Takahiro Norimoto took the mound against the Orix Buffaloes on Wednesday with a chance to move the Rakuten Eagles within one game of clinching the Pacific League’s final playoff spot in a game that also impacted the pennant race.
In the Central League, the main event was at Koshien Stadium in the season’s final meeting between the Hanshin Tigers and the Yakult Swallows, while the Giants’ had another shot at snapping a winless streak that reached 13 on Tuesday.
With the second- and third-place teams playing each other in each league this weekend, things could get interesting. Both league leaders lost on Friday, even with Yoshinobu Yamamoto pitching for the Pacific League-leading Buffaloes and Yuki Nishi going for the Central League-leading Tigers.
BayStars 3, Tigers vs 0
At Koshien Stadium, Tyler Austin hit his 16th home run after DeNA leadoff man Masayuki Kuwahara reached on a first-inning error. Austin singled in Kuwahara in the sixth to complete the scoring off Yuki Nishi (4-4), who went eight innings. Haruhiro Hamaguchi (5-5) worked five solid innings, and the Tigers couldn’t cash in their runners against Edwin Escobar in the seventh or Yasuaki Yamasaki in the eighth. Kazuki Mishima worked the ninth for his 12th save.
Giants 7, Swallows 1
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, C.C. Mercedes (3-1) kept Yakult’s hitters from barreling the ball, while Takumi Oshiro hit a two-run homer, his seventh, and Kazuma Okamoto, a three-run homer, his 20th, off Masanori Ishikawa (3-2). The lefty’s string of three walk-less starts came to an end in the third when he walked two in front of Okamoto.
Mercedes struck out six without a walk while allowing six singles, four in the seventh inning as the Giants moved a half-game ahead of the Swallows, 4-1/2 games back of the Tigers.
Dragons 6, Carp 3
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Chunichi’s Yuya Yanagi (6-3) allowed three runs, two earned, over seven innings, and Dayan Viciedo broke a 3-3 tie with his 10th home run, a three-run shot in the eighth. Shogo Sakakura scored twice and hit his second home run in the Carp’s sixth-run inning.
Dragons reliever Katsuki Matayoshi allowed three hits in the ninth but hung on for his eighth save.
Eagles 5, Hawks 1
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Takahiro Norimoto (6-3) struck out 10 in a five-hit complete game, while Hideto Asamura hit a two-run homer, just his fifth of the season, off Shuta Ishikawa (3-7), who allowed four runs in five innings. The win moved Rakuten to within a half-game of the PL-leading Buffaloes.
Yuya Hasegawa accounted for the Hawks’ run with his third home run.
Lions 3, Buffaloes 1
At Osaka‘sKyocera Dome, Yoshinobu Yamamoto outpitched Kona Takahashi (6-3) for seven innings, but Seibu’s hitters did a good job running Yamamoto’s pitch count up and the Lions tied it 1-1 against Buffaloes reliever Tyler Higgins in the eighth.
Higgins issued a pair of two-out walks before Takumi Kuriyama tied it with his second hit of the game. Wu Nien-ting drew a leadoff walk in the ninth off Yoshihisa Hirano (0-2), who then surrendered a Hotaka Yamakawa RBI double and a Cory Spangenberg triple. Kaima Taira ended the game by striking out Steven Moya to record his ninth save.
Fighters vs Marines: Kusanagi Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT