The Pacific League’s SoftBank Hawks wrapped up the 2020 Japan Series with a 4-1 win over the Central League’s Yomiuri Giants on Wednesday at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome on the back of two-run home runs by Yuki Yanagita and Takuya Kai.
The Hawks’ fourth-straight title makes them only the second club after the Giants to post a winning streak that long. The Giants won nine straight between 1965 and 1973. The Hawks have now won a record 12 straight series games and 16 straight series games at homes — their last loss in Fukuoka coming in Game 5 in 2011, when Wednesday’s starter Tsuyoshi Wada took the loss.
The Giants, whose choice of starting pitchers has sparked questions, sent unheralded right-hander Seishu Hatake. The 25-year-old showed SOME tremendous movement on his pitches but also hung a few up in the zone, and the Hawks crushed them.
For the first time in the series, the Giants scored first on back-to-back no-out doubles by Akihiro Wakabayashi and Hayato Sakamoto. Wada bore down, working around a two-out walk by striking out Hiroyuki Nakajima on 14 pitches.
The Hawks needed just two pitches to take the lead in the home half. Hatake hung two splitters to Akira Nakamura and Yuki Yanagita. The first went for a one-out double, the second for a two-run homer.
Wada, who didn’t have his trademark command, gutted it through the second inning after surrendering a leadoff single, but two more mistakes from Hatake and merciless execution from the Hawks made it 4-1 in the bottom of the second. Taisei Makihara swatted a high slider for a single and with two outs Takuya Kai hammered a high straight fastball for his second homer of the series.
Giants right-hander Shosei Togo, who was mysteriously left out of the Giants’ starting pitching plans, came in as the visitors’ third pitcher with two on and two outs in the third. After issuing a walk, he retired the next seven batters. Brazilian flame thrower Thyago Vieira touched 101.9 mph in his 1-2/3 innings.
With the Giants trailing by three in the seventh, ace Tomoyuki Sugano began warming up in the bullpen, making some wonder that the Giants might bring him out for a farewell mound appearance, but he never did more than warm up and lefty Kota Nakagawa mopped up in the eighth.
With a three-run lead, Wada left after two, and hard-throwing 24-year-old Yuki Matsumoto allowed singles over 2-2/3 scoreless innings. Lefty Shinya Kayama retired Yoshihiro Maru to end the fifth. Submarine right-hander Rei Takahashi started a parade of three straight 1-2-3 innings from the bullpen with Sho Iwasaki pitching the seventh and Livan Moinelo electrifying the eighth.
The SoftBank Hawks won the 21st championship in franchise history on Tuesday with a 5-1 win over their nemeses all season long, the Lotte Marines, at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Tsuyoshi Wada (8-1) struck out eight while allowing three hits and a walk over six innings. Wada, the winning pitcher in the team’s last clinching game, when they won the 2019 Japan Series, came out firing on all cylinders, pumping a fastball that usually sits at 87 mph up to 92. The lefty.
“I think we were all a little nervous today, so for Wada to come out and do what he did, it gave us all courage,” Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo said.
“This was a year that we didn’t even know would start, but we hung in there amid all the difficulties and uncertainty. We wanted to win so badly, but I don’t know if we could have done it without the players taking such good care of their conditioning during this very difficult year.”
Tail-end hitter Hikaru Kawase put the hosts on the board in the fifth inning against Ayumu Ishikawa (7-5). He led off with a double, was sacrificed to third and scored on Akira Nakamura’s sacrifice fly. Hawks catcher Takuya Kai made it a 3-0 game in the sixth with his 10th home run, a two-run shot that plated Kenji Akashi.
Reliever Sho Iwasaki won an epic at-bat against pinch-hitter Katsuya Kakunaka to get out of the seventh inning with two men on, and lefty Livan Moinelo worked a 1-2-3 eighth.
Closer Yuito Mori took the mound in the ninth and the Marines held his feet to the fire.
The right-hander allowed one run on Shogo Nakamura’s leadoff walk, and an error by center fielder Yuki Yanagita on Ikuhiro Kiyota’s one-out double. After a two-out walk, Mori appeared to be out of the woods on a bouncer to third, but Taisei Makihara, who entered the game for his speed and defense, fumbled the ball to load the bases.
That brought Shuhei Fukuda to the plate as the potential tying run. For years, the Hawks fourth outfielder, Fukuda moved to the Marines over the winter as a free agent. Mori finally got him on his 39th pitch of the inning.
The Hawks have now won three straight against Lotte but still trail in their season series 7-11 with one tie.
Lions ground Eagles on Mori homer
Tomoya Mori’s three-run home run off Rakuten Eagles ace Takahiro Norimoto (5-6) lifted the Seibu Lions to a 4-3 win at MetLife Dome that moved them to within two games of the Pacific League’s final playoff spot.
Mori’s ninth home run made a winner out of Kona Takahashi (8-8), who allowed three runs on four hits and three walks over seven innings. Kaima Taira and Tatsushi Masuda finished up with one scoreless apiece with Masuda earning his 30th save.
Fighters get past Buffaloes
The top two hitters in the Nippon Ham Fighters lineup, Haruki Nishikawa, who reached base five times, and Shota Hiranuma each scored twice in a 5-3 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
Steven Moya tied the game 2-2 in the bottom of the first for the Buffaloes with his 10th home run, while Bryan Rodriguez threw a scoreless inning of relief as the Fighters used seven pitchers on a bullpen day.
Nishikawa, who said last winter that he’d like to move to the majors in 2021 by way of the posting system, made his second costly base running mistake in a few days.
Lopez slams Giants
Jose Lopez, who spent his first two Japanese seasons with the Yomiuri Giants, hit a grand slam off his former team for his 996th career hit in Japan as the DeNA BayStars clobbered rookie Shosei Togo (8-6) in a 9-2 win at Yokohama Stadium.
The Giants’ magic number to clinch their second straight Central League pennant dropped to three thanks to the Chunichi Dragons’ 4-1 loss to the Hanshin Tigers.
Over the weekend, Lopez achieved his 2,000th hit between the majors and NPB, and is now four hits shy of joining his former Seattle Mariners teammate Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui as the third player to achieve 1,000-plus hits in both the majors and Nippon Professional Baseball.
Lopez’s home run was his ninth, while Tyler Austin hit his 19th for the BayStars. Shinichi Onuki (10-5) allowed two runs over six innings to earn the win.
Tigers win on grab bag of mistakes
The Chunichi Dragons’ bullpen which has been, after lefty starter Yudai Ono, the team’s biggest story this season, was snake-bit in a three-run, error-filled eighth inning in a 4-1 Hanshin Tigers win at Koshien Stadium.
With two outs and none on in the eighth, first baseman Dayan Viciedo dove to make a stop, and threw to the pitcher, who took his eye off the ball, allowing a runner to reach. On the next play, Fuku threw wide to first to put two on.
Dragons rookie Kaname Takino, whose first career hit over the weekend was unexpectedly greeted by fireworks at Jingu Stadium from a nearby event, made it a trifecta for Tigers fans. He tried to make a shoestring catch on a flare off the bat of Koji Chikamoto but kicked it away. The Tigers leadoff man was credited with a two-run triple before another run scored on a smashed infield single.
Tigers closer Robert Suarez surrendered a Viciedo leadoff double in the ninth before striking out the last three batters to record his 24th save.
Hanshin left fielder Jerry Sands, who was ejected on Sunday for abusive language toward a home plate umpire and fined 100,000 yen ($950) had two hits.
Kuri stuffs Swallows
Allen Kuri (8-5) threw his fifth straight solid start, hurling 7-2/3 innings for the Hiroshima Carp in a 2-0 win over the Yakult Swallows at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Kuri struck out 10 but loaded the bases in the eighth on a single and two walks, forcing lefty Atsuya Horie to come in and strike out Swallows batting star Munetaka Murakami to preserve the two-run lead. Geronimo Franzua worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 16th save.
