6 of one half dozen of the other
I don’t know what’s more surprising, the Yomiuri Giants starting pitchers allowing any runs this past week against the Chunichi Dragons and Hiroshima Carp, or those two teams managing to score at all.
Through their first 17 games, the Dragons are last in runs in Japan with 39, while the Carp, who have not scored for 31 consecutive innings, are 10th. The Nippon Ham Fighters have scored 45 to the Carp’s 47 but have played one less game.
Giants 5, Dragons 1
At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri lefty Yuki Takahashi (3-0) allowed his only earned run of the season in eight innings. Seiya Matsubara opened the Giants’ first with a homer off Koji Fukutani (0-1), who allowed five runs four innings. Hayato Sakamoto doubled and scored on a Takyuki Kajitani double. Matsubara singled in two runs in the second and Kajitani doubled and scored in the third and that was the ballgame.
With Rubby Da La Rosa having returned to the United States to complete his citizenship process, Brazilian flame thrower Thyago Vieira surrendered Ariel Martinez’s second hit of the game but struck out two and stranded two in the ninth.
Tigers 4, Carp 0
At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin Tigers right-hander Takumi Akiyama (2-1) delivered his second straight solid start with seven innings against the Carp, who as mentioned above haven’t scored since April 10.
Yusuke Oyama cracked a two-run first-inning homer and rookie Teruaki Sato blasted his second two-run homer in two days in the fourth to account for the scoring.
Jefry Marte and Jerry Sands each singled twice and scored on the two home runs off Hiroki Tokoda (1-1), who was yanked after the fourth. Sato doubled and struck out twice in four trips to the plate.
Swallows 2, BayStars 1
At Jingu Stadium, DeNA lefty Haruhiro Hamaguchi (0-3) struck out 10 over six innings, but surrendered first-inning homers to Yuhei “He’s too good to be batting second in Japan” Nakamura and cleanup hitter Munekata Murakami.
Hirotoshi Takanashi (2-0) put together a good start for Yakult, escaping one jam when he loaded the bases after two were out and surrendered just one run in the fourth. Takanashi left in the sixth with one out. Hiroki Kondo, however, survived a two-one, one-out jam to get out of the inning. Noboru Shimizu, Scott McGough and Taichi Ishiyama each delivered a scoreless inning with Ishiyama getting his fifth save.
Neftali Soto and Tyler Austin were in the starting lineup for the first time, allowing us to answer the question: Who makes room for them? Speedy left-handed hitter Taiki Sekine was bumped into center, where he’ll likely platoon with Masayuki Kuwahara, so Austin could start in right. Rookie Shugo Maki, who’s been tearing up the league, surrendered first base to Soto and moved to second, where he played a lot in the spring.
Hawks 4, Buffaloes 3
At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Kenta Imamiya made a terrific play to end a fortunate Orix Buffaloes’ three-run fifth-inning rally of Shota Takeda (1-1) who has done well this season pitching against the Pacific League’s two worst clubs.
The Hawks came back in the bottom of the fifth against Hirotoshi Masui (1-2), who had pitched well twice this season and beat SoftBank on March 31. In contrast to the Buffaloes’ string of scratch hits, the Hawks stung the ball in their four-run rally, culminating in a two-run Ryoya Kurihara double when he put a good swing on a 1-2 pitch.
After the game, Kurihara said Hawks head coach Hiroki Kokubo told him to not sweat batting cleanup, which may or may not have been a thing with Kurihara, but definitely is with the media, who treat batting fourth with the same idiotic solemnity they do batting practice home runs in spring training.
Takeda left after five and without right-handed closer Yuito Mori–expected to miss a handful of games while they figure out what’s what what with his swollen left elbow—lefty Livan Moinelo gave the Buffaloes hope with two one-out singles before crushing those dreams and notching his first save.
Marines 7, Eagles 3
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Lotte Marines right-hander Daiki Iwashita (2-1) delivered his third solid start despite the four walks. He left the bases loaded in the first and finished with five scoreless innings but now has has 11 walks in 17 innings.
Rakuten starter Ryota Takinaka (1-2), who was overrun and taken prisoner by Marines on April 1, fell somewhere between that outing and his sterling April 8 start against Seibu, allowing two runs over five innings. Shogo Nakamura walked and scored the first of his two runs when Brandon Laird broke the ice with a fourth-inning sac fly. Yudai Fujioka then doubled in Hisanori Yasuda and it was 2-0 Marines until the ninth.
Frank Herrmann and Yuki Karakawa worked scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth for Lotte before the visitors crushed out five runs in the top of the ninth on a three-run Leonys Martin double and a two-run Laird single. That made it 7-0 to all but ensure the Eagles wouldn’t play their fourth tie in six games.
Friday will see Drew VerHagen make his season debut for the Fighters against the Eagles’ Hideaki Wakui at Tokyo Dome, while a pair of Opening Day starters will go at it at MetLife Dome as the Seibu Lions send Kona Takahashi against the SoftBank Hawks’ Shuta Ishikawa.
In the Central League, Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano will see if he can keep their streak of superb starts going against the BayStars in Yokohama. At Koshien Stadium, Shintaro Fujinami will go for his second straight win against Masanori Ishikawa, who will make his season debut for the Yakult Swallows against the Hanshin Tigers, with both clubs having swept their weekday series.
Fighters vs Eagles: Tokyo Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Lions vs Hawks: MetLife Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Marines: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 6 pm, 5 am EDT
BayStars vs Giants: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Dragons vs Carp: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Tigers vs Swallows: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 4/15/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/25
|Giants||P||12||Rubby De La Rosa|