Wakui improves to 8-0 in blowout win
The Rakuten Eagles’ Hidaki Wakui’s stuff was more inconsistent than it’s been in recent weeks, but he summoned his best stuff when he needed it as the Rakuten Eagles’ right-hander improved to 8-0 thanks to a 12-2 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters on Wednesday at Sapporo Dome.
Wakui may have had more trouble generating misses with his fastball than he has in his last two starts, but he was good enough to allow a run on four hits and a walk over eight innings. The 34-year-old right-hander last won this many games in 2016, when he went 10-7 for the Lotte Marines, who sold him to the Eagles over the winter.
If Wakui was less sharp, Fighters right-hander Toshihiro Sugiura’s game was a disaster. The 28-year-old was coming off three solid starts but just couldn’t execute his pitches as he has so far this year. Fastball after fastball came in high and straight, resulting in extra batting practice for the Eagles hitters, who took a 6-0 lead after the top of the third inning.
Sugiura (4-2) surrendered six runs, four earned, on four hits, two walks and a hit batsman over three innings.
The Fighters’ only run off Wakui came on a lazy slider that Haruki Nishikawa hit into the stands in the bottom of the third for his second homer of the season.
Self-inflicted wounds seal Buffaloes fate in 9th
The Orix Buffaloes allowed the Seibu Lions to steal a 4-3 win in the ninth inning on a series of defensive lapses at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
With the score tied 2-2 after Orix’s Tyler Higgins pitched out of a two-out, bases-loaded pickle in the eighth, closer Brandon Dickson took over for the Buffaloes in the ninth.
Third baseman Yuma Mune failed to make a good play on a chopper to third, dropping the ball on what would have been a tough out at first for an error that put Yuji Kaneko on with no outs. A sacrifice and a groundout put Kaneko on third with two outs.
Shuta Tonosaki, who had singled and doubled earlier in the game, put a good swing on a low curve ball and lined it to center. Center fielder Kodai Sano failed to make a shoe-string grab and the ball rolled to the wall. Right fielder Hayato Nishiura retrieved it as Tonosaki approached third and hit the cutoff man. The relay throw arrived in plenty of time but was offline and not caught.
In kind of a throwback to the days in NPB when groundballs that went through outfielders’ legs were ruled triples, Tonosaki was credited with an inside-the-park home run.
The Buffaloes got three hits and a run against Lions closer Tatsushi Masuda, but it was not enough to keep him from recording his 11th save. Dickson (0-2) was charged with two unearned runs and took the loss.
Lions’ eighth-inning bulldog Reed Garrett (3-0) got the win.
Hawks, Marines scrape out tie
The Lotte Marines’ Ikuhiro Kiyota struck out looking at a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded in the ninth inning to end the game against the SoftBank Hawks in a 10-inning, 2-2 tie at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
Marines lefty Kazuya Ojima allowed two runs over 5-2/3 innings, while Hawks lefty Kotaro Otake also allowed two runs over five to set up what was to be an entertaining defensive struggle.
A pair of no-out walks from Rei Takahashi and a sacrifice gave the Marines a scoring opportunity in the sixth, but first baseman Keizo Kawashima threw a runner out at the plate and the submarine right-hander got out of the inning on a comebacker.
Marines rookie Koshiro Wada, who made his first start on Sunday after being used as a pinch-runner, reached base three times and stole two bases, raising his league-leading total to 14. In the top of the eighth, he robbed Kenta Imamiya of a leadoff single, allowing Frank Herrmann to work around a two-out single and preserve the tie.
Hawks closer Yuito Mori walked the leadoff man in the ninth but escaped trouble thanks to a great catch in foul territory by catcher Takuya Kai and a sparkling double play from shortstop Hikaru Kawase and second baseman Ukyo Shuto, part of the Hawks’ seemingly endless supply of reserve middle infielders.
SoftBank first baseman Kenji Akashi saved the game with a diving catch of a liner for the second out with two men on. A walk loaded the bases for Kiyota, who fouled off Yugo Bando’s sixth pitch before looking at the seventh.
Giants’ lose Mercedes shut out Tigers
The Yomiuri Giants lost southpaw starter Cristopher Mercedes after the top of the first inning to what looks like an elbow injury, but their six relievers completed a four-hit shutout in an 8-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo Dome.
Kazuma Okamoto drove in two runs with a single and his Central League-best 18th home run, while Yoshihiro Maru, who had a sac fly off Tigers starter Onelki Garcia (1-5) in the first, delivered the kill shot with a seventh-inning grand slam.
The Tigers have now been held scoreless for 27 consecutive innings following their 1-0 loss to Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano on Tuesday.
Dragon Viciedo roasts Swallows
Dayan Viciedo homered twice and had an RBI double, while right-hander Koji Fukutani (2-1) allowed two runs over six innings for the Chunichi Dragons in their 12-2 plucking of the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
Viciedo now has 12 home runs for the season, while Zoilo Almonte hit his third and Toshiki Abe hit his seventh for the Dragons. Fukutani struck out six without issuing a walk.
Pitching switch fails to do trick for ‘Stars
DeNA BayStars manager Alex Ramirez pulled his starting pitcher after he allowed a sixth-inning homer, only for his new pitcher to surrender another that tied it in their 2-2, 10-inning tie with the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
In what promises to usher in a new wave of complaints about Japan’s only foreign-born manager, Ramirez yanked lefty Haruhiro Hamaguchi after he gave up a one-out solo homer to Shota Dobayashi that cut the BayStars’ lead to a run.
Big right-hander Yuki Kuniyoshi got one out before surrendering Carp shortstop Kosuke Tanaka’s fourth home run of the year.
Active roster moves 8/19/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/29
Tomorrow’s matchups in NPB
Thursday brings some interesting matchups in Japan. In Sapporo, Nick Martinez, who has pitched well despite his 1-4 record will take on Yuki Matsui, who has not pitched well but who is 0-1 in four starts.
On Tuesday, the Orix Buffaloes-Seibu Lions was decided by late relievers, but on Thursday, the bullpen door will open early as Buffaloes go with Kazumasa Yoshida against Seibu’s middle-relief warhorse, Katsunori HIrai.
At Tokyo Dome it will be a battle between two pitchers with 5-2 records, 20-yar-old Giants rookie Shosei Togo and 26-year-old Tigers side-armer Koyo Aoyagi.
In Hiroshima, Kris Johnson is still looking for his first win in his eighth start of the season. He has two quality starts under his belt, which is one more than first-year import Michael Peoples, allowed a run over six innings in his Japan debut on June 20, but has pitched just twice since then. After two respectable Eastern League outings in July, Peoples gave up four runs over five innings in EL loss to the Lotte Marines.
Starting pitchers for Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020
Fighters vs Eagles: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Marines vs Hawks: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Lions: Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Giants vs Tigers: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Swallows vs Dragons: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Carp vs BayStars: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT