, whose family name literally means “1,000 celebrations,” notched his 1,000th strikeout in his 855-1/3 inning on Wednesday night at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
Only Kyuji Fujikawa, the longtime former closer of the Central League’s Hanshin Tigers, who will retire this year, reached 1,000 in fewer innings. Fujikawa notched 92 of his strikeouts in 102 career innings as a starter, but he was primarily used as a reliever whose 243 saves are fourth-most in NPB history.
Senga, however, took over the Pacific League record from Hall of Famer Hideo Nomo. Senga started his career as a reliever and has pitched 82 career innings out of the bullpen. Signed after being taken in the developmental draft, Senga notched his first strikeout on April 30, 2012, fanning Lotte catcher Tomoya Satozaki, who was working the game as an analyst on TV Tokyo.
Active roster moves 11/4/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/14
The Rakuten Eagles wasted a great start by Takayuki Kishi in a 4-1 loss to the SoftBank Hawks, whose win at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi guaranteed they would remain top of the Pacific League on Thursday.
Kishi delivered a master class with his fastball, curve and change to hold the Hawks to a walk and two hits while striking out four. But the switch to former closer Yuki Matsui (3-4) in the seventh inning, for his first relief appearance of a season so far spent as a starter, cost the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
A pair of sharp fielding plays from Hawks second baseman Ukyo Shuto and first baseman Akira Nakamura helped starter Shuta Ishikawa (7-3) and three relievers hold Rakuten to five hits. The typically wild Ishikawa walked three and hit two while striking out six over 6-1/3 innings.
Yurisbel Gracial walked and scored from first on Ryoya Kurihara’s double. After taking third on the throw home, Kurihara scored on a squeeze by Takuya Kai, who homered in the ninth to complete the scoring.
The Eagles had an opening with two walks and a single in the home half of the seventh but hurt their cause by striking out trying to sacrifice and a base running error. Hawks closer Yuito Mori earned his 23rd save. “We owe Kishi an apology,” Eagles skipper Hajime Miki said.
Iguchi: ‘We need to do better’
Hisanori Yasuda took a borderline 3-2 pitch for Strike 3 to end the game with the bases loaded in the Lotte Marines’ 3-2 loss to the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome that left Lotte a full game behind the Hawks.
Fighters starter Toshihiro Sugiura (6-3) struck out a career-high nine as he allowed one run over six innings. Kotaro Kiyomiya and Shingo Usami each homered for the Fighters, whose current closer, veteran lefty Naoki Miyanishi loaded the bases after retiring the first two batters.
Yasuda worked the count full and was headed for first after taking a pitch low and away before being rung up to end it. Miyanishi earned his fourth save.
“We failed to play to our full capabilities,” Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi said. “We knew early on that we were working with a wide strike zone, and we just kept going along. We need to learn to do better.”
Leonys Martin doubled, walked twice, scored both of Lotte’s runs and was on base when the game ended.
Daiki Iwashita (5-7) took the loss after allowing two runs over six innings.
Yamakawa homer slays feisty Buffaloes
Hotaka Yamakawa broke a 5-5 tie with a two-run eighth-inning home run, his 23rd, off Tyler Higgins (2-3) as the Seibu Lions avoided a three-game sweep at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome with a 7-6 win over the Orix Buffaloes.
Trailing by a run with the Buffaloes’ first-year setup man on the mound, Ernesto Mejia doubled and Takeya Nakamura singled in the tying run.
The turnaround earned rookie Tetsu Miyagawa (1-1) his first career win after he pitched out of a two-on, one-out jam in the seventh. Sosuke Genda and Corey Spangenberg opened the scoring with back-to-back homers in the third.
The Buffaloes, however, ran the Lions ragged in a four-run fifth. Trailing by two in the ninth, Takahiro Okada homered off closer Tatsushi Masuda, who earned his 23rd save after getting pinch-hitter Adam Jones to fly out to deep center for the final out.
Saiuchi ends 5-year winless drought
Hiroaki Saiuchi (1-1) plucked this summer from the independent Olive Guyners threw seven scoreless innings to earn his first win in 5 years, 2 days, in the Yakult Swallows’ 2-0 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.
Saiuchi, the second pick of the Hanshin Tigers in 2011, was released last season. The right-hander challenged hitters in the zone with his breaking pitches, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out four.
“I am really happy to produce for the team after they found me lying around and gave me a chance,” Saiuchi said.
Swallows closer Taichi Ishiyama provided more chills and suspense in the ninth, when he allowed the tying runs on with two outs.
Yasuaki Yamasaki, who lost his closer’s job this summer, was hit on the right leg with a batted ball.
Fujinami shines in setup role
Shintaro Fujinami, whose career has been fraught with disappointment these past four years, and who has struggled in his return to the starting rotation this season, hit close to 100 mph in helping secured the Hanshin Tigers’ 2-0 win over the Chunichi Dragons with a perfect eighth inning.
Lefty Minoru Iwata (1-0) allowed five hits and no walks while striking out five over 6-2/3 innings. Jon Edwards struck out the only batter he faced in the seventh and Fujinami took care of business in the eighth. Closer Robert Suarez got a big play from shortstop Ryuhei Kobata to complete a 1-2-3 ninth and earn his 18th save.
Dragons rookie Yariel Rodriguez (2-3) allowed a run over six innings. The 23-year-old Cuban right-hander allowed two hits and two walks while striking out 10. The Tigers’ first run scored on a wild pitch.
Giants knock Scott
The Yomiuri Giants scored four runs in four innings off Tayler Scott (0-3) in a 5-3 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Yoshihiro Maru singled in a run in the first, and Hayato Sakamoto doubled in another in the third before Naoki Yoshikawa’s two-run single made it 4-0 in the fourth.
Despite their poor start, the Carp defense put on a fielding clinic, starting with some solid play from seven-time Golden Glove-winning second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi and four gems in left from Jose Pirela in the final innings.
Angel Sanchez (6-3) allowed three runs, two earned, over seven innings, while Rubby De La Rosa earned his 14th save.
Active roster moves 10/1/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/11
One day after Hideto Asamura routed the Lotte Marines single handed with three home runs, his 28th home run of the year broke a 3-3 tie to lift Hideaki Wakui (9-3) and the Rakuten Eagles to a 5-3 win at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi on Wednesday.
With a man on in the seventh, a ferocious swing launched a high two-strike straight-as-string cutter from reliever Yuki Karakawa (0-1) well beyond the center-field fence.
“I was only trying to set the table for the hitters coming up behind me,” said Asamura, who now leads both leagues in home runs.
Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi, speaking more out of frustration than logic, said, “He burned us with the home run again, and at a time when the only thing we couldn’t afford to give up was a home run.”
Considering there was indeed more meat coming up after Asamura, despite his claims of trying to play small ball, a walk or any kind of hit could easily have sunk the Marines at that stage.
Wakui, who last won on Aug. 19, allowed four hits and hit a batter and gave up three runs, all in the sixth inning with Leonys Martin’s two-run double tying it.
Kazuhisa Makita torpedoed the Marines in the eighth and Alan Busenitz worked the ninth to record his 14th save as the Eagles won four straight for the first time this season.
Buffaloes hand Hawks 5th straight loss
Daiki Tajima (3-4) allowed two runs in five innings, while Steven Moya drove in three runs and hit his third home run in five games as the Orix Buffaloes beat the SoftBank Hawks 10-5 at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
With Yuki Yanagita not on the game roster for the first time this season due to stiffness in the neck. Hawks right-hander Shota Takeda (2-1) walked four and hit one as he allowed six runs over three innings.
Alfredo Despaigne drove in two consolation runs in the seventh with his fourth home run of the season and the 2,000th of the Hawks’ franchise.
Kimura leads Lions comeback
Fumikazu Kimura produces some electrifying swings as he hit a three-run homer and added an RBI single as the Seibu Lions overturned a 3-0 deficit in their 6-5 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at MetLife Dome.
Rookie lefty Shota Hamaya (2-0) looked poised for a 21-year-old. He allowed four runs over 5-1/3 innings. Fighters starter Drew VerHagen (6-4) allowed six runs, five earned, over 4-1/3 innings.
Six-time PL home run champ Takeya Nakamura was back for the first time since Sept. 1, having missed 19 games due to pain in right wrist.
Fighters rookie Ryunosuke Higuchi went 1-for-2 with a walk and was hit by a pitch in his debut. Drafted in the second round of the 2019 developmental draft from independent Albirex Niigata, the 26-year-old Higuchi has been demolishing Eastern League pitching this summer, slashing .342/.441/.651.
Seibu closer Tatsushi Masuda earned his 21st save.
Taguchi flashes old form for Giants
Lefty Kazuto Taguchi (5-3) came within two outs of his first complete game in two years but earned the win in the Yomiuri Giants’ 7-3 victory over the Hiroshima Carp at Tokyo Dome.
For eight innings, the 25-year-old Taguchi looked like the guy who was a mainstay of the Giants rotation in 2016 and 2017 until Jose Pirela chased him in the ninth with a two-run homer. Takumi Oshiro drove in two runs for the Giants and Hayato Sakamoto’s three hits moved him to within 39 of 2,000 in his career.
What are his chances of reach 3,000? Find out in today’s members notes.
Kamichatani shuts out Tigers
Taiga Kamichatani (2-1) threw his second career shutout, and Neftali Soto hit his 17th home run, a three-run shot in the seventh as the DeNA BayStars beat the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium.
Using an absolutely wicked cutter, Kamichatani struck out 10. He allowed six hits and walked three in his 144 pitches, causing Pro Yakyu News analyst Takenori Emoto and former pitcher to praise manager Alex Ramirez: “Ramirez-san understands how important it is to get complete games.”
Dragons bash Swallows
The Chunichi Dragons overcame home runs by Tetsuto Yamada and Munetaka Murakami grinding out a 14-hit 11-5 win over the Yakult Swallows at Nagoya Dome.
Shuhei Takahashi drove in three runs and Dayan Viciedo four with an eighth-inning grand slam for the Dragons as the Swallows lost after holding a lead for the 21st time this season.
Cuban rookie Yariel Rodriguez didn’t bring his best command to Tokyo Dome on Saturday, when the Yomiuri Giants pummeled him in a 12-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons.
In his two previous starts against the Giants, Rodriguez (2-1) allowed three runs over 13-1/3 innings. But this time, the right-hander missed too many pitches, Giants hitters put good swings on what they saw, and seven-time Golden Glove-winning center fielder Yohei Oshima made a huge error in a five-run second inning.
“Today’s opposing pitcher has tremendous stuff, so our focus was on trying not to do too much, basically try and hit it back up the middle. He did miss a little and we handled some of those well,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said.
“We were trying to get one run and things went our way in a hurry.”
Lefty Nobutaka Imamura (2-0) allowed the Dragons to open the scoring in the top of the second on a Dayan Viciedo single and a walk. A force at second set up a possible double play on a comebacker. Imamura went for it instead of checking Viciedo, who scored when the Giants failed to turn two.
But after a five-run fifth, in which he drove in the tying run, Imamura executed pitches. He allowed a run over seven innings on six hits and two walks while striking out eight.
Taking a 1-0 lead into the second, Rodriguez struck Yoshihiro Maru out swinging on a slider in the dirt. But four-straight balls put a man on, and Takumi Oshiro did well to get the head on a 2-2 low inside fastball and hit a flare to left. Akihro Wakabayashi fouled off a pair of 2-2 pitches before lashing a hanging slider for a single to load the bases.
With the pitcher up, Rodriguez had a chance to get out of the inning, but Imamura fouled off a couple of fastballs before knocking a straight 1-2 heater down the pipe between third and short to tie it 1-1. Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto chased a slider high and away, but the ball hit off the end of the bat and landed in shallow center for a single. Oshima charged the ball to set up a throw to the plate but came up empty and by the time left fielder Zoilo Almonte retrieved it and got the ball back, Sakamoto was on second with a two-run single and three runs had scored.
“There were some anxious early moments for him (Imamura),” Hara said. “But with the big rally, and his getting a hit in that, he began establish his fastball. He mixed in his secondary pitches, and pitched up to his abilities.”
Rodriguez hit Zelous Wheeler with a pitch before Kazuma Okamoto singled in Sakamoto with two outs. The right-hander then retired the last seven batters he faced before making his exit and the Giants exploded for seven runs over the final four innings, including two on Wheeler’s eighth home run.
Fujinami fails to earn 2nd win
Right-hander Shintaro Fujinami nearly squandered a five-run lead, exiting in the fifth inning in the Hanshin Tigers’ 6-5 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda stadium.
Jerry Sands opened the Tigers’ three-run third with a single and and singled their two-run third off ace Daichi Osera (5-3). But Shota Dobayashi scored three runs for the hosts and Ryohei Matsuyama continued to hit the ball hard when it counts, delivering one-run singles in each of the fourth and fifth innings.
Jose Pirela also reached base three times for the Carp and drove in a run.
Tigers lefty Yuta Iwasada (3-2) earned the win for 1-1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Joe Gunkel worked a scoreless seventh for the Tigers.
Soto, ‘Stars pen stops Swallows
Neftali Soto singled in a run in the DeNA BayStars’ two-run first, and was credited with three more in their 9-3 come-from-behind win over the Yakult Swallows at Yokohama Stadium.
Five DeNA relievers allowed three hits but no walks or runs over the final five innings to seal the win.
BayStars right-hander Shinichi Onuki was yanked after blowing a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Yuki Kuniyoshi (3-2) took over in the fifth and struck out the side. He then led off the BayStars’ five-inning fifth with a single en route to earning the win.
Nominal BayStars closer Yasuaki Yamasaki allowed single and a double with one out in the eighth but no runs came across. The fourth of five reliei
Swallows starter Matt Koch (2-0) allowed seven run, two earned, on 10 hits. He struck out two but did not walk a batter in his 4-2/3-inning stint.
Moore returns, earns 1st Japan win
Matt Moore survived a scary swing from Sho Nakata to work five scoreless innings,while Nippon Ham Fighters ace Kohei Arihara was victimized by a pair of errors as the SoftBank Hawks won 3-0 at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Moore (1-1) was pitching for the first time since he was scratched from a July 7 start due to a left calf muscle injury. With two on and one out in the first, he left a knuckle curve up and away to Nakata. The Fighters cleanup hitter got under it a tiny bit too much and only managed a towering fly to the warning track in left.
Speedster Ukyo Shuto put the Hawks on the board by beating out a one-out bunt in the third and going to second on the errant throw to first. Arihara followed a walk by getting a double play grounder, but second baseman Ryo Watanabe’s throw to his shortstop missed and Shuto scored. With runners on second and third, Yurisbel Gracial squared up an 0-1 fastball down the pipe, but hit a bullet to short for the second out. Arihara got out of the inning by getting Friday’s hero for the Hawks, Ryoya Kurihara, to go down swinging at a good changeup in the dirt.
Moore (1-1) allowed four hits and walked three while striking out seven in a 95-pitch effort. Yuki Matsumoto retired all six Fighters he faced in the sixth and seven, while Livan Moinelo retired Nakata to escape the eighth with one on.
For the second-straight game, closer Yuito Mori allowed three hits in the ninth but a base-running error helped him record his 16th save.
Arihara (3-6) worked seven innings, allowing an unearned run on three walks and four hits while striking out seven in his third-straight solid outing.
Asked about the errors behind him, Arihara said, “They helped me out a lot of times today.”
Martin again provides Marines’ firepower
Leonys Martin’s 17th home run did not reach the third deck at Kyocera Dome as each of his two home runs had the day before, but his two-run fourth-inning home run off Chang Yi (1-2) overturned a 1-0 deficit in the Lotte Marines’ 5-1 win over the Orix Buffaloes.
Here’s a collection of Martin’s latest blasts:
Kota Futaki (2-2) allowed a first-inning run on back-to-back one-out doubles by Masahiro Nishino and Keita Nakagawa but retired Masataka Yoshida and Adam Jones to end the inning and left the game with 2-1 lead after seven. He scattered six hits but walked none and struck out eight.
The Buffaloes threatened to tie in the fifth, but with two outs and a runner on second, rookie center fielder Koshiro Wada made a diving catch in the gap to rob Shuhei Fukuda an RBI double.
The Marines got to Chang for two more runs in the eighth. Martin scored the third run of the inning after being intentionally walked.
Spangenberg rakes as Nolin wins debut
Corey Spangenberg went 4-for-4 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs, while Sean Nolin (1-0) allowed three runs over six innings to earn the win in the Seibu Lions’ 6-3 victory over the Rakuten Eagles at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
Rookie Sena Tsuge, Seibu’s fifth pick in last autumn’s draft, homered for the second-straight game to make it 2-0 in the third against Takahiro Shiomi (3-5).
Nolin did not allow a base runner until the fourth, when he led 5-0. Eigoro Mogi singled with two outs and scored on former Lion Hideto Asamura’s 18th homer. Stefen Romero opened the Eagles’ fifth with this 17th.
J.T. Chargois walked a pair of batters in the top of the sixth, and Spangenberg completed the scoring with an RBI single.
The Eagles loaded the bases against Lions closer Reed Garrett with one out in the eighth, but he struck out Romero and ended the inning on a grounder to the pitcher. Lions closer Tatsushi Masuda worked the ninth for his 13th save.
Nolin, a first-year-import, allowed five hits but no walks while striking out six in a 100-pitch effort.
Kodai Senga got a late start to the season, and has struggled to consistently command his splitter and four-seamer, but things came together for him on Tuesday in the SoftBank Hawks’ 4-0 win against the Orix Buffaloes at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
“Today is the first day I’ve pitched the way one would expect from a starting pitcher,” said Senga, who had been relying more on his slider this year due to his inability to locate his fastball or get his splitter to tumble.
Senga (5-2) struck out nine over seven scoreless innings in a matchup of aces against Yoshinobu Yamamoto (3-2), who continued to struggle on the road. The Buffaloes’ loss was their first since Norifumi Nishimura stepped down on Thursday night and was replaced by farm skipper Satoshi Nakajima.
On this week’s Japan Weekly Baseball Podcast, Fighters pitcher Drew VerHagen talked about how well some hitters in Japan can wear pitchers down, spoiling good pitches by fouling them off and running up pitch counts. That’s what the Hawks did to Yamamoto, who allowed two runs over six innings.
The bottom of the Hawks order forced the right-hander to throw 27 pitches in a three-walk fourth inning despite his ability to end it by getting catcher Takuya Kai to ground into an inning-ending double play on two pitches.
Taisei Makihara opened the Hawks’ fifth by hitting a first-pitch fastball off the end of the bat and finding a hole for a leadoff single. He took second on a wild pitch that catcher Kenya Wakatsuki kept in front of him, and went to third on a groundout. Makihara and scored when Yuki Yanagita lined a low 0-2 splitter to center for a sacrifice fly, proving once more that Yanagita can do pretty much anything.
Yurisbel Gracial, who rejoined the Hawks’ first team last week after he and Alfredo Despaigne arrived in Japan from Cuba in July, followed with his first home run to make it 2-0. Yamamoto tried to go outside with an 0-1 fastball, his 91st pitch of the game, and Gracial nearly hit one of the Boston Dynamics Spot dogs that decorate the center field stands at the Casa de PayPay.
Yamamoto started the day having struck out one batter in 22 consecutive innings, one shy of the Japan record set by Yutaka Enatsu in 1968 with the Central League’s Hanshin Tigers. The Buffaloes 22-year-old ran the record to 25 innings before the Hawks fouled him silly in the fourth.
At home, Yamamoto has struck out 54 batters and walked four over 37 innings. On the road, he’s now struck out 24 and walked 15 in 29-2/3 innings.
Buffaloes officially need help
One stat that goes hand in hand with Japanese baseball’s perverse magic number calculating system is the “jiriki-V” the ability of a team to clinch a “V” for victory under its own power “jiriki” by winning enough of its remaining games regardless of its opponents’ results in other games.
Tuesday’s loss eliminated the Buffaloes’ chances of clinching by running the table. Like asking players what they intend to do in May when they compile the service time necessary to file for free agency, one of the duties of reporters in NPB is to ask the manager about such things as magic numbers and the jiriki-V.
“I don’t think we’re finished yet,” Nakajima said. “It’s something that happens in the final stages, too, when it comes and goes day by day. We’ll keep playing.”
Adam Jones, who hit four home runs in Orix’s previous three games, was removed for a pinch-hitter prior to his second at-bat. He’s been dealing with discomfort in his right heel and on Aug. 16 he skipped the Buffaloes’ last game in Fukuoka on Aug. 16.
NOTE: This story originally incorrectly identified Jones as not being on the game-day roster.
Marines blow up against Eagles’ Chargois
J.T. Chargois (0-3) hit the first batter he faced in a five-run seventh inning, allowing the Lotte Marines to overturn a one-run deficit en route to an 8-4 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
Leonys Martin was plunked for the second time to open the seventh when a 1-2 back-foot slider became a front-knee breaking ball. Although pitchers are expected to tip their cap to batters they hit, Chargois didn’t although did have a word as Martin walked to first.
A hanging slider was hit for a single and Seiya Inoue hit a high fastball to tie it with a single for his second RBI of the game. Shuhei Fukuda, who also had an RBI in Lotte’s three-run first inning, doubled in the go-ahead run.
Mariners starter Manabu Mima, who left the Eagles as a free agent over the winter, allowed four runs over six innings to improve to 5-2.
“That was a bit of a hard game, a little frustrating,” Eagles manager Hajime Miki said afterward. “It became a game where there’s really nothing to say about it. We owe the fans an apology.”
Taking 11 for the team
By getting hit twice, Martin moved into a tie with Seibu’s Hotaka Yamakawa for the unenviable Japan lead in being hit by pitches with 11 this season. Martin’s sleeve was brushed by a pitch from Tomohito Sakai to open the fifth. Like Chargois, Sakai did not appear to tip his cap.
Fighters’ Uwasawa beats Lions’ Takahashi
Go Matsumoto walked twice, scored twice and had an RBI triple for the Nippon Ham Fighters, allowing Naoyuki Uwasawa (4-2) to overcome a solid start from Seibu Lions right-hander Kona Takahashi (3-6) in a 4-3 win at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.
Matsumoto drew a one-out walk in the first and scored after two-out singles by Sho Nakata and Ryo Watanabe. Christian Villanueva, who missed nearly a month after fouling a ball off his foot, doubled in his first at-bat back and scored on Takuya Nakashima’s perfectly executed suicide squeeze. With two outs, Taishi Ota doubled and scored on Matsumoto’s triple to make it 3-0.
Uwasawa spent his last four innings on the mound getting himself out of trouble.
“My form wasn’t all that good today,” he said after walking four and hitting a batter. “I’m glad I could keep them off the board as well as I did.”
The Lions, who most often wear variations of blue or occasionally red or green, came dressed a little early for Halloween, wearing white uniforms with orange trim that made it look they were being sponsored by Starbucks’ pumpkin spice drinks,
Sugano’s season-opening streak rolls on
Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano remained unbeaten on the season, improving to 9-0 after allowing two runs over eight innings in an 8-4 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
The franchise record is 13 winning decisions to open the season, set by Tsuneo Horiuchi in 1966. It’s the longest by an Opening Day pitcher since Hall of Famer Victor Starffin’s nine straight in 1938. The Japan record for consecutive victories is the 28-0 stretch by former Rakuten Eagles ace Masahiro Tanaka spanning the 2012 and 2013 regular seasons.
Sugano struck out six without issuing a walk, while allowing five hits. He allowed two runs on four first-inning singles but only one hit the rest of the way.
“To be honest, I was wondering just how many runs they might score off of me (in the first),” said Sugano, who got a huge boost from a one-out double play before veteran Yuhei Takai singled in the second run.
The Giants tied it against 40-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa on a Hayato Sakamoto homer and a Zelous Wheeler RBI single but broke the game open against Swallows rookie surprise Hiroki Hasegawa (1-1) in a five-run seventh.
BayStars overcome Yamasaki blowup
Yamato Maeda’s two-out sayonara single won it for the DeNA BayStars 5-4 over the Hiroshima Carp at Yokohama Stadium after closer Yasuaki Yamasaki blew a two-run lead in his current role as the BayStars’ seventh-inning man.
Jose Pirela fueled Hiroshima’s comeback with two hits and two runs, while Ryuhei Matsuyama drove in two runs off the bench for the Carp.
Edwin Escobar took over in the seventh with one out and two in scoring position but couldn’t strand either one.
With Tatsuhiro Shibata on base in the ninth with two outs and first base open in a 4-4- game, the Carp opted to walk Takayuki Kajitani who was 4-for-4 with a double. Maeda followed with a booming single to the wall to end it.
The BayStars snapped a 23-inning scoreless streak in the second on a Keita Sano single and a Toshiro Miyazaki homer off Allen Kuri. Afterward Miyazaki had to say his only intent was contributing to the rally.
“I was only trying to set the table for the hitters behind me, ” he said, dutifully reading the orthodox script for describing most home runs hit in Japan.
Tiger Takahashi slays Dragons
Lefty Haruto Takahashi reeled off his third-straight solid start, allowing a run over eight innings as the Hanshin Tigers beat the Chunichi Dragons 5-1 at Koshien Stadium.
Takahashi (2-1) allowed six hits and struck out five while walking one, and Jerry Sands drove in the go-ahead run in a two-run third inning against lefty Shinnosuke Ogasawara.
Ogasawara (1-2) allowed five runs, four earned, over six innings, snapping a solid run by the Dragons’ pitchers, who allowed one run in their weekend series against DeNA.
Justin Bour hit his 10th home run, a two-run shot in the sixth.
Veteran right-hander Kazuki Mishima worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn his first career save in place of battered closer Yasuaki Yamasaki on Wednesday as the DeNA BayStars held on to a 3-2 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome.
BayStars lefty Haruhiro Hamaguchi (2-1) was effectively wild at the start, walking four and hitting one threw four hitless and scoreless innings thanks to a pair of inning-ending 4-6-3 double plays. Hamaguchi allowed two runs on three hits over 5-2/3 innings while striking out seven.
Takayuki Kajitani homered with two outs in the third off Giants right-hander Shosei Togo to record the visitors’ first hit, while catcher Shuto Takajo added a two-run homer for the visitors in the fifth.
Togo (3-2) allowed three runs on four hits and a walk while striking out seven over five innings.
The Giants got their first hit in the fifth, Yang Dai-kang’s leadoff single, and their first run in the seventh, when Yoshihiro Maru opened the inning with his eighth home run. With two outs, mid-season acquisition Zelous Wheeler pulled the Giants within one with his fourth home run to drive Hamaguchi from the mound.
With the BayStars leading by a run in the seventh, manager Alex Ramirez called on Yamasaki to see if his struggling closer might regain his stuff in a middle relief role. The right-hander allowed a one-out infield single to speedy pinch-hitter Shinnosuke Shigenobu. A stolen base on a strikeout, and a wild pitch put the tying run on third with two outs, but Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto flied out to end the inning.
Spencer Patton worked the eighth and walked Wheeler with one out. Wheeler was replaced by Daiki Masuda, the flagship of manager Tatsunori Hara’s pinch-running fleet. Patton, however, struck out the next two batters to get the game to Mishima.
The 30-year-old right-hander, who had not allowed a hit or a walk since he was lit up for three runs on July 16, got tough left-handed hitter Takumi Oshiro swinging at a 1-2 splitter out of the zone. Veteran left-handed-hitting grinder Yasuyuki Kamei flied out before Shigenobu went down swinging to end it.
Swallows kiddy corps beats Tigers
Twenty-year-old Munetaka Murakami brought the Yakult Swallows from behind with a two-run fourth-inning home run and 21-year-old lefty Hiroki Hasegawa saved the day out of the bullpen in a 3-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
After allowing the visitors on the scoreboard in the first, Yakult right-hander Juri Hara (2-0) got out of a one-out bases-loaded jam in the first inning with a pair of strikeouts. Hara worked five innings, allowing three hits and five walks while striking out six.
Tigers lefty Onelki Garcia cruised through the first three innings before surrendering a leadoff double to Norichika Aoki in the fourth. Murakami followed with his fifth home run.
Yugo Umeno, a 21-year-old right-hander, followed Hara in the sixth and walked the first batter he faced. He left with one out the bases loaded. Hasegawa, however, popped up leadoff hitter Koji and struck out veteran Yoshio Itoi.
Yakult’s Yasutaka Shiomi, who homered when he returned to action on Tuesday, a month after being injured by a pitch, homered off veteran lefty Atsushi Nomi to open the bottom of the sixth.
Scott McGough pitched a 1-2-3 seventh for the hosts, while impressive 23-year-old rookie Noboru Shimizu worked around a pair of walks in the eighth when he caught Chikamoto looking at Strike 3. Taishi Ishiyama worked the ninth for his sixth save.
The Tigers opened the scoring through Chikamoto. He doubled to open the game when his drive popped out of center fielder Kotaro Yamasaki’s glove, stole third and came home on a Yusuke Oyama infield single. Garcia gave up four hits and a walk, while striking out five.
Carp’s Suzuki decides pitchers’ duel
Seiya Suzuki broke open a scoreless game in the sixth inning, when he homered for the ninth time this year with a two-run shot off lefty Takahiro Matsuba in a 2-0 Hiroshima Carp win over the Chunichi Dragons at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Making his second start of the season, veteran Carp right-hander Yusuke Nomura (1-0) was perfect through five innings. He allowed four hits and no walks over eight innings while striking out two.
Geronimo Franzua struck out the side in the ninth to earn his first save.
Matsuba (2-1) allowed five hits and two walks while striking out five and hitting a batter. He surrendered Jose Pirela’s second hit of the game with one out in the sixth, and with two outs, Suzuki took him deep.
39-year-old Wada shuts down Lions
Veteran southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada (3-0) turned back the clock as he combined his usual guts and finesse with good movement on his fastball to strike out nine over six-plus innings for the SoftBank Hawks in a 4-2 win over the Seibu Lions at Fukuoka’s PayPayDome.
The 39-year-old Wada, who said afterward he wanted to come out with guns blazing after not getting out of the fifth inning in his last start, came out getting swings and misses with his fastball and struck out two batters in a 1-2-3.
Hawks speedster Ukyo Shuto opened the scoring for the Hawks in the bottom of the first, when he tripled and scored on Kenta Imamiya’s sacrifice fly. Three-straight one-out singles made it 2-0 as Ryoya Kurihara drove in Yuki Yanagita.
The Lions got their first runners of the game on in the top of the second, but Wada stranded two, and the Hawks added a third run in the bottom of the inning. Nobuhiro Matsuda singled, took second on a throwing error by the pitcher, went to third on a groundout and scored on a Shuto sac fly.
Seibu’s Fumikazu Kimura, who struck out to end the Lions’ second with two in scoring position, hit a solo home run in the fifth, but Yanagita answered that with his 10th home run, a one-out solo shot in the home half.
Wada gave up a run in the seventh on a leadoff double to Takeya Nakamura and a Takumi Kuriyama RBI single. Lefty Shinya Kayama, however, worked around a one-out single to strand two runners. Another lefty, Livan Moinelo, worked the eighth, while closer Yuito Mori pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his eighth save.
Matsumoto (1-3) gave up all four runs on seven hits and two walks over five innings.
Martinez, Kondo get Fighters past Buffs
Nick Martinez allowed a run over six innings and Kensuke Kondo drove in four runs for the Nippon Ham Fighters in their 6-2 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Sapporo Dome.
Orix right-hander Yu Suzuki struggled but stranded six runners as he held the Fighters to a run over four innings. Taishi Ota drew a leadoff walk in the second and opened the scoring on Kotaro Kiyomiya’s bases-loaded sac fly.
The Buffaloes repeatedly threatened to blow the game open, but Martinez prevailed through tough pitching and some good luck.
Masato Matsui got the Buffaloes’ first hit off Martinez when first baseman Kiyomiya fielded a ball Martinez couldn’t reach, and then neglected to see the pitcher covering first and waiting for his throw that never came.
Orix skipper Norifumi Nishimura’s customary sacrifice when trailing on the road and a Ryo Nishimura single put runners on the corners with one out. A stolen base and a comebacker opened first base with two outs, and after Martinez fell behind Masataka Yoshida 3-0, Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama ordered the left-handed slugger walked. Martinez then won a 10-pitch duel with Adam Jones by getting a routine fly out to center.
The Buffaloes tied it in the fifth after a walk and two singles, one an infield dribbler, and a Yoshida sac fly.
Once more, Jones came up with a chance to some damage with two outs, but home plate umpire Atsushi Fukuya called him out on a 2-2 pitch that missed badly inside. Martinez tried to hide the disbelief at his good luck behind his glove as he walked off the mound. Jones could do little but express his own disbelief with Fukuya’s perception of the strike zone.
With Suzuki out of the game after 85 pitches, Buffaloes right-hander Kazumasa Yoshida allowed the Fighters to retake the lead. He promptly gave up a Kenshi Sugiya leadoff double. A sacrifice bunt and a Kondo sac fly put the Fighters back in front. That, too, was short-lived.
With Martinez gone, the Buffaloes tied it in the seventh when Aderlin Rodriguez was struck near the wrist with the bases loaded. But that was it for Orix. Sugiya drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the inning, was sacrificed to second on Takuya Nakashima’s second sac bunt of the game and the 230th of his career. Kondo singled to bring in the go-ahead run and scored on a two-out Ota double.
Fighters lefty Naoki Miyanishi worked the eighth inning and became the 16th pitcher in Japanese pro baseball history to appear in 700 games. The active leader is Ryota Igarashi of the Swallows (822).
Wakui continues remarkable turnaround
After going 3-0 in his first three starts and looking truly mediocre, Hideaki Wakui has been rock solid since and continued that on Tuesday when he allowed a run in seven innings as the Rakuten Eagles beat the Lotte Marines 5-1 at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
Wakui (5-0) has allowed three runs, two earned, over his last 20-1/3 innings after giving up tons of hits in his early games. Against the team that sold him in December, the 34-year-old right-hander went to the mound with a two-run lead thanks to Hideto Asamura’s 12th homer of the season.
Leonys Martin touched Wakui for a first-inning home run, but that was about it for the Marines offense as the right-hander continued to spin the ball away from opposing bats and mix his pitches.
Stefen Romero, who hit a pinch-hit grand slam the night before, took lefty Kazuya Odajima (2-3) out to dead center to open the fifth, and then tripled and scored in the seventh.
“I’ve been able to keep leadoff hitters off base, and that was what I was trying to keep up tonight,” said Wakui, who joined the Marines as a free agent from the Seibu Lions in 2014. “It did feel kind of strange tonight since I hadn’t been a visiting player her for so long. I’m just glad I didn’t go back to the wrong dugout.”