Kodai Umetsu threw 10 scoreless innings for the Chunichi Dragons on Sunday but had to settle for a tie after Swallows submarine right-hander Hirofumi Yamanaka worked eight innings and Yakult’s bullpen supplied more in their 10-inning tie at Nagoya Dome.
Precise with his lively 93 mph fastball and splitter, while mixing in a big slider and an occasional cutter, the 23-year-old Umetsu missed bats or got called strikes on the outside corner en route to nine strike outs. He gave up five hits, one for a double, and walked two.
The 34-year-old Yamanaka, making his season debut, quickly locked in his command after issuing a first-inning walk to Yohei Oshima, who crushed one mistake just foul. By varying his 61-mph slider with a 71-mph screwball and a 76-mph fastball, he didn’t miss bats but he generated a mountain of weak contact.
The game teetered in the balance with two outs in the ninth, when Norichika Aoki put a good swing on a forkball that hung up slightly on the outside corner and drove it to left for a double and his second hit. The Dragons opted to fill first base with slugger Munetaka Murakami. Umetsu hung a splitter up a little to diminutive left-handed hitter Kotaro Yamasaki, whose liner ended up in the glove of second baseman Toshiki Abe for the third out.
Umetsu looked drained when he went out for the 10th inning, but maintained his concentration, throwing some good fastballs that proved too much for the reserve-filled Swallows lineup.
Rookie right-hander Noboru Shimizu overcame a poor first pitch in the ninth to Nobumasa Fukuda, who drilled it for an opposite-field double, while closer Taishi Ishiyama worked a 1-2-3 10th.
Carp youngster cuts Giants down to size
Lanky 21-year-old right-hander Atsushi Endo (2-1) allowed two runs on five hits over the distance for the Hiroshima Carp in a 9-2 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome.
Seiya Suzuki hit a two-run first-inning homer for the Carp off Toshiki Sakurai (2-2) in the first. Ryoma Nishikawa singled in another run in the second before Sakurai extricated himself from a no-out, bases-loaded situation, and Endo singled in a run in Hiroshima’s two-run third.
Nishikawa put the game on ice in the seventh with a three-run home run, the third homer in four games for the Carp leadoff man.
Oyama gets it done as Tigers pitchers scrape by
Yusuke Oyama’s one-out, two-run single proved to be the big hit on a night when big hits were hard to come by, lifting the Hanshin Tigers to a 3-1 win over the DeNA BayStars at Koshien Stadium.
Tigers lefty Yuta Iwasada surrendered a home run on the game’s first pitch to Takayuki Kajitani for the first of his three hits. No. 2 hitter Toshiro Miyazaki reached base three times, but the three, four, and five spots in the BayStars order went 0-for-12.
With the BayStars still leading 1-0 in the top sixth, the visitors loaded the bases on three walks from excitable right-hander Yusuke Baba to bring up Kajitani, who had yet to make an out. Baba popped him up on a first-pitch fastball on the hands.
BayStars right-hander Kentaro Taira had allowed two hits and hit a batter through the first five innings. But Kojj Chikamoto yanked a 1-0 slider away to right for a leadoff single. Veteran Yoshio Itoi lashed a hanging slider to right to put runners on the corners and pinch-runner Kairi Shimada stole second.
Taira worked away to Oyama, who chased 1-1 slider out of the zone but it off the end of the bat. The ball dropped abruptly in the outfield, giving right fielder Neftali Soto no chance to collect it before Shimada scored the go-ahead run.
Martin, Kakunaka rescue Marines
Leonys Martin and Katsuya Kakunaka each homered in the late innings as the Lotte Marines overcame a big day from Stefen Romero in a 7-6 come-from-behind win over the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
With two outs and runners on the corners and Romero at the plate, lefty Toshiya Nakamura bounced a pitch, ran to cover home plate to find the runner on third had come too far down the line. In his eagerness to get the final out, Nakamura rushed his throw and it skipped away, allowing the first run to score.
Two pitches later, Romero tagged a pitch that missed up and away and drove it over the fence in center for his 10th home run and a 3-0 Eagles lead. Martin singled and scored the tying run in Lotte’s two-run sixth.
Veteran Takashi Toritani, making a rare start, nearly gave Lotte the lead, but a leaping grab by former Golden Glove-winning second baseman Kazuya Fujita ended the inning.
Romero restored Rakuten’s lead with a two-run homer in the top of the seventh, but the Eagles’ bullpen couldn’t hold it.
Kakunaka led off the home half with a home run off former Lion and Padre Kazuhisa Makita to make it a one-run game. Former Marines captain Daichi Suzuki, however, singled in a run in the top of the eighth before Martin sparked a three-run eighth with a leadoff home run.
Kakunaka tied it with an RBI single and Yudai Fujioka’s sac fly put the Marines ahead for good. Closer Naoya Masuda worked around a one-out single, striking out pinch-hitter Jabari Blash to end it and earn his 11th save.
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.”
Justin Bour and Jerry Sands each hit a grand slam for the Hanshin Tigers in a 20-5 blood-letting against the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
With the Swallows trailing 3-0 in the second, Gabriel Ynoa (0-2) fell behind Bour 3-0. The left-handed hitter socked Ynoa’s 3-1 pitch so hard Yakult left fielder Norichika Aoki was shown staring across the field at the foul pole, perhaps looking for signs of jet exhaust lingering in the rainy Tokyo evening.
With Yakult star Tetsuto Yamada sidelined, ostensibly due to upper body fitness issues, 25-year-old Takeshi Miyamoto did a good impression of his slugging teammate. Miyamoto filled in at second and cracked his first career home run, a three-run shot in the second.
Sands singled in a run in the Tigers’ two-run third, before cranking his sixth home run of the season to the opposite field in right. Bour got his fifth RBI in a sixth-inning single, and Tigers shortstop Seiya Kinami capped a six-run rally with a three-run home run.
Kinami, who went 4-for-4 with two walks, doubled to lead off the ninth, when he scored his third run.
Tigers right-hander Takumi Akiyama (3-1) earned the complete-game victory.
Sugano stops BayStars, earns 5th win
Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (5-0) allowed two runs, one earned, over seven innings while striking out seven in a 4-2 win over the DeNA BayStars at Tokyo Dome.
The Giants defense helped Sugano give away a run in the first at Tokyo Dome. Takayuki Kajitani reached on an Infield single, went to third on a two-base throwing error on second baseman Naoki Yoshikawa and scored on Neftali Soto’s sacrifice fly.
Hayato Sakamoto tied it with solo home run in the home half, and the Giants took their first lead off right-hander Shoichi Ino (2-2) in the fourth, when with one out and none on, Kazuma Okamoto hit his 12th home run. Takumi Oshiro walked and scored after a Zelous Wheeler double and a groundout.
BayStars cleanup hitter Keita Sano, the club’s unheralded 25-year-old captain, homered to open the sixth. Jose Lopez followed with a hard-hit single, but Sugano worked around that and a two-out Tatsuhiro Shibata double to preserve the lead.
Giants lefty Kota Nakagawa entered with one out and a man on in the ninth, and worked around a Kajitani infield single to record his third save.
Viciedo to rescue as Dragons top Carp
Dayan Viciedo doubled in the tying run in the top of the eighth inning, and bailed the Chunichi Dragons out in the bottom of the inning with his glove as the Chunichi Dragons edged the Hiroshima Carp 3-2 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Moments after the Carp upended the Dragons 1-0 lead, Yohei Oshima singled with one out against lefty Atsuya Horie (1-1), who surrendered Viciedo’s game-tying two-out double. A walk and a wild pitch put runners on the corners. Right-hander Yasunori Kikuchi came on, and Ariel Martinez, the Dragons Cuban catching phenom, singled in the go-ahead run.
Carp starter Allen Kuri pitched his way out of trouble in the fourth and fifth innings, only for the game’s first run to come with no one on from Toshiki Abe’s second home run of the year.
The Dragons went with right-hander Koji Fukutani. After 218 games in relief, Chunichi’s top draft pick in 2012 was making his season debut and his second career start. The 29-year-old allowed four singles and no walks while striking out 10. Last year, he appeared in one game, also a start, and allowed one run over six innings.
Fukutani was pulled for a pinch-hitter with one out and two on in the seventh, and lead runner Yota Kyoda was tagged off third following a force at second to complete a double play.
The base-running goof proved costly in the bottom of the inning after the Carp tied it on a walk and two no-out singles against reliever Yu Sato. With that, Fukutani finished the day with a 0.75 ERA as a starter and no decisions.
Tsubasa Aizawa, who hit two late home runs in Sunday’s epic comeback win in Yokohama, singled in the go-ahead run. Lefty Toshiya Okada (1-2), who saved 13 games last season, however, put out the fire, and the Dragons regained the lead against in the eighth against Hiroshima’s patchwork quilt of a bullpen.
Trailing again, Hiroshima’s Seiya Suzuki singled and took second on a wild pitch that barely got away from Martinez. Viciedo then made a sliding catch on a ball down the line from pinch-hitter Shogo Sakakura and threw to first for the final out.
Dragons right-hander worked around a two-out double to record his fourth save.
Inoue, Nakamura decide see-saw game
Seiya Inoue belted three home runs, and Shogo Nakamura hit one and then was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the ninth as the Lotte Marines walked-off 13-12 winners over the Rakuten Eagles at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
The hosts built a 6-1 lead centered around Inoue’s two-run second-inning home run and his third-inning solo shot off Ryota Ishibashi. But the Eagles came back in the fourth.
With one out and the bases loaded against Lotte starter and former Eagle Manabu Mima, first-year skipper Hajime Miki pulled his catcher for a pinch-hitter, and Stefen Romero made it a one-run game with his eighth home run.
The Marines counterattacked in the home half, with Yasuda capping a three-run inning with a two-run homer.
Mima allowed six runs over 4-1/3 innings, but the Marines’ third pitcher, Tsuyoshi Ishizaki retired only one of the six batters he faced in Rakuten’s five-run sixth.
Trailing 12-9 in the eighth, Nakamura homered with one out, and Inoue’s two-run shot tied it. J.T. Chargois (0-2) retired the final Marines hitter in the eighth, but surrendered a leadoff single to Brandon Laird in the ninth.
After a hit batsman and a sacrifice, Miki ordered the bases loaded, and Chargoi hit Nakamura with his third pitch to end it.
Hawks’ Nakamura batters Lions
Akira Nakamura had four hits and five RBIs, allowing the SoftBank Hawks to crush the Seibu Lions 9-4 at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome despite Kodai Senga (3-1) surrendering four runs over six innings.
The Hawks’ ace established his fastball in classic fashion in the first, striking out the first two batters, the first on three fastballs, but surrendered the game’s first runs in the second inning.
Senga, whose ability to locate is typically his main concern, issued a leadoff walk to Shuta Tonosaki that sparked Seibu’s two-run second. A Takumi Kuriyama single and a rocket-powered Corey Spangenberg double brought in one run, and Kuriyama scored on a groundout.
The Hawks got a runin the second against Tatsuya Imai on a Nakamura leadoff single, a two-out walk and Nobuhiro Matsuda’s flare single.
A one-out Tomoya Mori walk and Hotaka Yamakawa’s 11th home run made it 4-1 Lions in the third, but the Hawks wasted no time keeping the scoreboard ticking over. Four-straight one-out singles by Kenta Imamiya, Yuki Yanagita, Nakamura and Ryoya Kurihara made it a one-run game. With the tying run on third, Imai struck out Wladimir Balentien on five pitches away to assist in his getaway.
The Hawks tied it in the fifth on a Yanagita double and a Nakamura single and beat up on Lions relief workhorse, right-hander Katsunori Hirai (3-2), to take the lead in the sixth. With two outs and the bases loaded, Nakamura cleared the bags with a double.
Balentien and Imamiya each hit a late solo homer to complete the rout for the Hawks.
Nakata blasts off as Uwasawa earns 1st win
Denied a three-run home run when a runner was picked off base ahead of his third-inning homer, Sho Nakata blasted a three-run shot in the seventh as the Nippon Ham Fighters left an 5-1 mark on the Orix Buffaloes at Sapporo Dome.
Buffaloes lefty Andrew Albers walked the first two batters he faced in the third. Albers picked off Kenshi Sugiya, but Sho Nakata’s 11th home run, and his second in three games, made it a 2-0 game.
The Buffaloes got a run back in the fourth on three no-out singles off Naoyuki Uwasawa (1-1) by Yuma Mune, Masataka Yoshida and Andrew Jones.
The visitors had a chance to tie it in the sixth, but Fighters right fielder Taishi Ota threw a strike to the plate to cut down Mune trying to score from second on a Takahiro Okada single. With two on and two outs in the top of the seventh, Ota made a good catch on Mune near the right field corner that could have spelled trouble.
Uwasawa’s win was his first since his left knee cap was broken in June 2019 by a drive off the bat of DeNA BayStars slugger Neftali Soto.
Albers left with two out and two on the seventh, and right-hander Ryo Yoshida served up Nakata’s second home run.
Takatsu explains Yamada deactivation
Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu filled in some background information on second baseman Tetsuto Yamada’s deactivation on Tuesday according to Sports Nippon Annex.
Takatsu said Yamada’s upper body was not sufficiently fit, and that Yamada himself was going to keep playing if left to his own devices.
“He said, ‘I can keep going as I am’, but I don’t want him playing if he’s not fit,” Takatsu said. “He’ll never say, ‘I’ll take a break for myself.’ But what I really want is to see Tetsuto Yamada really swinging. It was a difficult decision.”
Yamada apparently said he’d be back in 10 days–the minimum time needed for reactivation–but Takatsu said there was no need for him to rush.
The Rakuten Eagles bullpen wasted a stellar start from veteran right-hander Hideaki Wakui, allowing the Orix Buffaloes to score nine late runs in an 11-7 loss at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi on Tuesday.
For the second-straight week Hideaki Wakui, who was sold by the Lotte Marines over the winter, looked like one of Japan’s best pitchers. He attacked the zone with a fastball that batters continually swung under, while mixing it with some variations, cutters and running fastballs, a slider he generally kept out of the zone and even a few screwballs.
But trailing 7-2 in the eighth, the visitors scored three runs in the eighth, all charged to J. T. Chargois after Alan Busenitz allowed two inherited runners to cross the plate.
Eagles closer Kohei Morihara (1-1) allowed a leadoff double on an innocuous fly by Yuma Mune that left fielder Hiroaki Shimauchi failed to catch after he cut in front of center fielder Ryosuke Tatsumi. Buffaloes catcher Kenya Wakatsuki, who drove in five runs on Tuesday, and who singled in a run in the Buffaloes’ two-run sixth, singled to make it a one-run game.
With no outs and the tying run on first in the ninth, Buffaloes manager Norifumi Nishimura played for a tie with a sacrifice bunt, but got more than he asked for when Morihara failed to get the force at second. No. 3 hitter Koji Oshiro followed a successful sacrifice with a two-run single. An intentional walk, a two-run Adam Jones double and a run-scoring Takahiro Okada single completed the scoring.
Wakui, who entered the game 4-0 despite being mediocre in his first three starts was untouchable through six innings. He struck out 10, while allowing two runs over 6-1/3 innings.
On-again off-again Buffaloes right-hander Yu Suzuki was off again. The right-hander has quality stuff but his location was not there. Eigoro Mogi tripled off his first pitch, a center-cut two-seamer, and scored on a groundout. In the second inning, Hikaru Ota followed a one-out walk and a Jabari Blash single by launching a first-pitch slider for his first home run of the year. Stefen Romero hit a 3-2 slider in the third inning for his sixth home run.
Wakui struck out 10, while allowing two runs over 6-1/3 innings.
Hawks survive strong start from Martinez
Nick Martinez came close to being the second straight Nippon Ham Fighters starter to score an upset win in Fukuoka but surrendered three runs in the seventh inning in a 3-2 loss to the Softbank Hawks at PayPay Dome.
A day after Toshihiro Sugiura outpitched Hawks ace Kodai Senga, Martinez easily outclassed veteran lefty Tsuyoshi Wada, who just barely managed to keep the game scoreless through four.
Right fielder Seiji Uebayashi and catcher Hiroaki Takaya combined to save a run in the top of the first when Kensuke Kondo was out trying to score from second on a two-out single. Wada got out of a one-out bases-loaded situation in the second on a double play and escaped a two-on, no-out pickle in the fourth.
After three close shaves, Wada ran out of get-out-of-jail-free cards in the fifth. Right-hander Keisuke Izumi inherited two runners with one out. A wild pitch let in the game’s first run. A second scored on a Taishi Ota single.
The Hawks got on the board against Martinez in a three-run seventh. A Yuki Yanagita leadoff single and an Akira Nakamura double trimmed the lead to one. Martinez left with two outs and two on after a walk to Wladimir Balentien. Nobuhiro Matsuda singled in the tying and go-ahead runs off reliever Taisho Tamai after the Hawks added speed on the bases and a stolen base put both men in scoring position.
Martinez (1-3) was absolutely solid with good command of all his pitches. He allowed three hits, walked two and struck out six.
Odajima pitches Marines past Lions
Kazuya Odajima (2-1) worked out of a first-inning predicament by retiring Hotaka Yamakawa and Tomoya Mori and then allowed one run over 6-2/3 innings for the Lotte Marines in a 2-1 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome.
Lions starter Kona Takahashi (2-3) allowed two runs on eight hits, a walk and two hit batsmen over seven innings. He gave up the first run in the fifth on a Yudai Fujioka double, a sacrifice and a wild pitch. Seiya Inoue made it a 2-0 game in the sixth with his fifth home run.
Naoya Masuda worked the ninth to earn his ninth save.
BayStars’ Yamasaki provides thrills in 5-5 tie
BayStars closer Yasuaki Yamasaki continued to make things interesting by loading the bases in the ninth inning of a tie game before closing out the inning as DeNA and the Yakult Swallows finished in a 5-5, 10-inning tie.
After a leadoff single and two one-out walks, Yamasaki struck out Munetaka Murakami, who had earlier hit his fourth homer of the season, before getting out of the inning on a flyball.
Swallows starter Gabriel Ynoa allowed five runs over four innings. The right-hander surrendered back-to-back two-out first-inning home runs to Jose Lopez and Keita Sano and another to reserve catcher Shuto Takajo in the second.
BayStars starter Haruhiro Hamaguchi allowed five runs over 5-2/3 innings on four walks eight hits.
Martinez shines as Dragons stop Giants
With slugging first baseman Dayan Viciedo unavailable, the Chunichi Dragons put put 24-year-old Cuban catcher Ariel Martinez into the cleanup spot. He responded with a home run in a 5-0 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Nagoya Dome.
Lefty Takahiro Matsuba, who failed to earn a win last season when he was traded from Orix, allowed a walk, a hit batsman and four hits over six innings to improve to 2-0 in two games this season. With two on and two outs in the first he got out of trouble with a cutter on the hands of right-handed-hitting Zelous Wheeler that produced a little tapper back to the mound.
The Dragons’ top draft pick last autumn 19-year-old third baseman Takaya Ishikawa drew a one-out walk in the third from impressive 20-year-old Giants right-hander Shosei Togo (3-1) and scored on a Yohei Oshima double. Ishikawa went 2-for-2 with an RBI and two runs.
The Dragons snapped a four-game losing streak with the win, while Giants manager Tatsunori Hara’s club saw its seven-game win streak end on his 62nd birthday.
Sands continues to rock in tie with Carp
Jerry Sands homered, doubled and drove in two runs for the Hanshin Tigers in their 3-3, 10-inning tie with the Hiroshima Carp at Koshien Stadium.
Both teams came from a run down in the ninth to force a 10th inning in a game that was dominate by the starting pitchers, Yusuke Nomura of the Carp and Onelki Garcia of the Tigers.
Nomura allowed a run on five hits and a walk over six innings, while Garcia allowed a run over seven.
There were quips made when Hawks manager named Akira Niho to be the last man in his six-man starting pitching rotation. When the 30-year-old right-hander did as well as expected out of the gate, Kudo stuck with him, and on Sunday, Niho did what he was capable of walked away with a win after matching up with one of Japan’s best, Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Niho (2-2) threw six scoreless innings, and the SoftBank Hawks took advantage of their one chance against Yamamoto to leave Osaka’s Kyocera Dome with 3-2 win.
Niho escaped a two-out bases-loaded jam in the third when Adam Jones grounded into the final out.
After starting the Buffaloes cleanup hitter on the outside edge with his two-seam fastball, he left a slider up in the heart of the zone and then missed with a fastball inside. Jones fouled off the fat slider and was jammed by the 89-mph fastball on the hands.
Niho then retired eight of the last nine batters he faced before three good swings changed the game in the seventh.
Left-handed-hitting Seiji Uebayashi hit a high fastball away and sliced it into the left field corner for a leadoff double and the Hawks’ second hit of the game. Yuki Yanagita, who struggled against Yamamoto’s splitter in his second at-bat made some headway against it his third time up.
Yanagita survived a narrow escape when he grounded a splitter to first (again) only for it to bounce foul by inches. The next pitch, Yamamoto’s seventh to him, hung up and the left-handed-hitting slugger slammed it to the warning track in right for a tie-breaking double.
Akira Nakamura followed, and somehow pulled a fastball up and over the outside part of the plate and his drive just cleared the wall in right for his first home run of the year.
“I was waiting for something fast. It’s a confidence boost to be able to hit one of the best pitchers in baseball,” Nakamura said.
Submarine right-hander Rei Takahashi, the PL’s 2019 rookie of the year, whose been in relief this season, worked a scoreless seventh against the bottom of the Buffaloes order, but dependable lefty Livan Moinelo couldn’t locate in the eighth and ran into trouble.
The Cuban reliever surrendered a leadoff single before issuing three walks, forcing in a run, and bringing Jones to the plate with a chance to turn the game around.
Jones, who has seen precious few fastballs in the strike zone this season, fouled off an 0-1 heater and then chased and fouled off a curve out of the zone. Moinelo missed up high with a change up and Jones got under it, flying out to center to bring home a run.
The play resulted in the second out when Ryoichi Adachi took off for third and was tagged out on the throw from Yanagita in center when he over-slid the bag.
Hawks closer Yuito Mori worked a 1-2-3 ninth to record his fifth save.
Orix manager Norifumi Nishimura blamed the loss on failure to execute, pointing to a failed sacrifice in the third inning after Ryo Ota opened with a leadoff single.
“We had the failed bunt,” he said. “There are times when things will take a wrong turn if you don’t execute properly.”
Rookie Kawano earns 1st win
Rookie lefty Ryusei Kawano allowed two runs over eight innings to win his first game as a pro in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 9-2 win over the Lotte Marines at Sapporo Dome.
Sho Nakata’s three-run, third-inning home run capped a four-run outburst against right-hander Yuki Ariyoshi (1-1).
Kawano, who has shown good stuff since Day 1, has become more and more assertive in the strike zone with each passing day, and Sunday’s start was another step in that direction.
Through the early innings, Kawano, the Fighters’ top pick last autumn in NPB’s draft, tried to hit corners but was less hesitant about challenging hitters in the zone with his fastball and then making them look bad against his changeup.
With a 4-0 lead in the fourth, catcher Shingo Usami began setting his target squarely in the zone and Kawano responded to the encouragement.
Through seven innings, he allowed three base runners. He finished with seven strikeouts, two walks and four hits after allowing two eighth-inning runs on a Leonys Martin double. Brandon Laird went 2-for-4 in his old home park.
Former Lion Asamura flies with Eagles
HIdeto Asamura bounced back from two hitless games with two days worth of hits and four RBIs to lead the Rakuten Eagles’ comeback in a 9-5 win over his old team, the Seibu Lions, at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
Stefen Romero opened the scoring with a solo homer off lefty Daiki Enokida, making his first start of the season, but Hotaka Yamakawa’s third home run in three days, a three-run third-inning shot off former Lions ace Takayuki Kishi made it 5-1 Seibu.
Former Lion (one can say that A LOT in Sendai) Asamura made it a 5-2 game in the third with his second hit, an RBI single that plated Daichi Suzuki.
Kishi was pulled after 2-13 innings, but the bullpen picked up the slack and Asamura hit his Japan-best 11th home run to lead off the sixth against Enokida. The Lions lefty was yanked after allowing three runs over five-plus innings.
Seibu’s bullpen workhorse Katsunori Hirai took over and worked around a hit batsman to keep it 5-3 through six. Eagles right-hander Alan Busenitz (1-0) worked a scoreless seventh, and Asamura tied it with a two-run single in the bottom of the inning.
Hirai (2-1), who led both leagues in games pitched last season with 81, allowed three runs on two walks, a hit batsman and six hits over one-plus inning of work. He was replaced by stocky Kaima Taira.
The right-hander, who struck out Romero on a 99.4 mph fastball after entering with no outs and the bases loaded, went into Asamura’s kitchen with a 1-2, 98 mph heater that brushed him back. Asamura, however, brushed that off and stroked a cutter away into right for a two-run single that tied it.
With two outs and the bases reloaded, Yasuhito Uchida homered off Taira to complete the Eagles’ comeback.
Okamoto, Giants burn BayStars closer in 9th
Pinch-runner Daiki Masuda stole second with one out in the ninth inning and scored the tying run from second on an infield singe before Kazuma Okamoto blasted a two-run home run in the Yomiuri Giants’ 5-3 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.
With a one-run lead in the ninth, Yasuaki Yamasaki (0-2) took the mound for the BayStars and surrendered a one-out single to Hayato Sakamoto. Pinch-runner Daiki Masuda stole second and with two outs, he gambled and was safe at home on Yoshihiro Maru’s grounder deep into the hold behind first.
BayStars manager Alex Ramirez yanked his closer, and Yuki Kuniyoshi served up an 0-1 fastball to Okamoto who drove it out well beyond the wall in right center for his ninth home run.
The BayStars’ Neftali Soto scored three runs and homered to tie it 2-2 in the third inning. Soto was hit by a pitch in the fifth and scored on a Jose Lopez double.
The Hiroshima Carp bullpen proved able to solve the Yakult Swallows once the game was tied and the bases loaded, which they did in both the ninth and 10th innings to finish in a 3-3 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
The visitors took a 2-0 lead into the seventh, but the heart of the Hiroshima attack found their third look at right-hander Hirotoshi Takanashi to their liking. After allowing just two hits and a walk through six innings, Takanashi gave up a single to Shota Dobayashi and back-to-back doubles by Seiya Suzuki and Ryuhei Matsuyama that tied it up.
Yugo Umeno got out of the inning but not before Tsubasa Aizawa singled in the go-ahead run. In the eighth, 23-year-old Noboru Shimizu loaded the bases on two one-out walks and a single but struck out Matsuyama and Hisayoshi Chono to prevent the game from getting away.
Norichika Aoki singled in the tying run in the ninth and the Swallows loaded the bases with one out for Munetaka Murakami. But journeyman right-hander Yasunori Kikuchi got the easiest double play imaginable, when the 20-year-old slugger tipped a low forkball into the dirt in front of home plate. Aizawa collected it, stepped on the plate and threw to first to end the inning.
New Carp D.J. Johnson loaded the bases in the 10th — the last inning allowed in NPB this season — but ended the inning with a strikeout. Swallows closer Taishi Ishiyama then pitched out of a two-on, one-out pickle in the bottom of the 10th to ensure the tie.
Tigers blow out Dragons
On a night when hard-hitting first baseman Justin Bour was out of the Hanshin lineup, the Tigers still erupted for 11 runs on 14 hits and eight walks in an 11-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons and a sweep of their three-game series at Koshien Stadium outside Osaka.
Jerry Sands, batting third in manager Akihiro Yano’s lineup singled in the game’s first run and scored on Kosuke Fukudome’s sacrifice fly in the Tigers’ three-run first.
The 43-year-old Fukudome, who came off the bench to wreak havoc on the Swallows on Thursday, was in the starting lineup and responded with two singles, a double, two sacrifice flies and four RBIs.
Sands also doubled and drew one of the Tigers’ two bases-loaded walks in their three-run fourth inning.
The Dragons’ Dayan Viciedo continued to rip it up at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a walk and a home run.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto (3-0) struck out a career-high 13 after getting an early lead and some big plays behind him and needed it all to outlast rookie southpaw Ryusei Kawano (0-2) in the Orix Buffaloes’ 2-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters.
Making less use of his cutter than usual but with that same electric rise in his fastball and a good splitter and generally good location, Yamamoto needed little help from his fielders through the first five innings at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
The Buffaloes had two early chances to score off Kawano, the Fighters’ top draft pick last autumn. After two one-out walks in the first, Adam Jones hit a hard grounder to short for an easy double play.
Some good hitting by Takahiro Okada produced a leadoff single in the second, but after Aderlin Rodriguez struck out and third baseman Christian Villanueva snared a hard liner for the second out, things were not looking up. Reserve infielder Tatsuya Yamaashi, rewarded with a start after coming off the bench on Saturday and singling to lead off Orix’s winning rally, put a good swing on a Kawano changeup and drove it to center for an RBI double.
Buffaloes shortstop Ryoichi Adachi then lined a hanging curve to center to make it 2-0. There wasn’t a lot left in the inning, but Adachi made sure that would be it by wandering off first base and getting tagged out 1-3-4.
Adachi is one of those players who has always had outstanding tools, especially on defense, but who has been dogged by inconsistent play. He has missed time with a serious illness, but he’s also established a reputation as a player whose concentration wanders.
But with the exception of his TOOTBLAN in the second, he had a huge game with three hits and three defensive gems at short that secured the victory. Those became necessary when Kawano hung in and worked more aggressively than he had in his previous starts.
In the sixth, however, it became clear this game was going to be tougher than it appeared as Yamamoto seemed unable to produce the same spin he had earlier and more of his pitches were getting hit hard.
It started with Shingo Usami’s one-out single on a 3-2 fastball that Yamamoto left up. Usami rifled it into center, although Yamamoto waved at it as it whistled over his head. Yamamoto’s next pitch also might have done him bodily harm, but he got his glove on it. Kazunari Ishii’s liner spilled out, but Yamamoto was still able to get a force at second.
After a stolen base, Haruki Nishikawa’s flare to shallow right fell in for an RBI single. The Fighters might have scored again in the seventh, but Adachi and Yamamoto didn’t give them the chance.
Adachi backhanded a grounder deep in the hole to nail the leadoff man. He then ranged to his left and fired across his body for the second out, and Yamamoto dispatched the final batter with a strikeout.
Villanueva, who added another web gem in the fifth inning, led off the Fighters’ eighth with a single. Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama, who used to order more sacrifices than anyone in Japan, slipped back into his old habits and played for a tie on the road. He sent a pinch-hitter up to sacrifice, but Kenshi Sugiya popped his bunt to catcher Kenya Wakatsuki, who caught Takuya Nakashima off first for a double play.
Adachi then finished off the inning when Usami grounded up the middle. Going to his left, Adachi spun and threw in the air to nail the runner for the final out.
Yamamoto allowed four singles but no walks in a 119-pitch effort that was the PL’s first complete-game victory of the season.
Kawano lasted 7-1/3 innings but was fortunate to hold the Buffaloes to two runs after giving up eight hits and three walks. He left after loading the bases for Jones. But when the game was primed to slip out of control, right-hander Kazutomo Iguchi did a superb job. A two-pitch pitcher, Iguchi popped up Jones on the second splitter he threw him, and punched out Okada who watched two-straight fastballs on the outside corner.
Hawks’ Ishikawa mows down Eagles
Right-hander Shuta Ishikawa (2-0) struck out nine of the first 10 batters he faced and didn’t allow a base runner until the fifth inning for the SoftBank Hawks in their 6-1 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Ishikawa allowed a run on two hits without walking a batter. With a 3-0 fifth-inning lead, he gave up a leadoff single to Hideto Asamura and an RBI double to Stefen Romero.
Eagles starter Ryota Ishibashi (1-3) struck out nine over six innings. The right-hander surrendered six runs on eight hits and a walk. After retiring the first two batters in the first inning, Yuki Yanagita took him deep to the home run terrace in left for an opposite-field home run and his eighth homer of the season.
Kenji Akashi went 3-for-4 and scored twice, while Takuya Kai had a two-run sixth-inning single and a second-inning sacrifice fly that made it 2-0.
Lions’ Kuriyama rocks Marines again
Takumi Kuriyama went 2-for-2 with an RBI double, a three-run homer and two walks for the Seibu Lions in their 8-5 win over the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
Kuriyama doubled in the opening run in the second inning for Seibu off Jose Flores (0-1), who was making his first-team debut.
After the Marines scored twice in the second against submarine right-hander Kaito Yoza, Shuta Tonosaki doubled in two runs to retake the lead and scored on Kuriyama’s third home run of the season and second of the series.
Flores, who retired the Lions in order in the first, allowed six runs on seven hits and two walks over three innings. He struck out five. Yoza allowed four runs in 4-2/3 innings, and last year’s bullpen workhorse, Katsunori Hirai (2-0) earned the win in relief for 1-1/3 perfect innings.
Kaima Taira, new import Reed Garrett and closer Tatsushi Masuda wrapped it up. Cory Spangenberg went 2-for-4 for the Lions with his third home run, a two-run shot.
The Marines’ Brandon Laird went 2-for-5 and drove in two runs, on a fifth-inning double and a ninth-inning single.
Swallows luck into 1st place
The Yakult Swallows moved into first place in the Central League with a 3-2 win over the Yomiuri Giants made possible when Gerardo Parra’s unfamiliarity with Japan’s rules turned a run-scoring groundout into an inning-ending double play.
Double play, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Trailing 3-2 in the sixth with one out and runners on the corners, Ginjiro Sumitani grounded to short. Alcides Escobar threw to second baseman Tetsuto Yamada for the force on Parra at second.
Parra slid to the bag and upended Yamada and tipped him over when he rose out of his slide. Yamada, who had virtually no chance of throwing out Sumitani at first was knocked over as the run scored.
Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu requested a video review of Parra’s slide to determine whether it was legal or not. The result of the review was an inning-ending double play.
“When the batter hits a possible double play ball, runners who appear to intentionally interfere with a fielder trying to make a throw by the manner in which they slide will be ruled out as will the batter.”
–Official Baseball Rules 6.01
Former second baseman Yutaka Takagi, speaking as an analyst on Fuji TV’s “Pro Yakyu News” said, “Parra went straight to the bag. Maybe he over-slid a little. What sold that (umpire’s) decision was Yamada’s performance. That’s an awfully difficult double play to make but by tumbling he get’s a double play. That’s a good defensive play.”
Swallows starter Hirotoshi Takanashi (1-1) earned the win after allowing two runs over five innings. He got a huge out in the third, when he caught one of Japan’s most disciplined hitters, Yoshihiro Maru looking at a called third strike with two on and two out to protect a 2-0 lead.
Munetaka Murakami doubled in Norichika Aoki in the first off Giants starter Toshiki Sakurai. Aoki homered for the second-straight day to make it 2-0 in the third.
After Hiroyuki Nakajima homered to trim the Swallows’ lead to a run in the fourth, Takanashi singled for the second time and scored on a Murakami single.
Oyama, Iwasada lead Tigers past BayStars
Cleanup hitter Yusuke Oyama went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs, while starter Yuta Iwasada (2-1) worked eight scoreless innings in a 2-1 win over the DeNA BayStars at Koshien Stadium.
Iwasada struck out eight and walked two, while allowing three hits. BayStars starter Kentaro Taira (2-1) allowed a run over six innings on one walk and six hits. He struck out six.
Edwin Escobar worked a scoreless seventh for the BayStars but Spencer Patton surrendered an insurance run on two hits and a walk in the eighth.
The Tigers, who had deactivated closer Kyuji Fujikawa earlier in the day, turned to Robert Suarez, who had last saved a game in 2016 when he was with the Pacific League’s SoftBank Hawks.
A walk and an RBI single by Jose Lopez made it a one-run game again, but Suarez retired former batting champ Toshiro Miyazaki on a fly to center to end it.
Endo fans 9 as Carp hammer Dragons
Right-hander Atsushi Endo struck out nine while allowing a run over six innings as the Hiroshima Carp beat the Chunichi Dragons 7-2 at Nagoya Dome.
The 21-year-old Endo (1-2) walked two and gave up five hits after allowing 16 runs over 13 innings in his first three starts. The Dragons’ starter, 23-year-old Kodai Umetsu (2-2) allowed four runs over six innings.
Jose Pirela, who opened Saturday’s game with a home run for Hiroshima, singled and scored in the first and third, and walked and scored in the seventh. Carp right fielder Seiya Suzuki went 2-for-4 with a double a run and three RBIs.
Tigers deactivate Fujikawa
The Hanshin Tigers deactivated 39-year-old right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa on Sunday, a day after the closer saying his right arm is not fit. On Saturday, the former Cub and Ranger surrendered three ninth-inning runs in a 4-2 loss to the DeNA BayStars.
“I’v been asked to hold down an important role, and in my current condition cannot contribute to the team,” he said in a statement released by the team.
Meanwhile, the Yakult Swallows have deactivated veteran catcher Motohiro Shima due to a fracture of the navicular bone in his right foot. The longtime captain of the Pacific League’s Rakuten Eagles, Shima moved to the Swallows over the winter.
Shima suffered a broken bone in his right hand in March when he was hit by a pitch.
Matsuzaka has back surgery
Daisuke Matsuzaka has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his back and was discharged from an Ibaraki Prefecture hospital on Sunday the Nikkan Sports reported. The 39-year-old two-time World Baseball Classic MVP this season rejoined his first pro club, the Seibu Lions of Japan’s Pacific League, for the first time in 14 years.
He started the season on the Lions’ Eastern League farm club, and as his innings and pitch counts increased, he began to feel numbness in his right hand and the decision was made to have surgery. He is expected to be out two to three months, and is aiming toward returning to action this season.
Tazawa signs with independent club
Right-hander Junichi Tazawa has joined the Musashino Heat Bears of the independent Baseball Challenge league, the Hochi Shimbun reported Sunday. Nippon Professional Baseball’s 12 teams have reached an ungentlemanly agreement to not sign Tazawa for a period of two years after he leaves the U.S. because he declined to enter NPB’s draft and instead chose to sign with the Boston Red Sox.
The “Tazawa Rule” is not in fact a rule but an agreement, and nothing prevents teams from ignoring it. It was quickly written after Tazawa indicated he would sign overseas and just days before he finalized his deal with the Red Sox. Because Japan’s national team, Samurai Japan, is organized not by Japan’s national federation but by NPB, Tazawa has been blacklisted from playing for his country because he exercised his right to work where he chose.
Tazawa entered this season on a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds, but was released in March.