Over his last five starts, Kuri has allowed three runs, two earned, over 40 innings. During that stretch, he’s walked nine but struck out 38 and allowed no home runs.
Swallows right-hander Hirotoshi Takanashi (3-6) worked seven innings and took the tough loss.
The 26-year-old is 4-4 this season with a 3.10 ERA in 11 games. He will probably will be unable to resume training for at least a month.
Former Red Sox pitcher Tazawa goes undrafted
Junichi Tazawa, the 34-year-old right-hander who made history by snubbing Nippon Professional Baseball’s draft and becoming the first marquee Japanese amateur to turn pro with a major league club, was in turn snubbed by NPB teams in Tuesday’s draft.
As a Japanese citizen, Tazawa is only eligible to sign his first NPB contract after being selected in the draft. For years, he hoped to play for Japan’s national team but was blacklisted because of NPB’s infamous Tazawa Rule, which was recently revoked.
He is currently playing for the Musashino Heat Bears of the independent Baseball Challenge League, Japan’s largest independent circuit. He was not even selected in the developmental draft, from which a team could sign him to a non-roster contract with a 240,000-yen minimum salary (roughly $2,200).
There was some speculation that he was passed over because teams don’t wish to deal with players who are represented by agents.
Tsuyoshi Wada (7-1) survived uncharacteristic command issues to work five innings and a parade of six relievers completed a combined three-hitter as the SoftBank Hawks beat the Lotte Marines 3-0 at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome and knocking their nemeses two games back in the Pacific League pennant race.
Wada walked four batters and struck out six while allowing his only hit with two outs and none on in the fifth inning. Yuito Mori worked around a ninth-inning single to record his 26th save of the year and the 100th of his career.
Manabu Mima (9-3) allowed three runs over seven innings on eight hits and three walks. Ukyo Shuto got things started for the Hawks in the third with a one-out single. He’d reached in the first on a bouncer to short, and Mima jammed him in the third but his flare fell into shallow center. He then scored on an Akira Nakamura double.
Nobuhiro Matsuda homered to open the fourth, Wladimir Balentien singled, was sacrificed to second and scored from third on Shuto’s second infield hit of the game. Shuto also stole two bases to raise his league-leading total to 34.
No cigar in Sendai
Ryota Takinaka, the Rakuten Eagles’ sixth pick in the 2019 draft, earned his first career win but lost his shutout bid with two outs in the ninth inning of an 8-2 win over the Seibu Lions at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
throwing a particularly nasty curve and a good changeup, the 25-year-old Takinaka (1-1) allowed five hits while striking out eight and walking none. Whem Takinaka gave up Ernesto Mejia’s two-out two-run double in the ninth on his 129th pitch, Eagles manager Hajime Miki finally pulled the plug on the youngster’s bid to go the distance.
“I really wanted him to go all the way, but considering his pitch count, his current fitness and some other things I decided we’d try for that next time,” Miki said. “He mixed his pitches well and changed speeds.”
“Of course, his curve was as advertised but I thought the big thing was his command of the fastball.”
After Saturday’s game was called after three innings and cost both the Eagles and the Lions a starting pitcher, Takinaka’s going into the ninth gave Rakuten a break going into Monday’s makeup game, while the Lions needed three of their second-tier relievers after starter Wataru Matsumoto (4-5), who gave up five runs in four innings.
Hideto Asamura hit his PL-leading 30th home run for the Eagles.
Higgins KO’s Fighters in 7th
Tyler Higgins faced off with one of the Nippon Ham Fighters more dangerous hitters, coming in with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh and kept the hosts off the board in the Orix Buffaloes’ 7-5 win at Sapporo Dome.
Higgins struck out Ota on six pitches with three swinging strikes at his changeup to end the inning. Ota had helped the Fighters close the gap with a two-run double in their four-run sixth. In the eighth, the right-hander struck out cleanup hitter Sho Nakata, who’d homered in the sixth, en route to a 1-2-3 eighth.
