Okamoto lightning strikes twice
Giants 3, Tigers 2
At Tokyo Dome, a terrific game basically came down to two good pitches that got murdered.
Kazuma Okamoto homered twice on a pair of low first-pitch two-seamers from side-armer Koyo Aoyagi (2-1) and assisted in the go-ahead run as the Yomiuri Giants overcame two first-inning homers from the Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers to snap the visitors’ eight-game winning streak.
Seishu Hatake (2-1), who got beat up in his April 1 start against Hanshin, looked like going that route again, surrendering a leadoff homer to Koji Chikamoto, and a one-out shot to Jefry Marte, his fourth in three games and sixth of the season.
Koyo Aoyagi got out of the first by throwing out Takayuki Kajitani trying to steal on a 1-2 pitch to Okamoto. The Giants right fielder made up for it by saving a run by tracking down a drive into the gap with one out and a man on in the top of the second. Okamoto then led off the second, golfing Aoyagi’s first pitch for his second homer of the season.
The Tigers battery must have been thinking, “There’s no way he hits that pitch again,” because Aoyagi started Okamoto with the same pitch with one out in the fourth and got the same result: a low two-seamer that ended up as a souvenir.
The Tigers pitcher allowed infield singles in the sixth, but showed he’s been doing his PFP, pitchers fielding practice, by fielding a squibber in front of the mound and nailing Okamoto at home with a glove toss.
With two outs and two on, however, he hung a pitch to Naoki Yoshikawa. The Giants second baseman, who’d made a sparkling play to end the Tigers’ sixth, singled to left to put Yomiuri in front.
Kota Nakagawa worked the eighth for the Giants and Thyago Vieira worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save in Japan and his first since Aug. 4, 2018, when he saved a 2-1 Chicago White Sox win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Dragons 7, BayStars 1
At Yokohama Stadium, Chunichi’s Akiyoshi Katsuno threw six no-hit innings before surrendering Tyler Austin’s leadoff homer in the seventh. Katsuno improved to 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in two games – against DeNA. Including his two starts against the Giants, the right-hander is 2-1 with a 4.19 ERA.
Dragons third baseman Shuhei Takahashi robbed Austin of a hit to end the BayStars’ first by protecting his face with his glove and catching a line drive at the same time. Takahashi then made a diving stop to his left to rob Keita Sano of a second-inning leadoff single. When Katsuno pitches against the BayStars, that stuff happens.
Toshifumi Abe’s three-run fourth-inning home run capped a five-run inning off Taisei Irie (0-4). The BayStars’ top signing from last year’s draft coughed up five runs over four innings. With one out and two in the inning, Dayan Viciedo broke the ice with an RBI single under the glove of third baseman Toshiro Miyazaki. Takahashi hit a well-place fly for a double before Abe laid into a high straight fastball from the rookie.
Neftali Soto followed Austin’s homer with a double, but was picked off second by 20-year-old rookie Dragons catcher Kota Ishibashi.
Edwin Escobar made his season debut for the BayStars, allowing a run in the eighth on a hit batsman and Ryosuke Hirata triple.
The BayStars have lost their last nine decisions.
Carp 1, Swallows 1
At Mazda Stadium, Yakult starter Albert Suarez struck out seven and scattered seven hits, a walk and a hit batsman, allowing a run over six innings. He’s now allowed two runs over his last 18 innings. He had a little help from Seiya Suzuki. The Carp cleanup hitter doubled off the wall with two outs in the fourth, but was caught trying to sneak home from third when Hisayoshi Chono beat out an infield single.
Hiroshima’s Hiroki Tokoda was better, only facing one tough spot, but surrendering the go-ahead run on a two-out Norichika Aoki single. The Carp tied it on Tsubasa Aizawa’s one-out bases-loaded sac fly in the home half. Carp rookie closer Ryoji Kuribayashi closed it out with his third straight two-strikeout 1-2-3 ninth.
Hawks 4, Eagles 1
At PayPay Dome, 40-year-old Tsuyoshi Wada (2-1) put on a pitching clinic through five innings before his command faltered in the sixth. Yurisbel Gracial had three singles and a pair of RBIs for the Pacific League champs.
Takahiro Norimoto did not look that bad but the Hawks hitters generally get good swings and that was the case on Wednesday. He did miss to Gracial with a breaking ball up in the zone that resulted in an RBI single to open the Hawks’ three-run third.
Wada began missing up in the sixth, and Takero Okajima hit a high pitch out to make it a 3-1 game. A pair of one-out singles off high pitches and the Hawks brought in a lefty and a righty to get out of the inning. Sho Iwasaki, Livan Moinelo and Yuito Mori finished up for SoftBank with Mori earning his sixth save.
Buffaloes 4, Lions 2
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Yoshinobu Yamamoto (3-2) worked eight innings without his best stuff, while his Orix teammates put some superb swings on pitches from Seibu’sTatsuya Imai (1-2).
Lions’ No. 2 hitter Sosuke Genda owned Yamamoto in his first three at-bats with three solid singles, and after a Tomoya Mori sixth-inning double, the Buffaloes brought the infield in to protect their 1-0 lead. Takeya Nakamura, who wasn’t hitting Yamamoto bounced a ball past Yuma Mune at third and into left for a two-run single.
Masataka Yoshida opened the scoring for the Buffaloes with his second long homer in two days, and Adam Jones tied it 2-2 with a sixth-inning RBI double with a sweet swing on a fastball away while Mune’s two-run seventh-inning homer on a big curve completed the scoring.
Tyler Higgins bounced back from a four-walk nightmare blown save on Sunday to work a 1-2-3 ninth and earn his second save.
Marines 6, Fighters 5
At Zozo Marine Stadium, Hiromi Oka hit a two-out, two-run ninth inning homer to lift Lotte to a walk-off win over his former team, Nippon Ham, which blew a five-run lead after six innings.
Fighters’ top draft signing Hiromi Ito held the Marines to two singles and a walk over the first six innings while striking out seven. He left with a 5-3 lead after allowing three runs in the seventh. Takashi Ogino doubled and scored on a sac fly in the eighth.
Closer Toshihiro Sugiura (0-1) struck out the first batter he faced in the ninth before walking Yudai Fujioka on four pitches. With two outs, Oka blasted a 1-0 fastball out to center to end it.
The Fighters’ Kensuke Kondo appears to be going for a home run cycle. He hit his first of the year, a solo shot on Sunday, a two-run blast on Tuesday. His three-run homer off lefty Kazuya Ojima made it 4-0 in the fifth.
Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Lions: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Giants vs Tigers: Tokyo Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
BayStars vs Dragons: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Carp vs Swallows: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 4/21/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/1