Stefen Romero became the latest imported player to choose family over playing baseball in Japan, the Pacific League’s Orix Buffaloes announcing Wednesday that they have put the slugging outfielder on waivers for the purpose of giving him his release, Nikkan Sports reported.
“It’s really regrettable, but it’s family so what can you do,” Orix GM Junichi Fukura said. “No matter what he tried he couldn’t maintain his motivation, and was correspondingly troubled.”
He’s the second Orix player to give up on playing in Japan this season without his family. Pitcher Brandon Dickson declined to report this year for his ninth season in Japan, and resumed his career in the United States. Currently in Triple-A with his first pro organization, the St. Louis Cardinals, Dickson is currently in Japan with the U.S. Olympic baseball team.
The 32-year-old Romero was in his fifth season in Japan. He returned to Orix after spending the 2020 season with the Rakuten Eagles, and was one of the many real good ones who made Japanese baseball better.
The Pacific League teams returned home after going 5-9-2 during the week at the Central League parks, and though the PL won the three blowouts, the CL escaped with three wins on Friday, thanks to the heroics of rookie Teruaki Sato.
In Japan, a teru teru bozu, is a kind of talisman, made of cloth or paper in the shape of a Halloween ghost figure that kids hang from windows in hopes of bringing good weather.
In this case, Tigers fans must have been crossing an awful lot of fingers, because the rookie rained home runs, pulled into a tie for the CL home run lead with 13 and became the first CL rookie to hit three in a game since Hall of Famer Shigeo Nagashima in 1958.
Fighters 10, Dragons 1
At Sapporo Dome, the big matchup appeared to be Nippon Ham rookie Hiromi Ito (2-4, 3.67) against Chunichi’s Sawamura Award-winning lefty Yudai Ono (2-3), but that pitchers’ duel turned one-sided in a hurry as the Fighters outhit the Dragons 16-5.
Ono struck out two walked one and allowed 11 hits over four innings as he surrendered six runs. Only two Fighters starters didn’t score, and those two, Kensuke Kondo and Ryo Watanabe, combined to drive in seven runs.
Dayan Viciedo had three hits, including a double, that set up Chunichi’s only run.
BayStars 7, Eagles 6
AtSendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Yamato Maeda chased Hideaki Wakui (5-3), who allowed two two-out sixth-inning singles before Maeda’s second home run made it a 5-4 game.
DeNA rookie Shugo Maki scored twice, and his eighth-inning solo homer, his ninth, turned out big after closer Kazuki Mishima surrendered a run in the ninth and ended the game with the go-ahead run on base to record his seventh save.
Lions 10, Tigers 7
At MetLife Dome, Sato crashed this party with his three homer night to send the Tigers to their third interleague win, Jerry Sands also homered for Hanshin, while Jefry Marte and Yusuke Oyama each had one-out RBI singles in the ninth that made it a 7-7 game against Reed Garrett (0-2), who served up Sato’s third.
Robert Suarez struck out the side in the ninth for his Japan-best 15th save.
Wu Nien-ting had three hits. His RBI double tied it 2-2 it 4-4 in the sixth. After the Tigers moved ahead in the seventh on an Oyama RBI single, Takeya Nakamura two-run homer was the big blow in Seibu’s three-run seventh.
Carp 10, Marines 8
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, it was open season on pitchers as Lotte scored four runs with the help of five walks off Takuya Yasaki, and Hiroshima did the same against rookie Shota Suzuki (1-3), who allowed nine hits in his four innings.
Alejandro Mejia had four hits and scored twice for the Carp, who got four RBIs from Ryuhei Matsuyma. Brandon Laird led Lotte’s offense with a two-run first-inning homer and an RBI on a flyout to second, with Leonys Martin walking and scoring both times.
Carp rookie Ryoji Kuribayashi worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 10th save and remained unscored upon in 19 games.
Buffaloes 9, Swallows 2
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Masataka Yoshida hit his 11th homer, a two-run shot in the first off Rick van den Hurk (0-1), while Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto (4-5) had the kind of game we associate with him, two runs on three walks, five hits and nine strikeouts over seven innings. Kotaro Kurebayashi and Stefen Romero also homered for the Buffaloes.
Hawks 9, Giants 3
At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Wladimir Balentien hit two of the SoftBank Hawks’ four home runs as the defending Pacific League champs crushed the Central League’s Yomiuri Giants 9-3 in interleague play on Friday.
Balentien’s first home run of the season, a solo shot off Seishu Hatake (2-3) broke a 2-2 tie in the second. His two-run shot in the fourth capped four-run rally and iced the game at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
“From the first home run, I felt, I was able to get good swings and hit them both on the button,” Balentien said.
The Giants opened the scoring on a two-run error in the first before Ryoya Kurihara tied it in the home half of the inning with a two-run homer, his fifth. Yuki Yanagita’s 11th home run, a third-inning, two-run shot made it 5-2.
SoftBank right-hander Shuta Ishikawa (3-3) gave up three runs over six innings. He walked four, hit one and allowed five hits while striking out eight.
The Hawks and Giants have played the last two Japan Series, with the Hawks winning all eight games. The win was SoftBank’s 10th straight against Yomiuri, having won their final interleague game in 2019 and with no interleague last season.