The Hiroshima Carp and Orix Buffaloes happily greased the slopes for their skidding opponents on Friday, while the teams with the two best early records in the CL locked horns in a scintillating pitchers’ duel, while the weatherman gave a pitcher’s arm some extra rest.
Swallows 3, Tigers 1: At Koshien Stadium, Jose Osuna and Tetsuto Yamada broke up a classic pitchers’ duel, bringing Yakult from behind after the Tigers only run scored thanks to their only hit through six innings off Yasuhiro Ogawa, a fluke first-inning triple right fielder Domingo Santana couldn’t see in a driving rain.
Kaima Taira made his first start after asking the team during last winter’s contract negotiations to rescue him from his late relief role, while Yakult’s top draft pick last autumn also made his debut as a starter, while Hanshin’s top pick also made a little noise, as did the Lotte Marines and Hiroshima Carp, who’d been shut out in their first two games, and one of Japan’s two rookie managers got his first win.
Sunday saw Japan firsts for Matt Davidson, David McKinnon and Marwin Gonzalez, and the weird timing to call for a pinch-hitter by a manager other than Tatsunori Hara, so let’s get to it.
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Giants 3, Dragons 2: At Tokyo Dome, Yoshihiro Maru cracked his first home run to break a 2-2 eighth-inning tie, and Taisei Ota, who was unavailable due to “lack of fitness” after the WBC when Yomiuri blew a ninth-inning lead on Opening Day, recorded his first save as the Giants scored without much help from Sho Nakata. After driving in all of the Giants’ five runs in their first two games, Nakata was held to a walk in four plate appearances.