Hawks score 9 off Eagles’ pen
The SoftBank Hawks inched closer to their first Pacific League pennant in three years on Sunday, when a seven-run eighth inning lifted them to an 11-4 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Leadoff man Ukyo Shuto energized the Hawks attack with a double, a triple, two singles, three steals, three runs and two RBIs.
Both starters, the Eagles’ Ryota Takinaka and the Hawks’ Tsuyoshi Wada looked really good at times, but both were too inconsistent. Neither made it through the fifth inning, which ended in a 4-4 tie after D.J. Johnson surrendered two runs in the fifth.
The only consolation in Johnson’s outing was the lone out he recorded, when Yuki Yanagita’s bat broke and landed at the edge of the outfield on his groundout to first.
Nobuhiro Matsuda’s leadoff walk in the eighth started the winning rally, and pinch-hitter Kenji Akashi’s one-out double plated a pinch-runner with the go-ahead run off Kazuhisa Makita (1-2).
Livan Moinelo (2-2), SoftBank’ fifth pitcher, earned the win in relief, while Cuban compatriot Yurisbel Gracial had a pair of RBI singles.
The win moved the Hawks 5-1/2 games ahead of the Lotte Marines, 5-2 losers in Chiba to the Nippon Ham Fighters, and 11 games ahead of the Eagles, who are struggling to reach the PL playoffs, limited this year to two teams.
Arihara repels Marines
Kohei Arihara (7-8) allowed a run over seven innings, and the Nippon Ham Fighters scored four fifth-inning runs off Manabu Mima (9-4) in their 5-2 win over the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
Kotaro Kiyomiya walked twice and scored twice for the Fighters, while Shingo Usami and Kensuke Kondo each drove in two.
Teenager Miyagi impresses in loss
Nineteen-year-old lefty Hiroya Miyagi suffered a three-run second-inning hiccup in an otherwise solid six-inning starting debut for the Orix Buffaloes in a 3-2 loss to the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Seibu Lions leadoff hitter Yuji Kaneko chased a 1-2 pitch just before it bounced and lined it to left with an Ichiro-caliber swing for a two-run single.
Sosuke Genda hit the next pitch, a high straight fastball into left to complete the damage. Miyagi (0-1) then retired the last 13 batters he faced before leaving after six.
“I allowed runs when I left pitches up,” Miyagi said, showing he has already mastered the Japanese excuse to the media that every bad pitch is “up.”
“After I gave up the two-run single, I had to shut them down, and I have to address that (one pitch that actually was up).”
Miyagi was taken in the first round of last year’s autumn draft although he was actually Orix’s third pick after they lost draft-day lotteries for slugging high school third baseman Takaya Ishikawa (Chunichi) and corporate league lefty Ryusei Kawano (Nippon Ham).
“He pitched plenty well,” Buffaloes acting manager Satoshi Nakajima said. “He’s going to contribute to wins.”
The Buffaloes nearly came back in the ninth, when Lions closer Tatsushi Masuda allowed one run and got the last two outs with tying run on third and the go-ahead run on first. Masuda earned his 28th save, while Wataru Matsumoto (5-5) earned the win after allowing a run over six innings.
Kajitani KOs Giants
Takayuki Kajitani’s seventh-inning grand slam brought the DeNA BayStars from behind and his two-run eighth-inning blast turned the game into a rout in a 10-6 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Yokohama Stadium.
Kajitani’s two home runs give him 19 for the season, two shy of the career-high 21 he hit in 2017.
It was the second-straight come-from behind win for the BayStars.
Despite their loss, the Giants retained their 11-game lead over the Chunichi Dragons, while their magic number to clinch their second straight pennant dropped to seven.
Tigers survive Murakami onslaught
Munetaka Murakami hit his 23rd home run, hit three doubles and drove in all of the Yakult Swallows’ runs but it wasn’t enough as the Hanshin Tigers scored early and often against Yasuhiro Ogawa (9-6) to outlast the visitors 6-5 at Koshien Stadium.
Justin Bour capped a four-run Tigers first with his a two-run homer, his 17th, while Jon Edwards worked a scoreless inning of relief for the Tigers. Closer Robert Suarez allowed a run in the ninth but held on for his 21st save when Murakami was unable to score on Akihisa Nishida’s two-out single.
Scott McGough worked a scoreless eighth for the Swallows.
Carp emerge from bullpen hell
After surrendering four late runs in each of their previous two games, the Hiroshima Carp bullpen locked out the Chunichi Dragons in a 5-0 win at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium behind a three-run Seiya Suzuki homer and a pair of Ryoma Nishikawa solo shots.
Yuta Nakamura (3-2) allowed seven hits, two walks and hit a batter but pitched out of four tight spots in his seven innings to earn the win. Makoto Kemna worked the eighth to protect a 4-0 lead and Geronimo Franzua worked around a pair of singles in the ninth.
Active roster moves 10/18/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/28
Starting pitchers for Oct. 19, 2020
Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Tigers vs Swallows: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT