Yuki Yanagita has scary power. When he connects, the ball can go a long way to any field. This wasn’t one of those, but rather what happens sometimes when he is fooled. In the spring he hit an opposite field home run when he was fooled by a breaking pitch off balance and with his top hand off the bat.
On Tuesday, he did it again with a three-run shot that powered the SoftBank Hawks to an 8-7 win over the Orix Buffaloes. Here’s the home run. Anyone see a guy fooled on a swing so much that his helmet came off? Anyone ever seen such a swing produce a home run? You have now.
Yanagita hit two home runs and was seen in the dugout cheering up second baseman 22-year-old infielder Hikaru Kawase, whose two sixth-inning errors opened the door for six unearned Orix runs off ace Kodai Senga (4-1).
Asked what he told the youngster in the hero interview, Yanagita said, “I told him, it’s not your fault. It was Senga’s. Just come out tomorrow play baseball like you know you can.”
Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto allowed five runs in five innings, while Akira Nakamura homered for the Hawks, and Takahiro Okada hit a grand slam for the Buffaloes.
Marines Mima, Martin destroy Fighters
Free agent acquisition Manabu Mima (3-2) allowed a run in five innings, and Leonys Martin hit a three-run home run, his fifth homer in four games to lift the Lotte Marines to a 3-1 victory over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
Naoyuki Uwasawa (2-2) allowed three runs on four walks and three hits over six innings.
Kobukata saves the day for Eagles
Rakuten rookie Hiroto Kobukata brought the Rakuten Eagles from behind with a two-run seventh-inning double and doubled in another run in the ninth in their 7-5 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.
Ernesto Mejia, a one-time home run champ relegated to reserve status since the ascendance of first baseman Hotaka Yamakawa, started in place of Yamakawa on Tuesday and turned back the clock.
The 34-year-old Mejia hit two home runs, doubled, drove in three runs and made a couple of terrific plays at first. His first homer gave the Lions a 4-3lead in the fifth, but Kobukata doubled in two with two outs in the seventh to put Rakuten ahead for good.
Note: The original story had the Lions winning 7-5.
Tigers’ Garcia, Sands eclipse BayStars
Lefty Onelki Garcia (1-4) allowed a run over seven innings, and Jerry Sands drove in a pair of big runs for the Hanshin Tigers in their 9-2 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.
Garcia allowed four hits and walked four while striking out seven. With the game tied 1-1 in the sixth, Sands delivered an RBI double to break the tie and scored on Ryutaro Umeno’s double.
Leadoff man Koji Chikamoto opened the game with a double and scored the first of his three runs on a sacrifice fly by Sands.
Fukutani, Takahashi lift Dragons over Carp
Right-hander Koji Fukutani (1-1) allowed a run over 5-2/3 innings, and captain Shuhei Takahashi opened the scoring with his second home run of the season, a two-run fourth-inning blast off Yusuke Nomura (2-1) in the Chunichi Dragons’ 8-1 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Although the game was already a rout by the ninth inning, the Dragons had more than just two runs to celebrate in the final frame when Akira Neo, the Dragons’ top draft pick in 2018, had his first hit in the top flight after starting his career 0-for-17 with nine strikeouts.
The iconic David Bowie song should have been Kensuke Kondo’s walk-up music against Zach Neal. The Nippon Ham Fighters on-base machine blasted a low changeup for a solo homer and one high and away for a two-run double in a 3-0 win over the Seibu Lions at Sapporo Dome.
Kondo broke up the scoreless game in the fourth with his second home run of the season. With wo on and one out in the sixth, his double made it 3-0 against Neal (2-2), who worked six.
Right-hander Toshihiro Sugiura (4-1) walked four batters but struck out six and allowed just one hit over seven scoreless innings. The moment of truth came in the seventh. After walking the bases loaded, he fell behind Ernesto Mejia before striking him out on a 3-2 splitter.
Side-arm closer Ryo Akiyoshi and left-hander Mizuki Hori nearly blew the game up in the ninth. Hori entered with two on and two outs in a one-run game. He walked two straight batters before getting Cory Spangenberg to strike out swinging at a 3-2 pitch to earn the save.
Romero powers Eagles past Hawks
Stefen Romero hit his 12th and 13th home runs of the season for the Rakuten Eagles and drove in five runs in a 7-4 come-from-behind win over the SoftBank Hawks at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
Eagles ace Takahiro Norimoto was all about the fastball in the first inning, and Seiji Uebayashi and Yuki Yanagita treated them like the batting-practice variety with long solo homers to open the game for the visitors. Akira Nakamura made it 3-0 in the third with a double to the warning track that scored Yanagita from first. Norimoto, however, pitched out of tight spots in the fifth and sixth to keep his team in the game.
Romero homered in the sixth after a Daichi Suzuki leadoff single to make it a 3-2 game against the Hawks’ Opening Day starter, Nao Higashihama (2-1). The right-hander issued a pair of walks in the seventh before rookie Hiroto Kobukata put the Eagles in front with a triple and drove Higashihama from the mound. Shinya Kayama hit Suzuki and submarine right-hander Rei Takahashi served up Romero’s 13th homer.
Ishikawa scrapes by for 2nd win
Ayumu Ishikawa scattered 12 hits over seven innings to earn his second win as the Lotte Marines made the most of their early chances in a 6-3 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
Ishikawa (2-2) struck out two, walked none and struck out two while getting two double plays en route to allowing just one run. Buffaloes starter Tsubasa Sakakibara (1-2) gave up four runs over three innings on three walks and six hits.
Seiya Inoue homered to open the scoring for the Marines in the second, when Yudai Fujioka tripled with one out and scored on a Tatsuhiro Tamura single. Two more runs scored in the third after two were down starting with singles by Inoue and Tsuyoshi Sugano, a walk and a two-run Tamura single.
Marines closer Naoya Masuda entered in the ninth with no outs, the bases loaded and a 6-1 lead. He issued a walk and surrendered an RBI single before getting out of the inning. He became the 32nd pitcher to earn 100 saves in Japan.
“Not-very-good” Ono too good for Giants
Lefty Yudai Ono threw his second-straight 10-strikeout complete game victory, and drove in the winning run with his first hit of the season in a 7-1 Chunichi Dragons win over the Yomiuri Giants at Nagoya Dome.
Ono (2-3) had better than usual velocity on his fastball, which looked straight but gave the Giants fits in combination with his two-seamer and slider. He gave up five hits and walked one.
“I’m not a very good pitcher,” he told the fans at Nagoya Dome in the postgame hero interview. “I have to just stick with those things I can do and execute my pitches.”
With two outs and two on in the second, he singled up the middle to open the scoring and went to second on a throwing error.
“I was looking for a slider, but I recognized it was a fastball,” he said.
When asked if he was able to react to the fastball, Ono said, “No. I don’t really have that much ability. It just worked out well.”
Yota Kyoda tripled in two, and Yohei Oshima, who also doubled, walked and scored two runs, followed with another triple off lefty Kazuto Taguchi (2-1) to make it 4-0.
Yoshida shines as Swallows beat Kamichatani
Daiki Yoshida, the Yakult Swallows’ second pick in last Autumn’s draft, produced his third-straight solid start en route to an 8-2 win over the DeNA BayStars at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
Yoshida (1-1) allowed two runs over six innings, while the Swallows tagged Taiga Kamichatani (0-1) for four runs, three earned, over three innings. Kamichatani went 7-6 games as a rookie last year but was 3-6 against teams not named the Yakult Swallows.
Takeshi Miyamoto, the 25-year-old reserve infielder who is filling in while superstar second baseman Tetsuto Yamada drove in three runs for the Swallows, while Munetaka Murakami and Yasutaka Shiomi both scored twice.
Hatsuki makes most of pro debut in Carp win
Ryutaro Hatsuki went 2-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs in his first top-flight game for the Hiroshima Carp, who beat the Hanshin Tigers 11-6 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Side-armer Koyo Aoyagi, one of the Tigers’ more reliable starters this summer, allowed six runs over three innings to fall to 4-2, while Carp rookie Masato Morishita (3-2) gave up four runs, three earned, over six innings to earn the win.
Shuta Ishikawa struck out a career-high 13 in a one-hit shutout, and Ryoya Kurihara hit a three-run home run in the first inning as the SoftBank Hawks ran over the Seibu Lions 4-0 on Saturday at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Ishikawa (3-0) had some trouble locating but stayed around the strike zone with a live fastball that sat at 90.7 mph, a good slider, curve and split. The right-hander struck out five of the first seven batters he faced, and was fortunate that most of his mistakes were either miss-hit or slammed straight to one of his fielders.
Keizo Kawashima, batting in the Hawks’ second spot, sparked a three-run first inning with a one-out double when he pulled a hanging 1-0 slider form Keisuke Honda down the line in left.
Yuki Yanagita just missed a hanging first-pitch curve, driving it to the warning track in dead center, and Akira Nakamura worked a seven-pitch walk thanks to a favorable call on a close 2-2 fastball that might have ended the inning.
Honda got ahead of Kurihara 0-2 but his 1-2 fastball missed up and over the plate. The left-handed-hitting Kurihara got it off the end of the bat but still got enough of it to drive it into the “home run terrace” in left for his seventh home run.
Kawashima led off the third with a double. One pitch after he thought he had drawn a walk, he drilled a low 3-2 fastball to the wall in left center. He scored when Yanagita grounded a low strike up the middle for a single.
VerHagen outduels Tajima in Fighters’ win
Drew VerHagen (3-1) threw seven scoreless innings to outduel tough Orix Buffaloes lefty Daiki Tajima in a 3-1 win for the Nippon Ham Fighters at their Sapporo Dome home.
VerHagen allowed four hits and a walk, while striking out four. The only leadoff runner he allowed, Adam Jones on a single in the second, was followed by a double play.
Buffaloes slugger Masataka Yoshida was trouble, squaring VerHagen up twice and walking. But one drive was caught at the warning track, the fourth-inning leadoff walk was followed by back-to-back strikeouts of Adam Jones and Steven Moya. VerHagen followed Yoshida’s two-out sixth-inning double by striking out Jones on a slider away.
Tajima (1-2) allowed two runs on five hits, three walks and a hit batsman over six innings. He struck out four. The lefty cruised through five innings but his third trip through the Fighters lineup proved fatal.
Yuji Takahama’s soft liner over the infield got the Fighters a one-out runner, and Buffaloes center fielder Hayato Nishiura’s attempt to make a shoestring catch resulted in an error on Kensuke Kondo’s single.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Tajima hoped for a low strike with a fastball, but Ryo Watanabe stroked it into left for an RBI single. The lefty then hit Toshitake Yoko to make it 2-0.
VerHagen worked a 1-2-3 seventh. Lefty Naoki Miyanishi allowed a run in the eighth before closer Ryo Akiyoshi nailed down his eighth save in the ninth.
Uchida, Shiomi haze Marines
Lefty Takahiro Shiomi (2-3) worked seven innings, and Yasuhito Uchida hit his second grand slam of the season for the Rakuten Eagles who put the Lotte Marines through an 8-0 recruit hazing of at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
Marines starter Atsuki Taneichi (3-2) had been effective this season, but a week after his first career shutout, couldn’t locate his pitches. He missed up and in the zone a lot and the Eagles hit enough of them to run away with it in a five-run first.
Former Marines captain Daichi Suzuki pulled a first-pitch fastball that missed in the heart of the plate into the right field corner for a one-out double. Eigoro Mogi smashed the second hanging splitter he saw for a ground single.
Taneichi survived a mistake to Hideto Asamura, who flied out, but then missed up in the heart of the zone with a 1-1 fastball, and Hiroaki Shimauchi lashed a hard single to center. Trailing now by a run, the right-hander brushed Stefen Romero with his first pitch to load them up with two outs.
After a good first-pitch slider, Taneichi missed up with another and Uchida launched it over the fence in center.
Asamura put the game completely out of reach in the seventh with a three-run double.
Shiomi allowed three hits and four walks, but the Marines obliged him by hitting into three double plays. Taneichi surrendered all eight runs on 12 hits, three walks and a hit batsman over 5-2/3 innings.
Oshima makes winner of Katsuno
Rookie right-hander Akiyoshi Katsuno won a pitchers’ duel with Yasuhiro “Ryan” Ogawa after Yohei Oshima delivered a tie-breaking two-run eighth-inning single in a 3-1 win over the Yakult Swallows at Nagoya Dome.
Katsuno (1-2), the Dragons third pick in the 2018 draft, allowed a run on four hits and no walks while striking out six over eight innings. He was coming off six scoreless innings in his previous start.
Singles by Masataka Iryo and Oshima set the table for a run to score on a two-out throwing error. Ogawa, however, only allowed two more runners to reach through seven innings.
The Swallows got even in the fifth on a pair of good swings. Takeshi Miyamoto doubled with one out and scored on Munetaka Murakami’s two-out single.
Katsuno didn’t allow a leadoff man to reach in the entire game thanks to some sparkling defense from second baseman Toshiki Abe in the seventh and shortstop Yota Kyoda in the eighth.
Miyamoto doubled with one out in the sixth, but with two outs struck out Murakami swinging at a high fastball and retired the next six batters to keep it 1-1 going into the bottom of the eighth.
Nobumasa Fukuda smoked a first-pitch forkball low in the zone for a Dragons leadoff double. Ogawa fumbled the ensuing sacrifice bunt, putting runners at the corners with no outs, and then walked Iryo to load the bases for Oshima.
Ogawa made an 0-2 pitch on the inside edge, but Oshima turned on it and drove it right for a two-run single. Iryo was thrown out trying to go to third, and surprising Swallows lefty Hiroki Hasegawa got out of the inning.
Raidel Martinez closed it out in a 1-2-3 ninth for his fifth save.
Ogawa (4-1) was charged with one earned run on five hits and two walks over 7-1/3 innings. He struck out six.
BayStars reach for the seats to back Imanaga
Lefty Shota Imanaga (4-2) allowed two runs over seven innings and the DeNA BayStars hit five home runs in a 7-3 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium.
The BayStars built a 2-0 lead against Yuki Nishi on solo homers by Neftali Soto in the first and former Tiger Yamato Maeda in the fourth only for Tigers catcher Ryutaro Umeno to cancel them out with a two-run single in the bottom of the fourth.
Koji Chikamoto opened with his second hit of the night against Imanaga. With one out, the lefty walked both Yusuke Oyama and Justin Bour to load them for Umeno, who had cracked a three-run homer in Friday’s 3-3 tie.
A one-out hit batsman in the fifth and cleanup hitter Keita Sano’s fifth home run made it 4-2. Toshiro Miyazaki homered to lead off the sixth, and Takayuki Kajitani did the same in the seventh.
Nishi (2-3) gave up five runs on seven hits. He struck out six and hit two.
Giants clobber Carp
Yomiuri Giants lefty Kazuto Taguchi, pitching on the first team for the first time in nearly a month, allowed two runs over seven innings in an 11-3 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Tokyo Dome.
Taguchi (2-0) surrendered the lead on back-to-back two-out first-inning doubles by former Giants Hisayoshi Chono and Seiya Suzuki, but was able to pitch out of the little trouble he faced until Jose Pirela’s pinch-hit leadoff homer in the seventh.
Giants cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto doubled to lead off the second against lefty Hiroki Tokoda (1-4) and scored the tying run on Zelous Wheeler’s single.
Yoshiyuki Kamei doubled and scored on first baseman Ryuhei Matsuyama’s throwing error when former Carp Yoshihiro Maru bunted for a base hit with two on and no outs.
With one out and runners on second and third, Wheeler delivered a sacrifice fly, and Hiroyuki Nakajima followed with an RBI double.
Wheeler finished with two runs, two RBIs and three hits, while Okamaoto blew the game open with his Central League-leading 14th home run, a sixth-inning grand slam.
“Simple is best” poster boy Keiji Takahashi continued his mound turnaround on Thursday with eight impressive scoreless innings as he outdueled Shintaro Fujinami in the Yakult Swallows’ 6-0 Central League win over the Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
The lefty, whose old leg kick, arm raise, double-pump leg raise delivery used to look like one of those sci-fi movie transformers morphing into a car, has been precisely commanding his fastball, slider, changeup package with his new, very orthodox looking delivery this year.
After three starts in which he allowed six earned runs over 15-2/3 combined innings, Takahashi struck out six, walked one and hit one, while giving up three singles. After giving up a leadoff single in the first, he recorded two assists on a tricky force at second and a pickoff-throw caught stealing in a three-batter inning.
Fujinami brought his good stuff and was on target, walking just one batter over eight innings. The Swallows bunched their hits against him to score a run in the second, and added three more in the seventh, when shortstop Fumiya Hojo had a night to forget.
Hojo fumbled a grounder to allow the leadoff man to reach. With two outs and runners on the corners, Tomotaka Sakaguchi reached on an infield single and Fujinami’s throwing error allowed the runner on first to scoot over to third. Hojo then dropped a pop fly in shallow center when he ran into center fielder Koji Chikamoto, allowing two runs to score.
The Swallows opened the scoring in the second through a trio of their less-heralded players. Kotaro Yamasaki opened with a single, was sacrificed to second by reserve infielder Takeshi Miyamoto and scored on a double by another reserve infielder, rookie shorstsop Taisei Yoshida.
Fujinami pitched around a leadoff double in the sixth, but Takahashi followed with his third straight 1-2-3 inning–thanks to Norichika Aoki’s good catch in left to rob Jerry Sands of a leadoff single in the seventh.
BayStars make out like bandits against Giants
There’s an expression in Japanese baseball “breaking open the safe” that is used when the first run in a scoreless game finally crosses the plate. Gerardo Parra may have cracked open the safe on Thursday at Tokyo Dome, but the DeNA BayStars made off with the cash in a 4-2 win over the Yomiuri Giants.
For five scoreless innings, Giants lefty Cristopher Mercedes (2-3) dueled it out with BayStars right-hander Shinichi Onuki (3-2). Parra got the Giants on the board in the bottom of the sixth. He tripled with two outs and scored when Naoki Yoshikawa beat out an infield single, sliding head-first into the bag.
Mercedes, who had retired 19 of the first 21 batters he faced ran into trouble with two outs in the top of the seventh. Jose Lopez, a former Giants, singled, and Toshiro Miyazaki walked. Pinch-hitter Hiroki Minei singled in the tying run and Toshihiko Kuramoto singled home Miyazaki to put the visitors in front.
As he had the day before with a one-run lead in the seventh, DeNA closer Yasuaki Yamasaki came on in the seventh. He gave up a one-out single to Hayato Sakamoto. Yamasaki, whose splitter has been poor this year, threw two of his best to get ahead of Yoshihiro Maru, before striking him out looking at a 1-2 splitter low in the zone that failed to tumble.
The right-hander walked slugger Kazuma Okamoto. Lefty Edwin Escobar came in to face tough left-handed-hitting Takumi Oshiro, but Giants manager Tatsunori Hara sent in light-hitting right-handed hitter Shingo Ishikawa up to pinch-hit, and Ishikawa grounded out of the inning.
One of the things Hara was famous for in his first decade as Giants manager, along with going through second basemen like Kleenex and his fondness for pinch-runners, was in going with every platoon advantage regardless of the gap in quality of the hitters involved. Glad to see he hasn’t changed much with age.
BayStars right-hander Spencer Patton surrendered Zelous Wheeler’s eighth-inning leadoff single. Para’s single off lefty Kenta Ishida put runners on the corners with no out. But the lefty somehow gutted it out.
Ishida struck out veteran Hiroyuki Nakajima on six pitches, and a delayed double steal saw pinch-runner Daiki Masuda out at the plate. With first base open, Ishida walked Yang Dai-kang to face tough lefty Yasuyuki Kamei. On the eighth pitch after three two-strike fouls, Kamei grounded out to end the inning.
Miyazaki homered with a man on in the top of the ninth, and Okamoto blasted his 13th homer of the year in the home half off of Kazuki Mishima, who earned his second career save after collecting his first on Wednesday.
Johnson back with Carp, but Dragons craft tie
Hiroshima Carp lefty Kris Johnson returned to active duty and looked like his old self through two innings, retiring the first five Chunichi Dragons hitters on grounders in their 4-4, 10-inning tie at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
The lefty allowed two runs over six innings, which made it his best start of the season, but reliever Yasunori Kikuchi allowed Chunichi to tie it 4-4 in the seventh.
The Dragons opened the scoring in the third inning on a one-out single by Kengo Takeda, a sacrifice by the pitcher and a single by unlikely leadoff hitter Nobumasa Fukuda. Ryoma Nishikawa, however, tied it in the bottom of the second against Yuichiro Okano with his second homer of the year.
Dayan Viciedo doubled and scored the go-ahead run for the Dragons in the fourth on a single by catcher Takuya Kinoshita.
Again, the Carp had an answer. No-out singles by Seiya Suzuki and Ryuhei Matsuyama set the table for Shota Dobayashi’s seventh home run.
With two outs and the bases loaded after back-to-back pinch-hit singles and a walk to Fukuda, Viciedo singled in two runs and was declared a tie after this season’s coronavirus 10-inning limit.
Romero, Kubo clinch win for Eagles
Stefen Romero broke up a seventh-inning tie with an RBI single and 40-year-old Yuya Kubo (1-0) retired the only batter he faced in relief to win his season debut as the Rakuten Eagles came from behind to beat the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
Former Marines captain Daichi Suzuki homered off Lotte right-hander Daiki Iwashita in the first, but Eagles southpaw Hayato Yuge surrendered the lead on single runs in the first and second on one hit, two walks and an error. Leonys Martin homered for the second-straight day with a towering blast to make it 3-1 before Hideto Asamura slammed a high-straight pitch from Yamashita into the stands for his 13th of the year and a 3-2 game.
With one on and two down in the fifth, right-hander Kubo came in to face the left-handed-hitting Martin and got him to tap back to the mound on the ninth pitch to end the inning.
Suzuki tied it against his former team when he singled to open the sixth and came home on a groundout after Iwashita walked Eigoro Mogi and Asamura to load the bases with no outs. Romero, who had homered in each of the last two games, singled in the go-ahead run.
Kazuhisa Makita worked the eighth for the Eagles, and former Eagle Frank Herrmann worked a 1-2-3 ninth for the Marines, but the hosts were unable to score against Alan Busenitz, who recorded his second save.
Fighters’ Sugiura corrals Buffaloes
Right-hander Toshihiro Sugiura (3-1) was happy to win but less so to allow a run over his eight innings in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 7-3 victory over the Orix Buffaloes at Sapporo Dome.
With a 7-0 lead in the fifth, Sugiura took his foot off the gas, failed to execute his pitches and was fortunate to only allow a run before he recovered his composure.
“You have a big lead like that, you’re supposed to go all the way and give the relievers a rest. I failed to do that as well as I should have,” said the right-hander, surrendered a hit on his first pitch but still faced the minimum through four. He allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four.
Taishi Ota singled, drove in a run and scored in the Fighters’ four-run first off lefty Sachiya Yamasaki (1-1His two-run homer in the third made it 6-0
Sho Nakata, who struck out in the first, singled and scored on Ota’s third homer of the year. Nakata added the Fighters’ seventh run on a fourth-inning sacrifice fly. The Fighters might have had more but Kensuke Kondo was doubled off first on the play.
Adam Jones drove in two in the ninth with his fifth home run of the year for the Buffaloes.
Mori breaks out of funk against Hawks
Tomoya Mori, moved to second in the order from third due to his poor run of form, doubled, homered twice, scored three and drove in three for the Seibu Lions in their 6-0 win over the SoftBank Hawks at Fukuoka’s PayPayDome.
Rookie Hawks right-hander Yugo Bando (0-1), making his first career start after three long relief appearances, gave up a Mori double and a Hotaka Yamakawa single that put the Lions on the board in the first.
Corey Spangenberg homered with one out in the second, and Mori did likewise in the third. Sosuke Genda, batting in the No. 9 spot due to poor form, singled to open the fifth and Mori homered in his second-straight at-bat to make it 5-0.
Submarine right-hander Kaito Yoza (2-2) threw five scoreless innings for the Lions to earn the win, the first time this season that SoftBank has been shut out.
Lions to re-sign 2015 top pick Tawata
The Pacific League’s Seibu Lions announced Thursday that they have re-signed pitcher Shinsaburo Tawata. Their top pick in the 2015 draft, Tawata was not extended a contract after he was diagnosed with dysautonomia, an autonomic nerve disorder.
Although not under contract, Tawata began working out with the club’s third team on March 24 according to website Full Count.
Tawata is the second prominent Japanese player to be sidetracked by dysautonomia. It also struck popular former major leaguer Munenori Kawasaki prior to the 2018 season. Kawasaki spent last winter as a player-coach for Taiwan’s Wei Chuan Dragons.
Fighters’ Villanueva, Buffs’ Rodriguez dropped
The Nippon Ham Fighters deactivated third baseman Christian Villanueva on Thursday after he fouled a ball off his foot in Wednesday’s game against the Orix Buffaloes at Sapporo Dome.
He was joined on the deactivated list by Orix’s Aderlin Rodriguez, who was hit by a pitch to force in the tying run in the same game. Rodriguez was diagnosed with a contusion on his left forearm, according to Hochi Shimbun.
Fighters reliever Katsuhiko Kumon, who hit Rodriguez and blew the Fighters’ one-run lead was also sent down due to a strained adductor muscle in his left leg. He is expected to miss four weeks, Full Count reports.
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.”