Buffaloes starter Hirotoshi Masui (2-2) returned to his old stomping grounds and earned the win after allowing three runs in 5-1/3 innings on a day when Orix skipper Satoshi Nakajima, a longtime player and coach with the Fighters, gave his imported hitters the day off.
Dragons get past rookie Togo
Tatsuya Shimizu (1-0) scattered four walks and three hits over 5-2/3 innings and got some big help from the bullpen to earn the win as the Chunichi Dragons beat Yomiuri Giants and rookie of the year candidate Shosei Togo 7-0 at Nagoya Dome.
Dragons captain Shuhei Takahashi broke the scoreless deadlock in the fourth with an RBI single, and 35-year-old right-hander Keisuke Tanimoto retired Zelous Wheeler with two on and two outs in the top of the sixth to preserve a 1-0 Chunichi lead.
With two outs in the sixth, Dayan Viciedo doubled and scored on a Takahashi double off Togo (8-5), who allowed four hits, a walk and hit a batter over six innings.
With a game scheduled for Monday, Giants manager Tatsunori Hara did not turn the game over to his best after Togo left and the Dragons scored five in the seventh.
Oyama clinches HR derby
Hanshin Tigers cleanup hitter Yusuke Oyama pulled into a tie for the Central League home run lead with his 25th home run, a two-run fifth-inning blow that gave the hosts the lead in a 4-3 win over the DeNA BayStars at Koshien Stadium.
The BayStars got solo home runs from Keita Sano, his 16th, Tyler Austin, his 17th and Jose Lopez, his eighth.
Oyama doubled and scored on a Jerry Sands single as Hanshin took a 2-1 lead in the second. Trailing 3-2 in the fifth, Oyama went deep off starter Taiga Kamichatani (2-3).
Takumi Akiyama (7-3) started and earned the win for the Tigers, while Jon Edwards, Shintaro Fujinami and Robert Suarez each worked one perfect inning of relief. Suarez earned his 20th save.
Carp terrorize Swallows’ little river
The Hiroshima Carp overwhelmed Yakult Swallows starter Yasuhiro Ogawa in a six-run fifth inning en route to a 7-4 win at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Hiroshima’s Yuta Nakamura (2-2) held the visitors to a run over six innings, and Kosuke Tanaka gave him the lead in the fourth, when he tripled and scored on a Seiya Suzuki single.
Ogawa (9-5) then allowed five straight runners to reach in the fifth, with Nakamura chasing him with an RBI single that made it 3-0. The Swallows battled back against the Carp bullpen before closer Geronimo Franzua worked around two hits in a scoreless ninth to earn his 13th save.
Swallows Igarashi to call it quits
Yakult Swallows right-hander Ryota Igarashi will retire at the end of the 2020 season, multiple media outlets reported on Sunday.
The 41-year-old Igarashi, who played most of his career with the Central League club, pitched two seasons for the Mets in 2010 and 2011 before appearing in two games each for the Blue Jays and Yankees in 2012.
He returned to Japan in 2013 and spent six seasons with the SoftBank Hawks before returning last year to Tokyo and the Swallows.
In 2002, he and fellow hard-throwing middle reliever Hirotoshi Ishii became known as the Rocket Boys. His 822 games are seventh most in Japan.
Active roster moves 10/11/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/21
The SoftBank Hawks left a mark on rookie lefty Ryusei Kawano (2-4) on Sunday in their 8-4 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Kawano faced nine batters and allowed seven to reach on three hits and four walks, and four of them scored. Fellow lefty Tsuyoshi Wada (6-1) allowed only one walk and two hits, but all three scored on a pair of home runs. He struck out five over five innings.
Light-hitting speedster Ukyo Shuto hit his second career home run, a three-run shot in the sixth to ice it. He also singled twice, stole his Japan-best 30th base and scored twice.
Manabu Mima (9-2) surrendered a home run on the game’s first pitch but finished with a four-hitter in the Lotte Marines’ 8-1 win over the Seibu Lions at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
After a straight first-pitch fastball down the pipe to Yuji Kaneko wound up in the seats, Mima retired the next 19 batters, while the Marines tagged Wataru Matsumoto (4-4) for four runs over five innings.
The win kept the Marines two games back of the first-place Hawks.
Buffaloes’ top pick sets pace against Eagles
Lefty Hiroya Miyagi (1-0) the Orix Buffaloes top pick in last autumn’s draft, allowed two runs over five innings in his pro debut, less than two months after his 19th birthday, in an 8-2 win over the Rakuten Eagles at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
Miyagi allowed the first two batters he faced to reach before retiring the next seven in a row. He gave up seven hits and walked three while striking out four.
The Eagles’ bullpen wasted a strong start from 25-year-old rookie Ryota Takinaka, who allowed a run over six innings. The Buffaloes entered he seventh inning trailing 2-1 but a pair of four-run innings blew the game open.
Giants dodge Koshien bullets
Rookie Shosei Togo loaded the bases in the first and third innings, but allowed just one run over two-plus innings and the Yomiuri Giants broke the game open against reliever Shintaro Fujinami in the seventh inning of their 7-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium.
The 20-year-old Togo allowed four hits and four walks in two-plus innings, and 21-year-old rookie lefty Ryusei Oe (3-0) picked up the slack with two scoreless innings of relief.
Fujinami, making his fifth relief appearance, allowed three runs on six hits over 1-1/3 innings.
Tigers outfielder Jerry Sands left the game for a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning after he was hit by a pitch in the seventh.
Austin taxes Dragons
Tyler Austin hit three home runs, walked and drove in six runs in the DeNA BayStars’ 9-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Yokohama Stadium.
The win moved the BayStars past the Dragons into third place.
Shinichi Onuki (8-4) allowed a run over 6-1/3 innings to earn the win. Dragons lefty Takahiro Matsuba (3-6) took the loss.
Yuta Nakamura (1-2) allowed a run over five innings as the Hiroshima Carp completed a three-game sweep of the Yakult Swallows with a 6-4 win at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
Seiya Suzuki hit his 20th home run of the season, becoming the first Carp player to do so in five straight years since Tomonori Maeda did so from 2002 to 2006.
Marines’ Iwashita tests positive
Starting pitcher Daiki Iwashita and one member of the Lotte Marines’ first-team staff have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Pacific League club announced Sunday.
Iwashita was tested at a Chiba hospital after feeling unwell on Saturday and running a 37.1 C fever.
The 24-year-old allowed two runs over six innings on Thursday in Sapporo against the Nippon Ham Fighters and returned with the team to Chiba the following day. On Saturday, Iwashita only left home to go to the ballpark. The team staff member was not in close contact with the pitcher.
The club reported the infections to NPB on Sunday, and all members of the team and staff were tested with the results expected on Monday.
In 14 games, Iwashita is 5-7 with a 4.46 ERA.
Active roster moves 10/4/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/14
Yuki Matsui and a quartet of relievers turned back the Lotte Marines in a 3-0 victory on Thursday to complete a three-game sweep of their closest Pacific League rivals.
The win lifted Rakuten to within 2-1/2 games of the second-place Marines, who trail the SoftBank Hawks by two games. The Marines remain nine games above .500 despite being outscored this season 344-360.
Matsui was yanked after needing his 114th pitch to notch his 12th strikeout and leave the bases loaded in the fifth inning at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
Matsui, who saved 30-plus games in four of the last five seasons, improved to 3-3 as a starter. He gave up five hits and had trouble getting some close calls as he walked four.
Reserve catcher Takahiro Shimotsuma opened the scoring with his first career homer and Eigoro Mogi singled in runs in the third and fifth off Daiki Iwashita (5-6), who also went five for the Marines.
After four homers over the first two games in Sendai, Hideto Asamura failed to reach the seats but reached base three times to contribute to two of the Eagles runs.
Kanji Teraoka worked the sixth for the Eagles, D.J. “Bearded Thunder” Johnson the seventh, Tomohito Sakai the eighth, and Alan Busenitz the ninth, when he earned his 15th save.
It was a tough night for the Marines’ Leonys Martin, who after striking out for the fourth time, was hit by Busenitz in the ninth, raising his Japan-leading hit-by-pitch total to 14, leaving him in pole position to join a fairly large club of imported players who lead their league in being hit with baseballs.
No broom at the inn for Buffaloes
The Orix Buffaloes came within one pitch of sweeping the league-leading SoftBank Hawks on Thursday, only for Akira Nakamura to put a good swing on a hanging 2-1 curve for a game-tying two-run homer as the teams played to a 3-3, 10-inning tie at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Moments after the Buffaloes took a 3-1 lead against Yutaka Wada in the top of the fifth, Nakamura evened things up. Orix starter Chang Yi, whose cousin Yang Yao-hsun used to pitch for SoftBank, fell behind Nakamura with two outs and a man on in the fifth. The home run was Nakamura’s sixth of the season.
Yurisbel Gracial opened the scoring in the second with his eighth home run, only for Orix’s Aderlin Rodriguez to tie it in the sixth with his fourth homer.
Wada gave away the lead after a scratch single, a wild pitch, a walk. Kenya Wakatsuki doubled beyond the reach of Gracial to make it a 2-1 game. The drawn in infield failed to prevent the runner on third from scoring, but a diving stop by shortstop Taisei Makihara robbed Ryo Ota of a single and Wada was able to get out of the inning trailing by two.
The real highlight of the game was an electric inning by Hawks lefty Livan Moinelo in the eighth. He overpowered Rodriguez on four fastballs. Masataka Yoshida was able to foul off his hard stuff, but was looking fastball and watched helplessly as a 3-2 curve floated through the zone. Steven Moya grounded out on four pitches to end it.
Uehara shuts down Lions
Nippon Ham Fighters lefty Kenta Uehara (1-1) allowed two runs over seven innings while striking out nine in a 12-2 butt kicking of the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome.
Lions right-hander Sho Ito (0-2) allowed four runs over 3-1/3 innings, and reliever Ken Togame was shelled for six runs in 1-1/3 innings.
Wednesday could have been old timers day with both Tsuyoshi Wada (39) and Tetsuya Utsumi (38) going in the Pacific League, but Utsumi, who was only able to go five innings in his first PL win last week, was yanked after four in the Seibu Lions’ one-sided win over the Orix Buffaloes.
Wada pitches Hawks past Eagles
Wada (5-1), whose fastball touched 138 kph (85.7 mph) had too much of everything but speed for the Rakuten Eagles, going 6-2/3 scoreless innings in the SoftBank Hawks’ 8-1 win at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
By working the corners with a lively fastball the Eagles were consistently swinging under, and staying low in the zone with his changeup and slider, Wada challenged hitters in the zone and gave up hits on good swings, but rarely looked challenged.
He allowed six hits and a walk while striking out six. He would have had seven had umpire Naoto Shikita noticed that catcher Hiroaki Takaya had caught a two-strike foul tip. Wada got Hiroaki Shimauchi to fly out on the next pitch, his 101st, before exiting stage right.
Wakui (8-2) got off to a solid start, retiring the first four batters, including Akira Nakamura. Perhaps the hardest player in Japan to strike out, Nakamura who rarely misses, Nakamura went down swinging at a changeup.
Alfredo Despaigne, who got a late start to the season due to his being in Cuba when travel restrictions were imposed, opened the scoring with a one-out solo homer off Wakui in the second. Nakamura went after Wakui’s first pitch in the third to single home Taisei Makihara, and Despaigne cracked a three-run homer in SoftBank’s six-run fifth.
Spangenberg lowers boom on Buffaloes
Corey Spangenberg homered, tripled, double and drove in six runs as the Seibu Lions crushed the Orix Buffaloes 13-5 at MetLife Dome despite starter Tetsuya Utsumi failed to go five innings.
Ernesto Mejia doubled in two runs in the bottom of the first off Daiki Tajima (1-4) and Spangenberg followed with his NPB-best sixth triple to make it 4-1. Shuta Tonosaki led off the Lions’ second with a homer and Spangenberg went deep with his ninth homer to finish the four-run frame.
Utsumi held it together until the fourth, when he surrendered three runs on four-straight one-out hits. A fifth, off his right thigh forced him off the field for treatment but he got out of the inning before calling it a night.
Ojima outduels Kaneko
Lotte Marines lefty Kazuya Ojima (5-5) out-pitched former Sawamura Award winner Chihiro Kaneko (1-3) to boost the Marines to 2-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
Ojima got double plays in the third and fourth, one started by the slick-fielding southpaw, before escaping a bases-loaded jam in the fifth. Kaneko also worked out of trouble in the third and fourth, but left after hitting Marines catcher Tatsuhiro Tamura on the hand while he trie to sacrifice.
With two on and one out, Yudai Fujioka drove a low pitch to the wall for a two-run double.
Fighters catcher Yushi Shimizu doubled home Taishi Ota in the seventh before Ojima left. Frank Herrmann and Naoya Masuda each pitched in with a scoreless inning to close it out.
3-HR Sakamoto blasts Dragons
Hayato Sakamoto belted three home runs from the leadoff spot and drove in four runs for the Yomiuri Giants in their 5-4 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Nagoya Dome.
The Giants’ Takumi Oshiro homered to lead off the top of the seventh and Sakamoto completed his hat-trick with two outs.
Swallows erase 7-run gap to tie Carp
Yasutaka Shiomi capped a three-run eighth-inning rally as the Yakult Swallows erased a seven-run deficit in their 10-inning, 7-7 with the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Swallows starting pitcher Hirofumi Yamanaka doubled in the game’s first run in the second, when the visitors took a 3-0 lead, but the submarine right-hander allowed seven runs in 2-1/3 innings.
Carp starter Yusuke Nomura left with no outs in the seventh after back-to-back home runs from Tetsuto Yamada and Munetaka Murakami made it a 10-7 game.
Sano, Kamichatani bag Tigers
DeNA BayStars cleanup hitter Keita Sano celebrated being named the CL’s player of the month for August earlier in the day by doubling twice and driving in three runs in a 6-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Yokohama Stadium.
The BayStars overturned an early 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the first. A Takayuki Kajitani single and back-to-back doubles by Neftali Soto and Sano made it 2-1.
Kamichatani (1-1) allowed five hits and a walk while striking out three over seven innings. Kenta Ishida and Spencer Patton finished up. Tigers starter Koyo Aoyagi (6-4) allowed four runs over five innings to take the loss.
Sugano monthly MVP for 8th time
Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano set a team record for monthly honors on Wednesday, with his eighth pitcher of the month award, surpassing the seven monthly awards earned by Hall of Fame slugger Hideki Matsui. Sugano’s August award comes on the heels of his honor for June and July.
Sugano went 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA, which was second to Chunichi Dragons lefty Yudai Ono (3-0, who struck out 27 batters, one per inning over three complete games.
The CL hitter of the month award went to 25-year-old DeNA BayStars left fielder Keita Sano. Promoted to captain and dropped into the cleanup spot after less than 400 first-team plate appearances, the ninth-round draft led the Central League with 22 RBIs.
Sano’s .405 on-base percentage was second in the league to the .457 posted by the Yakult Swallows’ Munetaka Murakami, who won for June and July. Sano was also second to Murakami in slugging average by a smaller margin .598 to .576. It was Sano’s first monthly award.
The Pacific League winners were right-hander Ayumu Ishikawa of the Lotte Marines (4-0, 3.38 ERA) and Orix Buffaloes corner outfielder Masataka Yoshida.
Ishikawa won his second award over the Rakuten Eagles’ Hideaki Wakui (3-1, 1.47), whose only loss came in a 2-0 shutout and who won for June and July.
Yoshida, who won for the third time, led the PL with a .510 on-base percentage and was second in OPS to Yuki Yanagita of the SoftBank Hawks.